The teacher said to the gathering,

“If you get it the first time you hear it, you will teach the buddhas and ancestors. If you get it the second time you hear it, you will teach gods and humans. If you don’t get it til the third time you hear it, you won’t even be able to save yourself.”

A student asked, “When did you get it?”

The teacher said, “The moon sets at midnight, I walk alone through the town.”

As I spent time with this koan, the first predicament I was aware of was that I didn’t know what the predicament was in this koan. That was interesting. Then various possibilities came up—they were not thought up; they just came up on their own.

One was the predicament of being a student who wants to ask their teacher when they “got it,” but feeling like it would be an inappropriate question, possibly being received as a questioning of their teacher’s ability but asking anyway. Or perhaps it’s the predicament of already being awake, but thinking you are not and as a result, trying to wake up when you already are. That would be a kind of predicament.

Or perhaps it’s the predicament of being a student listening to their teacher talking about different levels of attainment and remembering Linji saying, “The true person is of no rank, no levels . . .”

What predicaments do you find in the koan? In your life?

—David Weinstein, April 2nd, 2024

David Weinstein Roshi



David Weinstein Roshi, Director of Rockridge Meditation Community

Give Teacher Dana

Dana is a longtime tradition in spiritual communities for thanking or honoring your teacher and their teachings.

Give Dana

Subscribe to RMC Newsletter

Donate to PZI

Through your generosity, you help people find their own path into awakening and you help us grow.

Donate to PZI

Join PZI as a Member