Brian Wilcox 'Impatiens'
Zen Master Kuei Tsung asked a monk preparing for a pilgrimage where he intended to go. "I plan to visit all the places where the five kinds of Zen are taught," he replied.
"Oh!" exclaimed Kuei Tsung. "Other places may have five kinds; here we have only the one kind." When the monk inquired what it was, Kuei gave him a sudden blow. "I see, I see!" he shouted excitedly.
"Speak, speak!" shouted Kuei. The monk was about to say something. At that moment, Kuei hit him again.
Afterward, the monk arrived at Huang Po's monastery. Huang Po asked him where he had come from. The monk told him he had recently left Kuei Tsung. The Master asked, "And what instructions did you receive from him?" The monk recounted the above interaction.
During the next assembly, Huang Po took this incident for his text and said, "Master Ma [i.e., Kuei ] really excels the Eighty-Four Deeply Enlightened Ones! The questions people ask are all of them no better than stinking muck saturating the ground. There is only Kuei Tsung who is worth something."
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John Blofeld, translator of The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, clarifies the above story, which functions like a koan.
Those familiar with Dr. [D. T.] Suzuki's books on Zen will not misinterpret Kuei Tsung's blows as being due to unnecessary crudeness or violence, nor Huang Po's strong language as being gratuitously rude. It seems that blows and strong language delivered at the right moment may induce satori, a flash of Enlightenment. The younger monk was in search of methods of withdrawal from the world by means of deep contemplation, and Kuei Tsung's first blow was intended as an antidote, for it implied: "The hand of bone and muscle which now causes you pain is as truly the Absolute as the mystic fervour you experience during contemplation." The second blow illustrated the folly of trying to express a sudden understanding of truth in words.
Elsewhere, Huang Po speaks of persons speaking of the Absolute, with their different, contradictory, and partial views -
As soon as the mouth is opened, evils spring forth.
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Interesting, after the first blow, the monk says, "I see, I see!," confirming a sudden moment of insight of Truth. The insight did not arise from teaching in words; it arose from having discursive thinking suddenly interrupted, so halting the mind. In the absence of thinking, wisdom arose. Here, the blow is similar to Tibetan Rinpoche Chogyam Trungpa throwing water on an audience. Again, the sudden, surprising event that halts conceptuality, jarring one out of the mind flow.