Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cold and Heat

A master of Ch'an said: If it is warm, let the heat kill you. If it is cold, let the cold kill you. All experience penetrates to the bone. This shimmering film of hope and fear we cling to as ourselves is held up only by great unconscious effort. And yet, this effort misses the mark: at most we manage to forge the past or falsify the future. Just like heat and cold, present experience fully pierces the present body and the present mind. Furthermore, all this, the outer heat and cold, the thoughts of the inner self and even this body and this mind are the timeless display of experience. Let heat and cold kill you. Give up this tiresome show of pretense.


  1. I begin to realize that the sound of one clapping hand is colder than the strength of two sticks broken together.

  2. There's a story from the Tibetan tradition that has basically the same intent as Dongshan's humdinger:

    Nyoshul Lungtok would keep telling Patrul Rinpoche that he had not yet got the main point, of realizing Rigpa (natural awareness). Maybe he had, but he really wanted to be sure, so he kept on asking him. Then Patrul Rinpoche gave him the introduction. It happened one evening, whilst Patrul Rinpoche was staying up in one of the retreat centres above Dzogchen monastery. It was a very beautiful night; the sky was clear, and the stars were very bright. It was very quiet, and the sound of solitude was heightened by the distant barking of a dog from the monastery down below.

    Nyoshul Lungtok had not asked him anything that evening, and Patrul Rinpoche called him over, saying: “Didn’t you tell me that you still hadn’t got the main point of the practice of the Great Perfection teachings?” Nyoshul Lungtok replied: “Yes, that’s right”.

    “It’s very simple”, he said, and lying down on the ground, he beckoned to him: “My son, come and lie down here like your father”. So Nyoshul Lungtok did so. Then Patrul Rinpoche asked him, in a very affectionate way: “Do you see the stars in the sky?”


    “Do you hear the dogs barking from the Dzogchen monastery?”


    “Do you hear what I am saying to you?”


    “Well, the nature of Dzogpachenpo, the Great Perfection, is just—simply this.”

    At this moment, everything fell into place, and instantaneously Nyoshul Lungtok was completely realized.

    (slightly edited for slang from this.)