Tanka’s Have You Had Your Dinner?
Tanka asked a monk, “Where are you from?”
The monk replied, “From the foot of the mountain.”
Tanka said, “Have you had your dinner?”
The monk said, “I have had it.”
Tanka said, “Is he open-eyed who brings food to a fellow like you and lets you eat it?”
The monk could make no reply.
Later Chokei asked Hofuku, “To give food to others is surely worthy. How could he fail to be open-eyed?”
Hofuku said, “Both giver and receiver are blind.”
Chokei said, “Are you still blind, even though you exhaust every means?”
Hofuku said, “How can you call me blind?”
Exhaust every means, and you will not be blind;
You hold the cow’s head to let it graze.
The Four Sevens, the Two Threes,
The following band
Have handed down the dharma treasure,
Raising dust and trouble to make men drown on land.
It seems to me that Zen provokes responses from one’s intuition, though I’m not even quite sure what intuition is. Is there a connection between Zen and intuition?
I have heard that Gurdjieff used to serve up food to his disciples and watch them overeat and become drunk in response. You are serving up such delicacies in these evenings it feels that we need to refine our palettes and select the right implements before we can hope to savor what you make available.
The anecdote, which concerns Tanka’s asking a monk,
“Have you had your dinner?”
Is a way in Zen to ask someone, “Have you got it? Are you fulfilled? Has contentment happened to you? Are you awakened? Is your being enlightened?” Zen uses ordinary words like dinner and raises them to heights unimaginable.
Tanka asked a monk, “Where are you from?
…Have you had your dinner?”
In Zen you are coming from nowhere and you are going to nowhere. You are just now, here, neither coming nor going. Everything passes by you; your consciousness reflects it but it does not get identified. When a lion roars in front of a mirror, do you think the mirror roars? Or when the lion is gone and a child comes dancing, the mirror completely forgets about the lion and starts dancing with the child – do you think the mirror dances with the child? The mirror does nothing, it simply reflects.
Your consciousness is only a mirror. Neither you come, nor you go. Things come and go. You become young, you become old; you are alive, you are dead. All these states are simply reflections in an eternal pool of consciousness.
Unless you understand it, these anecdotes will look absolutely absurd.