A stringless lute, a valley without an echo

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  • RichardH
    Member
    • Nov 2011
    • 2800

    A stringless lute, a valley without an echo

    Some years ago I heard the terms "a stringless lute" and "a valley without an echo". They were referenced by Korean Master Chinul in his "straight talk on the true mind". A compilation of his teachings translated by Robert Buswell (Tracing Back the Radiance) was the handbook of the Korean Sangha I was practicing in at the time. I thought they were beautiful and suggestive but could not connect with them. These phrases have been popping up lately, inspired by rolling around the idea of "The person of no rank", and Zazen.

    What does a stringless lute and a valley without an echo mean or evoke for you?

    Thanks

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by RichardH; 05-07-2014, 12:27 PM. Reason: grammar
  • Juki
    Member
    • Dec 2012
    • 771

    #2
    "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

    Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

    Comment

    • Ishin
      Member
      • Jul 2013
      • 1359

      #3
      Hello

      What these terms evoke for me is the inherent nature of the interconnections of all things. A lute without strings, a valley with no echoes, speaks to me of our tendency to label things as this or that when in reality they are not two but one. What defines the "lute" or the "valley"? Is it a lute if it has no strings? Is it a valley that does not echo? All things formless dependent on other forms.



      Gassho
      C
      Grateful for your practice

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39476

        #4
        Hi Daizan,

        These pop up here and there in the old literature. Bankei said ...

        Instructing a Confucian of Bizen
        It ranges over past and present, pervades the entire universe
        Look and it's not to be seen, [but] call and it responds
        A stringless lute, a silent melody This has nothing to
        do with being a monk or a layman
        And Daido Loori has a nice talk on this old Koan ...

        Layman Pangyun said to Mazu, “Master, please look up at the unobscured original person.” Mazu looked straight down. Pangyun then said, “How splendid is this stringless lute. Only you can play it.” Mazu looked straight up. Pangyun bowed. Mazu went back to the abbot’s room. Pangyun followed him into the room and said, “You were skillful enough to do something clumsy.”

        http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Budd...ri%20Roshi.htm
        And the echoless valley ...

        Seven wise women went into the nirvana forest. The elder of them pointed to a corpse and said, “The corpse is here, where has the person gone?” At this, all seven women witnessed the truth and realized the Way. Indra showered them with heavenly flowers from the sky saying, “Excellent, excellent!” The elder of the women said, “Who is praising us?” A voice from the sky said, “I am Indra. Because I have seen the sacred women realize the way, I came and scattered a rain of flowers. I only request that if you need something, I will provide it until the end of your lives.” The elder woman said, “At my house the four material offerings of the seven jewels are all completely provided. I only want three kinds of things. First, I would like a rootless tree. Second, I would like a piece of land with no north and south. Third, I would like an echoless valley.” Indra said, “I have all the things you could possibly want but those three things I truly do not have.” The great Master Dogen said [in Shobogenzo Muchu Setsumu] on behalf of Indra, “Do you want a rootless tree? The cypress tree in the garden is it. If you cannot use that, raise up this staff and see that this is exactly it. Do you want a piece of land without north and south? It is the nirvana forest. If you cannot use that, use the entire world and the ten directions. Do you want an echoless valley? I shout out, ‘Sisters!’ to all seven of you. If you respond, I immediately say, ‘I have given you an echoless valley.’ If you do not respond, I say, ‘After all, it doesn’t echo.’”
        Lovely silent sound, vibrating stillness in all things.

        Gassho, J
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Myosha
          Member
          • Mar 2013
          • 2974

          #5
          Originally posted by D

          What does [I
          a stringless lute[/I] and a valley without an echo mean or evoke for you?
          Deafening silence.


          Gassho,
          Myosha
          "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

          Comment

          • alan.r
            Member
            • Jan 2012
            • 546

            #6
            Originally posted by Juki
            "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

            Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

            Gassho,
            Juki
            Lol, nice. "Thank you very little."

            Gassho
            Shōmon

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39476

              #7
              Speaking of Caddyshacks great Buddhist moments ...

              Carl Spackler in Caddyshack discussing his personal experience with the 12th son of the lama.
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Shugen
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Nov 2007
                • 4535

                #8
                I love that a clip from and reference to Caddyshack is being posted on a "zen Forum". What isn't dharma? :-D

                Gassho


                Shugen
                Meido Shugen
                明道 修眼

                Comment

                • Oheso
                  Member
                  • Jan 2013
                  • 294

                  #9
                  Originally posted by rculver
                  What isn't dharma? :-D
                  why, nothing, of course.
                  and neither are they otherwise.

                  Comment

                  • RichardH
                    Member
                    • Nov 2011
                    • 2800

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Juki
                    "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

                    Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

                    Gassho,
                    Juki

                    I'm not so sure about that donut view, Juki . It seems like there is a whole class of donuts without a hole, usually referred to as filled. Some are filled with a sugary jelly, and some with a mysterious “cream” . They are definitely donuts. Also, if I take a danish and put a hole in the middle, I doubt anyone would call it a donut. Most people would say it is a danish with a hole.

                    Just sayin.

                    Gassho Daizan

                    Comment

                    • Rich
                      Member
                      • Apr 2009
                      • 2604

                      #11
                      So maybe a donut with no holes is not really a donut? 😊

                      Kind regards. /\
                      _/_
                      Rich
                      MUHYO
                      無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                      https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                      Comment

                      • Myosha
                        Member
                        • Mar 2013
                        • 2974

                        #12
                        Speaking of Caddyshacks great Buddhist moments. . .

                        "Which is nice."

                        Priceless.


                        Gassho,
                        Myosha
                        "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                        Comment

                        • RichardH
                          Member
                          • Nov 2011
                          • 2800

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Rich
                          So maybe a donut with no holes is not really a donut? ��

                          Kind regards. /\
                          This issue is raised in the Puggalugga Sutta, where Ananda is sent out for donuts and coffee, and gets into an argument with a Brahman in the line up over what makes a donut a donut. The Brahman insisted that there is an unchanging donut essence abiding in donuts with holes, and that the donuts without holes lack such an essence. When he returns he asks the Buddha, and because Ananda is always really slow on the uptake, the Buddha has to go through this long repetitive discourse deconstructing donuts, to show that no such donut essence is to be found. He does say though that he prefers Old Fashioned Glazed.


                          But seriously....

                          Thank you for the responses, and thank you Jundo for those passages you quote. Maybe they are really obvious in their meaning? But actually feeling the meaning has not been so obvious , at least for me. So this is appreciated.

                          Gassho Daizan

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39476

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Daizan
                            This issue is raised in the Puggalugga Sutta, where Ananda is sent out for donuts and coffee, and gets into an argument with a Brahman in the line up over what makes a donut a donut. The Brahman insisted that there is an unchanging donut essence abiding in donuts with holes, and that the donuts without holes lack such an essence. When he returns he asks the Buddha, and because Ananda is always really slow on the uptake, the Buddha has to go through this long repetitive discourse deconstructing donuts, to show that no such donut essence is to be found. He does say though that he prefers Old Fashioned Glazed.


                            But seriously....

                            Thank you for the responses, and thank you Jundo for those passages you quote. Maybe they are really obvious in their meaning? But actually feeling the meaning has not been so obvious , at least for me. So this is appreciated.

                            Gassho Daizan
                            Hi Daizan,

                            When the mind is still even amid chaos ... free of thoughts even while thinking ... silent even as the ambulance siren screams or Ozzie Osborne sings ... such is the stringless lute (or Gibson Les Paul), such is the echoless valley (or timeless Times Square) ...



                            Lovely silent sound, vibrating stillness in all things.

                            If the mind is still even while asking "what is the silent sound, the echoless valley?" ... then such is heard. If the bind is longing, burning, churning, turning, spinning, chasing after "what is the silent sound, echoless valley" then one is not going to hear.

                            Dogen had a nice way of answering interrogative questions by turning them into declarative statements ... affirmations. So for example, "what is the silent sound, the echoless valley?" becomes ...

                            ... "YES, WHAT!!, thus become the silent sound, echoless valley!!!!"

                            More on how Dogen played that music here ...

                            . Today's talk (WHAT) was presented (WHEN) during our August Zazenkai (WHERE) at Treeleaf Sangha by (WHO) Jundo ... 4-Hour AUGUST ZAZENKAI (http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4069) ... and (HOW) riffs on this WHY Koan from the Book of Serenity ... WHY indeed! Sometimes what appears a QUESTION is truly


                            Gassho, J
                            Last edited by Jundo; 05-09-2014, 06:22 AM.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Rich
                              Member
                              • Apr 2009
                              • 2604

                              #15
                              Jundo, thanks for making that clear. The dough from the donut hole is actually the real donut.😊

                              Kind regards. /\
                              _/_
                              Rich
                              MUHYO
                              無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                              https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                              Comment

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