Doing Nothing



Master Yaoshan Weiyan (751-834)

One day Yaoshan was sitting on a rock. Master Shitou asked, “What are you doing here?”
Yaoshan replied, “Doing nothing (wu-wei)”
“Then you’re sitting idly.”
“To sit idly would be doing something.”
“You said doing nothing, what is it that you’re not doing?”
“What a thousand sages cannot recognize.”
Master Shitou praised him with a poem,
Always lived together with that which is nameless,
Getting by effortlessly, acting in suchness.
Not even the ancient sages recognize it,
How can a mere mortal understand it?

Later Master Shitou said, “Words and actions are completely irrelevant.”
Youshan replied, “No words and no actions are also irrelevant.”
“At my place not even a needle can get through.”
“At my place I’m planting flowers on a rock.”

Master Shitou nodded in approval. Later on Weiyan presided over a monastery in Mount Yao of the Li Prefacture, where many disciples gathered, and therefore was known as Master Yaoshan.

The Dark Principle is neither high nor low and does not rise a hairsbreadth above or below or in-between anything, or no-thing. A needle cannot penetrate through Its Imageless fragrance That is location-less yet pervades everywhere—even the apparently lifeless rocks break-free from their inflexible-slumber as Its kiss permits them to give birth to the myriad things. By staying out of Its way, Yaoshan allowed Mind’s Prior-Nirvanic spontaneity to simply shine through and perfume all the moment-less-moments in effortless and luminous sobriety.

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