SESSHIN LECTURE NO. 5
Tuesday, February 9, 1971
I think, as Yoshimura-sensei told you the other night, Zen masters has some humorous [laughs], you know, element in their life. And, you know, even after death [laughs], or even more, we, you know, know how humorous [laughs] they were if you know them. Humor is, you know— Only when he has real, you know—he has some understanding more than real, you know, then he could be humorous, you know. So humor is more real than [laughs] reality, you know. Reality is not so real. But if you see [laughs, laughter] comic, you know, you know, that is more real than [laughs] usual pictures, you know.
So I think because they have something real, you know, so at the same time they can be always humorous, you know. When they say, you know, something usual, you know, not [laughs]— The way they say, or in his mind, you know, he is always expressing it in some [way] as if he is drawing some comic, you know [laughs]. But for us, for him, maybe, it is comic, but for us it is very real and serious thing.
When I was young, or when I was at Eihei-ji, Kumazawa-zenji, you know, Kumazawa-zenji—at that time he was kannin. In sesshin he gave us a talk when we are tired out [laughs]. It was third day or fourth day. And he started to talk about something, and he said, “Suzume—a sparrow,” you know, “sparrow has broken a tori’i.” Do you know tori’i? Shrine gate, you know, like this [gestures]. A sparrow [laughs] broke [laughs, laughter] tori’i made of stone [laughs, laughter]. And he started to explain how a sparrow did it [laughs]. But, in Japanese, you know, “Kosuzumega.”  I still remember: “Kosuzumega ishi no tori’i o fumiotta.”  And he said, “Do you understand?” [Laughs, laughter.] And he repeated several times, but no one laughed, you know [laughs, laughter], because he was so serious. But “fumioru” sometime means “funderu.”  It is, you know, “stepping on the stone,” that is “fumioru—fumioru—funderu,” you know. It’s “stepping—stepping” you know, “on the stone,” and at the same time it mean “to break” [laughs]. How is it possible [laughs] for a sparrow to break a stone gate?