A DISCUSSION OF MODEL SUBJECT NO. 51
FROM THE BLUE CLIFF RECORD (HEKIGANROKU)
Translation and commentary by Rev. S. Suzuki
Zen Master, Zen Center
SEPPŌ’S “WHAT IS IT?”
Seppō was a good example of a well-trained Zen Master. “Three times a visitor to Tōsu and nine times an attendant to Tōzan” became one of the catchwords of Zen practice signifying Seppō’s hard discipline.
He was born in 822 and died in 908 near the end of the Tang Dynasty. The Emperor was killed by Shuzenchu in 904. The next and last Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, supported by this traitor, lasted for only four years. A dark restless period followed the Tang Dynasty. A severe persecution occurred when Seppō was twenty years old (845). Metalware throughout the land was turned into coin, including temple bells and images of Buddha. 4,600 temples were destroyed, 26,500 priests and nuns were cast out of the order along with 2,000 priests of other religions except Taoist.
The other principal character of this model subject, Gantō (828-887), was killed by a mob. He was a good friend of Seppō, and they had both been born in the province of Fukien. Both went on long, hard pilgrimages from northeast to southeast China, visiting many famous masters. As stated, they are said to have visited Tosu Daido three times and Tōzan Ryokai (Sōtō School) nine times. You may imagine how hard they practiced. (more…)