Pasting the charm on the heart – Koan 73

No. 73. Pasting the charm on the heart

The hall of Yakushi (the Buddha of healing) at Shoganan temple at the pagoda of Hokokuji in Kamakura became widely renowned for its spiritual virtue against plague. After the fighting in the Genko era (1331), there was a succession of epidemics, and Yamanouchi Sadahira asked at the temple for a paper charm against sickness, adding:

I have heard that the charm has to be pasted up on the gate pillar of one’s house. But my own house has been completely burnt during the fighting, and now I have nowhere to live; I am camping under the trees in the valley, and have no gate pillar. So how and where can I stick this up?’

Daikyo, the priest of Shoganan, said:

Stick it on your heart.’


The heart has no form: how can a charm be stuck on to it?

This came to be used as a koan in Kamakura Zen when Daikyo began to give it to test all the Zen students who came to practise zazen meditation in the Yakushi hall.

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