Rankei’s Shari Pearls – Koan 12
On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month of the first year of Koan (1276) Master Rankei (Daikaku) passed away, and at the cremation at Kenchoji there were clusters of shari pearls among the ashes. Even the leaves of the trees nearby which had been wreathed in the smoke put forth shari pearls. The ancient tradition says that according to the power of samadhi of the life that has been lived, shari pearls will be many or less, and what happened demonstrated the depth of the samadhi power of Master Rankei.
The Zen pupil Ota related this to Master Jikusen, the 29th master at Kenchoji, and asked:
‘Will there be many shari pearls when you yourself pass away?’
The teacher replied: ‘Why wait for death for this old priest’s shari pearls? The trees were putting them forth before I was born.’
(1) What do shari pearls come from? If you say, from samadhi power, then show some pearls of samadhi power right now.
(2) Leave for a moment the shari pearls after death, but where are the shari pearls before your birth made? Say!
This became a koan in Kamakura Zen at the interviews of Kao, the 52nd master at Enkakuji.