The picture of beauty – Koan 64

No. 64. The picture of beauty

In 1299 when Fukada Sadatomo came to Kenchoji for a ceremony, he met the teacher in a room where there happened to be a picture of the contemporary Sung dynasty beauty Rei Shojo. He asked Master Saikan, ‘Who is that?’

The teacher replied, ‘It is said it happens to be Rei Shojo.’ Sadatomo looked at the picture admiringly and remarked, ‘That picture is powerfully painted and yet of the utmost delicacy. Is that woman now in the Sung country (China)?’ The teacher said, ‘What do you mean, in the Sung? Now, here, in Japan.’

The noble said, ‘And where is that?’

The master said loudly, ‘Lord Sadatomo!’

The noble looked up.

And where is that?’ said the teacher.

Sadatomo grasped the point and bowed.


What did Lord Sadatomo grasp?

This became a koan at Kenchoji from the time of Doan, the 105th master there.

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