The Verse facing Death – Koan 23

In the eighth month of the second year of Tê Yu priest Mugaku (Zen master Bukko) when facing death by the sword of a Mongol soldier spoke the verse:

In heaven and earth, no crack to hide;
Joy to know the man is void and the things too are void.
Splendid the great Mongolian long sword,
Its lightning flash cuts the spring breeze


(1) Which line contains the essence of all four lines?

(2) Men and things are right before us now; how can one make them out to be void?

(3) What does the phrase about the lightning flash mean?

This koan began to be used in the interviews of Sei Seccho, the 16th master at Enkakuji.


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