The very first Jizo – Koan 31

Sakawa Koresada, a direct retainer of the Uesugi family, entered the main hall at Kenchoji and prayed to the Jizo-of-a-Thousand-Forms there. Then he asked the attendant monk in charge of the hall:

‘Of these thousand forms of Jizo, which is the very first Jizo?’

The attendant said, ‘In the breast of the retainer before me are a thousand thoughts and ten thousand imaginings; which of these is the very first one?’

The samurai was silent.

The attendant said again, ‘Of the thousand forms of Jizo, the very first Jizo is the Buddha-lord who is always using those thousand forms.’

The warrior said, ‘Who is this Buddha-lord?’

The attendant suddenly caught him and twisted his nose.

The samurai immediately had a realization.


(1) Which is the very first Jizo out of the thousand-formed Jizo?

(2) Which is the very first out of the thousand thoughts and ten thousand imaginings?

(3) What did Koresada realize when his nose was twisted?

This became a koan at the interviews of Koken, the 61st master at Kenchoji.


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