Koan of the Week – Baling Haojian's Three Barriers

Baling Haojian’s Three Barriers

Yunmen Mountain
Baling was a student of Yunmen Wenyan who established the Yunmen school of Zen that flourished for about 300 years before being absorbed into the Rinzai school. When Baling took up residence as a teacher, he did not create a document of succession for his students. He only used three turning phrases as the way to attain the essence of the Yunmen school.

  •  A person of the way asked, "What is the Tao?" 
           Baling responded, "A clear-eyed person falls into a well." 
  •  A person of the way asked, "What is the blown-feather sword  that cuts away delusion?" 
           Baling responded, "Each Coral branch of coral holds up the moon." 
  •  A person of the way asked, "What is old-lady Zen?" 
           Baling responded, "Fresh snow in a silver bowl."

    Yunmen said, "In future, on my remembrance day, just restate these three turning phrases, then you will have repaid my benevolence."