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Teachings of 
the Insentients


Transmission of Light, Case 39


Followers of the Way, we should clearly understand that it cannot be given nor can it be received. Yet everywhere we go it is encountered, endlessly teaching and preaching. It is at once me and I am not it. To see in this way is to realize being just as it is.

The Main Case:

Tung-shan called on Master Yun-yen and asked, "Who can hear the teachings of insentient beings?" Yun-yen said, "It can be heard by the insentient." Tung-shan asked, "Do you hear it?" Yun-yen said, "If I hear it, you wouldn't hear my teaching." Tung-Than said, "If so, then I don't hear your teaching." Yun-yen said, "If you don't even hear my teaching, how could you hear the teachings of the insentient?" Tung-Than was greatly enlightened at this. He spoke a verse to Yun-yen:

Wondrous, marvelous.

The teachings of the insentient is inconceivable.

If you listen with the ears, you won't understand.

When you hear the sound with your eyes, then you'll know.

The Capping Verse:

Extremely subtle,

Mystic consciousness is not mental attachment.

All the time it causes "that" to teach in great profusion. 

[Dogen's Sansuikyo]


Since ancient times wise ones and sages have also lived by the water. When they live by the water they catch fish or they catch humans or they catch the Way. These are traditional water styles. Further, they must be catching the self, catching the hook, being caught by the hook, and being caught by the Way.

[Gary Snyder]

Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actually existing world and its wholeness. 


To be truly free, to be truly liberated and wild, is to be prepared to accept things as they are, abiding in their own Dharma state. Sometimes it's painful. And yet, it's also joyful and open. Always impermanent, never fixed. Unbounded, yet bountiful. Keep in mind that in a fixed universe, there can be no freedom.


You may like to contemplate more on work practice through some good readings.

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