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The Bell and the Seven-Fold Robe (audio)


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Today, Sensei talked us through Case 16 from the Mumonkan, “Ummon’s Seven-Fold Robe”. Here’s one version of the text from a random website…

Case 16: When the Bell Sounds

Unmon said, “The world is vast and wide.  Why do you put on your seven-piece robe at the sound of the bell?”

Mumon’s Comment:
In studying Zen, you should not be swayed by sounds and forms.  Even though you attain insight when hearing a voice or seeing a form, this is simply the ordinary way of things.  Don’t you know that the real Zen student commands sounds, controls forms, is clear-sighted at every event and free on every occasion? Granted you are free, just tell me: Does the sound come to the ear or does the ear go to the sound? If both sound and silence die away, at such a juncture how could you talk of Zen? While listening with you ear, you cannot tell. When hearing with your eye, you are truly intimate.

With realization, things make one family;
Without realization, things are separated in a thousand ways.
Without realization, things make one family;
With realization, things are separated in a thousand ways.


Peace Bell, Isumi City