paul's e-scrapbook

Zhaozhou Congshen (Japanese: Joshu)

"Wash Your Bowl"

Collated by Paul Quek, in Singapore

One day, at the Guanyin Temple, in the midst of breakfast, a monk came to the abbot Zhaozhou ( Japanese: Joshu; also, romanized as "Chaochou" ) and said: "I have recently become your disciple in this Temple. Please guide me with your teachings, master."

Zhaozhou asked the monk: "Have you eaten your porridge?"

The monk replied: "Yes, I have eaten."

Zhaozhou then said: "Then go wash your bowl."

What did Zhaozhou meant by his answer?

The practice of Zen, perception, everyday actions -- these are the same. Thus, to be absolutely alert is to practise Zen.

What Zhaozhou was telling the monk was that the flavor of Zen was one with the flavor of the porridge.

There is nothing special about Zen.

Zen is about ordinariness.

Zen is about everyday things.

But the monk fell into the trap that many had done, which was to think that there was some esoteric "secret" to Zen that was hidden to all but the Zen masters. Yet Zhaozhou was hiding nothing from the monk.

Zhaozhou's reply put the monk back to ordinary daily life.

There is no special effort required in Zen practice.

Ordinary-mindedness is the Way.

See also Ordinary-mindedness is the Way

See also Ordinary-mindedness is the Way -- in cartoon form

Zen (Ch'an) Index

Contents page -- paul's e-scrapbook

Homepage - Paul's Website