From last issue：Travelling students generally go around matching their skills against others．How do they match their skills?“Do Chan meditators actually take up swords or guns and fight it out with one another？”No,they engage in verbal combat
Zhou asked him. When Master Ci Zhou met him, he didn't say anything else, but just asked him, "When Zhi Feng Tu is close to the green mountains, but the platform of the king of Yue is far from the vast sea, what should be done?" What should one do? This is known as verbal combat. What is verbal combat? Didn't I just tell you? It isn't simply a matter of reciting two lines of verse. It depends on how you answer, on whether your answer makes sense or not, and on how his original meaning correlates with the meaning of your own answer. As it is said, "An expert merely needs to see you stretch out your hand to know whether or not you have it." As soon as you reach out your hand, he will know whether or not you are familiar with the trade. This is similar to the way horse-traders operate. I don't know how to be a horse-trader, but I've been to horse trading fairs before. It's said that the buyers and sellers of horses don't talk about prices outright. What do they do? It's said that they put their hands in their sleeves, and just by extending a few fingers to show each other, they can determine the price of the horse. That's how they do it. It is done covertly, not out in the open. Now, in verbal combat, by means of alternating questions and answers, two people can understand each other without having to speak plainly. That's called verbal combat, or dou ji feng. Ji refers to opportunity, and feng means the tip of a sword. This means to meet at the blade of the sword--to realize the key point. But this is a verbal "tip of the sword," not the tip of an actual sword or gun.
"When Zhi Feng Tu is close to the green mountains, but the platform of the king of Yue is far from the vast sea, what should be done?" There is one way to explain this that sounds like sophistry, but we won't explain it that way. Zhi Feng Tu ("stop the wind and mud") means that if you don't follow the rules, then you will have the wind, which is greed, and it will cover up your wisdom. Yet, within this, the green mountains and spring waters are very pure, very fine, and very beautiful. Zhi Feng Tu is very close both to defiled places and to the place of purity. In other words, with a thought of purity, you have green mountains; with a thought of defilement, there is wind and mud.
"The platform of the king of Yue is far from the vast sea." The platform of the king of Yue refers to the territory of King Gou Jian of the kingdom of Yue. His place was probably a long ways from the sea. For the sake of his kingdom, the king of Yue slept on firewood for a mattress and had a piece of gall hung over his bed, [which he licked to remind him of the bitterness of his defeat]. He was planning something. He had a goal in mind; he had an intention, and he did not spare himself any hardship in his determination to make a successful comeback in the future. The sea was very far away. The vast sea has no intent at all. It doesn't hope to succeed, nor does it hope to take revenge in any way. It isn't like that. Therefore, it's not easy to change the vast sea. The platform of the king of Yue could not endure as long as the sea. One was eternal, and one was temporary. That is, if you have a mind, intent, and consciousness, then your state is impermanent and has an end to it. If you don't have any mind, intent, or consciousness, then even though it's a long distance and cultivation is not easy, it will last for a boundless time. Anything that has form and appearance is subject to destruction. Only that which is formless and without appearance is real. That which has no form or appearance is like the vast sea, while that which has form and appearance is like the platform of the king of Yue. The king's platform is temporary, while the sea lasts forever. However, the eternal and the temporary are not ultimate, either.
After Master Ci Zhou had spoken, the Master replied with a verse. The Master said, "The moon penetrates the water and shatters the bottom of the lake." When the moon shines, it shines right down to the bottom of the lake. "Shatters the bottom of the lake" doesn't mean that the lake bottom really breaks up. It simply means that from above, the moonlight shines all the way down to the lake bottom. Thus, the text says "shatters."
"Yet these waves do not smooth their brows." This line says these waves will not smooth their brows. When the moonlight shines into the water, they don't react. They don't think, "Oh! It's so uncomfortable! The moonlight has pierced me. Oh no!" They won't try to move aside or crease their brows. In these two lines, the moon represents wisdom and the waves afflictions. If you have wisdom, then afflictions will no longer have any effect. Nothing will be able to sway you. You have shined all the way to the bottom, so the lake bottom is shattered. Nevertheless, the waves don't show any expression at all. They remain unmoved. The waves don't rise up anymore.
To be continued