A Ball Tossed on Boundless Rushing Water Barry Magid May 6th 2017

The monk in this koan asks a question that underlies our early approaches to practice - what does the state we're trying to attain look like? Usually, this involves an element of subtraction - what is it in my mind I have to get rid of in order to be enlightened. Wiping the slate clean is one version of this fantasy. Tossing a ball on running water dashes this fantasy and is not at all our image of the calm meditative mind. It's a picture of the mind in motion. A mind moving so fast that nothing can grasp it. This is also an image of how Zen approaches consciousness. The goal is not to create the calm or stillness of the undisturbed lake. Instead, there's something we settle into that stops trying to control or eliminate anything about what our mind is naturally doing.

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The Blue Cliff Record, Case 80 Joshu's Rushing Water

The Main Case

A monk asked Joshu, "Does a newborn infant also have six consciousnesses?"
Joshu said, "A ball tossed on rushing water."

The monk went on to ask Toshi, "What is the meaning of a ball tossed on rushing water?"
Toshi said, "Moment to moment, non-stop flow."


Inactivation of the six consciousnesses presents a question.
The adepts both discerned where it comes from -
A ball tossed on boundless, rushing water.
It doesn't stay where it lands; who can watch?

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