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Chapter 11: What’s in a Name?

Kyozan’s asking the name signifies in the first place, “Are you awakened yet or still asleep in the world of name and form? Have you realized yet that you are nameless, anonymous? Have you found it, that you are no one in particular?” A very simple question, yet it contains immense significance - but only for those who can understand the language of Zen. For others it is very ordinary. Every day you ask people, “What is your name?”

Sansho could have said, “My name is Sansho”; then it would not have been a great dialogue. But Sansho said, “My name? - my name is Ejaku!”

Rather than denying, saying that “I have no name”.because even to say that “I have no name” is to accept the reality of I, the namelessness of I. But he could not be caught in the net Kyozan has thrown.

This is Zen play. When two masters meet, they ask questions, they answer questions, they provoke each other’s lion’s roar. Sansho said, “My name is Ejaku.”

Ejaku is not his name; Ejaku is Kyozan’s name. Before he became enlightened, before he was initiated, his name used to be Ejaku. His master after initiation gave him the name Kyozan. Sansho did a good play; he said, “My name is Ejaku.”

A Zen dialogue has to be spontaneous, outrageous, sudden, unexpected. Sansho was saying something which Kyozan would not have expected at all. He must have forgotten his own name long ago. Many years before when he was initiated, that was his name given by his parents. Hearing Sansho say, “My name is Ejaku,” Kyozan said, “Ejaku? Ejaku is my name!”

Sansho said, “My name is Enen!”
Kyozan laughed heartily.

Because Enen was also Kyozan’s name. That was his name in his childhood, a nickname. Ejaku was his official name, Enen was the nickname everybody used in the family, with the friends.

Kyozan laughed heartily because he could see the great perception and insight of Sansho. Sansho has not answered the question about himself at all. Rather than being straight and saying, “My name is Sansho”.it would have been wrong.

No name is true. All names are fictitious.

It happened that during a certain year a few years ago, America celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on a vast scale. Perhaps a certain time had passed, a hundred years or two hundred years. In this celebration one man was chosen to play the part of Abraham Lincoln. From all over America many people applied who looked a little bit like Lincoln, but one man was simply amazing. Even Lincoln would have been in a difficulty if he had met this fellow. He was more Lincoln than Lincoln himself. He was chosen.

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