Tozan said, “Why don’t you go where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk said, “Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
This is the misery that has always happened between the master and the disciple. The master is talking about the inner space and the disciple is hearing about some place somewhere outside. The master does not deal with places, he deals with spaces.
Tozan said, “When cold, let it be so cold that it kills you, and when hot, let it be so hot that it kills you.”
He is simply saying, “Be total in every situation whether it is cold or hot; be so total that your ego dies, that you are no more there.” In other words, the moment you are total you are not, but only a pure space. And that is your authentic reality.
A helping hand, but still a thousand-fathom cliff; Sho and Hen: no arbitrary distinctions here.
The ancient emerald palace shines in the bright moonlight.
Clever Kanro climbs the steps – and finds it empty.
A few footnotes will be helpful to understand Setcho’s commentary:
A legend tells of a clever, fast-running dog, Kanro, that chased a hare. Both ran so fast that eventually they fell dead of exhaustion.
The monk who asked the question in the present case is being compared to Kanro.
Be so total that your very totality becomes a fire in itself and burns everything that is false, phony, and leaves only the ancient emerald palace shining in the full-moon night.
Sho and Hen are in reference to Tozan’s five ranks, the philosophical treatment of the relationship between the real Sho and the apparent, Hen.
Philosophers have been concerned for centuries with the problem of what is real and what is apparent. Even in the beginning of this century two philosophers, Bosanquet and Bradley, wasted their whole lives writing treatises about the apparent and the real. Strangely enough, it was not only Bradley and Bosanquet; it has been discussed in China by Sho and Hen, it has been discussed in India by Shankara.