Hekiganroku, Case 56: Kinsan’s “Single Arrow”

Teisho presented by Arno Hess on 20/03/2022 at the Pathway Zen Zenkai at Spring Hill, QLD, Australia.


The myriad Buddhas have never come into the world;
There is no Dharma to be given to the people.
The patriarch has never come from the West;
There has never been a transmission of Mind.
As a matter of course, the people of this time do not understand;
They continue to run toward the outside looking for it.
They do not know that the single great matter lying beneath their feet
Has never been found by the thousand sages.
Right at this very moment: Seeing and not seeing, hearing and not hearing,
Speaking and not speaking, knowing and not knowing.
Where do they come from?
If you have not perceived, then go into the cave of entanglements and understand. To test, I cite this
case, look!


A Zen devotee named Ryô asked Kinzan, “What is it when one single arrow breaks through
three barriers?” Kinzan said, “Drive out the master from behind the barriers, so that I may see him.”
Ryô said, “If so, I will acknowledge my failure and correct it.” Kinzan said, “Till when do you want to
wait?” Ryô said, “I made nice shots, but no one could see the arrow,” and he went out. Kinzan said,
“Wait, sir.” Ryô turned his head. Kinzan grasped him and said, “Let’s put aside the story of the arrow
which breaks through three barriers. Just shoot an arrow for me, so that I may see it.” Ryô hesitated.
Kinzan hit him seven times with a stick and said, “I will allow this fellow to keep puzzling for thirty


I have brought him out for you, the master of the barrier.
Those who let loose arrows, don’t be careless.
If you take this eye, the ears will surely become deaf;
If you take this ear, both eyes will go blind.
It is greatly to be admired, breaking through three barriers with a single arrow.
Distinct and clear, the path of the arrow.
Don’t you see? Gensha had something to say:
“The outstanding student precedes heaven in becoming the mind’s patriarch.”

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