Case 66 Book of Equanimity

Kyûhô’s Head and Tail


Even a person who can apply supernatural powers cannot let a foot down; Even a person who forgot all karma ties and extinguished all thoughts cannot raise a foot. You should say: Sometimes you kill by running, sometimes you kill by sitting. How can you attain the proper balance?


A monk asked Kyûhô, “What is the head?” Kyûhô said, “Opening the eyes and not perceiving the dawn.” The monk said, “What is the tail?” Kyûhô said, “Not sitting on a ten-thousand-year-old sitting place.” The monk said, “What if there is a head, but no tail?” Kyûhô said, “After all, it is not valuable.” The monk said, “What if there is a tail, but no head?” Kyûhô said, “Being complacent, yet having no power.” The monk said, “What if the head matches the tail?” Kyûhô said, “The descendants will prosper, but it is not known in the room.”


Round for a compass, square for a ruler:

When used, it functions; when cast away, it hides.

When stumbling a bird living in the reeds;

Unable to go forward or backward a sheep stuck in the hedge.

Eating rice of other people, sleeping in one’s own bed.

Clouds come up and cause rain, dew forms and becomes frost.

The jade lines cross each other and go through the eyes of needles;

The baldaquin threads constantly rush out of the weaving shuttles.

The stone woman’s loom stops, and the color of the night turns to noon;

The wood person walks on the road, and the moon is gone beyond the midnight.