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Verse commentary of Tendō Kaku (Tendō kaku ju 天童覺頌)

Verse commentary (ju 頌) to the second case (dai ni soku 第二則) in the Congrong Hermitage Record (Shōyōroku 從容録), "Bodaidaruma's 'Wide Open and Bare'" (Daruma kakunen 達磨廓然):

"Wide open and bare - there is nothing sacred."
The point of his coming was very different.
Succeeding, he swung the axe without violating the first principle;
failing, he overturned the rice pot without looking back.
All alone, he sat frozen at Shaolin;
silent and still, he fully explained the true teaching.
The clear moon of autumn turns its frosty wheel;
the faint Dipper in the river of stars dangles its evening handle.
In an unbroken line, the robe and bowl were handed down to descendants;
thence have humans and devas produced medicines and maladies.
The lion's roar is inexhaustible.
kakunen mushō  廓然無聖
raiki keitei 來機逕庭
toku hihan bi ni kikin  得非犯鼻而揮斤
shitsu fukai tō ni dasō 失不迴頭而墮甑
ryōryō rei za shōrin 寥寥冷坐少林
moku moku zentei shōryō 默默全提正令
shū seigetsu ten sōrin 秋清月轉霜輪
ka tanto sui yahei  河淡斗垂夜柄
jōjō ehatsu fu jison  繩繩衣鉢付兒孫
jushi ninden sei yaku byō  從此人天成藥病

"Wide open and bare-there is nothing sacred" are words attributed to Bodaidaruma in his exchange with Emperor Wu of the Liang, uttered in response to the latter's question, "What is the first principle of sacred truth (shōtai daiichigi 聖諦第一義)?" Tendō Kaku (C. Tiantong Jue 天童覺) comments that the "main point" (ki 機) of Daruma's "coming" (rai 來) to China was "very different" (keitei 逕庭) from what the emperor imagined. Daruma "succeeded" (toku 得) because he was able to "swing the axe" (kikin 揮斤) - i.e. give a verbal reply to the emperor's question - without violating (han 犯) the first principle of sacred truth (shōtai daiichigi 聖諦第一義), which is that all verbal expression is fatally flawed because it necessarily employs conceptual categories (names of things) that are empty. The word "nose" (bi 鼻) here means "first," i.e. the "first principle" that the emperor asks about. Daruma "failed" (shitsu 失) because he could not make the emperor understand, but he did not let it bother him. → "exchange in the Liang court."