Zhaozhou’s Cypress Tree

A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the mind that Bodhidharma brought from the west?” Zhaozhou said, “The cypress tree in the courtyard.” 

Peter Bursky explores Zhaozhou’s well-known Cypress Tree koan from the perspective of some of the traditions greatest trouble makers, including Zhaozhou, Bodhidharma and Iron beak Jiao.
The realisation that cuts away all time allows us to experience the exact cypress tree in Zhaozhou’s courtyard just as much as it allows us to share with Zhaozhou the trees in our own gardens. The cypress tree, the bottlebrush, the jacaranda, are all here right here now. 

There are many paths to enter the Way, but essentially there are only two, which are entering through principle and entering through practice. The first is accepting the enlightened doctrine that all beings possess the same true nature which is obstructed from our view by worldly attachments. This doctrine leads us to forsake the false and return to the true by sitting and facing a wall, with no self or other, and where sacred and mundane are the same; resolute and unmoving, not pursuing some external teaching, remaining solitary in non-action in accordance with the mysterious Way, this is called “entering the Way through principle.” Entering the Way through practice entails four essential practices derived from ten thousand. They are, accepting your karmic conditions, endeavoring to practice with the conditions one encounters, seeking nothing more than this, and adhering to Buddhist teachings”.

(from Andy Ferguson’s “Tracking Bodhidharma”)

This Dharma talk was given by apprentice teacher, Peter Bursky at the September 2021 Zazenkai.