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Bring Me The Rhinoceros : Shuso Koan


Below is the koan my teacher endorsed for Hossen Shiki (Dharma Combat) on May 26, 2019. This signifies the end of my period as Shuso or head student which encompassed my three thirty-day Angos.

The event is at the STO training site of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center (ASZC), in Atlanta Georgia.

While you will not attend the event on that day, feel free to drop me an email about the Koan below.

I am also placing the koan on our Facebook site (FSZS) so you may wish to go there to comment .




Shuso Koan Study: May 26, 2019

Ango: Sangaku Dan Joslyn: I suggest the moment called for something special

What do you think?


Blue Cliff Record 91, Book of Serenity 25

53 Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #91 Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #25 Yanguan and the Rhinocerous Fan


Yanguan (750-842, 9th generation, Hongzhou) was a disciple of Mazu (709-788, 8th gen.). He trained with Mazu for 30 years, and, after Mazu died, wandered around for thirty more years. He was over seventy when he finally settled down to teach, until he died at ninety-two. Touzi (819-914, 11th gen.), Shishuang (807-88, 11th gen.), Zifu (870?-940?, 13th gen.), and Baofu (868-928, 13th gen.) were later masters whose response to the case has now become a part of the case. Xuedou (980-1052, 16th gen.) is the original compiler of the Blue Cliff Record, and here inserts his editorial comment. This is the only case (in GG, BCR, or BOS) in which Yanguan appears. We will meet Touzi, Shishuang, Zifu, and Baofu several times again. The BOS version leaves out Touzi's, Shishuang's, and Baofu's remarks as well as all of Xuedou's editorial comments.

Yuanwu's Preface

Transcend delusive attachments, deceptive ideas, and all kinds of entanglements. Proclaim the marvelous teachings and uphold the precious treasury of the true Dharma. Secure the free command of the ten directions and the perfect serenity of the eight dimensions. Let the land of peace be realized. Now, tell me, is there anyone who will go hand in hand with the Buddha, testifying to the same realization, living the same life and dying the same death? This case illustrates.

Wansong's Preface

Lands and seas are boundless, yet they are not apart from right here. Things and previous kalpas, numerous as the dust, all exist right now. As when one is asked to show it face to face, being caught unprepared, one cannot present it. Tell me: Where is the fault?


One day, Yanguan called to his attendant, "Bring me the rhinoceros fan." The attendant said, "It is broken." Yanguan said, "If the fan is already broken, bring me the rhinoceros himself." The attendant gave no answer. Touzi said, "I wouldn't mind bringing that, but the horn on its head would not be complete." (Xuedou said, "I need to see that incomplete horn.") Shishuang said, "If I brought it back to you, nothing would remain [for me]." (Xuedou said, "That rhinoceros is still there.") Zifu drew a circle and wrote the ideograph "ox" in it. [The Chinese character for "ox" is one of the two characters for "rhinoceros."] (Xuedou said, "Why didn't you bring it out sooner?) Baofu said, "Master, you are so advanced in years . Please engage someone else.” (Xuedou said, "Regrettable! All efforts have proved fruitless!")

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