The sages were not at all different from you

Louie Wing said, “The sages of all the great traditions in the ten times were not at all different from you people sitting here today. They saw things and heard things with the same seeing and hearing that you are using right now. They did not stop thoughts and feelings from arising; they just did not attach themselves to them. The mind of a sage illumines the myriad things without becoming identified by them.”

Martin asked, “After someone has awakened, is it still necessary to practice or not?”

Louie Wing said, “When you truly awaken, practicing and not practicing are both seen through as merely conceptual ideas. Nevertheless, what I am calling ‘awakening’ is not a state of being; awakening is a continuous process, an ongoing unfolding. Of course, these terms, too, miss the point. It is truly beyond the realm of conceptualization. Just step back into your own pure and clear, luminous awareness and resolve the issue directly.”

~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

9 thoughts on “The sages were not at all different from you”

  1. Hi Ted,

    I remember the story from reading it in Flatbed Sutra. Even so, it strikes me that Ted and Louie can still speak with different voices and so Ted might censor when Louie might not. I suppose no two people are alike eh?

  2. Hello Mike,

    Great to hear from you! Thank you for these potent, illumining poems–and for the link! I like this:

    “…don’t wait for the man standing in the snow
    to cut off his arm help him now

    the crow’s caw was okay but one night with a lovely whore
    opened a wisdom deeper than what that bird said

    self other right wrong wasting your life arguing
    you’re happy really you are happy

    only one koan matters

    Here is a little story from the Flatbed Sutra that was inspired by Ikkyu:

    One time, when Louie Wing was walking home from a play with several students, a prostitute accosted him. She said, “There is something about you that makes me think you would be an interesting client. I think that you would enjoy it, too. I will give you a special price, what do you say?”

    Louie Wing said, “My lady, it would be an honor.” Then he said goodnight to his students and wandered off with the woman.

    When word of this spread among his students, many were astonished and Lee confronted him openly, saying, “We thought you were some kind of a wise sage. How could you indulge yourself in sexual pleasure with a hooker?”

    Louie Wing said, “Ah! Even the memory of it quickens my pulse!”

    Thanks again!


  3. And…

    I was like an old leafless tree until we met green buds burst and blossom
    now that I have you I’ll never forget what I owe you

    your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh
    green distances of your blindness

    I’d sniff you like a dog and taste you
    then kiss your other mouth endlessly if I could white hair or not

    Now you can choose to censor or not 🙂

  4. Hi Ted:

    “I will have to censor it a bit”

    Sounds like a koan for you to work with. Here’s a link to an unabridged Ikkyu: Ikkyu poems (contains strong language)

    why is it all so beautiful this fake dream this craziness why?

    self other,right,wrong,wasting your life arguing,
    you’re happy; really you are happy.
    Only one koan matters

  5. Hello Alex,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Yes, I agree. I remember Aitken Roshi once saying something like:

    Ah! The worms in the night-soil bucket,
    Are squirming with Buddha-Nature!

    Thanks again.


  6. Hello Barry,

    Great to hear you.

    Thank you for this excellent Ikkyu poem!

    I remember a poem by Ikkyu, but I will have to censor it a bit:

    Koans and chanting,
    What ****
    But not the delicious *****
    Of the ***** girls
    I go **** **

    Thanks again!


  7. Does our own pure and clear luminous awareness really need to be purified, cleared or enlightened? How can we practice being pure and clear luminous awareness? Are we ever outside of it? Seeing that clearly, the whole idea of Zen practice becomes a joke.

    Yet, there is practice-realization. Who is sitting in zazen? When it becomes clear that no one is sitting, what is left is just-sitting, shikantaza.

    All the best,


  8. Hi Ted,
    This post brought to mind a poem by Ikkyu that I saw earlier this week on Whiskey River:

    Why are people called Buddhas
    After they die?
    Because they don’t grumble any more,
    Because they don’t make a nuisance
    Of themselves any more.

    Best wishes for these sunny, cool autumn days!


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