Shitou Xiqian

(Sekito Kisen) 700-790

Shitou Xiqian is well known as the author of two popular Zen teaching poems – The Identity of Relative and Absolute (Sandokai) and The Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage.  Of his life, however, there are few records.

One traditional story tells of an encounter between Shitou and Daowu:

Daowu asked, “What is the great meaning of the Buddhadharma?” [notice this is exactly the question asked to Qinqyuan, above]
Shitou said, “Not attaining, not knowing.”
Daowu asked, “Is there anything beyond this?”
Shitou said, “The sky does not obstruct the white cloud’s flight.” 

Further Reading

Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness – Shunryu Suzuki (talks on the Sandokai)
Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou’s Classic Poem – Ben Connelly

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