Once, in the old days, in the time of the World-honored One, Manjusri went to the assembly of the Buddhas and found that everyone had departed to his original dwelling place.
Only a girl remained, sitting in samadhi close to the Buddha's throne.
Manjusri asked Shakyamuni Buddha, "Why can the girl get near the Buddha's throne, while I cannot?"
Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Bring her out of her samadhi and ask her yourself
Manjusri walked around the girl three times, snapped his fingers once, took her to the Brahma heaven, and exerted all his miraculous powers to bring her out of her meditation, but in vain.
The World-honored One said, "Even a hundred thousand Manjusris cannot make her wake up.
But down below, past twelve hundred million lands as innumerable as the sands of Ganges, there is a Bodhisattva Mõmyo
He will be able to rouse her from her samadhi."
Instantly the Bodhisattva Mõmyõ emerged from the earth and made a bow to the World-honored One, who gave him his imperial order
The Bodhisattva went over to the girl and snapped his fingers once
At this she came out of her samadhi.
Old Shakyamuni put a petty drama on the stage and failed to enlighten the masses.
I want to ask you: Manjusri is the teacher of the Seven Buddhas; why couldn't he arouse the girl from her samadhi?
How was it that Mõmyõ, a Bodhisattva at the beginner's stage, could do it?
If you understand this intimately, you will enjoy Nagya's grand samadhi in the busiest activity of consciousness.
One was successful, the other was not;
Both secured freedom of mind.
One in a god-mask, the other in a devil-mask;
Even in defeat, a beautiful performance.
A magical tale in the language of the inconceivable. But still it must mean something, it must refernce some experience of the advanced practitioner who has worked their way through most of the Mumonkan. First we must understand the story. A girl deep in samadhi cannot be roused by Manjusri the Bodhisattva of wisdom, one of the most advanced Bodhisattvas an enlightened being. But Monyo a Bodhisattva not from the heavenly realms but rather from the dark places deep within the Earth wakes her from her samadhi.
There are two questions that we answer with this koan. For the advanced practitioner what is the nature of samadhi? The second question is how do we interact with the world with this samadhi? For years we work very hard to first learn to go into samadhi and then make samadhi part of everyday life. At first we experience small bits of samadhi but it has no stability. But then as we experience samadhi more and more it develops stability but it also changes. The shift into samadhi stops being dramatic and we find ourselves in samadhi naturally. Samadhi becomes not something that happens just on the cushion but a way of interacting with the world both on and off the cushion and the samadhi on and off the cushion can be different. On the cushion absolute samadhi is absolutely quiet without discrimination but it is also without heart. That won't work off the cushion. To function in the world we need to be able to think and more then just think we need to function with heart and still be in samadhi. This is different then the way most people function. Most of us are caught in our small world of I and our minds are running without discipline filled with ego based thoughts and ego based emotions. In active samadhi we function with the wisdom of no self, without attachment to ego based thought or emotion, but still deeply felt with love and compassion and thought directed to the activity at hand.
Why would Manjusri take a disciplined meditator out of absolute samadhi? Manjusri lives in the heavenly realm of absolute samadhi. Monyo on the other hand, from the earthly realm, knows suffering well. We practitioners of Zen should not hide within our meditation but instead use the power of meditation to engage the suffering of the world. But, be careful don't get caught by this suffering. Don't return to that world of judgement of and attachment to right and wrong. Stay within the world of non-duality and no-self even as you function within duality. If you can do this you will always be in samadhi.