Knocking at the Gateless Gate

A Western Student’s Exploration in Zen Koans Benjamin Haas 2007


The Gateless Gate is a series of koans handed down from thirteenth century Zen masters. Its purpose is to aid the Zen student along the path toward enlightenment. In this way Zen stands in contrast to many other Buddhist traditions. Zen focuses almost entirely on the enlightenment of its students and masters; whereas, other traditions like the Theravada or Mahayana focus on attaining Nirvana. This is not to say that the Zen practitioner cares not for Nirvana, but is instead more focused on attainment in this life, than it is in a reincarnate one. This project is the attempt of a very new student of Zen, to look to ancient wisdom and explore the concepts I have the ability to see. Kōun Yamada translated the Gateless Gate text I have used for both the koans themselves and Mumon’s commentary. It also includes Yamada’s commentary on the koans and Mumon’s work as well. One of the most interesting parts of this work is the inclusion of Mumon’s commentary and poetic verses after each of the koans. While Mumon’s commentary is helpful at directing a student’s thought, it stands as only that, a guide for the student. Both Mumon and Yamada are careful not to give away too much. The reason for this gentle nudge for the student and not complete expiations comes in Yamada’s explanation of “Hyakujō and the Fox” where he explains that to give the answers to a student would be to cheat the student of the greatest pleasures1. Mumon’s poetic verses are like koans in themselves deep and rich in meaning, yet still very difficult to make sense of. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I feel as though it is necessary to explore more deeply exactly the function of a koan. A koan is a way in which Zen masters teach

Yamada, Kōun. The Gateless Gate. Wisdom Publications, (Boston, 2004). 19.

3 their students the way of Zen. As Mumon explains in his commentary in the first case, the goal of Zen is to break down the barriers of the ancient practitioners and extinguish all thoughts of the normal mind2. Yet this too seems a bit strange, in that in order to understand the koan one must possess this skill, and yet it is the very goal of the koan to teach these skills to the student. It can most simply be explained by the term skillful means. By this term I mean to state that master’s of Zen use tools like the koan to creatively push a student in the direction of Zen. These tools allow the students to discover for themselves the nature of the universe, without being beaten over the head with it. Henry Rosemont Jr. explains that the koan is a way of handing down a teaching that is antilogical, antilinguistic, and antiintellectual3. He explains that Zen teaching cannot be understood through common logic; instead the student of Zen must escape these paradigms and experience the nature of things, as opposed to intellectualizing them. By this I mean that they are the tools, in which one can not only understand these teachings but also attain enlightenment. This harkens back to a concept of Zen that is found much less prevalently in other Buddhist traditions, that enlightenment can happen to anyone in an instant. Oftentimes it is argued that finding the answer to a koan is the trigger to an enlightenment experience. The project that is contained in the following pages is the work of a new student of Zen to attempt to engage such skillful means and an exploration of the problems put forth in the Gateless Gate. I have offered my understanding of the koan, their explanations and a four line verse in response to each of them following that offered by Mumon.
2 3

Ibid. 12. Rosemont, Henry Jr. The Meaning Is the Use: Koan and Mondo as Linguistic Tools of the Zen Masters. from “Philosophy East and West,” Vol. 20, No. 2. (Apr., 1970), 110.


One final note, both Mumon and Kōun Yamada ask the student when looking at a koan to approach it from the standpoint of the essential nature of things, and thus to understand a koan is to see the essential nature of the universe. It is with this technique that I have approached each of these koans. It is also important to note that “Joshū’s dog,” the first case in the Gateless Gate, sets this type of approach nicely and pushes the student in this direction, so even one who doubts these two authors, the form of the koans themselves and their ordering leads one to believe the primacy of such a value. I make note of this, as I look back over the work I have done, and feel as though at times my explanations are redundant and most likely monolithic. I state this not apologetically, but merely to note that I stand where I stand on the path, and I know what I know, but I do so humbly, with only a hope that I make take another stride in the future.

Joshū’s dog The Case A monk asked Joshū in all earnestness, “Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?” Joshū said, “Mu”

The koan of Joshū and the question of Buddha nature is essential to understanding one of the most primary Zen teachings. The question of Buddha nature in a dog matters little, for the question could easily be about any object in the universe, but perhaps works best with sentient objects. For one is to realize that the answer Mu, translated by Yamada as

5 “nothing,”4 can be understood in several ways. First in the most literal sense noting breaks down to the words “no thing.” This teaches that there is no dog, monk to observe, Joshū, or even a Buddha nature as it is spoken of in the sense of being the object of a greater subject. This teaching explains that to see the world in the sense of these subject object distinctions is to miss out on the oneness of all “things.” Zen teachings claim that there is only the universal flow and all constructions of separation and object are merely delusions away from the essential nature of things. A second way to look at the koan is to assume that the “nothing” response is less western in its linguistic approach, but should direct one to a similar conclusion. Yamada’s answers here depict a direction of interrogation that must dissolve the self in order to see an answer. This is because one must determine what it is that is Mu, and in determining that they will have vision into the universality of Buddha nature. The cryptic nature of his response is largely due to the nature of the koan practice itself, but most simply the loan must be lived so the question is as much do I have Buddha nature as it is about the dog. From Here the quest becomes to realize the essential nature of the self, which for Joshū Mu Much like what is said above about Yamada’s commentary, Mumon’s asks us to deeply look into the meaning of Mu, grasp onto it and then see the answer. His request to extinguish all thought, is telling of the path to which one can approach the meaning of Mu. Mumon’s commentary near the end is his request that one kill the Buddha if you meet him and then the same if once meets a patriarch. At first glance these words seem deeply troubling, yet further examination into what Mumon is saying allows for the alleviation of the twisted mind. For if we take Joshū seriously, it is impossible to meet

Ibid. 13.

6 the Buddha on the road or a patriarch for that matter, that would imply the same subject and object distinctions that dissolved within the line of thinking in the koan. For there is no Buddha and no patriarch, and most importantly there is no “I,” that would be doing such killing and it is here that the true answer lay. Dog—Buddha nature! The perfect manifestation, the absolute command. A little “has” or “has not,” And body is lost! Life is lost! Ducks and trees—nothing! Only a universe of singularity Flowing over, flowing over And yet when we see ourselves, we drown. Hyakujo and the Fox The Case Whenever Master Hyakujō delivered a sermon, an old man was always there listening with the monks. When they left he left too. One day, however, he remained behind. The master asked him, “ What man are you, standing in front of me?” The old man replied, “Indeed I am not a man. In the past, in the time of Kashyapa Buddha, I lived on this mountain (as a Zen priest). On one occasion a monk asked me, ‘Does a perfectly enlightened person fall under the law of cause and effect or not?’ I answered, ‘he does not.’ Because of this answer, I fell into the state of a fox for 500 lives. Now I beg you, Master, please say a turning word on my behalf and release me from the body of a fox.” Then he asked “Does a perfectly enlightened person fall under the law of cause and effect or not?” The master answered, “The law of cause and effect cannot be obscured.” Upon hearing this, the old man immediately became deeply enlightened. Making his bows, he said, “I have now been released from the body of the fox and will be behind the mountain. I dare to make a request of the Master. Please perform my funeral as you would for a deceased priest.” The master had the Ino strike the anvil with a gavel and announce to the monks that after the meal there would be funeral services for a deceased priest. The monks wondered, saying, “All are healthy. No one is sick in the infirmary. What’s this all about?” After the meal, the master led the monks to the foot of a rock behind the mountain and with his staff poked out the dead body of a fox. He then performed the ceremony of cremation. That evening the master ascended the rostrum in the hall and told the monks the whole story. Ōbaku thereupon asked, “The man of old missed the turning and fell to the

7 state of a fox for 500 lives. Suppose every time he answered he made no mistakes, what would happen then?” The master said, “Just come nearer and I’ll tell you.” Ōbaku then went up to the master and slapped him. The master clapped his hands and, laughing aloud, said, “I thought the barbarian’s beard was read, but here is a barbarian with a red beard!”

This very long koan takes a bit of unpacking, but most clearly it describes the division between the phenomenal world and the essential one. The old man, while a fox for 500 lives, learns that the law of cause and effect cannot be obscured, thus all things phenomenally will change, yet that there are laws of consistency that cannot be avoided. To assume otherwise would be to assume that there was no consistent nature of all things, no oneness, or emptiness of the universe. Just as the Buddha taught it is a world of chaos, and impermanence, and thus it is through enlightenment and the quest for self-realization that one can come to see the essential and permanent emptiness of the essential universe. We see that while a fox or man the essence of the entity remained even if he bounced from one physical form to another. In the last lines of the koan we see the story of Ōbaku, who slapped the masters face when he asked him to come close. Yamada explains that it is most likely that he did not really slap the master, but stopped his hand just before making contact, and that this was a dharmalogical jousting between the master and student5. The master’s final lines are essentially saying that the student had become enlightened to the same degree of himself. Mumon’s commentary helps us to further realize the truth of essential natures that the grace in the life as a fox is merely an understanding that there is a phenomenal changing of our physical world, but it is through enlightenment and access to the

Ibid. 19.

8 essential universe that allows for true experience into the nature of things. It can also be taken that the grace the old man received as a fox was the ability and preparation to take in the truth when his mind was properly suited for it. This idea of mental readiness is a common thread found in many of the koans discussed here, and gives the student a way in which to understand the difficulty of Zen, as well as its focus on zazen meditation.

Not falling, not obscuring, Two faces, one die. Not obscuring, not falling, A thousand mistakes, ten thousand mistakes.

Perhaps it is better to run with scissors Than to go blind from looking at the sun For to be blind does not keep us from seeing But to be absorbed in sight does. Gutei’s One Finger The Case Whenever he was asked about Zen, Master Gutei simply stuck up one finger. He had a boy attendant whom a visitor asked, “What kind of teaching does your master give?” The boy held up a finger too. Hearing of this, Gutei cut off the boy’s finger with a knife. As the boy ran away, screaming with pain, Gutei called to him. When the boy turned his head, Gutei stuck up one finger. The boy was suddenly enlightened When Gutei was about to die, he said to the assembled monks, “I received this one-finger Zen from Tenryū. I’ve used it all my life but have not exhausted it.” Having said this, he entered nirvana.

9 Perhaps my favorite koan, the story of Gutei and one finger Zen, accesses a spirit of the thought that is easily misunderstood in the modern world. I say this in that it seems a great deal of absurdity comes in the cutting off o fingers in order to attain self-realization to my western mind, yet there is an absurdity of the universe that Zen attempts to access through this teaching. Though according to Yamada at the time of the incident Gutei had not yet been enlightened,6 and it was only after his master Tenryū held up one finger that Gutei experienced deep enlightenment. It is in understanding this that we realize that the cutting of he finger was not ideal, even though it was helpful in helping the boy attain enlightenment. Yamada goes on to explain that the point of the koan is to realize that the finger is the entire universe; oftentimes one would look and see the object finger in the space of the universe, but then we have missed the point. The finger is there to remind us of the singularity of all things. The finger does not exist in the universe, nor is it a manifestation of the universe, but instead it is the entire universe. The Buddha taught that all life is suffering, that suffering is caused by desires, and to eliminate desire is to eliminate the suffering. One of the strongest desires within the human psyche is for the permanence of the body. Yet as the Buddha teaches this can only lead us to greater suffering. The boy’s loss of the finger may also be seen as a careful step taken to aid the master in teaching of detachment from the body, for it is with his loss that he had a deep realization. But similarly Gutei’s cutting of the finger also remains as an attachment to the body as a mechanism by which to teach, thus demonstrating his attachment to the phenomenal world. Mumon’s commentary here attempts to guide the student’s thoughts about the koan, telling us that it is not he finger to focus on, and in seeing the truth beyond the

Ibid. 24.

10 finger the oneness of the universe is visible7. Mumon is telling us not to consider this a matter of detachment, but instead to look primarily to the understanding that enlightenment comes in flashes of reality about the nature of things. Old Tenryū made a fool of Gutei, Who cut the boy with a sharp blade. The mountain deity Korei raised his hand, and lo, without effort, Great Mount Ka with its many ridges was split in two! Gutei severed the finger of a boy And yet one finger was his only apology But it is with little effort worlds turn upside down And no apology is required. The Barbarian has no Beard The Case Wakuan said, “Why has the western barbarian have no beard?”

Yamada teaches that in ancient China all foreigners were called “hu” or “barbarians,” and that in looking to this koan one must consider the barbarian the Bodhidharma,8. He also tells us that it is well established that the Bodhidharma was always portrayed with a beard, but then why would Wakuan ask his question? It appears that this koan, when approached from the concept of overtaking Mu, tells us of the problems of our typical ways of perception. In Mumon’s commentary for “Joshū’s Dog,” he tells us that one who is properly enlightened and approaching the koans correctly will see through the eyes of all the patriarchs including the Bodhidharma, therefore to see the
7 8

Ibid. 23. Ibid. 28.

11 Bodhidharma is not to look through his eyes but instead to at them. Yamada goes on to explain that it comes down to a division of qualities those of the natural world and those that are essential. He claims that beards, appearances and all other physical things are merely transitory delusions of the true nature of the universe, but it is in looking to the essential qualities of any one thing that teaches us of the entire universe. So instead of seeing the Bodhidharma’s beard, or lack there of, we instead should be looking to the essence of his being, that which too is our own. There is also a very important metaphor within this koan, the idea of a beard, what is its purpose, or perhaps more importantly what does it do? It covers the face, similarly to how one’s vision can be that which covers the truth of the universe, and to see the beard is to miss out on all else. Mumon’s commentary is a question of the authenticity of one’s Zen vision. But the most important phrase to take from his response is the last line, “But if you say that you see him face to face, in that instant there is a division into two.” For if one is looking to the essential nature, of the barbarian, then one will not see another object, or else they cannot truly see, but instead to see is to view the universe in a constant vision of only the essential. Therefore, there is no barbarian and “I” there is only one. In front of a fool Do not talk about dreams; The barbarian has no beard: It’s adding obscurity to clarity. Just as you do not miss the man for his beard Do not miss the duck for its feathers Or the light of the way For vocabulary lessons.


Kyōgen’s Man Up a Tree The Case Master Kyōgen said, “It’s like a man up a tree, hanging from a branch by his mouth; his hands cannot grasp a branch, his feet won’t reach a bough. Suppose there is another man under the tree who asks him, ‘What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?’ If he does not respond, he goes against the wish of his questioner. If he answers, he will lose his life. At such a time, how should he respond? When monks entered into monasteries in ancient China they were given robes, a bowl, and a walking staff. The staff was often thought of as the dharma, and thus it was in holding to the staff that one stayed connected metaphorically to the essential teachings and nature of the universe. This tool was used to keep monks minds tethered to their lessons. Kyōgen’s man in a tree is not much different, for it is he who is physically attached to the tree, is tied like the monks mind to the dharma. It seems that the question that Kyōgen is asking is whether or not one who is deeply tied to the dharma should let go to some level in order to teach others. Perhaps more importantly though it the lesson that says one must let go of some of heir attachment to the dharma in order to spread the dharma. This almost seems to be a question of whether or not the hermit’s life is truly the best one for the Zen Buddhist. If we are to assume that the man in the tree has truly escaped the world of men, and in order to share the teachings, he or she must give up some level of enlightenment to go back and transmit the dharma. This would also seem to resonate with the idea that those who enter Nirvana often come back to help others along the path, giving up their ultimate reality in order that they might share it with others

13 in the future. Those in this tradition often claim that there is no final nirvana until all beings are attained. While this line of thinking is somewhat interesting another Zen story comes to mind, that of a master and a student walking along a cliff, when the student asks, “Master what is path to enlightenment?” The master says nothing, and the student repeats his question twice more. After the third question the master grabbed the arm of the student and swung him over the edge of the cliff, and said, “Let go! That is the path to enlightenment.” Now from this what are we to take, is it that the man in the tree should too let go? Do not believe so, the goal of this koan is not to be answered, but instead to help us realize the paradox that the enlightened being faces. But it is telling that the man in the tree is merely a man, not a monk or enlightened being; so it as if he stands in a very similar position to that of the student hanging from a cliff. The story of Nagasena also comes to mind in discussing this story. Nagasena was a student whose master asked him to run an errand and to hold water in his mouth while doing so. However, while Nagasena was out he was asked about the dharma, after careful deliberation he swallowed the water and after his conversation both he and the townsperson had a realization. Upon returning to the monastery his master threw him out for disobedience. Then after he went to the woods and meditated for some time he returned to the monastery, apologized, and was allowed to return. It seems as though this story would explain the opposite side of the argument claiming that Nagasena should have help tightly to the tree in order to better learn, and as expressed in later koans the student teacher relationship is one that cannot be violated.

14 Kyōgen is really absurd, His perversity knows no bounds; He stops up the monks’ mouths, Making his whole body into the glaring eyes of a demon. Just as the eagle’s talons grip the tree for safety, So too must they let go. But if it is I in the tree, Do I dare hold too tightly? Buddha Holds Up a Flower The Case Once in ancient times, when the World-Honored One was at Mount Grdhrakūta, he held up a flower, twirled it, and showed it to the assemblage. At this, they all remained silent. Only the venerable Kashyapa broke into a smile. The World-Honored One said: “I have the eye treasury of the true Dharma, the marvelous mind of nirvana, the true form of no-form, the subtle gate of the Dharma. It does not depend on letters, being specially transmitted outside all teachings. Now I entrust Mahakashyapa with this.” In order to understand “Buddha’s Twirling of a Flower,” it may be helpful to look back to Gutei’s finger and realize that they are one in the same. Both are mere instances of the symbolic nothingness and oneness of the universe. What each koan teaches is that the dharma cannot be taught through words, it can be told, but it is only through real experiences of the dharma and moments of true enlightenment, that one truly sees. Yamada also demonstrates that we are to take also from this koan that the only way of transmission of the dharma is through the passage from enlightened master to enlightened student9. This is to teach students that the only way of he path is through the master. This is not a uniquely Zen statement, but one heavily intertwined in the Zen practice, more so that in other traditions. As we can see that in every koan there is the relationship of masters and students, and it is always the students learning from the masters or a

Ibid. 38.

15 shared experience, never a master learn only from a student or enlightenment emerging from thin air. Thus this is the relationship of people in the world. Mumon’s commentary on the koan is quite unique and demonstrates his talents as a teacher. His main point being that Buddha nature can be transmitted; for that is what the Buddha taught, but if this is the case why then does he call the Buddha a swindler? Yamada tells us that it is essential to hear the irony in Mumon’s words, for it is not that the Buddha is cheating us, but that which he is transmitting to us we are constructed of, and thus he is really only transmitting a realization of that which we already possess. Thus, we are the dharma and Buddha nature; it is just our tendency to blindness that keeps us indicting the Buddha. In handling a flower, The tail of the snake manifested itself. Kashyapa breaks into a smile, Nobody on Earth or in heaven knows what to do. Smiling Kashyapa shines with the light Just as the sun dances on rivers But what we often forget Is that they are one in the same.

Joshū’s “Wash Your Bowls” The Case A monk asked Joshū in all earnestness, “ I have just entered this monastery. I beg you, Master, please give me instructions.” Joshū asked, “Have you eaten you rice gruel yet?” The monk answered, “Yes, I have.” Joshū said, “ then wash your bowls.” The monk attained some realization.

16 To be a student of Zen one must realize when they have come to a moment of impasse, and for me it is in this koan that I find the greatest difficulty. With that Yamada tells us there are two ways in which we must approach this koan, the first is of that of dealing with enlightenment. He explains that Zen masters avoid the descriptions of abstract concepts and when speaking to one another or students. Instead, always speaking in terms of the concrete10. Thus, in the story above when Joshū asked the monk if he had eaten his rice gruel, he was asking if he had yet been enlightened. Then also following the Zen practice of eliminating that, which is egotistical and esoteric, when the monk said yes, Joshū asked him to wash away all pride and the ego that sometimes comes with enlightenment. As a student who feels far departed from enlightenment It is my fear that I am here only reporting the taught meaning of this koan and can offer little more. Yamada’s second reading of the koan asks us to see the explanation of essential nature that is explained within the story. Just as Lao Tzu begins the Tao te Ching with the explanation of the Tao as a bowl, it seems as though Joshū is saying much the same thing. The bowl is a representation of the absolute emptiness of the universe, and at the same time represents the absolute unity of that universe, it is not as if there is a bowl filled with the emptiness of the universe, but instead the bowl itself is the entire universe. Mumon’s commentary is quite telling about the second reading of the koan, for he explains that Joshū has revealed the true nature of the universe to us, by showing the deepest most essential elements of Zen. He then explains that if we over think the problem then we become confused and obscure the true nature of things. This passage tells the same story as that of the Barbarian with no beard, for it is that we cannot see the


Ibid. 41.

17 true nature of things and must overcome the barrier of Mu, until the thoughts of ordinary things are extinguished.

Just because it is so clear, It takes us longer to realize it. If you quickly acknowledge that candle light is fire, You will find that the rice has long been cooked. A fleck of dust on washed bowls Is considered an imperfection; Though a star in the night sky Is used for direction. Keichū Makes Carts The Case Master Gettan asked a monk, “Keichū made a hundred carts. If he took off both wheels and removed the axle, what would he make clear about the cart?” Like Yamada teaches us from the very beginning, it is from the approach of looking for the essential nature of things that we must examine these koans. Uniquely Keichū and his carts are the mechanism by which we can physically see the tearing down of an object to get to those essential qualities. Here he teaches us the mechanism by which we can explain ourselves. By tearing away that which we have come to assume about ourselves, our attachment to the world, our desire for permanence; the very causes of our suffering, one who can eliminate these attachments can truly access the nature of not only themselves but the universe on the whole, for they are one in the same. Mumon’s commentary very quickly demonstrates that this koan’s goal is to teach the mechanism of thinking critical to true Zen understanding and enlightenment.. He

18 uses metaphors that we usually think impossible to demonstrate just how difficult the task may be, but also the power that is possessed when this mechanism is used.

Where the active wheel revolves, Even a master fails. It moves in four directions: above and below, South and north, east and west. A box is a cart, If we only look closely enough. To see that it too may carry rice, Is to see that it also must be washed. Daitsū Chishō The Case Once a monk earnestly asked Priest Jo of Koyo, “Daitsū Chishō Buddha sat in the meditation hall for ten kalpas, but the Dharma of the Buddha did not manifest itself and he could not attain Buddhahood. Why was this?” Jo replied, “ Your question is reasonable indeed.” The monk said,” He sat in zazen in the mediation hall. Why did he not attain Buddhahood?” Jo replied, “Because he was a non-attained Buddha.” Yamada tells us that the most simple is often the hardest to see, and that is truly the case for the koan of “Daitsū Chishō.” For he tells us that what we are to see is that the essential nature of us all is that of Buddha nature11. From this standpoint he then asks, “Can water get any wetter?” the point being that when the monk asks Jo about Daitsū Chishō Buddha, and why he did not attain enlightenment, even though he sat in deep meditation for near eternity, Jo’s answer that he is not an attained Buddha simply

Ibid. 50.

19 means that he could not attain status outside himself, because there is nothing outside of oneself. Again it calls on us to realize the true nature of the emptiness of the universe and the absolute position of all things and no things simultaneously. Mumon’s commentary seems to state that to intellectualize the problem of enlightenment is to miss the point, to experience the enlightenment of the Bodhidharma is not the same as to understand it in the non-experiential sense. Far better than realizing the body is to realize the mind and be at peace. If the mind is realized, there is no anxiety about the body; If both body and mind are completely realized, A holy hermit does not wish to be appointed lord. Confucius teaches to see what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice. But to say that is to be truly blind. For there is no sight without action, Just as there is nothing.

Seizei the Poor The Case A monk, Seizei, eagerly asked Master Sōzan,, “ I am solitary and poor. I beg you, Master, please help me to become prosperous.” San said, “Venerable Zei!” “Yes, Master!” replied Zei San said, “You have already drunk three cups of fine Hakka wine and still you say that you have not yet moistened your lips. Again we look to the essential nature of Seizei, but at the same time look to ourselves. And see that yes, we are all alone and poor in the universe, for it is empty, but at the same time it possess all things, and we are all those things. Thus, to be human is to

20 have the Hakka wine within us at all times. So to contemplate ourselves as lacking is to be blind to the reality that is the universe. Yamada tells us that Seizei is attempting to see the depth of Sōzan’s enlightenment with his commentary about being poor, to discover how well he understands the human condition, and what he finds is an absolute knowledge of the essential nature of all things. Mumon’s commentary asks the student to focus on how the wine was consumed, for it is in that understanding that one can fully grasp this koan. What we are to realize is that within ourselves we possess all the things we are said to consume, we often just fail to see te depths of our pockets. Poor like Hantan, Of a spirit like Kou, Though they cannot sustain themselves, They dare to compete with each other over wealth. To hold high the cup of life. Is no risk to spill. For what would fall? And where would it go?