"What is the Buddha?" "Dried shit stick."
I have always been grateful for poop. It is a source of unending amusement. Poop is a gift from the gods. It gives depth to our experience as humans. And I'm not being facetious.
If we defecated diamonds, life would lose its richness (plus that sounds painful).
As it is, we excrete brown, smelly paste from our buttholes. Thank God!
Not only is shit funny, it is the stuff that we compare everything else to. It's the lowest parameter of value and beauty in our world.
"You look like shit."
"This tastes like shit."
"That was a shitty thing to do."
Yes, it all goes to shit.
But is shit just the butt of jokes? (See what I did there?) Is shit separate and apart from the rest of creation? Shit vs the Universe?
I don't think so. Fecal matter is matter just like the earth and the stars. Your poop is made of stars!
The point is that shit is a miracle - like everything else. To see it as negative is dualistic thinking. God is not apart from anything. And a turd is brimming with life - all types of bacteria that are essential for breaking down food for you to digest. And you just flush them down the toilet! Don't you feel like a heel?
Your poop also has tons of your DNA - the stuff that makes up your physical existence. Now tell me that it's not sacred.
The point is that Buddha (or God or Brahman or Tao) is in a turd as much as in a flower. When you can see that, it is your first tiny glimpse of enlightenment.
If I had a dojo, I would have my students contemplate shit for 10 years until they were enlightened. Only then could they play around with the sand rake and bang gongs.
That's why Yunmen's answer to "What is the Buddha?" was "Dried shit stick." It's vulgar and shocking but also divinely profound.
He could have said "The sunset" or "The vast ocean" or "The stars". But that's where we all look. We feel a little warm and fuzzy for a few minutes and then we start thinking about ourselves again.
We should start the other way around. If you can see the Buddha in a pile of shit, where won't see the Buddha?