Chiao-an was the niece of a high official of the Sung dynasty. When she was young, she set her heart on the way of Ch’an; she decided early on not to marry or bear children.
She experienced clear awakening at the words of Yüan-wu as he spoke to the assembly.
Yüan-wu said to her, “You should go on to erase your views—then you will finally be free.”
She answered in verse,
The void shows its claws and fangs;
Even if one profoundly understands,
There is still sand in the eye.
This story originated in the Song Dynasty, not the Tang, but I include it in this collection for two reasons. First, Yuan-wu was the author/compiler of the Blue Cliff Record, an important collection of kong-ans. Second, Chiao-an's poem is remarkably sharp and thus worthy of wider recognition.
Photo by Brad Swick