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Sun Face, Moon Face

I have been working on an essay for my philosophy course focused on western religions. Grueling work you know? 8 to 10 page requirement, with a minimum of 6 sources and way too many cups of coffee kind of grueling. Anyhow, while workin on the research I was watching an online Buddhist service, based out of San Francisco. The individual leading the service is named Gendo Lucy Xiao. Now, maybe it’s a tad bit of procrastination but after hearing the story (or koan as they refer to it- think the equivalent of a Christian scripture,) I had to share it with you guys because it very much resonated with me.

This Koan comes from a record called “The Blue Cliff Records.” The one that I was learning about is about a Buddhist Master, named Master Mal. The Koan is titled “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.” Master Mal is unwell, and a few stories after this one he passes.

Visibly unwell, a practitioner asks him if he is alright. He simply responds, “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.” Sun Face Buddha is spoken to live for 1,800 years and represents longevity. Whereas Moon Face Buddha only lives for one day and one night.

One interpretation of this Koan is that Master Mal is saying he will persevere despite life’s experiences- such as ailments and death.

However, the interpretation that resonated with my own experiences in life is a little more in depth. Lucy Xiao explains that in some Koans Sun Face Buddha represents what is long lasting, like our awakenings into Zen ( now keep in mind I come from a Christian background, so for me Zen is more symbolic of peace and mental tranquility.) Moon Face Buddha, represents life and death, the phenomena of life itself. She compares the two as absolute versus relative. A “it is what it is” approach she describes this koan as.

“ The essence of this teaching, is as life goes on; through it’s moments of different situations, ups and downs, different happiness and sadness, what happens is always there, it never leaves us.” -Gendo Lucy Xiao

One thing that I have grown to cherish, especially through connections made through Supportive Art at 217, is that we are all just collections of moments that made us who we are today. And when we truly connect with one another we get an opportunity to share those stories and moments with others, and in turn those receiving our stories carry the lessons and interpretations based off their own experiences through their lives as well.

Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha. Life is short term, and liminal at best. But our stories and experiences continue on through everyone we interact with. And everyone they interact with. Our impact is everlasting. Our small moments are the sun, beautiful and glowing with every rise and set. Our lives are as transcendent and illuminating as the moon on an otherwise dark night.

Anyhowwwww, thank you for reading through my philosophical ramblings. And as always,

Be Safe,


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