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ZEN

THE BUDDHA: THE EMPTINESS OF THE HEART

Chapter 5: In the blink of an eye

 

Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The emptiness of the heart

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
DAIO SAID TO GENCHU:
SINCE ANCIENT TIMES, THE ENLIGHTENED ANCESTORS APPEARING IN THE WORLD RELIED JUST ON THEIR OWN FUNDAMENTAL EXPERIENCE TO REVEAL SOMETHING OF WHAT IS BEFORE US: SO WE SEE THEM KNOCKING CHAIRS AND RAISING WHISKS, HITTING THE GROUND AND BRANDISHING STICKS, BEATING A DRUM OR ROLLING BALLS...
DAIO CONTINUED:
EVEN THOUGH THIS IS SO, EMINENT GENCHU, YOU HAVE TRAVELED ALL OVER AND SPENT A LONG TIME IN MONASTERIES. DON'T WORRY ABOUT SUCH OLD CALENDAR DAYS AS THESE I MENTIONED -- JUST GO BY THE LIVING ROAD YOU SEE ON YOUR OWN; GOING EAST, GOING WEST, LIKE A HAWK SAILING THROUGH THE SKIES. IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE YOU CROSS OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE.
ON ANOTHER OCCASION DAIO SAID TO KUSHO:
THE CAUSE AND CONDITIONS OF THE ONE GREAT CONCERN OF THE ENLIGHTENED ONES IS NOT APART FROM YOUR DAILY AFFAIRS. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HERE AND THERE. IT PERVADES PAST AND PRESENT, SHINING THROUGH THE HEAVENS, MIRRORING THE EARTH. THAT IS WHY IT IS SAID THAT EVERYTHING IN THE LAST MYRIAD EONS IS RIGHT IN THE PRESENT.
WE VALUE THE GREAT SPIRIT OF A HERO ONLY IN THOSE CONCERNED. BEFORE ANY SIGNS BECOME DISTINCT, BEFORE ANY ILLUSTRATION IS EVIDENT, CONCENTRATE FIERCELY, LOOKING, LOOKING, COMING OR GOING, TILL YOUR EFFORT IS COMPLETELY RIPE.
IN THE MOMENT OF A THOUGHT, YOU ATTAIN UNION. THE MIND OF BIRTH AND DEATH IS DESTROYED AND SUDDENLY YOU CLEARLY SEE YOUR ORIGINAL APPEARANCE, THE SCENE OF YOUR NATIVE LAND; EACH PARTICULAR DISTINCTLY CLEAR. YOU THEN SEE AND HEAR JUST AS THE BUDDHAS DID, KNOW AND ACT AS THE ENLIGHTENED ANCESTORS DID.

Maneesha, one who is interested in knowing who he is has two ways open to him. One is the way of knowledge: reading scriptures, studying old scholars, collecting as many concepts about one's being as possible. That is the cheaper way. There would be nothing wrong if it were only that it is cheaper, but it is wrong, too.
The second way is not to bother about others. Howsoever valuable those scriptures may be, they cannot give you even a single glimpse of your fundamental nature. A thousand buddhas together cannot force you to become a buddha.
It is your essential right to know your fundamental nature or not to know it. You cannot be forced by teachers, by parents. Yes, they can force knowledge upon you, they can force ideologies upon you. They do force religion, without understanding that if you are full of ideologies you become almost crippled, prevented from knowing your own nature. You are so burdened with borrowed knowledge that you cannot travel to the higher mountains. You have to drop all your weight. As you go high even breathing becomes difficult; even to have your clothes on becomes difficult. You have to drop all weight, you have to become weightless.
What is true in mountaineering is also true in the inner world of consciousness. If you want to go in you will have to cut through, in a single blow, all the knowledge that has been given to you. Just burn it! It is better to be ignorant on the path -- because at least ignorance is innocence -- than to be knowledgeable.
Knowledgeability is the greatest hindrance to knowing, because you think as if you already know. But there is no `as if' in existence. Either you know it or you don't know it. And there is no way of communicating it through words; all words will be misunderstood. Only the presence of a living master, a wordless silence, can perhaps become a glimpse, a triggering point in you. It is not being done by the master; it happens in your receptivity, in your openness. Something clicks. There is no other word to replace the word `click'.
Daio is saying to Genchu:
SINCE ANCIENT TIMES, THE ENLIGHTENED ANCESTORS APPEARING IN THE WORLD RELIED JUST ON THEIR OWN FUNDAMENTAL EXPERIENCE TO REVEAL SOMETHING OF WHAT IS BEFORE US...
Those who have known -- their difficulty is that of communication. You know the taste of salt but you cannot convey it through language. Language has limitations, and the experience of your fundamental nature is of the unlimited. To bring the unlimited to the limitations of language is a tremendously risky task. Even though it is done with absolute accuracy, it is going to fail. Seeing this, the ancient masters have not relied on scriptures, have not even relied on language. They are their own authority; it does not matter whether all the scriptures of the world say something else. They know the taste of truth. Their authority is not derived from their scholarship; they are the authority unto themselves.
It brings a problem, because they cannot use scriptures; they cannot use ordinary means of communication. Hence, they used anything that was in front of them.
... SO WE SEE THEM KNOCKING CHAIRS AND RAISING WHISKS, HITTING THE GROUND AND BRANDISHING STICKS, BEATING A DRUM OR ROLLING BALLS...
Anything, just to wake you up. Because the question is not of teaching you a philosophical understanding; the question is of existential awakening.
When for the first time the West became aware of Zen masters, they thought, "These people are absolutely crazy! Somebody is asking about truth and you hit him?" Obviously, it looked crazy -- and the more so because the person who is being hit, in deep gratitude, bows down and touches your feet! The West was completely puzzled. When Zen books started being translated for the first time, the Western philosophers were hitting their heads. They had never heard that by slapping a man who is asking a question, you are answering him. They had no idea what was implied in this hitting or slapping. One Zen master even threw a man from the second-story window to the ground. The man had come to ask, "What is truth?" Not only did the master give him fractures, he jumped on top of him and asked him, "Do you get it?"
And the poor fellow had to say, "Yes, Master."
This kind of incident was absolutely unknown outside the Zen tradition. But you have to understand it, what is implied. When a Zen master hits, he is saying, "You are the truth, and you are asking about it? Are you kidding? You are the buddha and you are asking what the buddha is?" By hitting you he is simply saying, "Look at yourself, rather than asking like a beggar from one place to another. Just go in and look." His hitting is a shock; in that shock perhaps your thinking may stop, there is every possibility. You were not expecting a hit; you had come with deep humbleness, touching the feet of the master....
And sometimes it has happened that the person has not even asked the question and the master has hit him, because his very coming and touching the feet means he has some question to ask. It does not matter what question, you deserve a good hit! It is throwing you back to yourself; it is saying in an existential way that you are the answer -- don't seek it anywhere.
Having no other way to communicate, they devised anything that might wake you up, throw you upon yourself. Asking a question means you are putting the responsibility on the master to answer you. But his answer cannot be your answer.
Nobody else's answer can be your answer. Your answer has to grow within you, just as a rose grows. That's what the master is saying by hitting you: Don't go anywhere, just go in; stop asking, stop begging, because you are already in the kingdom of the buddhas but you have not looked in. Perhaps a good hit, perhaps the master throwing the disciple from the window may awaken him from his somnambulistic state -- the state in which we all are... half asleep, half awake, just at the minimum awake.
The major part of our being is fast asleep. According to modern psychologists, only one part out of ten is awake; nine-tenths are fast asleep. With this much sleep within you, it is impossible to know the truth, to know love, to know the nature of existence.
Daio is saying that these ancient masters had to fall back on strange methods, but there was simply one reason: in some way to wake you up.
DAIO CONTINUED:
EVEN THOUGH THIS IS SO, EMINENT GENCHU, YOU HAVE TRAVELED ALL OVER AND SPENT A LONG TIME IN MONASTERIES. DON'T WORRY ABOUT SUCH OLD CALENDAR DAYS AS THESE I MENTIONED -- JUST GO BY THE LIVING ROAD YOU SEE ON YOUR OWN.
He is saying all the old masters and the buddhas and the patriarchs are old calendars -- don't be bothered about them. Follow the living stream which you see with your own eyes -- no belief, no faith, simply be clear. Zen requires of the disciple a clarity, an intelligence, an awareness, which have not been required by any other religion in the world or by any other philosophy in the world. Its requirement is absolute.
Daio says, "Don't worry about such old calendars. JUST GO BY THE LIVING ROAD, from where your life is coming." From whatever point your life is arising, that is the living road. It is not outside you. You have to dig deep within yourself for the roots and for the way that connects you with the universal existence. It is simply an internal affair.
JUST GO BY THE LIVING ROAD YOU SEE ON YOUR OWN -- don't ask me and don't ask anyone else what the living road is. Just close your eyes and see for yourself what the living road is. You are alive -- that much is certain; it is proved by your questioning. You are breathing. Just close your eyes and find out where all these branches are joined to the trunk, and where the roots are hidden in the universal energy.
This is the living road, and nobody can point it out to you. You have to find it yourself.
JUST GO BY THE LIVING ROAD YOU SEE ON YOUR OWN; GOING EAST, GOING WEST, LIKE A HAWK SAILING THROUGH THE SKIES. Don't be worried -- wherever it leads, go. Finally it will bring you to the very center of existence.
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, YOU CROSS OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE. The happening happens only in the blink of an eye. The distance between the buddha and the no-buddha is so small, the distinction between the awake and the asleep is so small, that just in the blink of an eye you have already moved to the further shore, to the other shore.
It is to be understood clearly: the road is not very long. To call it a road is simply symbolic; there is no other way to say it. It is simply a change of vision: you were looking out, you close your eyes and you look within. And you go on, deepening, inside, as far as you can, and you are bound to find the source of your life.
It is just as if a roseflower were trying to find the source of its life. Where is it going to find it? It will have to move withinwards, into the branches, towards the roots, from where it is getting all its nourishment and all its life.
We also have roots, but they are invisible.
Zen is nothing but a discovery of our roots. The man who knows his roots is called the buddha.
ON ANOTHER OCCASION DAIO SAID TO KUSHO: THE CAUSE AND CONDITIONS OF THE ONE GREAT CONCERN OF THE ENLIGHTENED ONES IS NOT APART FROM YOUR DAILY AFFAIRS. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HERE AND THERE. IT PERVADES PAST AND PRESENT, SHINING THROUGH THE HEAVENS, MIRRORING THE EARTH. THAT IS WHY IT IS SAID THAT EVERYTHING IN THE LAST MYRIAD EONS IS RIGHT IN THE PRESENT.
The past -- immense past, beginningless past -- is behind you. But where has it gone? An immense future -- eternal future, endless future -- is ahead of you. Where is it hiding? Zen's understanding is that in the present moment the whole past is hidden, and in the present moment the whole future also is hidden. The present moment contains the whole universe -- past, present, future. If you can manage to understand the present moment, you have understood the whole phenomenon of eternity.
Before Albert Einstein, everybody thought that the atom was the smallest particle which existed. Up to Einstein nobody had been able to split the atom, so it was thought to be the last division of matter that we could make. It was impossible to cut the atom in two parts; the atom was a solid entity. But Albert Einstein managed to split the atom, and found that by splitting it, a tremendous energy which is hiding in it explodes.
Nobody had ever conceived that in such a particle, which is not even visible to the eye, so much energy is contained that it can destroy a big city like Hiroshima or Nagasaki within three minutes. It consumed both cities leaving behind only traces, ruins, skeletons....
I have been sent by a friend a picture of a small girl, who must have been going up the stairs to the first floor of her house, carrying her books to do some homework. She was just half way up the stairs when the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima and everything was burned within three minutes. He has sent me the picture of the girl. She was burned with her books, and her image remained imprinted on the wall -- just the shape of her body, and the small bag in which she was carrying her homework.
Just as the atom was once unknown... and now we have gone hundreds of years ahead of Albert Einstein. Now we are able not only to divide the atom, we can divide the divisions of the atom. Those divisions of the atom carry even bigger power sources, condensed.
The same is true about the moment of time. It contains all past and all future... and of course, the present.
So the man who is meditating forgets all the past, drops all longings for the future. It is enough to know the present. By knowing it, by entering into its complexities, you will know the whole universe. And when you reach to your life source... that too is atomic, an individual life source. But it has to be connected with the universe in some way; otherwise you cannot live. So once you find your life source, you have found the way. Just in the blink of an eye, you are on the other shore. You have entered into the universal existence.
Zen is perhaps the only scientific approach to religious experience.
WE VALUE THE GREAT SPIRIT OF A HERO ONLY IN THOSE CONCERNED. BEFORE ANY SIGNS BECOME DISTINCT, BEFORE ANY ILLUSTRATION IS EVIDENT, CONCENTRATE FIERCELY, LOOKING, LOOKING, COMING OR GOING, TILL YOUR EFFORT IS COMPLETELY RIPE.
All is hidden in the looking, in the watching; in seeing so fiercely that your whole energy is concentrated. Then existence cannot remain a mystery to you. In that concentration you become ripe, and you deserve that all the mysteries be open to you. IN THE MOMENT OF A THOUGHT YOU ATTAIN UNION -- just in a moment.
Once you have reached your life source, then it is only a question of a moment, the blink of an eye, and you have found the union with existence.
THE MIND OF BIRTH AND DEATH IS DESTROYED AND SUDDENLY YOU CLEARLY SEE YOUR ORIGINAL APPEARANCE, THE SCENE OF YOUR NATIVE LAND; EACH PARTICULAR DISTINCTLY CLEAR. YOU THEN SEE AND HEAR JUST AS THE BUDDHAS DID, KNOW AND ACT AS THE ENLIGHTENED ANCESTORS DID.
Knowing the source of your life, and taking a quantum leap in the blink of an eye to the other shore, is the union with the whole, the cosmos. After this union you behave like a buddha. You cannot do otherwise. Your actions, your gestures, your words or your silences, your movement or your no-movement, will have the same quality as that of any buddha. All buddhas participate in the same cosmic source.
Zen is not in search of any God. Its search can be said to be union -- the union with the whole. And the union makes you all that is, has been, will be. Nothing is left out of the whole, and you become one with it.
The first missionaries who had come to Japan to convert people to Christianity were amazed by the Zen masters. When they came across a Zen master... because others had told them, "Don't bother us. You just transform a certain Zen master whom I have loved, and if he changes to Christianity, even if he goes to hell I am ready to go with him. But don't bother with me. You just change that Zen master." And the missionaries approached the Zen masters with their gospels. The Zen masters laughed; they said, "You don't understand religion at all and you are converting people into religion. You don't have the taste yourself."
One missionary was very angry. He opened the Bible and read the Sermon on the Mount. It is a beautiful sermon and he was thinking, "Now, let us see what this fellow says." After three or four lines the Zen master said, "Shut up! I can say only this much, that this guy, whoever has written these lines, will become a buddha sometime in the future. He is on the path. This much I can certainly say, that some day he will become a buddha. But don't take it seriously, because you will also become a buddha one day. And remember, for becoming a buddha, Buddhism is not necessary."
That was the great approach, that for becoming a buddha, Buddhism is not necessary. Nothing is necessary; the buddha is already asleep in you, just some situation is needed in which he can be awakened. All Zen monasteries were doing only one thing -- creating situations so that the buddha is awake. It is not something to which you are converted, it is your own nature.
The Christian missionaries were at a loss, because these Zen masters never talked about God. They said, "What is the point? You don't even know yourself and you are talking about God. Who has seen God? And what will you do even if you meet him?" It will be a very awkward situation. God standing before you... you will find yourself in a very weird space -- what to do now?
I have told you the story of Rabindranath Tagore. In one of his best poems he wrote, "I have seen God many times but he was always far away beside a star. I followed but by the time I reached there he had moved to some other place, far away. It had been going on and on for many lives. Finally I reached the place, the house where it was written on the door: Here lives the Lord of the World, Father God."
He was just going to knock and became suddenly aware: "Just think twice -- what am I going to do if I meet him? I am not prepared at all. After meeting him there is nothing to do. Your whole life has been structured in searching for God. You know how to search, you know how to fast, you know how to pray, but you don't know.... When you have met God, there is no point in fasting and there is no point in searching and there is no point in prayer. What are you going to do? You will be suffocated!"
Seeing the situation, he took his shoes in his hands, out of fear that when he went back down the steps God might hear the sound of the shoes. He might open the door and say, "Where are you going?" And then he ran away as fast as he could.
The poem has a tremendous beauty. It says, "Since then I am again searching. I know where God is, so I avoid only that place! But I go on searching because in searching there is so much joy, and I am thought to be a great saint. I am enjoying the great adventure of searching for God. There is only one thing I have to remember -- not to go to that place again! But the whole world is available to search, except that house."
Zen has never bothered about God; neither has it said anything against God. That is a very strange situation to understand, because people either believe in God or not. But Zen is simply unconcerned. There is no question of belief or disbelief; it simply puts God out of the way. It is unnecessary luggage.
Zen has taken only the essential point, and that is the source of your life. Just go deepening on that road so that you can reach the final transformation, from the individual to the universal.

Just before his death Basui turned to the crowd that had gathered around and said in a loud voice:
LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD.
WHAT IS THERE?
IF YOU SEE IT AS IT IS
YOU WILL NEVER ERR.

He is talking about inside. These are his last words; he is saying, "Look straight forward!" He is not telling anybody, he is simply saying it to himself, LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD. WHAT IS THERE? -- just a pure clarity, a silent sky, an eternal silence. If you see it as it is, without any preconceived ideas, without any religions and philosophies -- just as it is -- you will never err. You will never make a mistake. You will reach directly like an arrow, and hit the moon.

Zen's concern is absolutely you -- you in your original nature.

 

 

Next: Chapter 5: In the blink of an eye, Question 1

 


    Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The emptiness of the heart

 

 

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STUDENTS EXPERIENCES  2005 AND 2006

 

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