When you begin to study Zen, you aim to attain realization. Your motive is good in so far as motive is concerned, but in your meditation you should aim at nothing. You may aim at realization to encourage yourself when you are not meditating, but beware of clinging entanglements. Encouragement is one thing, meditation is another. Do not mix them up. Carry your meditation as the eternal present, and saturate your everyday life with it.
When a person asks me what branch of
Buddhism I studied, I tell him about
Mahaprajna, the root of the teaching.
Without Mahaprajna, though you know right and wrong,
You are beyond the truth.
With the root of the teaching,
Wherever you go it is the land of truth.
The teaching came from Buddha through the generations.
The lamp of wisdom was first transmitted to Mahakasyapa,
Then genealogically through twenty eight patriarchs.
Bodhidharma, the Patriarch of India, came to
This country across the seas.
My teacher, who works in So-kei,
Received his robe to become the Sixth Patriarch
Who knows how many generations will carry the teaching
In the future?
Buddhism is the teaching of self-enlightenment. No God or gods will help you to realize the truth. The power of realization within you is called Mahaprajna, meaning great wisdom. This is the root of the teaching, the source of all streams of Buddhistic thought. Those who speculate, reading scriptures or clinging to creeds and dogmas, wander far from realization. Ethical deeds and kind actions may be praised, but they are without real value until they spring from Mahaprajna. The brilliancy of Mahaprajna illumines all beings; Buddhas and Patriarchs reflect this brilliance one to the other.
The true does not stand by itself,
And the false never exists alone.
When the idea of existence and non-existence
Vanishes, the idea of emptiness and non-emptiness
The Sutra gives twenty names to emptiness, each showing
You the one body of Buddha-nature.
The mind rises and contacts the outer world,
Thus, delusions appear.
Subjectivity and objectivity are like dust on the
Surface of a mirror.
When the mirror is free of dust,
It shines brightly.
If no mind rises, there is no contact,
No delusion; only the true nature appears.
Yoka is warning us not to postulate true and false. Without dualism many can easily reach the truth, but they must experience it in their meditation. The goal of meditation is beyond words and ideas The names of emptiness are like lists of drugs. If you are well and strong, you are not interested in them. Many teachers seek to hold or to mystify a student by using the various designations of good or evil built up through the ages. If you wish to make a business of teaching, then memorize the names, but if you want emancipation for yourself and others, give up the drug business and practice Zen meditation.
No other trees grow in the forest of sandalwood;
For countless ages only lions have lived there,
Roaming freely in the silent, dark grove.
No birds and no other animals enter the forest,
Only the lion cubs follow the older beasts.
Even the three year old cub roars loudly.
How can a yelping fox imitate the kind of Dhamma?
Even though hundreds of monsters open
Their mouths, it will be in vain.
It is said in India that no inferior trees grow near a forest of sandalwood, so Buddhists use the name as a symbol of ultimate wisdom. In this stanza birds and beasts represent fame and glory. Monks are indifferent to these in any form in any age. Only the lion cubs can follow the older lions, and even they have learned to roar while still young. A yelping fox may fool some with his imitations, as a false teacher will use the words and rituals of true teachings, but when he meets a real lion he will be helpless.
Zen doctrine is no subject for sentiment.
Doubts cannot be cleared by argument.
I stubbornly demand your silence
To save you from the pitfall of being and non-being.
Zen allows no student to waste time even for a second. If you have a koan, work on it; if you have no koan, just count your breath. Doubt? What is it? Just keep on meditating. This is the only means of learning to walk the Middle Way
Yoka-daishi (d.713) Commentary by Nyogen Senzaki 1953