Many are those who have seen but can do nothing about it. Once you have seen, why can’t you do anything about it? Just because of not discerning; that is why you are helpless. If you see and discern, then you can do something about it.
Nevertheless, if you expect to understand as soon as you are inspired to study Zen, well, who wouldn’t like that? It’s just that you have no way in, and you cannot force understanding. Failing to mesh with it in every situation, missing the connection at every point, you cannot get it by exertion of force.
Whatever you are doing, twenty-four hours a day, in all your various activities, there is something that transcends the Buddhas and Zen masters; but as soon as you want to understand it, it’s not there. As soon as you try to gather your attention on it, you have already turned away from it. That is why I say you see but cannot do anything about it.
Does this mean that you will realize it if you do not aim the mind and do not develop intellectual understanding? Far from it—you will fail even more seriously to realize it. Even understanding does not get it, much less not understanding!
If you are spiritually sharp, you can open your eyes and see as soon as you hear me tell you about this. Have not people of immeasurable greatness said this truth is not comprehensible by thought, and that it is where knowledge does not reach? Were it not like this, how could it be called an enlightened truth? Nowadays, however, people just present interpretations and views, making up rationalizations; they have never learned to be thus, and have never reached this state.
If people with potential for enlightenment are willing to see in this way, they must investigate most deeply and examine most closely; all of a sudden they will gain mastery of it and have no further doubt. The reason you do not understand is just because you are taken away by random thoughts twenty-four hours a day. Since you want to learn business, you fall in love with things you see and fondly pursue things you read; over time, you get continuously involved. How can you manage to work on enlightenment then?
Whenever you seek Zen, furthermore, your mind ground must be even and straight, and your mind and speech must be in accord. Since your mind and speech are straightforward, your states are thus consistent from start to finish, without any petty details.
Do not say, “I understand! I have attained mastery!” If you have attained mastery, then why are you going around asking other people questions? As soon as you say you understand Zen, people watch whatever you do and whatever you say, wondering why you said this or that. If you claim to understand Zen, moreover, this is actually a contention of ignorance. What about the saying that one should “silently shine, hiding one’s enlightenment?” What about “concealing one’s name and covering one’s tracks?” What about “the path is not different from the human mind?”
Each of you should individually reduce entanglements and not talk about judgments of right and wrong. All of your activities everywhere transcend Buddhas and Masters, the water buffalo at the foot of the mountain is imbued with Buddhism; but as soon as you try to search, it’s not there. Why do you not discern this?
The Marrow of Sages
My livelihood is the marrow of all the sages; there is not a moment when I am not explaining it to you, but you are unwilling to take it up. So it turns out, on the contrary, to be my deception. But look here—where is it that I am not explaining it to you?
Professional Zennists say I do not teach people to think; I do not teach people to understand; I do not teach people to discuss stories; I do not cite past and present examples. They suppose we are idling away the time here, and think that if they had spent the time elsewhere they would have understood a few model case stories and heard some writings. If you want to discuss stories, cite past and present, then please go somewhere else; here I have only one-flavor Zen, which I therefore call the marrow of all sages.
Here you must understand each point clearly. Have you not read how the teacher Changsha one day turned around and saw the icon of wisdom, whereupon he suddenly realized the ultimate and said, “Turning around I suddenly see the original body. The original body is not a perception or a reality.”