October 27, 2004

New Use of Language: Part 3, Questioning

"These days priests everywhere latch on to phrases such as`everyday mind is the Way,' and set them up as some sort of Ultimate principle.
They tell you that long months last thirty days and short ones last twenty-nine. The fact of the matter is, the whole bunch of them are unable to stand on their own legs. They sit about like disembodied spirits. Clinging onto trees. Leaning onto plants and grasses. Blinded by ignorance, unawakened, they plod their blinkered one-track ways.

"Confront one of them and suddenly ask, `Why does this hand of mine resemble a Buddha's hand?' and he says, `But that's your hand.'

"Ask him, `How does my foot resemble a donkey's?' `That's your foot,' he retorts.

"`Everyone has causes which determine his birth. What are yours, senior priest?' `I am so and so,' he responds.`l'm from such and such province.'

"Now what kind of answers are those? They proceed from a mistaken understanding that should never be allowed. These priests distribute the same teaching to everyone. All you have to do is make yourself one-track like them and remain that way through thick and thin. This, they assure you, is attainment of the final state of complete tranquillity. Everything is settled. Everything is understood. Nothing doubting. Nothing seeking. There is no questioning at all. They will not venture a single step beyond this, terrified they might fall and tumble down into a hole. They tread the long pilgrimage of human life as if they were blind from birth, grasping their staff with a clutch of death, refusing to venture forward an inch unless they have it along to prop them up."

Priest Maido told his students: "Go to Mount Lu [where Shogaku's temple was located] and plant yourselves firmly within the realm of non-doing."

But Torin's descendants have now all disappeared. His line is deader than last night's ashes. For that we must feel intense regret.

Hakuin, trans. Norman Waddell

1 comment:

Suzie said...

I read this when you posted it assuming it was beyond my understanding.
Reread it today with a little less pessimism. Found it simpler than I imaginged.
It is simple, I am not, will return again.