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Lions Roar : January 2016
ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS OF THICH NHAT HANH ZEN Beyond Words If we have confidence in our buddhanature, we don’t have to look for it in knowledge and concepts. The lectures and discussions we have are not the dharma, because the dharma is not caught in words and concepts and it doesn’t arise from causes and con- ditions. As soon as we have the intention to speak, the truth is lost because we’re relying on words. The dhar- ma isn’t something to go in search of and discover. It’s already there. It’s a truth that either manifests in that moment or it doesn’t. Do we have confidence in ourselves, confidence in our buddhanature? If we have confidence, we don’t have to look for it in paths of knowledge and concepts. If we see the Buddha as someone outside ourselves, and we feel that we are worth nothing, then we will not be successful. The basis of our success is confidence in ourselves. If we see ourselves as someone who simply receives the dharma, the wisdom from outside, then we won’t be successful. Everything that’s happened is be- cause we don’t have confidence in ourselves. Many of us, both monastics and laypeople, learn about the buddhadharma without anything changing in our life. Our personality remains exactly the same because we cannot digest and apply what we’ve learned. What we’ve learned doesn’t help us and so we can’t help anyone. Zen doesn’t travel along a path of learn- ing through writing and words; it relies on direct transmission between teacher and student. Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go: Waking Up to Who You Are (Parallax) The Zen Master The Zen master extricates her student from the world of ideas and puts him in the world of living reality. A Zen master who has attained awakening is someone whose eyes are open to living reality. She is someone who, after being lost in the world of concepts, has returned home to see the cy- press in the courtyard and her own nature. Hence, she cannot allow her disciple to continue to wander in the world of con- cepts and waste his life, his own awakening. This is why the master feels compassion every time her disciple asks a question about some Buddhist principle. “This young man,” she thinks, “still wishes to engage in the search for reality through concepts.” And she does her best to extricate the student from the world of ideas and put him in the world of living reality. Look at the cypress in the courtyard! Look at the cypress in the courtyard! One day a monk asked Chao-Chou to speak to him about Zen. Chao-Chou asked, “Have you finished your breakfast?” “Yes, master, I have eaten my breakfast.” “Then go and wash your bowl.” “Go and wash your bowl.” This is the same as saying, “Go and live a realized life.” Instead of giving the student some ex- planations about Zen, the master opened the door and invited the young man to enter the world of reality. “Go and wash your bowl.” These words contain no secret meaning to explore or ex- plain. They are a simple, direct, and clear declaration. There is no enigma here, nor is this a symbol. It refers to a very concrete fact. Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice (Doubleday) PHOTOBYMORGANALEXANDER SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 60