I Don’t Know


The emperor, who was a devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the Palace in order to ask him questions about Buddhism. “What is the highest truth of the holy Buddhist doctrine?” the emperor inquired.  “Vast emptiness… and not a trace of holiness,” the master replied.  “If there is no holiness,” the emperor said, “then who or what are you?”  “I do not know,” the master replied.

Here we have a devout Buddhist emperor inviting a Zen master to his palace in order quiz him about Buddhism.  It’s quite a common mistake for people to think that Zen and Buddhism are one and the same.  The truth is that they are poles apart.  Buddhism is an organised religion, although also a way of life, non-dogmatic and closer to the truth than most of the world’s major religions.  Zen, in my humble opinion, is something that happens to you; it is an awakening.  Most people experience their spiritual awakening in subtle stages that just happen without any prior warning.  There is no such thing as Zen philosophy either, so the emperor was on a hiding to nothing in asking the master, “what is the highest truth of the holy Buddhist doctrine?”

The answer came, “vast emptiness… and not a trace of holiness.”  This is very profound and clearly not understood by the emperor.  Vast emptiness refers to the inner reality; infinite consciousness, which is One.  The Indian yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, would on occasion refer to this as , “the uncreated wilderness of bliss”, which is the same as vast emptiness.  What the master is saying is that the “highest truth” is to return to the state of “nothingness” from which we came.  This is the non-dual state, therefore “and not a trace of holiness” means that in consciousness there is only consciousness and nothing else.  In the dualistic world, if something is deemed holy, it implies that it will have a relative opposite somewhere that is deemed unholy.  This is duality and ultimately an illusion, so in the vast emptiness there will be no trace of holiness.

The emperor then came back with, “If there is no holiness then who or what are you?”

“I do not know,” the master replied.

The master answered the emperor’s question in the most perfect way possible; “I do not know.”  Enlightenment is the shedding of all knowledge.  All knowledge relates to the past and is of the mind-created world.  In “vast emptiness” there is no knowledge; only pure knowing.

 

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It’s Nearly That Time Of Year Again!


It most certainly is nearly that time of year again; when the Christian Church dusts the cobwebs off its story and peddles it once again to the unsuspecting masses. I must say that I do find the whole “epic” just a tad ironic. First of all, let me just mention that I have no doubt in my mind at all that Jesus Christ actually existed; and I have no doubts at all that he was a truly incredible soul. However, the story that organised religion wants us to believe just does not stack up.

Jesus_144_smallWe have to understand that Christ was not a Christian; Christianity is the man-made religion founded by unscrupulous religious leaders in an effort to control the naive and the gullible through fear. Christ was strictly non-religious, however, if you really had to pigeon-hole him, you would have to say that he was a Buddhist. He studied the teachings of Buddha in the monasteries of the Himalayas and he also hung out with the Essenes and the Nazarenes, who were religious sects that practised a form of Buddhism. Christ was attracted to these people because their religion was non-violent. It was common practise in those times for live animals to be sacrificed in the temples, and Jesus was against this (and made his feelings known in no uncertain terms). Christ was the original hippie activist and was considered to be a subversive by the religious leaders of the time.

It’s worth noting that it is because of his association with the Nazarenes that Christ is often incorrectly referred to as, “Jesus of Nazareth”. Historically, Nazareth was nothing more than a tiny hamlet that Jesus may or may not have passed through at some time or other. So, why do I find the whole Christmas story a tad ironic? It’s because the church peddles their messiah as being, “the one and only begotten Son of God”. According to Christians, God is an all-powerful entity that is separate from us mere mortals, and Jesus is his son. This theory completely contradicts the Buddhist teachings, amongst other belief systems, that Christ followed. Buddhists do not believe in a deity as such, rather in a Creative Force, or infinite consciousness that permeates the whole creation. Christ’s message was simple. He said that we are all the same as him, we are all Gods and that we will find the Kingdom of Heaven within ourselves; it is not a place we can go to.

So the Christian messiah is marketed by the church as something that he would never have considered himself to be. I also can’t help thinking (cynically perhaps) that the reason the church marketed their messiah as a meat eating wine drinker, which he wasn’t, was simply so that they could justify their own gluttonous desires.

Merry Christmas!