Without Blinking An Eye


A long, long time ago in Japan, it was quite normal for marauding armies to ransack villages, with the villagers having to flee or be killed.  In one such village an old Zen master sat peacefully in his very humble abode as chaos reigned outside.  All of a sudden, a fearsome soldier kicked the master’s door open and stood menacingly in the doorway; the master was unmoved.  The soldier sneered and said, “what are you still doing here, are you not afraid?  All of the villagers are either dead or have fled, yet you remain here.”  The master replied, “what have I to fear, and besides, where would I go?”  The soldier became angry, and drawing his sword raged, “don’t you know that I am a man who can run you through without blinking an eye?”  The old master looked at him and said, “don’t YOU know that I am a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?”

With a body or without a body; it is all the same to one who has realised.  Live or die; the master knows there is no death and therefore remains unmoved.  There is also the paradox here between the polar opposites of “doing” and “being”.  The soldier wants to “do” (kill) the master, but that in itself is a fruitless task, as the most he can achieve is to be the cause of the master’s body evolving (effect) into a different form.  You cannot kill anything in reality as all is consciousness and is in a constant state of flux.  What would happen to the body?  If buried it would eventually decompose and merge with the earth.  If cremated, the cremation process would cause the flesh to evolve into heat energy and be absorbed back into the total energy mass.

The master remained in a state of pure knowing, enlightenment, awakening, bliss or whatever description you wish to use; all are just terms for “Being”.  The master remains blissful regardless of which action the soldier chooses to take.  He says, “besides, where would I go?”  Indeed, where would the master go?  There is only here and now; it is all we have.

 

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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.