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Chapter 4: Zen Is as Simple as the Taste of Tea

Ryuge was asked by a monk,
“What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West?”
Ryuge said, “Wait till the stone turtle
speaks words of explanation and I will tell you.”
The monk said, “The stone turtle has spoken!”
Ryuge said, “What did it say to you?”
The monk was silent.
One of Daibai’s monks asked his master the same question,
to which Daibai replied, “His coming has no meaning.”
The monk brought this question up to Enkan, who said,
“Two dead men in one coffin.”
Gensha, hearing of this, said, “Enkan is a clever chap.”

The same question - the meaning of Bodhidharma
coming from the West - was brought to Sekito,
or “Stonehead” as he was also known.
“Go and ask the outside post of the hall!” he exclaimed.
The monk said, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Nor do I,” said Sekito.
When Suiyro put the question to his master, Baso,
Baso kicked him in the chest and knocked him down.
Suiyro was enlightened.
He stood up and, clapping his hands
and laughing aloud, said, “A miracle! A miracle!
The hundred samadhis and the countless mysterious truths
are profoundly known to me now in the tip of one hair.”
He made his bows and departed.

Maneesha, Zen is a simple phenomenon - as simple as the taste of tea. But if you want to explain it, it becomes the most difficult thing in the world.

These anecdotes indicate again and again the existential status of Zen, not philosophical, not theological. It is more poetry than religion, more music than philosophy; a language that is understood even by the bamboos, by the flowers, even by the cuckoos. It is a language of existence itself. This is the way existence opens its doors.

Mind is the enemy: the more knowledgeable the more dangerous, the more knowledgeable the more closed. When there is no-mind - even for a single moment - you have come home: a thousand-mile journey is finished in a single moment.

The questions asked are very symbolic. There are only a few questions that have been asked down the ages. Everybody knows the answer. Even the questioner knows the answer - as far as mind is concerned. But he is asking the question so that he can see beyond the mind and beyond the answer of the mind into reality itself.

Ryuge was asked by a monk,
“What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West?”

This is one of the most important questions asked in the Zen tradition. Obviously, Bodhidharma is the most important master, who introduced Zen into China from India. The question: “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West?” You will have to understand: by West is not meant what you mean by West. From China, the place Bodhidharma landed, India is West. The concepts of east and west are very relative. What is east from one point is west from another point: in itself, it is neither east nor west.

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