Chapter 8: The Bull Transcended
7. The Bull Transcended
Astride the bull, I reach home.
I am serene. The bull too can rest.
The dawn has come. In blissful repose,
within my thatched dwelling I have abandoned the whip and rope.
All is one law, not two. We only make the bull a temporary subject. It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net. It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud. One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.
8. Both Bull and Self Transcended
Whip, rope, person, and bull - all merge in No-thing.
This heaven is so vast no message can stain it.
How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire?
Here are the footprints of the patriarchs.
Mediocrity is Gone.
Mind is clear of limitation. I seek no state of enlightenment. Neither do I remain where no enlightenment exists. Since I linger in neither condition, eyes cannot see me. If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers, such praise would be meaningless.
Gertrude Stein was dying. Suddenly she opened her eyes and asked her friends who were gathered together around her, “What is the answer?” Now this is tremendously beautiful, almost a koan. The question has not been asked; she asks, “What is the answer?” Of course, nobody was capable of answering it. They looked at each other. They were at a loss even to understand what she meant. A Zen master was needed, somebody who could have responded from his heart - spontaneously, immediate. Somebody who could have laughed uproariously, or shouted, or done something, because such a question - What is the answer? - cannot be answered through words.
Stein is saying that the question is such that it cannot be formulated - and yet the question is there, so what is the answer? The question is such that it is impossible to utter it. It is so deep, it cannot be brought to the surface. But still it is there, so what is the answer? The question is such that it is not separate from the questioner, as if the questioner’s whole being has become a question mark: What is the answer?
They looked at each other. They were completely at a loss as to what to do. They must have thought: The dying woman has gone mad. It is mad, absurd, to ask, “What is the answer?” when the question has not yet been formulated. No one replied. No one was aware enough to reply to it. No one responded, because in fact no one was there to respond. No one was so present as to respond.