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Chapter 6: Be a Rare Person

A monk asked Bankei,
“The ancestral teachers since ancient times were greatly enlightened through difficult and painful practices. I have heard that you, too, accomplished the great teaching through various difficult practices. But for people like me, who don’t cultivate practice, and are not enlightened, just realizing that my very state is the unborn, enlightened no-mind does not really settle anything.”

Bankei replied:
“It is like the case of travelers who cross the peaks of high mountains where there is no water, and become thirsty. Someone seeks out water in a distant valley, breaking his back searching here and there. Finally, he finds water and brings it back to give to the others to drink.
Even though they have not struggled so, those who drink are refreshed, just the same as the one who went through the trouble before. As for those who are doubtful and will not drink, there is no way for their thirst to be quenched.

“Because I didn’t meet someone with enlightened eyes, I mistakenly wore myself out. I finally discovered the buddha in my own no-mind, and am telling everyone about the buddha of their own no-mind, without them having to do anything difficult - just like drinking water and having their thirst quenched.

“Using the enlightened no-mind inherent in everyone, just as it is, having found peace and bliss, without the difficulties of confusion - is this not a sacred true teaching?”

At another time someone asked Bankei, “Is the complete illumination of the eye of reality accomplished with time and season, or is it realized even in one day?”
Bankei replied, “It is not a matter of time and season; it is accomplished only when the eye of the way is clear, without any gap. It is accomplished by the practice of single-minded devotion to nurturing it.”

Maneesha, Bankei is one of my most favorite Zen masters, but that does not mean that I agree with him on every point. With the essentials I am in absolute agreement, but with the non-essentials I disagree. And it has to be remembered by you that to love a man does not mean to agree with him or to disagree with him. Agreement and disagreement are far below the world of love. I love Bankei just for his own sake. He is a unique enlightened man with a tremendous vision of reality, but on the non-essentials I don’t agree with him.

Perhaps the times have changed. Perhaps I am a different kind of person, and perhaps the people who are hearing me are a totally different world. I respond to Bankei according to you, I see Bankei in the context of you; otherwise Bankei has no meaning. We are discussing him for the simple reason that he may give some light to you on the path. Even if a slight glimpse of the ultimate is attained through him, it is more than enough.

I will tell you where I agree and where I don’t agree, but as far as my love is concerned it is absolute. I love the man and respect him. But it is natural that as time changes, language changes. Symbols change, metaphors change, and everything that was said a thousand years ago cannot be repeated exactly, except by parrots.

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