Chapter 1: Emptiness, Not Holiness
The holy teaching? “Emptiness.”
What is the secret here?
Again, “Who stands before me?”
He is simply repeating what he has heard; he has not understood it himself.
Inevitable - but he makes commentaries on it!
Inevitable, the thorns and briars springing up;
Secretly, by night, he crossed the river.
All the people could not bring him back.
Now, so many years gone by,
Still Bodhidharma fills your mind - in vain.
Stop thinking of him!
A gentle breeze pervades the universe.
The master looks around.
I will not say the master because I cannot agree with him. I can accept at the most that the schoolteacher looks around and repeats something which is fashionable in Zen circles:
“Is the Patriarch there?”
The Patriarch - he is referring to Bodhidharma. The founders of Zen are called patriarchs.
“Is the Patriarch there? - Yes! Bring him to me,
And he can wash my feet.”
Now he is trying to pretend that he understands the strange ways of Zen. He is also making a strange statement: “Bring him to me and he can wash my feet.”
It is simply ugly. Schoolmasters should not enter into the area of truth. Their world consists of small, borrowed knowledge to transfer. They should not speak as if they are lions, because they are not. He has not added a single word to make Bodhidharma’s statement more understandable; he has not given any transparency to it. He has not made Emperor Wu understand what not knowing is - he is a pretender.
This man’s name is Setcho. Many times in these commentaries we will come across people who are only teachers but are pretending to be masters. But you should understand that the anecdote is so complete..
Only if you look into my eyes perhaps you may find the commentary or if you look into my empty hands you may find the meaning.