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Chapter 5: Suchness Is Our Self-nature

Mahakashyapa is reported to have said only one thing: “You ask my master. While he is alive, I have no right to answer.” And Gautam Buddha said, “This is a new beginning, of transferring without words my whole experience. One just has to be receptive. And Mahakashyapa, by his laughter, showed his receptivity. You don’t know why he laughed. He laughed because in that moment, he suddenly looked into himself and he found that he is also a buddha. And I offered the flower as a recognition - ‘I accept your awakening.’”

This man Mahakashyapa was the founder of Zen - or this situation between Mahakashyapa and Gautam Buddha is the beginning of the river of Zen. But Bodhidharma was such a strong individual that he has almost become the founder, although he came one thousand years later than Mahakashyapa. But he is immensely articulate. He can say things which cannot be said. He can speak the unspeakable. He can find ways and means and devices to bring you back home, to awaken you to your self-nature.

Mahakashyapa only realized his own nature. Nothing was given to him; it was only a recognition from the master. The master never gives anything to the disciple except the final recognition. The disciple already has everything. He just has to be tricked in some way to look into himself. All the meditations are simply arbitrary methods to look into yourself. Once you look into yourself the master can give you the recognition.

The sutras say, “Everything that has form is an illusion.” They also say, “Wherever you are there is a buddha.”

You are there: there may not be anybody else, but wherever you are, there is a buddha, because you are a buddha. Don’t look all around for where the buddha is. Wherever you are, there is a buddha, because you are there.

Your no-mind is the buddha. Don’t use a buddha to worship a buddha.

Hence, Buddha has not taught worshipping, because it is ugly. All are buddhas - a few are asleep, a few are awake, but that does not make much difference. Those who are asleep will become awake. Those who are awake have been asleep. There is no question of worshipping. There is no prayer as such in Buddha’s teachings.

Even if a buddha or a bodhisattva should suddenly appear before you, there is no need for reverence.

Bodhidharma is saying something that can be misunderstood. In fact, everything that he is saying can be misunderstood, so you have to be very alert not to misunderstand him. To understand him is very difficult, to misunderstand him is very simple. If you can manage not to misunderstand him, there is a possibility for understanding him.