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Chapter 14: Clarity

Ta Hui’s problem is that from the very beginning he has taken the standpoint of an intellectual. If he was just an ordinary intellectual, satisfied with his intellect and his conceptualizations, there would be no difficulty. But there is some part of him which does not simply want to live with borrowed knowledge. A part of him longs to realize and experience and know the mystery firsthand.

This is his dilemma, and he is continuously moving from one part to another part. As we are going further into his sutras, I feel a hope that his mystical part is winning ground. His intellect is lagging behind - although it is not defeated yet. The first sutra:

I am giving you the name Chan-Jan, “profound clarity.” a patriarch said, “As long as there is mental discrimination, and calculating judgment, all the perceptions of one’s own mind are dreams. If mind and consciousness are quiescent and extinct, without a single thought stirring, this is called correct awareness.”

The first thing: clarity is always profound. There is no other way for clarity to be. Profound clarity does not make sense.

It is just like somebody telling you, “I love you very, very much.” In fact, you cannot love less, and you cannot love more. Love does not belong to the world of quantity; hence ‘less’ and ‘more’ are irrelevant. You can either love, or not love. How can you love less, and how can you love more?

Still people go on saying, “I love you very much,” not seeing the tremendous fallacy that love is a quality and not a quantity. A quality is either present or not present. More and less belong to the world of quantities.

The English word matter and the French word meter come from the Sanskrit word matra, and matra means quantity. That which can be measured is matter - matter simply means measurable - and that which cannot be measured, that which is not within the territory of quantity, is consciousness.

He’s saying, I am giving you the name Chan-Jan. He must be initiating somebody into sannyas and giving him the name Chan-Jan, which means profound clarity. But he does not understand that clarity is always profound; it is never less and never more. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken out of it.

This is the problem with intellectual understanding. You seem to understand, and still you go on somewhere missing the point. The intellectuals try in every way to be as profound as the mystics, but their profundity is hilarious


I am reminded of an ancient parable: A great archer - he was also the king of his country - was going through a village in his golden chariot, and he was amazed to see that on every tree there was a target, and an arrow or many arrows exactly hitting the bull’s-eye. There was a circle, and the arrow was exactly in the middle; there was not a single miss, and on almost all the trees there were a few arrows. He could not believe that in this small village there was such a great archer.

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