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Chapter 1: The Way of the Birds

Kassan said, “Don’t be worried about the universe; think of yourself as just like a small fish in the ocean.”

Zen is alone in its great insight that it does not use the word sin, but only mistake. The fish can make mistakes in the ocean, but that does not change its original nature. Whatever you have done, you have simply been writing on water. Your right, your wrong, your virtue, your sin - all are divisions of the mind. Your sinners and your saints - all are fish in the same ocean. Somebody is going this way, somebody is going that way.

Not to make these distinctions of sinners and saints, of right and wrong; and just to be utterly silent, without any judgment, is your original nature. You have found the universe within yourself. Then the sun rises within you and the whole sky with all the stars is part of your consciousness.

Zen is expansion of consciousness to the limitless, to the eternal. It is not concerned with small, stupid things. All the so-called religions are concerned with stupid things: with rituals which are non-essential, with gods which are created by man’s imagination. The only authentic concern for a seeker is to find the center of his own being - and he has found the center of the whole existence.

A poem by Basho reads:

With your singing
Make me lonelier than ever.

The birds are singing,

With your singing
Make me lonelier than ever,
You, solitary bird,
Cuckoo of the forest.

Because of this poem the new series that we are entering will be called Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest.

Hofuku wrote this poem on the way:

Don’t tell me how difficult the way.
The bird’s path, winding far,
Is right before you.
Water of the Dokei Gorge,
You return to the ocean,
I to the mountain.

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