Chapter 1: Clear the Mind
The same thing happened with Ta Hui. When he was just sixteen years old he was so intelligent.he left the world, and after one year of preparation he was initiated as a monk, when he was just seventeen. Then he went from master to master, seeking the right enlightened man who could show him the way.
He found his master in Yuan Wu. It seems almost the same situation: Yuan Wu knows, but cannot say it. Ta Hui does not know, but can say it. Just living with the master, imbibing his energy, watching his grace - the way he walks, the way he sits, the way he remains silent.
Rarely, once in a while, Yuan Wu speaks a word or sentence. His statements are collected in a small book, Blue Cliff Record, but they are almost impossible to understand. They don’t seem to be related to each other, relevant to each other; they look fragmentary. They don’t create a system.
Even though his words were recorded in Blue Cliff Record, Yuan Wu never addressed the people. On the contrary, he simply asked Ta Hui just to look into the Blue Cliff Record and express his opinion, say what he thinks of them. He was not certain that he had been able to say what he wanted to say, and whether what he had said conveyed anything or was just a futile exercise. In every case Ta Hui completely comprehended the subtle meaning.
The older master exclaimed, “You must be someone who has come again!”
By saying this he is saying, “You must have been born almost enlightened, just a little bit is missing; perhaps you may be able to manage it in this life. But you have understood my expressions perfectly well.” This was his seal, when he said “You must be someone who has come again!” - you cannot be new. You have been on the path for a long, long time; although you have not achieved the ultimate end, you are very close.
But the master could not be deceived just by Ta Hui’s understanding of the words, which any intelligent man of great talent like Ta Hui could have done. Yuan Wu again said to Ta Hui, “It was not easy for you to get to this stage” - you have struggled hard - “Too bad that having died, you are unable to come back to life.” This will be clear to you if I refer to Jesus who says, “Unless you are born again, you will not understand the truth.”
There are two parts of the path. The first part is to let your ego die. It is strenuous, arduous, difficult, because you know only your ego, you don’t know your authentic self. You are jumping into an abyss, not knowing whether you will survive or not; that Ta Hui has done. But the second part - of resurrection, of giving birth to your new individuality, or your authentic being - has not happened.
“It was not easy for you to get to this stage - too bad that having died,” died as an ego, “you are unable to come back to life. Without a doubt, words and phrases are a great disease, but haven’t you seen the saying: