Chapter 4: This Harvest Moon
He considered, wavered a little - looked at his host again for help, because he had entered into the lion’s den unnecessarily. All his scholarship was useless. In the face of truth all scholarship is always useless; but the scholars find it immensely difficult to take the jump beyond their mind, because their mind is so precious to them. It contains so many beautiful scriptures, it is their respectability, it is their honor, it is their dignity, it is the whole treasure they have.
It is a strange fact that the more you know, the more you are filled with borrowed knowledge, the less is the possibility of your knowing the truth. The less you know, the less knowledgeable you are, the greater is the possibility to drop your mind, because it is worthless anyway. You don’t know anything, you have nothing to lose. But a scholar has much to lose.
It is good, in a way, that we discussed Dogen after he became enlightened and now we are discussing his difficult times, when he must have been a man of great scholarship. His language shows it:
Quietly consider the fact that if this were a time when the true dharma had not yet spread throughout the world, it would be impossible for us to come into contact with it.
Now this is stupid. If Gautam Buddha could come to realize it without any Buddhism anywhere, it simply shows that each individual is capable of realizing himself without any tradition. It is good, and encouraging, that there have been buddhas before. To your weak hearts it gives a certain nourishment, a certain trustfulness. But it is not a scientific fact.
Even if there had been no buddha before me, I would have been a buddha anyway, because the buddha simply means an awakened soul. Why can’t I wake up? Do I need somebody else to wake up first? And that, too, thousands of years before? Because Gautam Buddha woke up thousands of years before Dogen, does that help a sleeping person in any way now? In fact the sleeping person does not even know that somebody has become awakened. In what way can it help?
This is just a scholar’s mind. He is making a logical and rational statement: because Buddhism has spread all over the world, that has made us capable of becoming enlightened. That is sheer nonsense - scholarly, of course.
. even if we were willing to sacrifice our lives to do so.
How did Buddha attain to be a buddha? By risking all. Anybody anywhere - in any time, in any country - if he is ready to risk everything, his mind, his body, and just be a watcher, unidentified, he is bound to become a buddha; it does not matter whether Gautam Buddha really existed or not.
He is saying:
How fortunate to have been born in the present day, when we are able to make this encounter!
Just a foolish scholarly statement. Every moment is blessed for the courageous one, who can come out of the sheep’s skin and give a good lion’s roar.