Chapter 1: The Great Way Is Not Difficult
The great way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinion for or against..
The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes
is the disease of the mind.
We will be entering the beautiful world of a Zen master’s no-mind. Sosan is the third Zen patriarch. Nothing much is known about him - this is as it should be, because history records only violence. History does not record silence, it cannot record it. All records are of disturbance. Whenever someone becomes really silent, he disappears from all records, he is no longer a part of our madness. So it is as it should be.
Sosan remained a wandering monk his whole life. He never stayed anywhere; he was always passing, going, moving. He was a river; he was not a pond, static. He was a constant movement. That is the meaning of Buddha’s wanderers: not only in the outside world but in the inside world also they should be homeless - because whenever you make a home you become attached to it. They should remain rootless; there is no home for them except this whole universe.
Even when it was recognized that Sosan had become enlightened, he continued his old beggar’s way. And nothing was special about him. He was an ordinary man, the man of Tao.
One thing I would like to say, and you have to remember it: Zen is a crossbreeding. And just as more beautiful flowers can come out of crossbreeding, and more beautiful children are born out of crossbreeding, the same has happened with Zen.
Zen is a crossbreeding between Buddha’s thought and Lao Tzu’s thought. It is a great meeting, the greatest that ever took place. That’s why Zen is more beautiful than Buddha’s thought and more beautiful than Lao Tzu’s thought. It is a rare flowering of the highest peaks and the meeting of those peaks. Zen is neither Buddhist nor Taoist, but it carries both within it.
India is a little too serious about religion - a long past, a long weight on the mind of India, and religion has become serious. Lao Tzu remained a laughingstock: Lao Tzu is known as the old fool. He is not serious at all; you cannot find a more non-serious man.
Then Buddha’s thought and Lao Tzu’s thought met, India and China met, and Zen was born. And this Sosan was just near the original source when Zen was coming out of the womb. He carries the fundamental.
His biography is not relevant at all, because whenever a man becomes enlightened he has no biography. He is no longer the form, so when he was born and when he died are irrelevant facts. That’s why in the East we have never bothered about biographies, historical facts. That obsession has never been here. That obsession has now come from the West; then people become more interested in irrelevant things. When a Sosan is born, what difference does it make - this year or that? When he dies, how is it important?