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Chapter 5: Signatures on Water

Setcho says:

Sun-faced Buddha! Moon-faced Buddha!
Compared with them,
How pale the three sovereigns, the five ancestral emperors!
For twenty years I have had fierce struggles,
Descending into the dragon’s cave for you.
The hardship defies description.
You clear-eyed monks, don’t make light of it.

Setcho has improved a little bit, but a schoolmaster is a schoolmaster. It is really very unlikely for a schoolmaster to become enlightened - at least I have never heard of any such incident when a schoolmaster has become a buddha.

Setcho is trying and because he is just a schoolmaster, knowledgeable, he is going to have a great struggle in finding the truth. The truth is already found, you are just not looking at it. There is no pain, no struggle as far as knowing your being is concerned. But the pain and struggle comes in when you know too much about your being, your truth, your enlightenment. All that knowledge becomes mountainous, and then you have to struggle out from your own knowledge.

It is the greatest difficulty to know and to become innocent. Your knowledge prevents you from becoming innocent. There is struggle and there is pain and there is agony, but it has nothing to do with truth; it has something to do with your knowledgeability.

First he is just like a parrot when he repeats: “Sun-faced Buddha! Moon-faced Buddha!” There was no need to repeat it, Basho has said it.

For twenty years I have had fierce struggles.

I am absolutely certain that he must have struggled hard. But that struggle is not in finding the truth, that struggle is to get out of your knowledge. The struggle is with the mind, not with the being.

Once you have erased all your knowledge and you have become only no knowing, Zen is in your empty hands. It has always been there, but because of knowledge your eyes were not capable of seeing it. The struggle is with all those theories, theologies, philosophies which are covering your eyes like dust; hence, I don’t think that he is making a wrong statement, but he is wrongly understanding the reason for his struggle. Struggle has been there - it is almost as if one is descending into the dragon’s cave and then coming out is almost impossible. Knowledge is a far bigger dragon.

Setcho is right that he has fought for twenty years, but he is not right that he has come out. He still has to fight a little more. He is on the right track, but even the right track is not the goal.

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