Chapter 7: The Source
And if you want to look at the moon, the most fundamental thing is to forget all about the finger. If your eyes are focused on the finger, how are you going to see the moon? Unless you move your eyes from the finger towards the faraway moon in the sky, it is not possible.
Buddha was saying, “Don’t get attached to what I say, don’t get attached to any doctrine, to what I preach; don’t get attached to my personality. These are all just fingers pointing to the moon. Forget me, don’t start worshipping me; just look at the moon. And once you have looked at the moon, I don’t matter at all.”
It is a very pregnant statement, and a very courageous one, to make to one’s own disciples: “Don’t bother about what I say. I am not preaching any doctrine and I am not delivering to you a system of beliefs or a philosophy. These are all devices to indicate the truth. It is beyond all words, but words can be used as a finger pointing to it. They cannot express it, but they can indicate it.”
It is very easy to repeat it, but I don’t think Ta Hui understands.
You must see the moon and forget the fingers. Don’t develop an understanding based on the words.
But that’s actually what he has done. All his understanding is based on words.
An ancient worthy said, “The buddhas expounded all teachings to save all minds; I have no mind at all, so what is the use of all the teachings?”
The quotation is perfectly right, but this is what Buddha means by saving: The understanding arising in you that you don’t have any mind, that you are a no-mind. And then there is no question of saving. While you are attached to the mind you are in a bondage, and you need to be brought out of the bondage.
So the ancient worthy is right when he says, “The buddhas expounded all teachings to save all minds. I have no mind at all” - he is a saved man - “so, what’s the use of all the teachings?”
Certainly when you are saved there is no use. When you have seen the moon, what is the use of the fingers? When your disease is cured, what is the use of the medicine? Are you going to worship the bottle of medicine? Are you going to carry it wherever you go because it has saved you from a disease? The moment you are cured, you throw the medicine bottle; it is finished, its work is done.
It is almost as if you have a thorn in your foot: you take another thorn to take the first thorn out. The other thorn is as much a thorn as the first one, but you can manage to take out the first thorn with the other one. Now what are you going to do with the other thorn? Are you going to put it in the wound that has been created by the first thorn because it has saved you from that thorn? That would be utter stupidity - then you still have what was wrong in the first place. No, once the first thorn is taken out, you throw away both the thorns together.