Chapter 4: Enlightenment Is the Way to Extinction
This teaching is the school of the enlightened Mind. The enlightened Mind itself basically has no delusion or enlightenment. This is actually the subtle art of those who realize thusness. Even if you don’t become enlightened, when you sit once in meditation, you are a buddha for that sitting; when you sit for a day in meditation, you are a buddha for a day; when you sit in meditation all your life, you are a buddha all your life. The same is true of the future; one who can have faith in this is someone with great potential.
Practicing everything without any sense of attainment is called the exceedingly profound transcendent wisdom. This wisdom can cut off the source of birth and death, like a sharp sword.
To practice virtue in hopes of reward is the illusion of ordinary folk; bodhisattvas do not seek for the resulting rewards as they cultivate roots of virtue, because they cultivate goodness for the sake of impartial love and compassion, and thus it becomes sustenance for enlightenment. As for those who seek rewards as they cultivate virtue and attain the lesser reward of humanity or god-hood, this is surely the work of birth and death.
Enlightenment is the way to extinction. If you take peace and quiet to be bliss, all things are afflictions; but when you are enlightened, all things are enlightenment. People of the world do not understand this basis of delusion and enlightenment. They suppress thoughts of birth and death, and think that this is the non-birth of a single thought, and also consider this mindlessness - but these are still thoughts of birth and death, not mindlessness, not quiescence. When you try to stop thought by thought, birth and death continue.
Maneesha, the whole question for Zen is how not to discriminate. Mind is discrimination, division, duality. The effort of Zen is to bring you to a space where you are simply a watcher, without any judgment. At the moment you are simply a watcher, all that is false disappears on its own accord and all that is real shines forth in its absolute illumination.
This is your home. In this space there is no mind; hence no desire, no jealousy, no anger, no hate. You have become just a mirror. You reflect the tremendous glory and splendor of the whole existence. For the first time you have gone beyond human conditionings. You have become universal.
Obviously, in this moment, in this space, there is no darkness. And remember clearly: darkness and light are two aspects of the same coin. When darkness disappears, light also disappears. What is left is tremendously new, you have not even dreamed of it.
In this clarity, in this silence, the whole existence seems to be exactly what it is, not what it is “supposed to be.” Your enlightenment becomes, suddenly, the enlightenment of the whole universe.
This is one of the most important points that Daikaku is making. And there is a second important point which he is making, which is very rare. Perhaps nobody else has ever made this statement before, but it is absolutely true. While you are in meditation, in silence - even for a single moment - you are a buddha. You can come out, and you can again forget.
You can sit in meditation for one hour, or if meditation becomes your undercurrent of consciousness, you can remain a buddha for twenty-four hours. In other words, whenever you are aware and silent and whenever you feel the whole existence to be enlightened, you are a buddha. You can forget it - it is your freedom to forget or to remember.
A very rare genius, Daikaku, makes this statement: “Ordinary masters will not enter into the lion’s den.” It is a very strange statement, with no precedent. But I can say to you, it is true: every day you become a buddha. I see you coming back from your home, resurrecting. You are a totally different man - so silent, so peaceful, so fragrant, such a beauty to see.
But I know you will forget. Forgetfulness has been your habit for millions of years. So this one moment of buddhahood will become a beautiful memory, and then the forgetfulness comes like a flood of old habit and the whole moon disappears behind the black clouds. But the moon is there; we will discover it again. There is no harm in discovering your buddhahood again and again.
One can hope, one can trust that one day these old habits will become weakened and your whole buddhahood will become a simple matter, just like breathing.