Chapter 3: Ripe Plum
Nangaku was a master in his own right. His teaching was not just a following of Eno. In the world of Zen it is not necessary that a disciple should follow the master in details. All that is necessary is that the disciple should understand the master’s presence, his fundamental realization. It should not remain a belief to the disciple, it should become an actual taste. Doctrines and beliefs don’t matter at all. What matters is the master’s presence and his realization, and the splendor that the realization brings with it.
Eno never asked Nangaku to follow him - Nangaku had his own approach - but he had chosen Nangaku to be his successor. This is very strange. It does not happen in any other place in the whole world. People choose successors to follow them in detail. But Zen is unique in every way. It is not a question of following, it is that this man is also realized. His methods may be different, his devices may be different, his approaches may be different, but he is a realized man, he can be a successor.
But strangely, although Eno had given the responsibility of his initiation to Nangaku, Ma Tzu remained fundamentally close to Eno’s teaching, to Eno’s method of indicating the truth. Eno had caught a glimpse of his future. Nangaku took every care and helped him to become an enlightened master. But he was always more grateful towards Eno for this very reason: that he had refused to initiate him, because his death was very close; and he had put him in the hands of the right person, who would take care of him, because his spring was coming soon. He would be blossoming, and Eno would not be there.
Certainly Ma Tzu and Eno, without any relationship of master and disciple, came very close in their hearts. Their hearts started beating in the same rhythm. His master’s teaching was in many ways different, particularly from Eno’s teaching that there is no buddha outside of one’s own mind.
But remember it, when Eno says ‘mind’, you can translate it as ‘no-mind’. What he means is ‘empty mind’ which is equivalent to ‘no-mind’. What is left in an empty mind? - just a pure space. It depends on you whether you prefer to call it the empty mind or no-mind. But both are equivalent, not in the dictionaries, but in the existential experience.
One day, when Ma Tzu was on his way home from Chiang-si, he stopped to visit his old master, Nangaku.
He is a master now in his own right. He had gone to Chiang-si and was returning home from there, and
. he stopped to visit his old master, Nangaku. When Ma Tzu had burned incense and made bows to Nangaku, Nangaku gave him this verse:..