Chapter 1: How Full, Emptiness!
An old master said:
Turn your heart round and enter the origin. Do not search for what has sprung out of it! When you have gained the origin, what has sprung out of it will come to you of itself.
If you want to know the origin, then penetrate your own original heart. This heart is the source of all beings in the world and outside the world. When the heart stirs, various things arise. But when the heart itself becomes completely empty, the various things also become empty. If your heart is driven round neither by good nor bad, then all things are just as they are.
Master Otsu, commenting on this emptying of the heart, said:
The heart becomes empty, the situation quiet, and the body just as it is. When someone succeeds in reaching this point, the mirror of his heart shines clearly and his nature opens wide and clear. He leaves error and does not attach himself to truth; he dwells neither in error nor awakening. He is neither worldly nor saintly. All worldly desires fall away, and at the same time, the meaning of saintliness is emptied without residue.
Such detachment from everything is what Master Rinzai called “The complete taking away of both, of man and situation.” Here is experienced absolute not-ness, since self and object allow themselves to come to nothing.
Genuine Zen experience consists exclusively in this “taking away of man and object.” this complete not-ness is the original place from which all thinking and knowing spring. But even if one is permitted to speak of a “place” at all, such terminology is only provisional.
Even if one wanted to characterize it as unborn-ness, or as nirvana, or as truth, one could never hit it. It lies beyond all terminology and expression; thinking cannot reach that far.
Maneesha, there are four possible ways to explain the unexplainable. Unconsciously, man has made philosophies out of those four ways.
Man is a crossroads, where four ways meet. The first way is that of matter. The atheist takes that road, the scientist takes that road: “Man is nothing but matter.” From the days of the charvakas to the days of Bertrand Russell, there have been great, eminent thinkers who have chosen that path. And almost half of the world today is on that path, because communism does not believe in anything else but matter - mind is only an epiphenomenon. Epiphenomenon means just a shadow: when the man disappears, the shadow disappears. There is nothing beyond death, and there is nothing before birth. You are complete between birth and death; that’s all you have.
The second road defines man as a duality between matter and mind. Most of the philosophers of the world have chosen that definition because it seems completely rational. All that we know about man is that his body consists of matter, and we know that he has thoughts which are not material. These things can be observed from outside. Hence, man is basically matter with an addition of a shadow that is his mind. As the body dies, mind also dies. On this path also, life extends only between birth and death.