Chapter 5: Beyond the Prism of the Mind
Hakuju served as a distinguished lecturer at the Tendai-sect college. As he was lecturing with his customary zeal on the Chinese classics one hot summer’s afternoon, he noticed that a few of the students were dozing off. He stopped his lecturing in midsentence and said, “It is a hot afternoon, isn’t it? Can’t blame you for going to sleep. Mind if I join you?”
With this, Hakuju shut his textbook, and leaning well back in his chair, fell asleep.
The class was dumbfounded, and those who had been dozing were awakened by his snores. All sat up in their seats and waited for the master to awaken.
The first principle, the principle that cannot be said - but we can still try. The first principle is that samsara is nirvana, that the ordinary is the extraordinary, that this world is the other world, that matter is mind, that there is no distinction between the holy and the unholy, that the profane is the sacred. This is the first principle. Yes, it cannot be said, and I am not saying it, but it can be indicated.
The indivisible is the first principle. The moment we divide reality, it becomes the second principle. The second is a shadow; the first is the original.
This is one of the greatest contributions of Zen to the world. Zen says the world is God, there is no other God. The creation is the creator, there is no other creator. The very creativity is divine. It is not like a painter who is different from his painting. It is like a dancer who is one with his dance. God is one with his existence. God is his existence. In fact, to say “God is” is tautological, it is a repetition, because “God” means the same thing that “is” means. God is isness. All that is divine.
It is very difficult for the so-called religious to understand it because his whole trip depends on the distinction: this is good, this is bad, this has to be done and this has to be avoided. The marketplace has to be condemned, and one has to move into the Himalayas or into the monasteries.
The ordinary religious mind depends on condemnation, it is an ego trip, so when you become ordinarily religious, you start having the feeling of “holier than thou.” Because you live in a certain way - you eat certain things and you don’t eat certain things, and you have a certain style to your life - you start feeling you are holier than others. A Catholic monk or a Jaina monk thinks he is very holy because he is doing certain things and he is avoiding certain things. His holiness consists of doing.
The insistence of Zen is that doing is not important at all, what is important is being. You are not what you do. You are what you are. And by doing, you never change, but if your being changes, certainly your doing changes. It becomes totally different; it becomes suffused with a new light. A new quality, a new dimension opens to it. You can do the same thing without your being having gone through any transformation, and then it will be second, secondhand, then it will not be real.