Chapter 8: Feel the Silent River
But the very desire that your offerings should be received is basically wrong: your offerings should be unconditional. They should be out of your love, not out of your desire, not out of any demand. It is just a joy, a dance that a few human beings have disappeared into the cosmic whole.
Your offering is simply a symbolic indication that you would like also to disappear like an echo, slowly, slowly, not leaving any trace behind; just as a bird flies but does not leave footprints in the sky.
Before Chu Kokushi died, emperor Shukusho asked him,
“When you are a hundred years old, what shall I do for you?”
Kokushi answered, “Make a seamless pagoda for this old monk.”
The emperor said, “I would like to ask you, what style is it to be?”
Kokushi remained silent for a while.
This silence was the answer.
Only those who are silent can understand the language of silence.
Only those whose hearts are present in the moment can dance.
But the emperor could not understand Kokushi and his silence. After a while he said:
“Do you understand?”
“No, I do not,” said the emperor.
“I have a disciple called Tangen,” said Kokushi,
“who had the dharma seal transmitted by me.
He is well versed in this matter. Ask him, please.”
The emperor has not understood the master because the master will not descend from his silence. He sends him to a disciple.
After Kokushi’s death, the emperor sent for Tangen
and asked him about it.
Tangen said, “South of So and north of Tan,
in between, gold abounds.”
Between these two mountains, gold abounds.
“The ferryboat under the shadowless tree.”
Just see how Zen is more pictorial than linguistic.
“The ferryboat under the shadowless tree,
no holy one in the emerald palace you see.”
The anecdote ends because the emperor could not see the heart of silence, the heart of the universal music, the language of the shadows and the poetry of love. But you should not miss.
Do you understand? In this silence is the whole secret.