Chapter 2: Commentaries of the Bamboos
“What is this?’”
They missed the point.
Seppo lowered his head and returned to his cottage.
This lowering of the head of the master is a deep sadness about the misunderstanding these two monks have shown. And he returned to his cottage because there is no point in saying anything more. He has already said more than is absolutely essential. This becomes clear - that he has already said more.
Later the monks came to Ganto who said, “Where are you from?”
Ganto was Seppo’s master.
The monks answered, “We have come from south of the Nanrei mountains.”
Ganto said, “Have you ever been to see Seppo?”
The monks said, “Yes, we have been to him.”
Ganto said, “What did he say to you?”
The monks related the whole story.
Ganto said, “Alas! I regret that I did not tell him the last word when I was with him. If I had done so, no one in the whole world could have pretended to outdo him. “‘At the end of the summer session, the monks repeated the story and asked Ganto for his instruction.
Ganto said, “Why didn’t you ask earlier?”
The monks said, “We have had a hard time struggling with this topic.”
Ganto said, “Seppo came to life in the same way that I did, but he does not die in the same way that I do. If you want to know the last word, I will tell you simply: This! This!”
Ganto is saying that to ask, “What is this?” is not exactly right. Existence cannot be questioned, it cannot be a “what.” It simply is, without any question and without any answer.
This small anecdote converging in the smallest possible word, this, gives you the very essence of religiousness - the mystery of it, the beauty of it, the truth of it. You cannot answer and you cannot ask, you have simply to live; to live thisness - in Gautam Buddha’s words suchness, tathata. Thisness is the whole of religious consciousness.
Just live this moment in its totality, without wavering; neither thinking of the past, which is no more, nor projecting about the future, which is not yet.
All that you have is the purity of thisness, this moment.