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Chapter 1: Always at Ease, Unmoved

The reality is just the opposite: you are not reaching it because you are it. It is not far away. It is so close by that even to call it close is not right, because even closeness is a kind of distance. It is not distant at all, it breathes in you. It is not there, it is here. It is not then, it is now. It has always been with you. From the very beginning everyone is a buddha, everyone is a mirror capable of reflecting.

This is the basic message of Zen, and the greatest message that has ever been delivered to man, and the greatest liberating force that has ever been brought to the earth. But you will have to look in a totally new way. All that is needed is not search but a new way of looking at things. The common, the ordinary, the usual way has to be dropped. Hence I say again the sun rises in the evening. By what name you call it does not matter a bit because it is wordless, it is wordlessness, it is utter silence. It is unchanging, unmoving; it is eternal, it is timeless.

We are going on an immense journey with Yoka Daishi, a great Zen master. These sutras are known as shodoka, the “Song of Enlightenment.” When Yoka became enlightened he burst forth singing just like a tree in spring bursts forth, blooms, and thousands of flowers were there, and great fragrance. This is a song. Remember, it has not been addressed to any audience - that is the beauty of it. If somebody has heard it, that is another thing, but Yoka has not addressed it; he was simply singing it out of the sheer joy that had happened in him. In fact, to say that he was singing it is not right; it was singing itself in him. Just as we say, “It is raining,” like that it was singing. And that is true of all the people who have become enlightened; the audience, if it is there, is secondary. It is not primarily an address, it does not take into account the people who are hearing it - they are irrelevant. Maybe they trigger the process, but there is no compromise.

Just because of this many people have felt, particularly R.H. Blyth who has translated this beautiful song into English.. He says, “Yoka keeps on talking when he has nothing more to say.” That is true: one roseflower is enough to say what the rosebush has to say. A thousand flowers are not needed; but the rosebush is overflowing. You don’t go to the rosebush, you don’t criticize the rosebush, you don’t ask, “Why do you go on repeating? It is enough to say it with one flower. Your message has been seen and heard. The second flower will be just like the first, and so on and so forth.”

R.H. Blyth is logically right. He says, “Yoka goes on talking when he has nothing more to say.” It is not a question of whether one has to say more or less, deep down he has nothing to say at all, he is not saying anything. It is just sheer joy, hence it is called the song. It is not meant to be heard; if it is heard that is another matter. When the rosebush blooms and you see the flower and the beauty and the benediction that surrounds it and you are thrilled, that is another matter. The rosebush had never thought about you; if you had not passed by there would have been no difference, the rosebush would have continued singing its song.

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