Chapter 13: The Great Death
Tosu said, “You should not go by night; wait for the light of day and come.”
Slowly, slowly you will be getting the taste of the language of Zen. Rather than saying, “You should not die unconsciously,” he says, You should not go by night - don’t go in darkness, don’t go blind - wait for the light of day.. Wait for consciousness, wait for witnessing. Wait for meditation to grow in you and then you can come.
Open-eyed, he was all the more as if dead.
That’s how a great master is. In his being, death and life have become one.
There is no separation between death and life.
Open-eyed, he was all the more as if dead;
What use to test the master with something taboo?
Such questions should not be asked - that’s what Setcho is commenting. Such questions are of such a great depth that there is no way to answer them. Why put somebody in an embarrassing situation? Hence such questions are taboo.
Even the Buddha said he had not reached there - just to avoid the answer. He must have been asked many times in his forty-two-years-long life of teaching. Rather than putting a lock on their mouths, he said to his questioners, “I have not reached there yet, so I cannot answer it.” But it is not true, because he has not returned and he cannot return. That does not mean that others cannot become as awakened, as enlightened as Gautam Buddha. It simply means that the unique personality of Gautam Buddha will never be seen again in the world of time and space.
Who knows when to throw ashes in another’s eyes?
Setcho is saying, “Buddha is simply throwing ashes into the eyes of the questioner.” You cannot deceive an authentic questioner, because the authentic questioner himself knows it a little bit - that death is a fiction, that life is eternal.