…held up two fingers, and, looking at them earnestly, said there were two, and then went out. It had now stopped raining, and Jizo accompanied Hogen and Shinzan to the gate. On the way, in the garden, there was a stone, and pointing to it, Jizo asked a question: “It is said that in the three worlds, all is mind. Is this stone in the mind or outside it?”
Hogen answered, “Inside it.”
Jizo said, “You people on a pilgrimage, why do you think that the stone is in your mind?
Why carry such a load?
Hogen was at a loss and could find no answer, so he undid his bundle and asked Jizo to help him resolve the problem.
He stopped going, he dropped his bag and he said, “You have to help me resolve this problem: is the stone outside the mind or inside the mind?”
And after a month, Hogen explained his view of philosophy, but Jizo said, “Buddhism is not philosophy.”
There have been philosophers who say that the stone exists only within you: what you see outside is only a projection, just as you see a projection of a film on the screen. There is nothing outside, you are projecting everything. These philosophers – in India, the Adi Shankaracharya, in England, Bradley and Bosanquet, and there were many others in different countries – are trying to say that the outside is only a dream. It is your projection, it is not really there. It is your imagination, it is maya, just hallucination, a mirage.
In a desert you can see a mirage: a small pool of water, far away, but as you come closer the water disappears. There was no water, it was only sun rays reflected back from the desert. Because of their reflection and wavering, from far away they created the illusion of water, as if water waves were there. Even if there is a tree, it is reflected in those wavering sun rays. That becomes absolute proof: the tree is reflected in the water, it cannot be reflected in sand. But when you come close, the tree is standing alone. What you have seen was not true.
That is the standpoint of these philosophers, the mayavadins, the illusionists.
Jizo became very interested in Hogen and after one month he asked him – Hogen had been studying with him – what was his view. Whatever that small boy must have understood, he said.
Jizo answered, “Remember, Buddhism is not philosophy. You have to understand clearly: this is not a school of philosophy, you are not here to inquire intellectually what is true and what is false. You are here to experience what your consciousness is, where your roots are.” This is not a school of philosophy, this is pure existentialism – but not the existentialism that is prevalent in the West, because that existentialism has again become intellectual. Zen has been fighting against intellect, against mind, and pushing aside the mind so that it can see directly, without thinking.