Gertrude Stein laughed and said, “Okay then, tell me: What is the question?” And that was her last statement. She died.
In this small incident is contained the life of millions of people. They don’t know what is the question and they don’t know, of course, what is the answer. And still they are running all over the place in all directions.
Be Thoroughgoing means, have a determination that you are going to discover yourself, whatsoever the cost. Having life without knowing it is almost equal to not having it. Living and not knowing what it is, is very humiliating. Loving and not knowing what it is, is unforgivable.
When Ta Hui says, Be Thoroughgoing, he means: put every iota of your energy, stake everything on a single arrow and then perhaps you may be able to come home. You may be able to discover that which is missing. In fact, the reality is that the moment you are absolutely thoroughgoing, one-pointed, single-minded, with an undivided heart, this very thoroughgoingness is the arrival. You don’t have to go anywhere. In this totality, in this intensity, the flower blossoms.
Now that you have taken up this affair…
I love Ta Hui’s continuous use of the words this affair.
Now that you have taken up this affair, you must steadfastly make yourself thoroughgoing, and sit upright in a room with what you have truly experienced and awakened to in the course of your life. It is like crossing a bridge made of a single plank carrying a two-hundred-pound burden: if your hands and feet slip, you can’t even preserve your own life, much less save others.
Here, each moment is risky, because each moment can turn into death. You are all crossing the plank with a mountainous burden on you; just a small slip is enough, and you are gone. You have to be alert, so alert that no other energy is left in you, everything has become just a flame of awareness.
It happened once…A great warrior came home and was shocked to see that his servant was with his wife in his bedroom. He was a warrior, and warriors have their own ways. He said to the servant, “The only punishment should be that I behead you right now. But being a warrior I cannot do that. You come out, take a sword, and have a chance: you will have to fight with me.”
The poor servant said, “It is better you cut off my head, because you are a great warrior and I don’t know even how to hold the sword. Why are you making a mockery of me?”