Certainly, a boy of seven must have been of immense intelligence to see the futility of all power, of all that the world can give. The very fact that such a small child starts moving from master to master is enough proof of his intelligence.
…studying Buddhism and Confucianism.
Buddhism and Confucianism can be said to be polar opposites. Confucianism is an ancient type of communism – no God, no soul, but only morality, social conduct, social ethics…a better way of behavior, of being a gentleman, nice and cultured. Confucianism is an education of the personality, while Buddhism is not a study at all. And secondly, Buddhism is absolutely against personality. The more cultured the personality, the more difficult to penetrate in, because the cultured personality becomes a solid rock.
An innocent child has no personality. He is vulnerable, and vulnerability is one of the greatest values for those who are seeking truth. So Hogen must have been in great difficulty moving between Confucian teachers. They can never be masters, they have never tried to enter in. They have been always cultivating the garden outside the house, painting the house from the outside. They have completely forgotten that the real house is inside. The painted wall, the beautiful garden around, are perfectly good, but one should not end with them. One should not start living in the porch! And that’s what is happening with almost everybody, all around the world.
Confucian ideology was prevalent over almost all the great empire of China and the neighboring countries, and for twenty-five centuries Confucius has been held up as one of the greatest men. Buddhism is a totally different approach. It penetrates within you, it does not bother about your porch. It wants to reach to the center of consciousness, not the garden surrounding your house; not the body, not the mind, but you in your essence. It is a very different way, almost opposite.
Confucianism is going outward. Zen is going inward. Between these two, this small child of seven, Hogen, must have been in great torture.
One day, some years later, when Hogen was on the way to the lake, it began to rain and he took shelter in Jizo’s temple.
Jizo is a Zen master.
Jizo, who was sitting by the fireplace, asked Hogen, “Where are you going?”