The teacher can speak with full confidence because he knows nothing. The master either remains silent or, if he speaks, he speaks with a great responsibility, knowing that he is going to make statements which appear to be contradictory, but which are not.
But every teacher wants to be known as a master. For the seeker this creates a problem. Myozen also proclaimed himself a master, but time proved that he was not a master.
In spite of long years of training under Myozen, Dogen still felt unfulfilled. At the age of twenty-three he decided to make the journey to China with Myozen, in order to study Zen Buddhism further. Leaving the ship, Dogen found his way to T’ien-T’ung monastery, where he trained under master Wu-Chi.
Still unsatisfied, for the next several months he visited numerous monasteries. Just as he was about to give up his search and return to Japan, he happened to hear that the former abbot of T’ien-T’ung had died, and that his successor, Ju-Ching, was said to be one of China’s finest Zen masters.
He changed his plan to go back to Japan and went again to the same monastery where he had been.
The old master, who was just a teacher, was dead, and he had been succeeded by Ju-ching – a man who had soared high and touched the peaks of consciousness, who had dived deep and touched the depths of his being, who had moved vertically upwards and downwards, who had traveled through all his conscious territory. This man Ju-ching proved to be a man who answered doubts, settled them, because Dogen was still carrying the same question: that if buddhahood is your nature, then why is any discipline needed?
It was Ju-ching who said, “No discipline is needed. No discipline, nowhere to go, no way to be traveled…just be, silent, settled, at the very center of your being, and you are a buddha. You are missing it because you are looking and trying everywhere else except within you. You will never find your buddhahood by changing this monastery for another monastery, this master for another master. Go in!”
Ju-ching is known as one of the finest masters, a very fine sword that cuts things immediately. His presence, his fragrance, his grace…Dogen remained with him, never asking a question, just drinking the very presence of the master, the very atmosphere, the very climate – getting drowned.
And a moment always comes…An ancient Tibetan proverb says, “If the disciple is ready, the master appears.” The whole question is of the disciple being ready. But the disciple can be ready only if he comes across a man of consciousness – not a man only of words, but a man of the experience – who has been to the highest peaks, to the lowest depths. And just being close to him one can feel the vibe, the coolness.