This poetry – The body is the bodhi tree – because the flower of awakening blossoms in the body, it has its roots in the body…. The mind is like a mirror, Every now and then dust and polish it, And let no dust settle on it – apparently seems to be very great and philosophical. It seems to be that Shinshu should be accepted as the successor. But he was not accepted. This will show you the depth of Zen and its approach toward life and existence:
Bodhi by nature is no tree.
The mirror is inherently formless.
There is originally nothing.
On what then can the dust settle?
Shinshu’s poem was beautiful, but has not the depth of Sokei’s poem: Bodhi by nature is no tree…. A tree grows. Bodhi is your nature – it is already there, fully grown. Each one of you is a totally fulfilled buddha. Whether you know it or not, that does not make any difference.
And talking about the mirror is not right, because your consciousness is formless; it cannot be a mirror. And because there is originally nothing, on what then can the dust settle?
With this poem Sokei became the sixth patriarch, the sixth great master after Bodhidharma.
Your first question, Maneesha: “Why is the nature of the mind such that it does not know its own limitations, that it thinks it is indispensable?”
It is natural to the mind, just as it is natural to everything. You have never thought why you don’t have four hands. You have never thought why God forgot to put two eyes behind, back lights so there is no need of turning. You simply walk backward, forward….
It is said…
When Henry Ford died and encountered God, he was very angry with God…the story is very beautiful.
God said, “I understand you are a great inventor. I would like to ask you one thing: What do you think about my creation?”
Henry Ford said, “Your creation? It is so full of faults. Just look: you have put only two eyes and forgotten about the back lights! You have not given man a reverse gear so he can go backward in time. If you had given him a gear, young men could go into their childhood or into their mother’s womb – or a child could go forward. You have not given man freedom to move in time backward or . You seem to be against freedom of movement!”
God was shocked and when Henry Ford said this it is rumored that God had tears in his eyes. Ford said, “You have put the pleasure point in man’s body between two exhaust pipes! Is it in any way sensible? The pleasure point should have been put anywhere else, but not where you have put it – it is so stupid!”
I don’t know whether the story is true or not, but it seems to be true.