Once, in an assembly of monks, Ummon held up his staff, and said, “We are told in the scriptures that an ordinary man thinks the staff is a real existence; that those of the Hinayana take it as nothing; that those believing in the Pratyak Buddha take it as an illusory existence; that bodhisattvas say its reality is emptiness. But I say unto you, take the staff as just a staff. Movement is movement; sitting is sitting. But don’t wobble under any circumstances!”
Ummon picked up his staff, and, showing it to the assembled monks, said, “My staff has turned into a dragon and swallowed up the whole world. Where are the poor mountains and rivers and great earth now?”
Maneesha, man has been thinking for centuries about who he is. All great philosophies are born out of this basic question, but no philosophy is the answer.
Zen, for that reason, should never be understood as another philosophy. It is an anti-philosophical attitude. It is non-thinking, no-mind – just a straight penetration into reality.
Mind has a habit of going round and round. Its existence is peripheral; only on your circumference does it exist. The moment you jump toward your center it disappears. It cannot go with you, within yourself. It can go with you toward the farthest star – and it is a great companion as far as objective research is concerned. But the same companion becomes the greatest barrier when you turn from the outside and start searching within.
Mind is the instrument for outside inquiry; no-mind is the opening of the door of your inner world. You are not just the body and you are not just the mind. You are much more, you are a mystery that can never be reduced to any language.
These anecdotes are efforts, out of compassion, to bring to your notice this inexplicable, inexpressible reality of your inner world.
Once, in an assembly of monks, Ummon…
a great Zen master
…held up his staff, and said, “We are told in the scriptures that an ordinary man thinks the staff is a real existence; that those of the Hinayana school of Buddhism take it as nothing; that those believing in the Pratyak Buddha…
that is another school of Buddhism
…take it as an illusory existence.”
Pratyak Buddhas, Hinayana, Shankara, Bradley – there are many philosophers who think that the world you see is simply made of the same stuff as dreams: it is nothing. Although they say so, their behavior does not prove their philosophy. Even Bradley, when going out of his house, does not go out through the wall; he finds the door. If the wall is made of the same stuff as dreams, why bother about the door? Just pass through the wall! You can pass through the mountain if your standpoint is really correct. Why do you go on eating, drinking, clothing your body, when everything is nothing?