Even the smallest master, the humblest master, has a beauty, a truth, a realization. He may not say a single word, but his silence is a scripture. The greatest teacher may know all the scriptures, may have great interpretations, but he remains a parrot. What he says he does not know; his saying is dependent on his learning, studying, but not on his experience, not on his existential approach to his own being.
Torei is a good example of a great teacher. But such teachers can deceive humanity – they have been deceiving, because they talk beautifully. Their words are the same as the words of the masters – sometimes more refined, more cultivated, more cultured – but still they are empty. Once in a while they may quote a sentence which has significance; not because of them, but because that sentence has come from some great living master. They have been great collectors, but as far as their own reality is concerned they are as ignorant as one can be.
“If you want to be free from this world of suffering, first you must contemplate impermanence.”
I have told you these words: concentration, contemplation, meditation. The fourth, which is missing in the English language, is dhyana, or Zen in Japanese.
Contemplation is the way of the philosopher. He thinks it over. It is not beyond mind, it is within mind. He may be very sophisticated, his words may be arranged beautifully, but he cannot understand what meditation is; he can only understand contemplation. The very word contemplation means thinking about higher things. But if you don’t know those things, what can you think about?
Contemplation is one of the most empty words. If you know, you know; there is no need to contemplate. If you don’t know, how can you contemplate? What are you going to contemplate? What is going to be your subject matter? You are simply groping in darkness and calling it contemplation.
He certainly is acquainted with the scriptures, very well acquainted, but he is committing the same mistake millions of teachers around the world have committed. First:
“If you want to be free from this world of suffering…”
Can you find a person who does not want to be free from suffering? There is no question about it. Everybody wants to get rid of suffering, misery.
The way that Torei suggests is, “…first you must contemplate impermanence.” It won’t help. You can think everything is impermanent: birth is impermanent, youth is impermanent, wealth is impermanent; life itself is running out. Everything is impermanent. That does not mean it will take you out of suffering. It simply makes you more aware that while there is time, enjoy as much as you can, because time is passing and death is not far away.