A consciousness is just like what Basho calls, “Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” What he is saying is, “As far as I am concerned, I am not doing anything, neither am I desiring anything. The spring comes on its own accord, uninvited. The grass starts growing without any effort on my part. I am just a watcher, sitting silently, doing nothing.”
This non-doing awareness, which has no function in the world but is simply a blissfulness, an ecstasy, a drunkenness utterly centered in the present moment…That is the whole idea of the buddhas: to make you aware that something is hiding inside you. But because it is of no use, you don’t care about it.
The world consists of utility, and your consciousness is of no utility. You cannot earn by it, you cannot sell it, you cannot do anything by it. It is not a doing energy. It is simply being – a being energy that stands just like an Everest, silently, for centuries.
In this anecdote Isan is trying to make his disciple, Kyozan, aware of this non-doing effortless isness of your existence. And this is the greatest beauty and the greatest truth. There is no other beyond it.
Isan said to Kyozan: “Most of the people upon this great earth, with their limitless consciousness of cause and effect, lack the awareness of that original nature which they should rely upon.”
People are conscious, but very superficially, of ordinary things. They are functional beings and they do a thousand things, so you cannot say they are absolutely unconscious. At the most they can be called superficially conscious.
According to the psychologists and their measurements, only one tenth of your consciousness is being used. Nine tenths – nine times more consciousness – simply remains, and you are not even aware of it. And that is your eternal treasure. That is your original face. That is your innocence. Everything in you will die, except only that consciousness which simply witnesses – as Basho is doing. Sitting silently, certainly he is a witness; doing nothing, he is a witness; the spring comes, he is a witness; the grass starts growing by itself, he is a witness – but other than as a witness he is not involved. This witnessing is our ultimate ground of existence. This is our eternity.
Isan said to Kyozan, “Can you tell whether they have this original witnessing, this original consciousness? Functional consciousness I can see, everybody can see.”
Kyozan replied: “I have experienced this difficulty.”
Because a man seems to be perfectly aware, he is doing things…how to know whether he is originally conscious or not? In the very depth of his heart, is he aware?