In a simpler way, what he is saying is: “Don’t be concerned with what I say, but be concerned with who is listening in you. It does not matter what I am saying. What matters is that you are awake and listening.” Listening is a great art. Just experience the listener, and you will not go astray.
Particularly Zen masters want you to be free from birth and death. That is not the case with other so-called religions. Most of the religions prevalent in the world begin with birth and end with death. The East has concentrated its genius on a single point: to search where we were before we were born, and whether we are going to survive death.
And, without any exception, the extraordinary conclusion that has been found is that if we go deep enough into ourselves, there is a space which is eternal, immortal. It knows nothing of birth, nothing of death. It is simply a traveler – an eternal traveler. It is an explorer of different forms, different ways of being. It has been in a tree and blossomed into flowers; it has been in a lion and roared like a lion; it has been throughout the universe in different forms. It is a great journey. If you can see the variety of the experiences…
Man is at a point from where he can either continue the journey into forms, or he can jump out of the circle of birth and death and merge into the universe – losing his individuality, becoming one with the cosmos.
It is possible only for man. That is his dignity. But many human beings will not use this opportunity to jump into the universal soul and dissolve themselves.
Rinzai is saying:
If you want to be comfortably independent, free from birth and death and free to go or stay, you should recognize the one who is here now listening to my expounding of the Dharma.
We have to bring the statement to this moment. Who is listening to me? Is it just your mind? If it is just your mind it is not going to transform your being. If you are listening with silence, then you are listening with the heart. That is going to transform your being. The heart simply gets the essential message. Mind only gets the words, and the message is between the words. Only the heart is capable. And if you go even deeper, then your being is there. Heart is a door towards your being, and your being is the opening towards the universal being.
Listening to a master is not necessary. You can listen to the wind passing through the pine trees; with the same silence you can listen to the music of Mozart, you can listen to the birds. The whole universe is expounding the Dharma. Just the listener is missing.
The art of meditation
is the art of listening with your total being.
This very moment, in this silence,
your boundaries drop,
your defenses drop.
You become one whole.
There are not ten thousand people,