The other dimension is that whatever question is asked to him, he goes on saying in answer, “Beating the drum.” It does not matter what question you are asking – there may be millions of questions but there is only one answer:
…and the answer cannot be verbalized. That’s why Kasan used to keep a drum by his side. You ask him anything – it does not matter what you are asking, he will simply beat the drum. That was his answer.
Reduced to your understanding it means, “Be nothing just like the drum and you will find the answer. I cannot give it to you, it is your own emptiness. At the most I can hit you from the outside, but the sound comes from within you.”
Kasan said, “Learning by study is called hearing; learning no more is called nearness; transcending these two is true passing.”
Kasan is certainly a master as far as finding exact analogies from the experience of no-mind to the world of mind. Nobody surpasses him. You have to understand him slowly: Learning by study is called hearing. Somebody else has written, you have studied it; somebody else is teaching, you have studied him – but it is all only hearing, it is not experience. Knowledge cannot be converted into experience. On the contrary, it is the greatest barrier to experience. Learning by study is called hearing.
He says that at the most the studious, the learned can be said to be people who have heard it. Not that they have known it.
Every Buddhist scripture starts with the words, “I have heard….” There are thousands of Buddhist scriptures, but without any exception, every scripture begins with the words, “I have heard” – a deep sincerity, a truthfulness. “Buddha may have known, but as far as I am concerned, I have only heard.”
Learning no more is called nearness. If you stop this kind of knowledge, if you drop this kind of knowledge, learning no more, Kasan calls it nearness. You have come very close; still, it is not experience. Learning was very far away; not learning is nearness, but even nearness is too far away.
Transcending these two is true passing. If you can transcend knowledge and you can also transcend no knowledge…in other words, if you can transcend ignorance and wisdom both, you have really passed to the beyond. This is called true passing.
A monk asked, “What is true passing?”
Kasan said, “Beating the drum.”