I was a student – he was alive – and I wrote him a letter saying, “You have contradicted yourself: ‘That which cannot be said should not be said.’ You are also saying something about it.”
He must have been a man of tremendous honesty; immediately a letter came with an apology. He said, “It is true. I never thought about it, that even to say that nothing should be said, you have already said something.”
One has to understand that all the mystics of the world have been in a tremendous difficulty. They know it cannot be said, but still they say – they try at least their best. My own understanding is, it cannot be said but it can be heard. That is the reason why the mystics go on speaking, knowing perfectly well it is not possible to put it into language, but hoping that somebody may hear it between the words, between the lines, in the gestures, in the eyes of the master, in his presence, in his intimacy.
Perhaps just as a flame can jump to another unlit candle if you bring them close enough, intimate enough…The master’s work is to bring the disciple close enough to his inner flame, which is a fire. Because it is a fire, only the daring ones come very close to the master, because it is going to burn you completely and utterly. It is going to be your death – and a resurrection.
The old, ancient Sanskrit scriptures say that the master is a death, but that is incomplete. The master is also the eternal life, beyond death. But of course, first comes the death. The disciple comes close to the master and dies into his fire, into his love, and is resurrected in a totally new being: fresh, innocent, and a child of eternity. That’s what Tozan’s first statement is.
“The teaching of thusness has been intimately communicated by buddhas and patriarchs. Now you have it, so keep it well.”
Every word is so full of significance.
“The teaching of thusness…”
It is a very strange way, particularly for people who are not acquainted with the world of Zen. Thusness is as important, or perhaps more important, than the so-called gods of all your religions. ‘Thusness’ means this moment your silent existence is all there is to discover.
Its splendor is great, but you will have to pay for it. You will have to pay for it with your mind, with your personality. You will have to go beyond your facade, your so-called cultured personality, your knowledge cultivated by others and from others. You will have to lose all this garbage…you will have to be utterly empty. In that emptiness you will feel for the first time the experience of thusness.