The authentic experienced master will not ask for your belief or disbelief, he will ask only for your inquiry. He will tell you that the well is not far away, so don’t remain thirsty. If you are clinging to your suffering, nobody except you is responsible. You can drop all your suffering, all your misery, if you can just drop your mind. It is all mind phenomena.
I love Bankei. He was asked:
“The ancestral teachers since ancient times were greatly enlightened through difficult and painful practices. I have heard that you, too, accomplished the great teaching through various difficult practices. But for people like me, who don’t cultivate practice, and are not enlightened, just realizing that my very state is the unborn, enlightened no-mind does not really settle anything.”
For centuries there have been seekers divided on this point. There are seekers who say that enlightenment comes gradually. You have to work for it, you have to do many kinds of practices for it. It is a faraway star and the journey is tedious, and you almost have to pass through self-torture in the name of disciplining yourself. The other school says that enlightenment is always sudden. It is not a question of traveling anywhere or going anywhere, it is simply a question of awakening to your own self.
Perhaps in the night, in your dream you may have been visiting a faraway star. But as you wake up, you know you have not gone anywhere, you have always been here. Your mind feels misery, suffering; it feels all kinds of emotions, attachments, desires and longings, but it is all the projection of the mind. Behind the mind is your real self which has never gone anywhere. It is always here and here.
So the question of enlightenment, whether it is gradual or sudden, is a very complicated one. Those who say it is gradual, they make steps, procedures, disciplines to be followed. And in this way, perhaps, after many lives you may become a buddha. The people who believe in sudden enlightenment have no discipline, no rules, except for a simple thing – wake up, don’t remain a somnambulist. Don’t act out of sleep, act out of awakening!
So on the path of sudden enlightenment all that is needed is to go withinwards, to look inside and to find the point which can be aware twenty-four hours. And the point is there, you are just keeping your back towards it. Wherever you go, it is always with you. It is the very center of your existence; without it you cannot exist for a single moment.
The question is not of some gradual attainment or achievement. The question is of a great turning in. Our eyes look outside, our desires reach for the stars. Turning in means no desires, no greed, no paradise, no God – just looking into your own space, what is hidden in you. From where comes this life? From where comes this consciousness?