The woman, apparently ordinary, must have been extraordinary. She is asking, “Which mind? Past? It is no longer there. Future? It is not yet. And if past and future disappear, how can you have the bridge, the present?” Both the banks have disappeared; do you think the bridge can remain? With the past and future being both absent, makes it absolutely clear: there is no present mind either.
You are, but you are not the mind.
Tokusan was not able to answer, although he was a great, proud scholar. But as far as existence is concerned your intellectuality, your scholarship have nothing to do with it. It can only make you proud, and to be proud is to lose contact with yourself. To be proud means to be an ego. And you are just a silence. Why pollute it, why not leave it spacious, in tune with existence?
Because he could not answer the old woman, he missed his snack. And the old woman said, “Rather than giving you your asked for snack, I advise you to go to the Zen master Ryotan and study with him. Don’t carry this Diamond Sutra on your back unnecessarily. You don’t understand it.”
The intellectual is most prone not to understand. His intellectuality prevents him because it gives him a sense as if he knows. But “as if” is not the point. You have to experience, not as if, but this!
And he understood this under Master Ryotan when he blew out the flame – a sudden transformation. At this moment, Tokusan was awakened and made a bow to the master.
Maneesha has asked:
The commentaries in books on Zen are so dry and scholarly. All that they do is to dissect each anecdote, giving the traditional interpretations of every phrase.
But you bring an ancient understanding of life right into our lives, here and now, so that one almost expects to find Seppo sipping tea in Zorba the Buddha Restaurant, or Joshu browsing in the Bookshop.
Maneesha, you are absolutely right. Here, nothing other than a buddha is not allowed. Listen to the bamboos. They are giving their support to my statement. And listen to your hearts and you will find all the buddhas together, silently dancing without making any noise.
Before you enter into your living flame, the bamboos are asking for a few laughters. They cannot laugh, but they can hear. They can give commentaries. This series is dedicated to these bamboos.
Two middle-aged ladies live together in a big house, with only a female cat for company. They are both convinced that awful things will happen to them if they get near to a male. And they even keep the cat indoors for the same reason.