That’s what Bodhidharma insisted: Emptiness.
Everything comes out of it and everything returns to it, and there is nothing holy because there is nothing unholy. This is not knowledge, conceptual knowledge, this is existential experience; hence, Bodhidharma could say, “No knowing.” He is describing himself as no knowing. He is saying, “I am just a mirror. Things come before me, reflect within me, disappear. I remain as empty as ever” – just like the mirror.
Have you ever thought that the mirror is empty, utterly empty? It is because of its emptiness that it is possible for it to reflect anything that comes in front of it. The moment the thing has gone out of the area of the mirror, the mirror is again empty; in fact, even when it was reflecting there was no doing on its part. It is just the nature of the mirror to reflect. It was simply functioning in its nature.
Chimon’s statement is absolute, unconditional, categorical. It contains the whole philosophy of existence: No beginning, no end, everything just is.
Just listen to the clouds…. A moment before they were not there and suddenly they are – and they are going. But existentially they are always: sometimes manifest, sometimes unmanifest.
Chimon needs no commentary, but Setcho is bound to comment. He says:
The lotus leaves! The lotus flower!
He is so kind to tell you of them!
It is not a question of kindness. What else can he say? He is simply reflecting the truth. Do you think when a mirror reflects your face it is kind, compassionate? It is simply its nature, the nature of enlightenment that it becomes reflective of reality.
But Setcho – as I have told you – is a schoolmaster! Once in a while, perhaps accidentally, he makes some good statement, but otherwise he is a knowledgeable, confused man.
The flower coming out of the water –
What difference, before or after?
If you wander about, now north of the river,
now south of the lake,
Questioning Master Wang and the like.
As one doubt is settled, others will arise,
And you will puzzle over question after question.
Without any reason or rhyme, he is bringing in Master Wang and criticizing him. Wang is a different type of master, certainly, but he is not wrong, he is simply different. He has a more philosophical approach to reality. His experience is that of a mystic, but his expression is that of a philosopher.