In this small anecdote is contained the whole of Zen. You have to drop all that has been given to you by others. You have to reach to your innermost center which you have carried from eternity to eternity. And then life is a bliss, then life is love, then life contains all kinds of ecstasies.
Zen is not a religion because there is no reference to God, soul, heaven and hell, no rituals. It is a very concentrated effort to penetrate to your very being. Drop, go on dropping anything that you can drop. When only a witness remains which you cannot drop, you have arrived home. Zen has brought religion to its scientific crescendo.
Before the sutras…
Kyogen was a fellow disciple of Kyozan. He studied under Isan for a while but, failing to attain enlightenment, he left Isan and went to Nanyang, where he lived a solitary existence in a hut in the forest.
He realized his enlightenment one day on hearing the sound of a stone striking bamboo.
Somebody must have thrown a stone that struck the bamboo and created a sound. And this is strange: hearing the sound of a stone striking bamboo brought his enlightenment. What has happened?
He lived with Kyozan’s master, Isan, who transformed a great number of disciples into enlightenment, but Kyogen failed.
Sometimes when you think you have failed you drop the mind, the mind of the achiever. The mind turns everything into an object: “Achieve this, attain that!” Mind makes everything a goal.
Frustrated that he is not attaining enlightenment, he left Isan and went to live a solitary existence in a hut in the forest. He realized his enlightenment one day on hearing the sound of a stone striking bamboo.
There are moments of which you may not be aware, but if you have dropped the idea of attaining anything, any achievement, mind slowly slowly settles. If there is nowhere to go, why prepare for it? If nothing has to be achieved, then why unnecessarily harass yourself?
It was not the stone hitting the bamboo, it was really the right moment, a coincidence. The bamboo made the sound in a mind that was utterly empty, that had dropped even the idea of enlightenment. What Isan could not do, what no master can do, was done by hearing the sound of a stone striking bamboo.