A monk was reciting the Diamond Sutra: “…if one sees that forms are not forms, he then sees Buddha.”
The master was passing by and heard it. He then said to the monk “You recite wrongly. It goes like this: ‘If one sees that forms are forms, he then sees Buddha.’”
The monk exclaimed, “What you have said is just the opposite to the words of the sutra!”
The master then replied, “How can a blind man read the sutra?”
It is one of the most very pregnant Zen anecdotes. The Zen approach towards life is not of knowing but of being. Truth is not a question of knowing, it is a question of being. It is not something that you can accumulate from others, from scriptures, from traditions. It is not information: it is transformation. You have to come to a totally new birth. You have to die as you are and you have to be reborn.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Unless you are born again you shall not enter into my kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was a rabbi, a famous scholar, a very respected professor of religion, theology, philosophy, much more known than Jesus He could not understand what Jesus means: “Unless you are born again….” He said, “That means I have to wait for another life? It cannot happen in this life. He missed the whole point. Jesus is not saying that you have to wait for another life; he is saying that you have to attain a different vision, a different way of seeing. It is not a question of changing the objects, the seen. The whole thing depends on the change in the seer.
The knowledgeable person goes on feeding his memory with beautiful words, theories, ideologies, in the hope that by accumulating all these treasures he is coming closer to truth, to Tao, to God. In fact, just the contrary is happening: he is going farther and farther away from truth because the more the memory becomes thick, the more his knowledgeability becomes strengthened; there will be a China Wall between himself and that which is.
To know that which is, one does not need information, one needs clarity. And information always creates confusion, because information comes from many sources which are confusing and contradictory; they are bound to be so.
This is one of the most important problems contemporary man is facing today. It has never been so acute as it is today, because the world has become a small village and all the sources of knowledge have become available to everybody. Now everybody knows something about Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, communism. And all these different sources go on accumulating inside you contradictory information. You become a contradiction, a living contradiction. You become confusion. You don’t know where you are; you don’t know what is right and what is wrong.