Put the mind aside, and suddenly you can see the truth which mind was blocking. As far as Zen is concerned, mind is a block to reality. Except mind, nobody is hindering you declaring your buddhahood this very moment.
a great Zen master,
…needed to select a monk to be the master
of a new monastery that was to be established
on the mountain of Ta-Kuei-Shan.
He called the cook of his monastery
and told him he had been chosen.
Before I proceed I have to say something about the cook, otherwise you will not be able to understand the whole story. This cook had entered the monastery as a young man thirty years before the incident, when he was called by the master. Thirty years before when he had entered, he asked the master Hyakujo, “I don’t know for what I am searching, I don’t know the question; hence I cannot ask anything. If, out of your compassion, you can show me the way, I will be infinitely grateful.” Hyakujo’s monastery had one thousand monks, great scholars, intellectuals, philosophers. The poor man who had come said, “All that I can do is cook. I am uneducated.”
The master said, “There is no problem. You start cooking. Just remember one thing: never come again to me. Whenever I need you, I will call you. Don’t ask anyone anything; just remain like a shadow, working.”
In China and Japan, rice is the main food. The cook was preparing rice for one thousand monks. He would get up early in the morning and go to bed late at night. There was no time for questioning, neither he had any question. Just think: thirty years, cleaning rice, cooking rice. He became completely silent. He was not doing any meditation, but the mind was not needed. His work was so simple that mind retired on its own.
People had even forgotten that there was a monk who never came to the assembly, who never asked anything, who never read any sutra. People had no idea even what his name was because he had never told anybody. Nobody had asked…even the master had not asked.
This was the first time he was called, and told that he had been chosen to be the head of a new monastery that was being opened on a nearby mountain.
The master was watching for thirty years. As the man became silent, his whole aura, his whole energy started showing the same light that surrounds a buddha. The master was waiting for the right time. He called the cook and said, “You are to be the chief of the new monastery.” Amongst one thousand scholars…choosing the cook, who knows nothing about Buddhism, who knows nothing about meditation, who knows nothing at all.