in the practice of the highest supreme wisdom, it is most difficult to meet prominent masters. Whether men or women, they must be those who have realized something indescribable…. This is the realization of the essence of the way. Therefore, they lead and benefit others, setting aside no causality or making no difference between the self and others.
Once we have met a master, we must practice the way, aloof from worldly relations and grudging a spare time, even in thinking, non-thinking and neutral thinking. Therefore, we should train ourselves as singleheartedly as if we were saving our head from a burning fire. A Zen master who has dropped away his body and mind is none other than ourselves.
It is inevitably by sincerity and piety that we realize and receive the essence of our master's law. These qualities neither come from outside nor rise from inside, but from attaching more importance to the law than to our body, or from renouncing the world and entering the way. If we attach a little more importance to our body than to the law, we shall be unable to realize and receive the way.''…. When someone has realized the great law and the essence of the buddhas and patriarchs, we serve him, reverently prostrating ourselves….
Sakyamuni-Buddha said: "When you meet a master who expounds the supreme wisdom, do not consider his birth, look at his appearance, nor dislike his faults or worry about his behavior. Rather, out of respect for his great wisdom, treat him with a large sum of money or celestial meals and flowers, or reverently prostrate yourself before him three times a day, giving him no cause for worry; and you will surely find the supreme bodhi-wisdom."
Dogen continued, …Both men and women can realize the way. In any case, the realization of the way should be respected, regardless of sex. This is an extremely excellent rule in the way…. Even a little girl of seven can become the teacher of the four classes of Buddhists…If she practices and realizes the law…We should make a venerative offering to her as if to the buddhas.
This is a traditional manner in Buddhism. I feel sorry for those who have never known or received it personally.
Maneesha, it is one of the most ancient problems – how to recognize the master? Because without the master there is almost no way. I say almost, because perhaps one person in a million may reach to the truth without the master. But it is just accidental, it cannot be made a rule, it is just an exception that simply proves the rule.
And the great concern of masters has been to explain to people the ways of recognizing the master, because the master is the Way. Unless you have seen someone self-realized, you will not trust yourself that you can be realized. Once you have seen a buddha, an enlightened one, a tremendous flame suddenly starts blossoming in you, “If this beauty, this grace, this wisdom, this blissfulness can happen to any man, then why can it not happen to me?”
As far as human beings are concerned, we have the same seeds and the same potentiality. But a seed can remain a seed and may never become a flower, although there was every possibility available. But rather than disappearing in the soil, the seed can remain safe, hiding in a stone cave, thinking that it is too rainy outside, worrying that it is too sunny outside, fearing the unknown. It feels cozy in the closed silence of the cave, but there it cannot grow, there it will simply get rotten. There it will simply remain something…it could have been a beautiful manifestation, it simply remains unmanifested, a song unsung, a poetry unwritten, a life unlived.
It is very essential to find a man who can provoke in you the challenge to attain to your heights. The master is nothing but a challenge – if it has happened to me, it can happen to you. And the authentic master – there are so many teachers propounding doctrines, beliefs, philosophies – the authentic master is not concerned with words; is not concerned with beliefs, atheism or theism; is not concerned even with God, or heaven and hell. The authentic master is concerned only with one single thing – to provoke you to see your potentiality, to see inwards. His presence makes you silent, his words deepen your silence, his very being slowly starts melting your falseness, your mask, your personality.
What is the problem of the seed? It is the problem of you, too. The problem of the seed is that the cover is protective. In losing the cover it becomes vulnerable. The seed is perfectly happy covered, but it does not know that there are more skies beyond skies to be discovered, that unless it goes to the beyond it has not lived; because it has not known the world of stars, and it has not lived as a flower dancing in the rain and in the sun and in the wind, it has not heard the music of existence. It remained closed in its safety and security.