These philosophies can be reduced to a single word – maya, illusion; everything is illusion. And there is a very subtle reason for the insistence on illusion. They want you to renounce the world because it is illusory. As far as I’m concerned, if it is illusory, then there is no need to renounce it. It is not there – what are you renouncing? Your very effort to renounce it makes it real! All the monks and the saints who have renounced the world, have given a certificate that the world is real.
You don’t renounce dreams; I have never heard of a single man in the whole history of humanity renouncing his dreams. One simply wakes up, looks here and there, and finds that there are no dreams. He was simply asleep – now he is awake. There is no need to renounce that which is not.
But all these philosophers were trying by every means and argument to prove that everything is unreal – money, power, prestige, relationship, husband, wife, children, parents, all are unreal. So don’t waste your time with unreality. Renounce! so that you can attain to the real.
But I hope it is absolutely clear to you that you can renounce something only if it is real. Your very renouncing proclaims its reality, and also your cowardliness. You don’t have guts to encounter it, that’s why you are escaping. It is not renunciation, it is escape, pure and simple escape, out of a cowardly mind who cannot encounter the arduous realities of life.
Zen is not in favor of renouncing anything.
Ummon is giving explanations about Hinayana philosophers, Pratyak buddha philosophers, bodhisattva philosophers:
…bodhisattvas say its reality is emptiness.
Ummon is simply one of the most insightful masters who has walked on the earth. He says:
But I say unto you, take the staff…
and he is holding his staff in his hand
…as just a staff. Movement is movement; sitting is sitting.
There is no need to talk about whether it is real or unreal; the very division between reality and unreality makes all kinds of confusions in your mind. What to choose, what not to choose, whether it is real or unreal.
Take everything as it is, without any judgment about its reality or unreality.
But don’t wobble under any circumstances!
What is wobbling? The arising of thought – whether this is real or unreal – and you have started wobbling. Just see things straight as they are, they don’t need any judgment from you. A staff is a staff.