In this teisho one hears Albert struggling with words to express that which is distorted immediately it is put into words. One hears his puffs of exasperation, yet somehow nevertheless the inexpressible comes through.
teisho 1337 year 2014
To say as Ma Tsu did, that the Way needs no cultivation, seems to be saying that there is nothing to do. To appreciate what it really means you have to use your mind, dwell on it for a long time. It is not paradoxical. it is extremely profound. If you start off thinking “I don’t understand, I am confused, ignorant,” with the belief that if you work long enough and hard enough, eventually some revelation will occur, this is looking upon practice as doing things – one is clearing the mind, one is clarifying things, purifying, trying to understand, and so on. But “from the beginning all beings are Buddha.” From the beginning, you are the goal that you are seeking. From the beginning, you need nothing added or taken away. The Way needs no cultivation.
It is a question of melting, a releasement, it is an undoing. It is not a question of achievement, of getting, of grasping. It is like coming home, there is nothing new, nothing different. If one believes one is going to get something: wisdom, more understanding, then this leads one to believe that our practice requires that we do something.
As long as we are making efforts, we are obscuring, occluding, adding something which is totally unnecessary. Defilement is any movement of the mind: any reaching out, any going towards, any grasping after. But this does not mean that one gives up and hopes for the best, it is not a surrender. It is an allowing: the Way needs no cultivation, just allow, do not defile. Allowing requires great vigilance because of the restlessness of the mind. The metaphor that is used for this restless mind is that of the ocean: the bitter ocean of birth and death, which refers to the arising and subsiding of circumstances, wave after wave.
Most of you are working on the question “Who am I?” As you know, the basis of Buddha’s teaching is “No thing and no self.” But there is the need to be ‘something’. And with this goes the feeling that this something is under threat one way or another; ultimately this is the threat of death, the horror of nothing, annihilation. One wants to be something and one is constantly presenting oneself in order that one can be appreciated; the ‘selfie’ is the latest outcome of this. While one is looked at, one knows that one is something.
Being something, attaining something, getting something, this is the defilement that Ma Tsu speaks of. “The Way needs no cultivation, just avoid defilement.” When you see into your true nature it is an entirely different dimension to anything that you have heard about it previously.
Investigate this need to be something, really investigate it. Look into it, don’t run away from it. Often when one first sees into this underlying need, not only to be but to be special, unique, it is humiliating. Don’t back off the humiliation. This is the way to work on Who am I?
Ma Tsu says, “Ordinary mind is the way.” What does this mean? The book “What more do you want?” is pulling back the curtain on “Everyday mind is the way”. Ordinary mind is not out there, but at the same time, it is not in here. It is not ‘my’ mind. What we call the world and ourselves are not different. There is not me and the world, there is not me and you. But it is not all one, some oceanic pudding. Everything is differentiated, everything is what it is, but each is the shining manifestation of one mind.
Words are difficult. There is knowing; you need to know, not change, not even be. Your essential nature is knowing. When you come home to yourself you come home to knowing, (not knowledge, not information, not understanding, not wisdom). Knowing is like a light, it shines by itself, has no cause or reason, and this knowing is everyday mind. Knowing reveals everything, in the same way as the light of the sun reveals everything.
Everything is the Way. As you are right now, as you sit there, everything is whole and complete.