People think that reading is taboo in Zen. But time and again you get people who read something and it clicks and they come to awakening. Albert comments that there were many books in his life that were strong pointers on the Way.
The verses called “The Song of Realising the Way” are about corroborating the Dharma through one’s own experience. What Zen is against in reading something and feeling that, having read it, one knows it. This is of course quite absurd. It is the personal realisation, the personal awakening, coming home to oneself that is essential.
The verses start with “Haven’t you met the one, mature and at ease?” This could mean: haven’t you met someone who is awakened, who is developed and who has seen into the truth. But at a deeper level, it means your own true nature, which is all knowing, all being, does not need to develop and has no need for further education. The notion that we are on earth in order to pass the exam of existence so that we can get promoted into a higher grade, is not the Zen way. “This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land, and this very body the body of Buddha.” This very body is the body of the one mature and at ease. The essential nature of one’s true self is that it is at ease. Yet one could say that human beings are very rarely at ease. Care, concern, anxiety, and stress is the lot of human beings. It is the day to day sense of futility, the sense that something profound is missing, that somehow one has missed the boat, that is our suffering.
“Haven’t you met the one mature and at ease, the one with nothing to do and nothing to master?” There is no need for development, you are not here to develop yourself, and we emphasise this because so often there is this feeling that one has to do something that is going to make a difference. But there is nothing that is going to make a difference, you are already at one. This is so difficult to accept, that we are at one with the creative power of the universe. That the world in its entirety is our own creation. “It is like one in water crying I thirst.'” The practice is not about getting understanding, it is about coming home to this truth of being, this is the only worthwhile aspect of practice. Coming home to your true nature, the one with nothing to do and nothing to master. The one who neither rejects thought nor seeks truth. People sometimes feel it is necessary to suppress thought or avoid thought; they feel that they have to empty the mind. But thought is not the problem, the problem is that we do not see that thought itself is a manifestation of what we are fundamentally, a manifestation of Knowing.
When you have a bout of anguish, see that in that very misery there is the sense of I, there is an identification that gives reality. We look on this anguish as real, but we give it reality. It is only when you take it over as your own that you can let it go.
“Neither reject thought nor seek truth.” We are not trying to find out who we are, we are not trying to find what is real, what is truth, we are trying to allow it to manifest, to open ourselves so that the light can shine naturally within us or through us. The truth is already present, you are the truth.
Seeing is being, hearing is being. As long as you feel that hearing is a faculty you have, that this faculty hears something that is coming from over there, then you live in a dualistic world. It is because we do not examine what appears to be so obvious, what we take for granted, that we are constantly tormented.
The I that we look upon as the knower is also known, it is also an outcome of knowing. People feel that the body is an impediment, but this very body is the body of Buddha. We do not have to get rid of anything, change anything, we have to awaken our basic knowing.
The sense of things having a self-nature dissolves. It is not that things disappear but that there is a dissolution of the thingness. The true nature of all things is innately Buddha.
“Greed, anger and ignorance appear and disappear like ocean foam.” Very often the basic knowing/being is looked upon as water, and the water becomes disturbed, and then it becomes disturbed because of the disturbance. And then the disturbance creates more disturbance. And so it continues until instead of having a calm, peaceful lake, you have a raging ocean spitting out greed, anger, and ignorance.
People want a purpose for everything. They ask Why? The why of wonder is simply expressing something inexpressible. The other why is asking what is the purpose, everything must have a reason for being. But there is no purpose; everything is meaningful, everything is purposeful; but that does not mean that there is a purpose, that beyond what is happening there is something else that we can call a purpose. Life is meaningful, life is the process, not the result. This is what Zen teaches.