teisho 1161 – 2009.
I heard about the great bridge of Joshu. But now I come here and find it is just a set of stepping stones. Joshu said, ‘It lets asses cross, it lets horses cross.’
You must come to a teisho completely fresh, you must hear what is said as though for the first time. It is taking things for granted, seeing them through the eyes of yesterday, that brings about the sense of life losing its luster. The practice encourages us to free our awareness, free our perception, from the trammels of experience. We believe that we are victims of the past, but we are victims of our addiction to the past. We want something that is stable, that is fixed, something we can rely on, something secure. But practice is to melt down this fixed something, to open up to vulnerability, to uncertainty, because we are thus opening ourselves to the possibility of recognising that what we see as stepping stones is, in fact, a glorious bridge.
How the teaching is received depends on the person, on their willingness to listen. There are few people who really are willing to listen, to put aside their own prejudices and beliefs and allow something new to come in. There is a difference between just hearing and listening. With hearing one registers the sound, one may even register the words, but to listen, means to give one’s complete attention.
When we ask “Who am I?” we are challenging that which we take for granted, that which gives us security and comfort.
Each one of us is a realised person. ‘I am’ is the being of the whole world. Hearing, seeing, tasting, touching are all evidence of the truth ‘I am’. All the koans are responding to the question, “what is a realised person?” ‘Everyday mind is the way’ is another way of saying everything is the manifestation of ‘I am’. There are no distinctive marks for a realised person. And yet we are always looking for distinctive marks, in our self or in others. It is because of the illusion that I am something special, something different, that the idea of self and not-self can arise. When we let go of the need for something special, something unique, then there is nothing that is not the self.