Koan 6 in the Mumonkan.

Teisho 1031 (2006)

A flower is held up, and the secret has been revealed. Kashyapa breaks into a smile.

Buddha said, ” My doctrine implies thinking of that which is beyond thought. Performing that which is beyond performance. Speaking of that which is beyond words and practicing that which is beyond practice.”

Thinking – in other words, the mind must be active, but not in the way of conceptual grasping. Any concept, any idea, any image won’t do. Any movement of the mind won’t do.

Doing that which is beyond doing. You are asked: “who is it that walks?” And people answer, “I walk.” But when one walks, one just walks. Just walking. That is it. This is doing beyond doing.

He says, “Speaking of that which is beyond words.” How do you do this? It is speaking without opening the mouth… but I don’t mean mumbling. And practicing that which is beyond practice. Practice must be beyond the self-willed, beyond ‘I am doing it.’ The practice of Thy will be done.

What is called selfless is hard to see, for it is not easy to see the truth. But the one who knows it penetrates the craving. Fundamentally all craving, desire, is for unity, for Oneness. Once we see this we realise there is nothing wrong with the craving, it is the way we try to satisfy it, by giving it one form or another, that is wrong.

For the one who sees it, there is nothing to be seen. The truth cannot be grasped, it cannot be expressed.

There is that sphere wherein is neither earth nor water, fire nor air;
It is not the infinity of space, nor the infinity of perception,
It is not nothingness, nor is it idea or non-idea.
It is neither this world nor the next, nor is it birth.
It is neither the sun nor the moon.
It neither comes nor goes, it neither abides nor passes away.
It is not caused, established, begun, supported.
It is the end of suffering.

What is Mu? What are you?

There is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned.

It is the unborn that walks, that talks. Things do not come and go, there are no things. This is utter freedom, utter peace. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can touch you.

Buddha held up a flower. What was in this? Would holding up a carrot have been as good? Or a dead cat? Did it have to be a flower? Fortunately it was a flower, much nicer to contemplate. What is the entrance to the Way? A master said, “Do you hear that stream gurgling by? That is the entrance to the Way.” People think he was saying that nature, the countryside, is the Way. But the Way can just as well be found in the back alley of a slum.

Kashyapa smiled. There are three kinds of smile: there is the smile of welcome, (someone meeting their beloved), and there is the smile of accomplishment, (the scholar who solves the problem). And then there is Kashyapa’s smile, the smile that shines through.

The smile is directly related to our practice. It is coming home to that completeness that you ultimately are; you basically are just One, just unity. There is an opening up, a letting go. When Kashyakpa smiled, he wasn’t smiling because he understood Buddha, nor was he smiling to encourage Buddha.

Kashyapa smiled. Then Buddha said, “I have the all-pervading true dharma eye, the marvellous mind of nirvana, the exquisite teaching of formless form. The subtle dharma gate does not rely on words and is transmitted outside the scriptures. I now hand it on to Mahakashyapa.”


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