teisho 683 (1999)
When we ask ‘what is Mu?’ and ‘what am I?’ these are not questions in the ordinary sense of the term. Normally when we ask a question we are wanting information. At a deeper level, we are trying to set the mind at rest, as we believe that by doing so we would live a better life, be a better person. But the mind does not need to be put at rest, does not need to find peace. It is itself peace. It is not at peace, it is peace.
By asking ‘what is Mu?’ or ‘what am I?’ you are dissolving all possibility of seeking something. One must practice with great intensity, because unless one seeks with all one’s being one cannot go beyond the seeking and see into the truth, that there is nothing that needs to be done. But this does not mean that one must do nothing; one must go beyond doing, not fall short of it. You must exhaust all the resources of your being, which means you must explore every possibility of doing, every possibility of finding an answer, every possibility of being something.
If we are searching for peace, we are generating restlessness; and if we try to stop searching for peace, we create more restlessness. The searching is important, one must not stop searching. It is the searching for something which is the problem.
Dogen asked: “If we are already home, already at one with everything that is, why do we need to struggle to realize this?” This is the kind of contradiction that needs to be the motive power when you are asking ‘what is Mu?’ or ‘what am I?’ To enter into confusion is very painful and we are unable to sustain it for any length of time. This is what sesshin is for, to give the possibility and help to do this. Enter into whatever is offered; this is how you do without doing, this is how you seek without seeking something. This is how you question without wanting a particular response: one uses the questioning to be open to what is. Everything that comes up is you, is Mu, and yet you are not something, Mu is not something.
How can one have more faith in oneself? Changes by themselves cannot bring change. The real does not have a beginning. What is it that is beginningless and endless? What does not come and go? What is it that is not born and cannot die? Come home to the immutable; it is already fulfilled, it is not in the process of being fulfilled.