One of the things that is a really interesting problem, is just why Zen has become so fascinating to many people in the West. Because as you find Zen in Japan today, it’s a pretty tough scene. There are very few Japanese interested in it. The Monastery of Myoshinji in Kyoto, was built to accommodate six hundred monks. There are now thirty. For example, I wanted to have a conversation with a learned priest of the Shingon sect. And I had two interpreters; his wife, who speaks very good English and the interpreter we had for our group. And as we got into things, they started to say sorry but this is impossible to translate into English. We don’t know what it means. So I said, All right let’s get some paper. And when any word arose that they didn’t understand I had him write it in Chinese characters. Which I can more or less read.
And so we managed to can’t converse in this very strange roundabout way of the syntax being conveyed by the interpreters and the actual terms being written. But that shows who say that they’ve been quite intelligent people, but the interpreter was a very intelligent man and the priest wife a very and well educated woman. But they don’t know what it’s all about. So how come then you see, this fascination in the West? Well, it’s due very largely to the way in which certain people have presented Zen to the west notably Suzuki. And R.H. Blithe. They have made a great use of the Zen story of the anecdotes. There is a book of Zen anecdotes, these conversations between the masters and their students. They’re called Mondo or question- answer. There is a book which is called the Mooman Khan. And it’s just a collection of stories. And I remember a friend of mine in England, when this was first in circulation, getting this book when he was in hospital. And he said I don’t understand it at all but it’s cheered me up immensely.
So the typical sort of Zen story where the student asks the teacher a question. What is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism? And the master says, ‘Wait around until there’s no one here and I’ll tell you.’ So later the student says to him, ‘now there’s nobody around Master what is it?’ and he takes him out into the garden. And he points at the bamboos. And the students as I don’t understand. The master says, ‘What a long bamboo that one is. What a short one that one is.’ Period. It has a kind of a shaggy dog feeling, it has a it just leaves you wondering. Well what’s this meant to convey?
And the answer of course is that Suzuki explains most carefully it’s not a symbolical tale. In other words you’re not supposed to understand that bamboos symbolize something. In the way that for example the parables in the New Testament are symbolical tales. Is not like that at all. All these zen mando. Are absolutely clear there is no concealed symbolism except in very rare incident and then the symbolic element is subordinate. Always the answer is completely straight. For example, there is a famous koan, where the answer to the question, ‘What is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism?’ is the second son of the Sho family, and the third son of the Cole family. Or something like that.
And once a student. Gave an answer to this koan. And the teacher accepted it, but the teacher’s chief student who was standing by at the time said when the other student had gone away, he said I think you should test on this. And, I don’t think he really understands. So he called him back the next day and said oh I gave him this koan again and he gave the same answers he gave before and the teacher said no no that won’t do at all. But Master you accepted this answer yesterday. But the Master replied, ‘Yesterday it was yes but today it is no.’
When another, when we had a talk with one of the great Roshi’s in Japan on our last visit. We were discussing the translation of zen texts into English. And there’s quite a work going on in that way. But he said it’s not necessary. If you understand Zen, you can use any book to teach it with. You could use the Bible you could use Alice in Wonderland. After all he said the sound of the rain needs no translation. And this is a very very straight story, you see, this is saying exactly what it’s about in the plainest language. Only people overlook it. You know, when something’s right under your nose and you can’t see it and you go looking over there there there there there and you’re carrying it you see. It’s like that. And so Suzuki has explained that that’s the way it is. That once when Sabro Hasegowa, the great Japanese painter was at a dinner party here in San Francisco somebody asked him what about understanding Zinn How long does it take. He said ‘it might take you thirty years it might take you three minutes. I mean that.’
So you see the element of fascination that it’s right under your nose you’re looking right at it and see Asika you don’t get sort of strangely puzzled when you’ve lost something, and somebody is kidding you. They’re not piling it up deal with that why don’t you see it. It’s right there. And you can’t for the new. I have you with it I mean it’s far more interesting that sort of situation than something that’s really difficult to find anywhere you’d have to go digging on the floors in it some and if a treasure were concealed in the walls of this ferryboat and I would have to go digging through the walls and look at all sorts of things but here is the treasure concealed in full view, and concealed by being in full view but in the place that’s too obvious to look. So that’s the flavor of Zen, and that’s why it’s become so fascinating. Also, there are other elements in it that. It has a humor to it which is peculiarly Chinese. I don’t think the Japanese have quite the humor in their Zen that the Chinese had. And you because you see this humor comes from Taoism. The say the writings of Chuang Tzu, who was the great Taoist philosopher who lived shortly after three hundred B.C. He’s the only really great humorous philosopher. And that flavor has passed on into Zen. And also Zen is something experiential. You’re not required to believe in anything. It doesn’t have any doctrines. It’s entirely consists in a state of consciousness. Awakened consciousness, so as if I were to say to you, you if you were puzzled about something you know, you were what calls concerned about being. What is this thing, life? Why are we here? Why it why is that suffering? Why do all these creatures multiply in different ways? Shapes Why are the ducks? Why are the trees while other snails clams people all out for heaven sakes why? And why do they come and go on what happens to them when they go we all want to know that. So that’s the kind of concern.
Zen answers this, not with an idea but with a changed state of consciousness. And we’ll never know whether you can get that change state of consciousness instantly right now without further ado or whether you have to work for many long years. There was an American student of Zen. Went to Japan on a Fulbright. And he started and started he practiced his meditations and sat in the meditation posture with all the other monks. And the last part of the technique is to work up a state of intense doubt, puzzling about what is it? You know what’s this? What is it? What is existence? What is isness? Well he worked and worked and worked at it. And nothing happened. And the time for his stay was very close to the end, and he couldn’t get a renewal of the grant and he had to go back to the United States and he thought this is absolutely terrible I won’t get it I won’t get the Satori, the Awakened insight. So he went to the master and said look this is desperate you’ve got to help. The Master said, “Now look you’ll do what you’ve got to do is now go into what’s called seshen. Seshenn means study of the mind. And but it means prolonged meditation where you hardly even sleep. And it isn’t really get to work on your koan, and see me four times a day. And see if you can answer your can and I’ll help you. So you worked and it worked and it worked and he sat there and nothing happened nothing have. Until almost the day he had to leave when suddenly he saw that there was nothing to realize. And then he had it.
You see, Zen works on this principle it’s called using an empty fist to deceive a child. You know when you say an hour to a child what have I got here? The child is all interest what is in there and you hide your hand this way that way and so on when the child is fantastically interested and then finally, there’s nothing. So in the same way, you can get a problem about life. Which is a closed fist. What is it all about? It’s like asking what’s that pit in the middle of an onion? And you take off all the skins and so on zones on and suddenly you find you’ve got a litter of skins and no pit. There wasn’t anything in it. And you might say well that’s it’s a hoax. It’s, the life is a deception. A tale told by an idiot. And yet, what you had missed, in looking for the pit, were the beautiful skins. See, that’s the edible part of the onion. Whereas you may peel a potato. The Onion is all skint. But excellent.
Now they might have one has done under these circumstances is you have missed the point by being too eager. You have therefore overlooked what was obvious. And so problems are made about the nature of the universe by asking the wrong questions. May I repeat that there are four great philosophical questions. And in a way they are all of the mistaken. But they are the questions that people have asked through all history about the world one who started it.? Two, Are we going to make it? Three, Where are we going to put it? And four who’s going to clean up? Plato.Aristotle. Kant. Descartes are all discussing these four questions. Now you see but they give you the beginning the beginning who started it that’s a misleading question. Know what it is if it was always here you know, it is what there is. And you had it there. But if you see if you get under that you know what what do I see when the some kind of shenanigans going on, the police come by, they want to who started it. They’re looking for a ringleader because they want someone to blame society requires that somebody should be blamed.
So what we do is from childhood, all human beings get together and they make up the idea that you started it. Only it’s no fun if we know immediately who started it. It has to be sort of concealed so people tell lies and cover up and so on and so we want to know who’s good guys and who are the bad guys really there aren’t any differences. We’re all collectively doing what we’re doing, and because one person is as we know say a criminal it has to do with his parents and his environment and so on but that mustn’t be admitted. Because we wouldn’t know how to deal with all of us. See, if the thing that’s that that’s the matter with human beings is all human beings in addition to their environment and the fishes and the birds and everything it all goes together, it’s absolutely interconnected. And but that’s no fun you see, so we break, we pretend that it’s all broken up into bits. And that one starts it and so on.
So, once you’ve done that once you’ve broken it all up into bits, and you start playing cops and robbers. Then you have problems. And it may be fun to have problems, it’s perfectly alright to have problems. Because that’s the interest of things. We make life interesting by making it difficult. And sometimes we overdo it. And then it gets desperate, and then people begin to ask well what’s it all about? Why are we doing this? Then you have to go to a zen master or somebody like that to be cured of your illusions. And the way he does it, you see, is to make you ask intensely What is it? What is the sound of one hand? Listen. Really listen what is the sound of one hand? What is that say when somebody asks as a master what is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism? He said ‘the cypress tree in the yard’. All right go up there and look at it. Are just the sound moo. The Great Master Joshu was asked does a dog have Buddha nature. And he said no. Moon Chinese. But everybody knows if they started any Mahayana Buddhism they’re not only good dogs have it in them but in nature which means the capacity to become a Buddha, an awakened one or you could say it means Buddha nature could roughly mean. The divine center.
So why did the master say no? So they what they do is this. They they work on the word no. And sometimes the masters teach them to say No really. Now he says Say No shout it. And the student shouts, and the teacher says, ‘You didn’t really mean it, try again.’ And so he gets to yelling No This in no no no and the teacher is no this is not good enough get behind it, get with it. And the student get so frustrated, he suddenly realizes he can’t say no. Well now, you know a little bit about this. Supposing you take the word know and you say it many times NO NO NO NO NO. And it becomes funny. You wonder isn’t it strange that this funny sound no, which makes you it a little bit on the tip of your nose means no, well what does no mean?. What does it mean that you don’t know what I mean when I say No see I mean no means I won’t. I don’t want any dinner or something I won’t play with you.
But take the situation of a person making this exchange with another. See, we know we know the meaning of the word no. But what does it mean that we are able to have this exchange of meaning this communication. Does that mean anything? Well, it in a way it doesn’t you can come and sit over here there’s plenty of room. What, that is is the fact that we as human beings communicate, that we say how do you do in the morning and goodbye at night that we eat, that we have children, and they all put in the boxes, and they become doctors and lawyers and business executives, and they do this and they do that it’s just that the trees go up and they do this and they wave in the wind and the birds flap around and they eat things and that makes bird because all the food you eat flows into your shape just like a flowing stream has a whirlpool in it and it keeps the whirlpool there but the Whirlpool is never the same water it goes on and on.
So in just the same way all these creatures are a kind of a tide of food and it goes in and it does that creature and it flaps around and then it goes out again. So what’s all that about? In the Buddhist philosophy is that all that is called thusness. It’s like that. Like did you ever see a lady go this way go that way. And so a Buddha is called in Sanskrit a tathagata, which means one who comes or goes thus. This very simple, that’s that that’s what it’s doing and things are doing that. Only to make a kind of game of it, we put valuations on it. It’s like poker you get chips how much of the chips worth well they’re worth anything you want to say their work. So in the same way all this is going on and you say well what is important. Is the something important or well yes we say there are certain things that are more important than others. We’ve agreed among ourselves because we are people that we are more important than seagulls. And the seagulls have agreed among themselves that they’re more important than people. And they they recognise their kind and they pick out in life all the things that are significant to their needs as we pick out the things that are significant to our needs. We say now that’s the thing that really must happen but actually nothing must happen. It just, it just happens. And that’s called thusness are such a mess. And so the zen is concerned that the whole nature of Zen is to get you back to seeing the suchness of things. You see, it’s a process of un-hypnotizing things. You see, when you you hypnotize people by making them pay attention. So I want you to look very closely at my finger. And I want you to relax completely and pay attention only to this finger. And there are many other ways of doing it you. You hypnotized people much better by not letting them know that’s what your doing. And all showbiz and teaching and so on is hypnosis. Your parents began to entice you in the moment you were born because they told you what was important to look at you know baby looks at everything. They really is interested in just anything around I mean children sometimes point out things for which we have no words to say what’s that. You say what do you mean? Why don’t you see that? Roanoke a perfectly clear I’m that what’s what’s about it what’s the word for that you suddenly realize that they’re pointing out a configuration of patterns on something that we don’t have a word for. Me, for example we don’t have a single word in English for dry space. We don’t have a word for most kinds of smell. For example, the smell of cheap perfume. Like Ben-Hur, or that sort of very metallic, crude kind of perfume. We don’t have any word that describes that specific quality of smell. Because we haven’t thought it significant very much to bother about our noses. But little children smell everything, they look into everything, they suck their toes, they explore their whole bodies everything all around. And they’re fascinated. But the adults say now now don’t touch this do touch that look at this don’t bother about that, because they’re teaching them the human game and what is significant and what is not.
Now, when you see you have picked out things in the world that are very important things , the significant things. In other words the scenes a thing is a name for something you think about. All things are units of thought like an inch is a unit of measurement or an ounce is a unit of weight a saying is a unit of thought it’s a think. And so when you say you can only think of one thing at a time you can only think one think at a time that’s what it’s saying because actually think of the things think of the tape recorder how many things is the tape recorder? You know it’s a mass of stuff. Human body likewise. But when that predicament is foisted upon you, are divided life into all these things. Then you are under the delusion that the world is all separated and disjointed. And that you are only something in the world. You forget by doing that, that you are, that your physical organism. Let me put it this way, is something that the whole. Cosmos is doing. The real you is all that there is, the whole works. There’s no real separation. I mean, when I say there are there’s no separation don’t imagine that I’m saying that there aren’t any skins, there aren’t any outlines, there aren’t any surfaces or lines. Yes of course there are.
But the basic lesson in metaphysics is that for every inside there is an outside that’s really all you need to know. Once you really understand that you have mastered all philosophies. That the inside and the outside go together in other words people think that I’m in the inside and you’re on the outside. But where would my inside be without the outside. See, imagine a bottle, which has an inside but no outside. It won’t work. There’s no such thing. Imagine an object, with no external space around it. It wouldn’t exist. So the space and the object go together just in the same way as your front and your back go together. And that’s it only you see we’re taught by pointing out what things are important and what and not, to ignore that. So ignoring it, is in Sanskrit ignore and it’s our video and the Buddhists say video is the beginning of the trouble.
You just ignore are the inside and the outside go together. So, the the the work of Zen is to get people un-hypnotized by this sort of thing, back to the point where they started in babyhood, but they never cultivated it because they were developed along other lines. To its call to regain one’s original treasure. That you received from your father and mother. Or what is sometimes called to get the unborn mind. That’s a curious phrase, the mind that didn’t arise. That is to say what you are fundamentally, as distinct from what you pop up and declare yourself to be. Imagine for example, a big sow with many tits on it, all these passages to a central source of. And so they unite together under the surface well in the same sort of a way you see we are all, united like that. We are channels. Through which it is happening.
Only, we are sensitive only on the tip of the nipple. [laughs] We are all our concentration is there at that point. And so, we’ve lost the realisation of being the whole thing. That happened very very early in our infancy. Now when you get it back, you don’t become incapacitated. In other words, it isn’t as if you lost sensation and the comprehension of what we call the different things and events in the world their names their places all that sort of practical knowledge. The knowledge in other words that is helpful for survival. You don’t lose that. That you see all these separate things, and people and events, in a new context. You might say, against a new background. In which you see that they’re all one. Or if I’m going to get very very technical as the Indian logicians like to, he would say they are non-dual. Because the word one is still a dual word. It has an opposite one as opposed to many or to none. Whereas this whatever it is, that we’re all on. Doesn’t have an opposite, because it’s everything, so the word one isn’t quite the right word for it so they use the word non-dual which is a kind of a fancy word. They use it. I mean non-dualism is of course the opposite of dual. But they have a convention about it. Imagine, when you draw on a flat surface, and you want to represent the third dimension of depth. You do it. Still using lines on the flat surface, but by a convention that we all agree on certain slanting lines indicate this dimension, and we all know that so in the same way in Indian philosophy certain words are used. To designate a dimension not in our ordinary way of thinking our ordinary where thinking is either this or that we think in dualities, and that may have something to do with the fact that our brain as two sides, and we have two eyes two ears and so on two nostrils. This, and the way our ribs are farm growing out of the spine and two legs and two arms. That probably, that structure is connected with the way we think. Either this or that. When you have what’s in the left hand all you have what’s in the right?
And so, we can’t talk about, we can’t say anything sensible about everything, about the universe. Because we can’t find something that’s not the universe. So then what we do is we take a dualistic word and say, it is to be understood that this word refers. To what is beyond all dualistic ideas. See, look at it this way. In order to make a word mean something. I have to be able to say what is excluded from the meaning of this word. It’s like a box. If the box is there, there must be what’s inside the box, and there must be what’s outside the box. Now I want to talk to you about a box which is the ultimate box, the class of all classes, as logicians say, and there isn’t anything outside it. Everything is in this box. Well, a logician would say that’s absurd there could be no such box it wouldn’t be a box. Unless you can show me that it has an outside I’m sorry.
Well, I’m going to get tied up with this fellow I want to say yeah. My box has an outside. And the outside and the inside, however, go together. Actually the box I have here. Is constructed in a Q peculiar way you know what a mobius strip is don’t you? You take a strip of paper, you twist it once and you draw in the two ends have a continuous strip. Now this has a very strange property. It has only one side and only one edge. You can hold that strip of paper between your fingers and say well look here, I’ve got one finger on one side and one on the other. It obviously has two sides. Say wait a minute. Take a pencil light. Bright red pencil and run it along that so-called one side that you think you have there, and keep going. And you’ll find when you have followed the pencil back to the place where you started. That you never took it off the paper to go around to the other side.
In the same way, you run your finger along one edge of it and you keep running and you’ll get back to the point where you started from and you will have covered the whole thing, both sides. Both edges. Now, just put that now into three dimensions, instead of two. And you have what’s called a Klein bottle. If you I think somewhere around the house I’ll dig it out we have the Life magazine book on mathematics and has a beautiful drawing of a Klein bottle in it. That has the same property in three dimensions. Now imagine a world which has the same property in four dimensions. And you got something like what our universe is. It’s outside is the same as it’s inside. Crazy. And you you see, it’s difficult to talk about that in the kind of language that we have. Just in the same way mathematicians affair especially in with mathematics applied in physics, have ideas, which they can express in their formulae, but which they can’t talk, they can’t tell the layman about. Because in order to instruct the layman as to the meaning of these concepts they have to put them into our ordinary three-dimensional sensory images and they always distort it.
So you see, the view that’s why it said that Zen cannot be explained in words. Although it is in a way explained very clearly in words in all these little stories. Nevertheless, these stories are not intelligible until you have what I can only call a new dimension of consciousness. You see, a lot of people don’t really have depth perception. They would look at the moon and see it as a disk. They don’t see a ball, the same way a lot of people attend there. They hear noises, but never hear tunes. It’s something like that. Suddenly, one day, you say, ‘Good heavens the moons of all. Are you suddenly become alive to what it is that people dig in music.
Well, in just that sort of way, you can become suddenly alive. Till then, I’ll just call it the oneness of everything that’s going on. And you’ll see that that’s all you. And you are eternal. Your what there is. And there’s nothing to be afraid of. Because of where we’re coming and going we go through a whole spectrum of feelings from the most rapturous pleasures, to the most ghastly agonies, and it’s all as insubstantial as weaving smoke. And just go, you know, just get with it and go. And then you have the basic understanding of Zen.
Now, all that I’ve said that’s far is simple introduction to what Zen is about. If this this way of understanding things. Arose independently in both India and China. In India in what we call the tradition of the opening shots in Vedanta and yoga and so on. Then in Buddhism, in China in the form of dollars and. And they reached each other eventually. And the confluence of the Buddhist and the Taoist traditions, came to be Zen. And this, the formation of Zen really began in about four hundred fifteen a day. In China. With the students. Of a great Hindu monk. Camara Gita. And. In the following, two hundred years. Three hundred years, it slowly took form and took form. Until a very remarkable man by the name of Hui Neng. HUI, NENG, who died in seven hundred thirteen A.D. was the man who put it on the map. Who. As it were. Brought all the threads together. And could be called the real founder of Chinese Zen. Now we’re going to do in the course of the seminar we’re going to look at the work of Wayne and. That I want first before we. Look at him to look at some of the earlier people especially science on Santan. Was a couple of generations before spiritual generations that is, Master-pupil, master-pupil, who wrote the most succinct summary of Zen. That exists which is called the Hsin Hsin me. That is to say the treatise on trust in the mind. Mind with a capital M.. Which means many things mind is used in Zen they use the word Shin and when a Chinese says shin he points here. Japanese the heart mind. The psychic center of gravity. But it means mind in a. Much wider sense than that. It means mind in the sense of do mind? Mind out. And it also means mind in the sense of space. Everything that we see is on the Mind. Like the sound of the radio is on the diaphragm of the loudspeaker. It’s a very wide sense of the word. Well let’s have an intermission now.