One day Yao-shan Wei-yen (750-834), one of the well-known Chinese Ch'an master, was asked by the host of the monastery to give his sermon to the assembly who for a long while was expecting his teaching. Yao-shan said: "Strike the bell."
WHAT IS NOW, SIR?
It seemed that the gentleman was not satisfied with the answers by the deluded old man, therefore, he came back to see him today, again, with some more questions. He started with a question like this: -What is "now", sir? I mean I have heard a lot of people, including many so-called teachers or masters or practitioners..., have talked or preached about it but I am not clear about what they means with it at all. Would you please give some explanation of it? The d.o.m. asked him back: -Why wouldn't you come to see any of them and ask your question? I do not know what they meant with that word. -I am so afraid of that not any of them would like to explain it to me. In other words, they might say that it can not be explained in words at all. If this is the case, I would think that I will get lost further. Or they would tell me something like this: try to stop your thoughts flowing because when the flow of thoughts stops, you will see the "now". -Have you tried to stop the flow of your thoughts, and could you stop it at all? -Yes, sir. I have tried it by practicing zazen sitting methods such as breath counting, breath following with the mind's eye, silent illuminating, or working on a koan...but it just stopped for a little while and then it run again with more energy and higher speed! What should I do? -That's right. Thought is some kind of energy, a flow of life force, a part of you...if you did not have it, how could you live with others in everday life, especially, in the fields of technology or sciences. In those fields you should need thought or knowledge to operate machines, manage experiments. In other words, you should need this kind of knowledge, i.e., what you have known stored in your memory. Simply speaking, for example, in daily life with your family, if you do not remember the way home after work and you will never be home, then your wife and children will be crying for years at least. Right? Now, let's find out what we can do. Can our brain just records what we need and does not record what we don't need to remember? -How? -No. Not "how". If you start to ask "how", then you can never do that. -Why is that so, sir? -"How" implies a method, doesn't it? It also implies you want someone to tell you what to do, you accept some kind of authority, at least, from that person. If it is the case, then you just do some kind of repetition. Right, sir? Repetition is mechanical, isn't it? And mechanism is not creative, is it? Consequently, the result of a method like that will be a doom and the practitioner will be doomed with it, too. Right? -So, can thought be stopped? -I would say, "yes," but not by trying to control, to stop it because when you try to do so, you just add another thought to the flow. It is the activity of thought, of the self, of the consciouness. The contents of the consciousness are just thought. The seeds of thought or the consciouness are the images which the mind have perceived things and people through the five senses and stored in memory, and the mind works on them and makes up ideas. And with these images and ideas, we deal with someone we see or live with in our daily life. We see and deal with him or her with the images and ideas which come up from our memory that we call "experience" or knowledge or the past or yesterday. In this case, we do not "see" directly the person we meet at all. If we can see the person we meet without any images or ideas or experience or knowledge at all, it is that we see him or her in the "Now". In other words, if we can see a person without a word or a name, then we see that person in the "Now". Words or names are thought, without words mean without thought. We cannot think without words. Otherwise, if we can watch and see this process entirely, understand it thoroughly and completely, then we will be over it and we are in the 'Now'. This 'Now' is timeless.
One thing to remember: Do not confuse or mess up the "thoughtlessness" of the person in that state with that of a tree or a rock... He is just without the "me". That's all. -Thank you very much, sir, for the explanation. -Thank you for coming and asking the question, Venerable Sir.
The d.o.m. 08/10/03
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