When Yang-shan Hui-chi (807-883), as a young monk, paid a visit to the Ch'an master Hsing-k'ung, there was a monk who asked Hsing-k'ung:
-What is the meaning of the Patriarch's coming from the West?
TO SEE THINGS AS-THEY-ARE (TO STEVE)
You know that all the methods of Zazen aim at one purpose: to empty one’s mind free from all images, impressions which one perceived through the five senses and the consciousness rebuilt and stored in your memory or sub-consciousness. Breath counting, breath following with one’s mind’s eye, shikantaza, and working on a koan, all do the same job. When one’s mind is empty, this means that it is free from all the images and impressions old and new, not any of these left, then one couldn’t think at all. Thoughts are reappearance of old and new images. This is the work and the content of consciousness. When the mind is really empty, one would know nothing at all.
When the process of thoughts stops, he doesn’t know what to do and might be totally desperate. But if he could stand himself with the desperation, the mind might get refresh itself and see things as-they-are.
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