[AUDIO AND TEXT]
The book titled The Zen Teaching of Huang Po [tr. John Blofeld, 1958, pp. 127 – 128] reports a monk having a dialogue with Master Huang Po:
Q: To whom did the Patriarch [that is the Second Patriarch, Hui-ke] silently transmit the Dharma?
A: No Dharma was transmitted to anybody.
Q: Then why did the Second Patriarch ask Bodhidharma for the transmission of Mind?
A: If you hold that something was transmitted, you imply that the Second Patriarch reached Mind by SEEKING but no amount of seeking can ever lead to Mind; so we talk of only transmitting Mind to you. If you really get something, you will find yourself back on the wheel of life and death!
Huang Po lived in the 8th – 9th century in China. Our Japanese lineages know him as Obaku. In this dialogue, the Master’s words hark back to the Heart Sutra:
… no wisdom and no attainment.
Since there is nothing to attain,
The Bodhisattva live by Prajna Paramita, with no hindrance in the mind.
No hindrance and therefore no fear;
Far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana.
Now, listen to this from Hando, as recalled in the book Crossing Over Together, a group of selections from the talks and writings of Fr. Thomas Hand [ed. Judy Howe Hayes, 2004, p. 26). Hando says:
When Zen teachers talk to Christians, they sometimes describe kensho (an enlightenment experience) as a baptism because in enlightenment a person’s consciousness is plunged into an awareness of the True Self that has always been within. It is just as it was at the baptism of Jesus. He was told, “You are my Beloved Son.” [Mt 3:17] He was not newly made into the Son of the Father. His True Self was revealed to his awareness. So it is with any Christian baptism, I’d say. It is a revelation of what you already are. The newness is in the awareness and in the integrating of one’s whole life according to this Self-realization.
So, there you have it. From sources who have reported their own profound experience and passed those reports down to us, ages on from when they lived.
Huang Po: “… no Dharma was ever transmitted to anybody. … no amount of seeking can ever lead to Mind.”
Heart Sutra: “… no wisdom and no attainment … Far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana.”
Hando: “… in enlightenment a person’s consciousness is plunged into an awareness of the True Self that has always been within. … The newness is in the awareness and in the integrating of one’s whole life according to this Self-realization.”
Beyond doctrine and belief, it seems to me that we have here some compatible presentations of what may indeed be the truth of the matter. And that truth is simple: We are already enlightened. We have only to become aware of that fact of us. In that awareness, we can live fully as Ourselves – our Original Selves – before culture and conditioning and habit have emerged and taken hold.
And how do we become aware of that fact? Well, many say that it happens by accident. Some Christian writers talk of infused contemplation, where the realization comes by grace. Many Zen and Ch’an adepts prescribe diligent meditation practice as the method. The practice of contemplation – meditation – they say, makes us “accident prone.”
I think – no, in my experience – the awareness comes through surrender. As we surrender our wanting and our seeking, we become free to experience the underlying truth of our being. To see our True Self, we have only to look, and then accept what is already there, staring us in the face. Our Original Face.
In our tradition, silent meditation helps to prepare the ground for surrender. And in this, we are not alone. Many different practices have been developed to encourage us, but they all have a common end: Encouraging quiet. Letting us hear the sounds of the Universe that ring within us, even as we go about our daily lives.
So, I encourage us all, myself included, to embrace the quiet where our True Self resides. Let that Self, that Oneness, come forth and inform our movements and our being in the moments we live. As Luke says in Acts 17:28, “In him we live and move and have our being.”
This is our Truth. This is Us.