The priest Jui-yen called, “Master!” to himself every day and answered himself “Yes!”
Then he would say, “Be aware!” and reply “Yes!”
“Don’t be deceived by others! No, no!”
Zen teachers encourage us to wake up and investigate the matter of life and death for ourselves. Reverend Jui-yen calls from ninth-century China, “Master!” and we are compelled to reply, “Yes!” Each one of us must live our own life as a buddha. Just as we are, always doing our best to awaken. Teachers of The Way don’t tell us what to believe, instead they encourage us to have faith in our own understanding; to be determined to practice, always cutting through delusions; and to be doubtful, clearly looking at the present moment, not relying on an outside authority. As the saying goes, Zen requires great faith, great doubt and great determination.
Responding to Jui-yen, Great Teacher Wu-men wrote:
Students of the Way do not know truth;
they only know their consciousness up to now;
this is the source of endless birth and death;
the fool calls it the original self.
The Way is not the cultivation of a fixed point of view or a permanent truth. Instead we acknowledge the wild unknown of the present moment and accept that reality is not obligated to conform to our thinking. With the realization that a comprehensive truth is ungraspable, we are freed to live like fools. Not in ignorance, but free to live a fool’s life in the boundless truth that each moment offers.
Don’t be deceived by others. A life that is unbounded and beyond knowing can be unsettling. Our thinking mind naturally divides and categorizes experiences to create feelings of control. In our attempts to understand the world, we separate good from bad, right from wrong, or we see blue states and red states. These divisions oversimplify life though. Dividing and creating “others” is a seductive trap that we set for ourselves and fall into, making alternatives difficult to comprehend. Divisions work in limited ways and they help us manage daily life. They are buddha nature, but when creating self-and-other goes unnoticed, pain and suffering also are not seen. When we don’t see our wholeness, we can harm ourselves by attempting to “fix” the parts that we don’t like. Fixing in this way is aggression towards the buddha of the present moment. Habitual fixing, dividing and “othering,” is how conflict manifests in the body and enters the world.
Please consider Jui-yen’s strong words by:
- Recognizing your own perfection
- Attending to your thoughts
- Noticing feelings of separation
- Offering kindness to yourself and the others you create
- Not moving, being upright in the middle of your life
- Seeking wisdom through your own Zen practice
- Having faith, having doubt and determination
- Not being deceived by others.