Joshu asked Nansen: “What is the path?”
Nansen said: “Everyday life is the path.”
Joshua asked: “Can it be studied?”
Nansen said: “If you try to study, you will be far away from it.”
Joshu asked: “If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?”
Nansen said: “The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the non perception world. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond all doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good.”
At these words Joshu was enlightened.
Mumon’s comment: Nansen could melt Joshu’s frozen doubts at once when Joshu asked his questions. I doubt though if Joshu reached the point that Nansen did. He needed thirty more years of study.
from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings Compiled by Paul Reps (Anchor Books, New York ~ 1956)
The above came in an email to me.
“Mumon’s comment,” show the “enlightenment of knowing.” To be able to express what Mumon said, is the knowing of going through Life itself in awareness.
Is to study “bad,” a waste of time in “Spirituality”?
Neither good nor bad. It is part of the necessary experience and not the ultimate experience.
No one could become “enlightened” by just hearing words which just “make sense” to them. There has to be a background of experiences along with deep insight, which does not come from being “intelligent” or well read.
A person lost in rationality cannot flow with Life. A person who does not have critical thinking skills, is an easy prey for beliefs.
Let me share what I see through my experience in Life, as being the obstacle for seekers not being able to open up to a different consciousness:
Rationality. Thinking. Beliefs: Believing in the “only way.” Believing that “spiritual” experiences come included with a dogma to be followed, studied and recited to others. “Black or White” mentality.
That sense of “freedom as the sky” as Nansen mentioned, is lost in the cage of beliefs and rationality and with that our ability to perceive Life without beliefs.
For example, when someone makes Zen as Zen by defining it, by giving it boundaries, then, that “practice” becomes another dogma just like any other dogmatic religion full of beliefs.
Let me put it in another way, anything that we define becomes rigid in our mind. That rigidity is not consistent with the way Life is, which is constant change.
Defining Life as being “constant change,” is not what is. It is just a way to express something for the majority to understand, to “like” a writing, but the “reality” of defining Life as being change, makes of Life an unchanging event, stuck in change. Paradoxical wording.
Life is…. Life. “What is.” 🙂
The above is what a Zen student may enjoy. The puzzling, contradictory words which break the system of linear logic and black or white mentality; however, let me tell you something:
That game of words is completely and utterly meaningless. That game of debating as to who has the best “rationale,” is empty of substance.
Let me put it in a short phrase: The more we think, define and reason, the further away from “what is” we will go.
“Geshe” is an “academic degree” emphasized by a tradition of Buddhism for nuns and monks.
Someone could be very intelligent to get that “degree,” nevertheless; it does not mean that his consciousness has changed. In that sense that intellectual prowess is a fake façade hiding the real self, which is BEING not THINKING.
“What do you think I should do?” Anyone could come up with “solutions.” That is all in the realm of ideas, “theory.”
“Spiritual” people, full of degrees in Metaphysical studies and/or labels such as “yogi,” “guru,” “priest,” etc. may be well versed in words, logic and reason; but their consciousness may be at the same level of a “normal” everyday man: Full of “I,” beliefs, emotions and moral standards.
Are degrees “bad”? Neither good nor bad. Useful in the “Office world,” useless in Life outside the office world.
BEING, CONSCIOUSNESS changes all by itself through the assimilation of Life experiences. There is no study, no religion, no dogma, no God, no book or philosophy able to make that change to fulfill our needs for “enlightenment.”
Therefore, what do we need to “do” in Life?
To BE free like the sky, to let it happen.
Who is not allowing that “change” to happen?
That is the process of the path itself. Some like to label that, to define that… as the “I.”