If you want to get free from birth and death, from coming and going, from taking off or putting on like clothing, know and take hold of him who is now listening to the Dharma. He has neither form nor shape, neither root nor trunk; nor does he have a dwelling place; he is as lively as a fish leaping in the water, and performs his function in response to all situations. However, the place of his functioning is not a locality. Therefore, if you search for him, he eludes you. The more you seek him, the farther away he is. That is why he is called ‘mysterious’.
‘Coming and going’ and ‘taking off or putting on like clothing’ are other expressions of birth and death. ‘Taking off or putting on like clothing’ means to take off or put on our physical bodies; taking off one’s body implies death, and putting on one’s body birth. ‘Him who is now listening to the Dharma’ implies the true-Self. He is formless and has no dwelling place because there is nothing that is not him, which means that everything is his form and that everywhere is his dwelling place. All forms are the functions of him. This is why Rinzai said, “The place of his functioning is not a locality. Therefore, if you search for him, he eludes you. The more you seek him, the farther away he is.”
Seen from the perspective of form, he is ceaselessly active and as brisk as a fish leaping in the water. Seen from the perspective of Emptiness, he is motionless and nothing happens in him. If you want to get free from birth and death, you should not fail to see him who is reading this writing.
Student: “Who is he that is listening to the Dharma?”
Master: “Why do you ask me what is in your mouth?”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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