Zen

Rinzai 104

One asked, “What is the attitude of the heart which does not change from moment to moment?”

The master said, “From the moment you set yourself to ask this question, there is already the difference, and your essential nature and your action become separate. Followers of the Way, do not be deceived. In and out of the world there is not a thing that has a self-nature, nor a nature that is productive of a self. All is but empty names, and the very letters of these names are also empty.”

Commentary:

‘From the moment you set yourself to ask this question, there is already the difference, and your essential nature and your action become separate’ means that there is nothing that is not your essential nature, the true-Self: Not only you who is asking this question but also this question itself that you are asking is the true-Self. Asking this question is no better than asking where your mouth is, which implies that you don’t know that this question is the action of your mouth.

‘In and out of the world there is not a thing that has a self-nature, nor a nature that is productive of a self’ means that there is nothing that has its innate nature and that all the natures of  things are just given to them by human beings. For example, no tree says, “I am a tree.” No stone says, “I am stone, and I am hard.” A tree is a tree because we named it a tree. Stone is stone since we attached the label ‘stone’ to it, and it is hard only because we granted such a label to it. All the names are just imaginary lines that can be changed depending upon the situation, not immutable truth.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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