I tell you this: There is no Buddha, no Dharma, nothing to cultivate and nothing to realise. What are you looking outside for, blind fools? You are putting a head on top of your head. What are you lacking? Followers of the Way, the one functioning right before your eyes, he is not different from the Buddhas and patriarchs. But you do not believe it, and so turn to the outside to seek.
The Buddha, which is to Buddhism as God is to Christianity, is the symbol of perfection and eternity. The core of Buddhist teaching is that there is nothing but the Buddha and that we are the Buddha itself. The purpose of Buddhism is to realise that we are the Buddha itself and not to gain eternal life from the Buddha in a hidden place somewhere far away that is difficult to find. That’s why Rinzai said, “What are you looking outside for?” ‘You are putting a head on top of your head. What are you lacking?’ means that although we are perfection itself as the Buddha, we are wandering in vain to find the Buddha by following the image of the Buddha, an illusion. In other words, following the image of the Buddha, an illusion is putting a head on top of your head, which is to be deluded by the illusion of the Buddha. ‘The one functioning right before your eyes, he is not different from the Buddhas and patriarchs’ implies that everything, yourself included, that you can see and hear is the very Buddha you are looking for and that there is nothing that is not the Buddha.
Student: “If everything is the Buddha, what is not the Buddha?”
Master: “What you think of as the Buddha.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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