Zen Beyond All Words: A Western Zen Masters Instructions (Tuttle Library of Enlightenment)

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Suzuki [40] [41] [34] and the Sanbo Kyodan , an exponent of the Meiji-era opening of Zen-training for lay-followers. The notion of "experience" has been criticised. On the contrary, it demands an education in culture-specific language and behaviour, which is measured by specific and strict cultural norms. These accounts are not verbatim recordings of such "experiences", but well-edited texts, written down decades or even decennia after the supposed sayings and meetings.

Once, during late-night zazen, Rujing told the monks, "Studying Zen is the dropping off of body and mind. He went at once to the Abbott's room and burned incense.

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Rujing asked him, "Why are you burning incense? Rujing said, "You have dropped off dropping off. Hakuin gives this description of his first kensho, when he was [63]. At around midnight on the seventh and final night of my practice, the boom of a bell from a distant temple reached my ears: suddenly, my body and mind dropped completely away. I rose clear of even the finest dust. Overwhelmed with joy, I hollered out at the tops of my lungs, "Old Yen-t'ou is alive and well! Hakuin's kensho was not approved by Shoju Rojin, who subjected Hakuin to more koan-training.

This resulted in a second kensho, where-after Hakuin left Shoju Rojin. It was only when he was 41 that he attained "his final great enlightenment": [63]. Years later, when Hakuin asked his student Torei the same question, Torei's answer — "To work for the salvation of my fellow beings" — brought a laugh from Hakuin.

Although the Zen tradition is reluctant to speak openly about the 'experience' of kensho, [65] personal accounts can be found in Zen texts. At Nanzenji there is a small hill. I used to walk near there, look at it, and often smile at the high school students who walked by there as well. One day as I walked by, I looked at the hill and it was truly amazing. I stood gazing at the hill. Some students walked by and one of them said something like 'look at that crazy monk'. Finally I came out of it. Life was never the same for me. I was free. For example, Richard Clarke , who studied with Philip Kapleau , states that he had a spontaneous kensho when he was It was in February of that year, and I was 26 years old.

My second serious relationship was ending, and I was feeling very confined and conflicted. I needed to get some space, so I went out to the Mojave desert for a three-day camping weekend with two friends. On the Friday, I hiked up a mountain alone. I knew nothing about meditation or spiritual practice.

I was just sitting there, thinking about my life and the things going on. I felt I had gotten pretty screwed up for such a young age. I could see my VW camper, my home for the weekend, parked a few miles away,. But at the same time, I was aware that my home was back in Long Beach, California. And a natural koan came to me: Where is home? All of a sudden, I had a kind of breakthrough. I felt myself fall away, and I became one with the cosmos, one with the universe, one with all things.

I knew in that moment that wherever I am, that is home; home is everywhere. That experience completely changed my life. More descriptions of "spontaneous kensho" can be found throughout the Zen-literature, [note 14]. She regarded these experiences as "a profound kensho enlightenment experience," [76] [77] consituting a third kensho, [75] and published an account of these visions, and an elaborate scheme of stages of awakening, [77] in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom.

According to Harris, working towards kensho is usually a lengthy process stretched out over years or even decades. Rinzai tends toward the use of Koans as a technique to unroot the habitual workings of the mind. During intensive zazen various hallucinations and psychological disturbances may arise. These are referred to as makyo.

Distinguishing these delusions from actual kensho is the primary function of the teacher, as the student may be erroneously convinced they have realized kensho. In the Rinzai school , kensho is seen as indispensable:. At some point in time we pass from imprisonment in ignorance and delusion to a true vision of Zen realization: "Our enlightenment is timeless, yet our realization of it occurs in time.

In the Rinzai-training, the student is expected to pour oneself totally into both koan-study and daily activities 'to become one' with it. The " genjo-koan ", or the "koan of everyday life" which "appears naturally in daily life", [93] is emphasized. According to the tradition of Soto Zen, although working on a koan is one way of attaining kensho, the best way is zazen. Indeed, Dogen , the founder of Soto Zen, expounded that zazen itself is enlightenment, and as long as the adept maintains a pure state of non-thinking in Zen, he is a Buddha.

Yasutani's emphasis on koan training and the importance of kensho was transmitted to his American students: [42]. He spoke more openly about it then anyone of his times, going so far as to have a public acknowledgement of those who had experienced kensho in a post-sesshin ceremony of bowing in gratitude to the three treasures. It is also reflected in the inclusion of a relative great amount of kensho stories in "The Three Pillars of Zen", written by Philip Kapleau , a student of Yasutani.

After kensho, further practice is needed to attain a natural, effortless, down-to-earth state of being, the "ultimate liberation", "knowing without any kind of defilement". Practice is to be continued to deepen the insight and to express it in daily life. Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation.

You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha. It is not. It is, rather, a new beginning, an entrance into a more mature phase of Buddhist training. To take it as an ending, and to "dine out" on such an experience without doing the training that will deepen and extend it, is one of the greatest tragedies of which I know.

There must be continuous development, otherwise you will be as a wooden statue sitting upon a plinth to be dusted, and the life of Buddha will not increase. Nansen greeted Joshu, telling him what happened with to the poor cat and to the really poor monks. Nansen asked Joshu if he could have saved the cat. Joshu took off one of his sandals, put it on his head, turned around and walked out. His lightening Zen mind was not disturbed by mere logical reasoning.

How Zen it is! Or was there actually an underlying logic? The logic of reversal. To act by not acting. To say something by saying nothing. Things are turned heals over head. Joshu puts Nansen in the place of the cat. Joshu puts himself in the place of Nansen, who has been placed in the place of the cat. But Zen never lets us take the easy way out. Let us investigate further. Get the picture? Catch bullshit at four. Serious Zen practice. Somebody has to do it and very few are interested.

And nothing is fixed! The famous master Hyakujo wanted to find an abbot for a monastery. Then Isan the cook came up and kicked it over, breaking it. Isan got to be abbot. The moral of this story: The urge to destroy a pitcher is a creative urge also. Is it free from the arche of reactive rebellion? Is it free from the arche of egoistic accumulation? Is it free from the arche of self-righteousness?

The real problem is not how to kick over a pitcher, but how to tear down that deceptive pitcher of the ego. So is it perfectly clear now? Do I have to draw a pitcher? Zen mind is basically dialectic in action, training the mind to practice spontaneously in ones everyday life what some philosophers have merely written about. If they ask about the ordinary, reply with the holy; if they ask about the holy, reply with the ordinary; the two paths are relative to each other, producing the principle of the middle way.

Hui-neng might have added that if they ask about the middle way, reply with the most radical extremes! So this is part of the sense behind the nonsense. For describing how it works is not the same as releasing the spontaneity of consciousness that allows it to work. Another helpful hint comes from contemporary Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The koan is not a puzzle or riddle with one correct answer that the student has to guess.

The koan is aimed at evoking, or provoking a certain state or perhaps anti-state or statelessness! Thus of two responses that seem formally identical one may be judged perfectly apt, another abysmally wrong, the pretext for a compassionate whack on the head. Often the parts that seem at first to be peripheral dedications, salutations, etc.

Hakuin concludes his Zen course with two injunctions. Translated by Burton Watson. Boston and London: Shambhala, Tuttle, Inc. Toggle navigation. Close Table of Contents. Title: Zen Anarchy. Author: John Clark.

Buddhist Studies for Schools: Buddhism , A Select Bibliography : Chan, Zen Buddhism

Date: Topics: buddhism , religion , Zen. Source: Retrieved on August 14, from raforum. View history Edit this text Add this text to the bookbuilder Select individual parts for the bookbuilder. Max Cafard Zen Anarchy. Smashing States of Consciousness This is what all the great teachers show: Zen is the practice of anarchy an-arche in the strictest and most super-orthodox sense. Our enlightenment comes from everything we experience, the Ten Thousand Things.

Hit the road! Stone Buddhas Another reproach, similar to the charge of authoritarianism, that is sometimes leveled against Zen is that it is ritualistic. Does a dog ever appear in this koan? Give it a bone! The blade that uncuts us from the cat, and from everything else. Out of the latter the Mahayana tradition, based on Sanskrit sutras - made by anonymous monk brotherhoods from the 1 st c BCE to the 4 th c - evolved, replacing the historical Buddha with a transcendent-like Buddha-nature tathata present in all beings.

Buddhahood is a state attainable for everybody, not only monks. To practice the Dharma it is not necessary to live in a monastery. This comprises balanced speech, behavior, livelihood virtue , effort, concentration, awareness meditation , insight, and intention wisdom. These are: generosity, wisdom, discipline, forbearance, effort, and meditation.

This is the emptiness of all concepts and appearances, and the interconnectedness originating from it, calling for compassion that helps to end suffering. To illustrate emptiness, in Hinayana things are like empty vessels, in Mahayana the vessel itself is also denied. Compassion karuna is a natural consequence of prajna s, depicted by Avalokiteshvara S , Kuan-yin C , or Kwannon, Kanzeon, Kannon J a softness expressing figure that is neither male nor female with many helping arms and hands. The expression of this principal and innate virtue to help is based on the pervasive insight in suffering.

To serve intrapersonal integrity inner peace anger is channeled through loving kindness and the practice of assertiveness. Such an attitude is based on the initiation of giving, the celebration of life, and solidarity with humankind. Another great Buddha, Nagarjuna 2 nd c , emphasized the two levels of reality construction comprising the provisional world of dharmas and the ultimate world of emptiness.

These two levels exist side by side and have to be lived together at the same time. He also developed a philosophy based on the dialectics of total negation of opposites e. Emptiness and nonduality are important cornerstones of Zen, not only to be understood intellectually but also to be experienced.

The latter contends that all phenomenal experiences are representations and projections of the mind. Perception of external and internal stimuli dharmas is a creative construction of mind and memory to which we add: that cannot be otherwise meaningful than as a social construction. Mindfulness is a general factor that enables the practitioner to surf from now-to-now while watching dharmas in a nonjudgmental way. Zen goes one step further by endorsing to apply mindfulness in action, while doing our household tasks.

The origin of Zen can only be understood in the historical context of indigenous Chinese ways and principles of living including its omnipresent view emphasizing balance and harmony Chan, The first Chinese-Buddhist historical figure is the prince of Parthia from the eastern outskirts of the Silk Road , called An Shih-kao. Entering China as a monk, he started to translate Buddhist scriptures in the Han capital Loyang around using more or less equivalent Taoist terms. Taoist coloring was infused by all translators. Because of their adaptations they were called Buddho-Taoists.

Their works constitute the basis for Mahayana to become the supreme Tao in China for several centuries to come. From the 3 rd century on these translations boosted the practices of dhyana to tranquilize , jnana to remove ignorance , and prajna to gain insight in sunyata. In Zen, Buddhist meditation came to mean a technique of sudden illumination Chen, Neo-Taoism prevailed in those days - a revival of Taoism that came out of isolation to become an integral part of community life - after two centuries of Confucian dominance.

Metaphysics that went beyond natural phenomena in seeking reality beyond space and time was re-discovered in the writings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Also he was credited inventions like writing and medicine, as well as the breeding of silk worms, the compass, the pottery wheel, etc. Esoteric Taoism consists of various schools aiming physical immortality by Taoist yoga practices, alchemical exercises involving breath, body, and sexuality.

At the end of the 4 th century BCE the doctrine of the five elements energies was formulated in search for the elixir of immortality. Many groupings were made, for seasons, tastes, numbers, directions, planets, signs of the lunar calendar, etc. To illustrate, here are the elements with a corresponding systematization of colors and organs below :. The Tao is nameless and cannot be told about, and if it can, it cannot be the real eternal Tao. The general view is that this work could in fact not be written before the 4 th or 3 rd century BCE and thus cannot originate with a historical figure Lao Tzu Fischer-Schreiber et al.

Combine this with the fact that the exact period of his living in the 6 th century BCE is unknown the only historical record stems from the 2 nd-1 st century BCE plus the fact that the mystic Chuang Tzu BCE dealt with the same themes and espoused identical views as Lao Tzu, and the present hypothesis comes to the fore: the two men might have been one and the same. It was during the 6 th century that the latter breed of folk Taoism abandoned the search for an external elixir and emphasized instead the search for an inner pearl.

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Kwee, a. The Buddhist illumination can be attained by an inner marriage between YinYang resulting in the Tao symbolized by an immanent Tai Chi , representing the primordial source of everything and nothing. By this time the influx and influence of Mahayana and its synergy with Taoism have pervaded many walks of life. Its exponent par excellence, Chan, could thus have found a warm reception. They innovated educational metaphors like the three Buddha bodies coming out of an empty Buddha womb, which also emanates a pantheon of five cosmic Buddhas and five Bodhisattvas.

Thus out of a teaching of pervasive emptiness, developed a cosmological system of five elements that is almost identical to the Taoist cosmological system. Thus, many Taoist ideas and terms are similar and in line with Mahayana tenets and Chan became an extension of Taoism with a Mahayana veneer and the Buddha figure as a human example of self-realization in the centre.

All of this helped the further acceptance of the Dharma in China. Despite its functionality, it also cast a shadow: many came to believe this cosmology to be real. Nowadays we find the Dharma in too many cultures trapped if not hijacked by devotional and religious, theistic-like, practices of deifying and prostrating. Neo-Confucianism - wherein Taoism and Mahayana are incorporated syncretically, reached a pinnacle in the th century - already existed since the dawn of Confucianism Chan, When the Dharma penetrated Chinese civilization, Confucianism as a ruling doctrine in the social and administrative order and family life was temporarily weak.

The writings of Kung-fu Tzu BCE , a creed for the upper class, has prevailed in collective life until state examinations were abolished in and the corrupted system, not adaptable to an industrial age, crumbled. They attack the Buddhist constructs of karma and rebirth, misunderstanding them as metaphysics and reincarnation, by insisting that since one does not even know this life, how can one know about after life? Although Confucian rules of living are frequently subsumed as a religion, Confucianism has no ambition whatsoever to seek individual salvation.

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This mentality reflects the importance of Confucianism as an antithesis of Mahayana and of Taoism. It was an enormous task for the Buddhist apologetics to break through the Confucian system of public service and education they themselves were molded in and to explain why a Buddhist soteriology is useful. The history of Mahayana in China constantly showed anti-clerical outbursts and persecutions Chen, For instance, there were times that by edict monks were defrocked, monks were executed, and temples, sutras, statues, images, and paintings destroyed.

Most ravaging was the great Tang persecution, the proscription about after a factional strife in the court instigated by Taoists. More than The 20 th century Maoist Cultural Revolution further ravaged what was left; although numbers are unknown it must have been devastating. There was no compelling need to stop paying respect to the ancestors. Monastic life, celibacy, or begging were anathema to the family minded Chinese.

Growing into the stratosphere yet remaining deeply rooted in the earth is a Taoist notion pervasive in Chan. In the end it is impossible to state that China has incorporated the Dharma Hu, Although it had been significantly influential in the history of Chinese civilization, Mahayana was almost totally eclipsed by a regenerated Confucianism and its indigenous, complementary Taoist counterpart from the 13 th century onward.

It is interesting to note that in India the Dharma also vanished in the same period, most probably due to blurring differences with Brahmanism and Advaita Vedanta , expounding a teaching of non-dualism as well, and the destruction of the Buddhist University at Nalanda in by Turkish muslim invaders. The historical wedding of Mahayana and Taoism is a unification of sunyata with the Tao. This marriage brought forth Chan that struggled in its childhood to acquire a Chinese face, and to form a Taoist character.

This entails a down-to-earth-matter-of-fact mentality, relatively free from dogma, creed, superstition, and canonical texts. Chan grew up into adulthood to become a special branch of Taoism with Mahayana elements. Therefore, although Mahayana almost drowned in the ocean of Confucian life down the centuries, Chan was a notable exception. In fact, in the th century Chan was virtually the only Dharma in China. The prime concern in those early days was psychological: how to come to grips with the nature of illumination and to cultivate Buddha-nature?

By focusing primarily on the working mechanisms of the mind to stop thinking, there was a tendency to abolish Buddhist monastic life. Surely it is not only in the name that Chan is a Taoist offspring. This craze can also be tasted in many iconoclastic-anarchistic expressions by the Chinese masters who are full of ironic humor - such as e. Chan, Most interesting and only possibly innovated by the Chinese mind is the kung-an J: koan - originally meaning legal document decisive for determining truth or falsehood - a technique elaborated below.

Typically it is a little dialogue on logic containing a poignant question and an enigmatic, baffling answer eliciting sudden awakening. Whatever Chan is or is not, it is surely Chinese by its realism, content, form, tactics, and humorous transmission based on a love for the paradox. If one concludes that Chan could never have been developed elsewhere, it should be considered a Chinese offspring.

Thus, for various reasons Chan Buddhism is a misnomer inhering in a wrong denotation with a wrong connotation making Chan the only correct name for the discipline. The popular, but anachronistic history of Chan begins with a mission from India, this time via the sea journey of the monk Bodhidharma C: Tamo; probably A transmission without words was considered especially apt for the Chinese mind.

Legend tells that Bodhidharma arrived in Guang Zhou to stay 50 years in China. The vignette overthrows the first of the paramitas and refutes the karmic notion of merit good and evil deeds are both empty as sunyata in one blow. A revolution indeed! The semi-legendary Bodhidharma was probably not the sole originator of Chan, but the symbol for its start emanating from the warm embracing of Mahayana by the Taoists.

An early account identified monks and among them 21 practitioners from the 1 st century to Another historian recorded biographies of early Chanists, Bodhidharma was only one of them Tao-hsuan, In Northern China counted Hu Shih assessed that there must have existed several Chan movements simultaneously in the 6 th century and submitted that Chan did not arise out of Indian dhyana sitting but as a revolt against it:.

The Chinese mentality is practical and abhors metaphysical speculation. All the religions and philosophies of ancient China were free from the fantastic imaginativeness and hair-splitting analysis and gigantic architectonic structure which characterize all religious and philosophical literature of India. When China was brought face to face with India, China was overwhelmed, dazzled and dumbfounded by the vast output of the religious zeal and genius of the Indian nation. China acknowledged its defeat and was completely conquered. Instead he promulgated that all beings already possess Buddha-nature that can be realized through the ineffable experience of sudden illumination C: chien-hsing ; J: kensho or C: wu-hsin ; J: satori.

His teaching is based on the indivisibility of intuitive wisdom and the Tao; Buddha-nature and the world of appearances are identical as are samsara -and- nirvana, good-evil, and subject-object. To reach the other shore, total oneness with the Tao, will always take place suddenly, not in parts or gradually even if study and practice takes place gradually, sic , although the intensity of the flash may differ.

Long before Bodhidharma Tao-sheng espoused the Chan ideology that good actions, including long and arduous sitting, merit no reward of nirvana. Only the immediate awakening counts, the rest is fluff. The consequence of the thesis that all beings possess Buddha-nature is that also non-Buddhists can attain Buddhahood. All these ideas went against newly vested Buddhist interests leading Tao-sheng to be banished, but later vindicated as a great master.

Both Tao-sheng and Bodhidharma wiped away the tenet that good deeds entail retribution. In legends and images he is depicted solemn and serious without any humor that characterizes Chan. His instructions were based on the ascetic forbearing of pain and suffering and the canonical text of the Lankavatara Sutra to an extent that his coterie was called the Lanka School. This indicates the allegiance to written text, next to the spoken word Chan is characterized by.

The message of these outstanding representatives are exposed below Fung, ; Chan, ; Chen, ; Wong, ; Hoover, ; Grigg, ; Nan, ; Cleary, This is understandable considering the fact that the text is replete with Sanskrit terminology, while its content expounds a Chan message. A Buddhist canon status is in blatant contradiction to what Hui-neng had to say as an illiterate.

Hui-neng showed himself to be a not uncultivated person as he knowledgeably referred to the Mahayana sutras in his sutra. Not yet ordained as a monk, Hui-neng received the insignia of succession from the 5 th patriarch after a contest for succession. Hui-neng allegedly remained in hiding for 16 years, waiting for the right time to reveal his function. Several indications about him appear symbolic for the Taoist heritage in Chan, suggesting a break with Mahayana tenets. The historic authenticity of the Hui-neng classic is questionable as the earliest extant copy dates from the end of the 8 th century.


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By promoting the idea that Hui-neng was the 6 th patriarch Shen-hui succeeded to have his account accepted as the standard history. After both died, an imperial commission declared Hui-neng the 6 th and Shen-hui the 7 th patriarch, a brilliant political victory. There is no trace that Hui-neng did in fact ever pass on the kasaya cotton ceremonial robe and patriarchal bowl of transmission either leaving the issue of patriarchy obscure; Wong, It prepares the mind to be receptive for illumination and teaches to go with the flow while nothing remains undone.

Illumination goes along with an wisdom prajna of emptiness sunyata. No-mind, which is neither thought nor no-thought, can be present in all action anytime, any place, whenever non-duality prevails. Intuitive wisdom wells from an inner source unexpectedly, spontaneously, suddenly like air surfacing out of water. This is not only for sages, but for ordinary men and women as well, as instantaneous awakening only requires an intrinsic Buddha-nature or immanent Tao , even present in manure and urine. These didactic behaviors beyond rationality are expressions of a wordless transmission and a Taoist iconoclastic anarchy.

A master never explains: the finger that points to the moon is not the moon. Champion of these practices is Ma-tsu Here is little story about him as a student. Ma-tsu often practiced sitting. The master picked up a tile and rubbed it; Ma-tsu asked why he was doing that.

Master I-hsuan tells his student about his meeting with Huang-po as a novice. He went three times and got beaten every time. His famous admonition to kill the Buddhas, kill the patriarchs, kill the arhats sounds as if it had helped to survive the political climate. His teaching was so influential and vital that it stayed alive and kicking up until today. The indubitable Tao can be experienced when a question is dissolved, although it is still rationally unsolved.

He warned that questioning itself hampers direct experience, as in the search for the ox one is actually riding on. The koan is the ultimate flowering of Chan that goes beyond the realm of thinking and thus goes even beyond the paradox. Quintessential is the paradox by which flashes of intuitive wisdom are provoked. The aim is to expedite sudden awakening when rational thinking takes a quantum leap, if it does not stop at all. The first is such a complex written text that Ta-hui had all copies available burnt in true Chan style.

Wu-men compiled 48 easy to read koans that are being used for education. Although Chan has been brought to Japan in the 7 th century, it was Eisai who introduced Chan and its drink: tea successfully in against the background of Mahayana that flourished in the highest circles since its arrival in He is credited as the founder of Japanese Chan, having received a Rinzai school C: Lin-chi seal of transmission and being also the teacher of Dogen , Soto C: Tsao-Tung school founder in Japan and fervent proponent of ceaseless sitting.

The origin of Soto is an unknown Chinese Northern school of gradual enlightenment that emphasized shikantaza Fischer-Schreiber et al. However eventually and in general, both schools in Japan apply koans , zazen , and sutras in their teachings, making Zen overall resemble a Chan with lots of Mahayana. Here the term Zen will be reserved to the equivalent of Chan: an extension of Taoism plus Mahayana elements. The interchange between China and Japan diminished in the 14 th century. While in China Confucianism overshadowed a deteriorating Chan, Zen Buddhism followed a bright course in the land of the rising sun.

The old struggle between the Northern and Southern schools, settled long ago in China, was rekindled in Japan and seems to have continued unabatedly. In 14 th century Japan Rinzai was as powerful as the samurai, who embraced Zen Buddhism to improve bushido , combat skills and a readiness ever to die.

Important temples arose radiating the close ties with power, as for example the Kyoto Daitoku-ji. Among many Rinzai masters are the eccentric Ikkyu 15 th c , bastard son of an emperor who sang the praises of wine and sex in profound wit as a genuine Taoist, Bankei 17 th c , the precursor of the great Hakuin 18 th c , father of modern Rinzai, who revived Zen, and D. Suzuki 20 th c who exported Zen Buddhism to the West. Bankei is relevant as his views fit modern times Haskel, He insisted on the relevance of spontaneity in daily living as a reaction to a declining Zen that was propped up by classical Chinese texts on dead waste paper.

Bankei was like a midwife helping the Unborn to be born resembling Socrates. Koans are worn tools and z azen is nothing more than the Unborn sitting peacefully. There is never a moment one is not illuminated. Therefore it is impossible to become something that one already is. To reveal the Unborn, impeding habits of doing, thinking, and feeling - learned and frozen in memory - should be de-conditioned. If all conditionings are dropped, the Unborn comes to the fore.

What it is cannot be described in words.

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