Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beyond the mountain

A Master who lived as a hermit on a mountain was asked by a monk, "What is the Way?"

"What a fine mountain this is," the master said in reply.

"I am not asking you about the mountain, but about the Way."

"So long as you cannot go beyond the mountain, my son, you cannot reach the Way," replied the master.

 Zen is designed to lead the student to understanding.  It's a challenge, not an answer.  A good student will rise to the challenge; an exceptional student will master it.

It's very Eastern.  Here in the West, we've always liked things wrapped up in cling wrap, ever since the Renaissance.  Western Thought has produced marvels of understanding in the realm of the physical; the laws of science are opening before us because of our peculiar outwards focus.

Our inwards focus lags far behind.  As Aquinas would have put it, we have learned much of the world without the need for Revelation, but flounder at understanding our own souls.  Aquinas could tell us why, but what he wrote is hard, and we like things all nicely wrapped up in cling wrap.

But what about the way?  It is written in the (possibly heretical) Gospel of Thomas that Jesus was asked when the Kingdom of God would appear.  He replied The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the Earth, and Men do not see it.

A challenge, not an answer.  See it.

1 comment:

wolfwalker said...

Zen is designed to lead the student to understanding.

Well, yes and no. IMHO. I don't think Zen is intended to lead the student anywhere specific. It's intended to enable the student to find the Way -- in whatever way is best for that student.

"The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name."

It's a challenge, not an answer.

But if you try to answer the challenge, you will never answer the challenge.

"Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations."

The Tao Te Ching is a marvelous work. I've never read another book that said so little while seeming to say so much ... or said so much, while seeming to say so little.

"Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power."

"The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough."