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Naked Truth

From Chapter 20 ("The Naked Truth") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

True insight is pointing directly, heart to heart, mind to mind. We must not allow ourselves to be deluded by others, to be confused by others' actions or words. We must not place too much importance on words. Even the word "Dharma" can become an entanglement if we think of it as something outside ourselves. The Dharma is not outside ourselves; the Buddha is not outside ourselves. With true insight, we know who we are. To arrive at true insight, we simply don't wobble. We have faith in ourselves, realizing that each of us is the awakened one, right now.

Without faith in ourselves, we are tossed about here and there, willy-nilly. But this can turn around. We can feel the freedom in each moment, really feel that in the midst of pain, in in the midst of sadness, in the midst of everything that life buffets us with, still, every day is a good day. It's O.K., just as it is, if we do not lack faith in ourselves, if instead of just tumbling along we open up to true insight.

How do we attain this insight? I don't continually come around with the stick and hit you; I don't say, "Kensho, kensho, kensho." I have experienced that approach myself, and I have found it singularly unhelpful. But you know what you are here for. Attain true insight, and you may make free use of every day. You will use things rather than be used by them. You will become the master. You will experience freedom in the midst of all the situations of your life, whatever they are; you will be truly composed. True composure is not just saying to yourself, "Be calm, quiet down now, everything is going to be O.K., just take a deep breath." It is not that. With true insight, there is no conscious trying to become composed. It's no use to try to do that. True composure is zazen condition taken into every circumstance of life. When the ceaselessly seeking mind is given up altogether, there is nothing to do. All we need to do is just be ordinary. Nansen said, "Ordinary mind is the Way." This ordinary mind does not go beyond distinctions of past and present, east and west, calm and constant. This mind is everywhere, in every time and place. It is never lacking for even a single instant. It pervades all things. So we sit, our 84,000 pores breathing in, breathing out, inhaling and exhaling, letting in the whole universe, going out to the whole universe. There is nothing to do. In this condition of mind, we can confront our life and death clearly, calmly.

Zen is not a puzzle. It is not something to be solved by our wits. It is a spiritual food for those who want to learn what life is, and what their mission in this world is. Mere scholarly pursuits will never lead to realization. Zen is not a philosophy, not a religion; it is the essence of life itself. The naked truth of the universe is none other than the experience of this essence. A person who has felt some deep inner uneasiness can come to Zen and find clear understanding, real joy. But Zen does not seek adherents. There is no need for propaganda, for missionaries. Some will come; some will not. Sorrow and struggle may have led you to Zen, but however you come, it must be with a clear conscience and a pure heart. You must have a desperate desire to see life as it really is, and you must not permit anything to keep you from this, no matter how many blind alleys of religious creeds you may have stumbled into in the past. You may read all the books in all the libraries in the world; you may write thousands upon thousands of pages of your own opinions, but if your mind is not thoroughly clear, if your knowledge does not come from the real source, you will never know who you are. You will remain a stranger to the naked truth.

^z - 2017-06-26