You have heard that when the student is ready the teacher appears, and you believe you are ready, but no teacher has appeared. I can tell you that you are ready, that you will never be ready, that I am not the teacher, that the teacher is here, and that the teacher will never appear. But the path you seek to find with a teacher is all around you, that there is not path to find. If I give you a small bowl and you stand by a lake of fresh water just how much water can you hope to drink?
A reflection on Case 11 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
Pause and consider why so many questions require you, you feel, to consult your watch, to call up a calendar, to appoint time. Time has no appointments, time is not an arrow, though we strive always to aim it, to send it flying in our desired direction. Time is a point in space, surrounded by all ten directions, going toward none of them. Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need the next though it does not exist. What are you trying to escape by searching for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday? Yesterday no longer exists, so why do you assume tomorrow does, and what of this moment, which exists only now, and what of the red leaf sitting in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?
A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
As you search for the source of all wisdom, will you stop along a beach and consider that it can be found, fully in a single grain of sand. Be careful, for the beach contains countless grains of sand, so choose carefully. If you are uncertain which one contains the source of all wisdom select one at random and it will be the correct bearer of wisdom, but only if you look deeply within it, and then cast it back onto the beach, carried on the gentle morning breeze.
A reflection on Case 19 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
When you look in the mirror do you hope to see yourself, and who is that face that stares back? If you turn out the light, are you still there in the mirror, or has the illusion of you disappeared? If you crack the mirror, do you feel the pain of the scar across your face? You cannot hope to see yourself, for you would then cease to be you, and the mirror would stare and see nothing. You cannot search for the Buddha for in looking you make finding impossible. All this looking and so very little being, so just be.
A reflection on Case 7 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
If you sit patiently enough, and sit long enough, just perhaps the teacher will acknowledge you. If he holds out his arms and offers you the heart of the Dharma, will you grasp it and hold it closely? If you try and grasp it it will slip through your fingers, disappear from sight, lost forever. If you nod in appreciation, hands in gassho and simply bow, then turn and leave the room, you will carry it with you and no one will be able to take it from you although you are free to give it away.
A reflection on case 92 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
The question is a simple one, really, but not one you were expecting, which is why you sit and grapple for an answer. Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed, what if there is no answer, can you remain silent, or will you feel somehow incomplete if you do not respond? All answers are correct, but beware, for all answers are incorrect as well. Now consider the question again, carefully, what do you respond when you are asked once again, insistently, “who are you?” Be very careful, for if you gaze into a mirror you will see someone else, and if you say that person is you, you will most certainly disappear.
A reflection on Case 8 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
You are certain the key is to sit, for that is what your teacher has told you, that is the practice set out for you. When you feel you have not attained your goal on the path, you assume it is because you have not sat still enough, long enough, deeply enough. A wise sage would tell you that sitting is a step along the path, but that you can never be still in sitting, for the place in which you sit in this moment cannot be the place in which you sat the last, or the place you will sit the next. So do not move and progress along the path spread out before you.
A reflection on Case 17 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
Walking in the room you cast your eyes about, looking for something, although you cannot say what it is that you look for, and you cannot believe you will not find it, for you think you will know what it is only when you see it. The person who sees an empty room and knows in that moment that it is full, that person has found his teacher and has learned the lesson. The empty cup is full and the full cup empty, so listen to the silence and learn well what it says.