mirror faces mirror
Exactly that is what the words of Zen master Ikkyu are referring to when he says: before birth, after birth, that’s where you are now. The unborn wisdom mind never sleeps. It is never distracted. In every moment it is functioning. In every moment it is, in fact, the very functioning of the marvelously illuminating nature of absolute reality. Unborn wisdom mind is not born, nor does it die. It doesn’t have conscious and unconscious moments. You have never been separate from it, never cut off from it, it functions in you right now. It hears through your ears and understands these sounds, but- if you don’t realize this, then it is of no benefit.
And then the grinding force of sorrows will still wash over existence. This is the point: it’s not enough to merely have words, ideas. Then your Dharma, then your spiritual life, your realization it has no guts, no marrow, no bone. It can’t enact the beauty and the freedom of the marvelous Buddha Nature in the face of samsara’s onslaught.
This room, this room of existence is only love when it is realized in it’s essence and nature, but until that realization, the confusion itself, the funhouse mirror of duality, distorts appearances; and suffering is taking place, people are hurting, oneself experiences suffering. And this is profoundly important, it moves you out of compassion for others and the longing in your heart for freedom for yourself, these two aims, the realization of enlightenment for oneself and for all sentient beings moves you, because of the suffering to discover your Buddha Nature, not just placate yourself, console yourself with words.
Even amongst my own friends here, there is some who hearing my talk about the unborn wisdom mind parrot the words, they speak about the unborn, but they don’t actually steadfastly dwell within this understanding. They haven’t realized it, yeah? Realized, made real, in body, in feeling, in mind. So all these concepts go on, multiplying themselves, but they don’t suffice for the task of removing suffering from the domain of human existence, and even beyond removing suffering to embody, to incarnate, make flesh; embody and enworld, the bliss, the love, the compassion, the wisdom, the playfulness, the creativity, the qualities with which the absolute empty essence is replete; replete with these qualities which radiate, when they are unbounded, when they are unchained; when the chains of delusion are shaken off, then these qualities, this radiance of the Unborn, manifests in appearance. It manifests as appearance.
Concepts are like a patch on a torn pair of pants, and under stress the patch always tears first. So what I am saying to you here tonight is: you don’t have to settle for that, there is a path, and the path is not obscure or hidden. It is revealed, completely, purely, in a fashion which can be practiced, you have to simply decide whether the value of this jewel of your unborn wisdom mind, the bliss of its realization, is worth it to you. The marvelous unborn wisdom mind is beyond contrivance or efforts. Its spaciousness is simply a fact and its radiance is utterly spontaneous, these two together account for everything. Both subject and object, all held within the womb space of wisdom and known by the illuminating nature of radiant knowingness.
And yet, if mind is ceaselessly preoccupied, pre-occupied, occupied already. By something else with its own endless conceptual functioning, it will not be able to come to know this natural condition. This is the purpose, the meaning of the path; the path is not adding something new, it is only revealing, what has always been there, but obscured. Even when it is obscured from view, yeah, it is still present and fully functioning but going unrecognized. When I was young I went everywhere in search of someone who could point out both the essence and nature of this marvelous Buddha quality. The unborn wisdom mind and its radiance, the bright virtue. But also someone who could directly address what blocked my realization. There was so much talk but so little skilful wisdom. It was such a terrible effort. But it need not be.
One must embrace the path and make the effort to transform confusion, to liberate enough energy that direct realization can take place, but there is no reason that the path should be hidden, any part of it, no part of it should be hidden, it should be freely given to all.
Now that I have come to live here in this vast open refuge, you can’t even say I live here, the notion I disappears and there is only this vast open refuge of wisdom bliss. So there is no question that it is obscured and everything is known directly and with clarity. So now I dedicate myself to making sure this knowledge and its path are freely given to anyone who wishes. This clarity, this luminous nature, it’s quite exquisite, really. Its beauty is beyond concept, unfathomable, unimaginable, and when mind is rested there, than every perception becomes achingly, tenderly wondrous. To see the trees, the way the leaves move with the wind, to see them in this silence, to see them with eyes of perfect silence, unborn silence, well, if you could see this you would never fear, or desire, or be indifferent again ever.
To look for the so called self and find only the mystery of all appearance as a single body of life, that is an idea, but as an actual discovery of the radiant blissful aspect of unborn wisdom. To look for minds essence and discover the deep of the nothingness state beyond all category where the only identity is identitylessness, to abide there, to live there, this should be made utterly, freely available to everyone, and so long as this body lives, it will be. I am glad that all of you who are here tonight can listen to these words, because this marvelously illuminating beauty of Buddha nature speaks to you, right now. And it listens to me in your ears, beyond the notion you or me. It’s not overly complex, or dependent on cultural understandings or even dependent on some extreme intelligence. If you bring yourself here, fully, then I guarantee you that I can show you without doubt, you can meet it, mirror facing mirror, nowhere else.