Case 47 Tosotsu's Three Barriers
Tosotsu Etsu Oshõ set up three barriers for his disciples:
1. You leave no stone unturned to explore profundity, simply to see into your true nature.
Now, I want to ask you, just at this moment, where is your true nature?
2. If you realize your true nature, you are free from life and death.
Tell me, when your eyesight deserts you at the last moment, how can you be free from life and death?
3. When you set yourself free from life and death, you should know your ultimate destination. So when the four elements separate, where will you go?
If you can put turning words to these three questions, you are the master wherever you may stand and command Zen whatever circumstances you may be in.
If otherwise, listen: gulping down your meal will fill you easily, but chewing it well can sustain you.
This moment's thoughts sees through eternal time;
Eternal time is just this moment.
If you see through this moment's thought,
You see through the man who sees through this moment.
Nearing the end of our long journey.
Just a few more questions.
Do you have any questions?
We might think of the Mumonkan as a course of study, 47 koans / questions to pass and you are a Zen Master. In the Rinzai tradition students are often trained with these 47 koans. I on the other hand did not use the Mumonkan for my training. I only officially passed 3 koans with Sasaki Roshi and they were not traditional koans. And then some 20 years later, continuing to practice I began working with Harada Rosh, and he chose not to go the koan route with me. It has been a pleasure to work through these koans even if only to write a commentary on each one.
Here are the last 3 questions all in one koan. If you have truly worked through the previous 46 koans these questions offer no difficulty. Do you know your True Self. I know many people who have been practicing for years and years who still do not know their true self. They are still caught in a conception of their individuality. True freedom comes only when we know who we are and are thus no longer afraid of death. But it is more then just a knowing, it has to be linked to deep experience and that deep experience through years of training is available in each moment.
I was asked by another Zen teacher what I do when my mind becomes disturbed and I loose my equanimity, - this happens to all of us even Zen Masters - and my response was that I chant. I have been chanting for years and years. I do it when I walk and I do it when I drive, sometimes I even do it when I sit. Over the years It has developed into a quick way I can quiet the mind and enter what I may call a light samadhi. The other Teacher said that all experienced and successful practitioners have a bag of tricks. The point is that through years of practice we have trained our minds, and have a a bag of tricks, so that in every moment kensho - seeing the true self/nature - becomes available. This is true freedom.
So what is your True Nature? I am not suppose to tell you because this is something each person must discover for themselves but even so I will tell you it is everything and not a thing. Become the Universe. Become everything in the Universe. Become the activity of the Universe. Become the conscious awareness of the Universe. This is our True Nature this is our True Self. If you know your true nature you will know what happens after the element of the individual body disperse. Our body is only a temporary manifestation as all individual things are temporary manifestations. Our consciousness is also a temporary manifestation. We are not just an individual body. We are not just an individual consciousness. We are all individual bodies and we are all individual consciousnesses.
There is no death. There is only process and transformation. And this is not individual transformation or an individual process. It involves the whole Universe There is nothing to hold on to. There is nothing we can hold on to.