Aren't we all...?


Have you noticed? How many of us, writing our thoughts about Buddhism, even the purest Ch'an, express our thoughts in such a way that a sentient being is envisaged as a medium, that is, by inference, having objective existence? Is this still not so even when the very subject of our thesis is the non-existence of a self? Indeed, how many of us are there who do not do this? Let us even ask how many texts are there in which this is not done or implied?

Yet many of us seem to know that it is not so, that it cannot be so. Surely we have read the Diamond Sutra, perhaps many times, in which the Buddha is credited with having said again and again in varying contexts that there is no such thing as a 'self', a separate 'individual', a 'being', or a 'life'? If we have not seen for ourselves that this must be so, would it not be reasonable to expect that we would provisionally take it on trust from the lips of the Buddha, and apply it?

Alas, no. It is too hard, too much to ask: conditioning is too powerful. Yet without that understanding, that basic understanding, that sine qua non, for what can we hope? However much else we may have understood, have we in fact even started on the way - the pathless way that leads no body from no there to no here? We have no phenomenal masters, no gurus; our masters, our gurus are immanent. What a sad, sardonic smile they seem to wear when we look within!


Who done it?

'What did you say?' 'Who are they?', 'Who is writing all this?' Well, who is reading it? Who is there to do, or to appear to do, the one or the other? Really, really, what a question! Who indeed! Why, no one, of course; who could there be? Surely that is evident, axiomatic, elementary? From the beginning there has never been a single 'who', as Hui Neng approximately said; 'who', utterly absent noumenally, is ubiquitous phenomenally.

Whoever asks the question, that is 'who?'

He is the seeker who is the sought, the sought who is the seeker.

He done it!

(© HKU Press, 1965)

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