by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
"It is related of Chao-chou, another Zen master, that when a monk once asked him, 'What is the last word on truth?' he simply replied, 'Yes' — whereupon the disciple, thinking the that the master had not understood, repeated the question. And Chao-chou, feigning anger, boomed back at him: 'What do you think I am, deaf!?'" — quoted by Panikkar (The Silence of God) from Murthy (Metaphysics)
I had not previously come across this mondo (a master/disciple exchange meant to instruct, almost as a koan), and given my sense that a simple Yes! is at the heart of harmony, I had to share it here.
"Yes" is intended here as a complete non sequitor, I suspect. The question has no answer, since 'truth' is inexpressible. But the master could have answered "No".
There is a sense, therefore, in which "Yes" is the answer, for it affirms the totality of reality is one swoop, down to the experience of this very moment — especially this very moment. It does not truly say anything about the nature of reality; it makes no definitive, discriminatory statement. It might be said of Zen that it emphasizes negation, pointing toward emptiness and the Void, but I see it as an affirmation, an entering into the now-experience with an open, and thus affirming, heart. This is certainly its artistic expression.
I believe that in the absolute, unconditional acceptance of who I am is true personal liberation. This is ground zero, moreover, for the affirmation of all of Reality; it can have no other beginning.
In saying "Yes" to oneself, paradoxically, is the transcendence of self, for the self, bound as it is in the fetters of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, cannot in fact accept and affirm itself. (Just as it cannot truly accept and affirm others.) Self-affirmation dissolves self into the Vastness.
This "Yes" of which the master spoke is not a word or an idea. It is an experience. And without it being such, arguments will arise against the transcendence of right and wrong. (For moral discrimination rules the self.) Unconditional, personal affirmation will be seen as egotism. (For the egoic-self cannot see another way of seeing and being.) Let it be.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.