Linji: Trust Yourself
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
"What I point out to you is only that you shouldn't allow yourselves to be confused by others. Act when you need to, without further hesitation and doubt...spontaneously trust yourself...be independent."
"Just be autonomous wherever you are, and right there is realization."
"Just trust what is functional in you at present, and you have nothing to be concerned about."
"Detach from whatever you find inside yourself — detach from religion, tradition, and society, and only then will you attain liberation. When you are not entangled in things, you will pass through to autonomy."
There are many attributes of the liberating experience upon which one may focus — detachment, affirmation, harmony, trust, non-dependence — yet they are all essentially the same, and one does not experience one without the others. These words of Linji (The Essence of Zen; T. Cleary) touch upon autonomy as I have not seen elsewhere except in Zhuangzi, whose "far and unfettered wandering" is a consequence of "depending on nothing".
Paradoxically, absolute autonomy is also the loss of all autonomous control; it is the release of oneself into the flow of Reality. To trust oneself is to relinquish control of oneself; it is to allow one's existence to spontaneously express itself, much as we leave the heart to beat and sustain our life. It is to surrender oneself into the "that which moves me", that "kind of emptiness", which Yan Hui discovered, and realized that "myself has never begun to exist." (Zhuangzi, Chap. 4) To live autonomously is to release into the mystery that is you, 'something' beyond knowing or possessing.
When Linji says, "spontaneously trust yourself", he means "let yourself happen". Every cognitive and emotive dependency is an obstruction to that happening. The opinions of others, if we allow them to rule us, cause us to second guess ourselves and thus to attempt to assume control.
One's own self-assessments are likewise a dependency, an introspective hesitation, and a lack of trust. Just let it happen. Nothing more. "Sit or stand — above all, don't wobble."
As with every true negation, this one does not abide without affirmation. When you realize that mountains are not mountains, they become mountains again. When you are free of the opinions of self and others, you are only then truly able to be informed by them.
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.