Thursday, July 26, 2012

Being the Eternal Truth

Scott Bradley


When Zuigan first met Master Ganto (828-887) he asked him, "What is the Eternal Truth?" "You have missed it!" exclaimed Ganto. "What is it when I miss it?" asked Zuigan. "It is no longer Eternal Truth," replied Ganto.

We needn't have great insight to see how Zuigan has already missed it when he asks about Truth as if it were some kind of objective reality, something out there, something other than his own being itself, just as it is in that very moment of asking. There is no such Truth. Truth is inseparable from Reality and without direct apprehension of Reality there is no Truth. A rock is Truth.

It follows, therefore, that one does not begin with a pursuit of Truth if one wishes to experience it. The pursuit is itself the negation of the reality pursued. Pursuit of a so-called Buddha-nature, or any other objectified goal, is a monstrosity and bound to fail (though one must begin where one is). For this reason, I personally see all such interpretative and necessarily objective declarations of Reality as serious stumbling blocks to their realization.

I can never quite grasp why Zen so assiduously insists on inflicting them upon us. Universal Mind, Eternal Truth, Original Face, Buddha-nature, True Self...how could these concepts be anything but distractions? They are vomit. How is it that we always require a cart before our horse? Is it not enough to be and let things be as they are? Or do we need to begin at the end, start with the answer, fulfill the goal? If there is Eternal Truth, it happens; it is never foreseen or found.

Master Chosa wrote a poem which begins:
Those who search for the Way do not realize the Truth,
They only know their old discriminating consciousness.
You are Dao. You are Dao, not in any way imaginable; the imagining itself is Dao.
Truth is utterly subjective. This does not mean that it is relative. Relative truth is objective, something outside and other than Reality. But Reality is "Absolute Subjectivity" (Zenkei), which is to say, it admits to no "Truth", it is Truth. In Absolute Subjectivity objectivity and subjectivity are no more. In Absolute Subjectivity, all objective Truth vanishes. In Absolute Subjectivity everything vanishes. "I" vanishes. "You" vanishes. In Absolute Subjectivity there is not the least gap between anything.

So much for an objective presentation and consequent negation of Subjectivity. Let's consider in this waka poem the freedom and joy discovered in the end of its pursuit:
Let us admire the moon and cherish the flowers —
Thus should we like to live.
Never try to become Buddhas
And ruin our precious life!
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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