The purpose of practicing Zen meditation is to awaken to the Mind. Such practice does not involve just sitting quietly and trying to calm and pacify the mind. Nor does it entail contemplating the breath.
Instead, it involves a direct inquiry into a hwadu (Koan). An example of a hwadu would be a question such as “What is this?” or What is this mind?”
What you are searching for can be called by many different names: mind, spirit, soul, true nature, and so forth. But such designations are merely labels. You should put aside all of these names and reflect on the fact that the true master of the body is more than just the label “mind.”
The master of the body is not the Buddha, for it is not yet awakened. Nor is it anything material, because it cannot be physically given away or received. Nor is it simply empty space, for empty space cannot pose questions, or have knowledge of good and evil.
Hence there is a master who rules this body who is neither the label “mind,” the Buddha, a material thing nor empty space. Having negated these four possibilities, a question will arise as to what this master really is.
If you continue inquiring in this way, the questioning will become more intense. Finally, when the mass of questioning enlarges to a critical point, it will suddenly burst. The entire universe will be shattered and only your original nature will appear before you. In this way, you will awaken.
Zen Master Kusan Sunim, ‘The Way of Korean Zen’
Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.
One said, “The flag moves.”
The other said, “The wind moves.”
They argued back and forth but could not agree.
Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves.”
The two monks were struck with awe.
When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.
At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!
In commemoration, she wrote a poem:
In this way and that I tried to save the old pail Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break Until at last the bottom fell out. No more water in the pail! No more moon in the water!
The questioner continued, ” I had the impression that once you got enlightenment, you got it.”
Jiyu-Kennet said, “Once you have realized it, you will always know it. But if you don’t keep your training up, heaven help you; you’ll be worse off than you were before. It’s not something that you ‘get’; it’s not something that you ‘keep’ for eternity. Training, as Dogen says, is enlightenment. This is why Shakyamuni Buddha always carried his begging bowl and always wore his robe. A lot of people think, “Why didn’t he just sit back and enjoy it?” Enlightenment isn’t something you have; it’s something you are, something you do.
From: The Hidden Lamp
Edited by Floence Caplow and Susan moon
At high noon,
Or in a moonless night,
There is a light.
Can you see it?
By the way, who are you?