Phillip Chester

In Zen you sit for many months, sometimes years, before you become capable of listening. When you listen so totally that there is no thought arising, passing, coming and going, then the thinker disappears, and the listener disappears. The outside disappears, the inside disappears, and you are without boundary. It is a tremendous emptiness; nothing is, or, only nothing is; freedom is utterly complete; and you are in peace.

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2 Responses to Phillip Chester

  1. shinichi says:

    In Zen the disciple sits for many months, sometimes years, before he becomes capable of listening. Whenever anybody came to Buddha he would say, ‘For one year or two years you simply sit here. Nothing else has to be done. You simply learn how to sit.’ People would say, ‘We know already how to sit.’ And Buddha would say,’I have never come across a person who knows how to sit, because when I say sit, I mean sit — no turmoil, no movement of thought, totally silent, utterly silent, no movement in the body, no movement in the mind. A pool of energy with no ripples.’

    TO DISCIPLINE OURSELVES IN LEARNING IS CALLED HEARING.

    So the whole Buddhist discipline, Zen discipline, starts by right listening.

    TO REACH A POINT W HERE ANY MORE LEARNING NO MORE AVAILS, IS CALLED APPROACHING.

    Then there comes a moment when you become so silent that the listener disappears. First your thoughts disappear, then your thinker disappears. The thinker is nothing but the inter-link between thoughts, the thinker cannot exist without thoughts; when thoughts are no more there, suddenly the thinker evaporates. When you are listening so totally that there is no thought arising, passing, coming and going, then the listener also disappears.

    … WHERE ANY MORE LEARNING NO MORE AVAILS. This then is the moment where from the outside nothing can be got, learning no more avails, now there is no need, now you are enough unto yourself. This is what Zen people call ‘approaching’. Now you are coming home, approaching, closer and closer and closer.

    So first you are full of thoughts. To drop those thoughts, hearing is emphasised — hear the Master, or the winds, or the thundering clouds. Listening is used as a device to drop thoughts. When thoughts are dropped one day you will realise the thinker has disappeared. Now there is no longer anything like a listener. The device has worked, the work is over. Now there is no need to listen to the outside because now there is no need to learn from the outside. This is what Zen calls ‘approaching’. Now you are approaching home, now everything is within you, you are coming to the innermost shrine.

    Thought does not allow you to listen and the thinker does not allow you to enter into yourself. The thinker is the subtlest part of thoughts — thoughts are gross-thinker and thinker is subtle thoughts. Thoughts prevent you from listening to the outside and the thinker prevents you from listening to the inside. First drop thoughts because the gross can be dropped more easily, then you can listen to the outside. Then the thinker disappears. Now you can listen to the inside. Then the Master speaks from the innermost core of your heart. The outer Master is just a help to create the inner Master; the outer Master is just a provocation for the inner Master to come into full swing, to come into its full being. The outer Master is just a situation so that the inner Master can awaken.

    AND WHEN ONE GOES BEYOND THESE TWO STAGES ONE IS SAID TO HAVE TRULY TRANSCENDED.

    Now comes the last point. First you drop thoughts, then you drop the thinker. First the outside Master disappears, the outside object disappears, then you come to the inside. But the inside can exist only with the outside. As I told you, the thinker can exist only with thoughts; in exactly the same way, the inside can exist only with the outside. If the outside disappears, the inside disappears, because they are both two aspects of the same coin. So first the outside disappears, then you come in and suddenly you find one day that the inside is also disappearing, because it is nothing but the innermost core of the outer. They are both together. How can you have an inside if you don’t have an outside?

    Just think of a house which has only an inside, no outside. How can it have only an inside without the outside? Or how can it have only the outside without any inside? They both exist together.

    When inside and outside both disappear Ho-shan says, ‘…ONE IS SAID TO HAVE TRULY TRANSCENDED.’ Then there is neither out nor in, neither thoughts nor thinking, neither outside Master nor inside Master. It is a tremendous emptiness. Nothing is, or, only nothing is. This is transcendence, this is nirvana, enlightenment. Then freedom is utterly complete because there is no boundary — you are without boundary.

    This is what Jesus means when he says, ‘I am the truth.’ This is what ‘I am’ is.

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