This dog is maifesting nothingness
- Sasaki Roshi at the Lama Foundation
Shakyamuni said that human consciousness doesn't
work perfectly; that is why humans hate or long for
the objective world. If human beings do not train
themselves to manifest as perfection itself, they cannot
be free. As I told you, however, absolute being
doesn't belong to the objective world. The absolute world
embraces subject and object together. The human being,
believing he belongs to the subjective side and standing in
the small mind, observes absolute being as object.
Actually the absolute being can not be an object.
Shakyamuni said that absolute being has no color, no form,
no voice and exists as nothingness or emptiness.
Absolute being works as complete, perfect emptiness and
embraces subject and object. If you want to see God or
Buddha, you must manifest yourself as emptiness. At the
moment you manifest your imperfect consciousness as
nothingness, your imperfect consciousness becomes perfect and
The first step of Zen practice, therefore, is to
manifest yourself as nothingness. The second step is to
throw yourself completely into life and death, good and
evil, beauty and ugliness. Shakyamuni said that if
you want to be free, you must not prefer only good or
dislike evil. Well, now, what about you? You are
educated all your life to venerate God and reject evil.
Zen education is totally different: it teaches you how to
swallow God and devil all at once. You are able to
give yourself completely and make your home in a
beautiful woman or in lice or in a man with a twisted
nose. That is Zen practice.
Mumon gives Joshu Osho as an example of someone who can live inside
of a snake, louse or ant and who can swallow God and the
devil all at once. If you understand that Joshu Osho is
free, that he can dwell in life and death, in God and the
devil and swallow them both, then you can understand
this teisho perfectly. Now my teisho begins.
Joshu Osho was a Zen master of the Tang Dynasty, about
1100 years ago. Once Joshu Osho and a Zen monk were
talking. A Zen monk is different from a "Catholic monk. A
Catholic monk devotes his entire life to God. Once you
become a Catholic monk, you have to stay in the
monastery and follow its rules all your life. A Catholic
monastery creates a different, separate world. Zen students
do not have much to do with that isolated world. In
a Zen monastery you practice self-realization for a
few years and then go back to the world and, after a
while, come back again to the monastery.
So Joshu Osho and a Zen monk were talking about Bussho (Buddha
nature). Shakyamuni said that all sentient beings have
Buddha nature. While Joshu Osho and the monk were
talking, a puppy dog trotted up the Zen monk picked up the
puppy and asked Joshu Osho, "Does this puppy have a
Buddha nature, Shakyamuni said it." Of course any cat or
dog manifests Buddha nature, Shakyamuni said it. But
Joshu said, "NO!"Of course "NO." Everything manifests
Buddha nature. Everything is illuminating as emptiness
If you think you are beautiful or rich or special, then, poor thing,
you cannot illuminate as emptiness. There isn't a more pitiable thing
than a rich man or a beautiful woman. In Japan there is a proverb
that a beautiful woman has an unhappy life. She is unhappy because
cannot manifest her true nature.
So Joshu Osho stared at the monk and said, "NO!" This dog is
manifesting as nothingness, as "NO!" Do you understand? I
do not think the monk understood, just like you, because you are
still looking for God and enlightenment as objects. God and
enlightenment don't belong to the objective world. Enlightenment is
shining on your fingertips and on the end of your nose. Please walk
carefully and don't fall down on this mountain.