Zen. One of the Great Teachings of Zen is there is no teacher, no teaching to be done, and no one to be taught. That's not just Zen teaching; it's in any number of Sutras. But even the Sutras say there's no teaching. And even though the word “teach” is used, that's not quite the gist of any of the Noble Truths, or Absolute Truth, or Relative Truth. It wasn't like the Buddha was inventing something new, nor did he ever say he was. All these things were already “Truths,” not theories. One could say that the “Four Noble Theories” would be an interesting twist, but the existence, cause, end, and means to end struggle and dissatisfaction are givens; they're there even if we don't notice it, even if we deny it. Believe the earth is flat all you want, but there's this evidence to the contrary, and then….
Ironically, “Teaching” is referred to all the time, sometimes within a Sutra or Kong’s-an that states there is no teaching. Rather than teaching, the Buddha and the Sages revealed, uncovered, clarified, reduced, and explained a methodology. Sometimes with all the lovingkindness, and sometimes less so, at least on the surface. The Shurangama Sutra could have been retitled “The Tathagata Reads Amanda the Riot Act Sutra.” The overall feel of it is, “Were you paying attention?!? After all these years, right by my side, and you think what?” Perhaps I'm projecting too much of myself into that, but there's a lot of refuting and clarifying in that Sutra. The Sutras tend to go along those lines--ask one of the bhikksus a “What do you think…” question, followed by a “Well said, well said,” and then a little more explanation. Somewhere between, “What do you think,” and “Well said,” the student answers with the Truth that had been there all along. That's all any of the Sutras are: Skillful explanations of Truth.
Likewise, Zen teachings are no more than explanations. For some, the explanation lit that Great Cosmic Lightbulb over the listener’s head, sometimes it may have taken a touch more work on the part of both student and teacher. Sometimes that work involved a shout, the obligatory stick hit, maybe even some grandmotherly kindness, sometimes cutting a cat in half. In all cases these were a means to get to something: Truth. Be it Noble, or True Nature, just Truth. And what is Truth? It is reality, nothing more, nothing less. No exaggerations, no back stories, no embellishments, no falsehoods, no deception or denial, just reality as it is. Philosophers may debate whether Truth exists, or if it’s purely subjective, but what they’re debating isn’t Truth. It’s not not-Truth, the debating is Truth, the answer isn’t necessarily. Call it Truth, Facts, Reality, Bob, or “Just this,” Truth is. Or maybe more accurately, Truth is…”....”
Delusion, denial, destitution, dereliction, birth, no-birth, rebirth, no-rebirth, karma, no-karma, self, no-self, peace, war, and anything else that can be imagined is Truth too. The fact that we do, think, or say all kinds of really wacky things is Truth. It happens, we do it. Facts is facts, but fighting against facts is facts too, along with fighting ourselves over having fought the fact. All that may be less than noble, but it’s Truth. “True Nature,” at its heart wouldn’t include greed, anger, and delusion, but Truth does. Realization of One Mind is Truth, but so is clinging to a stubborn self-centered Self.
How do we get to the Truth? There’s no getting away from Truth. We needn't move anywhere, we needn't amass more information, and most of all, needn't have the false notion that we are lacking something. Does that mean we give up study, reading, and listening just because they use words? Using reasoning and reading won’t do it, even though we read and reason, and therefore that in itself is Truth. Rather than trying to accumulate more information and knowledge for anything other than to know more things, thinking that will deliver some ultimate Truth, maybe trying just to notice what’s right here, right now, right in front of, around, and behind us, all ten directions.
Rather than going on some eternal search, a quest to attain some Great Spiritual State only to arrive where we never left. It’s not thinking more, it’s not thinking less, it’s not not-thinking, it’s just paying attention. What was your original face before your parents were born? Don’t give it a second thought, or even a first thought. If you think thought is bad, think again, or not-think again, just pay attention. That’s all Truth, but it’s not a big deal. Just doing something that is helpful to someone else is True Nature, it’s Truth.
I’m soaking in Truth. We’re all soaking in Truth. Don’t bother with the towel, it won’t dry you off. Truth? You’re soaking in it.