Sunday, May 12, 2019

Hearing with the Eye

"Once a monastic asked the Tang Dynasty Chinese National Teacher, Nanyang, 'Do the insentient understand the expressing of the Way?' The National Teacher said, 'They express the Way continually, energetically, ceaselessly.' The monastic said, 'Why can't I hear it?' The National Teacher replied, 'The fact that you don't hear it has nothing to do with others hearing it.' The monastic said, 'I don't understand. What kind of person can hear it?' The National Teacher said, 'All the holy ones can hear it.' The monastic asked, 'Do you hear it?' The National Teacher said, 'I do not hear it.' The monastic said, 'If you do not hear it, how do you know that the insentient can express the Way?' The National Teacher said, 'Fortunately I do not hear it. If I did, I would be one of the holy ones and you would not be able to hear me expressing the Way.' The monastic said, 'In that case, sentient beings can't hear it.' The National Teacher said, 'I express the Way for the sake of sentient beings, not for the sake of the holy ones.' The monastic said, 'Then what happens when sentient beings do hear you?' The National Teacher said, 'At that moment they are not sentient beings.'" 

- John Daido Loori (1931 - 2009)

1 comment:

Roy Money said...

Hi Andy
A perplexing commentary to be sure which I have pondered for some time. For me there is some clarification in several related concepts. One is the term suchness, a central Chan concept which has to do with the "thisness" of things, or as Dongshan Liangjie purportedly said, "just this is it" : a more positive expression of "emptiness" in which nothing has any self-nature. All these words are problematic because this is not a matter of concepts so much as an awareness to be experienced, with parallels to aesthetic experience. Another way of coming at it that seems useful to me is Gary Snyder's statement that "suchness is the nature of the nature of nature". Still another commentary I have found huseful is Robert Aitken's "The Mind of Clover". Obviously clover does not have a mind in the conventional human sense but rather a no-mind of "wu-wei", doing what is in accord with circumstance, without being subject to the distractions of greed, animosity and ignorance that we humans are vulnerable to because of the evolutionary development of our constitution.