This short paragraph that is attributed to zen master Lin Chi intrigued me on the first reading about five days ago. I put some of his teachings that I downloaded from some websites onto my reader and have been enjoying them with my morning coffee or tea sitting in the driftwood here. Let me mention here that the yogi from Chennai (then Madras) who introduced me into Yoga (Sri S. Rajagopalan) and with whom I studied for over 20 years, had one main thrust of his combined teaching (asanas/pranayama/philosophy) and that was to give us an experience over and over again of Silence. Everything else was orchestrated, I might say, to achieving this purpose, although each element had its own benefits as well.
I recognize in Lin Chi’s words above that he is pointing us to that same Silence.
Taking the first part: “The mind ground can go into the ordinary, into the holy, into the pure, into the defiled, into the real, into the conventional;…” and substituting Silence, it becomes something like this: “The ground of the ordinary is Silence, the ground of the holy is Silence, the ground of the pure is Silence, the ground of the defiled is Silence, the ground of the real is Silence, the ground of the conventional is Silence;…”.
From this point of view one could say that all these various levels of our existence, of our experience, are actually contours of Silence and Silence can be seen as the stuff of which all manifestation and all form is made. It is of course obvious from the above that the word Silence is not used in the sense of “no sound”. Rather sounds, noises, movements of objects all happen within this quality of Silence (that is why I use a capital “S” to signify this changed meaning).
In the second part: “…but it is not your ‘real’ or ‘conventional’, ‘ordinary’ or ‘holy.’”, I see the meaning that this basic immutable stuff of which all manifestation is made is, of course, not limited to any of these individual qualities that he lists.
The third part: “It can put labels on all the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy,…” tells me that this mind ground is active and engaged in the world of form, interacting on all levels mentioned. Then he brings in this: “…but the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy, cannot put labels on someone in the mind ground.” – in order to clarify once again that while engaging in the world the one whose actions are of the quality of the mind ground (free of ego etc.) actually IS Intelligent Infinity in its ever spontaneous expression. Therefore to put labels on that expression is a thing of the measuring thought, and it is per definition limited as it lives by creating limitations. Intelligent Infinity, or the finite-infinite, as my friend YB Roth calls it, cannot be contained in any concept.
The final part: “If you can get it, use it, without putting any more labels on it.” – for me means if I have been able to access this quality of the all-pervading and immutable Silence/mind ground by divesting myself of all concepts and limiting views and am in that state of being merged with TATHAGATA (That which is beyond all transitory phenomena), then for God’s sake DON”T THINK ABOUT IT, DON”T LABEL IT, just live it and go on my way free of the need to know or reflect on anything.
Ramana puts it this way: “Since the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known, It alone is Knowledge.”
This paragraph of Lin Chi is still very active in me and what is most active are simply the two words “mind ground” – which are like a code of some sort that brings about a great sense of freedom from all chaff and dust and a falling away of all that suggests itself as being important and calling for my attention. So I am free to put my attention on my happiness, my life force, my sense of being.
– end –
- Thought going where it doesn’t belong (newearthpulse.wordpress.com)
- That The Silence (cherpidy.wordpress.com)
- 10 Rules of Zen (gethighonyoga.wordpress.com)
- What is Zen Cooking? (gaiacookingtv.wordpress.com)