The Essence of Zen

When the essence of Zen is penetrated with clear insight, all things -- heaven, earth, mountains, rivers, riches, poverty, men, women -- are seen exactly as they are. Officers serve, merchants sell, farmers plow, fishermen fish; each accomplishes his or her work without hindrance. Such realization occurs in a flash -- "Walking along the Great Way beneath a clear blue sky."

With that kind of Mind, one is master of the three worlds even though he or she lives in a hut or dwells in poverty. Both samsara and nirvana are transcended; officer, merchant, farmer, fisherman -- the labor of each is without equal in heaven and earth. All operate in unfettered samadhi: "This very body is Buddha"; "This world of sorrow is actually paradise."


"No-sword" [of the Muto Ryu] means "outside the mind there is no sword"; in other words, "the three worlds are one Mind." One Mind means that both inside and outside there is not one thing. Therefore, when an opponent is confronted there is no enemy in front and no self behind. Miraculously, all boundaries are extinguished and no trace remains. This is the meaning of the name "No-Sword School."

From the three worlds of past, present, and future to the manifestation of all phenomena there is not one entity that is not Mind. That Mind is markless from start to finish; it functions as an inexhaustible treasure. Mind is exceedingly difficult to grasp: look for it in the east and it vanishes in the west; seek it in the south and it departs for the north. It possesses a divine freedom that even heaven cannot attain.

When that level is attained one discovers "a single sword against the cold sky." Face the enemy as if he were not there; roam through the universe like the golden-winged Garuda King. When that wonderful state is actualized it is a great marvel, permeating all things with life.

One's actions in everyday life should be conducted in a similar manner. Absolute freedom is not being hindered by anything. When sitting, sit; when walking, walk. Speech, silence, movement, stillness -- all arise from the same source. The cutting edge of the Mind-sword is unequaled.


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