The Huang-Po Zen Challenge: Put a Stop to Thinking

Grand Zen Master Huang-Po says you must do just one thing to become Enlightened. Just the one thing. What is it? "Cut off thinking." Also, "Forget all views." "Keep your mind motionless." "Put a complete stop to the arising of conceptual thought." Enter "the Gateway of Stillness Beyond All Activity." He says that if you can succeed in this simple but difficult task, "the Buddha will appear before you." You will experience a "deeply mysterious wordless understanding." You will reach "a state of BEING brilliant as the sun" in which "all forms are Buddha forms, all sounds are Buddha sounds."

Sound good? Are you there yet? Wouldn't you like to be? Or, in the words of Mumon Ekai,"Isn't this a delightful prospect?"

Master Mumon Ekai agreed with Huang-Po: "To attain this subtle realization, you must completely cut off the way of thinking. If you do not, you will become like a ghost clinging to the grasses and weeds." So did Joshu: "When the mind does not arise, everything is flawless." Also Yuanwu: "If your mind exists, you are stuck in the mundane for eternity; if your mind does not exist, you experience wondrous enlightenment instantly." And Bankei:"Because the Buddha Mind is unborn, it has no thoughts at all. Thoughts are the source of delusion. When thoughts are gone, delusion vanishes too."

So why not take the Huang-Po Challenge, to see if you've got the stones to be a Huang-Po style Zennist? Set an alarm to go off in ten minutes, or have a friend time you. Stop all your thinking right now, right this instant, and remain without any thinking whatsoever until the timer buzzes.

If you can't do it, why can't you? And if you won't try, why not?

Huang-Po's discourse remains at the conceptual level until you try it for yourself. "I am already a Buddha" -- maybe you are, but that's still just words, speech, concepts, and thinking.

Isn't it mysterious that if I tell you not to make a fist for the next ten minutes, you can easily do it; yet if I tell you not to think for the next ten minutes, you can't? Isn't "thinking" -- like speaking or writing -- supposed to be a voluntary action, completely under the command of "the Master within"?

I say throw away the dregs of Buji ("do-nothing") Zen and do some authentic ancient Zen training using this simple (but extremely difficult) method prescribed by Great Zen Master Huang-Po! If you put some energy into it and succeed where so many others have flailed and failed, you will be like a dragon entering the water, a tiger on its mountain.

The truth is that if you can put a stop to all conceptual thinking for even ten seconds in full and energetically relaxed awareness, you will attain satori. It is of the utmost importance that you attain satori quickly, while your eyes still see and ears still hear. Do not just parrot the words of the Masters without applying yourself to their meanings.

For to quote the words that Huang-Po spoke outside the experience to which those words applied is as stupid as to toil at the oars when the ship is on sand.

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