Contemplating Bankei's "Unborn"

Take in at a single glance the unborn writing of Bankei Yotaku.

Q: Roshi, I was reading some of Bankei's talks about the Unborn yesterday & all of the sudden it was as if a breeze from the river had cooled the sweat on my forehead. I laughed. I felt I understood. Yet this morning I find myself just as muddled & confused about what "the Unborn" might be as ever. Can you help me understand what's going on here?

A: When one contemplates "the Unborn" as Bankei evokes it, just as in doing hua t'ou practice according to the instructions of a Master like Ta Hui, there is sometimes a feeling of everything dropping away, along with a surge of intense energy and even a hair-raising "silent mysterious understanding" that almost coheres. Although this is not yet kensho [chien hsing, or clear cognizance of the self-nature, free of all concepts & mental formations], it is still interesting and may be important to your awakening.

From now on, I suggest that you continue to contemplate Bankei's statements without trying to come to any intellectual conclusion about them. It may help to try to arouse your body's energy (Ki) before you read Bankei and, when you contemplate his statements about the Unborn, focus this energy or "heat" of all your eighty four thousand hair-follicles and pores and joints in a single minded way on the "Unborn" nature of mind as he evokes it in his little talks.

Eventually, Bankei's "Unborn" will become a mad obsession that terrifies you, just like a red hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out. If you hold it like this day and night without falling into ideas about "is" or "is not" and also without coming to an idea of "emptiness" or "not-self," one day your experience of "inside" and "outside" will spontaneously unify. At that point you will be like a dumb man trying to recount an amazing dream.

If you continue your silent contemplation with unwavering resolve, there will occur a dire explosion that annihilates all your previous false ideas in a single instant. It will be as if you had seized the legendary Green Dragon sword of the great Chinese general; if you meet the Buddha, you kill the Buddha. If you meet the Zen Patriarchs and Masters, you kill them, too. If you meet Bankei, Bankei will also be cut. And you live out the rest of your life in a mysterious and playful samadhi.

Doesn't this sound awesome? Wouldn't you like to experience this?

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