Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the way?”
Nansen answered: ‘Ordinary mind is the way.’
‘Then should we direct ourselves towards it or not? asked Joshu.
Nansen said: ‘If you try to direct yourself toward it, you go away from it.
‘Joshu then continued: ‘If we do not try how can we know it is the way?’
Nansen replied: ‘The way does not belong to knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion. Not knowing is blankness. If you really attain to the way of No Doubt it is like the great void, so vast and boundless. How can there be a right and wrong in the way?’ At these words Joshu was enlightened.
(Nansen & Joshu Jushin)
Acharya Prashant: Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the way?” Nansen answered: “Ordinary mind is the way.” Let’s come to the significance of this. When Joshu says, “What is the way?” He is asking about liberation, he is asking a way to liberation, the way to Tao, the way to Freedom, the way to Truth. Nansen says, “Your ordinary mind, that is the way.” Ordinary mind, ordinary actions of the ordinary mind, ordinary life of the ordinary mind that alone is the way, that’s the only method.
Observing the daily ordinary actions of the mind that is the only way. Observing it as an impartial observer. There is no other method that is going to work because all other methods are ‘isolations.’ The method does something to life. The method excludes life the methods works only upon apart and time of life. The method does not encompass ‘total life.’ The methods says, “block two hours of life for the method, or create a particular situation in life in which the method can be applied. The only method that is all-encompassing is ‘life itself.’
Observe life ‘totally’ as it is happening. Do not do anything to life because if you do something to life then you have changed life. Observation alone does not change life, does not interfere with life. All other methods interfere with that which you are going to observe and hence, will change that you are going to observe and hence your observation will be?
AP: Are you getting it? If you want, for example, to observe your Heart and you tear open the body to reach the Heart in the process you kill the body. What will you observe? You will observe, but what will you observe? You would have changed the very thing that you wanted to observe, that is the problem with methods.
Every method is an interference.
Are you getting it? Every method says, “ok for so much time to do this.” Now, if for so much I’m doing this, then I have secluded that time from the daily run of my life. And in that way, I have already changed my life. So, what am I observing?
Are you getting it?
The only real method is a method that touches life very-very gently.
Has no intention of changing and that intentless observation is.
Hence the only method.
Your ordinary life that is the only way. All the other ways are extraordinary. All other ways are trying doing something.
Observation alone does not try to do something.
L: Motivated observation usually.
AP: Yes. Joshu said, “Can it be grasped for study?” It indicating the ordinary mind. Nansen replied, “The more did you pursue, the more does it slip away.” The more you pursue it, the more does it slips away. Not because it cannot be pursued or grasped? Please note this, not because it cannot be pursued or grasped but
because that which you will grasp, will no more be ordinary.
The grasping itself has changed it. You want to chase ordinariness. Now, is that ordinary? The changing itself has robbed its ordinariness.
L: Corrupts it.
AP: Corrupts it.
When the observer is a motivated observer, please note, then observation changes the observed.
When an observer is a motivated observer then the observation changes the observed.
You are looking at someone and you are looking at that person with the eyes of expectation, demand. Lust that person might be standing naked. But your lustful observation will change her.
She will go, rush for clothes, cover herself up. Your motivated observation has changed the observed one. But if you look at her just like a lover. Offering no threat, demanding nothing, content in just observing. The observed one will feel no need to go and change. She may continue to be naked. Such is life, you demands something from it, it hides away. It starts showing you a concocted face. You just look at it, admiring it, rejoicing in it and you come to see her real face.
“The more you pursue, the more does it slip away,” never know this line, such is life. Don’t pursue, she comes to you.
Don’t chase, she is yours.
Joshu asked once more, “How can you know it is the way?” Nansen responded, “The way does not belong to knowledge nor does it belong to non-knowledge. Knowledge is an illusion, non-knowledge is beyond discrimination. When you get to this way, without doubt, you are free like the vastness of the space and unfathomable white. So, how can you explain it with yes or no.”
Now, obviously upon hearing this Joshu goes enlightened. Joshu is making a fundamental mistake asking, “How can I know if this is the way?” Such an ugly question it’s like asking, “How do I know whether I Love? How do I know God is? How do I know whether this is the Truth?” Nansen is saying, “You cannot know. Knowledge is an illusion. Don’t even try.” All your means of discrimination, all your ways of knowing will fail in front of the real one.
There you just know.
Either you just know or you do not know.
No question of how to? No question of how will I know whethef this is the way? You will know and that is Faith. You will know, when you come to it you will know and if you don’t know then there is no hope for you.
And Joshu realizes the insufficiency of knowledge. The foolishness inherent in collecting knowledge as a means of dealing with life. How will I know whether he is a right teacher? How will I know whether Zen means anything? How will I know whether I understand? You will ‘just’ know and you have to Trust that ‘Justness.’ You have to Trust that unreasonable realization. You cannot test it. You cannot get any proofs for it. You cannot go and ask someone to verify it. You cannot consult teachers about it.
‘You just know’ and that just knowing has such ‘depth of sureness.’
How do you know? Don’t ask stupid questions, I know.
Those who will want proof will never know.
They may get the proofs but they will never get the way.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
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