Also keep in mind that in order to see the truth we have to let go of our perspectives. By definition, perspectives are one-sided. I think that’s one of the things that confused the poor Christians at Gethsemani. They weren’t sure where exactly we Buddhists stood. The Theravadin monks cannot carry money, but the Mahayana and Vajrayana monks had cell phones. I had a cell phone and one of the Rinpoches had a cell phone and there we were, out in the field talking and waving to each other. Every time the Theravadins spoke they would of course talk about emptiness and so the Christians thought, Oh, that’s Buddhism, but then along would come a Mahayana monk who would say, “You have to come down off the mountain because in emptiness there is no suffering, but there’s also no end to suffering.” After the discussions, one of the Christian monks pulled me aside and asked me to clarify for him what all this talk about emptiness and form was all about and how it applied to daily life.

“If you wish to understand these great adepts you must first see into the place where ‘even a needle cannot enter.’” In this place there are no gaps. It is a single unborn and unextinguished reality. In this place, the one contains the myriad forms. Nothing can enter it because nothing’s outside of it. “And then realize the place that is ‘just like planting flowers on a rock.’” The ten thousand dharmas are themselves a single reality. Your life, my life. The many is the one.

Sometimes that’s the way I see this Monastery, as planting flowers on a rock. I think that’s what we did when we first came here. There’s no way that it could have possibly succeeded. Yet here we are, three decades later. Flowers on a rock.

“Without relying on seeing and hearing, and without trying to know objects, we should observe and realize that which is underneath it all.” This is the ineffable mystery. This is the place where we realize that our mind is beyond annihilation and eternity, and that its very nature is beyond purity and impurity. Why? Because it is non-dual. It is not in the realm of this or that.

The capping verse:

Cease from following after sound and form,
       refrain from going beyond sound and form.
The spring breeze unknowingly rousts out the hibernating tree frogs—
       cherry blossoms, wordlessly, open a path.


Southern Men