"What do you hear when you listen to the river sounds? Can you hear the subtle gathas of rock and water? Or are you trapped in the superficiality of sound and form?" With his question "How do you turn the self and return to the mountains, rivers and the great earth?" Changsha is asking us to realize intimacy. He's asking us to break the illusion, the notion of separateness. Because it's that notion that allows the poisoning of the great earth, the destruction of the mountains and the pollution of the rivers.
"Mountains, rivers and the great earth are ceaselessly manifesting the teachings." I ask you, mountains, rivers and the great earth—where are the distinctions to be found? Why is this all divided into twos and threes? How do the complications arise in the first place? They arise because of greed, anger and ignorance. There's absolutely, unequivocally no scientific or technological reason why this earth should be polluted the way it is. We have the technical know-how, we have the power, the ability, to produce alternative energy. So why aren't we doing it? It's because of greed. Because of those who have a vested interest in keeping us dependent on fossil fuels. And they're strong, and they're powerful.
What does it take to counter that power? Ecological chutzpah—that's what it takes. Can we gather that here, in the midst of our sangha? Are we courageous enough to stick our necks out on behalf of the earth, on behalf of our planet, our home?
"Mountains, rivers and the great earth are ceaselessly manifesting the teachings, yet they are not heard with the ear or seen with the eye. They can only be perceived with the whole body and mind." When you see with the whole body and mind, then you really see. When you really see, you go blind. When you really hear, you go deaf. That is what it means to be really intimate.
"Be that as it may," the commentary says, "how do you turn the self and return to the mountains, rivers and the great earth?" What does it mean to turn the self? What did the monk mean when he asked how to turn the mountains, rivers and the great earth and return them to the self? And what is Changsha talking about when he says, "How do you turn the self and return to the mountains, rivers and great earth?"