What needs to take place in order for the self to return to the mountains, rivers and the great earth? What needs to happen to the self in order to realize the koan Mu, or to realize any koan? To merge with the breath? To transform one's life? To be the embodiment of the precepts? What needs to happen to the self? What is the self? Let me tell you: it's an idea. And that idea needs to go. That idea has placed barriers around an illusory being that really contains the whole universe. So the self needs to be forgotten. It's the only way you'll see Mu; it's the only way you'll see a koan; it's the only way you'll be the breath. And it's not just a matter of waiting for that to happen, because every step of the way is part of that process of transformation. My teacher Minor White was fond of saying, "All the way to heaven is heaven itself." Each step contains all of heaven. All the way to Mu is Mu itself. All the way to the koan is the koan itself. The process itself is the goal. And it's transformative. Little by little, step by step, it transforms you. No question about it.
And so it is with this enormous problem—this crisis—facing the great earth. The process of taking care of the things that are immediately around us affects the totality of the universe. In many ways it affects it. It creates a different kind of karma—different than the karma of turning the other way and hoping that the problem disappears. We can argue, we can yell, we can pontificate. But it's the actions we take that make the difference in the end.
How do you turn the self, and return to the mountains, rivers and the great earth? Ask yourself, what is it that you're calling mountains, rivers and the great earth? Ask yourself, what are you calling your self?
The capping verse:
There is no place to hide the true self.
When the universe disintegrates
"it" remains indestructible.
This gigantic body ultimately has no abode.