Exactly. So exactly that he is like that measureless person in the prologue, the person that has gone beyond any possibility of measurement. That precise. That exact. Like the moon reflected in water.
We want to know about where we're headed. These days, if you're planning a vacation, you can take a virtual tour on the computer, go into your hotel in the Bahamas, and get a 360 degree view. Maybe soon even smells will be channeled to your desk. We endlessly anticipate our destination, and the Buddha was aware that this desire had a double edge to it. In some ways it can be very helpful—after all there are many practices that are built around envisioning an enlightened reality—but it can also be very damaging. So much so that the Buddha actually asked that after his death there be no images of him, nothing that people could become invested in, imagining that that's what an enlightened being looks like. He was concerned that his image might keep people from landing within themselves. If we have a picture, then we start measuring, adjusting, operating in relationship to it. We become a measured person within a measured reality. Enlightenment becomes objectified.
But how can the enlightened reality, which is a formless reality, be measured? How can we frame a person who has passed beyond frames, who has exited any possible grid that we can superimpose on them, their mind, their being? A person who, within that state of measurelessness, is still piercing and penetrating, impossible to define, and yet so utterly clear, so precisely and exactly available. It's kind of like zazen. The more you do it, the clearer it gets, and the more impossible to explain or nail down. Or is it the other way around, that the less capable you are of defining it, the clearer and clearer it gets?
We're curious about others' experience, especially those who inspire us and that we want to emulate. We know that we are within a shared world, and yet we imagine that there is something uniquely different about an awakened mind. What does it mean to rest within an illuminated reality? Where everything is, as Buddha described, like an open sky, with everything reflected, precisely so. What does it feel like to have eradicated all the karmic traces, so that within you there are no traces, no formations, no tendency to grasp or to ignore—to truly rest in the mind of complete equanimity? What is it like to ceaselessly manifest compassionate activity? Where every single cell, every atom, every unit of action is nothing other than an expression of selfless appreciation? What is it like to have passed through the net? To have passed through the entrapments of our attachments, our ideas, our sensations, forms, emotions? Well, this koan is pulling you precisely to that. From the moment the first question is posed, even with Sansheng's seeking mind that wonders what it's like, we're already within the realm of that formless vow manifesting itself.