Sunday, 2 April 2017


100. The account of the Buddha's transmission to Mahakashyapa may have no basis in history. From the Zen point of view this is not important. For the koan presents us with a contemporary event. As we enter into the koan and become intimate with it we find ourselves getting caught up in a Dharma transmission happening right here, right now, in our very own assembly. Here and now we are present with the Buddha on Mount Grdhrakuta and together with those other disciples of long ago we await with attentive ears the teaching he will give. But if we listen only with our ears we will remain, like those others, in dumb and unresponsive silence. For the Buddha in holding up a flower makes a visual presentation and we, fixed in our ways, fail to hear with our eyes or see with our ears. Only Mahakashyapa is not caught by hearing alone but has his eyes wide open to what is being offered in the here and now, in this moment's privileged encounter with the Thusness of the True Self. His response, a broad smile, is as sudden as it is spontaneous. It is also silent, as with the rest of the disciples, but his silence is not a dumb, stunned silence. Rather, it is full of meaning and understanding. His beaming, smiling, silent response is seen by the Buddha, recognised and acknowledged in a heart-mind to heart-mind transmission that has no need of words.

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