Friday, 7 April 2017


104. Our attachment to words, concepts and doctrines is tenacious. We seize upon the Buddha's words and phrases and demand definitions and explanations. We demand rational accounts of what is meant by such terms as 'Dharma', 'Dharma Eye', Dharma Gate', etc. We assume that we can grasp the Dharma in the logical formulations of doctrine. We want it all spelt out in doctrinal statements. We want to get our heads around what the Buddha says while we remain puzzled by what he shows and his disciple Mahakashyapa sees. We cling to words like Dharma and Nirvana but avert our eyes from such expressions as 'independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine'. We become fascinated by the possibilities that a commentator like Mumon Ekai raises when he says: 'If, however, everyone in the audience had laughed, how could he have transmitted his True Eye? And again, if Mahakashyapa had not smiled, how could the Buddha have transmitted it?' And so we run off at a tangent to the Buddha's teaching and lose ourselves in a labyrinth of 'what ifs'. Here we would do well to call to mind Wittgenstein's remark (a scandalous remark in that it was made in the context of a philosophy class): 'Don't think, look!' 

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