A young man named Yamaoka Tesshu, served as a disciple to many masters in his eagerness to learn about Zen. Even after gaining much knowledge he was not satisfied and finally approached a Zen master named Dokuon.
At that time Dokuon was sitting peacefully and smoking hookah.
Yamaoka demonstrated his knowledge by saying “In reality, the mind, Buddha and living beings do not exist. The true nature of the Universe is nothingness. There is no delusion, no knowledge, no sage and no fool. There is no giving and nothing to receive. Nothing exists.”
Dokuon continued to smoke quietly which made Yamaoka wonder if he was listening. All of a sudden, he whacked Yamaoka with his hand stick which made Yamaoka quite angry. Dokuon asked “If nothing exists, then where is your anger coming from?”
Yamaoka served many masters and gained bookish knowledge. He could quote from various scriptures eloquently. By intellect, he understood the truth but not by practice. He does not have the strength of Sadhana. This is the smartness of people who just understand the philosophy by reading books and think philosophy is everything. Philosophy can be understood by intelligence, but Zen can be understood only by experience. There is no relation between experience and scholastic knowledge. Instead, this scholastic knowledge will be an obstacle to experience Zen. The professor in Nanin’s story is a philosopher. That’s why Nanin indirectly indicated that Zen cannot be experienced until one gets rid of the bookish knowledge.
The idea of nothingness is true. But this was not from Yamaoka’s experiential knowledge. He was merely reciting like a parrot by studying various scriptures. He was under the illusion of philosophy and thought it was real knowledge. To bring him from his imaginary world to the real world, Dokuon beat him with a stick. If Yamaoka had the strength of Sadhana, he would have realized by that blow. But he could not understand. He was under the influence of natural human anger.
If he had experienced the real state of No-mind, he would have not gotten angry. In fact, he would have not come to Dokuon. He came to Dokuon because he was not a realized soul. A realized soul doesn’t need certification from someone else. He need not go to anyone.
By knowing that Yamaoka has not yet got realization, Dokuon asked "If everything is void then where does your anger come from? ", this means the ultimate truth you are speaking is not by your experience. Until it does not become your experience, whatever you read is a mere waste. You read a lot but you have not yet crossed the first step in Sadhana. Dokuon was indirectly intimating him to start his Sadhana at least from now on.
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