The Sword of Wisdom 110

Through the ages, people have asked masters what Bodhidharma brought to China from India. One master replied, "Three pounds of flax;" another answered, "Just a big bowl;" still another replied, "A large turnip." One master looked at his robe and commented that it was made in Chin-chou. Trying to analyze these answers would be as foolish as asking the question in the first place. These are nonsensical answers to an inane question. Ch'an was not exported from India when Bodhidharma went to China, and Ch'an was not brought to the United States when Ch'an masters started coming here. Whether or not Buddhadharma, practice or Ch'an masters exist makes no difference: Ch'an is always present.

Ch'an is everywhere, even in places where no one has ever heard of Buddhadharma. When a dog barks, that is Ch'an; when a cat catches a mouse, that is Ch'an. But this does not mean dogs and cats are enlightened, or that they can attain enlightenment. Ch'an is one thing, practice is another.

There is a second meaning regarding Ch'an and the practitioner. Ch'an and meditation are not necessarily the same. Ch'an is not confined to meditation. Walking, sitting, eating and sleeping can and should be Ch'an. In Buddhist teachings, walking and sitting, as well as standing and lying down, symbolize all activities that humans perform.

Yesterday, one of you said to me, "I want to leave. All I do when I sit is daydream. I'm not making any progress. I'm just eating the Ch'an Center's food."

I replied, "Eating is Ch'an. It is practice if you eat with a focused mind. Stay on the retreat, and eat as well as you can."

A student who had just begun to practice visited a master and asked him for a method. The master asked, "Do you know how to eat?"

The student replied, "Sure. As a matter of fact, I've just eaten my fill."

The master asked, "Do you know how to sleep?"

"Even babies know how to sleep, " the student answered.