The Radiant Light Allows the Radiant Light to Respond
To examine “radiance,” Valerie takes up Mumonkan case 39, “Unmon and a Mistake in Speech.” She turns it in a kaleidoscope with Dogen, Hongzhi, Chosetsu, heartbreak and failure, her revelatory stroll one day at Sonnenhof when the koan “where will you go when you die” accompanied her into the fields. The radiance these ancestors speak of doesn’t really have two sides – form is emptiness – yet it has a different flavor than the ever-changing skandhas. Skandhas are nothing but change; radiance is constant. It always was and will be… or rather it doesn’t come, go, endure; it just is. Transparent and boundless, yet dynamic.
Chosetsu advises that if we follow thoughts, we obscure this empty oneness, this radiance. But we obscure it even more when we try to cut off thoughts. So, how to still the mind (or let it be frictionlessly transparent) without doing anything? That’s wholehearted zazen.