In those early days, it was like being born again–or not again, but for the first time. Finally I knew what my life was. Not in the metaphysical or ontological sense, but in terms of the old Zen language.
When one monk “awoke” under the promptings of the sixth ancestor, Huineng, after weeping, sweating, trembling in shock, he is said to have declared, “Now I am like a person who knows for themselves when they drink water whether it is warm or cold.”
Another old master said of his awakening, “Now I know: eyes horizontal, nose vertical.”
It doesn’t sound like much. But they aren’t talking about knowledge, but rather about experiencing life for the first time, from the inside out.