“Real spirituality is about going beyond who we think we are”
Description: Case 20, Book of Equanimity: Jizô’s “Most Intimate”
Jizô asked Hôgen, “Where are you going, senior monk?”
Hôgen said, “I am on pilgrimage, following the wind.”
Jizô said, “What are you on pilgrimage for?”
Hôgen said, “I don’t know.”
Jizô said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”
Hôgen suddenly attained great enlightenment.
Henry explores “Not knowing is most intimate.” There are two kinds not-knowing in Zen: first is extinguishing, the kind of deep absorption that happens during samadhi (which is not to be confused with awakening), when most mind-objects have gone quiet in concentration. Then there is realizing, which is directly knowing the world of not-knowing. This second type of not-knowing is what Jizô is trying to show Hôgen. This intimate not-knowing includes intimacy with buddha, dharma, and sangha: but more importantly, it actually is buddha, dharma, and sangha. It is experiencing the whole universe, and it is not about meaning.
To set the stage for Jizô’s Most Intimate, Henry opens this teisho by relaying a personal story about traveling in the Sahara desert as a young journalist. He’d had a strenuous day climbing a desert sand dune and he noticed that his footprints in the sand were erased by the gentle wind as he walked. He was at first quite disconcerted by his vanished footprints. Then he felt liberated. “It’s like we hadn’t come there, we just were there.” Suddenly the sack he’d metaphorically been carrying vanished along with his traceless steps in the sand. “Me and my history was all blown away in that desert wind.”
Post Image Credit: Double O Arch (Arches National Park, eastern Utah, USA), by James St. John, CC BY 2.0
Featured Image Credit: Desert Leader, by Hamed Saber, CC BY 2.0.