Getting lost in content is wondering whether "mind is buddha" or "neither mind, nor buddha" is the better. There are no "best methods", only working methods that one can understand and use. The majority of old Zen teachings in that sense are very much useless as they speak in a foreign language using unknown ideas. If one wants to uphold the principle that Zen is only about pointing to the nature of mind, one must use intelligible language and not dead Chinese rhetoric. So how could we translate this saying, "neither mind, nor buddha", into something sensible? I'd say, it is not intelligence, emotion or awareness, neither it is anything supernatural or beyond current existence.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?
2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.
3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.
4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.
1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
There are many ways to become lost in content. The one I have observed in zen is becoming attached to language, specifically, to the words themselves. Being mesmerized and led around by the word, which is a pitfall of "this very mind is Buddha." Having to use language is an enormous obstacle in the teaching of Buddhism.
I do agree that methods are expedients and the method that works best is the one that works at this moment, for this student or this circumstance. But every method also has its pitfall, and that is what Mazu is teaching about here.
Your post did help further clarify something for me, so thanks for that.
MalaBeads wrote:Another translation offers this:
If you can see through this, your Zen training is complete.
Present a sword to a swordsman;
Don't offer a poem unless you meet a poet.
When speaking say one third of it;
Don't give the whole thing at once.
There is a paragraph a little further on, in 'Gateless Gate', that refers to the old woodsman and the lost pilgrim, and that is worth some consideration, because once you find the old woodsman, he'll point you to the stream that stops you from feeling lost on the mountain.
Don't give the whole thing at once. The old woodsman has done this already, so there's no need to offer poems, unless you meet a poet.
That swordsman is in a fine village for striving, and you will be too, if you follow that stream.
No Mind, no Buddha. But Daibai is no fool, and for him, it is always Just Mind, Just Buddha. Either way, sit beneath the Bodhi Tree, and be happy.
The Irish say that it is by the brink of running water that poetry is revealed to the mind, and this koan is just like that.
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