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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 45 soul] that will pollute the mind, which is a state of zero. It is out of this zero that all good is performed and all evil is avoided. The zero I speak of is not a math- ematical symbol. It is the infinite—a storehouse or womb (Garbha) of all possible good or values. zero = infinity, and infinity = zero. The double equation is to be understood not only statically but dynamically. It takes place between being and becoming. A few pages later, Suzuki gently warns against the illusion that we are achieving something or going somewhere by “emptying out.” What would you get rid of? Where is the trash bin? He continues: Zen emptiness is not the emptiness of nothingness, but the emptiness of fullness in which there is “no gain, no loss, no increase, no decrease,” in which this equation takes place: zero = infinity. The Godhead is no other than this equation. And when the Godhead (emptiness) is not dualistically separated from the world (form)—when form is emptiness and emptiness is form—then it’s all right here. Where else would it be? The non-dual Tao is the Way, Suzuki continued, in words that recall the koan about eating the piece of cake: The strange thing, however, is: when we experience it we cease to ask questions about it, we accept it, we just live it. Theologians, dialecticians and existentialists may go on discussing the matter, but the ordinary people...live “the mystery.” A Zen master was once asked: Q. What is Tao? (We may take Tao as meaning the ultimate truth or reality.) A. It is one’s everyday mind. Q. What is one’s everyday mind? A. When tired, you sleep; when hungry, you eat. Inevitably, Cage ran into interviewers who insisted on turning shunyata, the Godhead, into an intellectual experience. He kept urging them to “eat the cake” (so to speak), but—not surprisingly—they didn’t get it. Just live the mystery, he said. But they struggled through their fog and confusion. [Q:] It would then be false to think that Zen sets an end, a stop, a goal for itself— which would, for example, be the state of illumination in which all things reveal themselves as nothingness. [Cage:] This nothingness is still just a word. [Q:] Like silence, it must cancel itself out. [Cage:] And consequently we come back to what exists; to sounds, that is. [Q:] But don’t you lose something? [Cage:] What? [Q:] Silence, nothingness. . . . [Cage:] You see quite well that I’m losing nothing! In all of this, it’s not a question of losing, but of gaining!