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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
86 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY tozan’s refleCtion There is a famous story about the Chinese Zen master Tozan Ryokai (Dongshan Liangjie, 807–869). When Tozan was about to go on pil- grimage, he asked his teacher Ungan Donjo, “After you have passed away, how can I answer someone who asks me what you were like?” Ungan replied, “Say to him: Just this is.” Then he added, “You must now be very careful, as you are carrying this great thing. Consider it again and again.” Tozan was always thinking about Ungan’s statement “Just this is.” Then one day he was crossing a river and saw himself reflected in the water. When Tozan saw his reflection, he realized it was not his real self, because in order for a reflection to appear, the thing reflected must already exist. Suddenly he understood his teacher’s meaning and composed this gatha: You shouldn’t search for it outwardly. If you do, the truth will become more remote from you. But when alone I proceed through myself, Wherever I go I meet him. Now he is not other than myself, yet I am not he. Only if you understand this will you unite with the Tathagata. Before your individual thoughts, feelings, or perceptions arise and you reflect on yourself, wondering who or what you are, something is already there. Something is already alive. What is it? We call it big self, real self, or true self, but actually it is the vastness of existence. In Buddhist philosophy we say emptiness. When you hear the word “emptiness,” it seems to be something fascinating, kind of a puzzle. But emptiness is not a puzzle—it is something true. Something is happening there. When you see your reflection, it is coming from emptiness, but immediately it is going, returning to emptiness. In the next moment, a new reflection comes. Your reflection is impermanent; it is always coming and going. The only thing that stays is the vastness of exis- tence. This vastness is your true self.