A traveling monk, Hui Ch’ao, asked Master Fa Yen, “What is Buddha?”
Master Fa Yen caused Hui Ch’ao to ‘drop it’ when he answered, “You are Hui’ Ch’ao.”
Many practitioners have heard the hoary Zen battle call, “Not a thing exists!”
This call is a dangerous and central encounter because one does not hear it until standing very much alive overlooking the precipice of death.
Fa Yen might just as easily have answered the question by tipping over a rock to look for Hui Ch’ao. However, being of a compassionate nature, Master Fa Yen wished to immediately lighten Hui Ch’ao’s load.
“What is…?” is a fool’s question because fundamentally not a thing exists.
Opening his speech at Madison Square Garden, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama peered over his spectacles at the audience and with his signature calm, good-natured demeanor said, “Everybody wants something from me. You are all waiting. I know this, but essentially, I have nothing [no thing] to give.”
In The Great Void of Zen, not a thing exists, yet everything exists.
The void is empty of “thingness” or “selfless.” In this void, all that we consider as our universe co-originates – each thing exists only in relation to the whole of things. We have the whole, or we have nothing! We are all, or we are nothing. Zen tells us, “A mountain is not a mountain, then again, that is precisely what it is.”
A rose, on balance, is not a rose, but rather a soil, horse dung, sunlight, moonlight, rain, warmth, it’s caretaker, the list is endless – then again, it is all of this originating together as a whole at the moment that creates a rose. The created (finite)and the creator (infinite)exist whole. The universal will to create and the universal mind acting as an intelligent direction in the creative process are whole.
What is Buddha? Because here “Buddha” is capitalized we may assume that the question is not about buddha nature or buddha mind, but about Gautama Buddha the great historical Yoga master.
In truth, it doesn’t matter who or what the question refers to because the question ends at “What is-,” and the answer is within the question. What is- simply is in essence as everything is. If the universe had not given birth to Buddha through The Great Void, we would not be asking, “What is Buddha? Who is Buddha?” What is, is void.
Master Fa Yen asked Hui Ch’ao, “What is Buddha?”
Hui Ch’ao tipped over a nearby rock and shouted, “Fa Yen! Fa Yen!” Old Master Fa Yen smiled scratching his beard.