The End of Jisho-san's Search for Truth
Jisho-san used to feel anxious about the future. The anxiety was not severe, but he felt it every day. One day he thought, “I really don’t like anxiety. I can’t feel completely secure.” So he decided he wanted to get rid of anxiety completely. He tried various therapies and went to workshops. Some were useful and interesting, but he could not eliminate anxiety completely.
Then, he realized that fear of death was behind his anxiety. He thought he could resolve his anxiety if he knew the true nature of death, so he started searching for truth. He tried reading about near-death experiences, doing past-life work and chakra healing. He learned aura reading, channeling, and a variety of things both visible and invisible. Some were fun, inspired insight, or led to mysterious experiences. But he still did not know what truth was, and his desire to completely eliminate anxiety did not stop.
While investigating all these things, Jisho-san learned that enlightenment enables one to know truth. He read one book after another about enlightenment. Reading did not give him a clear answer, but did lead him to think that enlightenment was something to do with consciousness, awareness, and to attain a sense of oneness with the universe.
First, he learned and practiced several kinds of meditation. He also went abroad to learn, even though he did not speak English. At one point, his thoughts became very quiet. It felt as if he was just awareness. He thought that perhaps awareness was his true self, and it seemed to match with what he had read in books. His seeking for truth and desire to eliminate anxiety did not stop, however, so he quit meditation.
Next, he started asking himself a question. After a while, he realized that there is only the question itself. But still, his desire to know truth and to eliminate anxiety did not stop.
Then he started a method of being aware of emotions, thoughts, feelings, and movements. His mind became quiet, and emotions, feelings, and thoughts did not bother him much anymore. But still, his desire to know truth and eliminate anxiety did not stop.
Then he read that it is thoughts that create fear and anxiety, and he could see how that was so, but he still did not feel truly convinced about what truth was.
After trying many different things, Jisho-san realized he had been trying to understand what other people said about truth. He had tried methods that others said were good, but in spite of all he had tried, he had not been able to resolve his desire to know truth and eliminate anxiety. So he decided to find a solution on his own.
One day, during his trial and error pursuit of truth, he happened to wonder what it would be like if he quit thinking about wanting to know truth and eliminate anxiety. At that moment, nothingness appeared. He realized that without desire, there is nothing; that originally, there is nothing. To confirm his realization, he told a teacher about what he realized. The teacher told him that nothingness was Truth itself. Jisho-san felt affirmed and thought his desire to know truth was resolved. He continued living a normal life.
A few months later, however, he started to feel uneasy. He had thought there was nothing, and yet he still thought he himself and others existed, and there were sounds and the things he could see. He could no longer say “there is nothing” with 100% conviction. Even if he recalled the experience of nothingness, the unease did not go way. And then after a little while, the feeling of wanting to know truth and to eliminate anxiety began to arise again.
Jisho-san had done everything he could think of and was at a complete loss as to what he should try next. He knew all the books in the bookstore (he had no internet at the time), but he decided to go again, hoping there might be a useful book. One book caught his eye, and he reached out for it, and saw that it was a book on Zen. He had done some zazen before, but what he read in this book was completely different from what he had previously learned. As he continued reading, he found what it was that he really wanted to know, and was certain that it would make truth clear and eliminate anxiety. This was the moment that Jisho-san encountered true Zen.
Having encountered true Zen, Jisho-san began receiving instruction from his teacher, Inoue Kando Roshi and practiced true zazen (he will share stories from his zazen practice on another occasion).
Jisho-san explains satori like this:
Then one night, [CLICK]. What is actual fact itself revealed itself, exactly as it is, as [CLICK]. This is what is called satori (enlightenment).
Only [CLICK] itself. There is nothing else.
Only [CLICK]. There is no past and no future.
Only [CLICK]. There is no “I” anywhere.
[CLICK] itself and there is no self and other.
“No self” is not an understanding, feeling, or awareness of there being no self. It simply became clear that in actual fact, the only thing that exists is the actual fact itself.
There is only the actual fact itself, and that is the way it is, already. Look forward. Looking forward, there is nothing other than what there is, looking forward. When there is “bow wow,” there is only “bow wow” itself, just as it is. If the thought “yay!” arises, “yay” itself is all there is. That’s the way it is.
Originally, there is only what already is, so satori was not a sense of oneness between me and some “other,” like the universe. It was not awareness or insight. There is only the actual fact itself. There is no me and other, so it was impossible to think that “I enlightened.” Satori is not an experience or embodiment.
I did not become something. To “become enlightened” means that it became clear that there is only what is, in actual fact, and that it is already that way. So there is no return to an unenlightened state, and there can be no deepening of satori, and there is no state of enlightened consciousness that is attained or continues. There is only the actual fact itself, so there is no more need to pursue what truth is or look for it somewhere.
My teacher and past Zen masters showed this by clapping their hands, showing one finger, or shouting “kaaatsu!” It became clear that they had been showing the actual fact itself.
Satori made it clear that cognition must stop momentarily (this does not mean it is extinguished forever) in order for it to be clear that all there is, is only the actual fact itself. This is because cognition makes people think that things that do not exist, exist. In other words, unless the function that makes people mistake concepts for reality is suspended, the illusion of self does not end.
Until the cognitive function stopped completely, it was natural to think of things or events as objects of attention and to believe that my thoughts about them were true. That was all I knew.
With satori, it became clear as fact (not theoretically or conceptually) that cognition and memory create the assumptions of the existence of past and future, self and other. The cognitive function is also responsible for people becoming ignorant of actual fact and starting the search for truth.
Before encountering true Zen, no one had ever shown me the actual fact itself, so I had never tried to know it.