Thich Nhat Hanh uses the teachings of ninth century Zen Master Linji to give readers tools that help awaken them to their true inner nature.
One of the key tenets of the Zen school of Mahayana Buddhism is that each one of us is already a Buddha—our enlightenment is inherent within us, and the practice of mindfulness is the tool to bring this truth to our full awareness. While it can bring much relief, this simple statement does not preclude the need for practice. We must strive to always be aware of our Buddha nature, rather than waiting until times of emotional upheaval when it is more difficult to practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh uses the teachings of ninth century Zen Master Linji (revered founder of the Rinzai School) to elaborate on this simple truth and to give readers tools that can help awaken them to their true inner nature. Linji’s recorded teachings are of great significance from Ch’an and Zen lineages in the transmission of Buddhist teachings.
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Those who like robust Zen will enjoy both Linji’s bluntness and Thich Nhat Hanh’s candor in commenting on the master’s work.—Shambhala Sun
We all carry the seeds of happiness, of enlightenment, of no-birth, no-death, and no-fear in ourselves. What we search for is already there. A teacher’s role is simply to remind us that we are the Buddha, we are already what we search for. If you only search on the outside or in the teachings of the Buddha and the Zen Masters it’s not enough. This idea repeats itself several times in the teaching of Master Linji. It is as if Linji himself is standing in front of you shouting, “Don’t try to search for me. Happiness is in you already. Enlightenment is in you already. The depth, the beauty, the greatness, the light is in you. Don’t search after me, don’t run after me, and don’t run after the Buddha. Stop running. The Buddha is you!” That is a very revolutionary sentence.
Why is it that some of you who study nowadays cannot succeed? It is because you have no self-confidence. If you think that you need to worship and put all your devotion in the sacred texts, then you don’t have enough self-confidence in you, and you will not get very far, you will not find the Buddha. Because you don’t have self-confidence, you run after the ten thousand objects of your mind. These objects pull you away and you lose all your liberty. Only if you stop all this thinking, this running after and craving of the objects of your mind, then you will see that you and the Buddha are not different—they are one. “Do you want to know who is the Buddha? The Buddha is you.”
Master Linji has shown us that we have to come back to ourselves, that we have to have confidence in ourselves. Don’t feel that you have nothing, that you are only suffering, that you have no value, and that you have to bow to the Buddha and bodhisattvas. You don’t need that; you only have to stop to follow your cravings. Then you are Buddha; you are a bodhisattva. Don’t wait to put it into practice, do it right away.