Trackless Path
Artwork by Rachel Sussman, Spruce Gran Picea #0909-6B37 (9,500 years old; Fulufjallet, Sweden).

Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind.
One said to the other, “The flag is moving.”
The other replied, “The wind is moving.”
Overhearing this exchange, Hui-neng said, “Neither flag nor wind is moving; mind is moving.”

(Case 29, The Gateless Gate)

Hui-neng is wrong here. 

Imagine you are looking at a tree on a windy day. You feel the gusts against your cheeks. You see the leaves shaking and flashing as they twist and turn. You see the branches swaying back and forth. You hear the leaves rustling and the tree creaking. And you are so clear and open that there is no movement, not inside, not outside, not anywhere. Nothing moves.

Now imagine that you could experience your thoughts and feelings the same way. They come and they go, but for you there is no movement, none at all. It doesn’t matter what arises—love, anger, need, pride, grief, joy—you experience it, you experience it all, you know it, and yet nothing moves, nothing whatsoever.

It is possible to experience life this way, and when you do, words are utterly useless. This way of experiencing is indivisibly immediate, unfathomably profound, unthinkably simple, and unimaginably ennobling. It must be true!

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