No-Thought Is the Central Doctrine

Zen Master Hui-Neng said,

“Good friends, since the past this teaching of ours has first taken no-thought as its central doctrine.

To be enlightened to the Dharma of no-thought is to arrive at the stage of buddhahood.

What do we mean by no-thought?

The teaching of no-thought means:
To see all dharmas without being attached to any dharma,
To reach everywhere without being attached to anywhere,
To keep your nature pure, so that when the Six Thieves pass through the Six Gates, they neither avoid nor are corrupted by the Six Realms of Sensation but come and go freely.
This is the samadhi of prajna.
Freedom and liberation constitute the practice of no-thought.

Those who understand the teaching of no-thought penetrate the ten thousand teachings.
Those who understand the teaching of no-thought see the realm of buddhas.
Those who understand the direct teaching of no-thought reach the stage of enlightenment.

And maybe we’re sitting there lost in our thoughts thinking, “This is fine for Zen but this is not what the Buddha taught.”

You may be surprised by what comes next…

The Buddha said to become dis-enchanted with the small mind.

He grows disenchanted with the intellect, disenchanted with ideas, disenchanted with consciousness at the intellect, disenchanted with contact at the intellect.

And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect as a mode of feeling, a mode of perception, a mode of fabrication, or a mode of consciousness: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, ‘Fully released.’ He discerns that ‘Birth is depleted, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’

The Buddha was adamant against getting caught up in the small conceptualizing mind as illustrated when he said,

Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a cancer, conceiving is an arrow.

By going beyond all conceiving, monk, he is said to be a sage at peace.

He has been stilled where the currents of conceiving do not flow.

And when the currents of conceiving do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.’

Zen master e’s comment

Zen is not complicated. If it’s complicated it’s not Zen.

Zen is like being Sherlock Holmes looking for the culprit of a crime. Sherlock would often be pictured doing nothing, just sitting in a corner, softly smoking his pipe. By all accounts he looked like lazy lout. But Sherlock didn’t care. He knew that if he sat with a problem long enough the pieces would fit together and the answer would be revealed. He used the power of observation.

This is Zen. There was big trouble going on so Zen sat back to see clearly what were the essential clues to discovering why all beings suffer. Why do we so easily become criminals and gang members of greed, hatred and delusion.

The crime is thought and if you sit still long enough doing nothing but looking at what’s looking you find the root of all the trouble – mind.
To catch the mind we use the Koan Atha.
When the culprit is caught and all you have to do is cart off the criminal by chewing the Koan.
Then when the mind has disappeared all you have to do is Rest in the Radiance of thought-free loving awareness.
Case closed.

You’ve already had your intrinsic thought free awareness pointed out. You have the Koan. So all you have to do is practice chewing on your koan and resting in the radiance.

A new thought arises you catch the culprit with the koan and when thoughts have subsided you Rest in the Radiance.

No-thought is our doctrine. Thinking is a cancer. No thoughts – no cancer.