Originally there is not a single thing. Since there’s not a single thing, what is to be called original? If you can see into this, you will save the most mental energy. When divergent thoughts arise, adamantly cut them off yourself. This is expediently called concentration and insight, but it is not reality; this mind itself is inherently concentrated and at once insightful.
Huang-po said, “This mind is always intrinsically round and bright, illuminating everywhere. People of the world don’t know it, and just recognize perception and cognition as mind. Drop perception and cognition, and the road to mind comes to an end. If you want to know the mind, it is not apart from perception and cognition; and yet original mind is not limited to perception and cognition either.”
When you come to this, it is really essential for you to look into yourself; it is not a matter of verbal explanation. The more the talk, the further removed from the way. Those who are successful at introspection know for themselves when the time comes and do not need to ask anyone. All false imagination and emotional thoughts naturally disappear. This is the effect of learning the Way.
A thousand falsehoods do not compare to a single truth. If you are not thus, even if you consciously apply your mind, seeking effectiveness daily, it is all in the realm of impermanence, becoming and passing away.
Generally speaking, on this path it is important to work on real truth. When real truth stamps the mind, the path becomes self-evident. If the mind is not true, then even if you attend lectures everyday and discuss the path constantly, this just provides topics of conversation and is ultimately of no benefit on the path.
So what is the real truth? It is just a matter of looking back into the purity of your own mind in the course of daily activities, not being led astray by anything. That is because the mind is like a monkey, consciousness like a horse: without the tool of great awareness watching them, it will be truly hard to control them no matter how clever your devices.
But when the mind has been settled, so that it merges back into oneness, and all traces of birth and extinction disappear, then you naturally realize basic subtle illumination, thoroughly empty, yet uncannily penetrating and effective.
The spiritual light shines independently, transcendentally liberated from organs and objects of sense. This statement has said it all. If you can understand this, how could I presume to talk a lot?
If the light is not revealed, you need a method. The method is not asking someone to explain; it is not studying scriptures; it is not doing a lot of charitable acts; it is not closing the eyes and sitting as if dead. Just look intently into the question of what your original face is in the course of daily life. Don’t think about whether it is hard or easy, or remote or near; and don’t worry that your own faculties and potential are slow or dull, or that you are too heavily obstructed by past habits. Just go right ahead and do it; after a while, eventually you will bump into it all of a sudden.
Excerpt from Teachings of Zen Translated by Thomas Cleary