One Bright Pearl, (Ikka-no-myoju, Part 3)
What is fundamental about Master Gensa? He looked at reality very precisely and distinguished quite clearly between ideas, words and pictures on the one hand and reality on the other. And his own words strike the very heart and the essence of the important Buddhist questions; he never lost himself in romantic phantasies and illusions.
The example of the pearl shows us that Master Gensa was not only very clear about the form and the material side of reality but that he also has poetic power to speak about the beauty of the world.
Gensa practised under his Master Seppo with great intensity and without any interruption. But one day he wanted to leave the monastery to look for other Masters. He wanted to broaden his understanding of Buddhism and was looking for the new strong influences of a good Master. It is said that he had not left the monastery for a long time when he set out. But on the path not far from the monastery
“he stubs his toe on a stone. Bleeding and in great pain (Master Gensa) all at once seriously reflects as follows: ´(People say) this body is not real existence. Where does the pain come from? ´ “
So in this very moment of pain it was completely clear to him that his body really existed. At the same time he thought that it was useless to go to other monasteries and other Masters, if important reality was just here and now and not far away. So he turned around immediately and went back to his Master Seppo. He did not leave the monastery again his whole life.
Master Seppo was astonished and asked him why he had come back and Gensa answered:
“In the end I just cannot be deceived by others.”
And Seppo liked these words very much and thought that Gensa was an outstanding student, so he said:
”Is there anyone who does not have these words (inside them)? (But) is there anyone who can speak these words (so clearly)?”
So the most important thing in Buddhism is to practise yourself and not to learn theory from masters or sutras. This does not mean that theory is useless and not necessary. But the most important thing is to experience and be clear about yourself. Nishijima Roshi makes the comment:
“Everyone should follow the stiff-necked behavior like Gensa. But in secular society a person like Gensa is so few therefore common human societies can never arrive the Truth at all.”
But we should be very clear about the situation in history, for example why Master Bodhidharma went from India to China to teach true Buddhism and the practice of Zazen. He had no egoistic intentions, he was not looking for fame or money, he just wanted to teach the people in China and for this reason he went there. On the other hand, the second Chinese patriarch did not go to India, because it was not necessary for him to go there. He had learned true living Buddhism from Bodhidharma and practised intensively and taught his students to do so too.