' What is a True Person? '...


“As I see it, there isn’t so much to do. Just be ordinary—put on
your robes, eat your food, and pass the time doing nothing.” -
Master Linji, Teaching 18

Insight can’t be found in sutras, commentaries, verbal
expression, or —isms. Liberation and awakened
understanding can’t be found by devoting ourselves to the
study of the Buddhist scriptures. This is like trying to find fresh
water in dry bones. Returning to the present moment, using our
clear mind which exists right here and now, we can be in touch
with liberation and enlightenment, as well as with the Buddha
and the patriarchs as living realities right in this moment. The
person who has nothing to do is sovereign unto herself. She
doesn’t need to put on airs or leave any trace behind.


The true person is an active participant, engaged in her
environment while remaining unoppressed by it. Although all
phenomena are going through the various appearances of
birth, abiding, changing, and dying, the true person doesn’t
become a victim of sadness, happiness, love, or hate. She
lives in awareness as an ordinary person, whether standing,
walking, lying down, or sitting. She doesn’t act a part, even the
part of a great Zen master. This is what Master Linji means by
“being sovereign wherever you are and using that place as
your seat of awakening.”


We may wonder, “If a person has no direction, isn’t yearning to
realize an ideal, doesn’t have an aim in life, then who will help
living beings be liberated, who will rescue those who are
drowning in the ocean of suffering?” A Buddha is a person
who has no more business to do and isn’t looking for anything.
In doing nothing, in simply stopping, we can live freely and true
to ourselves and our liberation will contribute to the liberation
of all beings.



- Thich Nhat Hanh, "Simply Stop," Fall 2007 Tricycle From
Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go (2007) by Thich Nhat Hanh

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