Original Face

Eno, the sixth patriarch of Zen, received from the fifth patriarch the symbols of authority: the bowl and robe. Because of the jealousy of some of the other monks, Eno left the monastery at night taking the bowl and robe with him. Some brother monks pursued him, intending to wrest the treasured objects from him.

Among them was a tall, extremely powerful monk named Emyo. Eno knew Emyo was coming, so he sat and waited, placing the bowl and robe on a nearby rock. When Emyo appeared, Eno said to him: "These objects just symbolise the truth. If you want them, take them." But when Emyo tried to lift the bowl and robe, they were as heavy as mountains. Trembling with shame, he said: "I came for the teaching, not for material treasures. Please teach me."

Eno instructed him: "Do not think of good; do not think of evil. Show me, instead, your original face." At these words Emyo's entire body was bathed in perspiration: he was enlightened. In gratitude he said, "You have given me the secret words and meanings. Is there yet a deeper part of the teaching?" Eno replied: "What I have told you is no secret at all. When you realise your own true self, the secret belongs to you."

"Original face" means your face before you were born. Eno tried to show Emyo the absolute world. In this relative world we attach to this face or that face, to a beautiful face, to an ugly face, to good and bad, to just and unjust, love and hate, big and small, straight and crooked. The original face sees the world before it is divided. The true self is the selfless self. Zen urges: look within. Unmask and strip the ego self; when all your outer self is taken off, you will find your Self.


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