A Sort of Great Death

Joshu asked Tosu, "What if one who has been dead were to rise from the grave?" Tosu replied, "One cannot tell for sure at night. Such apparitions are best inspected in daylight."

Joshu, who already knows, asks Tosu what it is like when one who has been dead to the truth about life, merely existing, suddenly awakens, becomes enlightened. Tosu answers, in effect, there is no half dead and half alive. Make yes and no clear; make black and white distinct. These definitions cannot be made in the dark. One must jump into the bright daylight where nothing is hidden and one can see clearly. A ghost is a symbol of the indeterminate stage. It appears at dusk or at night. It has no legs of its own and simply drifts about.It has no mind of its own and simply laments or regrets. It has no life of its own and merely frightens others.

Awakening is to put an end to this half-determined state of life. Such awakening is called "Daishi Ichiban," meaning "The Great Death First." For the world of ultimate reality, the world of Nirvana, only opens after one dies to this worldly life. But people cling and are afraid. Only when one comes to the dead end can the true life begin.


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