Heaven and Earth, the Same Essence

In talking to Master Nansen, the official Rikko, said, "Choho taught that heaven, earth, and I spring from the same root and that I and all things are of one essence. Now this is very mystic." Nansen took the official to the front garden and pointed to a single flower, saying, "People today see this flower like a dream."

Rikko was a learned government official and a good friend of Nansen. The statement Rikko quotes is one he admired very much. But Nansen calls his attention to a flower, saying, in effect, many people see this flower as if it were a dream. The flower has a very short life before it fades away; it is only a brief manifestation of the essence. Thus, people see human life and all things as temporary, transitory. But that is not the Zen way of understanding. The flower is not just a dream-like manifestation. Life is not a dream-like existence. The world of Rikko and the world of Nansen are quite different. Nansen's life and world is dynamic, positive, subjective. Rikko's world is static, negative, objective. Life, or even a flower, is not something to be explained. To understand, one must live it.


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