The True Path

Just before Ninakawa died, Zen Master Ikkyu visited him. "Shall I lead you on?" Ikkyu said. Ninakawa replied, "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?" Ikkyu answered, "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and going." With those words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled and passed away.

Ikkyu was a very famous Zen teacher during the Ashikaga era in Japan. He was the son of an emperor, and his mother was a student of Zen. In this koan he points to the eternal life of Zen, which has no beginning and no end. Since it is eternal, there is no coming and no going. Life and death are only the manifestations of eternal life. Life never dies. We say that we came from eternity and go back to eternity. Eternity means here and now. From beginningless time to endless time, it is all here. Every minute is the manifestation of eternity. Some people worry about death. Why? Death is as natural as birth.


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