Phap Hien was a Vietnamese Zen master. He lived in the late 5th century and early the 6th century. When he was a young monk at the Phap Van Temple he met Vinitaruci (?-594) who was one of the successors of Seng-tsan, the Third Patriarch...
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT THOUGHT CANNOT REACH?
Is there anything that thought cannot reach?
As you might see that there were many great men who thought that they already got the perfect answer to the question.
Some of them are the ones who went into the snow-covered mountains such as a Himalaya mountains, sitting in their own caves and watching the moonlight night after night to cool down their hot waves of thoughts or viewing snow-flakes falling down day after day to freeze their flows of thoughts.
Or the ones who thought that they are scientists such as a bio-neurologist who thinks that thoughts caused by electrical signals moved around by neurotransmitters. Actually, they just read these from the real sientists of the field and repeated it, no more or less. Even though a real bio-neurologist himself never dreams of he would solve the problem of where a thought came from, what it was made of, how it moved, and what its limit is or he could put an end to it at all. But the ones who repeat the information thought that they got the final answer to the questions and said there is no need of any futher exploration into the facts of our life as a ordinary person. In this meaning, the door to the unknown is closed to them. It would be o.k. with them because that is their own business, not ours as an ordinary person.
Totally different from those mentioned above, we, ordinary poeple, live our ordinary life. We think when we need to think, we stop thinking when we need to do so. This means we must be free with or without thought. Moreover, we might have spouses and children, families, friends, businesses of many different kinds, then we need to communicate with them and when we communicate we do think. Furthermore, we might not have an opportunity to go into snow mountains and sit in a cave to frozen our thoughts or become a scientist in a laboratory equipped with many kinds of proplonged eyes, prolonged ears, proplonged hands or legs such as telescopes, microscopes, robots... to do research in their ways. We might not have an opportunity to be in a college or an university to get a graduated education to read and understand the special knowledge that the field requires. Suppose we had it, would you think that we could stop our suffering? The dom questions this.
Therefore, it would be better if we ordinary people use what each and every of us already have since we were born. That is our eyes and visible objects, ears and sounds, noses and smells, tongues and tastes, touches and feelings and minds and ideas such as from a book, a scripture or any person.
We will use these to explore ourselves, our problems and find out the way to solve them as far as we can. In orther words, we will use them to explore where a thought came from, what it was made of, and where its limit is. When our eyes see a visible object, our brain cells register it as an image and store it in our memory. The same are our ears with a sound, our nose with a smell, our tongue with a taste, our body with feeling... They will all leave their images or impressions in our memory. Then our mind works on the images and impressions and produces a thought or an idea - sometimes a daydream - when we are not in a sleep, a dream or a nightmare when we are in a state of half-sleep and half-awake. With this kind of ideas or dreams we make the world. And we think the world we have made is a new one, but it, actually, is as old as the images and impressions from our memory. This is why our world is always in chaos, in violence or out of order. If one realizes this thoroughly and completely, he immediately sees the limits of thought and is beyond it. He is now free with or without it.
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