Let Enlightenment Catch You
Sometimes when you start searching for something, you can lose what you already have. One teacher very well known in the West, but already gone, Suzuki Roshi, said that Zen is not putting anything into your pocket. It is actually just checking what is already in your pocket.
There is this story where one time a student came to the monastery, and as it often happens, this person jumped very hungrily into the practice because he wanted something. The teacher watched this person very carefully, attentively, and with satisfaction. But very soon, he realized that there is too much obsession in this person. So he said “Listen, I was watching you very closely and you look like you are in a very big hurry, as if you were chasing someone or hurrying someplace. What are you searching for?”
“What do you mean? I want to achieve enlightenment.”
“But how do you know it’s in front of you? Maybe it’s far behind you, and you are running so fast you don’t give it a chance to catch you.”
So his mind stopped for a moment, and BANG! [slaps hands together] He got enlightenment. So Zen training means stop. Your true nature is not somewhere else, it is here, and now, you just need to perceive it correctly. Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say. “Don’t check, just do it. It’s already enlightenment.”