Zen Does Not Have the Answer

Buddha had a big question and he did something interesting—he left his good situation to do some practicing. He didn’t leave home to find a better life. He didn’t leave to get a better job or move to a better place.

When I was young, I lived in a city in the middle of the United States. We always thought that if we moved to New York, we would be happy. But when I moved to New York, I found out that New York City was no better than my own town. Many people think that if they can move to Singapore or Hong Kong, then they will be happy. But the Buddha didn’t do that. Also, the Buddha didn’t go to the library to read more books about the great question.

Sometimes we think we don’t understand because we just haven’t read the right book yet. Somewhere, at some library, there must be a book that will solve all my problems. It will let me understand what I really need. But Buddha didn’t do that. Instead, he went to sit underneath a tree. You may think that’s really stupid. Who would go and sit underneath a tree? Why do that?

Buddha knew that the answers to these questions are somewhere inside. Actually, “go and sit underneath a tree” does not mean “go and sit underneath a tree.” The way to sit underneath a tree is to start looking inside. We are exactly like the Buddha because, for us, too, the answer lies inside. We all know the Buddha (and Zen, also) always asks the question: what am I? What am I? But it’s very interesting, if you ask that question, Zen does not have the answer. It doesn’t, but you do, inside. So you and the Buddha are the same. Just look inside.

Zen means finding your true self and helping our world. Very simple! Zen Buddhism is not complicated at all. You may be very stupid or very smart—that doesn’t make any difference. Inside, everybody has this original Buddha nature. Inside. So our job is to find that and help this world. Very simple.