Monday, September 22, 2014


‘A light to oneself! And this light cannot be given by another, nor can you light it at the candle of another. If you light it at the candle of another it is just a candle, it can be blown out. But whereas if we could find out what it means to be a light to oneself then that very investigation of it is partly meditation.’ J. Krishnamurti.

Tokusan, a scholar of Buddhism of some renown, was studying Zen under the teacher Ryutan. One night he came to Ryutan and asked many questions. The teacher said: ‘The night is getting old. Why don't you retire?’

So Tokusan bowed and opened the screen to go out, observing: ‘It is very dark outside.’

Ryutan offered Tokusan a lighted candle to find his way. Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew the candle out. At that exact moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. In other words, he experienced enlightenment. That is, he woke up, and for the very first time he saw things as they really are. He came to know truth.

Tokusan knew much. He had studied long and hard. Yet, in that ever-so-brief moment of enlightenment in the form of a direct, immediate and intuitive experience of truth, Tokusan came to see that everything that he had learned in books and by listening to others had done him no good at all. 

It is said that the next day Tokusan burned all his books, scholarly notes and commentaries. He declared, ‘In comparison to this awareness, all the most profound teachings are like a single hair in vast space. However deep the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this enlightenment it is like one drop of water in the ocean.’

Tokusan realized his mistake. He had been seeking wisdom ‘without’ instead of ‘within.’

We need no candle or lamp to guide our path except that inner light that says to us, if we will but listen attentively and quietly, ‘This is the way … .’ 

The 'way' is the way things actually are, the way things unfold from one moment to the next. That is truth, also known as reality, also known as life. It is something to be perceived ... from moment to moment. It is not something to be attained or provided by some third person however meritorious he or she may be. Our task is simply to observe with choiceless, silent, and timeless awareness, that is, to 'stay awake' at all times. We rely far too much on the advice and supposed wisdom or knowledge of others, and on so-called ‘book knowledge.’ We buy self-help books and attend self-improvement courses, we consult gurus and priests, and we follow ‘holy ones’ or just plain others, but we fail to do the one thing---the only thing---that can lead us through and out of the darkness. Yes, we fail to … look within.

One of the many things I like about Buddhism is that its essential ‘message’ is that we must be our own teacher, saviour, and disciple. No one outside of us can save us from ourselves. No one can find truth for us. No one---no earthly person, god, or demi-god---can be truth for us. Truth just is, and our task is to see things as they really are as they unfold unceasingly from one moment to the next. That is why truth is dynamic and not static. It is forever new and fresh. There is no 'way' or 'path' to truth, because truth just is, and it's all around us and within us. 

That is why truth can never be set in concrete in the form of creeds, articles and confessions of faith, formulae, ideologies, and other such nonsense (although many have done just that). All such things are fabrications of fragmented thought, that is, conditioning, which is the past. At best, they are only purported representations of truth, and many aren't even that good. J. Krishnamurti [pictured right], who sought no disciples or followers, expressed it this way:

I cannot lead you to truth, nor can anyone else; you have to discover it every moment of the day as you are living. It is to be found when you are walking in the street or riding in a tramcar, when you are quarreling with your wife or husband, when you are sitting alone or looking at the stars. When you know what is right meditation, then you will find out what is true; but a mind that is prepared, so-called educated, that is conditioned to believe or not to believe … such a mind will never discover what is true, though it may search for a thousand years.

The timeless light of awareness shines from within, so let that light shine. Do not depend upon any light shining from without to guide you through life. As the Buddha said, 'Be a light unto yourself.'

So, blow out that candle of yours---now!

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