“When we learn to stop and be truly alive in the present moment, we are in touch with what’s going on within and around us. We aren’t carried away by the past, the future, our thinking, ideas, emotions, and projects. Often we think that our ideas about things are the reality of that thing. Our notion of the Buddha may just be an idea and may be far from reality. Buddha is not a reality that exists outside of us, but is our own true nature. The Buddha outside ourselves was a human being who was born, lived, and died. For us to seek such a Buddha would be to seek a shadow, a ghost Buddha, and at some point our idea of Buddha would become an obstacle for us.
“Master Linji said that when we meet the ghost Buddha, we should cut off his head. Whether we’re looking inside our outside ourselves, we need to cut off the head of whatever we meet, and abandon the views and ideas we have about things, including our ideas about Buddhism and Buddhist teachings. Buddhist teachings are not exalted words and scriptures existing outside us on a high shelf in the temple, but are medicine for our ills. Buddhist teachings are skillful means to cure our ignorance, craving, and anger, as well as our habit of seeking things outside and not having confidence in ourselves.
“Insight can’t be found in sutras, commentaries, verbal expression, or —isms. Liberation and awakened understanding can’t be found by devoting ourselves to the study of the Buddhist scriptures. This is like trying to find fresh water in dry bones. Returning to the present moment, using our clear mind which exists right here and now, we can be in touch with liberation and enlightenment, as well as with the Buddha and the patriarchs as living realities right in this moment….