A deep silence fell. In the large monastery hall, Old Cheng directed his words at the full community of monks.
Old Cheng makes no concessions to the longings and conditions of your limited minds to either keep things as they are or to change them. The old traditions neither need to be maintained nor revised. There is only accommodation to what is asked for in the moment.
Bald-shaven heads, if I address you in an unusual manner, this is that you at last may dare to meet the Original Spirit directly, without mediation, instead of trying to find it guided by some jokers who have been dead for centuries, or of seeking the advice of unpredictable fellows like Old Cheng.
My approach is to shake you up like bushes in the mountain wind. I smash your hand-holds into bits and pieces.... And there you are, completely shattered, with nothing to hang on to. Because I undermine your narrow-minded certain-ties, you get into a panic. And to calm yourselves again, you project that I sin against the tradition and against your spiritual standards and values, and claim that I engage in cheap profanity. Instead of letting everything go without wanting to hold anything back, you desperately cling to outer
appearances and to conditions that are meant to be bridges. Because my words don’t really sink in and find a resonance within you, I fool you by claiming that they come from some famous rascal who has been dead for centuries. But, alas, not even this has helped you to allow the destructive power of these words at this very moment, here and now, to take their due. On the contrary, you treat them now as costly museum pieces that must be preserved and venerated.
Bald-shaven blockheads, by clinging to futilities you throw away your lives, and the obvious presence of the Original Spirit escapes you. What a failure!
Bald-shaven heads, the Original Spirit doesn’t disappear when sleep comes. Nor does it appear upon awakening from sleep. The Original Spirit is not something that comes and goes. It is completely independent of everything that is subject to change or death. If the Original Spirit were really the only thing that interested you, then you would consider everything that changes and disappears as the whirling of a dancing Dervish. And the only thing that would remain, is the real seeking within you for that which never changes or dies. Once you have found That, then none of the thousand worlds of body-thinking-feeling can separate you from it for a single moment.
You think that you are truly in search of the Original Spirit, but in fact you are only after the apparent satisfaction that knowledge and esteem can give. And therefore, poor shaven heads, you are all totally under the spell of everything that changes and dies. Therefore Old Cheng’s words go in one ear and out the other, without leaving a trace, just as flying cranes leave no trace in the sky.
Bald-shaven domes, everything that you say and think about the Original Spirit is only babbling from your pathetic, limited minds. You give no immediate, spontaneous response to what presents itself, but interpret it first by means of opinions and judgments that you have placed above yourselves.
Oh, bald-shaven smoothies, how can you expect ever to recognize the Original Spirit in its Immediacy if you remain as phoney as the paper dragons made for festivals?
When I was still a young chap, I wandered the world in all directions, while I troubled myself with all kinds of studies and exercises. I visited all kinds of confused ones who imagined that they were enlightened and who did nothing except mislead others with their seemingly good intentions and hidden agendas. Then I met Him
who made it possible for me to discover that I had enveloped myself in a thick crust of mud that was good for nothing. The result was that all my senseless activities became clear and turned into an effortless focusing on the Original Spirit. One day everything collapsed into Awakening.
I, Old Cheng, do not have any philosophy, do not profess any belief, do not follow any school system or tradition, am no-one’s follower and imitate no-one. In my Real Nature I know nothing, possess nothing and am nothing, because in my Real Nature there is no Old Cheng. What I say here does not come out of things that I have learned. And as far as my daily life is concerned, those things that I partake in just flow by themselves. I don’t occupy myself even with the Original Spirit. The Original Spirit is absolutely no longer my business or bother.
Bald-shaven heads, I have kept nothing hidden from you. What kind of interest could your small limited minds actually muster for this? To your individual, petty minds this is no more that senseless chatter!”