Shinji Shobogenzo Book 2, Case 11.

Koan Commentaries

One day Master Hogen was clearing the ground around a spring that had become filled with sand. He said to a monk who was with him: The eye of the spring was closed because it was blocked up. When eyes for seeing the truth are closed, what blocks them?

The monk had no answer.

Master Hogen answered for the student: They are blocked by eyes.

Commentary by Nishijima

The eyes that look for the truth cannot see it because of those eyes. The mind that searches for the truth cannot find it because of that mind.

The eyes that search for the truth are themselves the truth. They have their truth as eyes. The mind that searches for reality is living in reality at every moment of its search.

Commentary by John Fraser

We make a mistake when we think the spiritual life is about getting something and then seeing what we get, rather than action itself, seeing itself.

It repeats a familiar error. We can see it in contemporary discussions about consciousness, trying to find neural correlates. But consciousness isn’t something the brain has, it’s something it does.

If we are looking for something, we will see only blackness. And thus the eye will block itself.