Shinji Shobogenzo Book 2, Case 51.

Koan Commentaries

Master Keisho of Mount Sekiso preached to Master So-ho Ko: So-ho Ko, when we doubt, there is something different. When we affirm, there is a gap. Also our understanding should not be based on non-doubt or non-affirmation. There is no way to know reality except by throwing away our knowledge of existence.

Commentary by Nishijima

Master Sekiso Keisho explained to Master So-ho Ko about doubt and affirmation. Master Keisho stated that neither doubting nor affirming are perfect. Then he insisted that our understanding cannot be relied upon even when we feel we have no doubts or no confidence.

Master Keisho denied the ultimate value of intellectual thinking. Of course, intellectual thought and scientific knowledge have their value and place, but they are only part of our picture of the world. Only by throwing away our attachment to thoughts and ideas can we really ‘know’ reality. In one sense, the most important function of the brain is to help us recognize the existence of reality.

Commentary by John Fraser

What does it mean to throw away, to cast off the self? It doesn’t mean to make it disappear, but rather, to decentre it, to no longer see the great matter through the prism of the self, but rather to see ‘self’ and ‘prism’ as part of the great matter, the full dynamic functioning, only one aspect of which is the universe.