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Ordinary Mind Is The Way

A Koan from the Mumokan (The Gateless Gate):

Joshu asked Nansen: “What is the Way?”

“Ordinary mind is the Way.”, Nansen answered.

“Should I look for it?” Joshu asked. “If you look for it, you will become separated from it.”, answered Nansen.

“How can I know the Way unless I look for it?” persisted Joshu.

Nansen said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion. Not knowing is confusion. When you have really seen the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?"

With these words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.

A little elaboration:

Ordinary mind is immediate intrinsic awareness, our fundamental nature when not obscured by knowing (delusion) and not knowing (confusion). This fundamental nature is prior to knowing and not knowing. Look for it, and it's already missed, obscured by the act of looking. Looking creates the illusion of subject and object, something to know and someone who knows or doesn't know. Instead, drop all words, ideas, and judgements. Let go of knowing. Let go of not knowing. Let go of everything. Let go even of letting go of everything. What remains is the "original mind", immediate intrinsic awareness, perfectly clear, infinitely vast, empty, and mysterious. Liberated.


There is only THIS. No separation. Unconditional freedom.

The nature of THIS is immediate intrinsic awareness. The quality of immediate intrinsic awareness is perfect clarity, infinite, empty, and mysterious, not changed by what seems to arise.