A layman asked Bankei, “Though I am grateful for your teaching of birthlessness, thoughts from constantly applied mental habits readily come up, and I get lost in them and have difficulty remaining continually unborn. How can I apply wholehearted faith?”
Bankei replied, “If you try to stop arising thoughts, the stopping mind and the stopped mind become split in two and you never have any peace of mind. Just trust that thoughts are originally nonexistent but temporarily arise and cease, conditioned by what is seen and heard, and have no real substance.”
Another layman asked, “When I wipe out arising thoughts, they keep coming up from the traces, never stopping. How can I control these thoughts?”
Bankei replied, “Wiping out arising thoughts is like washing blood with blood; though the first blood may be removed, the washing blood still stains; no matter how much you wash, the stain is not removed.
“This no-mind is originally unborn and undying and without illusion. Not realizing this, thinking that thoughts are existent things, you roam around in the routines of birth and death.
“Realizing that thoughts are only temporary appearances, you should let them be as they start and stop, without grasping or rejecting them. It is like images reflected in a mirror; since the mirror is clear and bright, it reflects whatever comes before it, but doesn’t keep the images.
“The enlightened no-mind is infinitely brighter and clearer than a mirror and is also radiantly aware, so all thoughts dissolve in that light without leaving a trace. If you can believe and trust in this truth, no matter how much they come up, it won’t be a hindrance.”
Maneesha, Gautama the Buddha marks a milestone in the history of consciousness. The society and the religion and the civilization that existed before him could not be the same after him.
It is just a Christian obsession to make Jesus Christ the line that divides the past from the present-day society. And it is also due to the fact that the East has never written history. It has never been interested in historical facts for the simple reason that if everything is illusory, changing, what does it matter who comes to rule? What does it matter what happens in the outside world? It is not the real thing.
As far as the eternal and the real is concerned, it is timeless, there is no question of history at all. History can be only of outside events, it cannot be of the inner. And because the whole concentration of the East was on the inner, it never bothered about history. Its concentration was directed more towards how to express the inner to those who are blind, to whose who are living in darkness. How to bring light to them?
We don’t know how many buddhas have remained silent. We don’t know how many buddhas preceded Gautam Buddha. We have simply not been concerned about that kind of thing – birth, death…all those things are ephemeral. But the Western attitude is outward. And because Christianity became the world’s greatest religion, it has made Jesus Christ the dividing line between the primitive, barbarian society and the society which exists now. That’s why we always refer to Jesus – “Before Christ,” or “After Christ.”
Bertrand Russell was writing the history of the world. He was confronted with the idea that it is absolutely unjustified to divide the development of society with the name of Jesus. The real division happened twenty-five centuries ago with Gautam Buddha. An authentic history should refer to Gautam Buddha. Any incident has to be described as either “Before Gautam Buddha,” or “After Gautam Buddha.”
There is no comparison between Jesus and Gautam Buddha. He was not even claiming that he was enlightened; he had not even heard what meditation is. He was only claiming that he was the last prophet of the Jews. His contribution to history is nothing. But Gautam Buddha’s contribution to human consciousness is immense, immeasurable.