His book: “Questions to a Zen Master” (1981). I found this in the English language section of our library at Chung Tai. The minute I opened it, it fell apart! It had been sitting on a shelf drying out for who knows how many years! So I will have to glue it back together before returning it.
“…there was a boy here who was practicing zazen for the first time. He said, ‘I have just understood what real silence is. Until tonight I have never spent one whole hour in silence in my life. The only time I’m quiet is when I’m in bed and sometimes I even talk in my sleep! But zazen, that’s real silence.’ I said to him, ‘You were quiet in your mother’s womb; that was silence too.’ But he said, ‘My mother talks all the time. I have bad karma. I always want to be talking and it’s hard for me to be quiet even in zazen.’
But everybody’s true origin is silence, you must understand that. Only silence is your true origin.
Silence first, then incessant talking. For twenty, thirty, fifty or sixty years you have been talking nonstop. So then you get completely exhausted and return to complete silence again in your coffin. So silence is what goes on eternally. What you have that is eternal is your consciousness of silence, the normal condition of your mind. That is ku, nirvana. The true origin. In Zen we say that we must go back to the original silence, as in Christianity they say we must go back to the state before sin.
If you practice zazen you will return to the state before sin.”
On the normal condition:
“In zazen the normal condition of consciousness is hishiro, non-thinking.
When you think all the time you are not in a normal condition; it’s your imagination, your personal desires that are expressing themselves. You think more and more, you’re afraid, you grow anxious. If it goes on too long, complications arise and even madness.
If you stop thinking you return to the normal condition of consciousness. But then you go to sleep….while you sleep, consciousness stops. Dreams bring the subconscious to the surface; but when you dream you are not in a phase of deep sleep.
It is not easy to stop thinking during zazen. The process is that of Master Dogen’s hishiryo and to some degree, Jasper’s nicht denken; that is the basis of Zen philosophy of normal consciousness.
Fushiryo means to not-think; hishiryo means to think without thoughts. If you deliberately try to stop personal consciousness, you’re still thinking. But “without thinking” is something you can experience during zazen. Thoughts arise, the subconscious appears, but you don’t need to stop it; being natural is best.
How can you use your personal consciousness to stop thinking? By concentrating on your posture. When the posture is good, the muscular tonus is right, and the state of consciousness is closely connected to muscular tonus. If your muscles can return to their normal condition, so can your consciousness. We have to balance, harmonize the two. If the tonus is weak, consciousness takes over, and your thumbs droop, your head sags, and you are sad, melancholy.”