Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: ‘I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or the left side of the clogs.’
Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realised that he was unable to carry his Zen in every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.
Have you given a thought to what this last statement means? To accomplish every-minute Zen? For Tenno, who, already assumed to be a master after ten years of training, and the teaching of others, we can see he was unable. For me this means that it is not an easy thing to acquire and takes much attention and effort.
But it must be attainable otherwise their would be no trace of the idea. This is the interesting point! It is spoken about, often, in certain circles. It is a thing that interests me a great deal.
The constant striving for every-minute Zen is all that we can hope for. If it was difficult for Tenno in fortuitous circumstances, what hope do I have in London? But to think like this is to be already defeated!
Taste it now for a second.. Be present to yourself and your surroundings. Register this impression and see if it is possible to come back to it later on. Only you will be able to answer, and if you answer yourself sincerely you will have begun.