Hsueh Feng said to Ch’ang Ch’ing, ’You don’t need to walk to the monastery three or five times a day: Just know how to walk like a wooden pillar in a blazing fire on the mountain. Put your body and mind at rest, for maybe as many as ten years, perhaps seven, or at least three years, and you will surely have understanding.’
Ch’ang Ching’s biography in The Blue Cliff Record, Cleary (with edits)
A student recently asked me, ‘What is the recipe for gaining enlightenment?’ An outstanding question, indeed. My suggestion is to take a silly walk, for perhaps ten steps, or maybe seven, or at least three.
To some extent, I come by my advice because of the lack of detailed instructions in most classic texts. There are just not that many detailed ‘recipes’ out there. Wumen famously guides: ‘Concentrate your whole self into No, making your whole body with its 360 bones and joints and 84,000 pores into a solid lump of doubt.’ But when Chao Chou asks Nan-chuan, ‘Should I direct myself toward it or not?’, Nan-chuan says ‘If you try to turn toward it, you turn against it.’ In fact, he goes on to avoid the point altogether, ‘The Way does not belong to knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not-knowing is blank consciousness. When you have truly reached the true way beyond doubt, you will find it vast and boundless as outer space.’
Bugger all. Whatever is a boy or girl to do? Boys and girls don’t have to do anything, of course. From the very beginning they are fully enlightened. Unless, of course, you wish to take a silly walk, at which point, you will surely have understanding.
Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV2ViNJFZC8