“Nirvana, the Waterfall”

From Shunryu Suzuki’s book “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind”

 “Our life death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.”

Shunryu took a trip to Yosemite Park and sighted a huge water fall falling down like a huge curtain and upon his observations he noticed the following;

It does not seem to come down swiftly as you might expect ;it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And water doesn’t come down as one stream but is separated into many smaller streams. And I thought it must be very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, a long time for the water to finally reach to the bottom of the waterfall and it seems to me that our human life may be like this.

But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river.

Only when separated into many drops it can begin to have or to express some feeling.

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called ‘mind-only’, or ‘essence of mind’ or ‘big mind’. After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you don’t realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into water or not, water is water. Our life & death are the same thing.

When the water returns to its original oneness with the river below, it no longer has an individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature and finds composure. How very glad the water must be to come back to the original river! If this is so, what feeling will we have when we die?

Will we have composure then, perfect composure? It may be to perfect for us , just now, because we are so much attached to our own feeling, to our individual existence. For us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true nature, original nature, there is Nirvana.

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