Zen does not depend on words and speech. Even the truest, holiest words and speech are still only as real as the shadow is to the hand — a poor reflection, an insufficient representation. This is why you should be deeply suspicious of any belief that demands your faith in the things conveyed by words, however “holy“ they are advertised to be. Words can never be “it“, as the shadow of my hand can never ever approach the qualities and substance of hand. So, just leave words and speech alone in your work.
One of the greatest gifts I received from our Teacher was his rule, during intensive retreats, that you were not allowed to read books or anything printed. This rule could endure for a three-day retreat, a seven-day retreat, or the 90-day intensive (Kyol Che/“ango”) or 100-day solo retreats. No reading! No daily lectures about what God “is“, but rather, a daily regimen of silent observation, centered around 10 to 11 hours of seated meditation a day, but actually everything in the experience was developing this awareness – – deep, intuitive, profound, and radical — of the very nature of “God “/“Buddha “ itself, infinitely richer and more inspiring than any dead words on a page.
And the result of all of this intensive study, often held in subzero unheated Buddha halls on the side of some mountain somewhere, heating the knuckle joints periodically over a candle so that the 108 beads could move through the near-frostbitten fingers – – the result of all of this?
Merely to understand what a dog says.
How stupid. Yet, such freedom and responsibility!