Trees are Again Trees, Mountains are Again Mountains

By Adam J. Pearson

The famous saying of Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin (Seigen Ishin):

老僧三十年前未參禪時、見山是山、見水是水、及至後夾親見知識、有箇入處、見山不是山、見水不是水、而今得箇體歇處、依然見山秪是山、見水秪是水 (The Way of Zen 220 k)

Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters. 13

13 Ch’uan Teng Lu, 22. (The Way of Zen 126)


Carson Boyd: I can tell you that in my quiet mind, it seems both true and obvious that nothing ever happened. This is apperception. I have no idea how to convince another of this. It is as if all of my life was just a download in the Matrix.

It sure facilitates relaxation, because if nothing ever happened, there is not a single thing, or event, which is significant. ‘Nothing to do, nothing to be, nothing to fix, nothing to regret. True forgiveness is to realize that what you thought happened, didn’t.

Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Ahhhh..

Adam Pearson:  Oh, don’t you know? Many things have happened and are happening RIGHT NOW. AND IT’S AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

You’re in the “no trees, no mountains” phase, Carson. Keep going. Soon enough, you’ll see that trees are trees and mountains are mountains and it will blow your mind. YES! TREES! THEY’RE AMAZING! MOUNTAINS! OH MY GOD!

Carson Boyd:  Hehehe… so innocent. I remember being young and arrogant as well, Adam. You assume far more than you know. But feel free. Your assumptions are none of my business.

Adam Pearson: What do I know, Carson? Less than a handful of sand in the desert of life. All I know is that there was a time in which I had that same apperception that nothing ever happened that nothing ever arose, that nothing ever was. It was firm, unshakeable, strong. And it stood tall for months.

And then, one day, I came out of zazen session and was walking outside and WOW! THERE IT ALL WAS! The universe! Reality taking all shapes and all forms, bursting with movements and happenings. Trees! Cars! Stinky people on the bus! Clouds! Electrons! Everything! WOOHOO! It’s all amazing! And it’s all here, totally real and beautiful and bursting with the wonder of being.

 Carson Boyd: Nice, Adam. Beautiful report. I know about that much as well. I love your delight.

Adam Pearson:  I was asked: “How do you attain enlightenment?”
I answered: “Have you tried this cheesecake? It’s delicious!”

Carson Boyd: What comes is, it is effortless. There’s nothing to it, literally nothing to it. The only thing to do is disappear. The trick is *you* can’t do it. To attempt to, keeps “you” in the game.

Adam Pearson: When enlightenment and nonenlightenment are both cut off in a single movement, what’s left is beautiful. And it’s just this, what has been here all along.  As one monk once put it, the greatest miracle is this: that when I’m hungry, I eat, and when I’m tired, I sleep.


争如著衣喫飲、此外更無佛祖 “There’s nothing equal to wearing clothes and eating food. Outside this there are neither Buddhas nor Patriarchs.” Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 152, 224)


“Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 134, 222)


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