I tell people to get to know the self, but seekers who hear this equate it with what beginners see, and think there is nothing hard to understand about it. You should take it more slowly for a while, and be more careful. What do you call the self? How about the sayings of ancient worthies on the self? "Roaming the mountains, enjoying the rivers" – you say, "I understand—who else is it?" Another saying goes, "It is your self" -- you say, "I understand this too; it is myself." But how about the reply, "Mountains, rivers, the whole earth?" It is also said, "When you eat , the meal is your self" -- how do you understand that? You still can't get to it. An ancient worthy said, "The whole earth is you self" – so how can you clear your mind? Whenever I see that people have misunderstood, I quote ancient stories to question them. For example, Jingqing asked Xuansha, "I have just entered the school; please point out a way in." Xuansha said, "Do you hear the sound of the valley stream?" Jingqing replied, "Yes." Xuansha said, "Enter from here." Jingqing got the message from this. I ask you, when he heard, what did he hear? Everyone says he heard the sound of the water, but what use is such an interpretation? According to their view, the hearing clearly takes in everything at once, so there is no sound to be found apart from this hearing; everything being a manifestation from one's subjectivity it is representative of active consciousness. Some answer that it was not the sound of water he heard, but his self. To this I say, how can the self hear the self? This is what is called recognizing mind, recognizing nature.
Buddhism is an easily understood, energy-saving teaching; people strain themselves. Seeing them helpless, the ancients told people to try meditating quietly for a moment. These are good words, but later people did not understand the meaning of the ancients; they went off and sat like lumps with knitted brows and closed, eyes, suppressing body and mind, waiting for enlightenement. How stupid! How foolish!