Kyozan was a very simple man — not the philosophic kind, not a poet, nor a sculptor. Nothing can be said about him except that he was absolutely authentic, honest. If he does not know a thing he will say so, even at the risk of people thinking that he has fallen from his enlightenment. But this makes him a unique master.
Zen is full of unique masters, but Kyozan’s uniqueness is his simplicity. He is just like a child. It took Isan, his master, forty years of hard work to make Kyozan enlightened. He was determined, and he said he would not leave the body until Kyozan became enlightened — though he was old enough.
Kyozan did everything that Isan said, but nothing penetrated to his very being. He was a very ordinary man. Heaven and hell, God and the beyond had never worried him. He was not a seeker in the sense every seeker is — a seeker of truth.
No, he was not seeking truth, because he is reported to have said that, “If you are seeking the truth you have certainly accepted that truth exists, and I will not accept anything on belief. So I am just seeking, searching in all directions, trying to come in tune with the universe. It may be just my fallacy, my fantasy, but I want to go without any prejudice.”
– Kyozan: A True Man of Zen, Chapter #1
Kyozan was Isan’s chief disciple, and finally was going to be his successor. He was under preparation, he was almost chosen by Isan to be his successor — undeclared, but it was known to all the disciples that Kyozan was going to be the next master. Hence Kyozan was allowed the privilege of asking all kinds of questions, because he would have to face the same kinds of questions when he became the successor.
– Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky, Chapter #5
I have entitled this series, KYOZAN: A TRUE MAN OF ZEN. I have not given any speciality to him, for the simple reason that he avoided speciality, uniqueness, some higher quality. He removed himself deep into the forest just to avoid seekers. But if you have found the truth, if your innermost lotus has blossomed, wherever you go seekers will come. There seems to be an inner pathway.
The seeker may not know even where he is going. He may not be aware of his thirst, may not be aware of the truth, but he starts moving towards the master.
Mostly the master has nothing to do. He teaches you simply a different way of being graceful. He gives you a beauty that no mirror can give to you. He gives you a dignity. He declares your potential buddhahood, and unless your potential buddhahood is declared you may never think that in the innermost core you are a buddha. The master makes many devices, but the aim is the same.
– Kyozan: A True Man of Zen, Chapter #4