"There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path, Neo."
The Matrix.

Does Heaven speak?

It is customary to associate Zen with the teaching that ultimate wisdom is beyond words, that books and texts can only show the door, but it is you who has to pass through it... For example, the foreword of Mumonkan says: "Those who seek understanding in words are fools who believe that they can catch the moon with a stick or can scratch their itchy foot through a leather shoe."

I wonder how did the concept of "truth beyond words" originate? Zen tradition holds that Buddha once refused to speak to a crowd of thousands of monks and laymen, but instead twirled a flower between his fingers:

Maybe that time Gautama refused to talk. But we know from the canonical sutras that he usually did not spare the words and delivered lengthy, repetitive speeches.

Confucius was not taciturn either... although once he said: "I wish not to speak." Tzu Kung asked: "Master, if you did not speak, then what shall we, disciples pass on?" Confucius said: "Does heaven speak? Yet the four seasons continue to change, and hundred things are born. Does heaven speak?" (Analects 17:19)

子貢曰:「子如不言, 則小子何述焉?」
四時行焉, 百物生焉;天何言哉?」
Yet there is a big difference between the silence of Buddha and Confucius. Chan (or Zen) claims that the essence of the buddhist teachings are so deep and meaningful that words are inadequate to express them. On the other hand, Confucius are confident with expressing his ideas in words, yet he wants to express them in actions.
From the Analects (transl. Charles Muller):

4:22 Confucius said: "The ancients were hesitant to speak, fearing that their actions would not do justice to their words."

4:24 Confucius said: "The Superior Man desires to be hesitant in speech, but sharp in action."
12:3 Ssu Ma Niu asked about the meaning of jen. Confucius said, "The jen man is hesitant to speak."
Niu replied, "Are you saying that jen is mere hesitancy in speaking?"
Confucius said, "Actualizing it is so difficult, how can you not be hesitant to speak about it?"
(Unfortunately, the character for "hesitant in speech" is missing from the EUC-JP encoding, it is marked by □ in the quote above. It is composed from 言 (left side) and 刃 (right side), pinyin: ren4.)

Confucius consistently stated that the difficulty is not in understanding his teachings, but applying them in our lives. Therefore he said: "I would not speak."

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