Zen books and the sermons of Zen masters are always telling us there is a huge difference between concepts and direct experience. But this falls flat when it comes to the actual experience of kensho (seeing our true nature) because at the level of reading about concepts and experience, a concept and experience lose their specific and actual distinctions. They are the same. It is somewhat like discovering that conceptual-pure-nothing and conceptual-pure-something are the same. Leaving book reading, by contrast, we know the difference, by way of direct experience, between hot and cold water. My shower is at first too cold and then too hot. Now it is at the proper temperature. I can now take my shower.
But we do not actually know the experience of seeing pure Mind or true Dharma (saddharma). This is when we delude ourselves.
We are only recognizing pure Mind at the level of a very subtle concept together with the concept of direct experience. We may believe otherwise and pride ourselves on some kind of attainment or experience. But, frankly, we are deluding ourselves. The ability to delude ourselves runs deep in the human psyche. It is a difficult habit to kick and when we finally kick it we are amazed at how deluded we once were. A little humility might help if we accept our deludedness when we chase after the elusive state of pure Mind.
The sphere of actual kensho is not in the world of concepts. When we experience our true nature directly, that is, pure Mind, it certainly goes beyond concepts. We see it. It’s somewhat like ordering Neapolitan pizza from a menu. We know Neapolitan pizza is just not the words on the menu. A few minutes later, the pizza arrives and we eat a slice or two—that’s pizza kensho. But in Zen when we order pure Mind, it doesn’t seem to come. So we go back to look at the menu again. We order—still nothing arrives. Then read the menu again and order. Over time, we begin to wonder if there is any such thing as pure Mind. This is perhaps the highest form of deluding ourselves.