Many years ago, on the land where I used to live and study the Dharma, there were several ponds nearby. Occasionally, when the pond I visited was calm and still a slight breeze would cause ripples. On other occasions even a few rain drops would naturally cause a slight rippling effect on the pon
I learned from my pond watching that the pond, as a body of water, was more fundamental than the ripples which would arise and disappear on its surface. This is also not unlike a physicist understanding that an unbounded field is fundamental whereas bounded particles are not. But I took all this one step further. I believed that what is more fundamental is the unconditioned, boundless pure Mind, not the thoughts which are conditioned (conditioned in the sense of being temporal, arising and ceasing).
Early in my Zen practice, zazen taught me that all thoughts (you might also include feeling and the imagination) arise from a hidden source. I was aware of thinking, that is, raising thoughts and being aware of their cessation. But I still did not know the fundamental source of all this, namely, the boundless pure Mind. I only knew these thoughts. Call me a thought maker! I realized that I still lacked direct insight into the most fundamental. We can call it the boundless pure Mind or the “source” or some other name.
Zen I discovered is about becoming one with the boundless pure Mind.
Now, what is a Zen master? He or she is someone who has a direct and sudden intuition of the boundless pure Mind which is field-like. After awakening, this person is still aware of particle-like thoughts arising and ceasing. But now, those thoughts which are like ripples on the pond’s surface, are realized to be configurations of Mind. In other words, a true Zen master fully knows that all the arising and ceasing thoughts are the shapes of boundless pure Mind which neither arises nor ceases. This is who we are fundamentally.