Now, why is it necessary to empty the mind in this way? Because if you are held back by even a single thought, the eighty-four thousand defilements will still arise. Therefore, Taego Pou said, ‘One does not do anything.’ Since what is past is gone, thoughts of it are forgotten. And any thought of what is yet to come does not occur. When all thoughts of past and future have been cut off, there will also be no thought of the present.
But is such a state of emptiness a good thing? It sometimes happens that a practitioner who has been meditating on a hua-t’ou for a while becomes dazed. His hold on the hua-t’ou becomes weak and dull; all thinking stops and he finds himself in a quiet and vacant state. He sits very still and his body feels extremely relaxed. Even if he sits all day, he will not be aware of any pain in his legs; and at night he will not be aware of sleep. Occasionally the body is entirely forgotten and there is no consciousness of either the existence or nonexistence of the world. Such a person just sits in utter quiescence. Of course, one might think that such emptiness is very good. But in fact it is a mistake to think that one is truly practising, should one slip into this empty and vacant state.