A layman asked: “Though Zen is said to be transmitted outside the scriptures and not through words, there are many more incidents of monks questioning teachers and inquiring of the Way than in the teaching sects. How can Zen be said to be outside the scriptures? And can reading the records of the old masters and seeing how they dealt with koans ever be considered outside the realm of words? What is the true meaning of the statement, ‘Outside the scriptures, not through words’?”
The master called to him at once: “Koji” (a term for lay students).
He responded immediately: “Yes?”
The master said: “From which teachings did that yes come?”
The layman then lowered his head and bowed.
The master then said: “When you decide to come here, you do so by yourself. When you want to ask a question, you do it by yourself. You do not depend on another nor do you use the teachings of the Buddha. This mind which directs the self is the essence of ‘the transmission outside the scriptures and not through words.’ It is the pure Zen of the Tathagata. Clever worldly statements, the written word, reason and duty, discrimination and understanding, cannot reach this Zen. One who looks penetratingly into his true self and does not get ensnared in words, nor stained by the teachings of the Buddhas and patriarchs, one who goes beyond the singular road which advances toward enlightenment and does not let cleverness become his downfall, will, for the first time, attain the Way.
A simple response, peppered with a Master’s reverse-questioning THAT is always an additive of Source, instills Direct-Realization—like a blinding lightning-flash illuminating the darkened horizon. Self is always the initiating factor, under all circumstances; IT never depends upon another catalyst for activation. The Mind Transmission IS SELF-actualizing and thus is the very essence of Mind’s vivifying action to Self-Actualize; as Bassui states ‘It is the pure (Mind) Zen of the Tathagatas.’ (inclusion mine)
This is a wordless-realization, devoid of all discriminatory reasoning that is dependent upon tools such as the intellect and language; in this sense there is no “attainment” of the Way. Who or what needs to attain? The Way can never be attained but Self-Realized. The Self alone is the agent, sola unicus. There is no singular road outside the singular Way of the Unborn.