For the great elephant* who got bogged down, who went too far in the morass of opinions, there is no other way out than to step back, to find the strength by himself; no-one can do it for him, he will have to put all his faculties into it.
The great elephant who got bogged down in the morass of opinions can only count on himself, on his own practice to pull himself out of the mud sucking him down; no-one can come to his assistance. He must find in himself the intelligence, the strength, the decision, he must gather all his abilities and in a jump, pull himself out alone. Thus Master Bankei used to say to his disciples: Shut your mouth.
When the great elephant becomes aware that he has ventured too far in the morass of opinions, when he becomes aware that he has relied on something without reality, when he feels the ground under his feet giving way, he must realize the urgency, take the decision, measure the scale of the problem, count only on himself, muster all his abilities, all his strength to step back and drag himself out of the world of illusions, the world without substance – where we nonetheless can drown and lose our life.
Thus, Master Hyakujo, echoing the words of Master Bankei, said: At the smallest thought, you begin to ramble.
Bankei said: Shut your mouth.
Taiun JP Faure, April 2021
* In Zen, the great elephant often refers to the great disciple.