"When Zen Master Nan-chuan saw his student Ma-tsu diligently practicing meditation hour after hour, he sensed a certain effort and ambition in the young monk’s demeanor, so he sneaked up behind him and asked, “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to become a Buddha,” Ma-tsu replied proudly. Nan-chuan then picked up a stone and began rubbing it against a spare tile from the monastery floor. Hearing the sound, Ma-tsu asked, “What are you doing?” Said Nan-chuan: “I’m trying to make a mirror.” Ma-tsu had an awakening.
Everything is just as it is! Ma-tsu is Ma-tsu, the tile is the tile, and you are you, just as you are. There’s no Buddha apart from this fundamental truth, and any attempt to achieve some special state of mind just leads you away from who and what you already are. In the direct approach to truth ..., the direct recognition of your true nature is available in every instant, on or off the cushion, whether you meditate or not. You merely need to “take the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate the Self,” as Dogen Zenji said." - Stephan Bodian