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Question on Zen masters saying?

Zen masters says: Before you meditate rivers are rivers, mountains are mountains; when you meditate rivers are no more rivers, mountains are no more mountains; and when the meditation is completed, when you have attained it, rivers are again rivers, mountains are again mountains.
What does Zen masters mean by that?
God Bless


  1. I would think that what it means is that while you are meditating, you are in an altered state and the sights and sounds have altered meaning. So, the sound of a river might contain a message, and the sight of the mountain also may have a message.
    maybe that while you meditate you mentally seperate yourself from your surroundings, so that they just don’t exist during the meditation.
    I don’t meditate so all I can do is guess.

  2. It means that you shouldn’t jump the gun on what you perceive to be something you think you know. In this example, rivers and mountains are used; rivers are a classification of water, it also houses plant life, and fish, and it carves it way through the landscape, providing water to different area’s and eventually dumping into the ocean. Mountains are large, rocky, has animal life, pierces the sky and changes weather patterns, has different types of plant life, and sometimes has snow.
    What the saying is trying to get you to think about is that you shouldn’t just look at a river or a mountain and see a river and a mountain. By doing that you make the mistake of being too eager to figure things out; but by taking the time to realize that rivers and mountains are more than the sum of their parts. Then you can begin to realize that despite that, they are greater than you originally thought and you begin to appreciate them more. You then can finally begin to call them rivers and mountains with a true understanding of what they are, and why they exist.
    Or perhaps it means that you should be able to move metaphorically the rivers and mountains in your mind to find the true path to enlightenment; as the rivers and mountains aren’t truly the grand spectacle that your mind perceives them to be, and once you harness that, you realize that they may have been problems but they aren’t so unattainable that you can’t pass them.

  3. If you can realize that there is no other place to go and no other attainment than simply being present here now, and you’re not disappointed, then becoming enlightened won’t spoil your day.

  4. What the master is saying is that before the person turns into meditation the perspective of the world is different and carries his own projections ,so the mountains will be called mountains and rivers as rivers the view is of a projected mind .
    When the meditation happens everything disappear and the meditator is lost and the meditation happens ! all the distinguishing disappear , mountains and rivers are still there but there is a oneness .
    After he has come out the rivers are rivers and mountains are mountains but a feeling of oneness with them is there.Now they look different a new eye is opened .
    In another way we can say that even before meditation or after meditation nothing has changed ,and he says do not expect anything out of meditation, nothing will change ,only the quality of your wisdom is transformed !

  5. This is the way I’ve heard it;
    “Before enlightenment, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers.
    With enlightenment, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers.
    After enlightenment, mountains are again mountains and rivers are again rivers.”
    What good are words but to point at the Moon, is the Moon the Moon? You see it with your own eyes, it’s illumination lightens the night landscape, I’ll quote a Koan for a answer; “If the all returns to the one where does the one return to?”


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