Walking is Ch’an, sitting is Ch’an;
Speaking or silent, moving or still, the essence is undisturbed.
Remain composed even if facing a sharp weapon,
Be at ease even if given poison.
In this stanza, Yung-chia explains that a practitioner is never separate from Ch’an, no matter what he does or where he is. Ch’an is everywhere. Whether you practice or do not practice, you are never apart from Ch’an.
People sometimes ask me: “Do you teach Japanese Zen or Chinese Ch’an?” It is a ridiculous question. In 1976, during the first retreat I held in the United States, I said to the participants, “I didn’t bring Ch’an with me from the Far East. Ch’an is not something I can carry and give to you. Ch’an has always existed in the West.”
Through the ages, people have asked masters what Bodhidharma brought to China from India. One master replied, “Three pounds of flax;” another answered, “Just a big bowl;” still another replied, “A large turnip.” One master looked at his robe and commented that it was made in Chin-chou. Trying to analyze these answers would be as foolish as asking the question in the first place. These are nonsensical answers to an inane question. Ch’an was not exported from India when Bodhidharma went to China, and Ch’an was not brought to the United States when Ch’an masters started coming here. Whether or not Buddhadharma, practice or Ch’an masters exist makes no difference: Ch’an is always present.
Ch’an is everywhere, even in places where no one has ever heard of Buddhadharma. When a dog barks, that is Ch’an; when a cat catches a mouse, that is Ch’an. But this does not mean dogs and cats are enlightened, or that they can attain enlightenment. Ch’an is one thing, practice is another.
— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng Yen (page 108)