The question has been asked: Can Zen cure illnesses?
When a Buddha appears in the world to rescue sentient beings, then the prior thought is not born; the succeeding thought should not be continued. When the activity of preceding thoughts vanishes, this is called rescuing sentient beings. If the preceding thought was angry, he uses the medicine of joy to cure it. Then it is said that there is a Buddha saving sentient beings.
However, all verbal teachings just cure disease; because the diseases are not the same, the medicines are also not the same. That is why sometimes it is said there is Buddha, and sometimes it is said there is no Buddha. True words cure sickness; if the cure manages to heal, then all are true words – if they can’t effectively cure sickness, all are false words. True words are false words insofar as they give rise to views; false words are true words insofar as they cut off the delusions of sentient beings. Because disease is unreal, there is only unreal medicine to cure it.
As we can see, the Master is instructing us that ‘True words’ heal, in that true words are those that do not give rise to false views, and these false views create — “Suffering”
Many people seek out Zen, and Zen masters, in hopes of curing them. Some say that the affliction they have is spiritual, and others say it is mental (psychiatric).
When people today studying Zen learn it wrongly, it is because of no more than two sicknesses.
One sickness is speechless, formless motionlessness in the haunt of the mind-body complex, where you say, “Even if the Buddhas and Zen Patriarchs came forth, I would still just be thus.” This is one sickness.
Next is to give recognition to that which speaks, hears, works, acts, walks, stands, sits, and reclines. This is also a sickness. Do you know that activity is the root of suffering, sustained by the power of wind?
If people can get away from these two sicknesses and can engage in total investigation, someday they should wake up. Otherwise, there is no cleaning things up.
What is Master Foyan speaking about? He is citing those that cling to quietude and silliness, who become sick at the slightest noise or sturings, and those who cling to words and doctrine who become sick when there is silence or no doctrinal remedy.
Those who say that Zen masters do not teach the Middle way or the Eight-fold path have incorrectly learned Zen and are spreading false words.