The Halo of Yakushi-Buddha
ONE WINTER DAY, A MASTERLESS SAMURAI CAME TO EISAI'S TEMPLE AND MADE AN APPEAL: 'I'M POOR AND SICK,' HE SAID, 'AND MY FAMILY IS DYING OF HUNGER. PLEASE HELP US, MASTER.'
DEPENDENT AS HE WAS ON WIDOWS' MITES, EISAI'S LIFE WAS VERY AUSTERE, AND HE HAD NOTHING TO GIVE.
HE WAS ABOUT TO SEND THE SAMURAI OFF WHEN HE REMEMBERED THE IMAGE OF YAKUSHI-BUDDHA IN THE HALL. GOING UP TO IT HE TORE OFF ITS HALO AND GAVE IT TO THE SAMURAI. 'SELL THIS,' SAID EISAI, 'IT SHOULD TIDE YOU OVER.' THE BEWILDERED BUT DESPERATE SAMURAI TOOK THE HALO AND LEFT.
'MASTER!' CRIED ONE OF EISAI'S DISCIPLES, 'THAT'S SACRILEGE! HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?'
'SACRILEGE? BAH! I HAVE MERELY PUT THE BUDDHA'S MIND, WHICH IS FULL OF LOVE AND MERCY, TO USE, SO TO SPEAK. INDEED, IF HE HIMSELF HAD HEARD THAT POOR SAMURAI HE'D HAVE CUT OFF A LIMB FOR HIM.'
MEDITATION is a flower and compassion is its fragrance.
Exactly like that it happens. The flower blooms and the fragrance spreads on the winds in all directions, to be carried to the very ends of earth. But the basic thing is the blooming of the flower.
Man is also carrying a potentiality for flowering within him. Until and unless the inner being of man flowers, the fragrance of compassion is not possible. Compassion cannot be practiced. It is not a discipline. You cannot manage it. It is beyond you. If you meditate, one day, suddenly, you become aware of a new phenomenon, absolutely strange -- from your being compassion is flowing towards the whole of existence; undirected, unaddressed, it is moving to the very ends of existence.
Without meditation, energy remains passion; with meditation, the same energy becomes compassion. Passion and compassion are not two energies, they are one and the same energy. Once it passes through meditation, it is transformed, transfigured; it becomes qualitatively different. Passion moves downwards, compassion moves upwards; passion moves through desire, compassion moves through desirelessness; passion is an occupation to forget the miseries in which you live, compassion is a celebration, it is a dance of attainment, of fulfillment...you are so fulfilled that you can share. Now there is nothing left; you have attained the destiny that you were carrying for millennia within you like an unflowered potentiality, just a bud. Now it has flowered and it is dancing.
You have attained, you are fulfilled, there is no more to attain, nowhere to go, nothing to do.
Now what will happen to the energy? You start sharing. The same energy that was moving through the dark layers of passion, now moves with light rays upwards, uncontaminated by any desire, uncontaminated by any conditioning. It is uncorrupted by any motivation -- hence I call it fragrance. The flower is limited but not the fragrance.
The flower has limitations it is rooted somewhere in bondage. but fragrance has no bondage. It simply moves, rides on the winds; it has no moorings in the earth.
Meditation is a flower. It has roots. It exists in you. Once compassion happens, it is not rooted; it simply moves and goes on moving. Buddha has disappeared but not his compassion. The flower will die sooner or later -- it is part of earth and the dust will return unto dust -- but the fragrance that has been released will remain forever and forever. Buddha has gone, Jesus has gone, but not their fragrance. Their compassion still continues and whoever is open to their compassion will immediately feel its impact, will be moved by it, will be taken on a new journey, on a new pilgrimage.
Compassion is not limited to the flower -- it comes from the flower but it is not of the flower. It comes through the flower, the flower is just a passage. but it comes really from the beyond. It cannot come without the flower -- the flower is a necessary stage -- but it does not belong to the flower. Once the flower has bloomed, compassion is released.
This insistence, this emphasis, has to be deeply understood, because if you miss the point you can start practicing compassion but then it is not real fragrance. A practiced compassion is just the same passion with a new name. It is the same desire-contaminated, motivation-corrupted energy and it can become very dangerous to other people -- because in the name of compassion you can destroy, in the name of compassion, you can create bondage. It is not compassion, and if you practice it, you are being artificial, formal -- in fact a hypocrite.
The first thing to be remembered continuously is that compassion cannot be practiced. It is this point where all the followers of all the great religious teachers have missed.
Buddha attained compassion through meditation -- now Buddhists go on practicing compassion. Jesus attained compassion through meditation -- now Christians, the Christian missionaries, go on practicing love, compassion, service to humanity but their compassion has proved to be a very destructive force in the world. Their compassion has created only wars; their compassion has destroyed millions of people. They end up in deep imprisonments.
Compassion frees you, gives you freedom, but that compassion has to come only through meditation, there is no other way to it. Buddha has said that compassion is a by-product, a consequence. You cannot catch hold of the consequence directly, you have to move; you have to produce the cause, and the effect follows. So if you really want to understand what compassion is you have to understand what meditation is. Forget all about compassion; it comes on its own accord.
Try to understand what meditation is. Compassion can become a criterion as to whether the meditation was right or not. If the meditation has been right, compassion is bound to come -- it is natural; it follows like a shadow. If the meditation has been wrong then compassion will not follow. So compassion can work as a criterion as to whether the meditation has been really right or not. And a meditation can be wrong. People have a wrong notion that all meditations are right; It is not so. Meditations can be wrong. For example, any meditation that leads you deep into concentration is wrong -- it will not result in compassion. You will become more and more closed rather than becoming open.
If you narrow down your Consciousness concentrate on something, and you exclude the whole of existence and become one-pointed, it will create more and more tension in you.
Hence the word 'attention'. It means 'at-tension'. Concentration, the very sound of the word, gives you a feeling of tenseness.
Concentration has its uses but it is not meditation. In scientific work, in scientific research, in the science lab, you need concentration. You have to concentrate on one problem and exclude everything else -- so much so that you almost become unmindful of the remaining world. The only problem that you are concentrating upon is your world.
That's why scientists become absent-minded. People who concentrate too much always become absent-minded because they don't know how to remain open to the whole world.
I was reading an anecdote.
'I have brought a frog,' said a scientist, a professor of zoology, beaming at his class, 'fresh from the pond, in order that we might study its outer appearance and later dissect it.'
He carefully unwrapped the package he carried and inside was a neatly prepared ham sandwich. The good professor looked at it with astonishment.
'Odd!' he said, 'I distinctly remember having eaten my lunch.
That goes on happening to scientists. They become one-pointed and their whole mind becomes narrow. Of course, a narrow mind has its use: it becomes more penetrating, it becomes like a sharp needle, it hits exactly the right point, but it misses the great life that surrounds it.
A Buddha is not a man of concentration, he is a man of awareness. He has not been trying to narrow down his consciousness; on the contrary, he has been trying to drop all barriers so that he becomes totally available to existence. Watch...existence is simultaneous. I am speaking here and the traffic noise is simultaneous. The train, the birds the wind blowing through the trees -- in this moment the whole of existence converges. You listening to me, I speaking to you, and millions of things going on -- it is tremendously rich.
Concentration makes you one-pointed at a very great cost: ninety-nine per cent of life is discarded. If you are solving a mathematical problem, you cannot listen to the birds -- they will be a distraction. Children playing around, dogs barking in the street -- they will be a distraction. Because of concentration, people have tried to escape from life -- to go to the Himalayas, to go to a cave, to remain isolated, so that you can concentrate on God.
But God is not an object. God is this wholeness of existence, this moment; God is the totality. That's why science will never be able to know God. The very method of science is concentration and because of that method, science can never know God.
It can know more and more minute details. First the molecule was thought to be the last particle, then it was divided. Then an even tinier part, the atom, was known, then concentration divided that also. Now there are electrons, protons, neutrons -- sooner or later they are also going to be divided. Science goes on from the smaller to the smaller, and the bigger, the vast, is completely forgotten. The whole is completely forgotten for the part. Science can never know God because of concentration. So when people come to me and they say, 'Osho, teach us concentration, we want to know God,: I'm simply puzzled. They have not understood the basics of the search.
Science is one-pointed; the search is objective. Religion is simultaneity; the object is the whole, the total. To know the total, that is, to know God, you will have to have a consciousness which is open from everywhere -- not confined, not standing in a window.
Otherwise the frame of the window will become the frame of existence. Just standing under the sun in the open sky -- that is what meditation is. Meditation has no frame: it is not a window, it is not a door. Meditation is not concentration, it is not attention -- meditation is awareness.
So what to do? Repeating a mantra, doing transcendental meditation, is not going to help.
Transcendental meditation has become very important in America because of the objective approach, because of the scientific mind. Now it is the only meditation on which scientific work can be done. It is exactly concentration and not meditation, so it is comprehensible for the scientific mind. In the universities, in the science laboratories, in psychological research work, much is being done about TM, because it is not meditation.
It is concentration, a method of concentration; it falls under the same category as scientific concentration; there is a link between the two. But it has nothing to do with meditation. Meditation is so vast, so tremendously infinite, that no scientific research is possible. Only compassion will show whether the man has achieved or not. Alpha waves won't be of much help because they are still of the mind and meditation is not of the mind -- it is something beyond.
So, let me tell you a few basic things. One, meditation is not concentration but relaxation -- one simply relaxes into oneself. The more you relax, the more you feel yourself open, vulnerable, the more you are less rigid, you are more flexible -- and suddenly existence starts penetrating you. You are no longer like a rock, you have openings. Relaxation means allowing yourself to fall into a state where you are not doing anything, because if you are doing something, tension will continue. It is a state of non-doing. You simply relax and you enjoy the feeling of relaxation. Relax into yourself, just close your eyes, and listen to all that is happening all around. No need to feel anything as distraction. The moment you feel it is a distraction, you are denying God. This moment God has come to you as a bird. Don't deny. He has knocked at your door as a bird. The next moment he has come as a dog -- barking, or as a child crying and weeping, or as a madman laughing.
Don't deny; don't reject; accept -- because if you deny you will become tense. All denials create tension. Accept. If you want to relax, acceptance is the way. Accept whatsoever is happening all around; let it become an organic whole. It is -- you may know it or you may not know it. Everything is inter-related. These birds, these trees, this sky, this sun, this earth, you, me -- all are related. It is an organic unity. If the sun disappears, the trees will disappear; if the trees disappear, the birds will disappear; if the birds and trees disappear, you cannot be here, you will disappear. It is an ecology. Everything is deeply related with each other.
So don't deny anything, because the moment you deny, you are denying something in you. If you deny these singing birds then something in you is denied.
Once it happened that it was spring. The weather was delightful and I was sitting on a park bench. I enjoyed the spring, the birds, the air and the sun. I listened to the melodious chirping of numerous birds.
A stranger was also sitting on the same bench. I turned to him and said to him, 'Is not the music of the birds delightful?'
But he must have been a religious man. He was doing some mantra. He felt disturbed. He felt as if I had interfered.
He scowled and said, 'How the devil can I hear what you are saying over the damned noise of those stupid birds?'
But if you deny, reject, if you feel distracted, if you feel angry, you are rejecting something within you. Just listen again to the birds without any feeling of distraction, anger, and suddenly you will see that the bird within you responds. Then those birds are not there as strangers, intruders -- suddenly the whole existence becomes a family. It is, and I call a man religious who has come to understand that the whole existence is a family. He may not go to any church, he may not worship in any temple, he may not pray at any mosque or gurudwara -- that doesn't matter. That is almost irrelevant. If you do, good, it is okay; if you don't that is even better. But one who has understood the organic unity of existence is constantly in the temple, is constantly facing the sacred and the Divine.
But if you are doing some stupid mantra you will think these birds are stupid. If you are repeating some nonsense within you, or thinking some trivia -- you may call it philosophy, religion -- then these birds become distractions. Their sounds are simply Divine. They don't say anything, they are simply bubbling with delight. Their song has no meaning except an overflowing of energy. They want to share with existence, with the trees, with the flowers, with you. They have nothing to say; they are just being there, themselves.
If you relax, you accept; acceptance of existence is the only way to relax. If small things disturb you then it is your attitude that is disturbing you. Sit silently; listen to all that is happening all around, and relax; accept, relax -- and suddenly you will feel immense energy arising in you. That energy will be felt first is a deepening of your breath.
Ordinarily your breath is very shallow and sometimes if you try to have deep breaths, if you start doing PRANAYAM, you start forcing something, you make an effort. That effort is not needed. You simply accept life, relax, and suddenly you will see that your breath is going deeper than ever. Relax more and the breath goes deeper in you. It becomes slow, rhythmic, and you can almost enjoy it; it gives a certain delight. Then you will become aware that breath is the bridge between you and the whole. Just watch. Don't do anything.
And when I say watch, don't TRY to watch, otherwise you will become tense again, and you will start concentrating on the breath. Simply relax, remain relaxed, loose, and look...because what else can you do? You are there, nothing to be done, everything accepted, nothing to be denied, rejected, no struggle, no fight no conflict, breathing going deep -- what can you do? You simply watch. Remember, simply watch. Don't make an effort to watch. This is what Buddha has called VIPASSANA -- the watching of the breath, awareness of the breath -- or SATIPATTHANA -- remembering, being alert of the life energy that moves in breath. Don't try to take deep breaths, don't try to inhale or exhale, don't do anything. You simply relax and let the breathing be natural -- going on its own, coming on its own -- and many things will become available to you.
The first thing will be that breathing can be taken in two ways because it is a bridge. One part of it is joined with you, another part is joined with existence. So it can be understood in two ways. You can take it as a voluntary thing. If you want to inhale deeply, you can inhale deeply; if you want to exhale deeply, you can exhale deeply. You can do something about it. One part is joined with you. But if you don't do anything, then too it continues. No need for you to do anything and it continues. It is non-voluntary also.
The other part is joined with existence itself. You can think of it as if you are taking it in, you are breathing it, or you can think in just the opposite way -- that it is breathing you.
And the other way has to be understood because that will lead you into deep relaxation. It is not that you are breathing, but existence is breathing you. It is a change of gestalt, and it happens on its own. If you go on relaxing, accepting everything, relaxing into yourself, by and by, suddenly, you become aware that you are not taking these breaths -- they are coming and going on their own. And so gracefully. With such dignity. With such rhythm.
With such harmonious rhythm. Who is doing it? Existence is breathing you. It comes into you, goes out of you. Each moment it rejuvenates you, each moment it makes you alive again and again and again.
Suddenly you see breathing as a happening... and this is how meditation should grow.
And this you can do anywhere, in the marketplace also, because that noise is also Divine.
And if you listen silently, even in the marketplace you will see a certain harmony in the noise. It is no longer a distraction. You can see many things if you are silent -- tremendous waves of energy moving all around. Once you accept, wherever you go you will feel The bird is not important but you will feel something tremendously great, you will feel something holy, something luminous, something mysterious. A miracle is constantly happening all around you but you go on missing it.
Once meditation settles in you and you fall into rhythm with existence, compassion is a consequence. Suddenly you feel you are in love with the whole and the other is no longer the other -- God. in the other also you live. And the tree is no longer just 'the tree there', somehow it is related to you. Everything becomes inter-related. You touch a leaf of grass and you have touched all the stars because everything is related. It cannot be otherwise.
Existence is organic. It is one. It is a unity.
Because we are not aware we don't see what we go on doing to ourselves. One thing happens and something which you have never thought that it was related to starts happening.
Just the other night I was reading something about smell. The sensation, the capacity of smell, has almost disappeared from humanity. Animals are very sharp. A horse can smell for miles. A dog can smell more than a man. Just by the smell the dog knows that his master is coming, and after many years the dog will again recognize the smell that is his master's smell. Man has completely forgotten.
What has happened to smell? What calamity has happened to smell? There seems to be no reason why smell has been so suppressed No culture anywhere has consciously suppressed it but it has become suppressed. It has become suppressed because of sex.
Now, the whole of humanity lives with sex deeply suppressed -- and smell is connected with sex. Before making love, a dog will smell the partner because unless he smells a harmony deep down between the two bodies, he will not make love. Once the smell is fitting then he knows that now the bodies are in tune and they can fit and they can become a song -- even for a moment a unity is possible.
Because sex has been suppressed all over the world, smell has become suppressed. The very word has become a little condemnatory. If I say to you, 'Do you hear?' or if I say to you, 'Do you see?' you don't feel offended. So, if I say, 'Do you smell?' one should not feel offended, it is the same language. Smell is a capacity; just like seeing and hearing, smelling is a capacity. When I ask, 'Do you smell?' one feels offended because one has completely forgotten that it is a capacity.
There is a famous anecdote about an English thinker, Dr. Johnson. He was sitting in a stagecoach and a lady entered. She said to Dr. Johnson, 'Sir, you smell!'
But he was a man of language, letters, a grammarian. He said, 'No, madam. You smell. I stink!'
Smell is a capacity. 'You smell. I stink.' Linguistically he is right. That's how it should be if you follow grammar. But the very word has become very condemnatory. What has happened to smell? Once you suppress sex, smell is suppressed.
You can read in the scriptures that people say, 'I saw God. Nobody says, 'I smelled God.'
What is wrong in it? If eyes are right then why is nose wrong? In the Old Testament it is said that your face is beautiful and your taste is beautiful, but not your smell. Smell is not talked about. We talk about God's beatific vision, we never talk about his beatific smell.
One sense is completely crippled -- and if you cripple one sense then one part of the mind is crippled. If you have five senses then your mind has five parts. One fifth of the mind is crippled and one never knows. That means one fifth of life is crippled.
The implications are tremendous. If you touch a small thing somewhere it reverberates all over. Accept everything. I was talking to you a few minutes before about repressing sex:
because of repressing sex, smell has been repressed, and because of repressing sex your breathing has become shallow -- because if you breathe deep, your breathing massages the sex center inside. People come to me and say, 'If we really breathe, we feel more sexual.' If you make love to a woman your breathing will become very deep. If you keep your breathing shallow you will not be able to achieve orgasm. The breathing hits hard, deep down in the sex center; from the within it massages the sex center.
Because sex has been repressed, and because breathing is repressed people have become incapable of meditation. Now look at the whole thing. What nonsense we have done!
Repressing sex we have repressed breathing and breathing is the only bridge between you and the whole.
Gurdjieff is right when he says that almost all religions have behaved in such a way that they seem to be against God. They talk about God but they seem to be basically against God. The way they have behaved is against God. Now that breathing is repressed, the bridge is broken. You can only breathe shallowly you never go deep, and if you cannot go deep in yourself, you cannot go deep in existence.
Buddha makes breathing the very foundation. A deep, relaxed breathing, an awareness of it, gives you such tremendous silence, relaxation, that by and by you simply merge, melt, disappear. You are no longer a separate island, you start vibrating with the whole. Then you are not a separate note but part of this whole symphony. Then compassion arises.
Compassion arises only when you can see that everybody is related to you. Compassion arises only when you see that you are a member of everybody and everybody is a member of you. Nobody is separate. When the illusion of separation drops, compassion arises. Compassion is not a discipline.
In the human experience, the relationship between a mother and her child is the closest to compassion. People call it love but it should not be called love. It is more like compassion than love because it has no passion in it. A mother's love for the child is closest to compassion. Why? Because the mother has known the child in herself; he was a member of her being. She has known the child as part of herself and even if the child is born and is growing the mother goes on feeling a subtle rhythm with the child. If the child feels ill, a thousand miles away the mother will immediately feel it. She may not be aware of what has happened but she will become depressed; she may not be aware that her child is suffering but she will start suffering. She will make some rationalization about why she is suffering -- her stomach is not okay, she has a headache, or something or other -- but now depth psychology says that the mother and the child always remain joined together with subtle energy, waves, because they go on vibrating on the same wavelength. The telepathy is easier between a mother and the child than between anybody else. Or, between twins -- between twins telepathy is very easy.
Many experiments on telepathy have been done in Soviet Russian -- not of course for religion, they are trying to find out if telepathy can be used as a war technique. They will be able to use it because they are finding clues: twins are very telepathic. If one twin has a cold a thousand miles away the other starts having a cold. They vibrate on the same wavelength, they are affected by the same things within seconds. Because they have both lived in the same womb as part of each other; they have existed in the mother's womb together.
A mother's feeling for the child is more of compassion because she feels he is her own.
I was reading an anecdote.
During the preliminary inspection of a Boy Scout Camp, the director found a large umbrella hidden in the bedroll of a tiny scouter, obviously not one of the items of equipment listed. The director asked the lad to explain. The tenderfoot did so neatly by asking, 'Sir, did you ever have a mother?'
Mother means compassion, mother means feeling for the other as one feels for oneself.
When a person moves deeply in meditation and attains to samadhi, he becomes a mother.
Buddha is more like a mother than like a father. The Christian association with the word 'father' is not very meaningful or beautiful. To call God 'father' looks a little male- orientated. If there is any God he can only be a mother, not a father.
'Father' is so institutional. A father is an institution. In nature a father doesn't exist. If you ask a linguist he will say that the word 'uncle' is older than the word 'father.' Uncles came first into existence because nobody knew who the father was. Once private property was fixed, once marriage became a private ownership, the institution of father entered into human life. It is very fragile, it can disappear any day. If the society changes, the institution can disappear, as many other institutions have disappeared. But mother is going to remain. Mother is natural.
In the East, many people, many traditions, have called God, the mother. Their approach seems to be more relevant. Watch Buddha, his face seems more like a woman than like a man. In fact, because of that we have not depicted him as having a beard or mustache.
Mahavir, Buddha, Krishna, Ram -- you never see any mustache or beard on their faces.
Not that they were lacking in some hormones they must have had beards, but we have not depicted them because that would give their faces a more male-like appearance. In the East we don't bother much about facts, but we bother much about relevance, significance.
Of course, the statues of Buddha that you have seen are all false, but in the East we don't worry about that. The significance is that Buddha has become more womanly, more feminine. That is what I was telling you about, the first day: the shift from the left hemisphere of the brain to the right hemisphere of the brain, from the male to the female, the shift from the aggressive to the passive, the shift from the positive to the negative, the shift from effort to effortlessness. A Buddha is more feminine, more motherly. If you really become a meditator by and by you will see many changes in your being and you will feel more like a woman than like a man -- more graceful, more receptive, non- violent, loving. And a compassion will arise continuously from your being; it will be just a natural fragrance.
Ordinarily whatsoever you call compassion goes on hiding your passion in it. Even if you sometimes feel sympathetic towards people, watch, dissect, go deeper into your feeling and somewhere you will find some motivation. In acts which look very compassionate, deep down you will always find some motivation.
Once it happened that a man called Louie came back home. He was very shocked to find his wife in the arms of another man. He rushed out of the room crying, 'I am getting my shotgun.'
His wife dashed after him despite her unclothed state, seized him and shouted, 'You fool, what are you getting excited about? It was my lover who paid for the new furniture we recently got, my new clothes, the extra money you thought I earned sewing, the little luxuries we have been able to buy -- they all came from him!'
But Louie wrenched away and continued upstairs.
'No shotgun, Louie!' yelled his wife.
'What shotgun?' called back Louie. 'I am getting a blanket. That poor fellow will catch cold, Lying there like that.'
Even if you feel, or you think you feel, or you pretend that you feel, compassion, just go deep and analyze it and you will always find some other motivation in it. It cannot be pure compassion and if it is not pure it is not compassion. Purity is a basic ingredient in compassion, otherwise it is something else -- it is more or less a formality. We have learned how to be formal: how to behave with your wife, how to behave with your husband, how to behave with your children, with friends, with your family. We have learned everything. Compassion is not something which can be learned; when you have unlearned ail formalities, all etiquette and manners, it arises in you. It is very wild; it doesn't taste of etiquette, of formality, they are all dead things compared to it. It is very alive, it is a flame of love.
At the twelfth hole of a hotly-contested match, the grounds overlooked the highway and as Smith and Jones approached the green, they saw a funeral procession making its way along the road.
At this, Smith stopped, took off his hat, placed it over his heart, and bent his head till the procession disappeared around the bend.
Jones was astonished and after Smith had replaced his hat and returned to his game, he said, 'That was delicate and respectful of your Smith.'
Ah, well,' said Smith, 'I could not do less. I had been married to the woman for twenty years, after all.'
Life has become plastic, artificial, formal, because you have to do certain things that you do. You of course reluctantly follow duties but if you miss much of life, it is natural, because life is possible only if you are alive, intensely alive. If your own flame has become covered by formalities, duties, rules, which you have to fulfill reluctantly, you can only drag. You may drag comfortably, your life may be a life of convenience, but it cannot be really alive.
A really alive life is, in a way, chaotic. In a way, I say, because that chaos has its own discipline. It has no rules because it need not have any rules. It has the most basic rule in- built in it -- it need not have any external rules.
Now the Zen story.
ONE WINTER DAY, A MASTERLESS SAMURAI CAME TO EISAI'S TEMPLE AND MADE AN APPEAL: 'I AM POOR AND SICK,' HE SAID, 'AND MY FAMILY IS DYING OF HUNGER. PLEASE HELP US, MASTER.' DEPENDENT AS HE WAS ON WIDOWS' MITES, EISAI'S LIFE WAS VERY AUSTERE, AND HE HAD NOTHING TO GIVE.
HE WAS ABOUT TO SEND THE SAMURAI OFF WHEN HE REMEMBERED THE IMAGE OF YAKUSHI-BUDDHA IN THE HALL. GOING UP TO IT HE TORE OFF ITS HALO AND GAVE IF TO THE SAMURAI. 'SELL THIS,' SAID EISAI, 'IT SHOULD TIDE YOU OVER.' THE BEWILDERED BUT DESPERATE SAMURAI TOOK THE HALO AND LEFT.
'MASTER!' CRIED ONE OF EISAI'S DISCIPLES, 'THAT'S SACRILEGE! HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?'
'SACRILEGE? BAH! I HAVE MERELY PUT THE BUDDHA'S MIND, WHICH IS FULL OF LOVE AND MERCY, TO USE, SO TO SPEAK. INDEED, IF HE HIMSELF HAD HEARD THAT POOR SAMURAI HE WOULD HAVE CUT OFF A LIMB FOR HIM.'
A very simple story, but very significant. First, even when you have nothing to give, look again. You will always find something to give. Even when you have nothing to give, you can always find something to give. It is a question of attitude. If you cannot give anything, at least you can smile; if you cannot give anything, at least you can sit with the person and hold his hand. It is not a question of giving something, it is a question of giving.
This Eisai was a poor monk as Buddhist monks are. His life was very austere and he had nothing to give. Ordinarily, it is an absolute sacrilege to take the halo off Buddha's statue and give it away. No so-called religious person could think of it. Only somebody who is really religious would -- that's why I say compassion knows no rules, compassion is beyond rules. It is wild. It follows no formalities.
Then suddenly the Master remembered the image of Buddha in the hall. In Japan, in China, they put a gold halo around the head of the Buddha, just to show the aura around his head. Suddenly the Master remembered it -- every day he must have worshipped the same statue.
GOING UP TO IT HE TORE OFF ITS HALO AND GAVE IT TO THE SAMURAI.
'SELL THIS,' SAID EISAI, 'IT SHOULD TIDE YOU OVER.' THE BEWILDERED BUT DESPERATE SAMURAI TOOK THE HALO AND LEFT.
Even the samurai was bewildered. He had not expected this. Even he must have thought that this was sacrilege. What type of man is this? He is a follower of Buddha and he has destroyed the statue. Even to touch the statue is sacrilege and he has taken away the halo.
This is the difference between a real religious person and a so-called religious person.
The so-called religious person always Looks to the rule; he always thinks of what is proper and what is not proper. But a really religious person lives it. There is nothing proper and improper for him. Compassion is so infinitely proper that whatsoever you do through compassion becomes proper automatically.
'MASTER!' CRIED ONE OF EISAI'S DISCIPLES, 'THAT'S SACRILEGE HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?' Even a disciple understands that this is not right.
Something improper has been done. 'SACRILEGE? BAH! I HAVE MERELY PUT THE BUDDHA'S MIND WHICH IS FULL OF LOVE AND MERCY, TO GOOD USE, SO TO SPEAK. INDEED, IF HE HIMSELF HAD HEARD THAT POOR SAMURAI HE WOULD HAVE CUT OFF A LIMB FOR HIM.'
To understand is something other than just to follow. When you follow, you become almost blind; then there are rules which have to be kept. If you understand, then too you follow, but you are no longer blind. But each moment decides, each moment your consciousness responds, and whatsoever you do is right.
One of the most beautiful stories in Zen is about a Zen master who asked, one winter night, to be allowed to stay in a temple. He was shivering because the night was cold and snow was falling outside. Of course, the temple priest sympathized and told him, 'You can stay, but only for the night, because this temple is not a sarai. In the morning you will have to go.'
In the middle of the night the priest suddenly heard a noise. He came running and could not believe his eyes. The monk was sitting around a fire which he had made inside the temple. And one Buddha statue was missing.
In Japan they make wooden Buddhas.
The priest asked, 'Where is the statue?'
The Master showed him the fire and he said, 'I was shivering and it was very cold.'
The priest said, 'You seem to be mad! Don't you see what you have done? It was a Buddha statue. You have burnt Buddha!
The Master looked in the fire, which was disappearing, and poked the fire with a stick.
The priest asked, 'What are you doing?'
He said, 'I am trying to find the bones of the Buddha.
The priest said, 'You are certainly mad. It is a wooden Buddha. There are no bones in it.'
Then the monk said, 'The night is still long and it is getting even colder, why not bring these two other Buddhas also?'
Of course, he had to be thrown out of the temple immediately. This man was dangerous.
When he was being thrown out he said, 'What are you doing throwing a live Buddha out?
For a wooden Buddha? The alive Buddha was suffering so much I had to show compassion. If Buddha was alive he would have done the same. He would himself have given all those three statues to me. I know it. I know from my very heart that he would have done the same!'
But who was there to listen to him? He was thrown out into the snow and the doors were closed.
In the morning, when the priest went out, he saw the Master sitting near a milestone with a few flowers on top of it, worshipping it. The priest came again and said, 'What are you doing now? Worshipping a milestone?'
The Master said, 'Whenever the time to pray comes, I create my Buddhas anywhere, because they are always all around. This milestone is as good as your wooden Buddhas inside!'
It is a question of attitude. When you look with worshipful eyes then anything becomes Divine.
And remember, the story about Eisai is easy to remember because the compassion is shown towards somebody else. This story is even more difficult and complex to understand because the compassion is shown towards oneself. A real man of understanding is neither hard towards others nor hard towards himself because it is one and the same energy. A real man of understanding is not a masochist; he is not a sadist, he is not a masochist. A real man of understanding simply understands that there is no separation -- all including himself is Divine. And he lives out this understanding.
To live out of understanding is compassion. Never try to practice it, simply relax deep into meditation. Be in a state of let-go in meditation and suddenly you will be able to smell the fragrance that is coming from your own innermost depth. Then the flower blossoms and compassion spreads. Meditation is the flower and compassion is its fragrance.