This is the question every man has to answer on his own. And unless a man answers this question he is not truly a man.
This question has haunted humanity down the centuries. It is as old as man himself -- because man became man only when he asked this question. Unless we know what truth is, our whole effort to live, our whole to make a meaning out of life is futile.
It is ultimate, but urgent also, to know from where life has arisen -- and to want to know the source and the goal, to know the inner running current that holds everything, to know the thread which is the ultimate law of existence.
When we ask the question, 'What is truth?' we are entering into the world of man for the first time. If you have not asked the question yet then you live below human beings. Ask the question, and you become part of humanity. And when the question is dissolved you go beyond humanity, you become a God.
Below the questioning you remain part of the animal kingdom; with the question you enter on the path; and again being with out the question you have come to realise that you have come home.
The question is very difficult because just by asking, it cannot be solved. One has to put one's whole life at the stake.
This is the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus. At the last moment, when Jesus was going to be crucified, Pontius Pilate asked him, 'What is truth?' And Jesus did not answer him. Christian mystics have pondered over it. Why did Jesus not answer it? Why did he remain silent?
There are three possibilities. One, that the question was not sincere. A man like Jesus answers only when the question is sincere. When is a question sincere? A question is sincere when a questioner is ready to do something about it. If it is just curiosity then it is not worth answering. If it has an intense passion, a deep desire, so deep that the questioner is ready to put his whole life at the stake -- nothing less will do -- then only is the question sincere. A man like Jesus will answer only when the question has been asked from the very core of one's being. So the first possibility is that Pilate's question was not sincere. Seeing the insincerity, Jesus remained silent.
Pilate was a well-educated man, a man who had succeeded -- at least in the eyes of the world. He was the viceroy, a Roman Governor-general. He was at the peak of his career - - power, prestige, wealth, everything was his. Whatsoever he had been doing in his life had paid him well. Facing him was Jesus, almost a hobo, a failure, one who had not achieved anything -- at least in the eyes of the world. He had no power, no prestige, not even respectability. He was just at the other end of life, a tremendous failure, mocked, jeered, insulted. Whatsoever he had been doing had all failed. It had not paid him in any way. His life was futile -- at least for others.
The successful man asked the failure, 'What is truth?'
There are two types of successes in the world. One, the worldly, which is not really a success but just trying to deceive yourself, just trying to keep up faces, appearances. The eyes are full of tears but you go on smiling; the heart is miserable, but you go on showing something else, just the opposite, to the world. They say 'nothing succeeds like success'
but I would like to tell you 'nothing fails like success'. As far as the inner journey is concerned, as far as the transcendental is concerned, nothing fails like success and nothing succeeds like failure.
The first possibility is that the question was not sincere, it was asked just by the way. The man was well-educated, well-trained in philosophical concepts. He could have asked the question as a philosophical question. Then Jesus remained silent because the question was not really asked and there was no need to answer it.
The second possibility is that the question was sincere, that the question was not just a childish curiosity, that there was passion behind it, that it was authentic. Then why did Jesus remain silent? He remained silent because if this ultimate question is authentically asked then silence is the answer, because there is no way to answer it except silence. The question is so profound that words will not be capable of answering it. The question is so deep that words will not be able to reach it, to touch it -- only silence will.
If the second is the case then Jesus did answer it, but he answered it by silence.
A third possibility is also there: that the question was sincere and yet not so sincere, that it was ambiguous, split -- which was probably the case because where can you find a man who is total? A part of him was authentically asking, another part was pretending, 'Even if you don't answer I am not in a hurry. And even if you don't answer, I don't mind because in fact I don't need it. In fact, I know the answer already, I am asking just to test you.'
The question was ambiguous, Janus-faced. That seems to be more probable because that is how man is and has always been -- split. A part of Pilate feels the truth of this man who is standing before him -- a complete, utter failure but yet his eyes are luminous, yet he has a glow. Pilate can feel it, can almost touch it. Yet another part, the egoist part, is not ready to surrender so he pretends he is asking only casually -- 'Even if you don't answer, don't be worried. It is not my need. In fact, I already know the answer.'
If this ambiguity was the case, then Jesus would also remain silent because when a question is ambiguous and the person is divided, no answer is possible. Because the answer can be understood only in your undivided consciousness, the question can be answered only when you are no longer split, when you are one, when you are in a unison, unity. Only then can you understand it.
Jesus' silence before Pontius Pilate is very significant, pregnant with many meanings. But Jesus has answered the question somewhere else, it is recorded in the New Testament.
Somewhere else he says, 'I am the Truth.'
I would like you to go a little bit into history then it will be very easy to understand today's parable.
Homer asked the same question in 850 B.C. and he answered that 'the Whole is supported by Fate and Fate is the Truth'.
This is not really an answer; in fact, it is avoiding. When you say, 'It is Fate,' you don't say much; in fact, you are not saying anything, you are simply playing with a word. You have simply shifted the question. It doesn't answer. If somebody is miserable and you say, 'It is Fate,' how have you answered it? Your answering has not added anything to the already known situation. You have simply labelled it. 'One is suffering because it is Fate.'
But why is it so? Why is Fate so? No, it is not a real answer. In fact, it is a lie.
But one can believe in such things. Many people still do as Homer did. They have not risen above that level of consciousness.
Then came Thales, 575 B.C. He said that the whole consists of nothing but water. Water is the basic element of truth, of life, of existence.
Better than Fate, something more tangible, but very fragmentary. Water does not go very deep, does not explain much. It is reducing the higher to the lowest. Thales must have had a scientific mind -- that's what science goes on doing. You ask about mind and they say it is nothing but matter. The higher is reduced to the lower; the sky is explained by the earth. Mind is a great evolution. To explain the mind by matter is a scientific fallacy.
Thales was the first scientist of the world. He tried to explain the unknowable by something known: he called it water, the liquid element, the liquidity, the flow. But the answer is very fragmentary. It has something of truth in it but not all of it. And a fragmentary truth is almost more dangerous than a lie because it has a certain appearance of truth and it can deceive more. That fragment of truth can become very deceptive -- it can cover the whole lie and make it appear as if it is the truth.
Then came Pythagoras, 530 B.C. He says that the whole consists only of numbers, mathematical symbols. He has even more of a scientific attitude than Thales -- mathematics. Meaningful, but mathematics is not life. In fact, all that is very alive is non- mathematical. Love is non-mathematical, you cannot reduce it to numbers. Poetry is non- mathematical. Just think of a life consisting only of numbers -- one, two, three, four -- all poetry disappears, all love disappears, all dreaming disappears. Life will not be worth living.
That's how it is happening today. Scientists have reduced everything to mathematics. Life is not equal to equations howsoever accurate the equations; life is more than mathematics can ever explain. The mathematics cannot explain the mathematician, the mathematician who deals in numbers is higher and bigger than numbers. It has to be so -- those numbers are just toys in his hands. But who is this player? Whenever life is reduced to mathematics it loses charm, it loses charisma, it loses mystery. And suddenly everything seems to be worthless. Mystery is needed; it is subtle nourishment for growth.
I have heard two mathematicians talking. One said to another, 'Is there any meaning in life? Is there any worth? Is there any purpose?'
The other said, 'But what else can you do with it?'
The first asked, 'Is there any meaning to live for in life?' and the other says, 'What else can you do with it?' If life has to be lived just as if you are a victim, as if somebody is playing a trick upon you, as if you are being thrown into this torture chamber, into this concentration camp called the earth, then even if you live, you don't live enough. You slowly commit suicide. You by and by, by and by, go on disappearing. Suicide becomes a constant thought in the mind if life has no mystery.
Then came Anaxagoras, 450 B.C. and his answer is mind. Certainly he took a great leap from water, number, fate -- he took a great jump. Anaxagoras is a great milestone in the history of humanity. 'Mind,' he says. 'The whole existence is made up of the stuff called mind.'
Better, but Jesus would not agree, Buddha would not agree. Yes, certainly better than what others were saying, but Zen would not agree. Matter, mind...Zen says no-mind. One has to go higher still because mind still carries the duality with matter.
Good, great in a way, a radical step -- from object Anaxagoras turns to the subject, from the outer he turns to the inner. He opens the door. He is the first psychologist in the world because he emphasises mind more than matter. He says matter is also made of mind: he explains the lower with the higher.
You can explain in two ways. Go and see beautiful white lotus flowers in a pond; they come out of the dirty mud. Then there are two possibilities: either you explain the lotus by the dirty mud or you explain the dirty mud by the lotus. And both will lead you in totally different dimensions. If you say that this lotus is nothing but dirty mud because it comes out of it, your life will lose all significance, meaning, beauty. Then you will live in the dirty mud.
That's what Freud has been doing; that's what Marx has done. They have great skill in reducing everything to the dirty mud. Buddha attains to enlightenment...ask Freud and he will say it is nothing but sex energy. There is a truth in it, because it arises out of sex, but the sex functions like dirty mud and out of it arises the lotus.
Ask Buddha...he will say sex is nothing but the beginning of enlightenment, the very first steps of nirvana. That's how Tantra was born.
These are two ways and you will have to remember that your life will depend more or less on the way you interpret, on the way you choose. You can try to reduce the lotus to dirty mud -- it can be done and it is very scientific. It can be done very scientifically because all that this lotus has was in the mud. It can be dissected and everything can be found, and then the mud can be dissected, and whatsoever the lotus has, everything will be found in the mud -- nothing special, nothing extra, nothing from the outside has entered into the lotus so it is nothing but the mud. If you are choosing your life with this attitude, your life will be just nothing but mud.
But the person who says that the mud is nothing but potential white lotuses, that the mud is nothing but a waiting to manifest its beauty in lotuses, has a higher standpoint...the standpoint of a religious man. Then the whole life becomes full of splendour, significance, glory. Then wherever you look, you can find God, you can find the white lotus. Then everything is moving towards a peak. Then there is evolution. Then there is future, possibility. Then even the impossible becomes possible.
With the first attitude -- the dirty-mud-attitude I call it even the possible seems to be impossible. But with the second attitude -- the lotus-attitude I call it -- you can see deeply into mud and you can see hidden lotuses there. And the dirty mud is no more dirty mud, it is just potentiality. Then sex becomes potentiality for samadhi, the body becomes potentiality for the soul, the world becomes the abode of God.
Anaxagoras was one of the greatest revolutionaries, a radical thinker. This word 'radical'
is beautiful. It means: pertaining to the roots. He changed the outlook. He said mind. He took a necessary step, but that too was not enough.
Then came Protagoras, 445 B.C. and he said 'Man'. Now his standpoint is more total.
Mind is a fragment of man. Man is many things more, mind plus. If Anaxagoras is thought to be absolutely true then you will remain in the head -- that is what has happened to many people. They have not moved beyond Anaxagoras. They go on living in the head because mind is all. Then mind becomes dictatorial, it goes on a great ego trip. It starts dominating everything and crippling everything. It becomes a destructive force.
No, you are not only mind. You are mind, certainly, but plus. Many more things are there.
A lotus cannot exist alone; the flower cannot exist alone. It will need many more things to exist: the pond, the water, the air, the sun, its connection with the mud, and leaves -- and a thousand and one things. So if you think only in terms of the lotus and you forget all connections with the universe, your lotus will be a plastic lotus. It will not be a real lotus, it will not be inter-connected, it will not be rooted in existence.
Protagoras has a more holy attitude, wholistic attitude. Man, and the totality of man -- the body, the mind, the soul -- becomes truth.
Then came Socrates, 435 B. C. and he said: wisdom, knowing, knowledge. When man attains to maturity, he becomes wise; when man comes to fulfillment, then wisdom arises.
Wisdom is the essence of man, the fragrance of the lotus flower. A still higher attitude.
And then came Jesus who says, 'I am the truth.' This one statement is one of the greatest statements ever made in the world. Either it is the greatest truth ever uttered or it is the most egoistic and arrogant statement ever made.'I am the truth.' It depends how you decode it. Ordinarily, when you hear that Jesus says, 'I am the truth,' you think this man is a megalomaniac, has gone mad. He is uttering nonsense. This man is truth? Jesus is truth?
Then what about us all?
Jesus is not saying that, you have misunderstood him. When he says, 'I am truth,' he is not saying, 'Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph, is the truth.' What he is saying is totally different.
He is saying 'I am-ness, I am, is the truth, ' so wherever there is this 'I am-ness' there is truth. When you say 'I am' you are uttering truth. Your 'I am' and my 'I am' are not two things, we both participate there. Your name is different, your form is different, my name is different, my form is different, but when I say 'I, I am' and you say 'I am' we refer to some common experience, we refer to some common root. Your 'I am-ness' and my 'I am-ness' are not different, are not separate, they belong to one 'I am-ness' of God. When Jesus says 'I am the truth' he means wherever this integration is felt of being totally 'I am', there is truth.
Ordinarily you are many i's. You don't have any capital I; you have many i's, lower case.
Gurdjieff used to say that we should not use the word 'i', only God can use it -- because you don't have any single 'i', you have many i's like a crowd. For one moment one i comes on the top, and becomes the ruler; in another moment it is gone and another i comes over and rules. You can watch it. It is so simple. One moment you say, 'I am happy. I am tremendously happy, at the top of the world' and the next moment you are unhappy, at the lowest bottom of the world, in the seventh hell.
Are both these i's the same? One moment you were flowing and you were compassionate and loving and another moment you were closed and frozen and dead. Are these two i's the same? One moment you could have forgiven anything and another moment just any small tiny thing and you cannot forgive. Are these two i's the same? One moment you are sitting in silence, in zazen, meditating, and you look so Buddha-like, and another moment, for a small thing, you are nagging, fighting. You will yourself feel ridiculous later on. For what were you getting so hot? For what were you creating so much fuss? It was not worth it. But another i was ruling over you.
You are like a wheel of many i's -- those i's are like spokes. The wheel goes on moving, one spoke comes on top -- hardly before it has come it starts declining. It goes on changing. Again it will come up and again you will feel a different being existing there within you.
Watch. Have you got an 'i'? Any substantial 'i'? Any essential 'i'? Can you say that you have some permanent 'i' in you? A crystallised 'i' in you?
You promise, and next moment you have forgotten your promise. Gurdjieff used to say that unless you have a permanent 'i', who will promise? You will not be able to fulfil it.
Who will fulfil it? You say to a woman, 'I love you and I will love you forever and forever.' Wait! What are you uttering? What nonsense! Forever and ever? How can you promise? You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, you don't know who is going to rule you tomorrow. Your promises will create trouble for you. You cannot promise because you are not there. Only a man like Gurdjieff or Jesus can promise. Yes, he can promise because he knows that he will remain the same; whatsoever changes in the world will not affect him. He will remain the same, he has come to a crystallised soul.
Now he knows that his wheel has stopped. He is in total possession of his being. He can promise.
But ordinarily people go on promising, and you never see the fact that no promise has ever been fulfilled by you. You completely forget about it. You don't even remember it because that remembrance will be like a wound. You find out ways and means to rationalise: you cannot fulfil it because the other person has changed, you cannot fulfil it because the circumstances have changed, you cannot fulfil it because you were foolish at the time you made;t. And again you will make promises.
Man is an animal who goes on promising, never fulfilling any promise because he cannot fulfil it -- man as he exists has too many i's.
When Jesus says 'I am the truth' he is saying that whosoever attains to 'I am-ness' is truth.
And this truth is not something philosophical, this truth is something existential. You cannot come to it by logic, argumentation; you cannot come to it by finding a right premise and then moving to a right syllogism and then reaching to a right conclusion. No, that is not the way. You will have to come to it through an inner discipline. That's what Zen is all about.
Now this story.
This story says everything that is needed for a seeker to come to truth, the truth of 'I am- ness'. It is 'I am' that holds the whole existence together. Moses asked God on Mount Sinai, 'I will go back to my people and I will say that I have seen God, but they will not believe me. So please tell me how I am to convince them. And they will ask "Who is God?" So please tell me what is your name, who you are, so that I can convince them.
Otherwise they will not be ready to believe me.' And God said to Moses, 'Go and tell them I am, I am.' No name, simply I am, I am. This is what Jesus is saying -- 'I am the truth.'
It has nothing to do with Jesus, it has nothing to do with any person, it is your innermost core -- which is absolutely impersonal. It is never born and never dies. It is your innermost current of life. It is from where you are connected with God. It is from where you are one with existence.
This has to be found, not by thinking but by a great, deep discipline.
Now this story.
This is the first step.
First one has to discipline oneself. What is discipline?
Ordinarily the word has very wrong connotations. Somebody else disciplines you -- your parents, the society. Always it is the other who disciplines you so the very word has wrong associations. It has been wrongly used, misused. A beautiful word has been very much corrupted. Discipline is not from the outside. Nobody else can discipline you.
Discipline is from the inside; discipline is an understanding. And that is the word's meaning also. It comes from the same root as disciple. Can somebody make you a disciple? Think of it. Can disciplehood be thrown over you? Can you be forced to become a disciple? No, you can either take it or reject it. The ultimate decision is yours.
To become a disciple means to voluntarily surrender. If the surrender is not voluntary, it is not a surrender. If you are being forced to surrender then deep down you will resist and you will wait for the right moment when you can throw off this slavery.
The first Christians, those who had the great opportunity to live with Jesus, to imbibe his spirit, they used to call themselves slaves of Jesus. The first Christians used the word 'slave' but their slavery was not a slavery forced on them. Even if a freedom is forced on you it is a slavery and if you accept a slavery on your own it is freedom. They were freed by Jesus, liberated by Jesus, and they loved the man so much they called themselves slaves.
A disciple is one who surrenders according to his own heart. Nobody is forcing him to surrender. If any force is used then exactly there something goes wrong. If you are a Christian because your parents forced you to become a Christian, or if you are a Hindu because your parents forced you to become a Hindu...that's how people are Hindus and Mohammedans and Christians. They have been forced. The parents have somehow conditioned their minds to be Hindus, Christians or Mohammedans. It is not their own choice. Then out of it discipline cannot arise; in fact, out of it rebellion arises, out of it a great resistance arises, out of it your innermost life energy becomes angry, annoyed, irritated, and for your whole life you can never forgive those people who forced you.
And religion is a very delicate matter -- more delicate than love. Just think. If you are forced to love a woman or a man, the very effort that you are being coerced into loving will destroy love. Even if there was love it will disappear, it will evaporate.
I have heard a very beautiful story about an Egyptian king. He was in love, deeply in love with a woman but the woman was not in love with him. He could have forced it on her but his wise advisors prevented him.
They said, 'Don't do that. You can force it, she is your subject. You can simply bring her to your palace, but it will be almost a rape, not a love. You may even get children out of her but you will never get her heart. That is not the way.'
The king said, 'What to do? I cannot live without her. And she is not in love with me, that's a fact, so the only way is to force. What do you suggest?'
They asked him, 'Is she in love with somebody else?'
The king said, 'Yes, she is in love with one of my servants. And this is foolish, stupid.
She is blind!'
That's what so-called clever people have always been saying. They think of other things:
economics, finance, respect and other things -- but not of love.
The king said, 'She is foolish. She cannot see the point It is so simple. She is blind, mad. I can give her a thousand and one slaves and she is in love with one of my poor servants.
And I am the king. So what to do?'
Those wise people suggested a very novel experiment. It has never been done before and I don't know that it has ever been done again.
They said, 'Catch them both. Bring them both to the palace and just in front of the palace, bind them both together naked, in deep embrace. And bind them to the pillar and leave them there.'
The king said, 'What will that do?'
They said, 'Just wait.'
So they both were caught and undressed. They were ordered to embrace each other, forced to be loving to each other, and they were bound to a marble pillar. And for twenty- four hours they were left there to be looked at by the whole town.
By and by they started getting angry at each other because the lover thought, 'It is because of her I am suffering this calamity.' And the woman started thinking, 'Because of him.' And because they were forced to be together they started resisting. They wanted to separate but there was no way. They were bound in chains. Twenty-four hours -- just think -- with your beloved, bound on a pillar.
By and by, more and more anger came. Then they started smelling each other's perspiration, hot. And then they couldn't sleep. And they pissed on each other. And they vomited. And it became a very ugly affair, a nightmare.
And the story says that after twenty-four hours, when they were released, they escaped in different directions and never saw each other ever again.
If you are forced to love, forced to be together with someone, that very enforcement will kill something subtle within you. That's why husbands cannot forgive their wives and wives cannot forgive their husbands. It is impossible to forgive those with whom you are forced to live by the law, by society, by responsibility, or by your own conscience -- but forced.
Disciplehood is an even higher thing than love. Nobody can force you to become a disciple. And discipline comes from the same root -- it means 'with full awareness you accept something on your own'. It is your heart's desire.
And Buddhists call the first step of learning, of knowing, hearing; right hearing -- 'SAMYAK SHRAVAN'. If somebody has attained the truth, if somebody has attained, then listen to him. Nothing else is needed. Listen to his vibes, listen to his being, listen to the murmur of his inner sound. Just listen. If you can find a person who has come home, then just listen to his calmness, his tranquillity, his bliss.
By 'right listening' is meant 'to be receptive'. Learning is not active, it is passive. You are not to do anything about it, you cannot be aggressive about truth, you can simply allow it -- that's all. You can simply be there in front of it, in close vicinity, passive, allowing, not resisting, not creating any barrier. Remove all barriers and be in the presence of a man who has attained this right listening. If he says something, listen to his word; if he does not say something, listen to his silence.
When he is not saying something, then too, go on listening, and in his non-saying you will find tremendous expression. And when he is saying something, go on listening deeply, because when he is saying something he is at the same time transferring his silence to you. When he is speaking he is silent also, and when he is silent he is speaking also. A tremendous quality of listening is needed.
If you cannot find any person, don't be worried, then listen to nature, then listen to the winds passing through the pines, then listen to the waterfall, go and listen to the ocean -- wild. Go and listen to the birds -- anything will do. This is something very important to remember: if right listening is there, then even listening to a waterfall will do. And if right listening is not there, then even listening to Jesus or Buddha won't do.
The truth happens when you are in the mood of right listening. It has nothing to do with the object of listening; it has everything to do with the quality of listening. But we have forgotten how to listen. Even when we are silent we are not listening. Even when we pretend to show that yes, we are listening, we are not listening; we are doing a thousand and one things in the mind. Many thoughts are crowding in. Politely we show that yes, we are listening, politely sometimes we nod also -- we are listening -- but deep inside us is the madhouse. How can you listen?
To listen you will have to drop your thinking. With thoughts, listening is not possible. If you are speaking inside and I am speaking here, how can you listen to me? Because you are closer to yourself than me, your thoughts will be closer to you, they will make a ring around you and they will not allow my thoughts to enter. They will allow only those thoughts which are in tune with them, they will choose and select. They will not allow anything that is strange, unfamiliar, unknown. Then it is not worth listening because you are simply listening to your own thoughts. And it is dangerous because now you will think that you have listened to me. Right listening means to be in a totally receptive, silent mood.
In Zen the disciple sits for many months, sometimes years, before he becomes capable of listening. Whenever anybody came to Buddha he would say, 'For one year or two years you simply sit here. Nothing else has to be done. You simply learn how to sit.' People would say, 'We know already how to sit.' And Buddha would say,'I have never come across a person who knows how to sit, because when I say sit, I mean sit -- no turmoil, no movement of thought, totally silent, utterly silent, no movement in the body, no movement in the mind. A pool of energy with no ripples.'
So the whole Buddhist discipline, Zen discipline, starts by right listening.
Then there comes a moment when you become so silent that the listener disappears. First your thoughts disappear, then your thinker disappears. The thinker is nothing but the inter-link between thoughts, the thinker cannot exist without thoughts; when thoughts are no more there, suddenly the thinker evaporates. When you are listening so totally that there is no thought arising, passing, coming and going, then the listener also disappears.
... WHERE ANY MORE LEARNING NO MORE AVAILS. This then is the moment where from the outside nothing can be got, learning no more avails, now there is no need, now you are enough unto yourself. This is what Zen people call 'approaching'. Now you are coming home, approaching, closer and closer and closer.
So first you are full of thoughts. To drop those thoughts, hearing is emphasised -- hear the Master, or the winds, or the thundering clouds. Listening is used as a device to drop thoughts. When thoughts are dropped one day you will realise the thinker has disappeared. Now there is no longer anything like a listener. The device has worked, the work is over. Now there is no need to listen to the outside because now there is no need to learn from the outside. This is what Zen calls 'approaching'. Now you are approaching home, now everything is within you, you are coming to the innermost shrine.
Thought does not allow you to listen and the thinker does not allow you to enter into yourself. The thinker is the subtlest part of thoughts -- thoughts are gross-thinker and thinker is subtle thoughts. Thoughts prevent you from listening to the outside and the thinker prevents you from listening to the inside. First drop thoughts because the gross can be dropped more easily, then you can listen to the outside. Then the thinker disappears. Now you can listen to the inside. Then the Master speaks from the innermost core of your heart. The outer Master is just a help to create the inner Master; the outer Master is just a provocation for the inner Master to come into full swing, to come into its full being. The outer Master is just a situation so that the inner Master can awaken.
Now comes the last point. First you drop thoughts, then you drop the thinker. First the outside Master disappears, the outside object disappears, then you come to the inside. But the inside can exist only with the outside. As I told you, the thinker can exist only with thoughts; in exactly the same way, the inside can exist only with the outside. If the outside disappears, the inside disappears, because they are both two aspects of the same coin. So first the outside disappears, then you come in and suddenly you find one day that the inside is also disappearing, because it is nothing but the innermost core of the outer.
They are both together. How can you have an inside if you don't have an outside?
Just think of a house which has only an inside, no outside. How can it have only an inside without the outside? Or how can it have only the outside without any inside? They both exist together.
When inside and outside both disappear Ho-shan says, '...ONE IS SAID TO HAVE TRULY TRANSCENDED.' Then there is neither out nor in, neither thoughts nor thinking, neither outside Master nor inside Master. It is a tremendous emptiness. Nothing is, or, only nothing is. This is transcendence, this is nirvana, enlightenment. Then freedom is utterly complete because there is no boundary -- you are without boundary.
This is what Jesus means when he says, 'I am the truth.' This is what 'I am' is.
Now this is a foolish question to ask, a stupid question to ask. Because when there is no outside, no inside, no thinker, no thought, then there is no possibility of any answer. If you have understood, then you will not ask what this transcendence is. It is meaningless.
You have come to a point where no question can be asked.
This monk must not have understood. So he asked, 'WHAT THEN IS TRULY TRANSCENDING?' The question again brings you back to the first step. Now right listening is needed. You see it? The question again brings you to the first step. The monk has not transcended the first step. He has not listened, otherwise he would have understood. He must have been there listening ordinarily. He had ears so he could listen.
And he must have understood these words, because he could use the words, 'THEN WHAT IS TRULY TRANSCENDING?' He must know language, of course, and he has ears so he can hear. He is not deaf that's certain.
But still he missed. Now the Master has to start from the very beginning. And Ho-shan used to tell this story almost every day. That was his only one sermon. Every morning he will start his sermon the same way.
No question can be asked if you understand. You can touch the Master's feet and thank him, or you can have a good laugh, or you can roll your mat and go home. A question is now irrelevant.
And what did Ho-shan do?
It is useless to utter a word now, because he will have to repeat the same.
Many things are implied in it. With this gesture -- AS IF BEATING A DRUM -- he is saying, 'Are you deaf or something? Do you need a drum to be beaten only then you will understand? Are you deaf or something? Your question simply shows that you have not heard what I have been saying all the time.'
One meaning, just on the surface, is that he is saying to the person that he is deaf.'You don't need me, you need a drum to be beaten, only then will you listen, otherwise you will not listen. These things are very subtle. They are not for you.' That is one thing, just on the surface.
The second thing: the drum is a very, very meaningful symbol in Buddhism because a drum is empty inside and Buddhism believes in emptiness. Emptiness is virtually the God of Buddhism. A drum is empty but if you beat it, it creates much sound. Buddhism says that the innermost core of existence is empty, only just on the surface is it like a drum.
You can go on beating and creating sound.
All language is like beating a drum, but all meaning is more in tune with emptiness than in tune with the beating of the drum. All is noise; the innermost core can be known only in silence. All philosophy is beating the drum. If you enjoy, good, you can enjoy, but you will never enter into the really real, the ultimately real. It is empty.
And the third meaning: answering a question in this way is very absurd. Only Zen Masters are courageous enough to do that. You cannot think of any other tradition which is so courageous to use such outlandish modes of expression: Dang, dang, doko dang, doko dang. He is saying, 'Your question can only be answered in an absurd way. The question is absurd, the answer cannot be anything else than that. You are illogical so I will have to be illogical with you.'
One great Christian, Tertullian, has said a tremendously meaningful thing. He says, 'Credo quia impossible' -- 'I believe because it is impossible.' He says, 'I believe in God because God is impossible.' In fact, logically he should not be. In fact, if the world is rational, God should not be. Tertullian says, 'I believe because it is impossible.'
Rationally there is no reason to believe, but life is more than reason, deeper than reason.
Life is more than logic, vaster than logic -- logic is very narrow. Logic is man-made, life is not man-made -- on the contrary, man is life-made. Life is bigger than man so naturally it has to be bigger than logic.
The third meaning of Ho-shan's gesture is that you are asking such an absurd question that it can only be answered through an absurd gesture.
He had found even a better way than Buddha; he must have had a better sense of humour than Buddha himself. Buddha always kept silent whenever somebody asked a metaphysical question. About something which transcended language, logic, he would keep quiet or he would change the subject or he would talk about something else. But Ho-shan found a more alive way, with a certain sense of humour. Somebody was asking a question which by its very nature was absurd, because by its very definition the transcendental is that which goes beyond, beyond all dualities. We can talk about dualities but we cannot talk about the non-dual.
Let me tell you a story, a very famous story from the Upanishads.
Vidagdh Sakalya asked a great Upanishadic teacher, Yagyavalka, 'How many gods are there, Yagyavalka?'
He answered in the words of a prayer, 'There are as many gods as there are in the hymn to the Vishwa-devas -- three thousand three hundred.'
'Yes,' he said, 'but how many are there REALLY, Yagyavalkya?'
'No, how many really?'
'One and a half.'
'Now come on. How many really?'
Now if you ask beyond this then Yagyavalkya will also have to beat a drum.
It happened. There was a great discussion in the court of Janak, a great emperor and a very wise man. He had requested all the wise persons alive to come to the court and they were trying to define the nature of God.
Yagyavalkya went there, he defeated all the participants and he was just going to be declared victorious when a woman arose.
Yagyavalkya must have felt a little afraid because it is very difficult to communicate with a woman. If you argue with a woman either you are defeated or the argument remains incomplete -- there is no other way. Because the feminine mind functions in a totally different way; it has no logical coherence; it jumps from one place to another; it leaps.
The male mind goes step by step... so they never meet. The greatest and most impossible thing is to communicate with a woman -- and if you are in love then it is even more impossible. If you are not in love then maybe a certain way can be found.
Yagyavalkya must have felt a little shiver around his spine. The woman asked, 'Who is holding up this existence? Who is supporting this existence?' And Yagyavalkya said, 'Of course, God, Brahma, is the support of all.' He said, 'He is the support of all. He is the ultimate support.'
And the woman asked, 'Then who is supporting him?'
Now this was going beyond. He had said, 'He is the support of ALL. Nothing is left.' He had said that it was the ultimate, so you cannot ask logically who is supporting God because now nothing is left.
Yagyavalkya said, 'This is an absurd question' -- what in India they call UTEE PRASAN, absurd question. Absurd, because by the very definition of the word 'ultimate', nothing is left. It cannot be asked. If you want to be logical, if you want to be coherent, if you want to communicate rightly, then it cannot be asked. And if it can be asked then there is going to be no end to it.
He said to Janak, 'If this question is allowed then it is better that I should stop now because then there is no end. It will become a regress ad infinitum. If I say that God is supported by something then she will ask, "Who is supporting that something?" And if I say something else she will say, "Who is supporting that something?" It is going to be foolish and endless if it is going to be allowed; it is better that I should drop out of it right now.'
He was right, because when we say 'all' then nothing is left.
Ho-shan was saying, 'All duality is transcended' and language can function only in duality. A man has to be defined by a woman. A man is one who is not a woman and a woman is one who is not a man. Matter is to be defined by mind; night is to be defined by day; God is to be defined by the Devil -- language exists in duality otherwise there is no possibility of defining it. The other is needed, and the transcendental means that now there is no other, the nondual has come. Now it is all one, you have reached to the indefinable.
But Ho-shan, of course, is a better man than Yagyavalkya. Yagyavalkya must have been very serious; he said to the king, 'I had better stop now because if this woman is allowed to ask, she will create regress ad infinitum.' And he was a little angry also. He said to the woman, 'No more questioning otherwise your head will fall off.' He was right but a little irritated and annoyed.
Ho-shan has more sense of humour; he is not so serious. And that's how an enlightened person should be. About Yagyavalkya I have always felt that he may have been a great philosopher, a great man of learning, learned, but he was not yet enlightened. Otherwise there was no need. He could have laughed. He could have also gestured as if he was beating a drum; he could have said, 'Dang, dang, doko dang, doko dang.'
But no, this quality of Zen is special to Zen. It is tremendously beautiful. They can turn an ugly situation into laughter, and laughter brings you home as nothing else.
The one cannot be expressed. To know that one, one has to become more and more silent, silent and silent. To know that one, to experience that one, one has to lose language by and by, so that language completely disappears and you are left without any language, without any mind.
Last night I was reading a few lines of Pablo Neruda -- beautiful.
A Master, the more you grow with him, starts becoming more and more silent and his words get fainter and fainter -- LIKE THE MARKS MADE BY SEAGULLS ON THE SAND. The more you become capable of hearing, the more the Master has nothing to say to you. When you are not capable of hearing he has to say many things to you to make you capable of hearing. When you become capable of hearing -- look at the absurdity of it all -- when you become capable of hearing, his words become fainter and fainter. When you are really capable of hearing, he stops, because now there is no need to say anything, now silence can meet with the silence, now silence can melt and merge into silence. Now, language dropped, mind put aside, being can communicate with being. Communication can be direct, immediate. Now something can transpire, existentially.
But at that moment don't be stupid like that monk who asked, 'WHAT THEN IS TRULY TRANSCENDING?' Because his question, if accepted, brings you back to ABC. Again he has to be taught how to hear.
Ho-shan did well. He said, 'Are you deaf or something?' by making the gesture of beating a drum. And he said, 'Sound and words and mind and language and concepts and philosophies and creeds and dogmas and scriptures are just on the surface. Deep inside the drum is nothing.'
Have you ever tried to open a drum and see what it is inside which makes so much sound -- so much beautiful sound also? Small children do it sometimes.
Somebody gave Mulla Nasruddin's child a drum and it became a nuisance for the whole neighbourhood. One day I was sitting at his home and the child came running in with a broken drum. He had a knife in his hand with which he had broken it.
I said, 'What happened?'
He said, 'The neighbour gave me the knife and said, "Try to see what is inside." So I looked inside, there is nothing.' The same happens with all philosophies. A Master is there to give you a knife to look inside the drum. If you push your knife deep enough into philosophies, there is nothing, only emptiness. All words are empty. They make much sound, that's right, but don't be befooled by the sound. Have a penetrating knife, a sharp knife, with you -- that's what meditation is all about. It is like sharpening a knife so you can put it through all words and reach to the innermost core of it all, which is emptiness.
Yes, Ho-shan did well. His assertion about all metaphysical questions -- DANG, DANG, DOKO DANG, DOKO DANG -- was so absurd but tremendously beautiful. He says, 'We here in Zen are not concerned with words, logic, intellect, syllogism. We here in Zen are concerned with existence, with being. And if you ask an absurd question, you will get an absurd answer.'
The story says nothing about what happened to the monk who asked it. If he had been a little alert he may have even become more alert. This sudden absurd response of the Master -- DANG, DANG, DOKO DANG, DOKO DANG -- may have brought him a little satori. But the story says nothing. The man may not have been even that alert that he could understand this. He may have turned away, thinking that this man was mad.
The Zen people are mad in a way because they are trying to pull you towards the ultimate which is beyond you. They are trying to pull you beyond yourself; they are trying to pull you out of yourself. They ARE mad people, but if you allow them they can give you a glimpse of the eternal, and once the glimpse happens you are never the same again.
Let this story penetrate your heart as deeply as possible and whenever you are becoming a victim again of theories, dogmas, doctrines, philosophies, say loudly, 'DANG, DANG, DOKO DANG, DOKO DANG.' It will be helpful; it will suddenly bring you back to the earth.
Ludwig Wittgenstein used to say that he did not solve philosophical problems, he dissolved them. Everything is left as it is but perhaps for the first time we come to see things as they are.
Zen is a way of dissolving philosophical problems, not of solving them. It is a way of getting rid of philosophy because philosophy is a sort of neurosis.