Maneesha, Dogen is making a very specific point. It deserves absolute attention and concern, because he is saying nobody obstructs your enlightenment. Then why are you not enlightened?
Nobody in the whole existence is interested in becoming an obstacle to you. It is something of major significance that has to be understood.
As we go along in the sutra, I would like to make it clear to you what it is that is obstructing. Certainly you are not obstructing it. And existence loves it, rejoices in it. The whole universe dances in every man's enlightenment. One part of it, which had been groping in the dark, has come back home in its full glory. The whole existence receives him with a showering of flowers. So there is no question of any obstruction from existence. And there is no question about yourself. Then who is obstructing?
There certainly are obstructions; otherwise there would be no need to become enlightened - you would be enlightened. There would be no need for any master to tell you. It is a little bit complicated, but not so complicated that you cannot understand and overcome it. Dogen says:
So peaceful, so silent. The moon reflects on the surface of the water. In fact, nothing is happening.
The moon is in its own place, it has not moved even a little inch towards the water; nor is the water disturbed even a little bit.
But in a silent lake the moon's reflection becomes even more beautiful than the moon itself, because the lake also adds some beauty to it. It makes it more alive and more fragile.
ENLIGHTENMENT - according to Dogen, and I agree with him absolutely - IS JUST LIKE THE MOON REFLECTING ITSELF ON THE WATER. There is no effort on the part of the water, that the moon has to be reflected. There is no commandment that has to be followed, no doctrines that have to be practiced, no yoga postures ... so that the moon can reflect itself in the water. There is not even a desire, not even a longing ... not even a faint longing. And the same is the situation on the part of the moon - the moon has no desire to be reflected. Both are desireless, but the reflection happens on its own accord. So does enlightenment. Just in a silent, peaceful consciousness it suddenly reflects your buddhahood.
But the lake has to be silent. If there are too many ripples or too many waves on the lake the reflection will be broken. The reflection may be broken in many parts and you will not be able to see the moon, but only a silver line spread all over the lake. It will not be a true reflection; it will not be representative of the moon. The lake, when silent and still, doing nothing ... not even any waves ...
and the moon reflects.
Your consciousness has its own way of making waves, ripples. What are your thoughts except ripples on a lake? What are your emotions, your moods, your sentiments? What is your whole mind? - just a turmoil. And because of this turmoil you cannot see your own nature. You go on missing yourself. You meet everybody in the world and you never meet yourself.
Obviously, there is no question of the moon getting wet because it is reflected in the lake. ...
The moon is not like a stone that has been thrown in the water, it is just a reflection. When you stand before a mirror you don't disturb the mirror. You come and go; the mirror remains exactly in its position, undisturbed.
This is a very great statement. It does not destroy the man but it destroys the shadow of the man, with which you are identified. It takes away all that is false and leaves behind only the real, the authentic, the honest.
What is your shadow that is obstructing your reality? Your shadow has to be understood perfectly well: it is your personality. It is what you have been proposed to be, it is what you have been brought up to be. It is all those voices of your mothers and fathers, your teachers. They make your personality; they create a pseudo-ness around you. Your knowledge ... nobody ever asked whether it is yours.
I have been expelled from many colleges. The principals would call me in and tell me, "You cannot harass my professor."
I said, "Your professor has made some statements, and I have simply asked him, 'Is it your own experience?' Do you call that harassing? Do you want to expel me, or should you expel a man who is teaching something which is not his own experience?' I would tell the principals, "Call that teacher who has reported against me. He has to confront me.
I don't care about any examination or any degree, and I don't care about your college. But things have to be put right."
Even the principals would say to me, "You are right, but you don't understand our problem. We are all carrying borrowed knowledge. We don't know exactly what the truth is, but we are talking about it. You are a nuisance. Nobody else is asking such questions. Now this professor - who has even threatened to resign if you are not expelled immediately from the college - is an old, very senior man. He is almost near his retirement, and he has never been violent or angry. There has been nothing against him during his twenty years' service in the college. And suddenly you have made him almost insane. He has not come for three days, he has closed his doors, he does not want to speak to anybody from the college, he does not answer the phone. He has simply written a note, 'Unless you expel that student, I am not going to come to the college.'"
I said, "There is no problem. You can expel your whole college, you need not be worried about that.
But I will follow that man - college or no college. I know his home. I may not be a student in your college, that does not mean ... Where is he going to live? I will knock on his doors. Either he has to recognize the fact that his knowledge is borrowed or he has to speak honestly from his experience.
I simply want to provoke him."
I was surprised to know that great professors ... because I have been in many colleges, it was a great opportunity. Usually, one ends up with just one college. I was being expelled from one college to another, and later from one university to another. The second university accepted me with the condition that I would not trouble the professors.
I said, "What kind of poverty is this? If you don't know the answer you can simply say, 'I don't know.' But that hurts your ego."
They asked me to write down that they are accepting me on the condition that I will not attend any classes. Strange! I don't think this has happened to anybody else in the whole world. "If I am not to attend the classes, then why are you admitting me? And how am I going to manage my percentage of attendance so I can appear for the examination?"
The vice-chancellor said, "I will take care of your percentage. You are present - one hundred percent! That is my promise to you. But please, don't go to any class, because I have heard about you so much from other professors, principals. The other vice-chancellor who has expelled you phoned me, 'Beware of this boy.' I am accepting you because I can see the point that you are not wrong; just our whole system is wrong. Your only fault is that you are pointing to our wound. I can understand you; that's why I am giving you admission.
"But the professors will not be able to understand. You are so accurate in hitting at the weakest point that these ordinary professors ... after all they are just working for money; there is no question of truth or good or beauty. They are not concerned about these things; they are concerned with their salaries, they are concerned with their position. It is politics: the lecturer wants to be the reader, the reader wants to be the professor, the professor wants to be the head of the department, the head of the department wants to be the dean of the faculty, the dean wants to be the vice-chancellor - nobody is interested in what you are asking. So your presence has created a fear."
I had to accept this, but as I signed the agreement and he signed my admittance, I told him, "I can at least meet the professors on the road, I can knock on their doors. The promise is only for the classes. I can go to the library - these things are not included."
He said, "This is difficult."
And I used to do that - knock on professors' doors. And they would say, "Just leave us at peace.
We are tired. The questions that you ask are unanswerable. We don't know, we are not seekers; we are just educators. We have learned from others who have learned from others. We don't know what we are teaching, whether it is true or whether we are simply repeating superstitions." I would catch hold of them in the library.
And the vice-chancellor told me, "Look, you stop professors on the road when they are coming to their classes, and you ask them, 'Please answer this question before you enter the class, because I cannot enter the classroom.' It is not part of our agreement, so I cannot insist on it, but don't harass."
I said, "But I can stand outside the classroom and from the window I will shout the question. So it is better if we settle it here. I will never enter the classroom, but the rest is not part of the agreement."
The vice-chancellor had forgotten that every classroom had a window. "I can stand outside in the fresh air rather than in the rotten inside air and I can ask anything that I want.
"And you should understand it clearly, that if I ask a question and the professor doesn't answer it, then the whole class will ask the same question. What you request is not part of the agreement."
I used to distribute my question to all the class, "If he does not answer me, one by one you stand up and ask the question ... until he is finished!"
But who is preventing all these people who are knowledgeable from seeing that their very knowledge is the barrier?
Dogen is right that enlightenment is your natural being, as natural as the moon reflecting on the silent lake. No effort on any side, no desire on any side ... it is a happening. But you have not been left a clean, silent lake. So much rubbish - in the name of religion, in the name of politics, in the name of society - has been imposed on you: that is what is making the barrier. And the poor moon cannot reflect on you. You have to destroy this whole wall that is preventing you from looking at things as they are - not as you have been told. You have to get rid of all ideology that has been implanted in you, all your conditioning.
Even very intelligent people I have seen behave so superstitiously - you cannot believe. There are countries where the number thirteen is thought to be a dangerous number. Perhaps somebody died or committed suicide on the thirteenth some time back; perhaps somebody jumped from the thirteenth floor of a hotel, and now people have become certain it is bad luck. There are hotels which don't have a room number thirteen; after twelve it jumps to fourteen. They don't have a thirteenth floor; after the twelfth just comes the fourteenth. It is the thirteenth, but the hotel does not recognize it as the thirteenth.
People don't get married on the thirteenth, out of fear that life will be a misery; and they don't look around to see that whether you marry on the thirteenth or the fourteenth or the fifteenth, marriage is going to be a misery. don't blame the dates, and don't blame the days. Marriage itself is a desire to be miserable, a deep down desire ... a partnership in misery.
"You look so beautiful" means, "You look so miserable. I am also very miserable ... let's be together"
- as if by being together the misery will disappear. But it will not disappear, it will not only be doubled, it will be increased by much more than double.
The whole world knows it, but we go on with our conditioning. If you are unmarried every married person you know is very sorry for you, "Poor fellow, he has remained a bachelor; he does not know the happiness of misery."
When I came back from the university, naturally my parents were concerned that I should get married. But they were afraid to even ask me because they knew that once I say no, then it is forever. Then there is no way to drag me into saying yes. They knew me perfectly well, that it was absolutely improbable that I would say yes. So how to ask? That was their problem.
I told them, "It seems everybody wants to ask me something, and I am ready. So why you don't ask it? You whisper with each other."
Finally my father found a friend, a supreme court advocate, a very successful man in his profession.
He asked him, "We are not in a position even to ask. Now you have to do something."
He said, "don't be worried. The whole country knows that when I take a case in my hand ..."
My father said, "This is not the supreme court, and this is no ordinary case. I warn you - if any trouble arises for you, I will not be responsible."
He said, "What trouble? I am coming this weekend and I will talk to your son, and I will take care of it. It is a question of argumentation."
My father said, "You don't know him, but come. We will all enjoy it."
So everybody was ready. He came. I touched his feet because he was my father's friend, and I was as respectful as always. I said to him, "Before the debate starts ..."
He said, "What debate?"
I said, "You know it, I know it, and everybody else present here knows it. But before it starts, I want you honestly to answer one question: Are you satisfied in your marriage? I have informed your wife, and if you say anything wrong ... she is just sitting in the other room."
He said, "What? She is here? My God, I don't want to be entangled in this affair."
I said, "It has not even started."
He said, "I don't want to take the case."
I said, "This is not the court. You have come with such a wide chest, and now you have suddenly become a rat. I will have to wash my hands ... I touched your feet."
It was only a fiction, I had not asked his wife. But I knew that she used to beat him.
He said, "Your father asked me."
I said, "I am perfectly ready. If you can convince me that marriage is the right way of living, I will get married. But if you fail in convincing me you will have to divorce."
He said, "My God, your father was right that this would be a difficult case. I simply withdraw! I don't want to say a single word. Let me think. Next week I will come."
He never came. But every week I would go to his home and his wife would ask me, "What is the matter? Whenever you come he hides himself in the bathroom. I knock on the bathroom door and he says, 'No, I cannot come out right now. Tell him to leave me alone. I have become so afraid of him I cannot go to the market, because - who knows? - he may stop me in the street and start the debate. And I cannot afford ...'"
So the wife said to me, "But what is the matter? Why is he so afraid?"
I shouted to the lawyer, "Either you come out, or I am going to tell your wife."
He immediately came out. He said, "Just forgive me. For God's sake, just drop the matter. I will never mention the subject to you or anybody ..."
The wife said, "But what is the matter that you are so much afraid? You perspire and it is air conditioned. You hide and you tell me to lie that you are not at home. And he is such a stubborn person, he keeps on coming."
I said, "This is the problem, you have to be the judge. This man, your husband, wants me to get married. What is your opinion?"
She said, "Married? If you want to be miserable, get married. Just look at this man. I have been reforming him since the day we married. I have almost finished him. He fights in the supreme court like a lion, and in the house he is just a stray dog. Even the children understand it. Even the children blackmail him, 'You give us five rupees, otherwise we will tell mother.' And he cannot even ask what it is that they will tell; but it's enough that he has been talking to the neighbor's wife so sweetly."
Because then the wife would be really dangerous, she would beat him. Now the poor fellow is dead.
I told my parents and my family, "don't bring others unnecessarily, because I am fundamentally against marriage. There is no question of my marrying, it is something fundamental to me that marriage is a wrong conception."
Two persons can be in love and live together and the moment their love disappears - as everything disappears in this world - they should depart with gratitude to each other, with friendship, with pleasant memories of the past days. Marriage is absolutely unnatural. That's why you don't see any animals in the psychiatric hospitals. You don't see them lying on the psychoanalyst's couch, they don't go mad.
Man has had so many layers imposed on him about everything; he thinks all these thoughts are his own. As a seeker you have to discriminate very carefully between what is yours and what has been given to you. And the moment you start sorting it out, you will be amazed to know that you don't have anything of your own. You are just a silent lake. And in that silent lake your buddhahood arises.
Your nature is, in its purity, in its splendor, in its blissfulness.
And nobody is trying to prevent you from becoming enlightened. Those people - those teachers, those parents - they were not aware; they were as unconscious .... They were also victims of their parents, of their teachers, of their rabbis and their pundits and their shankaracharyas and their popes. They were victims, and they have given to you as your heritage all their suffering and all their misery. Now you have to put all that load aside. Buddhahood is your natural self. Just put aside everything that is not arising within you, flowering within you.
In a way, in the beginning you will feel poor. All your knowledge is gone, all your superstitions are gone, your religions are gone, your political ideologies are gone - you will feel very poor. But this poverty is of tremendous value, because only in this poverty arises your natural richness, your natural flowers, your natural ecstasies. The natural man is not destroyed by enlightenment. But you are not natural, you are polluted.
And everybody is harming everybody else by creating these conditions. In a better society children will not be taught any religion, any politics. They will be taught how to think, how to doubt; not how to believe. They will be taught to be more intelligent, to be more reflective. And the whole world will be full of enlightened people.
Enlightenment is just your naturalness. This is the great contribution of Zen. All other religions are belief systems, Zen is not. All other religions will ask you to believe in God, in heaven, in hell. All other religions will have a thousand and one beliefs. Zen has no belief system. Its whole effort is to discover your natural self, which is covered with the dust of all kinds of good intentions, of beautiful thoughts, of great beliefs. All that dust has to be cleaned off. And then you are left alone in your naturalness.
A haiku of Hoitsu:
Just so simple. Just so beautiful.
He is asking that if he is going to be born again, he would like to be a hilltop pine. Such a beautiful moon, hanging over the hilltop pine ...
These people are not ordinary poets. They are expressing an authentic longing to be natural, peaceful, silent ... A HILLTOP PINE! ... because man seems to be so insane.
Another Zen poet:
These people are natural poets. They have dropped all ideologies. They have started having relationships with pine trees and the clouds and the lightning; with the hills, with the rivers, with the ocean. They have dropped out of the human world which is absolutely false and they have regained again their roots in nature.
This is, in my vision, the only religion in the world worth calling religion. All other religions are just exploitations of man and his search for himself. They are deviations, distractions. They lead you away from yourself, they don't bring you home.
Maneesha has asked:
Maneesha, your understanding is right. There are no grades of enlightenment - either you are enlightened or not enlightened. But certainly, as enlightenment deepens, matures, reaches to your very roots ... It is just the right symbol: like wine, the older it is the better.
There are wine collectors ... You can find fifty-year-old wine, one-hundred-year-old wine - they are all wines. Fresh wine just produced from the garden is also wine. But a hundred-year-old wine has attained a certain quality of intensity, a density, which is lacking in the new arrivals. There are experts in the world who can tell exactly, just by taking a sip, how old is the wine.
It happened in a pub that a man said to the bartender, "Here is one hundred dollars. If you are ready to gamble with me, I will taste any wine you want me to taste and I will tell you its exact year." It was unbelievable, because wine testing is a very fine art. The offer was accepted. Each time he tells the right year when the wine was made, the bartender will pay him one hundred dollars.
He went on tasting and telling the exact year. It was so amazing, all the drinkers and drunkards who were there sitting on different benches gathered around; even those who were completely drunk became awake, "What is happening?" And the man was amazing.
Then suddenly a man from the back said, "I also want to join in the contest because I have got a wine. If you can tell me ..."
So he brought a full cup. The man tasted it, spat it out, and he said, "You idiot. This is human urine!"
But the man said, "Whose? I know it is human urine - but whose? Unless you can tell me whose, you are not a great taster."
Enlightenment certainly has no grades, but as time passes it deepens, sharpens, matures, becomes more and more rich.
Before we enter into our daily meditation ... The bamboos are so silent, just waiting for your laughter.
And remember one thing, when you laugh, don't just laugh for conformity.
Secondly, when you laugh, laugh totally, without any considerations. don't hold anything back.
Learn to laugh from Sardar Gurudayal Singh, who is a laugh unto himself - a real joke. He is the only man in the whole world I have come across who laughs before the joke. There are people who laugh in the middle of the joke because they suddenly realize what is going to happen. But from the very beginning, when I have not even started ... that is the real and authentic man of laughter. And I know ... he has his disciples. He is a very respected, old sannyasin. People sit around him just to have a good laugh.
Joe Speak-Easy, the successful lawyer, is married to a woman who nags him constantly. She nags him about his appearance, about how much he drinks, about how little he loves her - about almost everything. So Joe starts staying later at his office to avoid her.
One day, after weeks of defending a client called William Wright who is on trial for murder, Joe comes home very depressed. He has lost the case, and Wright is to be executed that night unless the governor pardons him.
As Joe enters the house, his wife begins, "Where have you been? It's after ten o'clock."
"Ah, nag, nag, nag," he says in disgust, and goes to pour himself a drink.
"The minute you come home," snaps his wife, "you start drinking. Not even a hello for me!"
"Ah, nag, nag, nag," sighs Joe. Then he goes upstairs for a bath, telling his wife that he is expecting a phone call from the governor.
While he is in the bath, the call comes - Wright has been pardoned. Joe's wife decides to tell him the good news herself. As she enters the bathroom Joe is standing naked, bending over the tub.
"Hey, Joe," says his wife. "They are not hanging Wright tonight."
Joe snaps back, "Ah, nag, nag, nag!"
Old Zeb, the back-woods Virginia farmer, has been screwing one of his favorite pigs for years.
Suddenly, Zeb is hit by pangs of guilt and conscience that torture him so much he decides to go and tell the priest about it in confession. Father Fungus is shocked and he really does not know how to handle this one.
"Well," says the priest to old Zeb, "tell me, is the pig male or female?"
"She's female, of course," snorts Zeb. "What do you think I am - some kind of a pervert?"
Pope the Polack is sitting on the train next to Ronald Reagan on their way back to Washington from Killjews, Alabama. The pope strikes up a conversation with two big black guys, Rufus and Leroy, in the compartment.
"Hello, gentleman," says the pope. "Where are you going?"
"D.C." says Rufus.
"What did he say?" asks the slightly deaf president.
"He says they are going to Washington, D.C. - just like us," says the pope. "Tell me," the Polack continues, "what brings you all the way up to Washington?"
"We know a real far-out chick up there," smiles Leroy.
"What did he say?" asks the hard-of-hearing Ronnie.
"He says they have a girlfriend up there," shouts back the pope to the president. Then turning to the black guys, Pope the Polack says, "She must be quite a girl for you to go all this way to see her."
"Man, I'll say," smiles Rufus.
"Sure," says Leroy. "She's a real cool bitch. She wears black boots with spurs, carries a whip and indulges in every delight known to man!"
"What did he say?" shouts the deaf president.
Pope the Polack turns to Ronnie and screams, "He says they know Nancy!"
Now ... Nivedano ...
Be silent ... close your eyes ...
no movement of the body.
Gather your consciousness inwards.
Deeper ... and deeper ...
just like an arrow cutting all the layers of garbage.
Enter into your center.
In this moment of silence,
in this moment of innocence,
you are no more your shadow.
You are yourself.
This being yourself is called
"the arising of the moon,"
or "arising of the buddha."
Each one in his nature is the buddha ...
the enlightened one, the awakened one.
Every man is just a seed ...
he only needs to find the right soil
in which to disappear, disperse his personality,
his knowledge, his mind ...
And suddenly the moon
is reflected in the lake.
And suddenly the pine on the hilltop
touching the moon.
And suddenly out of nowhere
arises your buddhahood.
Remember this - twenty-four hours -
not as a thought,
but as a heartache,
so that it becomes an undercurrent.
Whatever you are doing
becomes different because you are different.
Your touch has a grace now;
your smile has a sincerity;
your eyes become just silent lakes.
Your action reflects your heart,
your being, your joy, your dance.
There is no other god.
There is no other temple.
Except you - awakened to your full glory,
to your full splendor -
there is no religion.
To make this point more clear, Nivedano ...
Relax ... let go ...
just die ...
to the body, to the mind,
to everything of this world.
What remains is just a pure sky,
utterly blissful, immensely ecstatic.
This is your forgotten language.
Only this kind of silence,
a deepening into yourself,
can connect you with existence.
And being connected with the existence,
the whole life becomes a festival,
Not only life,
but death also, because there is no death.
There is only life
and life and life,
and higher peaks and deeper valleys.
From beginningless to endless existence,
you are spread.
Everything is somehow within you.
The sun rises within you
and the moon hangs within you,
and the stars are part of your inner sky.
Remember that the inner sky
is vaster than the outer.
Blessed are those
who have tasted this inner juice
of pure existence.
Come back ...
but don't leave the experience behind.
Sit down and collect the experience -
the joy of it, the benediction of it.
And remember not to forget.
It has to become a constant breathing,
Only then you will feel fulfilled.
Only then you will feel you are not meaningless.
Only then your life is a grandeur.
This grandeur is already there,
just you have to discover it.
Just a few layers of dust -
We meditate every evening
simply so that you go on deepening
more and more,
so that the wine becomes older and older.
So that your buddhahood
becomes an absolute certainty.
It is not an argument,
it is an experience.
Yes, Beloved Master.
Can we celebrate the ten thousand buddhas and their gathering here?
Yes, Beloved Master.