Truth is nobody's monopoly
THE OTHER DAY YOU SAID IT WAS EASIER FOR ONE TO MEDITATE WHEN ONE WAS ELEVATED FROM THE EARTH, SUCH AS ON A TREE. IN AIKIDO, ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES IS TO FEEL THE BODY CONNECTED WITH THE GRAVITY OF THE EARTH. IS THERE ANY CONTRADICTION IN IT?
AIKIDO ALSO TEACHES ONE TO BE ALWAYS AWARE OF THE POINT A FEW CENTIMETERS BELOW THE NAVEL. WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN THIS POINT AND OUR BEING?
Veet Shastro, it raises a very historical question. Zen was born in India in the absurd laughter of Mahakashyapa, a close disciple of Gautam Buddha. He had many disciples even closer than Mahakashyapa. Mahakashyapa is mentioned only once and that mention is of when he had laughed.
Mahakashyapa's laughter was the beginning of Zen. So first you have to understand why Mahakashyapa laughed. Why had he laughed?
One such beautiful morning as this, and with such beautiful, silent people as these, Gautam Buddha was expected to come and give his morning talk. Unexpectedly, he came with a beautiful roseflower in his hand. Everybody wondered - he had never before come with anything in his hand. And more mysterious was the situation, because he sat on the podium, looking at the roseflower. Seconds passed, minutes passed... and people became fidgety. "Is he not going to talk today? And what is the meaning of Gautam Buddha just watching a roseflower?"
After half an hour it became almost a tension: something had to be done - he did not look at people, he was looking at the roseflower. At that moment, Mahakashyapa laughed. Gautam Buddha raised his eyes and called Mahakashyapa close to him and gave the flower to Mahakashyapa. And he told the people, ten thousand sannyasins, "Whatever could be said through words I have said to you, and whatever could not be said through words I have transferred to Mahakashyapa."
This is the only mention of Mahakashyapa in the whole Buddhist canon. It is a vast literature, and for centuries, twenty-five centuries, enquirers have been asking the question, "Why did Mahakashyapa laugh? And why was his laughter accepted? Not only accepted, but raised to the highest point of communication." Something transpired in that silent giving of the roseflower to Mahakashyapa.
Since then Zen has been mysterious. It is the most pure mysticism that has existed on the earth.
In India, it was called "Zan." Buddha used - it was a revolutionary step - the people's language.
Pali was the people's language. In the people's language words become simple, rounded, easy. In Sanskrit the word is 'dhyan'. But for the people, 'dhyan' seems to be a little difficult. Buddha never used Sanskrit.
You may not be aware that Sanskrit has never been a living language; it was only a language for scholars. They kept a separate system of communication amongst themselves. Buddha was the first man in India who revolted against this ugliness. Everything should be said in the people's language. It should not become the monopoly of scholars, it should not give the scholar a great ego.
He used the lowest language that is used in the marketplace, where things change. Words may not be accurate grammatically, but become more rounded, more usable, more simple. 'dhyan' became 'zan'.
In India, for example, in the villages, station - railway station - is not called station. It is called only 'tation. Why bother about 'railway station'? That is too big a word for poor people. They simply use 'tation. And the same is true about many words. Sanskrit is very polished - perhaps the most polished language - because only scholars used it and they were very fussy about its accuracy, grammar. Buddha simply dropped that.
Zan became a new stream, flowing from Gautam Buddha to Mahakashyapa. You will know what was transferred when between your master and you something happens in silence, because Buddha said, "What could be said I have said to you, and what could not be said, I have given it to Mahakashyapa. This roseflower is only a symbol of recognition that Mahakashyapa will represent the unsayable."
After Mahakashyapa it was bound to be a very small stream of seekers, because of its mysteriousness.
The next great name is Bodhidharma. His master told him to go to China, not to convert China to Buddhism... "But in China there is already a fragrance existing, created by Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu. Truth is nobody's monopoly. It will be good if you take the treasure that Mahakashyapa has given, from generation to generation, to China. And let these two beautiful streams of mystics meet." Just as in cross-breeding the child is more strong, the same happens when two streams of thought, or of no-thought, meet, merge. Something new, far deeper than either arises, far greater than either arises.
It took Bodhidharma three years to reach China. But when the master had said it, there was no question. The relationship between the master and the disciple is of such deep love that it is always yes - in capital letters. He did not even ask why; the master must know. He went to China and the cross-breeding happened. What was 'zan' in Buddhism was made even more simple, so that the Chinese could understand and use it. It became 'chan'. It flourished in China, and great masters arose out of the mystic experience.
From China it was taken to Japan. Again a new cross-breeding... The word from 'chan' became 'zen'. And in Japan it is manifested in many dimensions.
Your question, Veet Shastro, is very fundamental. There are two ways to disappear as a personality:
one we can call "grounding" and one we can call "centering."
Mahakashyapa, Bodhidharma, they all used centering: going within to the point where nothing remains, just a pure presence, no person. The same became even more beautiful with the great heritage of Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu and Lao Tzu. They were also people of centering. They were exploring their interiority to find themselves, and what they found was an absolute absence of anybody - even the finder disappeared. Out of that state came neither the found nor the finder, neither the seeker nor the sought, but an absolute silence, alive, full of its own music, full of its own dance. Seeing this, Mahakashyapa laughed - "Buddha goes on saying to people 'Seek yourself, find yourself' and he is tricking them."
It is a perfectly legitimate statement, to seek yourself. But Mahakashyapa knew: when you find yourself, you are no more there. It is a very strange situation; except laughter, nothing can express it.
There is an old definition of a philosopher: in a dark night, in a dark house where there is no light - and the philosopher, moreover, is blind - he is looking for a black cat which is not there. But the search continues. And if suddenly light comes in and his eyes are cured and he thinks of all the trouble that he was taking to find the cat which does not exist, what else to do except to laugh at himself?
Fools laugh at others.
Wisdom laughs at itself.
But in Japan the cross-breeding had a very tremendous manifestation. It has gone very far away from Mahakashyapa's laughter - a long journey. On the journey it gathered many new manifestations, many new revelations, many new methods. In Japan it turned out finally to be the peak. And the peak was that anything can be used to find the truth. Even a warrior can use his sword, fighting with another warrior; there is no need for him to sit and meditate. The archer can find in his archery; the painter can find in his painting; the sculptor can find in his sculpture.
What was in India only pure meditation, grew in Japan into many branches. Indians cannot even conceive how a warrior, a fighter with a sword can be meditative, or how archery can be a meditative method, because Indians have never tried. It needed Mahakashyapa's laughter to travel from India to China and from China to Japan. On this long travel of a thousand years it gathered much insight.
One German professor, Herrigel, could not believe - he was reading about Zen - how the art of archery can be meditation. There seems to be no relationship. It seems to be perfect that Gautam Buddha sitting in the lotus posture is meditating. But to conceive that an archer or a swordsman, whose effort is to kill the other, can be meditative...
Herrigel went to Japan. For three years he was in Japan, and there he found the secret. He learned archery. He himself was an archer, a master archer; a hundred percent he was successful in hitting the target. But his Zen master said, "This is not the point. The point is not there in the target; the point is within you. Are you grounded?"
He said, "In the West we have practiced archery for hundreds of years and nobody has thought about grounding. What is this grounding?"
The master said, "Grounding means you become almost part of the earth and allow the gravitation to flow in you, to flood you - particularly below the navel, two inches below to be exact. The gravitation comes from all around, and settles two inches below your navel."
But Herrigel asked, "What has it to do with archery? I have to concentrate on the target." The master said, "Forget about the target, first be grounded. And when you shoot your arrow, be relaxed, so that that gravitation shoots it, not you."
He said, "You are making strange statements. I will have to shoot, how can the gravitation shoot it?"
Three years... and he never missed a single target; he was a master archer. But his master would say, "No, you have still missed. I am not watching your target - who cares about your target? I am watching you; you are the target."
And why two inches below the navel? That is the center of life. It was from there you were connected with your mother. It was from there that for nine months you were supplied with everything that you needed, and you didn't have to do anything, you were simply relaxed.
Grounding means, bringing this life center within you in contact with the gravitational force, so that the gravitational force starts filling it. And a moment comes when you don't shoot at the target.
Certainly you aim, but it is as if the arrow shoots itself. The gravitational force is enough to take it to the target.
Three years, and a German mind... Finally Herrigel gave up. He said, "You are driving me crazy.
Day and night I am thinking about how to do it." And the master said, "That's what I have been telling you. Don't think about how to do it, let it happen. Just have enough energy so it happens."
Finally he decided to go back. Three years are enough, and not even a single time had the master said, "Good." He always said, "You missed again." Every day Herrigel would come and every day he would be a failure. He told the master, "I am sorry, but I could not get the point. And tomorrow I am leaving, so tomorrow I will come to say good-bye."
Next day he came. The master was teaching another disciple, and Herrigel was sitting on the bench, simply watching, because it was not his business, he was finished with it. If he cannot get it in three years, he cannot get it in three lives. It is beyond any logic, what the master is saying.
So he was sitting relaxed, watching - watching the master because the master was showing the new disciple. And suddenly he saw the point. The master was so relaxed, it was not his hands which were shooting the arrow; it was so clear that some inner force was at work. Spontaneously he stood up, went to the master, took the bow and arrow and shot the arrow.
For the first time the master said, "I can certify - you have achieved. You were trying with your mind, tense. Today it was just accidental - you were sitting relaxed, it was not your business, you were finished with it... And because you were finished with it, your eyes were clear, your heart was silent, you were watching in deep peace and silence, and you could see. For three years I was trying to show it to you, but because you were in a hurry to learn quickly and go to Germany... And just now there was no hurry - you were going to Germany.
"I can certify that you have achieved not only the art of archery, but simultaneously the art of grounding. And the moment you are grounded, as the trees are grounded - with deep roots in the earth - when your body is receiving forces from the earth and you are available, relaxed, allowing them to fill your life center, the mind stops functioning, time stops."
So just by the side, meditation happens. People around the world have wondered, "What has meditation to do with archery?" But it happens. It can happen with anything. The question is, mind should stop, time should stop; you should be relaxed and allow life to take possession of you.
You are asking, Shastro, "The other day you said it was easier for one to meditate when one was elevated from the earth, such as on a tree. In Aikido, one of the fundamental principles is to feel the body connected with the gravity of the earth. Is there any contradiction in it?"
No, only variety. Either you are connected with the earth or you are connected with the sky. You have heard the word 'gravitation'; perhaps you have not heard the word 'levitation'. Just as the earth pulls you towards itself, the sky pulls you towards itself. The pull of the earth is called gravitation and the pull of the sky is called levitation. So either way, you can manage. The earth is your life - so is the sky.
In fact, my suggestion is that the sky is far vaster than the earth. Its energy sources are inexhaustible, more than the energy of the earth. It is enough for a small human being to be filled with the energy of the earth. But if you really want to know the universal force, it is better if you go farther away from the earth.
The first astronauts were very much puzzled... they had not thought about it. Later on they were trained, but the first astronauts had no idea: as they moved out of the gravitational field, they started floating in their spacecraft, inside. They could not believe it, they became weightless. Their weight on the earth was of gravitation.
You don't have any weight. The moment you become weightless, if you are aware that this weightlessness can be associated with meditation, then exactly what happens in grounding will have happened, and far more tremendously. You will be flooded with the universal energy.
But because the astronauts were Western people, they had no idea of energy. They became even more tense, more afraid, "What is happening?" Somehow they grabbed their seat belts, tied themselves to their seats. It was just a shocking experience. Just think if you start floating, going to the disco, or just on a visit to MG Road... Nobody has heard of it; hence it has no name.
It was my experience that in water, in a river, gravitation is nullified. You think you have to learn swimming - it is not true, just somebody has to push you into the river and you will swim. First you will shout, "Save me, help!" And when no help is coming, then you will try to throw around your arms.
They will be haphazard, not coordinated; you may drink a little water...
And you know perfectly well, just float a dead body in the water and it does not drown. It does not know swimming; it has no idea. People even drown because they have thought that they don't know swimming, and they made so much fuss and created trouble for themselves. First they will go under water while they are alive; once they are dead, they are swimming perfectly well on the surface. It seems dead people know something which we don't know.
One Japanese scientist has been proving that children need not learn swimming; they are born with the capacity. He started with one-year-old children, then six-month-old. Now he has come to three- month-old children; they swim perfectly well. Nobody has told them, "You don't know swimming.
Don't go near the water." And now he is trying to go back even more, towards the first day the child is born. His hypothesis is - and I agree that it will prove right - the child will swim. For nine months in the mother's womb he has been floating. Why do you think the mother's belly becomes so big?
Do you think there is that big a child inside? It is a small pond.
And mothers know: they start drinking water more, they become interested in eating salty things, because the water the child needs has to be exactly like ocean water. The first man was born as a fish, and man still is born as a fish. And even after you are born, don't think you have gone far away from the fish. Eighty percent of your body is water - ocean water. Nobody has worked it out... it happened to me accidentally.
I was in my postgraduate class. Just behind my hostel, there was a small hillock with three trees.
And it was difficult to find any place where you would not be disturbed - particularly if you were meditating. Then somebody would come and shake you: "What has happened to you? Why are you sitting here with closed eyes? Some sad news?" And thousands of students, hundreds of professors... somebody was bound to come. If you closed your doors, they would knock. And if you didn't open the doors they would call the fire brigade, "Something has gone wrong."
I found those trees were good. I used to climb the tallest and strongest tree and sit there. It had a very beautiful place where two branches separated, and I used to meditate there early in the morning, at three o'clock - no possibility of any disturbance.
I was amazed: I would sit under the tree, then I would sit on top, high on the tree and the silence would immediately deepen; the mind would stop, time would stop.
Aikido is perfectly right and what I said is not against it. Just like Aikido, another science is needed.
Perhaps this academy of meditation may be able to develop it. And my experience is that not only gravitation helps you to be filled with life, the tree also helps you to be filled with life - it is life.
And Aikido was developed in Japan for warriors, archery for archers. I don't think that you want to be a warrior or you want to be an archer or you want to be a boxer. You want to be a silent, joyful, loving awareness; a presence but not a person. What I am saying will help you much more than Aikido. Aikido will also be introduced soon. We will be having Aikido classes; there are a few fools, they have to be satisfied. We are going to have archery.... One of my sannyasins is a master archer.
She is French, she is ready to come any day if we want archery. But she is not meditative, she is just technically perfect. I will have to send her to Japan to learn the combination of meditation and archery.
But what is the point? We are not going to kill the birds, we are not going to kill each other. And if you want a perfect archer, the simplest thing is...
I have always loved the story of a king who was passing through a village. He loved archery; he himself was a master archer. He could not believe that in that small village there lived someone who was certainly a greater archer than himself. He had not been one hundred percent; once in a while the target was missed. But there he saw circles on trees and exactly in the middle an arrow - on many trees.
He said, "This is... even the best archer cannot manage this. It seems so perfect. I want to meet the man." So he called the people and asked, "Who is the archer?" They all laughed. They said, "Forget about him. He is the village idiot."
He said, "You don't understand. You bring him, his archery is perfect."
The villagers said, "You don't understand his archery. First he shoots the arrow and then he makes a circle around it. Naturally, he is perfect, always perfect. And we have told him, 'This is not the right way. First you should make the circle on the tree and then shoot. In that way one can miss. This is a simple way, you never miss.'"
Japan has been a warrior race, so naturally when Zen reached Japan it became associated with all kinds of swordsmanship, the art of archery and other things. But they have retained the essential of Zen in it. Even Mahakashyapa would not be successful in archery, but that does not mean that he is not the originator.
I don't think Gautam Buddha will be able to pass Aikido examinations. He is bound to fail. But that does not mean that this whole Aikido is just a faraway echo of Gautam Buddha's experience of his own being. There is no contradiction. Just remember one thing: whatever you are doing... chopping wood you can be a meditator, or carrying water from the well you can be a meditator. Meditation is simply a silent thread inside you. You can do anything, just that silent thread should not be disturbed.
Be careful that your awareness remains and then you can do anything.
Meditation is not something separate from life. It was a great mistake of the past that people thought meditation is separate from life. When you are finished with life, one foot in the grave, then it is time to meditate - that's how the Hindu conception is. Up to twenty-five years you should be a celibate and a scholar. Then get married up to fifty - business and all kinds of things of life... children. And when you are fifty, then turn your face towards the forest. Don't go yet, just turn your face, because your children may be small. So just start preparing; it is called vanprastha. Just preparation for going to the forest - twenty-five years.
At seventy-five you leave. Your children will be almost forty, forty-five. They are also getting ready to be looking at the forest and preparing. At seventy-five you go into the forest. And those twenty-five years, the last part of your life, are for meditation.
This was a very wrong conception. I condemn it forcefully because it destroyed this country. Firstly, it keeps meditation as the last thing on your laundry list; it is not a priority. Secondly, it creates a division between meditation and life, which is not right. Life can be meditative; meditation can be a joyful life. And thirdly, very few people live after seventy-five - particularly in India.
Forty years is the average age. Now, how to divide it? Ten years for a scholarship? The other ten for marriage? The other ten for preparation to go to the forest? And by the age of thirty your ticket is given to you to go to the forest.
And the idea of a hundred years is absolutely imaginative. Nowhere has a hundred years been the average time of life. Even in the most developed countries - technically, medically, scientifically - a hundred is not the average length of life. And when we are thinking about such an important thing like meditation, it should not be missed. A man who has missed meditation has missed the most beautiful experience of his life.
Now a few moments for prayer....
For years, the Goldberg family have been trying to persuade Hymie to buy a hearing aid. But all he says is, "Nonsense. You people should talk louder."
But one day Hymie is walking down the street when he sees a sign in a shop window: Hearing aids - sixty percent off. Hymie rushes in and within ten minutes, he has been fitted with a hearing aid.
Stepping out into the street with a broad smile on his face, a voice calls him, "Hymie, hey Hymie!" It is his friend Moishe Finkelstein. "What are you doing in this part of town?" asks Moishe.
"This," replies Hymie pointing to his ear. "It is wonderful. My kids were right, I can hear like a seventeen-year-old."
"That's great," says Moishe. "What kind is it?"
Hymie glances at his watch and says, "It's a quarter to five."
And the last....
An American from Texas goes to England for a holiday, and when he walks into a cafe, he asks the waiter for a cup of black coffee.
The waiter replies, "In England, we serve tea. We have three types of tea: we have orange pekoe tea, which is eighty percent aroma and twenty percent substance; we have herbal tea, which is twenty percent aroma and eighty percent substance; and we have English tea, which is preferred."
Then the Texan says, "I don't want tea, I want black coffee. But in Texas, we also have three teas: we have s-h-i-T, which has eighty percent substance and twenty percent aroma; we have f-a-r-T, which has eighty percent aroma and twenty percent substance; and we have c-u-n-T, which is preferred."
Yes, Beloved Master.