Zen: a contagious blissfulness

Fri, 22 February 1988 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Hari Om Tat Sat
Chapter #:
pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
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Question 1:




Turiya, the man, Durkheim, whom you have met in Europe, and you think he did not recognize me... The moment he compared me with his meeting with George Gurdjieff was the moment of recognition. He absolutely recognized: I am certainly dangerous, far more dangerous than George Gurdjieff was.

But Durkheim was only a man of knowledge, learning, scholarship. He was a great intellectual. I have gone through all his works; I can see that he has heard only the words of the Zen masters, but he has not heard their silences. He has met their skeletons, but he has not encountered their presence, their existential essence. Durkheim certainly has introduced Zen to Europe, but his Zen is just like a paper boat: you call it a boat, but don't start using it as a boat.

He has been in the East. And he is right when he says that he has been sitting under many Zen masters, and he has brought Zen to Europe. He has brought only echoes. He has brought only a bird in the cage, not the bird with open wings in the sky. He has brought it very accurately - about his accuracy I have no doubt - and he has done his best to present Zen to people who have never known anything like it. But he himself does not know anything about it, as far as experience is concerned. As far as knowledge is concerned, he knows much; perhaps much more than the Zen masters he is talking about.

If he had understood Zen he would have understood George Gurdjieff. If you have seen the full moon, you have seen all the full moons that have passed and all the full moons that will appear in the future. If he could not understand George Gurdjieff, naturally, seeing my picture and seeing you as my disciples he warned you that you were moving on a dangerous path. And if a man is afraid of moving into the path of aloneness, silence... he may understand the word 'silence', but he has not tasted it. He has not looked into the eyes of George Gurdjieff.

Durkheim may have introduced the word 'zen', but it is George Gurdjieff who introduced the East to the West, without even mentioning it, without even claiming it - because the very claim that, "I have introduced Zen" comes from the ego. Gurdjieff never talked about Zen, and he was LIVING Zen.

Certainly he had his own individuality - of the same caliber as Bodhidharma, and as colorful and as unique. He was not a carbon copy of anybody else; he was himself - so much so that perhaps if Durkheim could not understand him it is understandable.

For example, if you wanted to be initiated by Gurdjieff... The initiation used to happen in the night after a long meal, dining, wining. Gurdjieff himself was a great cook, and he would cook food for his disciples. And he would go on forcing, "Eat!" He would force alcohol, drugs on the disciples, and they were shouting, "It is enough, we are going mad!" But unless you were really mad he was not going to listen.

Finally, in his congregation only he was aware, everybody had fallen: somebody was shouting, somebody was saying something - muttering, moaning, crying, weeping or laughing - or somebody was just sitting silently, wooden... it was a scene. And Gurdjieff was watching every disciple, because what you never say in your conscious state comes out when you are unconscious.

The whole Sigmund Freud psychoanalytical movement depends on your dreams. They are not worried about what you say, they are worried about what you dream. Strange people, because you have come to them, they should listen to your disease, your problems, and they say, "Don't be worried about your problems, you bring your dreams. Your problems are just on the surface and your dreams are your roots."

But Gurdjieff was not one to waste time like psychoanalysis does - for fifteen years a person goes into psychoanalysis. When he goes in he is a little sane; when he comes out he is absolutely insane.

A man used to think that he was a woman. Naturally his family were worried, his wife was very much worried, his children were worried. But he was completely unworried; he said, "What can I do? If I am a woman, I am a woman. I am not doing any harm to anybody."

Finally he ended up on the couch of a psychoanalyst. After three years of psychoanalysis he met a friend. The friend asked, "How is the psychoanalysis going?" He said, "It is going perfect."

The man was a little interested in the psychological movement. He said, "It is going perfect? Has it helped you?"

He said, "Helped? First I had some doubts; now I don't have any doubts." The friend said, "That's great, but what was the thing that you had doubts about?"

He said, "I am a woman. In these three years the psychoanalyst has convinced me, and I have convinced him that we both are women. And we are enjoying the company."

Psychoanalysis has not helped anybody.

Gurdjieff was not interested in wasting your time and your money. What psychoanalysis can do in twenty years he was able to do in one night. A man who has never eaten meat - the first thing was to force him to eat meat. If you want to be a disciple of Gurdjieff...

Now, you can conceive it. If you are a vegetarian, to eat meat goes against your whole conditioning.

You are bound to vomit. You will vomit and he will bring more meat for you. This will continue till the vomiting stops. That means your conditioning about meat is erased.

If you have never been drinking, he will force you to drink so much that you are bound to start doing things you could have never conceived - but they were inside you. And before he can accept you as his disciple, he wants to know you from your very roots, because from there will begin the work of transformation.

Now, naturally people like Durkheim and almost the whole world of so-called religious people were against Gurdjieff. His methods were strange, but he transformed more people than all the so-called religions, organized churches, psychologies. A single man has done an immense service, and without using the name of Zen. What he was doing was Zen, but it was his way of doing it.

Certainly Bodhidharma will not agree, neither will Buddha agree; but they will not disagree either.

They will not agree with his methods, but they will agree with the man. The man was certainly crystallized - the ultimate peak a man can reach. Now, what path he has followed you may not agree with, but he has reached - that you have to concede.

I am not in agreement on many things with George Gurdjieff - or with anybody else - but that does not mean that I don't recognize that there have been Himalayan peaks of consciousness. They followed a certain path which does not agree with me. I will condemn that path and I will condemn that method, but I will respect the man. That creates in many people's minds contradiction.

That's what happened to Durkheim. He had heard the words, beautiful words of Zen masters, but he had not seen a single unique Zen master like Bodhidharma or like Mahakashyapa. And if he could not recognize George Gurdjieff's realization, naturally he would deny me and warn you not to be with me - because Gurdjieff was using very crude methods: forcing meat or alcohol, drugs on people. I am also destroying your conditioning but in a far more refined way.

Have you heard the Zen story... There was a competition of swordsmanship. And swordsmanship in Japan is a very refined art. From different provinces, three competitors had come to the final.

Even the emperor was present. He himself released a fly from a small box and the first swordsman immediately cut it into two.

He released another fly and the second swordsman cut it into three. He released the third fly and nothing happened, the fly simply went away. The swordsman moved his sword, but nothing happened. People laughed - just as you laughed. But you will have to laugh again, because the man said, "These people and you are laughing, but that fly will not create any more children!"

Such a subtle operation... I was that swordsman! I do my work. Durkheim cannot understand my work if he cannot understand Gurdjieff, whose work is very crude and primitive, but of course absolutely right. My work is very sophisticated. That's why only very intelligent and sophisticated people, who can see what has happened to the fly, are my people. Those who have seen the first two warriors and think that they are great warriors don't understand much. Certainly they know the technique, but their technique is very primitive, very visible.

Durkheim, rather than becoming a man of Zen himself just became a reporter, writing what Zen masters are talking about, translating it. He forgot completely that he had himself to become a master, only then could he understand what he was writing, what he was listening to.

A certain similarity of consciousness is needed to understand the deeper ways of the heart. Many people have written in the West, and the story is almost always the same - except about one man, Alan Watts. And they all have written well. A few have done almost an impossible job, writing about something they know nothing about! They have done it very accurately, but they remain the same ordinary people. They were not transformed.

Durkheim is not a buddha. And these are the people who will prevent anybody, because they start thinking of themselves as an authority; because they have written a few books they have become an authority. So to Turiya and Vimalkirti he said, "You should not be with this man, this is dangerous."

Turiya, if he is still alive, tell him that as far as dangerousness is concerned he is right. And just because I am dangerous it is worth being with me.

You will not gain anything by being with Durkheim. There is no danger, no risk; he is simply a translator, a good translator. I appreciate his capacity as a translator, but not as a man who has understood the truth. It is good that you did not listen to him and continued on the dangerous path with me.

Vimalkirti has already gone beyond. The German royal family is perhaps the oldest royal family in Europe: one thousand years old. And in all those one thousand years, Vimalkirti was the only one who was really royal. He was my personal guard, so I watched him sitting silently for hours, day in, day out. He was here against everybody - and those were not small people: against Queen Elizabeth of England, who was telling him, "This man is dangerous." All the royal families of Europe were certainly worried that the last descendant of the oldest royal family, of Germany, had fallen into the hands of a dangerous man.

But he did not listen. And he is blessed because he ignored all these idiots - they may be royal; they may be royal idiots; they may be kings and queens and princes and princesses. And people like Durkheim must have been thinking that the royal descendant of the last emperor of Germany should not follow such a dangerous group, which is condemned all over the world.

But for anybody who has any guts, this is the very point: that I have only either friends or enemies.

Enemies are many; they don't count, they are uncountable. Friends are few, but they are the people who are going to inherit this earth. They are the people who are going to create possibilities for more consciousness, for more love, for more laughter, for more joy.

In a strange way, a tremendously great responsibility has fallen on you. You don't have any power except your love. You don't have any atomic weapons except your laughter. You don't have any destructive forces, but you have a creative heart, a creative intelligence and a tremendous secret of meditation, of entering into your own mystery. And your mystery and the mystery of the universe are not two, they are the same.

If Durkheim is still alive - I even suspect that he was never alive - tell him to come here and just be here without any prejudice. He may have been with Zen masters, but he has had no possibility to be in a commune where Zen is the very breathing, is the very heartbeat. We don't mention it - there is no point, it is our whole being. In this very silence it is our breath and it is our heart. And we are ready to share it with anyone who comes without any prejudice.

Lastly you say, Turiya, "Finally he said, 'I have brought Zen to Europe. Have you got my books?'"

Zen masters have been known to burn books. And a man who is saying, "I have brought Zen. Have you read my books?" is not able even to see the contradiction. He has brought books; he has not brought Zen. And Zen is not confined to books. Zen is a flavor, a spiritual aroma, a contagious blissfulness.

Have you brought that meditativeness in which thousands of roses blossom in the heart? Then you will not invite anybody to read books. You will invite them to meditate, to dance, to sing and to disappear in their dance. And perhaps after all this, those books may be useful just to understand your own experience; those books may help to give you the right words, exact expressions. Not vice versa - you don't go from books to Zen.

Zen comes first and overwhelms you. And it is so new and so unknown that you are puzzled and you don't know in what space you have entered; there a master's book can be helpful. It can give you some indications that you are not lost, some milestones. It can describe some qualities of which you don't have any past experience.

Let me repeat this, because it is never said in this way: Zen comes first and then you can read it in books, not vice versa, that you read the books and then you understand what Zen is. That's not the way things work.

Durkheim worked hard, and I have immense compassion for him. Wherever he is, in this life or in some other life, he needs a master of the quality of Gurdjieff. Only then he may be able to understand.

Gurdjieff perhaps was the first man from the East who penetrated into the Western consciousness.

He was a very strange man, and he passed through strange experiences and learned on his own, without any master. He moved in many monasteries, in many groups, and never belonged to any one, but collected fragments of forgotten teachings. And he was of tremendous intelligence, to join all those fragments and make a system out of them which can certainly transform man. But it is very primitive; it is a bullock cart method. It will take you, but when you can reach there without even moving an inch, when you can reach there just sitting here... then only have you understood the difficulty of Gurdjieff.

His father died when he was nine - a small child coming from a nomad tribe, moving from one tribe to another tribe. And those tribes were ancient tribes; they had their methods. Collecting fragments from everywhere and working out... But he was in a strange position. He was a Caucasian, so he had no knowledge of any contemporary language. But he worked out, somehow in broken language, how to indicate methods.

If he had not been found by Ouspensky, the world would not have known anything about him. He himself was not able to communicate. He knew, but just like you have a taste on your tongue but you don't have any word for it, and you don't have the talent... neither did life give him the opportunity to grow the talent, the intellect.

It was one of the great meetings of this century, when Ouspensky discovered him in a refugee camp in Constantinople. The first world war had ended, and Russia had entered the revolutionary period which culminated in the 1917 revolution. Now there was no possibility in Russia for a man like Gurdjieff. The country was in the possession of the materialists, who don't believe that there is any consciousness, who don't believe that there is any possibility of evolution. And they were killing all kinds of mystics. Gurdjieff escaped and he was found by Ouspensky. Ouspensky was a world-known mathematician.

And there you will understand the difference between Durkheim and a man of Zen: a man who writes about Zen and a man who lives Zen; a man who composes poems about love and a man who loves; a man who simply contemplates and a man who experiences.

Ouspensky had written great books before meeting Gurdjieff. One of his books I love as I love no other book. His way of writing is so precise - he was a mathematician. He brought mathematics to language with such a beauty that the mathematics came to language but the poetry of the language did not die, but was enriched. And he talks with such authority that you cannot think that this man knows nothing, but is a great scholar. He has read much and collected teachings from different sources, polished them, refined them, given them more beautiful words, but he himself he is just an ordinary man - nobody would have thought this.

It is a strange coincidence that he found Gurdjieff, because he was searching...

He had come to India in search of a man who really knows - not a man of knowledge, but a man who really knows. And even in India he could not find a man who really knows. And then he went back to Moscow and somebody said, "You are unnecessarily wandering here and there. There was a man here in Moscow while you were gone. I am not interested, in fact I am afraid of meeting such people, but I feel that is the man you are searching for. You are searching for the man who knows, but it is a dangerous encounter."

Ouspensky went in search of where Gurdjieff had gone - he had escaped from Russia. Ouspensky met him in a refugee camp in Constantinople. It was night; a dozen disciples were sitting around Gurdjieff silently, doing nothing. Ouspensky became fidgety, "What is going on? Nobody speaks, night is becoming darker and deeper. And I have come and the man who has brought me, he is also sitting with closed eyes. I was thinking that he would introduce me."

Finally Gurdjieff said, "Take this paper" - no introduction - "and go into the other room. And write on one side what you know and on the other side what you don't know. Bring me that paper, because that which you know I will never talk about to you. That which you know already, that is finished.

That which you don't know I will talk about. I will take you to those spaces which you don't know."

Ouspensky, in that cold night, sitting alone in the room with a small candle, for half an hour, could not figure out what he knew. Does he know God? Does he know himself? What does he know?

And he had written so many books, with such authority, without ever thinking that this was egoistic:

without knowing you are writing.

"But this man is a totally different man, because I was not even introduced, that I have come to be a disciple." Perhaps a silent communication... the man who had brought him was an old disciple of Gurdjieff, a musician who used to play for him. Something must have transpired. "But suddenly he gave me this paper."

And holding the paper in his hand he could not write a single thing that he knew. He returned the paper blank and he said, "Seeing you, it is impossible to be insincere. Seeing the real authority, it is impossible to pretend to be authoritative. I don't know anything. Accept me or reject me, but I am an ignorant man." Ouspensky started writing about Gurdjieff's teachings; he was a profound writer.

He made Gurdjieff's name world famous.

His methods were strange, because nobody had heard that these are religious methods. But there are secret streams... There are religions, superficial, which exist in churches and temples and synagogues, and there are religious streams underneath which you don't know about, but which continue to carry the eternal treasure.

Gurdjieff would talk, but nobody was able to understand what he was talking about. Even to write a book would take twenty years. And his way of writing a book you will not believe. He would write a book in Paris in a crowded cafe, sitting in the middle of a crowd of people coming and going - many people were shouting, somebody was getting drunk, and gurdjieff was writing. Many times Ouspensky asked, "Why don't you move to a silent place?"

He said, "It does not matter. In fact in these places I have learned a few words; these people go on talking so I have learned a few words. In silent places, who is going to tell me?"

But he slowly, slowly managed, through Ouspensky... methods which were not known he made available. A very old method, called stop.... The disciples dance; the dancing becomes more and more maddening, the music becomes more intense. It comes to a peak, where the dancer forgets himself, becomes almost a puppet in the hands of an unknown energy of music that is surrounding him. And at that moment Gurdjieff says suddenly, "Stop!" And everything has to stop: the music, the dance.

You are not even to adjust yourself comfortably, because in a dancing position you may be standing on one leg. You are not to move, you have to remain... you may fall; that is another thing. You are not to do anything on your part, you simply stop. And it is such a beautiful exercise. When you stop suddenly time stops, everything stops, and the whole existence becomes just pure silence, a serenity and a deep experience of yourself and of the whole. But sometimes... that's why he was called dangerous.

In Tiflis he was staying with a few of his disciples. He was inside a camp and outside was a canal, dry, and people were collecting wood inside it. The winter was coming and more wood would be needed; they were thinking to stay there for three months to meditate. Suddenly somebody opened the canal, not knowing that these people were carrying wood through the canal. Gurdjieff was inside the tent, and from there he suddenly shouted, "Stop!"

Those who were cunning, they thought, "He is inside the tent, he does not know what the situation is. If we stop we will be drowned. And he is not looking, so just jump out and stop there!"

Except one single disciple, everybody jumped out. They waited, but when they found that the water was coming up to their noses, then they thought, "It is too much. Now this spiritual search is going to finish me." They jumped out. Just one disciple remained as he was. Water was flowing over his head and Gurdjieff came running out, jumped into the canal, and pulled out the disciple. He was almost unconscious, but he was transformed.

Just that moment of decisiveness created an integration in him: Whatever happens, if he has agreed to the master to stop then he will stop; if it brings death then death is welcome. In that welcome of death do you think you can remain the same as you were before? You become steel. This is what Gurdjieff calls crystallization; you for the first time become an individual.

He brought the disciple to the tent, forced the water out of his body, warmed the body, wrapped it with blankets. And to the remaining disciples who had jumped out and were still standing outside, he said, "Just get lost! You are not the people to be with me. I am too dangerous for you. And you are too cunning, you are not sincere."

In New York he was giving a demonstration of the stop exercise. He had a group of thirty disciples, trained for years - dancers, musicians - and he was giving a demonstration. There came a point when the dancers were coming to the edge of the stage, and even the people who had gathered to see became afraid that the dancers were going to fall from the stage. And exactly at that moment, Gurdjieff, who was standing by the side smoking his cigar, said, "Stop!"

Everything stopped. People started falling over each other, but nobody moved, everything was silent. Many had fallen off the stage, many had fallen over them; the people who were in the hall were standing in awe! They could not believe what was happening. That silence and that total agreement, that contract with the master and the fulfillment of it was so beautiful, so dignified that even the people in the theater became silent. They had never seen such a thing.

Now, who is going to join such a man? He had his own ways. It was an ancient exercise of the Sufis.

And an ordinary man seeing him smoking a cigar will say, "What kind of enlightenment is this? This man is smoking a cigar and he goes on smoking his cigar and everybody has fallen. Somebody may have got a fracture; the musicians have fallen, their instruments are broken - what kind of man is this? And he is smoking a cigar and standing there enjoying the whole scene!"

But the reason needs tremendous understanding. He never wanted, in the West, to call himself enlightened, because that would create a distance and people would not be able to understand.

Already what he had brought was so far away that to call himself enlightened would make it more difficult.

In the East you can become enlightened, there is no problem; many people become enlightened and then become unenlightened. Nandan, just two or three days ago became enlightened, went beyond love, and just now... what to do? One falls in love again. So one puts the enlightenment off for later on, postpones it for the time being. Finally one has to become enlightened, but don't miss this chance, because this boyfriend is not something permanent.

Here every romance lasts not more than seven days. By the seventh day people are thinking how to get rid of each other. And when they get rid of them, then it is very easy to become enlightened - having nothing to do, no boyfriend, no girlfriend, what do you want? One finds it easier just to become enlightened!

Now, Nandan was worried that if I came to know then I would say, "This is again a case of being German." Germany has some quality. I have more German disciples than of any other country. And the German parliament has to prevent me from entering Germany. But that does not matter. Even the parliament is afraid. Their fear is that anybody who goes to Poona never returns!

Now, here there are so many problems: either boyfriend, girlfriend... If somehow you avoid boyfriend, girlfriend problems, then comes this enlightenment. For a few days one remains enlightened, and then one day one wakes up and says, "It is enough, now give the chance to somebody else."

Just a few serious things....

A Polack and a Jew are riding together in the same train and start chatting.

"How is it possible," asks the Polack, "that you Jews are so successful in business?"

"It is simple," replies the Jew. "We have good-luck charms."

"What are they?" asks the Polack.

"Well," replies the Jew, "it is something we carry with us all the time that brings us good luck." And he pulls a plastic bag out of his pocket and begins to unroll it. Inside is a fish head.

"Wow!" says the Polack, poking the fish head. And he asks if the Jew is willing to sell it.

"Twenty dollars and it's yours," replies the Jew.

The Polack hands over twenty dollars and pockets the fish head. But ten minutes later he is upset. "I have just realized," says the Polack, "I could buy at least ten fishes in the market for twenty dollars."

"Aha!" says the Jew. "You see, it's working already!"

Hymie Goldberg is touring Ireland in his car when he finds Paddy hitch-hiking, holding a cow.

"I can give you a lift," says Hymie, "but I can't take your cow."

"Oh, that's okay," says Paddy, "she will follow us at her own speed. "

So Paddy gets in and Hymie is soon driving at thirty miles per hour. The cow is trotting along behind.

Hymie speeds up to forty miles per hour and the cow is still keeping pace. At fifty miles per hour Hymie sees that the cow is right behind, but he notices that she seems to be getting tired.

"I'm a bit worried about your cow," says Hymie, "her tongue is hanging out of her mouth."

"Which side of the mouth?" asks Paddy.

"On the right side," replies Hymie.

"Oh, that's all right then," says Paddy. "That just means she wants to pass you!"

Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Beloved Master.

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"The Christians are always singing about the blood.
Let us give them enough of it! Let us cut their throats and
drag them over the altar! And let them drown in their own blood!
I dream of the day when the last priest is strangled on the
guts of the last preacher."

(Jewish Chairman of the American Communist Party, Gus Hall).