[NOTE: This is a translation from the Hindi discourses: Nahim Ram Bin Thaon. It is being edited for publication, and this version is for reference only.]
THE ZEN MASTER HOTEI USED TO TRAVEL AROUND WITH A BAG ON HIS SHOULDER, GIVING OUT SWEETS TO CHILDREN AND PLAYING WITH THEM. IF A ZEN DEVOTEE WERE TO MEET HIM ON THE ROAD, HOTEI WOULD SIMPLY BOW DOWN TO HIM AND SAY, "GIVE A PENNY!" AND IF HE WERE ASKED TO GO TO A TEMPLE TO GIVE A DISCOURSE, AGAIN HOTEI WOULD SAY THE SAME THING: "GIVE A PENNY!"
ONCE HE WAS PLAYING WITH SOME CHILDREN, AND ANOTHER ZEN MONK MET HIM AND ASKED, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ZEN?" IN SILENT ANSWER, HOTEI PUT HIS BAG ON THE GROUND. THE MONK THEN ASKED HIM, "WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF ZEN?", AT WHICH THE SMILING BUDDHA PICKED HIS BAG UP AGAIN, PUT IT ON HIS SHOULDER, AND SET OFF.
THE OTHER MONK ALSO LATER BECAME A FAMOUS ZEN MASTER. CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT THEIR MESSAGES WERE?
The statements of the mystics and their way of life are not based on any logical syllogism. There is no calculation in their lives, they are not conventionalists; their lives are a spontaneous throbbing.
We can experience something in that throbbing, we can taste that throbbing, but that throbbing can never be defined logically or intellectually. So the first thing to be understood is that the life of a
mystic is not run according to some moral code, scripture, tradition or structure. His life is not like a pond, it is like a flowing river. The life of a mystic does not happen through careful planning but through living moment-to-moment pulsations of consciousness in their totality.
We call a man evil whose life has a mold of evil-doing. He lives through a mold but the mold is that of evil-doing. He commits thefts and all kinds of dishonesty, he is treading the path of evil quite deliberately and calculatedly. His wickedness is his own decision; this lifestyle he has chosen of his own accord. We call a man virtuous who has made virtue his chosen lifestyle. Charity, kindness and good deeds have all been carefully considered by him, and are deemed appropriate to the style of life he has chosen. The lives of both the evil-doer and the virtuous man are bound by a mold.
There is a third kind of life, the life of the mystic, which is free from any mold. So the lives of two mystics will never be alike. They can only be similar when they are cast in the same mold - like mass-produced Fiat cars. But two plants cannot be alike; really, even their two leaves cannot be alike. Not even two pebbles found anywhere on this vast planet can be the same as each other, because every pebble has come out of the infinite; it is not cast in a certain mold. This is why there is no repetition in existence. Nothing is duplicated, everything is unique and unparalleled.
The mystic does not manipulate his actions according to either evil or virtue. He does not impose any system on his life. The mystic lives in a state of conscious anarchy. This point has to be understood very deeply, because you can live in anarchy without any awareness also. If you live in unconscious anarchy, anarchy but with unawareness, the result will be an evil man. You may have convinced yourself that you are living free of any mold, but no, your life is molded. If you live with unawareness, but according to some moral code and discipline and not anarchically, then you are a so-called virtuous man. But in anarchy, with no rules, no scriptures, no mold and with awareness - as if awareness is the only scripture, as if to keep oneself awake is the only and suprememost regulation - this is truly the routine of the life of the mystic. It is not proper to call it even a routine, because routine implies as if his actions are thought out. Whatever happens through living in wakefulness, that is the behavior of the mystic! Conscious behavior is godliness. So the lives of no two mystics will be alike; and if you seek to understand him, then start by looking at his life as a mystery.
There are two ways to understand. Imagine a flower has blossomed: now you can look at it as a scientist - break it into pieces, separate the petals and parts, analyze it into its various chemicals and minerals, investigate the whole arrangement that led to this flower's particular form. This is the way of science, and it depends on breaking and analyzing. Every detail of the flower may be known, but in the process the flower will disappear, its beauty will disappear, because whatever this flower was lay in its totality. By breaking the petals and collecting the chemical constituents in different bottles, the flower's formula may be written down on paper - but the flower itself will disappear. Its flowering, its freshness, its beauty, will all disappear. The flower that grew like the phrase of a divine melody, the flower that existed like a living gesture of the divine, has disappeared. Instead there is a formula on paper. This is science's way of understanding.
This is why science is not in any position to understand the soul - because there is no way to break down the soul for analysis. Science can understand the body because the body can be dissected.
It can know the body because the body's physical constituents can be separated - how much water, how much oxygen, how much hydrogen, the different minerals and so on. But the soul is indivisible; it has no constituents, so it cannot be analyzed.
Science says that if something cannot be analyzed then it cannot be said to exist, since there is no way to understand it. There is no way to understand even that it is. Hence science can never accept the soul, unless the soul is willing to be broken into pieces, which is not the nature of the soul. So science can never accept God. It accepts the world, the creation, but not the creator, because only the creation can be defined. This is one way of understanding.
There is another way of understanding, and this belongs to the mystic - not to the scientist, but to the sage. If you ask a mystic, "What is a flower?", the last thing he will do is break the flower, because then it will no longer be a flower. Whatever you may then come to know will not be what you were seeking in the first place. Its nature has changed. So the mystic will not even separate the flower from the tree, because cut from the tree the flower is an altogether different thing. The difference is of life and death. Growing on the tree the flower was alive; separated from the tree it is dead. It is exactly like the difference between you and your corpse. Just in plucking the flower, the mystic will say, you have altered its nature, and what you will now come to know about will be a dead thing. Your information will be about death, whereas your inquiry was about the living flower.
So the mystic will not even pluck the flower from the tree. Then what will he do? He will not even so much as touch the flower, because touch can only be external. Touching at the periphery we may find out whether the flower feels tender or rough, but how are we going to touch the soul within it? There is no way to touch the soul - it is beyond touch. And the mystic's interest is not with the physical body of the flower, because the beauty of the flower lies not in its body but in the radiance emanating from its soul. So what will the mystic do?
He will meditate, he will sit near the flower. He will make no alterations to the flower, he will alter himself so that all his thoughts recede. He will not touch the flower at all; he will transform himself so that his heart becomes totally silent - so silent that the flower can enter into him. He will have to lower all his defenses so that the flower too can let go of all its self-protecting devices. This is because when you make preparations for your security, the other does the same. When you build a wall around you the other does so too, out of fear; but when you remove your wall the other loses his fear.
The mystic will sit by the flower in loving meditation, allowing himself to dissolve into the flower and the flower to dissolve into him. A moment will come when there will be neither mystic nor flower; the life current of each will merge into the other in complete harmony. Then the mystic will know what a flower is. Then he will say, "One who has known one flower has known the whole of the divine." This is the mystic's way of understanding.
This story recounts an episode from Hotei's life. He was such a unique being; to seek comparisons between Hotei and other saints is quite futile. No other mystic has lived the way he did. He spent his whole life walking from one village to another, never stopping anywhere; to settle was not his way.
Someone once asked Hotei to explain in a nutshell what meditation is. Hotei's answer was, "Walk on!" If you stop, he is saying, meditation is lost. As soon as you stop the mind is born. Where the river stops a pond is formed, and there is the beginning of stagnation. So Hotei says walk on, do not stop, walk on not to any destination; in the walking is the destination. There is nowhere to reach to; in flowing is the reaching - just flow.
This is a perception based on a profound inner experience of Gautam Buddha. Buddha said that there are no things in the world, but only processes. You are not a person, you are a process. It is mainly for linguistic purposes that we convert everything into objects. We say that there is a river:
ask Buddha and he will say there is no such thing as is; the river is in process, it is becoming. To say the river is implies stability, and the river is never in this state, it is always becoming. Again, we say that the tree is; language makes it appear as though everything is at rest, but every moment the tree is becoming. In the time it takes to say, "The tree is," an old leaf would have fallen, a new leaf would have sprouted, a flower would have fallen in the wind. The tree is not a static thing, it is a flowing, a process.
You too are a process. This is why Buddha says there is no soul in man. The moment we say soul it feels like a thing, some static thing. Buddha says man is a flow, a continuous current, something like the flame of a burning lamp. The flame can be seen, but it is not a static object, each moment it is changing, it goes on changing. Buddha says that except change nothing is eternal; the only permanence is change. And there are no things, only ongoing processes.
So this is the essence of meditation. As Hotei said, "Walk on!" Mind always wants stability, so it always looks for a destination and is prepared to call anything the destination so that it can stop there. One mind stops at money, another at success, and another somewhere else; the point is that it finds somewhere to stop and settle in. This is the mind's entire desire - to find somewhere to settle down. The day you are free from this desire, the day you cease to ask for a destination, you have arrived. In that moment of arrival, all tension will vanish from your mind. If there is nowhere to get to, how can there be any tension?
Have you ever noticed how relaxed and free of tension you are going for a walk in the morning?
Later you may walk along the same road, following the same direction, on your way to the shop or the office, but now there is tension. The road is the same, the direction is the same, you are the same, but now you are going somewhere, you have a destination. If you are late or don't get there for some reason, there will be problems, so now there is tension. But in the morning, although you walked the same road you were not heading anywhere. You strolled freely, lighthearted, and with no hurry. Whether you reached a certain place did not matter because you were not set to reach anywhere, and the route you took back home was not important. The happiness found in going for a walk is not available when you are going somewhere.
Playing too can give you great happiness. But you make a profession of your playing and you will no longer find the same happiness in it. Playing chess or cards, you are simply playing; winning or losing is all the same to you. Your interest is not in winning but in playing; then it is one thing. But if you are employed as a player it is entirely a different matter. Your playing is no longer play, it has become business. As soon as there is a motive, business enters; as soon as there is a goal to be reached, business has come in. Now this will be a little difficult to understand, because we think that if a man has given up his shop and gone to the Himalayas, he has left all business. But if there is still a motive in his mind, then he is still doing business. If he is thinking he will attain to the divine by sitting in the Himalayas, then he is just continuing his business. As long as there is some end result, on which his eyes are focused, his business continues.
If, on the other hand, he is blissful just sitting there in the mountains, irrespective of whether or not he finds the divine - content if he does find, content if he does not - then his sitting in the Himalayas
has become a religious act, where the means has become the end, where being here is being at the destination.
This, to say it in other words, is supreme contentment. The meaning of contentment is where means is the goal. If you are discontented it is because the means and the goal are different for you. You are using the means to achieve some goal - and our minds live in goals. So as long as you have any goals in your life - even goals like salvation, God, peace and bliss - as long as you have anything to attain, you will remain a shopkeeper. And as long as this is so, your life can not have the grace that descends on the meditator's life.
Hotei says the meaning of meditation is: "Walk on!" Don't stop anywhere, simply go on. There is no question of progressing in any particular direction even. He is saying, "Float! Don't come to a halt, don't lose your flowing, don't become stagnant!" A pond gets dirty, a river never does. Even if you don't throw any garbage into a pond, still it will become rotten, because there is no flow; it is closed.
A river cannot rot because it cleanses itself with its own flow. When you lead a life of business you are like a pond or a puddle; when you lead a life of meditation you are like a river.
Hotei never stayed in one place - not because of any rule. This is a fact of great interest. Mahavira used to ask his disciples never to stay in one town for longer than three days. This is right. This direction has been given after deep thought, because three days is a kind of limit for the mind; from the fourth day attachment sets in. If you change your house, for three days you will feel strangeness, from the fourth day you will begin to feel that you belong there. This is why Hindus mourn for three days when someone dies. In fact, it is on the fourth day that the person who has died really departs.
Psychologists who have studied these phenomena confirm this three-day limit of the mind; if you want to form an attachment, they say, three days' company is needed. This is why Mahavira told his disciples not to stay anywhere for longer than three days - so that this attachment does not begin, so that the river does not cease to flow. After three days all the passions will arise: the passion to fall into intimacy with somebody, the passion to fall into enmity with someone else; some people will appear to be good and others as bad; the mind will desire for a closeness with some and for a distance with some others. This is the beginning of the formation of a household.
But if you set out to make a rule of this you will miss the essence. Three days is not a rule; you can make an attachment in three seconds if attachment is what you are after. And if you don't want attachment, you can stay with someone for three lifetimes and still be free. The rules are a superficial device to help the unintelligent. If you are intelligent you will capture the essence.
This Hotei never halted in any town, he only passed through with his bag on his shoulder. Buddha and Krishna and Christ were never seen wandering with bags on their shoulders the way Hotei used to; and his bag contained sweets, toys, flowers, crackers - just things for children. He must have been a very marvellous man!
To the mystics we are all only children, and our lifestyles childish. Even when we have grown up we go on playing with toys; it is only the color and shape of the toys that changes. Small children arrange the marriage of their boy and girl dolls, we arrange the marriage of living dolls - sons and daughters. But if you have seen the excitement and the joy and the awe the children feel at the time of the marriage of their dolls... we don't feel any less at the time of marriage of our living dolls. We
grownups do the same as our children are doing. Our games are enlarged, of course, but the seed is the same. And not only do we marry boys and girls, we arrange the marriage of even Rama and Sita. In the wedding procession we include images of Rama and Sita, and we act out their wedding.
Even old people, the elderly participate in it. We are no different from our children! If our children's toys get broken they get very upset, and we find ourselves saying, "What a baby you are! Can't you see it's only a toy that has broken? Be thankful it isn't you!" But are our idols and effigies anything more than toys?
You will say, "But we have invested our effigies with divinity!" Do you think the child has not done this with his toy? In fact the child's consecration of his toy goes far deeper than yours, because the child is so innocent. You are cunning. You buy an idol, and in the presence of the priests and pundits, amid noisy brass bands, you declare your idol has now been invested with the divine! But deep down you know that this god is nothing but a purchased one, and that even then you haggled to get a bargain, and that the priests and all the whole show were only hired, and that neither they nor you had any feeling in it, it was all just a money game. And yet you will bow down in front of this "god"
and sanctimoniously pray, "O Savior of sinners...." Amazing childishness!
At least children are straightforward in what they are doing, because their hearts are there in it; to them their toy has become alive. Not so with you - your "god" has not come alive to you. And yet, if some enemy damages your idol, breaks its arm or leg, massacres will follow. If a Mohammedan smashes your idol, or if a Hindu sets fire to a mosque, knives will be drawn and there will be terrible bloodshed.
Man is childish. That there are toys in Hotei's bag is simply an announcement that you are all children. Hotei is saying, "What else can be given to you? You are not prepared to take anything else. You are only interested in toys and sweets and crackers - that's all!"
Hotei can give you God too! He carries God in his bag as well, but you won't ask for him, you don't desire him, and whatever you haven't asked for, whatever you have not desired, cannot be given to you. In fact, what you do ask for are very strange things. The contents of Hotei's bag are indicative of your mind; otherwise, he would not carry around this load.
People come to me, and they really astonish me with the things they want to ask me about. Someone comes because he has no job, someone comes because his illness is not getting cured, someone else comes to complain that there is no harmony between himself and his wife. Has there ever been harmony between a husband and wife? Has anyone ever been totally healthy? Does anyone ever get the job he wanted?
Hotei's bag contains the answers to your demands. Hotei travels from one village to another and goes on distributing things among the people. Children gather round him and he gives them toys and sweets. To go on walking and to go on giving is the foundation of godliness. This has to be understood.
The one who stops will be afraid of giving; only the one who walks on can give, because the one who stops has to gather possessions around himself. How can it be otherwise? If you want to settle down and have a home, how can you go on giving things away? You will have to save them. Only a wanderer can give things away..
You must have noticed that the nomadic tribes - the Baluchis, the Bedouins - can never get rich. A Baluchi can never be wealthy, it is impossible. No Baluchi can ever become a Henry Ford, no matter how hard he tries, because to become a Ford it is necessary to stop - and the Baluchi goes on roaming. The one who keeps on roaming has to take with himself only as much as he can carry on his shoulders, no more. This Urdu word khanabadosh is a very sweet one; it means the one whose house is on his shoulders. Khana means the house, badosh means upon the shoulders. Now if you are going to carry your house on your shoulder, it cannot be a great palace; you will have to reduce it to the size of Hotei's bag, and the things you carry in that bag will be for giving to others, for distributing. If you are floating you will be giving; the two go together. But if you halt you will start collecting possessions.
This is why Jainas and Buddhists do not allow their monks to stay in ashrams. Jainas and Buddhists refrained from building ashrams because the state to which Hindu ashrams were reduced was a clear indication that if an ashram is created, the collecting of possessions will follow. So they told their monks to keep walking, to remain as parivrajakas - homeless wanderers.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. This is clear, that if a monk keeps on walking, he is not going to collect any possessions. But there is a disadvantage to this that had to be understood by the Jainas and Buddhists. Hotei is a siddha - an enlightened one - and in the case of a siddha it makes no difference whether he keeps on walking or stops somewhere. Even when a siddha stops somewhere, he does not really stop because the flow within him continues. The disadvantage is that if a seeker keeps on walking, he is never able to become a siddha. The whole trouble of keeping moving is so much that he finds no facility to sit, and sitting is as necessary for meditation as walking. A siddha is one who is sitting even in his walking, and who is walking even in his sitting; he is one who has united the opposites.
So meditation, yoga completely disappeared among Jainas and Buddhists. Ashrams were not built, so possessiveness was prevented, but that opportunity of deepening the meditation under the shelter of the ashram, of sitting free from worries somewhere and diving deep into the self, was also lost. So the daily routine of a Jaina monk, from morning to evening, is very businesslike. From morning till night there is work and work, with no opportunity for rest, with no facility for sitting. Before the time comes that one may rest, the Jaina seeker has to leave the village, move on again.
The advantage is that the Jaina and the Buddhist monks did not become hoarders of possessions, but the disadvantage is that they could not become meditators. Hindus created ashrams for the very purpose of helping people to attain to meditation. Once meditation is attained then there is no problem whether the siddha walks on or stays in one place - then either will be natural to him.
Hotei goes on walking and giving away whatever is in his bag, but it is only children who gather around him. But you must not misunderstand this word children. There are children of all ages; some are five and some are fifty. Wherever he goes, Hotei is surrounded by the children of the village, and he distributes sweets from his bag among them. He also carries God in his bag, but no one asks for God And to anyone who approaches him, Hotei asks for a penny - the smallest coin that exists. He never asks anyone for more than this.
There are many reasons why he asks for only the smallest unit of money. Even a single penny you will find it hard to give, because the act of giving is in itself so difficult for you. To you it seems that
it is a pleasure to take and troublesome to give, but the truth is actually the opposite. The pleasure that could be had in giving is never found in taking. Whenever you have given, that giving has given you pleasure, and whenever you have taken you have missed out on that pleasure. The point to understand here is this: if you think that Hotei is asking for a penny from everybody because he needs it, you are misunderstanding. He is asking you for a penny so that you can experience a little of the pleasure that comes only from giving.
Once it happened that a rich man went to see a mystic. He had brought with him a bag of five thousand gold coins to present to the mystic. He put down the bag of coins heavily at the mystic's door. The gold coins made a loud noise. This act was not accidental, although he thought it was.
Our mind is very cunning. A housewife thinks a utensil fell from her hand accidentally, but it is not so.
Today she is angry at the husband. She thinks it fell accidentally, the husband also thinks the same.
But it is not accidental. The day things are not good between a husband and wife, six times more things fall that day, six times more things break, six times more noise is created. Every time the door is shut that day it is noisy; every time something is put down it is noisy. Perhaps if you asked the wife might say it is because of the strong wind - but the wind was strong yesterday too, the day before yesterday too, it may remain strong tomorrow too. It is not because of the strong wind that this extra noise is happening. There is anger somewhere within which is manifesting itself in every possible way.
So when that rich man put down the bag of gold coins heavily on the ground he would not have been aware that he is doing so knowingly, but whenever one gives one wants to declare it. Our joy is not in giving but in enhancing the ego that one had given.
The mystic did not pay any attention. This rich man said, "I have brought five thousand gold coins to present to you."
With little interest the mystic said, "Alright, leave them here."
The rich man assumed that the mystic had not caught his words, or that he did not realize what five thousand gold coins looked like when they were spread out. He said in a loud voice, "Did you hear?
Five thousand gold coins!"
The mystic said, "My ears are perfectly alright. You don't need to repeat what you said, I heard you the first time."
The rich man became very restless. "Not even a thankyou," he thought. Then he said, "Rich though I am, five thousand gold coins is much even for me!"
"Keep to the point!" replied the mystic. "What you really want is for me to thank you. Why prolong the discussion? Do you wish me to thank you? If you are not happy to give, how are my thanks going to give you any joy? You have already missed the moment of happiness: it was in the giving!"
If you were to meet Hotei on the road, he would ask you for one penny, and you too would think that he was asking for it because he needed it. He is simply offering you an opportunity to have a taste of the fragrance of the pleasure of giving. And it is the same with all the buddhas: if they come begging at your door, it is just to offer you a taste of the pleasure of giving.
The mystic said to the rich man, "If you really want me to understand something meaningful, then it is for you to thank me for giving you an opportunity to enjoy the happiness of giving. There is no question of asking for my thanks!"
Hotei asks for just one penny, and if some monk, seeker, sannyasin met him and asked him, "What is Zen? What is meditation? What is the secret of religion?" he would still say, "Give me a penny."
He is saying that giving itself is the secret of meditation, and if you become capable of giving, then you will become capable of meditation.
The more we take, and the more we are interested in taking, the more the mind goes on being crowded with thoughts. This is why the rich man finds it so hard to sleep at night - because his desire for taking keeps his wheel of thoughts spinning fast. Thinking is the desire to take - a constant planning of how to get everything.
A sheep farmer went to see a psychiatrist because he couldn't sleep. The psychiatrist told him to count sheep till his mind became so bored that he fell asleep. A week later the man returned to the psychiatrist looking completely worn out, as though he had not slept at all since his last visit. The psychiatrist looked at him and said, "Why, whatever happened? Did counting sheep not work?"
"Oh yes," replied the patient, "it worked in a way that you could not have expected. Once I began counting I couldn't stop. It was so exciting to count so many sheep that my mind wouldn't stop - and then shearing all those thousands of sheep, and so much wool! And selling all that wool in the market, and so much money! I haven't felt sleepy at all in these last seven nights!"
Once there is an opportunity to get something, the mind goes mad. It immediately begins to work on plans: "What do I need to do, what must I not do, to make sure I get...?"
People come to me asking me to give them peace of mind. But until their interest in getting and taking becomes less there can be no peace of mind for them. If you understand it rightly you will see that greed is mind, and where there is no greed there is meditation. The more intense the greed the more calculating the mind has to do, and this means more thought waves and more inner disturbance. Where greed is absent there is no work for the mind to do. In asking for peace of mind you are providing the mind with work.
Mind is a computer, it lives on figures. As soon as you say, "A thousand rupees have to be made,"
the mind starts working on how to do it. But if you say to the mind, "No more getting, only giving,"
then its work is finished and the mind will go and rest. This is why the scriptures say that there is no greater sin than greed, and no higher virtue than charity. But understand this properly: it is because the charitable mind will become meditative that this is said.
So whenever anyone asks, "What is the meaning of meditation?" Hotei says, "Give me a coin." Giving is the meaning of meditation. And when the day comes that you are prepared to give everything, seeking to gain nothing, then you will receive everything.
One night a young man approached Jesus. His name was Nicodemus, and he was the richest man in the neighborhood where Jesus was staying that night. He woke Jesus up and said to him, "I am afraid to come and see you in the day time because I have a prestigious position among these
people. As soon as I am associated with your name it will be a disaster for me." This was because Jesus was a wandering sannyasin; at times he would rest even among drunkards, and sometimes stay even at a prostitute's house - he had no regard for respectability. So anyone who enjoyed social prestige had cause to be afraid to be associated with him; hence Nicodemus visited him under cover of darkness.
Jesus asked him, "What do you want of me?"
Nicodemus said, "I have come in search of peace. How can I be blissful? I am a religious man and a man of good character. I look at no other women than my wife, and all that is asked of me in the name of religion I fulfill rigorously. I go to the temple regularly, I observe all the religious rituals meticulously, I make the prescribed donations, I observe the fasts, I read the scriptures; nothing is missing in my character. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't gamble, I go to bed early and rise early in the morning. I do everything I should, but there is no bliss in my life."
Jesus said to him, "None of this can help you. Do this one thing: give away everything you have, then return to me."
Nicodemus said, "You are asking something very difficult of me."
He is a man of character; he does not drink, he does not smoke - but this? This is difficult! Then Jesus said to him, "This character of yours has no value. You own so much, and you think that by giving away a few coins you are a man of charity. You have so much free time that you spend it playing chess and cards; and of course you go to the temple as well - and you think this makes you religious. You have so much money, so much time, such an easy life, and your religion is merely a social convenience. Leave everything and come with me."
Nicodemus said, "Then I am going back. I am not capable of doing this!"
No, leaving is not possible for the mind; only clinging is possible. Mind is a process of clinging.
Hotei's statement, "Give a penny!" is the essence of meditation. It is not a question of a penny any more than it is a matter of giving a fortune or an empire. The question is of experiencing the bliss and celebration of giving, of experiencing the thankfulness to be found in giving. It does not matter whether there is anything to give, it matters that you are in an inner state of givingness. And likewise, there may be nothing to get but your inner state remains set on getting. If you can keep this in mind you have understood Hotei.
Hotei is certainly an awakened one - always flowing, always moving, always sharing and giving to others the chance to enjoy the fragrance of giving. And when this other saint asked him about the secret of the fulfillment that is attained through religion, Hotei just dropped his bag on the ground.
Then the saint asked him, "Is this all, or is there something else?" And by way of reply Hotei puts his bag back on his shoulder and sets off on his way. It is very important to understand this; it is a significant indication.
There is a Zen saying, "Before the search rivers are rivers and mountains are mountains. Then, during the spiritual search, rivers are no longer rivers and mountains are no longer mountains. At
the end of the search rivers are again rivers and mountains are again mountains. This is strange, and if you only look superficially at it you will not understand what it means. Before the seeking and at the end of the seeking is the same state. Yes, you are transformed at the end but the state is the same. During the time of seeking everything goes topsy turvy. Right now you are standing in this world, at the end of seeking you will be standing in the divine. But in the middle, between one and the other, everything is upset; now the rivers are not rivers. When you are established in the divine, then the rivers will be rivers; but in the middle, everything disappears, everything is disrupted - the rivers do not remain rivers, the mountains do not remain mountains.
The worldly man is, in a way, settled. The mystic has arrived. But between the two is the seeker, in great difficulty. His difficulty is that he has taken one foot out of this world; his one foot is still in the world but the other foot is out searching for the divine. He hangs in the middle. In dropping his bag on the ground, Hotei symbolizes that the first step for a seeker is to drop the world, to drop the whole load, to dump the whole mind. The bag was the only thing that Hotei had. He had nothing else for demonstration so he simply dropped his bag, indicating that the seeker has first to throw all away. And the whole task of a siddha, a fulfilled one, is to pick up the bag again! But now it is no longer a load; previously it was. The seeker drops out of the world; the siddha - the enlightened one - comes back to the world. He becomes worldly again, but now he is in the world but the world is no longer in him. Earlier he was in the world and the world was in him as well.
Mahavira went into the jungle; for twelve years he was in silence, dropped language - because language is society. When we speak we always speak to the other, and even if we talk to ourselves - on our own - the other will still be present in our imagination. So anyone who continues to use language will be in society. Silence is the jump out of the society. Even sitting in the middle of the marketplace, if you become silent society will disappear, because society is language. This is why there is no society among animals; they have no language. They have no state, no society, no police, no priest, nothing, because they have no language. Man has society because he has language. Scientists say that if there was no language, society would disappear. Think about it! If, for just twenty-four hours language were to disappear from the world, the whole of civilization would disappear, the whole culture - nothing would be saved. It would be impossible to save anything, we would be just like wild animals. The whole civilization and culture is contained in language.
So Mahavira went to the jungle and the first thing he did was become silent... because unless language is dropped, it is impossible to be out of the society. It is easy to go to the jungle, but society will follow you there in the form of language.
Even when man is alone he talks to himself. He divides himself into two and talks by himself; there too he creates society and the talk begins.
In the aloneness of the jungle Mahavira became silent and stayed so for twelve years. Just as Hotei's bag was dropped, Mahavira cast off society. And when he attained to the supreme silence he returned to civilization. Just as Hotei's bag was dropped, so Mahavira had cast off society. Now, when all was known to him, he had nothing to fear from society. His return was nothing but Hotei putting his bag back on his shoulder and setting off again.
The seeker has to leave society; the siddha returns to society. The disciple has to unburden himself; the siddha carries the load. If the disciple goes on carrying his load he will never have the chance to
become a siddha; and if a siddha is afraid to carry the load then know well that he has not attained enlightenment at all. For the disciple the load is a burden which is destroying him; for the siddha it is nothing, so there is no difficulty in carrying it. All the saints return to society. One day they leave and one day they return. These are the two steps towards siddhahood - dropping the load and taking it up again.
All these points are revealed by Hotei in the form of very little, simple actions. But if you happen to meet Hotei on the road you won't recognize him; you will think he is just playing with toys. It is actually because of you that he is engaged in playing with toys. He is not at all preoccupied with them; his intention is simply to show you that you are still a child, wanting nothing more than candies and toys and crackers. You will see no difference between his begging and the begging which you can see all around you, but you will be mistaken. When Hotei asks you for a paisa he is teaching you giving.
Buddha became a beggar and created a phenomenon unique in the history of the world, and unique to India. Nowhere else has so much respect ever been shown to beggars as was shown in India after Buddha. Always and everywhere, begging is condemned - by you too! If you meet a beggar you either avoid him or rebuke him, and you come up with all sorts of rationalizations. These beggars are sprouting up everywhere and are going to be the ruin of society, and to give to a beggar is only to condone begging. But your arguments are not concerned with truth; they are simply your self- justifications for not giving anything. You are not really concerned about whether the population of beggars is on the increase. And even when you do give, it is only because you feel bound to do so.
You give in order to get away from the beggar, or to show the people around that you have given.
Beggars are very skillful and astute. They don't bother to approach you when you are alone, but when you are in the company of others they bow down and touch your feet. They know that you don't give out of kindness or generosity, but because you know that the eyes of others are on you. Then you think, "Now, with so many people watching I had better give this beggar something; otherwise they will start calling me a miser." You avoid beggars, but not because you desire that there should be no more beggars. Actually you are helping to perpetuate begging - our whole lifestyle is so designed as to create thousands of beggars.S No, you shun them because giving is such a fearful matter for you. The mind fears to give even a single paisa. You have only to hear the word giving, and it is as if you undergo some kind of death within.
But it was still a wonderful experiment that happened in India. The very name Buddha chose for his sannyasins, his disciples, was bhikshus - beggars. Hindus call their sannyasins swamis; Jainas call their sannyasins munis. They all have their own implications. Muni means the one who has gone silent within; swami is the one who has become the master of his own being, who is no longer a slave to his senses. But Buddha called his disciples bhikshus - beggars. The reason he did this is worth understanding; it contains a very precious idea. He said to his bhikshus, "You must go on begging so that through you every person learns to give."
The Buddha going out begging? Can you imagine it? Buddha standing at your door with his begging bowl? This could be a moment of such profound meditation for you if you were possessed of just a small amount of understanding. And if your heart is not full of giving when you are faced by a buddha - if even then you go on protecting yourself, thinking how you can avoid direct contact with him by giving some useless thing - then when will the moment of true giving ever arise in your life?
If you avoid a buddha even in his presence, when will the experience of meditation ever arise in you?
None of the names given to sannyasins is as profound and beautiful as that which Buddha gave to his.
Buddha was approaching a certain town. The king who lived there asked his chief minister, "Do you think it will be alright for me to go to the town's entrance to welcome Buddha?"
At this, the prime minister looked at his king and said, "Please accept my resignation!" He was an old minister, wise and experienced and quite indispensable; he was really running the whole show.
In great surprise the king asked, "What is the matter? I am only asking if it would be proper for me to go to welcome him."
The minister said, "Your very asking is enough to bring me to this decision. It is true that Buddha is a beggar, but it is deeply irreligious on the part of the king to doubt that he should go to welcome the Buddha The king is ignorant! This bhikshu, Buddha, was once himself a king; he had everything that you now have, and he renounced all of it."
The precious is not that which is grasped but that which is renounced. There is nothing valuable in the grasping mind; this mind that seeks to master everyone is ordinary, it is everybody's mind. The extraordinary mind is the one that renounces.
Hotei goes on and on asking. If he came to you, you would treat him as you treat a beggar. It is very difficult to treat him as divine; it is very difficult to see the siddha in a beggar. You may be able to see the beggar in an emperor, but it is not so easy to see the mystic in a beggar. And what is more, that Hotei should pick the bag up and put it on his shoulder again, having once put it down, goes against our whole concept of sannyas, which says, "Renunciation is all!"
But Hotei says this is only one side of the coin. Certainly, sannyas involves renunciation, but it is also necessary in the end to return to the world. The art of becoming a siddha is complete when you understand that you have to return to that which has been renounced. You moved away from it and now you have come to it again, but now the world cannot touch you.
BELOVED OSHO, WITH MEDITATION SENSITIVITY INCREASES, MAKING LIFE MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE ONE'S REACTIONS ARE SO SHARP AND INTENSE, AND AT EVERY STEP IT FEELS AS THOUGH ONE'S VERY LIFE IS AT STAKE. HOW TO ATTAIN THE GOLDEN MEAN, THE BALANCE POINT, IN THIS SITUATION?
Certainly sensitivity will increase with meditation, and this increase is going to add to your problems, because the very meaning of sensitivity is that every experience will be felt in its full intensity. A meditator will feel an insult much more keenly than a non-meditator. The prick of the thorn will be felt much more by the meditator than by the non-meditator, because the awareness of one who does not meditate is not clear, it is smoky. The more smoke there is around your awareness, the less intense will be your experience of anguish. Perhaps this is the very reason that we choose to live a life low in awareness - just to reduce the intensity of our anguish. Ask any psychologist
and he will tell you that every child, in the course of his childhood, has learned to lower his level of awareness.
Every child is born sensitive, and begins gradually to kill his own sensitivity, because to live sensitively is so difficult. When children are angry they behave as though they were mad; they go red in the face, their eyes flash fire, they throw their arms and legs about and jump up and down.
Their whole being is on fire. The cause may be a very minor affair, but we miss the point completely.
We make excuses for their behavior saying, "Don't worry, they are just children!" And to the children themselves we say, "You have to learn to control yourself. This is not the right way to behave." We teach them to blunt their sensitivity.
I was a guest at a friend's house. We went out in his car to visit someone, and his young son came with us. He drove with his son sitting beside him, and left him in the car when we went into the house.
When we returned his son was still sitting there, but I had the feeling that something was wrong. I felt that he was in some kind of difficulty, as though he were trying to hold something together, to preserve something that would otherwise break into pieces. His hands were covering his face, and his head was held between his knees.
We drove home, and the moment he was out of the car the child began screaming and crying. I asked him what had happened. He said, "When you went inside I fell asleep and my head fell onto the steering wheel, and it hurt me very much. But Daddy told me that if I ever scream and cry when we are away from home he won't let me come with him again, so I had to hold it in!"
It was an hour before that he had banged his head, and the very moment he reached home he began screaming and crying. He had held on to his pain for an hour! This is what we teach our children: "You must suppress yourselves!"
The more we suppress the blunter becomes our sensitivity, and we invent devices so that we don't have to experience the trouble we are in, because otherwise we will have to do something about it. A boy is playing hockey on the playground. If he is hurt while he is playing he does not even notice it until the game is over. Then he becomes aware of his injury. But before that his mind is so engaged in the game that he does not feel his wound. This is how it is with you too. All day long, throughout your life, you are receiving wounds, but you don't notice them happening because your mind is preoccupied with your business, your work, this and that. But slowly, gradually, the whole of your individuality becomes covered in wounds.
When you begin meditating your childlike qualities re-emerge, your sensitivity grows fresh again and your experiencing runs deep. Whatever happens reaches to your depths, and this creates problems for you and for your family and friends, and these difficulties are beyond their understanding. They carry the expectation that meditation will make a person more peaceful - and exactly the opposite happens. "Before he began meditating he was not a very angry man, but now that he meditates he is full of anger!" They think the meditating person should become like a corpse - that even if you hit him he will not appear to feel it, he will just go on sitting and watching. And this is true! - but it does not happen straight away, as soon as you start meditating. It is the final outcome of meditation.
In the beginning of meditation all the bandages that cover your wounds will fall away, and all the anger and greed beneath will surface. Everything will be felt more deeply, and all that you have
been suppressing since your childhood will flare up with a burning force. You will feel devoid of peace. If you are ill you will feel more restless than ever, and when you experience pleasure your excitement will rise very high. Little things will make you feel so blissful that you want to dance, and equally little things will drive you into such darkness that you will want to commit suicide. When you begin meditating all this will happen.
What should the new meditator do? If you try to suppress these feelings when they arise, it will be difficult for you to make any progress in your meditation, because it is an unavoidable fact that to go deeper into meditation you will have to experience everything that happens in you in its totality.
If sadness is there, then sadness is what you will have to experience. Only then will you be able to enjoy bliss in its totality. Unless you experience the world in its totality, you will not be able to experience the divine in its totality. And because it is the world that has covered you, it is the marks the world has left on you that you are going to feel first. So remember, this sensitivity is not to be suppressed; it is to be deepened and intensified. This may make life difficult, but don't use this difficulty to make your scars even tougher than they already are.
Yes, the difficulties can be great, and what are you to do if this is the case? In the initial stages of meditation this may well be the case. So whenever you feel a certain sensation is becoming very intense, shut yourself in a room, remain silent and secluded, and let that sensation pass through you totally. Don't pour it out on others, because to pour it over others is to create a long chain of reactions. If it has to come, instead of pouring it out on others, pour it onto a pillow in your room. At first this will feel very strange - to pour your anger onto a pillow. But after thousands of experiments, I can assure you that putting your anger on a pillow will give you as much satisfaction as throwing it at your husband or wife. And the pillow is not going to react! Moreover, you are not going to start a chain of karma by using a pillow. You need not fear that in your next life the pillow will make trouble for you, or that it will seek to take revenge on you later on for beating it! The pillow has attained supreme siddhahood!
The point I am making is that you are not to deprive your anger of its full expression. Allow it to its fullest extent. Throw it vigorously, totally. You may feel that your first two or three bouts of rage are a joke, but by the fourth you will find that your anger is full of life, and that it is coming up with all the strength you have in you. Beat, rage, swear, break, do whatever you want to do without restraint, and in a few days you will become an adept! You will be surprised to hear that in the West psychologists are making full use of this technique.
A very rich industrialist in Japan has erected a statue of himself outside his office. A very clever man! His psychologists counselled him to keep a statue of himself opposite his office. In his factory there are some ten thousand employees, and it has been announced to them that they should all feel free to maltreat the statue any way they choose! And it is an easy matter for anyone - especially an employee - to get angry. He does not need a reason. To have to serve someone else, to be someone's paid slave, is enough in itself to provoke anger. The workers, and even sometimes the managers, habitually abuse and mistreat the statue before they enter the factory, and this has had important results. What it has done is to create a psychological equality between the owner and his employees.
We all behave like this. Even today we still burn Ravana, and in doing so we experience a certain lightness. Imagine how light people must have felt when they first set fire to Ravana! We do the
same thing. When we are overwhelmed with anger against Indira Gandhi or Bhutto or someone else, we make a likeness and carry it in a procession, beating it with our shoes and then burning it, and doing this gives us a certain lightness. The mind gets rid of its load and a feeling of satisfaction fills us.
So do at an individual level what you already do as a crowd. In your own room - which you can convert into your meditation room - keep a pillow. If you are angry with your husband, invoke your husband on the pillow just as a devotee invokes God in an idol, and then take out all your anger on the pillow. And don't leave the room until you have burnt out the whole of your anger. You will be amazed to find, if you really let your anger out totally, that when you leave the room you are full of kindness, love and affection for your husband. It is just like the peace that descends after a typhoon.
If you hurt your leg, go to the room and let yourself cry like a small child. If a sharp thorn has stabbed your leg, don't adopt the attitude that "I can't cry because I am a grown man." Be light like a child. There is not a man in existence who cannot weep, except the man who is dead. But since your childhood it has been preached to you that men do not cry. This is a strange state of affairs.
Men and women possess the same glands and tear ducts in their eyes, but all over the world only women are free to weep. If nature had wished that men should not weep it would have provided men with less tear-ducts, or none at all. But nature has made no such discrimination between the sexes; nature evidently desires that man should also weep.
Weeping is a very strange experiment; it brings out your hidden fevers and wounds and eradicates them. This is why it is men rather than women who murder and assassinate. Women cathart their frustration daily by weeping, but men go on accumulating it, and when enough frustration has been accumulated its explosion is really dangerous. Women are less insane than men, and if men too can weep, they will not go insane. When you cannot weep at all you become clogged up inside, and when thousands of tears have gathered in you they become poisonous. So never think that that you are a grown man, or that your children and grandchildren are around, so how can you weep now? The presence of your grandchildren does not make any difference, except that it will help you to weep with still greater pleasure. If life is allowed to teach you anything, then learn this one point:
not to suppress anything, but allow it to fall away through expression. And the second point: don't pour it onto anyone else, because there is no reason why you should trouble anyone else. It can be thrown out when you are alone. This is what I call catharsis. Every meditator has to pass through catharsis. Just becoming peaceful is not going to suffice; the restlessness, the lack of peace, is all lurking there within you, and it will all have to be catharted - thrown out.
Then a moment will arrive when there is no more anger in you, when there is no more restlessness within you; then your meditation will be natural. Then you will be able to relieve this pillow of its services. And you should put it to rest with great ceremony, because it has obliged and aided more than you know. But till then it is needed.
Sensitivity will increase, experiences will deepen, joy and sorrow will both make a deep impact on you. Their arrows will fly directly into your heart. Suppress, and you will find that your meditation comes to a dead end; pour your feelings onto others and your difficulties will multiply. So take refuge in your aloneness, and pour your feelings out. Catharsis is indispensable for meditation, and your meditation can be at its purest only when your catharsis has been total.
And pure meditation is enlightenment.
Catharsis goes hand-in-hand with meditation: only when meditation becomes enlightenment can the catharsis come to an end. For a siddha there is no catharsis because he does not accumulate anything; but for the seeker, for the sannyasin, it cannot be avoided.
Enough for today.