The first thing to be understood, and understood as deeply as possible is that Zen is nothing special.
It is nothing extraordinary. The people who are in search of religion are always, almost always, very egoistic. Their very search starts because their egos are not satisfied with this world. They would like something more precious, to be more of the Divine - something extraordinary. Egoists are attracted towards religion more easily, and this is the problem - because religion says that if the ego is there, there can be no growth. And egoists are easily attracted towards religion but religion starts only when you drop the ego.
But this world is temporary; nothing is permanent here and the ego would like something permanent, eternal. Everything in this world is made of the same stuff as dreams, and the ego is not content.
The ego would like things made of solid rock. So the ego condemns this world and starts a journey towards the eternal. But the eternal has its own conditions, and this is the first condition: if you don't drop the ego, you cannot enter the gate.
Religion basically is the understanding that all the trips of the ego are materialistic. Even the trip towards God is materialistic. It is not a question of what you seek, it is a question of who the seeker is. If the ego is the seeker then whatsoever you seek is material, is of this world. You may call it God, you may call it MOKSHA, you may call it anything you like: the Truth, the Absolute, the BRAHMA - it doesn't matter. If the ego is the seeker, then whatsoever you seek is of this world. When the ego is not the seeker then everything, everything, I SAY, is of that world.
Even if you chop wood, even if you are a small shopkeeper, a clerk, a sweeper, nobody in particular, just ordinary; nobody knows about you, nobody ever thinks that you are a chosen one, nobody will ever hear about you - that doesn't matter. If the ego has dropped within, whatsoever you do is Divine. Otherwise, the ego poisons everything and whatsoever you do is of the devil, and not of the Divine.
Zen is just being ordinary. And Zen is the essence of all religion, just to be ordinary. Realizing the fact that ego creates a hell around it, that ego is the source of all hell, that it has all the seeds of misery, anguish, one simply drops it without a second thought. Once one simply realizes the fact that one is suffering because of the ego, one simply drops it - but not in search of something.
You can drop the ego in search of something. Then you have not really dropped it - you are bargaining. Realizing the fact that ego is ugly, the source of all misery and illness, you simply drop it. You don't ask: What will I gain out of it if I drop my ego? - because all gain is the subtle search of the ego. You simply drop it because it is useless, harmful, poisonous.
You are passing through the woods, you come across a snake - you simply jump out of the way.
You don't ask: What will I gain out of it? I will not jump out of the way unless I am certain of what I am going to gain out of it. You simply jump without a second thought, because if you have a second thought about it, by that time the snake may have attacked you. You simply jump, realizing the fact that the snake is there; death is there, you simply simply jump out of it.
The house is on fire. You don't ask: What will I gain if I run out of it? You simply run out of it without a second thought. You think about it when you are out of it - in fact, you run without thinking. When you are out of danger, then you sit under a tree and you have a look; then you think over all that has happened - why did you run away? You realize it, and the realization becomes a change, a transformation, a revolution.
If you realize that the ego is your house on fire, you drop it. You don't ask: What will I gain out of it? You simply become a nobody, an ordinary being. And once you are ordinary, everything starts happening.
Zen is ordinary - it makes people just nobodies, and this is the beauty of it. When you become a nobody, when you are ordinary, this is the most extraordinary phenomenon possible. Listen - everybody wants to be extraordinary. So the longing to be extraordinary is very ordinary because everybody wants it. And to become ordinary is absolutely extraordinary because nobody wants it; nobody longs for it - remember this. Only then can you understand Zen Masters.
Because of this, the seed, the seed of silence, the seed of inner emptiness that Buddha gave to Mahakashyap had to be taken to China. Because in India a very great accident had happened in the past, and that accident was the brahmins. You cannot find more egoistic people than brahmins; they created the whole hierarchy in India. They were the most extraordinary, the chosen few, the head-people.
They even divided the castes just like they do the body. They said: Those who are ordinary, workers who work with their hands, they are just like the feet - the lowest; those who are business people, they are just like the belly, they help the body, they are the center of the body, the physical, just like the belly; then the warriors, the soldiers, the kshatri yas, they are just like the arms - to defend, to protect; and BRAHMINS, they are like the head - the thinkers, the philosophers. And the head is the highest. The whole body exists for the head; the head doesn't exist for anybody, it exists for itself.
The head is there to order the body, discipline it. The whole body has to follow the head and if a leg says 'no', it has to be cut and thrown away.
These brahmins are the most egoistic. And it was not a coincidence that Adolf Hitler chose the name that the brahmins gave to the Hindus, the Aryans. Hitler chose that name for his own people, 'the Aryans'. 'Aryan' means the noblest, the best. So brahmins are the source of all Fascism in the world; Adolf Hitler is just a by-product, an off-shoot. Adolf Hitler's master, Friedrich Nietzsche praised the brahmins very much. And the greatest brahmin, and the most mad of course, completely neurotic, was Manu. He gave the code, the hierarchy, and the division of the society to the Hindus.
Friedrich Nietzsche praised Manu and he said: Manu is the greatest thinker ever born in the world!
And he was one of the most mad - he was the source of all Fascism.
So it was very difficult for Buddha to teach people not to be anything - it was almost impossible.
Buddha was surrounded by brahmins. The idea of being special is so ordinary that it is in everybody's blood, and the brahmins are very, very mad about their egos; they wouldn't think of being ordinary. One cannot imagine that a brahmin would be ready to do something manual. It is dirty, and the people who do it are dirty; they are untouchable, sudras, they cannot be touched. Not only can those people not be touched, even their shadows are untouchable.
Even now, in this Twentieth Century there are villages in India where whenever a sweeper or a shoemaker passes through the street, he has to declare loudly: I am a sudra, an untouchable - I am passing through this street. So that if some brahmin is ready to go out of his house or something, he can stop, because an untouchable is passing through the street. The whole street is dirty at that moment. And if an untouchable passes and his shadow falls on a brahmin it is a crime against him.
He can be punished for it - punished; even sentenced to death! They have killed many people in the past. The crime was only that a BRAHMIN would be sitting and an untouchable would pass and his shadow - not he, just his shadow would touch, would pass over.
It was almost impossible for Buddha to make people realize the beauty of being ordinary. He was born amidst people who were absolute egoists. That's why Buddhism couldn't survive in India. It was because of Buddha's influence, his personality, his force, his being, that it survived a little. But the moment Buddha disappeared, soon thereafter, everything disappeared. Hence, Bodhidharma had to go China. But why to China? - he could have gone to Burma, he could have gone to Ceylon, he could have gone to Afghanistan, he could have gone anywhere in the world. Why China particularly?
There was a particular reason - China had the right soil at that moment. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu had made the soil there. They had created a particular atmosphere, a milieu, because they lived like ordinary people. If you had come across Chuang Tzu you would not have been able to recognize him unless you had a very deep understanding, unless you had passed through a satori, a glimpse of the Eternal. Only then would you have been able to realize that a Chuang Tzu or a Lao Tzu was there, otherwise not They didn't have any outward show.
You can recognize a Pope, he has the outward paraphernalia all around him; nothing inside - everything outward. If a Pope came into a room in ordinary dress nobody would be able to recognize him. If a Chuang Tzu came, only the few people who have a certain depth of understanding would be able to recognize him. Chuang Tzu moves just like an ordinary man: fishing, cutting wood, doing this and that - whatsoever life needs, he will do it. He is nobody special. Buddha's teaching flowered in China - it came to perfection. Nansen is a meeting of Buddha and Lao Tzu, the meeting of Buddhism and Taoism, and Zen is the meeting of all that is beautiful in Buddha and all that is beautiful in Lao Tzu. That's why there is nothing like Zen, because two streams, tremendously powerful, tremendously beautiful, utterly of the Unknown, came to a meeting. There has never been such a meeting. Other religions have met, but they have met as enemies. They have conflicted, clashed with each other. Something has happened even out of that clash, but it cannot be so beautiful. It has not been a natural growth.
For example, in India it happened that Hindus and Mohammedans met - they clashed. The off-shoot was Sufism - Sufis were born; very beautiful people. But it seems as if a child was born out of a rape, not out of love.
This meeting of Buddha's teaching with Taoism is out of love. They simply fell in love, there has been no clash, as if they suited each other perfectly. Something was lacking in Taoism and something was lacking in Buddhism. They simply complemented each other, they became a new being. The two disappeared and something new was born. The new was this man Nansen. Now try to understand this parable.
You cannot believe, you cannot conceive! You cannot conceive of Buddha chopping wood or cutting down a tree. He sits under a tree, right - never cuts it. You cannot imagine Buddha doing anything.
You have seen his images. He has millions of images in the world, but always sitting silently with closed eyes: images of inactivity, images of meditation, but not images of meditation in action, no.
And you cannot find an image of any Zen Master just sitting with closed eyes - he is always doing something. That was the thing missing in Buddhism which was supplied by Taoism.
Life should be a balance between inactivity and activity. If you are completely active, you miss something - you miss the inner. If you are completely inactive, you again miss something - the outer. And the outer has its own beauty; nothing is wrong with it. In the West they tried to be active, more and more active. Activity become the whole pattern of life. They did many things - miracles, but the inner core was completely lost, forgotten. In the East they have been too inactive. When you look outside, everything has gone ugly. To look, to open your eyes in India is really to pass through a very painful experience.
So I know why Buddha closed his eyes. Why do you always find him with closed eyes sitting under a tree, afraid to open his eyes? - all over, poverty, misery. But it is a vicious circle. If you close your eyes, the misery is not going to change Just by closing your eyes. Something has to be done about it.
The East has become inward and has lost all contact with the outward existence. This is an imbalance. Zen is a perfect balance. A Zen Master meditates, but then he also goes to the woods to cut wood because winter is approaching. He does many things just like an ordinary man. He is nothing special. Nansen is one of the very few rare human beings who attained to the highest, like a Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, and continued cutting wood.
When Nansen was very old somebody asked: How are you? He said: Perfect. Cutting wood, carrying water to the ashram, preparing food, working in the garden; it is so beautiful.
Look... cutting wood he remains himself. Activity is there, but the mind is absolutely silent. Carrying water to the ashram, he carries water, but there is nobody inside.
If you can act without somebody there inside you will enter a realm of tremendous beauty, because activity releases energy and silence enjoys the release. With activity, you spread out; you become a vast sky, and deep inside - nobody, a silence. The silence spreads with your activity. Nansen carrying water to the ashram is silence carrying water to the ashram. Nansen cutting wood, is silence cutting wood.
You cannot imagine what bliss is possible if you can act without the actor being inside, without the ego. If you can simply act and move from act to act without accumulating any identification:
This is me doing it, this is I; I have done this and I have done that - without accumulating any - 'I' through the activities; if you can move from one activity to another activity as a silence, as an emptiness, unimaginable benediction, unimaginable blessings shower upon you. You feel that the whole existence shares its secrets with you, because through activity you are connected with it and through silence you are capable of seeing, of looking, of enjoying, of touching.
Through silence you are sensitive, and through activity you are in contact. Sensitivity inside and contact outside - this is the balance. Then you have two wings. Otherwise, you will be flying with one wing - either activity or silence. But one wing is not enough. You may flutter a little here and there, but one wing cannot lead you to the heights. You cannot move into the sky, you cannot go far away - two wings are needed. And they balance, activity - inactivity; they balance.
Nansen cutting wood - remember it. And whenever your mind moves to the extreme, just pull it back to the middle. Either the mind wants to be active or it wants to be inactive, because with the extreme the mind can exist. In the middle, exactly in the middle, when activity and inactivity cancel each other, negate each other - mind disappears.
Nansen was cutting wood near his temple. A MONK WHO HAD COME FROM A DISTANCE TO PAY HOMAGE TO THE MASTER PASSED THROUGH THE WOODS AND CAME CLOSE TO THE WOODCUTTER. IS THE ABBOT OF NANSEN...
His ashram, his monastery was also called Nansen Monastery. Really, Nansen was not his name, it was basically the name of the monastery and nobody knew Nansen's name. So by and by he was called Nansen, the Abbot of Nansen. Nobody knew his name, and this was good, because nobody has a name. All names are false, so any will do. All names are meaningless because you come into the world without a name, and when you leave the world you go without a name. The name is just a tag attached to you for utilitarian purposes. Without a name it would be difficult, difficult for others.
But you are without a name.
Nansen has no name; he was known by the name of the temple, the monastery. So the disciple asked: Is the Abbot of Nansen at home? He asked the woodcutter this. If he was really a disciple he would have recognized the woodcutter. There was no need to ask, because a man who is Enlightened is a light unto darkness. Can't you recognize light unto darkness? If you can't recognize light unto darkness, you are blind.
The very thing that he asked this woodcutter: Is the Master at home? - is foolish. It is okay for a visitor, but not good for a disciple. And he had come from a long distance to pay his homage. He might have known Nansen before, he might have seen him before. He was a disciple, he must have seen him! But he couldn't think of Nansen cutting wood. He must have seen him with eyes closed sitting under a tree; he must have seen him in silence or he must have seen him preaching. He must have seen him worshipping in the temple. He could not imagine that Nansen would be cutting wood, because he could not recognize.
Otherwise you would recognize an Enlightened man wherever he is. He may be in a beggar - you will recognize him if you have the eyes, if you have the vision, if you have had even a single glimpse of what a Realized man is, you would recognize him anywhere. He cannot hide. How can you hide a light? - it cannot be hidden. It is such a tremendous phenomenon, you cannot hide it. In a thousand ways it is coming out. The whole forest was filled that day with Nansen, and this disciple could not recognize.
Disciples also recognize through the outside. Would you be able to recognize me if I were cutting wood somewhere? - difficult. Would you be able to recognize me if I were a beggar that had come to knock on your door? - impossible. Because you have not attained to your own inner realization, how can you recognize me? You Gan recognize me only to that extent which is your own span of inner realization. You can see a Master only up to that extent; the same extent to which you can see within yourself, because the Master is nothing but your within, standing without. A Master is nothing but your future standing in the present. A Master is nothing but your fulfilled form. What will you be when you are fulfilled? - that's what a Master is right now.
So if you have no inner vision, you will miss. If you recognize only through outward form, then you will be able to recognize Nansen in the temple, not because of Nansen, but because of the temple.
You will recognize him while he is sitting in meditation, not because of meditation, but because of the posture. But have you ever heard of an Enlightened man cutting wood? - you will miss.
It once happened: An Enlightened man was here in India just a few years ago, Sai Baba. He lived just near Poona. He had a great disciple; he himself was a Mohammedan, the disciple was a Hindu.
The disciple used to come every day to Sai Baba, and when Sai Baba would eat his food, only then would the disciple go and eat his own food. When the Master had not eaten, how could he eat? And you could not find a more irregular man than Sai Baba. Sometimes in the morning the first thing he would do was to eat his food, and sometimes something late at night. On some days, he would not eat the whole day and this Hindu disciple had to wait, sometimes far into the night. The Master would eat, then he would go and prepare his own food. Because he was a BRAHMIN, he would not allow anybody else to touch his food, only then would he eat.
One day Sai Baba said to him: Narayan, - Narayan Swami was his name - you need not bother about this. If you are a real disciple, you need not come, I will come to you. Whenever your food is ready, I will come and give you my DARSHAN there at your hut. You need not bother to come here, because you have to come five miles and then you have to go back. Now, I will do this. Narayan was very happy because the Master cared so much for him. He went back dancing. The moment he was stepping down from the mosque where Sai Baba lived, Sai Baba said: But remember to recognize!
Narayan said: Of course, what a thing to say! How can I miss?
The next morning Narayan was very happy. He took his bath, did his worship, prepared food - the Master was to come. And the Master came, but Narayan chased him out of the house, because it was no Master, it was a dog. He was very worried - nobody came. The whole day he waited and waited, but except for that dog, nobody came. So he ran to the mosque and said: Sai Baba, have you forgotten? I have been waiting and waiting. Sai Baba laughed and he said: No, I have not forgotten. I cannot forget anything. I came, but you chased me out. Then Narayan became aware.
He said: But it was a dog! Sai Baba said: If you recognize me, you would have recognized me even in a dog. What difference does it make? If you recognize light, you would recognize it in any form.
The shape of the lamp is irrelevant. Or is it relevant, the shape of the lamp? It is irrelevant, because light is light whatsoever the shape of the lamp. But you recognize the shape of the lamp, not the light.
This disciple asked Nansen himself: Is the Abbot of Nansen at home? And what a question to ask, because a Master is always at home! Wherever he is, a Master is always at home. That is the quality of being a Master, that he is always at home. What a question to ask! You are never at home, that's right. Even in your home you are never at home, because at-homeness is an inner quality. Even in your home you feel a stranger, even in your home you feel something is missing - you are missing!
You can change the home, you can have a better home, but the missing will continue. You will miss something in a better home also. You go on piling new furniture, new paintings, decorations, but again and again you find something is missing. You are missing. You are not at home. And the furniture cannot do it. Nothing can be of any help unless you come home; coming home is the whole point, returning to the source is coming home. A Master is always at home.
This disciple asked:
He raised his axe and said: I bought this axe for two pieces of copper. What is he doing, this man Nansen? Is he mad? But he was showing the quality of being at home. This is the quality of being at home, to be in the present. He was bringing this man to the moment, and at that moment the Master happened to be cutting wood, at that moment the Master was a woodcutter, at that moment the axe was the only reality, at that moment, the Master was in the axe, in the activity: the axe falls on the tree, the wood is being cut - the Master is at home. He was in the axe right then, in the activity. That's why he raised the axe.
If the disciple had had even a little understanding, he would have seen what the Master was trying to show. Because there are things which cannot be said, but only shown. And the Master was telling him: Come nearer, come closer. I am here. Look at this axe. Don't allow your mind to wander. Don't go anywhere. This moment is enough. I am here, right now, this very moment. Look at this axe and come closer, nearer to the present. So he says: I BOUGHT THIS AXE FOR TWO PIECES OF COPPER.
And only a Zen Master can be so absurd. What an answer! The disciple is asking something, he is answering something else. That's why Arthur Koestler goes back and says to the West: These Zen people are completely crazy, mad. Don't fall into their trap, they are mad. For an Aristotelian mind, they are - for a logical mind, they are. You ask about 'A' and they talk about 'B'. But what they say is not the important thing. They are showing something, not saying something. Don't listen to what they say, just look at what they are doing.
What is this Nansen doing to this disciple? He is giving him a shock. The disciple has asked a question. He is not answering that question, because if that question is answered, the mind continues. If the question is answered in a logical way, relevant, relevant to the question, the mind continues. The Master is completely cutting. He is not only cutting the tree with the axe, he is trying to cut the mind with that axe also. Bringing down the axe, he is giving a shock. For a moment, the disciple is at a loss: What to do? To whom have I asked?.... At least for a single moment there will be no thought. In that moment, the recognition is possible.
But you can miss, because the recognition cannot be forced upon you. You have to take it or leave it - it is up to you. A Master can only create a situation. It is up to you whether you grow through that situation or not. You may not take it, you may try to escape. This is what the disciple did.
He is bringing him from his mind to the reality. Zen is absolutely earthbound. Buddha is like the sky, and Lao Tzu is like the earth, and where earth and sky meet, there is Zen. This Nansen is the meeting of the earth and the sky. Buddha is like wings, and Lao Tzu is like roots, and this Nansen is like a tree with both roots and wings. Rare reality - the earth, the solid earth, meets the inner sky.
That can be recognized only if you use the situation.
I go on creating thousands of situations for you, and you go on missing. But remember, you are not going to win! You can miss a thousand times - I - Will create situations a thousand-and-one times. You can escape this way and that, but you cannot escape. Once a man is in the trap of an Enlightened man, futile are his efforts, because you cannot exhaust him, and you cannot exhaust his patience.
An infinite opportunity was given in that moment. Nansen with a raised axe, talking nonsense to this man to bring him to his senses.... AND LIFTING THE AXE ABOVE THE MONK'S HEAD HE ADDED:... but seeing that he had missed, this wouldn't do; this disciple was a little thick. know those thick disciples!
The second opportunity - but the axe was over his head, it could fall at any moment; and this man looked mad. You could have recognized the moment, you could have become aware of the situation, because in danger even a stupid person becomes aware. In danger - the axe hanging over you in a madman's hand..
And he says: This is very sharp. But the disciple did what you have been doing; he escaped in dismay. That was the moment to be there. That was the moment to be there completely. If he had remained there for a single moment without escaping then the mind would have disappeared, because in such a moment, there is nothing for the mind to do. What could it do? It was a death situation; any moment the disciple could die. If he had remained there just a single moment, had not escaped, the mind would have disappeared. Nothing to do - facing death, mind disappears.
This situation comes to everybody that enters into deep meditation: a moment comes when the axe comes just over your head, and it is always sharp. A moment comes, when you go deeper - you face death. That is the boundary between the ego and your inner being, where you face death inside. Because when you go deeper, a moment comes when the boundary of the ego has to be crossed - you go beyond it. And you are so identified with the ego, that you feel it like a death.
My own disciples come to me and they say: Now, it is difficult. We have come to a terrain inside where it feels like death, and we have come here to know life, not to die; we have come to be more alive, not to be dead; we have come in search of life abundant, not to disappear. But you have to disappear. Only then, life in abundance happens to you.
A moment comes inside when a meditation is really growing - you will feel like you are dying. Don't escape in dismay. There, my axe is over your head, and it is very sharp. If you escape from there, the mind functions again; the mind starts thinking a thousand things. And once you escape, then the mind won't allow you to go to that point again, because you will always start an inner trembling.
Whenever that point is near, you will become suspicious about whether to take a step more or not - or to escape. And only later on will you recognize that at that moment when you were dying, the Master was there, he was Nansen himself - only later on.
But then you will repent, because later on you will recognize the moment. Mind has a tremendous capacity to understand things when they are not. When you have missed, then the mind goes on repenting about it, thinking about what should have been. The mind has a tremendous capacity to think about the past, to think about the future. It has no capacity to be here and now. And that was the moment: axe on your head... it is very sharp.
But he had missed a great opportunity. You can also miss - that is more possible. And later on you will repent. But what can you do about the past? - you cannot undo it, you cannot go back. And even if you go back, remember, the same situation will not be given to you again.
If this man comes again, he will not find Nansen cutting wood. Even if he finds Nansen cutting wood, Nansen is not going to talk about the axe that he has purchased for two pieces of copper. A Master never repeats the situation, because it is useless. A repeated situation will not help because the mind knows about it, and it will not be a shock. The mind can think about it.
Think: the monk comes again realizing that the woodcutter was Nansen himself, goes to the tree, because he knows where he will be cutting wood and waiting for him. Nansen is cutting wood and the monk asks: Is the Master at home? Now the whole thing is absolutely foolish because it is a repetition, and he knows that the woodcutter is Nansen. But he asks: Is the Abbot of Nansen at home? And the Master says: This axe I have purchased for two coppers. The disciple knows that now the second thing will be that he will raise the axe over his head and he will say: It is sharp, and he is not to escape this time. He will stand there and see what happens. Nothing will happen, because the whole point is lost.
A mind, when it knows what is going to happen, continues. That's why every Master has to go on inventing different situations. Once a situation has been known, the mind becomes the master of it. The mind is the master of the known, only the unknown can destroy it; the known - never. The known can always be manipulated. A situation cannot be repeated. That's why in the ancient days, Masters insisted that whatsoever was being done should not be written, because if it was written, that situation would be forever closed for future disciples as well as for future Masters. It is written and people will read it, and they will know what to do. And if you know what to do if you are already prepared, it is useless. You have to be caught in a moment when you are not prepared. Unprepared you have to be caught! In that unprepared moment, the mind is not there, because all preparations are in the mind.
So whenever I ask a person to take a jump into SANNYAS and he says: I will think, he has missed that opportunity. He will take SANNYAS, but I will have to find something else for him. If I were to say: Take SANNYAS, and he were to say without a single thought: Yes, not even asking what SANNYAS is, not even asking: Where are you leading me? - not even asking: What can clothes do? What will a new name do? - not asking anything. If I say: Take SANNYAS, and he were to say; Okay, I am prepared; if he were to take the jump, he has used an opportunity - a door is open at that moment. If he says: I will think about it and I will come later on, he will think. He may come or he may not come, it doesn't matter; that opportunity is lost.
He may come prepared. After a few days he may come and say: Now I have thought it over and I am convinced of the utility of it. It is not a utilitarian thing. It has no utility - none. 'I have thought about it, and I have talked to many SANNYASINS, and they say it helps, so I am ready. Now give me SANNYAS. I will give it to him also, but the opportunity is lost; I will have to find some other.
Your mind is your preparedness. What is Nansen doing? He is bringing this :man to a moment of unpreparedness - and he escaped, he missed. He realized later on, but then nothing could be done. Remember this: while you are with me remember that only through situations will you grow, not through teachings. Whatsoever I say will not be of much help; whatsoever I create around you will be the real thing. Talking simply helps you to hang around me, that's all. I go on talking to you; that is just like giving sweets to children, so they hang around.
And suddenly in an unprepared moment, I will take the axe and I will say to you: It is very sharp!
Don't escape in that moment. Later on you may recognize, but I may not be here. Later on you may recognize and come back, but the same situation, cannot be repeated. And if you become habitual escapists, you may be ready for the old situation but from the new situation, you will escape again.
And if it happens many times, you will become addicted to escape. Then you don't know.
Whenever you feel unprepared, you simply find yourself running away. Whenever you are prepared, you feel at ease, secure. But you are not here in search of security and I am not here to give you security. I am here to take all securities from you - all the earth beneath your feet, I have to take it away. I have to throw you into the abyss. Only in falling into that abyss, will your ego disappear. And for the first time, through insecurity, you will attain to the eternal security - but the path goes through insecurity. The path towards life goes through death. Dying, you will achieve. Clinging to life, you will miss. What does this story say? - it says that Nansen created a death situation. And whenever there is a death situation, you escape; you say it is insecure.
Mind is always afraid of dying. It clings - it clings to anything. In India, they say that a dying man clings even to a straw. He knows well that it cannot save. He knows well that a straw cannot become a boat - there is no safety in it, but just clinging. 'Maybe some miracle will happen and I may be saved.'
When you cling to money, you are clinging to a straw. When you cling to power and prestige, you are clinging to a straw. When you cling to name, family, bank balance, you are clinging to a straw, because nothing can save you. Death is coming. Death is rushing towards you. Whatsoever you do is useless - it will not save you.
And what does a Master do? He says: Before death overtakes you, you overtake death. Why wait for it? Waiting, you will be a victim. Going through it - you become a conqueror, because one who is ready to die suddenly realizes that death is impossible. One who is ready to die suddenly realizes:
the mind will die, the body will die, the ego will die, but the being, the being has been before the mind came in. The being has been before the body came in. The being has been before your birth, and the being will be after your death. When in meditation the axe is raised over your head and you feel a death moment, don't escape. Let the axe fall on you. It is sharp, it is good - it is good that it is sharp. Let your head be chopped completely. Once you are headless.... And that is the meaning of being nobody, because the ego exists in the head, the mind exists in the head, the brain, the ego exists in the head. And you go on condemning everybody - you have to. A head-oriented person has to condemn everybody, because that is how he feels special.
I have heard that it happened in a small village: The community decided to change the old priest.
They fired him, and they brought a new priest. The first day, the priest gave his first sermon. The whole community had gathered. There was also one guest from another village. He asked the chief after the sermon: Why? Why have you changed the old priest? What was the need? So the chief of the community said: The old priest had been talking every day and he would say the same thing:
You mend your ways, otherwise you will go to hell! The visitor was amazed. He said: What are you saying? The same has been the sermon this morning - this man was also saying that you will go to hell it you don't mend your ways. The chief said: Yes, he was. But the old one always acted as if he was glad that we will all go to hell. That is the difference, and that was too heavy.
The BRAHMINS are always glad that you will be in hell and they will be in heaven. And the priests are always glad that you will be in the fires of hell.
I have heard that one preacher was talking to his congregation, and he was saying: You don't know what is going to happen in hell - there will be fire, there will be cold, freezing days. Your body will shake and your teeth will clatter. One man raised a hand and he said: But I have got no teeth. So he said: You don't worry. False teeth will be provided.
They make every arrangement for you in hell. The ego, the BRAHMIN, the head is always condemning everybody; everybody is ordinary - only you are extraordinary. Only you are going to be saved, nobody else. That's why Christians go on preaching, 'Come and follow Jesus. Only those who follow Jesus will be saved - everybody else is lost.' That's what Mohammedans go on saying, and Hindus go on saying. There seems to be a very deep politics in existence: if you follow somebody and if you go to this church, you will be saved; if you follow somebody else and go to another church, you will be destroyed. And the same is the claim of the other church also. And God must be in a puzzle! What to do?
This whole condemnation comes from the head, the ego. A very subtle ego colors whatsoever you say and believe: your convictions, your philosophy, everything is colored by the ego. And Zen is a simple life.
And that is my teaching also: Be simple and nobody. Don't condemn anybody. Don't put yourself in a situation where you can feel holier than thou - never. Just be ordinary. And when you are ordinary, all anxiety disappears.
When you are ordinary, then your whole perception is totally different. Then the birds singing in the trees are a message from the Divine. Then the breeze passing through the trees, and a leaf dancing in the breeze is His hand, His indication. Then the sky, and the earth - everything is beautiful, and everything comes from Him.
When you are ordinary, when you are nobody, all the doors are open. When you are somebody all the doors are closed. Be ordinary, and live life silently. Don't be a politician. That is the only misfortune that can happen to a man. And politics and religion are opposite poles. Politics is the effort to be somebody in the hierarchy, somewhere at the top, and religion is the search to stand just at the very end of the queue, just to be nobody. Says Lao Tzu: Nobody can insult me, nobody can bring me down, because I am already there. Nobody can defeat me, not that I am very strong, but that I am already defeated. Nobody can defeat me.
The ordinary person is the most beautiful phenomenon in the world - just living moment to moment, not expecting, not asking. Whatsoever comes, accepting. Whatsoever comes, not only accepting, but accepting with a deep thankfulness, a gratitude.
When you are ordinary, whatsoever comes is more than you ever expected. When you are extraordinary, when you think extraordinarily, something very great: a Napoleon, a Hitler, then everything is always something unfulfilling. Everything is lower than your expectations. You are such a great man; whatsoever happens is always below you. When you are ordinary, everything is more than you ever expected, and when this feeling comes, that it is more than you ever expected, you feel a gratitude. That gratitude is the inner shrine. In that gratitude, for the first time, the light from the Beyond descends.
Create this shrine of gratitude inside and soon you will find a light has come into it. The shrine is not dark, and this light doesn't belong to this world. It comes from the Eternal.