Breaking Through the Bottom

Fri, 1 May 1978 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Take It Easy, Vol 2
Chapter #:
am in Buddha Hall
Archive Code:
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An elderly woman came into a doctor's office, exclaiming, "Doctor, my stomach hurts!"

The doctor said, "But madam, I am a doctor of philosophy."

For a moment she forgot the pain, and then seemed puzzled. "Philosophy? What kind of disease is that?"

YES, PHILOSOPHY IS A DISEASE, and not an ordinary one either. It is not a common cold, it is cancer - cancer of the soul. Once a person is lost in the jungle of philosophy he becomes more and more entangled in words, concepts, abstractions. And there is no end to it, one can go on and on for lives together.

Philosophy is all a mind game; mind perpetuates through it. And the truth can be known only when you are in a state of no-mind. So the philosopher never comes to know the truth. Unless philosophy is dropped utterly, in toto, one cannot know what truth is or what God is.

Philosophy thinks ABOUT God and hence goes on missing God. It goes on spinning and weaving theories around and around; it never hits the target. It moves in circles - it creates one idea about God, and then that idea creates another idea... and ideas DON'T believe in birth control; they go on reproducing themselves.

Mind secretes philosophy, creates philosophy, lives through it. Without philosophy the mind cannot exist for even a single moment. The mind HAS to be a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian or a communist. The mind cannot remain for even a single moment in existence if it is not Hindu, not Mohammedan, not Jain, not Christian. If the mind has no philosophy to depend on, it dies out of starvation. If there are no props to support it, if a continuous nourishment is not given to it so that it can think more and more, the process stops. Philosophy keeps it going.

Buddhism is not a philosophy - not at least in Buddha's being or in Ikkyu's being. Those who have realized have realized one thing absolutely, that truth happens in a non-philosophic state. Truth happens in a state of not-knowing, truth happens in innocence. Truth happens when there are no clouds of thoughts moving in your consciousness, when the sky is absolutely clear, when there is no abstraction, when you have no idea what God is or what God is not - when you DON'T believe in God and you DON'T believe in no-God, when you are simply in a state of not-knowing. You DON'T claim any knowledge: that non-claiming consciousness begins to open up. All knowledge burdens and closes you.

And Zen is one of the medicines for coming out of the disease called philosophy. No other school has been able to devise such powerful medicines for coming out of the world of philosophy as Zen has done.

Buddha did not teach anything to believe in. He was not a teacher in that sense, because he did not teach. He was, on the contrary, an anti-teacher - he took away a]l the teachings that people were carrying. Slowly slowly, he helped his disciples to become utterly nude, naked.

Philosophy is a beautiful dress that the mind clings to. Once philosophy is dropped, mind is ugly.

No one would like it, it is nauseous. Then to drop the mind becomes very easy - in fact to cling to it becomes impossible. One HAS to drop it; that dropping comes inevitably and necessarily, of its own accord.

What exactly is philosophy? It is a pretension of knowing, without knowing anything at all. It is thinking. Thinking always means the man is ignorant but is trying to make up something. Whenever you think, that simply shows you DON'T know. Either you know or you DON'T. How can you think?

What can you think?

If I say, "Does God exist or not?" and you say to me, "I will think over it" what are you going to think over? Either you know or you DON'T - it is just simple like that. What are you going to think about?

And whatsoever you think will be your fabrication, will be a lie. Thinking consists of lies.

But one can prove to oneself that those lies are truths; one can argue for them. In fact truth needs no argument. Truth is self-evident; only lies need arguments - they are not self-evident, they need witnesses. A truth is simply truth; unarguably it is there.

That's why the greatest declarations of truth are absolutely without any argument. In the Old Testament there is no argument for God. It simply states: God is. No argument is given, no proofs are contrived. The Upanishads simply declare; they are declarations, announcements to the world at large, but with no argumentation behind them. They are not syllogisms, just poetic assertions.

Somebody has known, and he declares. If you ask him, "What is the proof?" he says, "You can also know."

When Vivekananda reached Ramakrishna, he asked this question: "Can you prove to me that God exists?" And Ramakrishna said, "I cannot prove that God exists, but I can make you KNOW. Are you ready? This very moment!"

Vivekananda was shaken to his very roots. The man was standing there and asking, "Are you ready? THIS very moment I can show God to you! but there is no proof." Vivekananda had not expected this. He had seen many other philosophers before; he was expecting something like that Ramakrishna would give a few proofs, would argue for God, would destroy the proofs that say God does not exist. He had never come across a man of real knowledge; this was the first time.

His throat went dry, he could not utter a single word, he was simply dumb. For a moment everything stopped. And Ramakrishna touched his chest with his feet and he fell into deep ecstasy. When he came back he was trembling. What he had seen was impossible to believe - he had fallen out of the mind for a moment. That touch of Ramakrishna's feet: for a moment he had fallen out of the mind.

Just the same happened last night. Sarjano was there - and Vivekananda must have been in exactly the same situation as Sarjano was last night - and I told him to hold my feet in his hands for a moment, and it happened. For a moment he slipped out of the mind.

The impact of no-mind, if you are ready, can take you into a state of no-mind. And there is knowing.

Knowing is not through the mind, it is always through the no-mind; it is not through the knower, it is only when the knower is not.

And philosophy goes on accepting the knower and goes on trying to make some toys - theories, doctrines to believe in - so that one can deceive oneself. And one can go on and on, for ever and for ever.

I have heard:

An ignoramus managed to get himself invited to a party attended by world-renowned scientists.

Among them was Albert Einstein. The illiterate guest immediately made a nuisance of himself by dogging the illustrious physicist's heels and offering what he thought were very profound observations.

"Tell me, Doctor Einstein," asked the pest, "what, in your opinion, is the difference between time and eternity?"

"Sir," answered Einstein, "if I took the time to explain the difference, it would take an eternity!"

In fact Einstein is being very mild, mellow, generous. Even in an eternity, the difference cannot be explained. Even through an eternity, if you go on discussing "What is time?" and "What is eternity?"

you are not going to come to any conclusion whatsoever.

Five thousand years of philosophy, and not a single conclusion in the hands. Yes, not a single conclusion. No two philosophers agree; they only agree to disagree. They are constantly arguing against each other. There is no possibility of agreement, because two lies cannot agree. And two truths agree so deeply that they become one truth - then they are not two, the agreement is so total.

That's why it is said that there is only one truth. There cannot be many, because the agreement is so infinite and so total and so whole that whenever there are two truths they immediately jump into one and become one flame.

All Buddhas agree. But on what? - that cannot be said. If you say it, it becomes part of philosophy.

It remains unsaid, but it can be experienced.

Because philosophy is a pretension, it believes in great words. It believes in phrase-mongering - it creates, fabricates, great words that people can be impressed by.

Art Critic I: "I think the neo-plasticism of the abstract design proves the mystical, metaphysical and non-humanistic approach to the objective concept of abstraction."

Art Critic 2: "Yes, you have a point there! In fact, it's obvious even from a casual glance that this painting was created by paranoiac-critical activity, brought about by spontaneous dynamic sensations, sometimes made by somnambulistically inclined campanologists, who create a picture of transcendental non-curvilinear and curvilinear objects expressing subjective feelings in a cubistic manner."

Art Critic 3: "I fully agree with you both - it's a rubbishy painting!"

Philosophy goes on creating such bombastic words; it is never simple, it cannot be. It cannot afford to be simple because if it is simple you will see that it is a lie. It has to be very very roundabout, indirect, zig-zag - never straight, never to the point. Its whole effort is not to come to the point: just go on in every direction, but never come home. And create such bombastic words that you can impress idiots - only idiots are impressed by those bombastic words.

Truth is simple. Very simple - so simple that a child can understand it. In fact, so simple that only a child can understand it. Unless you become a child again you will not be able to understand it. It is an experience, not speculation.

But once you get addicted to great words it is very very difficult to bring you down to the earth. Those big words give great fulfillment to your ego. Once a person's mind starts enjoying great words and great ideas and complicated theories, it is very difficult for him to descend to the earth. He flies in the skies, he remains in the high towers of his mind; he never comes to the fact, to the truth. Because truth is simple - and what will happen to his philosophy?

Samantha was a six-year-old who liked to exaggerate almost everything she saw or did. One day she was looking out of the window when she called to her mother, "Mummy, Mummy! Come quickly!

There's a lion walking on the road outside our house!"

Samantha's mother looked out of the window but could only see a small ginger cat.

"Samantha! You're lying again!" she scolded. "Go upstairs to your room immediately and pray to God for forgiveness for being such a naughty little girl, and beg him to stop you from telling so many lies."

Samantha ran up to her room sobbing. A short time later she came down to her mother and said, "I've prayed to God like you said, Mummy. And he said that he, too, thought the ginger cat looked rather like a lion."

Once you have started enjoying exaggerations, big words, bombastic theories, it will be difficult for you. You will try to collect every kind of proof to convince yourself and others that you are on the right track. Once the illusion that you know happens to you - and that is the illusion philosophy gives, that you know - then it is very hard to drop that illusion, because then you become ignorant again.

That is one of the most difficult things for you in being with me. When you come, you come with knowledge. And the whole effort here is to help you drop that knowledge. You come here to acquire a little MORE knowledge, not to drop that which you have. You come to accumulate a little more; you come to gather a few more arguments for that which you already believe. And I am telling you to drop all that you know - because you DON'T really know; it is a false hallucination. You have created the idea that you know. Yes, it hurts to drop it, because then you again become ignorant. And it has taken your whole life to acquire little bits of knowledge from here and there - from the school, the college, the university and the priest and the books - you have been studying and you have been searching and with great effort you have accumulated a little bit of knowledge. And you feel that you may not know the absolute truth but you know enough to move towards truth.

When you come to me you are shocked - because I am telling you again and again that all that you know is just bullshit: simply drop it! Your God is just a fiction, your prayer is just your fear, your love is just your pretension. You are pseudo, root and all; you are just a falsity.

Drop all this! And become ignorant again, because from that ignorance you can grow. the techniques of Buddhist meditation are nothing but techniques, to help you to get out of the knowledge trip. The whole trip is just garbage.

And remember, knowledge and knowing are not synonymous. Knowing is existential, knowledge is just intellectual. Knowing is out of intelligence, knowledge is just memory - it needs no intelligence.

In fact, to avoid intelligence people become addicted to knowledge - it is a cheap thing to become knowledgeable. And then they get excited about useless things.

Some time, years ago, Art Buchwald told the story in the New York HERALD TRIBUNE of a Hollywood producer whose hobby it was to collect rare books. He loved his avocation so much that he spoke about it constantly, boring his friends who were tired of hearing about it. One day, they decided to play a joke on him. They hired a bit actor and brought him to lunch. When, inevitably, the subject came up, the actor said he'd had an old German Bible around the house for years, but it smelled so bad he finally gave it away to an aunt in Santa Barbara.

"Who printed it?" the rare-book collector asked.

"I DON'T know..."Guten" something," the bit actor said.

The producer dropped his fork. "Not Gutenburg?" The actor said he believed that was the name.

The producer jumped up from the table. "Let's go!" he screamed. "We'll hire a plane!"

"Go where?" asked the actor.

"To get the Bible, man! DON'T you realize you have one of the first books ever printed? It's worth three hundred thousand dollars!"

The actor stood up excitedly. Then suddenly he sat down again. "It can't be worth anything," he said.

"Why not?" asked the hysterical producer.

"Because," the actor replied, "somebody named Martin Luther scribbled all over it."

Now the producer must have gone mad, must have fallen into a swoon! People get excited about trivia, and they think they are doing great work. All your hobbies, all your search, all your so-called spiritual work, can be reduced to a single thing: decoration for the ego. And the ego is the only barrier that is preventing you from knowing that which is.

These sutras of Ikkyu are very pragmatic. That is the climate of Buddha. Buddha is a very practical man - that's why he is non-philosophic. He is a pragmatist, he wants the facts and the truth. And he wants to go directly - he does not want to go here and there and round and round. He wants to beat the bush, not around it.

The first sutra:






THAT'S THE WAY TO LET PHILOSOPHY DROP. What is philosophy? It is a constant fight between two camps - the camp who believes in "Is" and the camp who believes in "Is not". One says "God is,"

another says "God is not." One says this, and the other says exactly the opposite. One proposes the thesis and another immediately proposes the antithesis. This game between thesis and antithesis is what is called philosophy.

The whole game can be reduced to a simple formula: "Is/Is not." The theist says "IS", the atheist says "Is not." One says the soul exists, the other says there is no soul. One says life has a goal, the other says there is no goal. One says "The soul is immortal," the other says "Nonsense." And this has been continuing down the ages, through the ages. And with no conclusion.

Buddha says: The whole game is futile. For certain basic reasons, the game is futile. Life in its very structure is dialectics, it depends on the polar opposites - thesis, antithesis. Everything automatically turns into its opposite: birth turns into death, day turns into night, love turns into hate, hope turns into despair. And vice-versa: despair again turns into hope, and night again turns into day, and hate again turns into love, and death again turns into birth. The whole wheel consists of the polar opposites.

Buddha says: To choose between these poles is to be wrong. See the whole of it; DON'T say "Is" or "Is not". DON'T become part of a camp, DON'T become part of a school or a doctrine - because all doctrines are partial and each doctrine is trying to prove that this is the whole. This is the trap of philosophy.

Naturally, when you say "God is light," how can you believe somebody saying "God is darkness"?

Obviously he is denying you; you are at daggers with each other.

But Buddha says: Just see - light turns into darkness every day, darkness turns into light every day.

So you are not really contradicting each other, you are complementing.

Polar opposites are not opposites really but complementaries. So there is no way to choose - and if you choose you will be in difficulties...

You choose love and then love changes into hate and anger. And then you are in a difficulty, because you were thinking love would remain love for ever. You cannot cling to love for ever; in your very choice you have chosen hate too. Love/hate is one relationship. In fact we should drop "love" and "hate" as two words, we should make one word: "lovehate". We should drop "day" and "night" as two words, we should make one word: "daynight". "Birthdeath". That will be truer, closer to reality - our division is false.

When you are in love you think, "Now I will love for ever and for ever" - and you have forgotten how life functions. By the evening the love is gone and the anger is arising - is BOUND to arise; you cannot do otherwise. In choosing love you have chosen hate too; that is the other aspect of the same coin. But now you are in misery, you think you are betraying. You think, "How is it happening ? Why is it happening? Why to me? Why can I not love for ever? Why can my lover not love me for ever? In the morning he was so much interested in me, and now he wants to be alone, left alone.

What has happened? Where did I go wrong?"

Nobody has been wrong, nothing has happened, all is happening as it should. And soon this anger will go and you will be hugging each other again and love will be there - and you will again forget.

To understand life, this is one of the very fundamentals to see, that each thing implies its opposite and each thing automatically turns into its opposite. If you DON'T want any enemies then DON'T make friends - make a friend, and you have started making an enemy. Only friends can become enemies.

If you want never to be unhappy then DON'T seek happiness - if you seek happiness you are seeking unhappiness too. Unhappiness comes in the bargain, it is part of the game of happiness, happiness cannot exist without it.

Life exists amidst death.

This is one of the greatest insights of Buddha. So he says: There is no point in choosing. Somebody says God is, and somebody says God is not - they are simply choosing one aspect of reality. God is totality: "Is" plus "Is not". So if you ask Buddha, "What do you say about God?" he will say, "What can I say? If I say "Is" I am wrong. If I say "Is not" I am wrong. If I say he is both, I puzzle you - then you say that I am confusing you. So it will be better if I keep quiet. I will not say a single thing; I will be silent and I will also teach you silence. When you want to know what God is, become silent.

DON'T choose this way or that."

Philosophy is a choice. When you say "I am a Hindu" you have chosen - in that, you are saying "I am not a Mohammedan." And God is a Hindu, is a Mohammedan, is a Christian, is a Jain, is a communist, and all, and none.

Why does everything turn into its opposite? Nobody wants it to be so; still it turns. It is the way of existence, Tao, Dhamma; it is how things move. Just as fire bums, it is fire's nature, so is this the nature of existence, that it automatically turns into its opposite. Why does it turn into its opposite?

Because the opposite is only opposite seen from the surface. Seen from the deep core of reality it is not opposite but complementary.

Just think of a world where no hate exists - do you think there will be love? That's what philosophy will say. There are philosophers of love, philosophers of peace, who say if there is no war in the world there will be peace. And it looks so logical, so mathematical, so appealing - that if there is no war there will certainly be peace; when war disappears there will be all peace and peace and peace. That is not true.

Listen to Buddha. Buddha says: War and peace are together. If war disappears, peace will disappear automatically - there will be neither war nor peace. How will you know that this is peace?

You will forget all about peace.

Just think, if death disappears from the world will you be able to know that you are alive? Impossible.

How will you know that you are alive? Death is needed to define life. War is needed to define peace, enmity is needed to define friendship, and hate is needed to define love. So they are not separate.

They define each other, they depend on each other - if one disappears, the other is bound to disappear.

Philosophy chooses. There are pacifist philosophies who think there should be no war, only peace - that then there will be only peace. That's what Bertrand Russell was saying. It is not possible.

Krishna is far closer to truth when he says that sometimes there is peace and sometimes there is war. Both exist together.

Our minds choose logically; logic never allows the opposite. Existence DEPENDS on the opposite.

Hence, logic and existence never meet. And philosophy is a logical endeavour. The more logical you are, the less is the possibility to know what the truth is.

Buddha says: This is the dilemma, the predicament of human mind - to be or not to be. But both are together; you cannot decide. If you decide to be, you have also decided not to be, and vice-versa.

No choice seems to be the right choice; choose, and you always choose something wrong. only choicelessness is right. DON'T choose, let things be as they are. When it is war, let it be. When it is peace, let it be. When it is love, let it be; when it is not love, let it be. You remain aloof, watching, a witness.

Just see that understanding: you are just a witness, and things turn into their opposites on their own. Peaks are followed by valleys, highs are followed by lows, and so on and so forth. There is nothing you can do. If you DON'T choose, the doer disappears, starts evaporating. Then you can only be conscious of whatsoever is the case.

This is "breaking through the bottom".






CHOICELESSNESS IS THE WAY to get out of all these clingings. Choicelessness is the way out of this world. Mind always chooses.

I have heard:

Mulla Nasruddin was walking with his son along a country road behind their donkey, who was contentedly nibbling the grass along the way. A man, seeing Mulla and his son walking and sweating profusely, remarked, "Look how foolish they are, walking instead of riding."

Hearing this remark, Mulla and his son climbed on the donkey and rode through the next village where they heard an old man exclaim, "They ought to be ashamed, making the poor donkey carry two riders."

Mulla dismounted and walked while his son rode the donkey to the next village. There, Mulla heard this comment: "Poor old man. That boy ought to be ashamed, making his father walk."

Then Mulla got on the donkey, while his son dismounted and walked for some distance.

Finally, another villager observed, "Look at that old man riding, while his son has to walk. How cruel!"

Mulla rubbed his beard, shook his head, and said to himself, "You cannot please all of the people any of the time."

What was happening in this story? It is one of the most famous Sufi stories - what was happening?

Mulla was doing one thing, people were suggesting the antithesis. And, seeing the point, he chose the antithesis. Then somebody suggested the antithesis of the antithesis, and so on and so forth - he was always choosing and choosing.

This is how people are moving; this is the way of the mind. You always choose. You choose one thing, and sooner or later from somewhere the suggestion will come: choose the other - because you become tired of that which you have chosen, and the other is as significant as this. And when you are tired of one thing, naturally you start thinking of the opposite.

You have been fasting too much, then naturally you start thinking of food. When you are eating too much you start thinking of fasting. When you have been running after money too much, one day you decide to run from the world, the world of money and all, and go to the Himalayas. When you reach the Himalayas, by the time you reach there and sit in your cave, you have not even settled there and you start thinking of the world and money and all. You become afraid, sitting in the cave, of what will happen to you - tomorrow how are you going to get your food now you have no money at all? And in the night you become afraid, alone in the forest with no protection.

Now you see the point, what was beautiful in the house: you were protected and there was a shelter and safety. Now, when you were in the house you never thought about the protection and the safety; it was accepted, it was taken for granted. You were thinking of other things - you were thinking that you were almost closed in a prison, you were thinking of the open skies and the sunlit peaks and the beautiful forests, and the silence, the primordial silence of the Himalayas, and the snowcapped peaks and that eternal beauty. You were thinking of these things.

And when you are sitting amidst that eternal beauty you will forget about it. You perceive only that which you DON'T have; that which you have disappears from your perception. Perception happens only when something new happens. You see only the new. The mind tends not to see the old - what is the point? you have seen it already. Now for the first time you start thinking of the house and the beauty of it. There was no fear there. Now here there is more and more fear, you cannot sleep at night. Although the primordial silence is there, the silence is too much; it is heavy, you cannot tolerate it. It creates fear in you.

Whenever you come across primordial silence you start feeling very afraid, because you have lived in the world of language; you have become accustomed to it. Have you not seen this restlessness?

When you meet a person in the train, in the bus, a stranger, you start feeling restless, he starts feeling restless - unless you become introduced to each other, unless you bring language in. The silence hurts both. You fidget, he fidgets, and finally somebody has to break the ice. That ice is silence. Somebody has to ask, "Where are you going?" - somebody has to bring language in. Once language comes in, communication happens. Then you are part of a human world.

Have you not heard the famous Zen story?

Four persons decided to go into silence for one week. A few hours passed, then one said, "I wonder whether I have put the fire out in my house or left it on."

The other says, "You fool, you have spoken! And we had decided not to speak."

The third said, "What do you think you are doing? You have spoken too!"

And the fourth said, "I am the only one who has not spoken yet."

It is difficult to be silent. Language is in our blood, our bones, our marrow. Man lives in a sea of language.

DON'T you see it happening continuously? The people who are very very articulate become very important. The man who can use language cleverly becomes a leader, a great leader of men - and all his skill may be just linguistic. A man who is not very efficient at language remains a third-rate man, because this society lives through language.

It is said of Josef Stalin that he always used to ask his cronies whenever some new name would bubble up in the talks - somebody, some author, some poet, some philosopher, some thinker - he would always ask the same question: "Is he a genius?" And if the answer was yes, then the genius would disappear within days. He would not be found any more; he would be killed. Why? Why was Sta]in so much afraid of a genius? Because these people are dangerous. "Genius" means one who is very very clever with language - who can write beautifully, who can speak beautifully, who is articulate. These are the dangerous people. They create rebellions, revolutions; they become leaders of men.

If the answer was no, that he was not a genius, just a second-rate author or a poet, then there was no problem.

Man lives through language. And you will only know that your language is so essential to you when you have moved to the Himalayas - never before it. Here, it is taken for granted. Here, sometimes sitting in your room, you feel very good when you are alone - so silent. But that too is because there is so much noise all around; in contrast it is beautiful. If you go to the Himalayas, within a few days you will become frightened, because there is no contrast any more.

It is good to be silent for a few hours, because it gives you relaxation from language. But then again you are ready to talk, to communicate.

People living in the world think of the beauties of those who have renounced and gone to the monasteries. And people living in the monasteries simply feel that they have missed this chance to live - life is there outside where people are enjoying, rejoicing, indulging, eating, loving; real life is there. Monks become sad and think constantly of the world. This is one of the basic things to see about the mind.

Buddha says: Once you choose one thing, sooner or later you will have to choose the opposite. You will become tired of it, you will start forgetting about it, you will not perceive it any more - and you will start thinking of the beauties of the opposite. And each thing that you choose is only a part, it is never the whole. If it is the whole, there is no need to choose. Choice is of the part, can only be of the part. You cannot choose the whole, because then there is no point in choosing.

If you say, "I choose life, I choose death" then what you are saying is, "I DON'T care a bit - whether it is life or death, it is all the same to me. I DON'T choose."

Choicelessness brings you to the whole. Choice is always of the part, necessarily so. And then one person goes from one choice to another, becomes a driftwood - from this bank to another bank, from that bank to this bank. This is how you have been moving, down the ages, for so many lives.






JUMP! exactly into the middle, through the middle. DON'T choose. Remain alert and DON'T choose.

Let life happen with no choice on your part, as if you are just sitting in a movie: it does not depend on your choice. The movie is moving, the pictures are coming and going, the story is unfolding; it doesn't depend on your choice.

But even seeing a film you start choosing. You start thinking, "If this man had a little better character, if this man was a little more moral" - you have started choosing. And you know that it doesn't depend on your choice. It is already there, it is going to happen as it is going to happen, you can just relax and enjoy whatsoever is happening.

Yes - by not choosing, the film will not stop, it will continue. But it will have no more effect on you.

You will remain undistracted, undisturbed; you will remain centered.

That's the beauty of choicelessness. Krishnamurti is right when he again and again emphasizes choicelessness. That is also the taste of Zen.

Zen has created many methods to break through the bottom, so that you can jump out of choice, duality, opposites. The koan is one of the most important methods. The master gives a certain puzzle, it is no ordinary puzzle, to the disciple to meditate upon. Its extraordinariness is that it cannot be solved. It has been made with every care so that the mind cannot supply any answer to it; it is unanswerab]e.

For example "the sound of one hand clapping": the disciple is to meditate upon the sound of one hand clapping. Now, there can be no sound, it is logically impossible - two hands will be needed.

Sound cannot be there unless two things collide - only then can sound be created. One hand cannot create sound; that is impossible. Now, that has to be meditated upon.

The disciple knows it is impossible, the master knows it is impossible. Day in, day out, the disciple will meditate on the sound of one hand. And he knows it is impossible but the master says, "Go on meditating. Because it is impossible, it is important." He goes on meditating, meditating; he drives himself almost crazy.

Naturally, if you think about it, you will slowly slowly become crazy. Your mind will say, "What are you doing? There can be NO sound!" But the master says, "Go on meditating, you have to find it out.

There is a sound," the master says, "which is not created by two hands. Go and find it out."

Sometimes months pass and sometimes years. But one day the mind comes to its ultimate peak.

The mind starts really going crazy - it spins and spins, round and round it goes and moves, and it cannot produce any answer. It comes to its ultimate capacity. From that capacity, the breakdown and the breakthrough.

Suddenly all is silence. The question has disappeared, the questioner has disappeared, the mind is no more there, no thought is there, all is utter silence.

That is the sound of one hand clapping.

This is satori. This is "breaking through the bottom." Then there is no "Is" and no "Is not". Then you cannot say "God is" and you cannot say "God is not". Then the whole is, then the one is - undivided.

This whole is God, or nirvana or Tao.


Now, this is a koan:





NOW THE WHOLE NONSENSE OF IT! But Zen uses nonsense in a very sensible way. It has sense in its nonsense. Now, you cannot make anything out of this statement:





That's why people like Arthur Koestler think that Zen is all nonsense. On the surface, yes. At the deepest core, the most sensible thing that has ever happened on this earth. It is the sense of nonsense! These are not philosophical statements - that's where Arthur Koestler goes on missing.

These are not philosophical statements, these are devices. These are devices to drive you so crazy that out of the sheer craziness of it the mind comes to a halt.

How long can you go on repeating this sutra?





How long? This has to be meditated upon, it is a koan. The master will say, "Find out the meaning of it." Now, there is no meaning; nobody can find out the meaning! But you TRY to find out the meaning - and you will not be able to find it out, but the very effort will lead you to a certain state.

I have heard, it happened: A woman was getting very fat. She went to the doctor, the doctor gave her a bottle of beautiful red pills and told her, "Within a month, at least fifteen pounds" weight will disappear. And within a year, slowly slowly, you will become normal."

She was very happy, she went home. She had two daughters, one and seven years old - they liked the bottle and the red pills so much that they swallowed all the pills between themselves. Now the woman was very much afraid. She phoned the doctor, the doctor said, "DON'T be worried. For a few days the girls will go crazy; they will not be able to sleep at all, they will remain wide awake. And they will have great energy and they will remain restless for a few days; they will jump and scream and rush about and run all around the house. But nothing really harmful - within seven days they will cool down. So DON'T be worried."

But those seven days were hell. The girls wouldn't sleep at all; the whole night they would shout and scream and jump. And they had so much energy, the woman could not control them. They drove the woman crazy. In seven days THEY cooled down, but the woman was just completely broken.

But one thing happened: she lost fifteen pounds of weight.

Now, that is a totally different thing - not a logical conclusion, it may not have happened through the pills themselves, but that's what really happened. And the doctor had said, "In one month you will lose fifteen pounds." She lost it in one week.

This is what a koan is. You will not get to the answer but something else will happen. That is the sense of the nonsense. You will be thinking of the meaning and no meaning will be coming - because there is none, so how can it come?

Arthur Koestler is right that it is a nonsense statement. And yet he has missed the whole point. It is a nonsense statement, but trying to make sense out of it you will drive your mind crazy. You will become so restless, so disturbed, so stirred, that you will reach the climax. You will start boiling at a hundred degrees - and at that point the evaporation happens. That is a by-product.

Suddenly the whole mind is gone, and all its problems and all its philosophy and all its answers and questions. All, root and all, has simply disappeared. You simply look around and there is no mind!

You look out, and it is not there. You look in, and it is not there. You search everywhere, and it is not there: you cannot find yourself.

And this is the moment of satori, when you cannot find yourself. When you cannot find yourself, you have found it. Now the ego is not there, there is great silence.



Obviously - because the mind is one half and the body is the other half. And both have been believed in. There are many religions which believe in the mind - the majority of religions believe in the mind and are against the body. They all teach anti-body practices. Christianity is anti-body, Jainism is anti-body. They teach you how to destroy your body deliberately, they teach you how to destroy all the energy that the body has, because that is your enemy: if you can destroy the body you will know God or you will know truth or whatsoever it is. They live in the mind, they have chosen the mind.

There are religions which have chosen the body - very few, and they are not called religions either.

The Charvakas in India: they were as religious as Christians and Jains, but their religion consists of the body. That's why the majority of religions will call them non-religious, anti-religious. They are not. Their religion is totally different, the polar opposite they believe in the body. They say there is no mind, no soul, that is all nonsense. Just live your body: eat, drink, and be merry. The religion of Epicurus is of the body.

But both are wrong according to Ikkyu, according to Buddha, according to me too. Both are wrong - because man is a whole, an organic whole: mind and body are together. In fact man is not mind and body, but mindbody. The body is just the visible part of the mind, and the mind is the invisible part of the body. They are one energy.


True, it cannot. Against the body, the mind cannot become the Buddha.


Against the mind, the body cannot become the Buddha. If you believe in the first, you will become spiritualists. If you believe in the second, you will become materialists. But in either way you will miss real religion.



And now the strange statement.



Both cannot become Buddha separately, taken apart. But both together CAN become the Buddha.

In fact both together are ALREADY the Buddha.





This is again another meditation.





ALL IS MOMENTARY. Only for the moment, like the dew in the morning, will the sun rise, and then it will disappear. Or the lightning in the clouds - you have not even seen it, and it is gone.

All is momentary; nothing abides, everything comes and disappears. Not only that - everything disappears and turns into its opposite.

Seeing this, there is nothing to cling to; thinking this, one becomes unattached. One starts being in a kind of let-go, one allows whatsoever happens. One has no obsession that it should be so, one has no claim on existence. One simply trusts and flows with existence - wherever it takes one and whatsoever is happening or is going to happen. One has no predetermined goal.









And this is the greatest foolishness, to search for Buddha, because you are it already. Again and again this has to be repeated - this is the greatest statement, the most potential. Some day you may hear it, some day it may strike you, some day it may just penetrate your heart like an arrow - hot. And in that very moment you will be transformed. Hence it has to be repeated again and again.




The greatest foolishness is one. All other foolishnesses arise out of it, it is the mother of all other foo]ishnesses. What is that? To search for Buddha. You will never find Buddha anywhere, because he is already you. If you search for him you will miss. The seeker is never going to find - the finders are those who stop seeking.

Again, there are two parties, two philosophies. Some say "Seek outside." There are religions which say, "God is there above in heaven, outside you. Worship God: create a temple, make a statue, an image, an ikon. Learn the right prayer and the right form of ritual, and serve God, and you will find him somewhere outside." This is one kind of religion, which searches outside - Hinduism, Christianity, Mohammedanism.

There is another kind of religion that searches within. Jainism: it says, "Look within. God is not outside. Your self is the supreme self, God resides in you. So go in, but still search."

A few search outside, a few search inside.

Zen says: DON'T search at all! Searching out, searching in, there is no difference. To the extent that we know all is dream, to that extent we become unattached to whatsoever happens - to things and to the self. The more you become detached towards things and towards the self, you start losing the idea of the inside and the outside. That division is again the same duality - in, out. There is nothing in, nothing out, all is one. Our mistake is to look for truth outside OR inside. The great mistake is to LOOK at all. Then what to do?

The Zen formula is simple: non-doing, WU-WEI. Sitting silently doing nothing - neither looking out nor looking in, not looking for anything at all, just being yourself - and in that moment, Buddha is known. Buddha is your very being. "Buddha" in Buddhism means exactly what "God" means in other religions.





AND A GREAT REBELLIOUS STATEMENT, to be remembered always. Somehow, deep inside, the idea persists in you that Buddha is somebody special - that when you become a Buddha you will be somebody extraordinary. That is again the old seeker's mind which cannot believe in that which is, but always hankers for that which is not.

Listen to this statement:





Be awake! And listen! Just as you are - JUST AS YOU ARE, I repeat - you are the Buddha. Nothing has to be added to you, nothing has to be taken away from you. Just as you are, exactly as you are, in your utter ordinariness, you are Buddha.

The day you recognize this you will be surprised - you will start laughing. How ridiculous has been the whole search, and how ridiculous have been your problems!

Listen to these two stories:

A monk once asked a Zen master, "Does a dog have the Buddha nature?"

He replied, "Yes, it does."

The monk then asked, "Do you have the Buddha nature?"

He replied, "No, I DON'T."

The monk then said, "But I thought everybody has the Buddha nature!"

The master replied, "Yes, but I am not everybody! In fact I am nobody - so how can I have the Buddha nature?"

He HAS the Buddha nature! This is the way Zen people express themselves, in puzzles. But he has made the point very clear. In your nobodiness, or in your ordinariness... And the ordinariness has to be such that you DON'T even claim that you are a Buddha. If you claim, you are not. That's why he says, "Yes, but I am not everybody. In fact I am nobody - how can I be a Buddha?"

When one knows, one does not claim.

Another story:

A Zen master was worshipping at a statue of the Buddha. A novice came by and asked, "Why do you worship the Buddha? I thought Zen teaches us not to. Do not some Zen masters spit at the Buddha?"

The master replied, "Some spit at the Buddha and some worship the Buddha. I prefer the other."

But it is all the same. Life continues as it is. Some worship the Buddha, some spit on the Buddha, life continues as it is.

The man of Zen has no choice, only preferences - and make clear to yourself the difference between a choice and a preference. A choice says "I am very serious about it." A choice says "This way I would like to live, the other way I would not like to live at all. This is the way to live; that way is worthless."

A preference simply says "I like this, but if it doesn't happen then the other is also good." There is no seriousness involved in it. Naturally, a Zen master also has preferences. When he sleeps he does not sleep on thorns, he sleeps on his bed. This is a preference, not a choice - if he HAS to sleep on the thorns he will sleep there too. If the bed is not avail able and sleep is coming on, he will sleep on the thorns too. But again this is not a choice; just in that circumstance it is the only possible thing to do.

He eats food, he does not eat stones - that is a preference, not a choice. Remember, a Zen master also walks and goes through the door, not through the wall. That is just a preference. That's what this master is saying: "Yes, some spit at the Buddha and some worship the Buddha. I prefer worship."

But he is not serious about it. A Christian cannot be so easy about it - if somebody spits on Christ he will be mad, he will kill the man! He will not be able to tolerate this, although Christianity goes on talking about tolerance and love and forgiving the enemy. But he will not forgive THIS enemy, he will kill this enemy.

If you spit on the Buddha and a Zen master is worshipping, he will just look at you and think, "He prefers spitting, I prefer worship." There is no choice involved, but a great detachment. See the point, it is of immense value. Preference is okay, choice is not good.

And when it is said "Become choiceless" a few foolish people start thinking that they can't prefer now - because they think preference is choice. They start thinking that now they cannot prefer.

In India it has happened: there are mahatmas in India, saints - very well-known, worshipped by thousands - whose whole prestige is because they DON'T prefer. If they are eating and you just sit in front of them and piss there, it's okay. Or they may be just sitting in dirt - it's okay, because they think this is choicelessness. Because of this idea, India has become so dirty. If mahatmas are doing such great things, then followers, if not THAT great, also follow a little bit - they also should not choose.

India has become so poor.

You need not make this mistake. If there is a possibility to be rich, prefer being rich! DON'T prefer being poor. But remember that this is a preference, not a choice. If riches one day disappear - because all is fleeting, THE DEW ON THE LOTUS LEAF, then it is perfectly okay, then be poor.

DON'T choose poverty, DON'T choose richness. But preference is perfectly good and sane.

If you can be healthy, prefer to be healthy. If you cannot be, then it is okay, then accept your illness.

But I am not saying choose illness.

That calamity has happened in this country. For at least four or five thousand years, this country has lived in such a nonsensical philosophy: "DON'T choose." That's why this country remained poor.

"DON'T even prefer." So whatsoever is, is okay. People have been dying and starving, people are ugly, people are ill, their life is a dog's life - but they go on. They have lost the energy to live, to change, to transform themselves.

Religion became very poisonous in India. This should not be repeated! I have lived in poverty, I have lived in richness. And to be frank with you, richness is better. So is health, so are all the good things of life - but this is just a preference.

Preference simply means you are not very serious about it. If playfully it is possible, good. You are not dead set for it, that if it doesn't happen you will commit suicide, that if you are not the richest man in the world then you would like not to live at all - that is foolishness.

Zen people DON'T choose - they DON'T choose the world, they DON'T choose renunciation of the world.

But they have lived in the world; they prefer. They say, "This seems to be more natural." They live like ordinary people, just as you live. But they live with an extraordinary intelligence, they live with great awareness.

As choice disappears more and more and preference takes its place, you become more and more intelligent, more alert, more conscious. A lucidity, a grace, arises in your being.



Ikkyu is saying: Be the dew on the lotus leaf. Although from the outside the dew will look coloured by the lotus leaf - if the lotus leaf is green the dewdrop will look green, will look emerald - yet it is not coloured, it remains uncoloured. It is not affected by the lotus leaf; that is only an appearance.

The Zen man lives in the world, but uncoloured. He may have a wife, he may have children, but he remains uncoloured:



He moves through the world, uncontaminated, unpolluted by it. The world never enters in him.

That's why he is not worried about getting out of it. He is not interested in going to the Himalayas.

Why? For what? He knows the world is not in him, so what is the point of going anywhere else?

The person who is escaping from the world is afraid of the world, because when he is in the world the world enters into him and he cannot resist. He is incapable, he is impotent, he is not yet aware enough to be so that the world cannot enter into him. To avoid this, he is escaping to the Himalayas.

But how is he going to become more conscious in the Himalayas?

If the world cannot make you more conscious, the Himalayas cannot make you, certainly - it is impossible for the Himalayas. The world is a challenge! And intelligence exists only when there is challenge. It is sharpened by challenges - with greater challenges, greater intelligence happens.





The shopkeeper in the shop and the worker in the factory and the farmer on the field - the dew on the lotus leaf, if it is uncoloured by the leaf, then there is no problem. You can be a farmer or a shopkeeper or a clerk or a mastqer, you can be anybody - that is only the form. Deep inside, remain unattached to whatsoever is happening around you. Preference is okay - DON'T choose. And you are Buddha.

This very body the Buddha, and this very earth the lotus paradise.

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"It would however be incomplete in this respect if we
did not join to it, cause or consequence of this state of mind,
the predominance of the idea of Justice. Moreover and the
offset is interesting, it is the idea of Justice, which in
concurrence, with the passionalism of the race, is at the base
of Jewish revolutionary tendencies. It is by awakening this
sentiment of justice that one can promote revolutionary
agitation. Social injustice which results from necessary social
inequality, is however, fruitful: morality may sometimes excuse
it but never justice.

The doctrine of equality, ideas of justice, and
passionalism decide and form revolutionary tendencies.
Undiscipline and the absence of belief in authority favors its
development as soon as the object of the revolutionary tendency
makes its appearance. But the 'object' is possessions: the
object of human strife, from time immemorial, eternal struggle
for their acquisition and their repartition. THIS IS COMMUNISM

Even the instinct of property, moreover, the result of
attachment to the soil, does not exist among the Jews, these
nomads, who have never owned the soil and who have never wished
to own it. Hence their undeniable communist tendencies from the
days of antiquity."

(Kadmi Cohen, pp. 81-85;

Secret Powers Behind Revolution, by Vicomte Leon de Poncins,
pp. 194-195)