Catching the First Principle
ONCE A TYRO ASKED A ZEN MASTER,
"MASTER, WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE?"
WITHOUT HESITATION THE MASTER REPLIED,
"IF I WERE TO TELL YOU, IT WOULD BECOME THE SECOND PRINCIPLE."
Yes. The first principle cannot be said. The most important thing cannot be said, and that which can be said will not be the first principle. The moment truth is uttered it becomes a lie; the very utterance is a falsification. So the Vedas, the Bible, and the Koran, they contain the second principle, not the first principle. They contain lies, not the truth, because the truth cannot be contained by any word whatsoever. The truth can only be experienced -- the truth can be lived -- but there is no way to say it.
The word is a far, faraway echo of the real experience; and it is so far away from the real that it is even worse than the unreal because it can give you a false confidence. It can give you a false promise. You can believe it, and that is the problem. If you start believing in some dogma, you will go on missing the truth. Truth has to be known by experience. No belief can help you on the way; all beliefs are barriers. All religions are against religion -- it has to be so by the very nature of things. All churches are against God. Churches exist because they fulfill a certain need. The need is: man does not want to make any efforts; he wants easy shortcuts.
Belief is an easy shortcut.
The way to truth is hard; it is an uphill task. One has to go through total death -- one has to destroy oneself utterly-only then is the new born. The resurrection is only after the crucifixion.
To avoid the crucifixion we have created beliefs. Beliefs are very cheap. You can believe and you remain the same. You can go on believing, and it doesn't require any basic change in your life pattern. It does not require any change in your consciousness, and unless your consciousness changes, the belief is just a toy. You can play with it, you can deceive yourself with it, but it is not going to nourish you.
Visualize that a child is playing in the garden of his house, playing with imaginary lions, and then suddenly he has to face a real lion who has escaped from the zoo. Now he does not know what to do. He is simply scared out of his wits. He is paralyzed; he cannot even run. He was perfectly at ease with the imaginary, but with the real he does not know what to do.
That is the situation of all those people who go on playing with beliefs, concepts, philosophies, theologies. They ask questions just to ask questions. The answer is the last thing they are interested in. They don't want the answer. They go on playing with questions, and each answer helps them to create more questions. Each answer is nothing but a jumping board for more questions.
The truth is not a question. It is a quest! It is not intellectual; it is existential. The inquiry is a gamble, a gamble with your life. It needs tremendous courage. Belief needs no courage.
Belief is the way of the coward. If you are a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan you are a coward. You are avoiding the real lion, you are escaping from the real lion. If you want to face the real, then there is no need to go to any church, there is no need to go to any priest, because the real surrounds you within and without. You can face it -- it is already there.
I have heard:
A Zen Master, Shou-shan, was asked by a disciple, "According to the scriptures, all beings possess the Buddha-nature; why is it that they do not know it?"
Shou-shan replied, "They know!"
This is a rare answer, very rare, a great answer. Shou-shan said, "They know! But they are avoiding it." It is not a question of how to know the truth. The truth is here, you are part of it.
The truth is now, there is no need to go anywhere. And it has been there since the beginning, if there was any beginning, and it will be there until the end, if there is going to be any end.
And you have been avoiding it. You find ways to avoid it. When somebody asks, "What is the way to truth?" in fact he is asking, "What is the way to avoid the truth?" He is asking, "How can I escape?"
You may not have heard:
Says that old rascal Bodhidharma: "All know the way, few walk it, and the ones who don't walk cry regularly, 'Show me the way! Where is the way? Give me a map! Which way is it?' " Those who don't walk, they go on regularly crying and shouting, "Where is the way?" And all know the way because life is the way, experience is the way. To be alive is the way, to be conscious is the way. You are alive, you are conscious. This is the first principle.
But it cannot be said, and I am not saying it!
And you are not hearing it.
The truth, by its very nature, is a dumb experience. All experiences are dumb because they happen only in deep silence. If you love a woman the love happens in deep silence. If you create poetry it descends in you in deep silence. If you paint a picture you disappear. The painter is NOT, when the painting is born, there is not even a witness to it. It happens in utter silence and utter aloneness. If you are there then the painting cannot be of any value. If the poet is there then the poetry will be nothing but a technical thing. It will have all the rules fulfilled, it will follow the grammar, the rules of melody, but there will be no poetry. It will be a dead corpse. It will not be a real woman; it will be a nun.
I have heard:
At an isolated part of the beach of Cannes a beautiful French girl threw herself into the sea. A young man off at a distance noticed it and dashed into the water to save her, but it was too late. He dragged the seminude body ashore and left it on the sand while he went in search of some official. When he returned he was horrified to see a man making love to the corpse.
"Monsieur!" he exclaimed, "that woman is dead!"
"Sacre bleu!" muttered the man, jumping up. "I thought she was a nun."
To be a monk or to be a nun is to be dead. And there are millions of ways of how to die and not live.
Truth surrounds you. It is in the air, it is in the fragrance of the flowers, it is in the flow of the river, it is in the green leaves, it is in the stars, it is in the dust, it is in you. Only truth is!
But you go on avoiding it and you go on asking questions -- How to attain to truth? Where is the map? Which way is it? And even if the map is given to you, the map does not help you in any way. In the first place the map cannot be given, because the truth goes on changing. It is not a stagnant phenomenon; it is continuously changing. It is alive, it is breathing. It is never the same; it is never the same for two consecutive moments.
Says old Heraclitus, "You cannot step in the same river twice." In fact, you cannot even step once; the river is flowing, the river is flowing so fast. And not only is the river flowing, you are flowing. You cannot step in the same river twice: the river changes. You cannot step in the same river twice: because YOU change.
Truth is dynamic. Truth is not something dead. That's why it cannot be contained in words.
The moment you utter it, it has passed, it has gone beyond, it is no more the same. The moment you say it is so, it is no more so. Words lag behind.
To be with truth there is only one possibility: drop words. Language lags behind. Language is lame. Only silence can go with truth, hand in hand. Only silence can move with truth. Only silence can be so fast, because silence has no weight to carry. Words are loaded; they carry weight. So when you are carrying words, great theologies in your head, great abstractions, then you cannot walk with truth. To walk with truth one has to be weightless. Silence is weightless; it has nothing to carry. Silence has wings. So only in silence is the truth known, and only in silence is the truth transferred, transmitted.
The tyro asked the Master:
"MASTER, WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE?"
He must have been a tyro, a beginner; otherwise the question is foolish, the question is stupid. Either a stupid person can ask it or a philosopher. The question is meaningless because "first" means the most fundamental. The mind cannot contain it, because it contains the mind!
The "first" means the basic; it was before the mind, so how can the mind comprehend it?
Mind came out of it, mind is a by-product of it. The child cannot know the father; the father can know child. The reality can know you, but you cannot know the reality. The part cannot know the whole; the whole can know the part. And the part cannot contain the whole. Now the mind is a very tiny part. It cannot contain the vastness of reality. Yes, the person who asked must have been a beginner.
"What is the first principle, Master?"
And the Master said:
"IF I WERE TO TELL YOU, IT WOULD BECOME THE SECOND PRINCIPLE. "
Then it will be an echo, it will be a reflection, it will be a mirror image.
Do you know who you are? You don't know, but you know a mirror image. You know your name, you know your address, you know the name of your family, the country, the religion, the political party you belong to. You know your face reflected in the mirror. You don't know your real face. You have not encountered your original face yet. The Zen Masters continuously persist, they go on hammering on the heads of their disciples, "Look into your original face -- the face that you had before even your father was born, the face that you will have when you are dead, the face that is yours, originally yours." All that we know about our face is not really about our face. It is the mask of the body, the mask of the mind. We don't know who lives in the body. We know truth as secondhand, borrowed.
Whenever something is borrowed it becomes ugly. Only the firsthand experience is beautiful, because it liberates. The secondhand thing is ugly because it becomes a bondage. If you become religious you will be liberated. If you become a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan you will be in a bondage. Mohammed was liberated because for him Islam was a firsthand experience. So was Jesus liberated because for him his experience was HIS experience -- authentically his. Buddha was liberated; he came upon the experience. It was not handed to him by somebody else -- it was not borrowed, it was not thought out, it was not a logical syllogism, it was not an inference. It was an experience!
Beware of inference. You have been taught inference to avoid experience. There are people who say, "God exists because if God is not there, who will create the world? God must exist because the world exists."
Just the other day I was reading a story about a rabbi. Must have been utterly unenlightened. Rabbis are like that -- priests. A man came to the rabbi. The man was an atheist, and he said, "I don't believe in God, and you talk about God. What is the proof?" And the rabbi said, "You come after seven days, and come wearing a new suit." The man said, "But what does that have to do with my question?" The rabbi said, "It has something to do with it.
You just go to the tailor, prepare a new suit, and come after seven days."
The man came, reluctantly, because he could not see any relationship between his question and the answer that had been given. But he still came; he was wearing a new suit. The rabbi said, "Who has made this suit?" And the man said, "Have you gone mad? What type of a question are you asking? Of course the tailor." The rabbi said, "The suit is here; it proves that the tailor exists. Without the tailor the suit would not be here. And so is the case with the world. The world is here: there must be a tailor to it, a creator."
This is inference.
Change the scene. In a small Indian village a mystic is sitting with his disciples. Silently they are sitting; there is tremendous silence. It is a SATSANG -- the disciples are drinking the presence of the Master. And there comes an atheist, a scholar, a well-known logician, and he says, "I have come to ask one question. What is the proof of God?" The mystic opens his eyes, and he says, "If you want the proof of God, look into the eyes of the devotees. There is no other proof."
God exists in the eyes of the devotees. God exists in the vision of the lovers. It is an experience of the deepest core of your being, the heart. There is no other proof. God is not a concept. God is a reality, an experience, a deep subjective experience, the deepest there is. All else is peripheral. God is the experience of your innermost center. When you are centered you know.
But you have been taught to believe in the God of the philosophers. That is a way to avoid the real God! The real God is very wild! The real God is very crazy! The real God is very unknown and unknowable. And the real God cannot be controlled. The real God can possess you; you cannot possess the real. That is the fear: the mind is always afraid of anything that can possess it. The mind goes on playing games with words, ideas, philosophies. It can remain the master there. With the false, the mind is the master; with the real, the mind becomes a slave, and the mind does not want to become a slave. So the mind is completely contented with the secondhand.
Your God is secondhand. Your love too is secondhand. Your poetry is secondhand. Your dance is secondhand. Your singing is secondhand. And of course all these secondhand things make YOU secondhand; then you lose all originality.
Religion has nothing to do with logic. Religion has something to do with the first principle. Logic deals with the secondhand. Logic deals with the junkyard, the used -- used by many people. Logic deals with inference. And remember, it is good as far as the human world of intellectual garbage is concerned; the moment you go beyond that boundary logic fails utterly, it falls flat on the ground.
I have heard a very beautiful anecdote:
The safari had struck camp in dangerous territory and to protect themselves from wild animals they built a high fence around the camp. To be really sure, they dug a deep ditch around the fence. One evening a member of the group, who was a professor of philosophy and a world-known logician, carelessly went out for an evening stroll without his gun and got attacked by a lion. He ran back to the camp with the lion after him and fell down into the ditch. His friends inside heard a terrible yelling and screaming from outside, and when they ran out to look they saw the poor man -- the poor philosopher -- running round and round in the ditch closely followed by the lion. "Watch out, he is right behind you," they yelled down to him.
"That's all right," the philosopher yelled back. "I am one round ahead of him."
Logic is meaningless as far as life is concerned. Life is not logical at all; life is illogical.
Logic is man-made, manufactured by the human mind. Life is absurd.
So if you go through inference you will reach the secondhand. If you go through experience you will reach the firsthand.
And religion is radical. Churches are not radical. The word "radical" means "belonging to the roots". Religious is radical, religion is rebellion. And churches are not rebellious; they are orthodox. Hence, I will repeat again, all churches are against religion. All so-called religious people are against religion. They deal in a false entity; they deal in pseudo coins, counterfeit coins. That's why so many people look religious and there is not even a trace of religion on the earth. So many people talk about God, but it remains an empty talk.
Have you ever felt God? You have heard the word again and again and again. You are bored with the word. It has almost become a dirty word. From the very childhood people have been conditioning you for the word. Have you ever had any glimpse of God?
This is something very strange. How can we miss him? If he is the totality, if he is all over the place, how can we miss him? How did it ever become possible for us to miss him? We must have been doing great work to miss him. We must be doing much work to miss him. We must be really avoiding him. We must be creating many barriers and hindrances and obstacles so that he cannot reach us.
And then these empty words: God, love, peace, prayer. All beautiful words have become empty. All ugly things are very real. War is very real; love is very unreal. Madness is very real; meditation is very unreal. Beauty is not there at all; ugliness, everywhere. You can come across the ugly any moment. And God is beauty, God is truth, God is love.
So what has happened? We have been trained for empty words, and we have become contented with these empty words.
Drop this contentment! If you really want to know what is, become discontented with all that you have been taught, become discontented with all that you have been educated for!
Become discontented with your education, with your society, with the power structures around you, the churches, the priests. Become discontented! Become discontented with your own mind. Only in that discontent comes a moment when you become capable of dropping all this mind and all this nonsense with it ... and suddenly God is there, the first principle is there.
A naive young man who had lived a sheltered life finally decided he could not take any more. He arranged an appointment with his doctor and poured out the whole story.
"It is this girl I have been going with," he said. "I suspected she was fast, but I never dreamed she was a sex maniac. Every night now for weeks and weeks on end, I keep trying to break off the romance, but I haven't got the will power. What can I do? My health just can't stand the pace."
"I see," said the doctor grimly. "Tell me just what happens; you can trust me."
"Well, every night I take her driving in my car. We park in some secluded street. Then she asks me to put my arms around her. And then, every night, she reaches over and holds my hand."
"What do you mean 'and then'?" gasped the youth. "Is there more?"
That's what has happened to religion. The moment the word "religion" is uttered you remember the serious long faces in the churches, the very sad-looking priests, the very serious theologians, trying to split hairs, chopping abstract words, nobody knows why, for what.
Religion is broke. The religion of the philosophers is bankrupt. The religion of the intellectuals is relevant no more; it has lost all relevance.
The old religion is dead! And it is good that it is dead. The old God is dead! And it is good that it is dead because now the door opens and we can search for a new God, a God more real, not conceptual, more existential, not philosophical, a God who can be seen, loved, lived, a God who can transform your life, a God who is really life and nothing else.
A totally different kind of religion is needed in the world, a gut-level religion, a religion which has blood, life, a religion whose heart still beats. The old religion is simply dead, and people are worshiping the corpse. And people carrying the corpse, by and by, become just like the corpse they are carrying.
The first principle means a gut-level religion, a religion that you can experience in your innermost core, in the interiority of your being. You are the shrine for the first principle. No Bible, no Koran, no Veda. You are the shrine for the first principle. So the only way to reach to the real is to go within, is to go in. Turn in.
That's what meditation is all about. That's why Zen is not interested in any dogmas. It is interested in helping you to contract your own being.
When the fifth patriarch of Zen, Hung-jen, was asked why he had chosen Hui-neng as his successor out of the five hundred monks in his monastery, he replied: "Four hundred and ninety-nine of my disciples understood Buddhism very well, and only Hui-neng had no understanding of it whatsoever. He is not a man to be measured by any ordinary standard.
Hence, the robe of authentic transmission was given to him."
Because he has "no understanding of it whatsoever". An intellectual understanding is not an understanding. It is a deception, it is an illusion, it is a dream, it is a substitute. Because you are missing the real and because you are not courageous enough to accept the fact that you are missing the real, you substitute it. It is a plastic flower. You substitute it with a false thing and then you feel very good. You start thinking that you have it. And you don't have it! Your hands are empty.
Those four hundred ninety-nine disciples of Hung-jen were all scholars. For years they had studied, they had studied all the scriptures. They had all the scriptures on their tongue. And he had chosen a man who has no understanding whatsoever. The man he had chosen, Hui-neng, was not known at all in the monastery. Nobody even was aware that he existed there.
When Hui-neng had come to the Master, the Master had asked him one thing: "Do you really want to know? Do you? Do you want to know about truth, or do you want to know truth itself?" And Hui-neng said, "What will I do by knowing ABOUT the truth? Give me the real thing." And the Master said, "Then go to the kitchen and clean the rice for the mess -- and never come again to me. Whenever the right moment has come I will call you."
Twelve years passed, and Hui-neng was simply working in the kitchen, at the back. People did not even know about him. Nobody knew his name. Who bothers to think about a man who simply goes on working in the kitchen from the morning till late in the night? The monastery was not aware. There were great scholars, famous people; all over China their names were known -- there were celebrities in the ashram. Who bothered about Hui-neng?
Twelve years passed, and then one day the Master declared, "My time has come and I will be leaving this world, so I have to choose a disciple as my successor. Anybody who thinks himself ready, capable of becoming my successor, should write four lines in front of my door to show his understanding. The greatest scholar went there in the night and wrote four lines, beautiful lines, really beautiful the very essence of the SECOND principle. You cannot reach higher through the mind than that. He wrote: "The mind is like a mirror. Dust gathers on it.
Clean the dust, and you know what is." Perfectly true, absolutely okay. What more can there be?
The whole monastery was agog. People were discussing, debating whether the Master would choose this man as the successor or not. And everybody was trying to improve upon it, but nobody could find anything wrong in it. There was nothing wrong ...
That is one of the most difficult things about the intellect. What is wrong in a plastic flower? Nothing is wrong. In a way -- in many ways -- it may be better than a real flower. A real flower is born in the morning and by the evening it is gone. A plastic flower is more stable, more permanent -- gives the idea of the eternal! The real flower is momentary. The real flower is born and dies, and the plastic flower knows no death. It is the closest that you come to the eternal. And what is wrong in it? It can have as much color as the real -- can have more color because it is in your hands to make it so. And you can make it perfumed too; there is no problem about it. But something basic is missing; it is dead.
Nobody could find anything wrong. And people were trying to improve it, but they were all intellectuals. You cannot improve more than that; this is the last point the mind can reach.
And it seems logical: "The mind is like a mirror. Dust gathers on the mirror, and then it cannot reflect" -- that's what has happened to the mind.
Then two, four monks were discussing it, and they passed Hui-neng, who was doing his work in the kitchen. He heard it -- they were talking about these beautiful lines, the essential of all the scriptures -- and he laughed. For twelve years nobody had even seen him laughing.
He laughed. Those monks looked at him, and they said, "What? Why are you laughing?" And he said, "It is all nonsense. It is not true." They could not believe their ears. This man, the rice cleaner, for twelve years just cleaning rice ... Nobody had ever seen him even meditating.
How can you see Deeksha meditating? Impossible.
And one never knows ... This man, has he become enlightened or something? But they could not believe it. And they were scholars, so they laughed at the absurdity of it, and they said, "All the great scholars are there, and you, a rice cleaner, for twelve years nobody has seen you reading scripture, studying -- nobody has ever seen you sitting by the side of the Master, inquiring about anything -- can you improve upon it?" He said, "I can, but there is one problem. I cannot write. I knew twelve years ago, I used to write a little bit, but I have forgotten."
This happens, this unlearning happens. Unlearning is the process of becoming enlightened.
Because you have learned wrong ways, and those wrong ways are the barriers, they have to be unlearned. You are born enlightened, and then you are forced into unenlightenment. Then you are conditioned for an insane society. Then you are forced to adjust to an insane society. If you remain miserable there is no wonder in it. You will remain miserable because this is not your real nature. This is not the flowering of your being.
So he said, "I cannot write. I have completely forgotten. If you can write, I can say something; you go and write it." And he didn't go there; he simply said, "The mind is not a mirror at all. Where can the dust gather? One who knows it knows it."
The mind is not a mirror. Where can the dust gather? One who comes to know this has known, has become enlightened, has looked into the deepest core of his being.
And when these words were written on the door of the Master, the Master became very angry. Listen carefully. The Master became very angry. He said, "Bring this Hui-neng immediately, and I am going to beat him." And the scholars were very happy; they said, "That's how it should be. Bring that fellow."
The guy was brought, and the Master took him inside and told him, "So you have got it!
Now you escape from this monastery. This is my robe, you are my successor. But if I tell it to people, they will kill you. It will be too much against their egos to accept a rice cleaner as the head of the monastery. You simply escape. That's why I was angry, excuse me. I had to be.
You simply escape from this monastery as far away as possible. You are my successor, but these people will kill you."
Scholars are very, very ambitious and political. You can go to any university and you can see. You can go to any academy and you can see. You will never see men anywhere else backbiting so much as in a university. Each professor against all, and each trying to pull everybody else down, and each thinks he is the only one capable of being the vice-chancellor or the chancellor. And all are fools.
This Hui-neng escaped. Within two, three days people got the idea that something has happened. Hui-neng is missing, and the Master's robe is missing. They started searching for him. The greatest scholar, who had written the first lines, went in search. Hui-neng was caught in a forest, and Hui-neng when caught said, "You can take this robe. I am not interested in this robe at all; this is absolutely unnecessary. I was happy cleaning rice. Now I am trying to escape and hide for no reason. You take this robe."
He dropped the robe on the ground, and the scholar tried to pick it up, but it was to heavy.
He could not pick it up. He fell on the ground perspiring, and he said to Hui-neng, "Excuse me. I had come for the robe, but even the robe is not ready to go with me. I am incapable. And I know it that I am incapable because all that I know are words and words and words. Excuse me ... and teach me something."
And Hui-neng said, "Teaching is your problem; you have taught yourself too much. Now unteach, unlearn. Now drop all that you know. Knowledge is your barrier in knowing."
That's why the Master says "... and only Hui-neng had no understanding of it whatsoever."
When you don't have any intellectual understanding there arises a great understanding which is not of the mind, which is of your total being. That understanding gives you the first principle, the first taste of tao.
I have heard:
A wealthy horse-owner died and left a large fortune to a university. A provision in the will, however, was that the school must confer a degree of Doctor of Divinity upon his favorite horse. Since the university was anxious to receive the money -- it was a really big sum -- the Dean set a date for the animal to receive a degree of D.D.
This unusual occasion was attended by the press, and one of the reporters asked the Dean, "What is your reaction to this strange arrangement?"
"Well," replied the Dean, "in my experience I have awarded many degrees. However, I must admit that this is the first time I have awarded a degree to a WHOLE horse."
All others were donkeys, not whole horses.
The mind cannot have any contact with reality. To live in the mind is to live like an idiot.
To live with the mind, in the mind, as the mind, is to live a stupid life. The moment you become a little loosened from the mind: celebration. The moment you become a little loosened from the mind: joy. A little you become loosened from the mind: and God. And suddenly the doors are open. They have never been closed; only your mind was blocking the way.
The mind can give you the second principle. The first principle is possible only through no-mind. Meditation means a state of no-mind. Meditation does not mean "to think about".
Meditation means not to think at all. It does not mean, of course, to fall asleep. It means to fall AWAKE. It means thoughts should disappear and only pure consciousness should be there, a presence, a luminous presence: you see; there is clarity, transparency.
Thoughts don't allow you to see. Or, even if they allow, they distort. Or they interpret.
They never allow the reality to come to you raw. They decorate it, they change it, they color it.
They make it digestible to you. They make it according to you. And you are false, you are a mask, so when reality is cut according to you it becomes unreal.
That's why the Master said, "If I tell you the first Principle it will become the second principle. You are asking the question from the head." The disciple was asking the question from the head. It was an intellectual question: "What is the first principle? " If the Master answers it, the head will take the answer -- and the head will spin philosophy around it and it will become the second principle.
The real, the true cannot be conveyed through words. It can be conveyed -- yes, it can be conveyed -- but the way to convey it is totally different. It is like measles: you catch them.
Nobody can give them to you, but you can catch them. Truth cannot be taught but can be caught.
Look at me. I have the measles. Now, if you don't resist, you will catch it, so lower your resistance. If you resist, you may not catch it. If you are really stubborn and hard and you close your being utterly, totally, if you are not vulnerable at all, you will not catch it. But I cannot give it to you. You can catch it, or you can not catch it, but I cannot give it to you.
It cannot be given, but it can be taken, and that is the whole art of being with a Master: to learn how to take. Because he will not give. He cannot give. He makes it available. A Master is a catalytic agent, he is a presence. Something is possible around him. You have to be vulnerable, you have to be in an attitude of surrender, you have to be in an attitude of receptivity: you have to be feminine.
Hui-k'o, another Zen Master, made his way northward to H'sin-yeh, where he began teaching, and among those who came to hear him was Tao-ho, a noted teacher, a very well-known author, a famous scholar on Buddhist philosophy.
But Hui-k'o's teaching was not like that of any other Buddhist school's, and Tao-ho was very much disturbed ...
The teaching was absurd, almost sacrilegious, because Hui-k'o used to say, "Kill your parents." A beautiful saying -- but don't take it literally. The parents are within you. You can ask the T.A. people -- Transactional Analysis people. The parents are within you. The mother, the father -- their conditioning is within you. They go on controlling you from within you. So when Hui-k'o said, "Kill your parents; only then come to me," he was uttering a great insight.
That's what Jesus says. Christians have not yet been able to explain it. He says, "Unless you hate your mother, unless you hate your father, you cannot come to me." Hate? And the utterance is coming from the man who says, "God is love"?
And Hui-k'o used to say, "If you meet the Buddha on the way, kill him immediately!"
Because when you start meditating you will meet your parents, you will meet all the people who have been related to you. You will have to kill them, you will have to disassociate yourself from them; you will have to learn aloneness. And finally you will meet the Buddha, your Master, and you have to kill the Master too.
But these are dangerous things to say. And the way he used to say them. This scholar Tao-ho became very angry. He said, "This man will destroy all religion." That's what people say about me.
... He determined to destroy this unholy doctrine and to that end dispatched several of his best students to dispute with Hui-k'o ...
Hui-k'o is the successor of Bodhidharma, and of course he was a worthy successor, of a great Master. He was a great disciple. Hui-k'o was attacked by this man Tao-ho in many ways, and he used to send his disciples to dispute with and to defeat this man.
... Tao-ho awaited their return with high expectations of hearing that they had won a notable victory over the hated interloper, but they did not come back ...
Not a single person ever came back. Whosoever went to Hui-k'o simply disappeared.
These people are dangerous people. One should avoid them if one really wants to avoid them.
Sometimes you may go as an antagonist, and you may fall in love with them. And these people are like dragons; once you are close to them they will suck you in.
... He sent out other emissaries, and still others, but none came back to report the expected victory. It was only after some time had passed that he met some of his messengers and said to them: "I had opened your eyes to the Tao; why were you such faithless emissaries?"
One of them spoke up for the rest: "The original eye is perfect in itself, but your teaching has rendered us half blind."
"The original eye is perfect in itself." Each child is born with that original eye -- it is perfect -- that innocent eye. It is perfect! It needs no improvement! And the whole effort of all the Masters down through the ages has been one; whatsoever the society has done, they have to undo. Whatsoever the society has put into your mind, they have to take it away. They have to dehypnotize you, they have to uncondition you. They have to make your childhood again available to you.
But remember, religion is not a teaching, is not a learning. You can catch it. Yes, it is like measles. And you have to be in a mood to catch it. That mood is what is meant by being a disciple. A disciple simply shows a gesture, a great gesture, a MAHAMUDRA, that "I am ready, Master," that "I am open," that "I will not resist. If you are going to kill me, I am ready.
Whatsoever you are going to do to me, I am available -- my availability is total." That's all a disciple has to do. And the Master has to do nothing; he has just to be there.
The Master there -- the one who has become enlightened, the one who has come to know his real nature -- his presence, and the availability of the disciple, and something catches fire, something simply happens. And that is the first principle. It cannot be asked, it cannot be answered. That which can be asked and that which can be answered will be the second principle; it will be a carbon copy, an echo.
Of course, the priests won't like such a rebellious meaning to be given to religion. They will not like people to become awake. Neither will the politicians like it. The politician and the priest is the very, very ancient conspiracy against the innocence of man. They corrupt.
Their whole business depends on this: that man remains unconscious, that man does not become aware. Because the moment a man is aware, he is freedom -- freedom from all politics and freedom from all religions. He is religious, but free from all religions. You cannot say that he is a Mohammedan, you cannot say that he is a Hindu.
To call Zen people Buddhist is wrong. It is as wrong as to call Sufis Mohammedans. It is as wrong as to call Hassidim Jews. The real people are simply real people. Zen, Sufi, or Hassid, there is neither Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Jew.
But the priest will not like it. It will be destroying his whole business. It will be dismantling his whole shop, his whole market.
Two waiters were standing at a table over which a loaded customer had fallen asleep. Said one, "I have already awakened him twice. Now I am going to awaken him for the third time."
"Why don't you chuck him out?" asked the other waiter.
"The devil I will," said the first waiter. "I got a good thing going for me. Every time I wake him up he pays his bill."
If humanity remains asleep, if humanity remains unconscious and hypnotized, then the politician can remain in power and the priest can go on exploiting you. If humanity becomes awake, then there will be no need for these priests and politicians. There will not be any need for any country, state, and there will not be any need for any church, any Vatican, any pope.
The need will disappear. There will be a totally different quality to human consciousness.
That quality needs to be born. We have come to that point in the evolution of human consciousness where this new consciousness is tremendously needed, desperately needed -- this new consciousness which makes man free from politics and free from religion.
And let me remind you again and again, that will be the only religious world: free from religions, but not free from religion; free from churches, dogmas, but not free from the first principle; free from all the second principles.
A girl told her friend she had just become engaged to a traveling salesman.
"Is he good looking?" asked the friend.
"Look, he would never stand out in a crowd."
"Does he have money?" continued the friend.
"If he does, he won't spend it."
"What about his bad habits. Does he have any?"
"Well, he drinks an awful lot," said the future bride.
"I don't understand you," said the friend. "If you can't say anything nice about him, then why are you marrying him?"
"He is on the road all the time," she replied, "and I will never see him."
That's the only good thing about it -- and that is the good thing about the god of the priests:
you will never see him. That's why you go on following the priest. To avoid God you follow the priest. To avoid God you read the Bible. To avoid God you chant Vedas. To avoid God you become scholars, thinkers. To avoid God you are doing everything that is possible.
But why do you want to avoid God? Why in the first place do you want to avoid God?
There are reasons. The very idea of God creates tremendous fear because God will mean death to your ego. You will not exist if God is there.
The great Indian mystic Kabir has said, "Look at the irony of it. When I was, God was not; now God is, I am not. Anyway the meeting has not happened." Because for the meeting, two are needed. "When I was, God was not; now God is, I am not."
The fear is that you will have to lose yourself. You are afraid of death; that's why you are afraid of God. And that's why you are afraid of love, and that's why you are afraid of all that is great.
You are too attached to this false ego -- which never gives anything but misery, but pain, but at least gives you a feeling that you are. Just watch. Meditate over it.
If you want to be, then you will always fall into the trap of the priest. In fact you are not.
The whole idea is a false notion. How can you be? The waves exist, but not separate from the ocean. So exist we: not separate from the ocean of consciousness. That's what God is. The leaves exist, but not separate from the tree. Everything exists, but nothing exists separately.
No man is an island, and no part can exist independently. We exist in deep interdependence.
We are members of one another, of each other. We penetrate each other. This whole existence is a great penetration. Trees penetrate you; you penetrate the trees. Stars penetrate you; you penetrate the stars. You penetrate the earth; the earth penetrates you. Everything is penetrated.
God is this totality. You cannot exist separately. If you want to exist separately, then you are a politician. All politics is nothing but the shadow of the ego. Then you will live in misery and in madness.
But if you look, if you watch deeply, you will be surprised. You are not! Not that you have to dissolve! Simply you are not. It is just a false notion that you have been carrying, the notion that you are. Any moment of silence and you will suddenly see there is emptiness within you, nothingness within you. Buddha has called this nothingness ANATTA, nonbeing, SHUNYA, nothingness. If you look within, you will not find yourself. That's why people don't look within; they are afraid.
Once it happened I was travelling with Mulla Nasrudin in a train. Came the ticket collector and Nasrudin became very hectic. He looked in his suitcase, he turned over all the things, he looked in the bed, turned over everything, he looked in his many pockets, and he started perspiring and he could not find the ticket. I saw that he had not looked in one pocket, so I told him, "Nasrudin, you have not looked in that pocket." He said, "Don't mention that." I said, "But why? The ticket may be there." He said, "Don't mention it at all. If I look in it and the ticket is not found, I will fall dead. I will drop dead! I cannot look in that! If the ticket is not there, then finished. There is a hope that it may be there."
That's why people don't look inside: a hope one may be there. The day you look in, you are not. The day you look in, suddenly there is vast emptiness ... and it is tremendously blissful, beautiful, peaceful. You are not there; then there is no noise.
That's what Hui-neng means when he says, "There is no mirror of the mind. Where can the dust gather? To know this is to know all."
Look within. People think "We are bad" but you are not, so how can badness gather?
People think "We are good," but how is it possible? You are not there; how can you be good?
People think "We are moral and immoral and this and that," but everything hangs on the idea of "I". To be good the "I" is needed first, to be virtuous the "I" is needed first. To be a sinner or to be a saint the "I" is needed first. Without the "I" you will not have anything to hang anything upon. Where will you hang your goodness, your sin or your saintliness?
That's why Zen goes on insisting there is nobody who is a sinner and there is nobody who is a saint, nothing is good and nothing is bad. All distinctions are ego created. Distinctions are created so that the ego can exist through the distinctions. When you look within there is neither saint nor sinner, neither good nor bad -- neither life nor death. All distinctions disappear.
In that nothingness one becomes one with God. One IS one with God -- one has been from the very beginning.
So the fear is that if you want to know God you will have to disappear; so you don't look into your own being. The fear is that if you look within yourself you may become happy ...
People go on saying that they want to become happy, but I rarely come across a person who really wants to be happy. People cling to their misery. Again the same game. With the misery you have something to do. With the misery, some occupation. With the misery you can avoid yourself, you are engaged. With joy there is nothing with which to be engaged, there is nowhere to go. In joy you again disperse and disappear. In misery you are there -- you are very much there. Misery gives you a very solid experience that you are. When you are happy, you start disappearing. When you are really happy, you are not, again you are not. In a state of bliss, again you disappear.
You talk about heaven, but you go on creating hell because only in hell can you exist. You cannot exist in heaven. George Bernard Shaw is reported to have said, "If I am not going to be the first in heaven, then I would not like to go to heaven. I would like to be in hell, but I would like to be first; I don't want to be second." Hell is okay, but the ego says, "Be first, be a leader." Hell is okay if the ego remains; heaven is not okay if the ego has to be dropped.
You would like to be in heaven with your ego. You are asking the impossible. That cannot happen.
The religion that exists on the earth is false, it is a make-believe, it is just for the name's sake, but it fulfills your demand. It fulfills a certain demand, that you want to pretend that you are religious. You don't want to become religious but you want to pretend. And you want to pretend in such a way that not even you yourself can catch yourself pretending. You want to pretend in such a way that you don't ever come across your pretensions, so a great structure is created. And that great structure is the church. Avoid that structure if you really want to become religious. And unless you are religious you are not!
Now let me tell you this paradox; You are only when you are not, because you are only when the ego has disappeared and you are God. That is the first principle. I am not telling it to you, and you are not hearing it from me.
The car suddenly broke down in the middle of nowhere. He crawled underneath to see what the trouble was. She crawled underneath to hold the torch for him. It was quite cozy under there and, after a while, they forgot about car repairs. Suddenly a voice said, "And just what do you two think you are doing?"
Looking up they saw the local village constable.
"Why we are -- er -- repairing the back axle," the young man stammered.
"Well, while you are down there, you had better look at the brakes as well," replied the law. "Your car has been at the bottom of the hill for the past half hour."
That's what has happened to churches. Jesus is not there, the Buddha is not there. People are doing something else in the name of Jesus, in the name of Buddha, and they are thinking Buddha is there. Church is the last place where you can meet Jesus, and the temple, the Buddhist temple, is the last place where you can meet a Buddha. But you go to the church, you go to the temple ... and you think you are going to Buddha and to Jesus.
You are great pretenders. You want to pretend. You want to be respectable. You want to show to everybody that "We are religious people." So we have created a Sunday religion; every Sunday you go. Six days for the world; one day -- not the whole day -- one or two hours -- for God. Just in case something goes wrong or maybe really God is or maybe one survives death. These are all perhapses. And a perhaps never changes anybody's life; only a certainty changes somebody's life.
Hence my insistence, if you cannot find an alive Master, go on searching and searching.
There are always alive Masters somewhere or other; the earth is never empty of them. But never go to the places where conventionally you expect them. There they are not. Jesus was not in the synagogue. Buddha was not in any Hindu temple; he was born a Hindu, but he was not in any Hindu temple. Jesus was a Jew, but he was not in the synagogue. And so has been the case always. Don't go on worshiping ideas. Find a living reality.
And the moment you find a living reality, become vulnerable, become open. And you will have the first principle, which cannot be said, but you can get it.