SHUNRYO SUZUKI, ONE OF THE FIRST ZEN MASTERS TO LIVE AND TEACH IN THE WEST, WAS ONCE ASKED WHY HE NEVER SPOKE MUCH ABOUT SATORI, ENLIGHTENMENT. THE MASTER LAUGHED AND ANSWERED, "THE REASON I DO NOT TALK ABOUT SATORI IS BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER HAD IT."
COULD YOU PLEASE COMMENT.
David Hey, Zen in the West is in a very strange context. The master you are talking about, Shunryo Suzuki, must have felt immense difficulty to express himself, because Zen has a language of its own. It has a climate different from any other climate that exists on the earth.
To bring Zen to any country is a difficult task. One has to be ready to be misunderstood.
Suzuki's statement seems to be clear, and anybody who will read it will not have any difficulty to understand it. But whatever he will understand will be wrong.
The master was asked, "Why don't you speak about satori?" -- the Japanese word for enlightenment. And he answered the way a Zen master should answer knowing perfectly well he could not be understood, he is bound to be misunderstood. He said, "The reason I do not talk about satori is because I have never had it."
The statement is clear; linguistically there is no problem, there is nothing to be understood in it. Suzuki is saying, "I have never talked about it because I have never had it." Now I will have to give you the whole background, the climate in which the meaning of the same sentence turns into exactly its opposite as you understand it.
Zen has an absolute certainty that no one can have satori or enlightenment; you can have things. You can have money, you can have power, you can have the whole world, but you cannot have enlightenment.
Enlightenment is not a thing; it is not possible to possess it. Those who say they have it, don't have it -- they don't even understand the ABC of it. One becomes enlightened -- that's what Suzuki is saying. There is no distinction between I and enlightenment, so how can I have it? The I disappears completely into enlightenment just like a dewdrop disappearing in the ocean. Can the dewdrop say, "I have the ocean"? The dewdrop is the ocean -- there is no question of having it. This is the first thing to be clearly understood.
Suzuki was an enlightened master; that's why he denied it. If he were not enlightened, but was only a scholar, learned about Zen, he might have felt very embarrassed to deny it. He might rather have lied, and nobody would have been able to detect his lie. He could have said, "I have it, but the experience is inexpressible; it was so simple, that's why I never talk about it." But the man really had it. To really have it means you can't have it; you disappear.
As long as you are, there is no enlightenment.
The moment there is enlightenment, you are not.
You disappear just like darkness disappears when there is light. Darkness cannot possess light; you cannot possess enlightenment.
I don't think, David, that the statement of Suzuki would have been understood by the people who asked the question and who received the right answer. It needs a totally different context to understand.
The Western education is so much of a nourishment to the ego... in fact the Western psychology supports the idea that a person should have a very clear ego -- powerful, aggressive, ambitious; otherwise, one cannot survive in the struggle of existence. To survive, first you have to be, and you have to be not only defensive, because the right way of defense is to offend, to attack... Before anybody else attacks you, you should attack. You should be first, not the second, because to be defensive is already losing the battle.
And because of the Western psychology, the whole educational system supports the idea that a man becomes mature as he attains a more and more crystallized ego. This goes against the experience of all the buddhas, of all the awakened ones. And none of these psychologists or educationalists have any glimpse of what awakening is, of what enlightenment is.
Those who have become enlightened are agreed, without any exception, on the point that the ego has to disappear. It is false, it is created by society; it is not your original face, it is not you.
The false must disappear for the real to be.
So remember these steps: first, the false must disappear for the real to be, and then the real has to disappear into the ultimately real. People are living so far away from their ultimate home -- they are not even real, what to say about the ultimate? For it, they have to first move away from the ego. They have to experience in meditation their own center.
But this is not the end. Meditation is only a beginning of the journey. In the end, the seeker is dissolved in the sought, the knower in the known, the experiencer in the experience. Who is going to have satori? You are absent; you are non-existent when enlightenment explodes. Your absence is an absolute necessity for enlightenment to happen.
Suzuki is absolutely right: "The reason I do not talk about satori is because I have never had it." I am absolutely certain that those who heard him are bound to have thought that he had had no experience of satori. That is simply the meaning of what he is saying.
Unless there was somebody who had experienced egolessness, and finally selflessness, Suzuki was without fail, bound to be misunderstood.
But he was a man of immense daring, of great courage, to introduce Zen to the West. Not many people were impressed. Many certainly entertained Suzuki's statements, his anecdotes from the annals of Zen; they thought them strange jokes. But there were a few who understood not what the man was saying, but the man himself. He turned a few people on; he has the same distinction as Bodhidharma who planted the seeds of Zen in China.
Suzuki can be compared to Bodhidharma. He planted the seeds in the West, and Zen became, in the Western climate and mind, a new fashion. Suzuki was very much disturbed by it. He was not introducing a new fashion, he was introducing a new revolution and a new style of being. But the West understands things only in that way -- every two or three years a new fashion is needed; people become bored with the old.
And Suzuki was received with joy, because he had brought something which no Christian or Jew was even able to comprehend. He attracted many people of the new generation; a few of them remained true to the master to the very end. Many traveled to Japan just because of Suzuki. Hundreds of Zen classics were translated in Western languages because of Suzuki. Now it is possible to talk about Zen and still be understood, and the whole credit goes to a single man, Shunryo Suzuki.
It has never to be forgotten that words don't exist without context. If you forget the context, whatever you will understand is going to be wrong. If you understand the context, it is impossible to misunderstand.
Berkowitz was crossing Washington Avenue on Miami Beach when he was hit by a passing auto. Several passersby picked him up and laid him down on a bench. A kindly, silver-haired lady approached the injured man and asked, "Are you comfortable?"
"Ehhh! I make a living," sighed Berkowitz.
In the Jewish context he could not understand the word 'comfortable' in any other sense than in the sense of making a good living. He said, "Yes." He has the accident, but he cannot understand the word 'comfortable' in the present context of accident. Perhaps he may be dying, perhaps he is badly hurt, but his context remains as his old mind which thinks only of money, earning.
This has to be remembered while you are studying Zen -- the differences of context.
It is said: To arrive at the truth, the German adds, the Frenchman subtracts, and the Englishman changes the subject!
I have heard...
You can always tell a man's nationality by introducing him to a beautiful woman. An Englishman shakes her hand, a Frenchman kisses her hand, an American asks her for a date, and a Russian wires Moscow for instructions!
CAN YOU PLEASE SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPIRITUAL QUESTION, "WHO AM I?" AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA OF "WHO AM I?"?
Prem Shunyo, it is exactly the difference I was just talking about -- the difference between the ego and the self.
The ego is your false idea of who you are; it is just a fabrication of the mind. It is your own homemade mind-manufactured concept, but it has no corresponding reality to it. It is perfectly good as far as the world is concerned because there, you are dealing with other egos. The moment you go beyond your mind, you also go beyond your ego, and suddenly you realize that you are not what you have always thought yourself to be -- that your reality is totally different, that it does not consist of your body or of your mind, that in fact you don't have any word to express it.
But it is still not the ultimate reality; it is just in between, between the ultimate reality and the ultimate falsehood. It is better than the false, but it is lower than the really real. You are still carrying a certain idea of separation from existence. That separation keeps you unavailable to all the blessings which are your birthright. If you can drop those walls and open yourself to the immensity of reality, you will disappear as a separate entity.
But this is only one side. On the other side you will appear as the eternal, the immense, the vast reality -- the oceanic experience, which is the only experience of enlightenment or liberation.
You have to get rid of the ego first. That is your psychological trauma, or better, your psychological drama. There are religions which have accepted the false ego as the end of all, there is nothing beyond it. That is the religion of all the atheists of different trends, a communist. Or the atheist may not be a communist, but the atheist in any form stops himself at the ego; that is his ultimate reality.
He is the poorest man in the world. All other religions except atheism... because I take atheism also as a sort of religion, a lower form of religion than other religions.
Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, go a step further. They all insist to drop the ego and to recognize your authentic reality, your real self.
But there are religions like Zen which go to the very end of the road. They are not satisfied just by dropping the ego. They are satisfied only when there is nothing left to drop -- even the self is gone -- when the house is absolutely empty, when you can say, "I am not."
This nothingness is creating the space for the ultimate to blossom. It does not come from anywhere else. It has always been there, just cluttered with rotten furniture, with unnecessary things. As you remove all those things and your subjectivity becomes empty -- just as a room becomes empty as you remove everything from it -- in this emptiness of your subjectivity, blossoms the flower of ultimate experience -- you are no more.
Naturally, you cannot have your old miseries, your old traumas and dramas. You cannot have any connection with your own past; you have abruptly cut yourself away from all that you used to be. Suddenly a new, totally fresh opening... in a way, you disappear. In a way your authentic essence has the first opportunity to come into its full glory, into its absolute splendor.
This is what enlightenment is. It is a negative process: negate the ego, the psychological; negate the self, the spiritual. Go on negating until nothing remains to negate -- and the explosion! Suddenly you have arrived home, with the revelation that you have never been out of your home. You have always been there, your eyes were just focused on objects.
Now all those objects have disappeared. Only a witnessing, pure awareness, has remained. This witnessing is the end of all your misery and all your hell. It is also the beginning of the golden gate -- the doors are open for the first time.
Two white rats were chatting through the bars of their laboratory cages. "Tell me," said the first white rat, "how are you getting along with Dr. Smith?"
"Just fine," replied the second rat. "It took a while, but I have finally got him trained.
Now, whenever I ring the bell, he brings me my dinner."
It is such a strange world. The psychologist, Dr. Smith, must be thinking he is training rats, and the rats are thinking they are training Dr. Smith! The games of the ego... The wife thinks she is training the husband. All wives are training their husbands their whole lives; the husbands are training their wives. It seems life is just to train and to be trained - - for what?
A woman reached Pablo Picasso. She wanted a portrait; the portrait was made. She was absolutely satisfied. She said, "Just one thing, you have forgotten to put great diamonds around my neck, a great diamond ring, diamond bracelets."
Picasso said, "But you don't have them." She said, "It doesn't matter. I have cancer, and I am not going to survive more than six weeks. And I know my husband is going to marry immediately after I die. He is just waiting for my death, although he goes on saying, 'My dear, without you I will not be able to live a single moment.' I know that without me he will not be able to live a single moment. He will immediately find another woman!"
Picasso said, "I don't understand the relationship of what you are saying and the diamonds."
She said, "You don't understand the woman's mind. I want my portrait, after my death, to be seen by the woman who my husband is going to marry. Then she will torture him, 'Where are these diamonds?' I cannot leave him, even if I am dead. He has to be trained, he has to be kept under control." Great idea!
People have forgotten completely to live. Who has time? Everybody is training everybody else, how to be -- and nobody seems to be satisfactory, never.
If one wants to live, one should learn one thing, to accept things as they are, and to accept yourself as you are. Start living. Don't start training for a life sometime in the future. All the misery in the world is created because you have completely forgotten to live; you have become engaged in an activity which has nothing to do with life.
The moment you are married to a man, you start training him to be faithful. Live while he is faithful -- it will not be more than two weeks; two weeks is the human limit! Live as deeply as possible -- perhaps your living and loving deeply may help him to remain faithful the third week also. And never project too much; three weeks is enough.
My own experience is that if you have lived three weeks lovingly, the fourth week will follow. But you start disturbing things from the first moment. Before you start living, training is needed; you spoil the time by training, and a man who could have loved you for at least two weeks becomes bored within two days.
One woman never married. And when she was dying, a friend asked, "Why have you never married? You are so beautiful."
She said, "What is the need? As far as training is concerned I train my dog, and he never learns! Every day I am training and he still comes home late in the night. I have a parrot who tells me everything a husband is expected to say. In the morning he says, "Hello darling!" I have a servant who steals, who continuously lies. What need have I for a husband? Everything is being fulfilled." A husband is needed for these things?
A wife is needed, not to have an experience of intimacy and love, but to make an exhibition of her; just to show around the neighborhood and make everybody jealous that you have such a beautiful woman. Load her with all the ornaments and make everybody jealous of your richness; otherwise, how are you going to show your richness? A wife is a show-window; she shows your achievements, your power. Naturally, you have to train her how to become more social, how to help you in your businesses.
The saying seems to be perfect that behind the success of every great man there is a woman -- in many different senses. Sometimes just to escape from her, one becomes madly engaged in earning money.
When Henry Ford was asked, "Why did you go on earning and earning, when you have earned so much? It was time to enjoy and relax."
He said, "That was not the reason for earning. I was engaged in earning first to escape from my wife, and secondly, I became interested in whether I can earn more or she can spend more." A competition, a lifelong competition!
People get involved in strange dramas. Very few people live authentically -- they just act.
A man is sitting in a cinema, and the wife is continually reminding him how the hero is showing his love so deeply to his wife. Finally, the husband says, "Stop all this nonsense!
You don't know how much he's paid for it! And moreover, it is only acting; it is not reality. I will certainly say he is a good actor."
The wife said, "Perhaps you are not aware that in actual life also they are wife and husband."
He said, "My God! If that is true, then he is the greatest actor I have ever seen; otherwise, even on the stage, to show so much love to your own wife is simply beyond human capacity. He is almost a genius as far as acting is concerned."
People think love is only for actors. It has been noted by psychoanalysts that people are sitting in front of their TV's for hours. An American watches TV six hours per day on average -- that is the average. There may be few maniacs watching nine hours, ten hours, twelve hours. Slowly slowly, watching movies, watching television, watching a football match, watching a tournament, people have simply become observers; they don't love.
Some actor loves -- they simply watch. They don't play; some professional players play -- they watch. They don't do anything; they are glued to their chairs and are just watching everything. But watching and doing are totally different. They feel completely satisfied that they have seen a beautiful film on love. They are completely satisfied that they have seen a great boxing tournament. And they themselves are just onlookers.
It is something of a great calamity that has reduced millions of people to onlookers. And the people who are being watched are actors. They are not in real love, they are being paid for it. They are experts in deceiving people, pretending that what they are doing is real. Their tears are false, their smiles are false, their love is false, their anger is false.
What kind of world have we created? The doers are all acting because they are paid for it, and the remaining nondoing world is simply watching.
You are here to live.
You are here to dance.
You are here to experience life.
Others are doing it for you. On your behalf people are loving, people are playing, people are doing all kinds of things. And what is left for you? -- just to watch. Death will not be able to take much from you -- only your television, because you don't have anything else.
This is the false ego that has created a false life pattern and lifestyle.
Drop everything false.
Be authentic and true; that is the first step. And once you are authentic and true, you will see how beautiful it is. And that will create the longing to go beyond, in search of the ultimate truth, the final statement and the final experience, beyond which nothing else exists.
A famous surgeon went on safari to Africa. When he came back his colleagues asked him how it had been. "Ah, it was very disappointing," he said, "I didn't kill a thing. I would have been better off staying here in the hospital!"
Fifteen minutes after the Titanic sank, Morie and Louis find themselves on the same overturned raft. The water is freezing, sharks are cruising by, and the raft is slowly sinking. "Ah well," said Louis, "it could have been worse."
"Worse? How could it be worse?" screamed Morie.
"Well, we could have bought return tickets!"
People are almost crazy -- a tremendous cleansing is needed -- and most of their insanity is because of their false life; it is not satisfying. False food cannot be nourishment, false water cannot quench your thirst, and false ego cannot give you real life. It is simple arithmetics.
WHEN YOU SPOKE OF MEANING AND CONTEXT, IT SET BELLS RINGING IN ME. MEANING, NOT JUST OF WORDS BUT OF EVERYTHING, DEPENDS ON CONTEXT -- ESPECIALLY MY LIFE. YOU HAVE A VAST CONTEXT, BELOVED MASTER. WILL YOU PLEASE SPEAK ABOUT YOUR CONTEXT IN THIS PLACE, THIS WORLD, AT THIS TIME? DID YOU CHOOSE IT, OR DID EXISTENCE PUT YOU HERE KNOWING THAT WHATEVER HUMANITY NEEDS, YOU ARE THE BEST MAN FOR THE JOB?
Devageet, as far as I am concerned, I have never done anything. Whatever has happened, I cannot take the credit for it. Since the day I came to know my nothingness, things have been happening but I am not the doer. Existence has taken over. I am not even concerned whether what is happening is going to succeed or fail; it is none of my concern. Hence, you cannot call it my "job." I am as much part of existence as the trees, as the moon, as the stars.
The whole functions in an organic way.
Everything is related to everything else.
The smallest blade of grass is connected with the greatest star millions of light years away. All are functioning, and there is nobody who is dictating.
Existence is, in itself, the master.
And whatever happens is spontaneous: nobody orders it, nobody follows. This is the greatest mystery.
Because this mystery could not be understood, people from the very beginning started imagining a God. Their imagination of a God is only their psychological difficulty in accepting this tremendous universe, running spontaneously on its own without any accidents. Not even a traffic policeman -- and millions of stars...!
Just the other day Hasya brought me the news that in California a very new thing has suddenly come into being. During the last week five persons have been shot dead. And this new thing is happening on the streets, because the streets have become so small and the traffic is so great that cars are almost not moving. Roads appear as if they are parking lots.
And people are carrying guns in their cars because they become so annoyed that the man ahead is going so slow and it gets on their nerves. They have been honking their horns, but nothing is moving. Thousands of horns are honking all around. And in the last week five persons parked by the side of the road, took out a gun and shot the man ahead whom they didn't know -- and he was in the same trouble, he was not creating it. The problem was just that the man was ahead. And this is just the beginning. Last week it started, now it will grow. Because when things start, it is very difficult to stop them, particularly in California!
Almost all the races of the world have conceived God. It is simply a psychological problem, it has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with philosophy. It is simply incomprehensible, it is inconceivable how this immense universe is running without any controller, how it has come into existence without any creator. Just because people could not stretch their imaginations and their logic, they invented... just to console themselves that there is nothing to worry about; otherwise, it would be very difficult even to sleep.
Millions of stars and galaxies are moving, and who knows in the night where the crash is going to happen? Nobody is looking after it all. There is no policeman, there is no court, there is no law -- but strangely, everything is going so smoothly.
Seasons change and the clouds come with rains. Seasons change and new leaves and new flowers... and it has been going on since eternity. Nobody keeps the record. Nobody tells the sun that it is time; there is no alarm clock that goes off exactly in the morning to tell the sun, "Get out! Get out from your blankets!" Things simply are going perfectly right.
In fact, my own denial of God is based on the same reasoning. I say God is not because no God can manage this immense universe. Either it can be intrinsically spontaneous... it cannot be managed from outside. Unless there is some inner coherence, some inner organic unity, no outside controller can go on managing it from eternity to eternity. He will get bored and shoot himself, because what is the purpose? Nobody is going to pay him; nobody even knows his address!
I have heard, a man wrote a letter to God because he needed fifty dollars very urgently.
And not knowing the address, he sent it to: God the Father, c/o The Postmaster -- because the postmaster must know! The postmaster opened the letter. What was the letter, to whom was he supposed to send it -- to God? He read the letter and he felt sorry for the man; he must be in really great trouble. He had described that his mother was dying, and he has no money, no employment, no money for food, no money for medicine. "Just for once, send fifty dollars and I will never ask again."
The postmaster said, "Something should be done because this man should not feel disappointed."
The postmaster himself was not very rich, so he asked all the people in the post office to please contribute something -- forty-five dollars was managed. He said, "Something is better than nothing; only five dollars are missing." He sent forty-five dollars.
The man was very angry. He said to God, "Listen, next time you send, never send through the post office because those people have taken their discount, five dollars."
My own understanding is that it cannot be managed from outside. That is more inconceivable: why should any God take the trouble, and how long can he manage?
Sometimes he will get tired, and sometimes he will be on holiday. What will happen on holidays? And when he is tired or has fallen asleep, what will happen? Roses will stop growing, stars will be going on the wrong path, the sun may start rising from the West -- who will prevent it? -- just for the change, just for one day.
No, from outside it is impossible -- God is absolutely absurd -- nobody can manage existence from the outside. The only possibility is from the inner; it is an organic being.
The moment you forget yourself as a separate being, you become part of it. You have been part of it; you were unnecessarily carrying the idea of being separate and feeling burdened. I have not felt burdened at all about anything. Whatever happens I have not even thought that it could have been otherwise. Why should it be otherwise? Who to complain to? Because I don't have anybody to pray to, I cannot complain either. A deep acceptance, and you have gone beyond misery.
Yes, my context, Devageet is vast -- but it is not my context, it is the context of the whole. It is functioning perfectly well -- nothing ever goes wrong. But if you take yourself separately, then you are unnecessarily becoming burdened. My whole teaching is: drop all the burden on the whole, be free of all burden, and live spontaneously and totally and without any guilt.
There is nobody who can punish you, and there is nobody who can reward you. You are part of the whole; you are not doing it. The whole is doing through you, whether you know it or not. The moment you know that it is the whole which is functioning through you, you become absolutely free of all responsibility.
My colleagues in the university used to say they have never seen a more irresponsible man than me. And they said, "We cannot conceive that a man of your understanding never feels any responsibility for anything." It was difficult for them to understand that to be responsible, first you have to be.
I have left myself far behind, and since then there is no responsibility. Whatever the whole manages through me, the whole must be responsible for it. I don't come in its way.
I don't even think whether it is right or wrong, whether it should be done or not. Who am I to judge? This, I call let-go.
Hymie Goldberg died and went to hell. He immediately started giving orders and bossing everyone around.
"Stop it," said Satan. "One would think you owned the place."
"I do," said Hymie, "my wife gave it to me while I was on earth!"
I don't own anything just because I don't have a wife! I cannot even own hell. Nobody can send me there. I simply go on living moment to moment without bothering about the past, without bothering about the future. Anything that happens, happens, I accept it with absolute gratitude.
Certainly, the context is vast, and for those who will come close to me, for those who have come close to me, that makes understanding me or my life almost impossible; it has become part of the ultimate mystery. Unless you realize the mystery of the whole you cannot have any conception where I am. I am certainly not what appears to be my place, my space.
If you look into my eyes, you can see into the depths which go beyond me.
If you listen to my silences, you will hear the silence of the sky -- it is not mine.
And I would like you also to be in the same space, where you have nothing that you can say is yours, where nothing belongs to you because you belong to the whole.
Just a joke for Devageet; I don't know why it should be said, but that's why I have told you I don't have any reason to do anything -- just this joke wants to be told, and I cannot do anything about it!
Stella and Eunice are in the kitchen preparing vegetables and gossiping on a Friday night when Eunice looks out of the window. She sees her husband, Bernie, coming up the walkway with a bouquet of flowers.
Eunice turns to Stella and says, "Oh, no! He's bringing flowers. That means the whole weekend I will be on my back with my legs up in the air."
Stella replies, "What's the matter? Don't you have a vase?"