Maneesha, before I discuss these very significant statements, I have to inaugurate Avirbhava's Museum of Gods. She has brought a few great gods, but before she brings her gods before you I have to say something about them.
"Octopus: On the island of Corfu in the Greek archipelago, the octopus was worshipped as an incarnation of one of the Greek gods.
Known as the most evil of the sea animals, the innocent octopus acquired the name 'devil-fish' by fearful ancient fishermen."
The second is, "Crocodile: Among the southern Bantus of Africa, the crocodile is considered sacrosanct.
The Egyptian god Sebek was believed to take the shape of a crocodile; sometimes he was represented as wholly animal, sometimes only with a crocodile head. Offerings of cake, meat, and honey wine were made to the sacred crocodiles, some of which were tamed by priests.
Oracles were drawn from the crocodiles' behavior, and they were embalmed at death."
And the third is, "Lobster: The lobster was generally considered sacred among the ancient Greeks.
In New Caledonia, the crab goddess, or demon, is known to have a sacred grove. On the trees in her grove are hung little packets of food for her. She is the enemy of married people, and is known to cause elephantiasis.
Even today, the lobster is worshipped in the Isa district fishing villages of Japan. Huge replicas are paraded through the towns during their festivals."
Before I ask Avirbhava to bring her newly acquired gods, I have heard a joke about an octopus:
Klopski is overjoyed with his new pet octopus, Clyde. The magnificent creature drinks vodka like a fish, but also can play any musical instrument in the world.
One evening, after polishing off a few bottles of vodka together, Clyde and Klopski go out to the Jumpin' Jellyfish Jazz Club.
Klopski shouts, "Hey, everybody! I will bet anyone here that my octopus can play anything anyone gives him."
Laughter fills the bar. Then Benny the banjo player says, "Okay, I bet you fifty dollars he can't play my banjo."
Klopski nods enthusiastically, swallows back a shot of vodka and gives one to Clyde. The octopus swallows his drink and crawls onto the stage, grabbing not one but two banjos on the way.
As he plays "God Save The Queen," he sneaks out a free tentacle and snatches another glass of vodka.
"Hey, man," yells Pete the piano player, "that is cool. But I will bet you a hundred bucks he can't play my grand piano."
"Right!" yells Klopski, swallowing his vodka, and pouring one for the octopus. Clyde knocks back the vodka and jumps on the piano. Waving all his arms about wildly, Clyde plays the Polish national anthem stylishly.
"That is fine," comes a shout from the corner, "but I will bet you five hundred dollars he will never be able to play this!" It is Hamish MacTavish, and be brings a big, old Scottish bagpipe up to Klopski.
"Okay," says Klopski. But before Klopski can touch it, Clyde leaps on the bagpipe, squeezing and tangling his arms all over it. Then the octopus and the bagpipe fall onto the floor in a knotted heap, making only a pitiful gasping sound.
Losing the bet, an enraged Klopski grabs the octopus, holds him up in the air and cries, "What the hell went wrong with you?"
"Well," grins the octopus, drunkenly, "she looked so beautiful, but I just couldn't get her cotton panties off!"
Now, Avirbhava, come on.
So let him settle on the Stonehead, now ...
Great, Avirbhava! Take your gods away.
The fact is, you cannot travel on anybody's road because that road will never lead you to yourself. It will lead you to somebody else, whose road it is. Never be a follower; always be a path finder. And the path in the unknown reality of your inner world is made by walking into the unknown, without any road prepared by others for you.
All the religions are doing that: they are preparing roads for millions of people -- highways, super highways. There are six hundred million Catholics walking on one road.
They are not going to reach anywhere; not a single one of them has reached even to the state of Jesus Christ. And nobody even thinks about it. Six hundred million Catholics for eighteen hundred years following a certain road persistently, and they have not produced a single Jesus worth the name. It is not their fault, it is our whole mental makeup. We have been told that we have to walk on paths which are prepared. But this is a different path.
All paths that go outwards are prepared beforehand. You can go to the north, you can go to the south; you can go anywhere, the road is ready. But to go inside, no road is ready, you will have to create it by walking. It will remain always an individual pathway. Nobody else will ever walk on it and nobody else should ever walk on it, because that will lead him into a hypocrisy. He will become someone else that he is not. It is a very important message:
DON'T STICK TO THE RUTS IN THE ROAD OF THE ANCIENTS.
All the religions emphasize the opposite; all the religions try to prove that they are the most ancient -- to be an ancient religion is a great value. The reality is, the more ancient a religion is, the more rotten it is bound to be. The more ancient, the farther away from you.
There is no question of following any ancient way. You should not follow even a modern way, because all ways that are created by others may only be suitable for them.
This is a great challenge of existence, that you have to create your own path to your own temple. No help is possible, and it is the grandeur of humanity, a tremendous dignity, that you can follow only your own path.
All religions are leading people wrongly; they are destroying people, making them into sheep. An authentic religion will make a man into a lion who walks alone, who never walks in a crowd. The crowd never suits him, because with the crowd you have always to compromise.
With the crowd you have always to listen to others: their criticism, their appraisal, their conceptions of right and wrong, their values of good and bad.
In the crowd you cannot remain natural. The crowd is a very unnatural environment.
Unless you are very aware, the crowd is going to crush you into dust. It is because of this that you don't find many buddhas in the world. A buddha has to fight inch by inch for his individuality. He has not to give way to the crowd, whatever the cost. Unless such an uncompromising attitude remains constantly in you, you cannot remain unaffected by the crowd in which you live.
And unfortunately everybody is born in a crowd -- the parents, the teachers, the neighbors.
Nobody is fortunate enough to be born alone, so that is out of the question. You are born in the society, in the crowd. Unless you can keep your intelligence clean of the pollution that will
be surrounding you from every side, sooner or later you will become somebody else, somebody who nature had never intended you to be.
Remember constantly that you have your own destiny, just as everybody else has his own destiny. Unless you become the flower, the seeds of which you have been carrying within you, you will not feel blissfulness, fulfillment, contentment, you will not be able to dance in the wind, in the rain, in the sun. You can be in paradise only as an individual, if you have followed the path that you create by walking in. There are no ready-made pathways.
When you enter in, you enter into pure space -- not a road; there are not even footprints.
Buddha used to say that the inner world is just like the sky. The birds fly but they don't leave their footprints. Nobody can follow their footprints because in the sky their footprints are not; as they have flown away, their footprints have dissolved.
The inner sky remains always pure, just waiting for you, because nobody can get inside you. He is saying:
YOU MUST TRAVEL A LIVING ROAD ON YOUR OWN. EAST, WEST, FOOT UP, FOOT DOWN, USING IT DIRECTLY -- ONLY THEN WILL YOU KNOW THAT THE PEAK EXPERIENCE ILLUMINES THE HEAVENS AND COVERS THE EARTH, ILLUMINES THE PAST AND FLASHES THROUGH THE PRESENT. THIS IS YOUR OWN PLACE TO SETTLE AND LIVE.
Following your own path, not imitating anybody, you are bound to reach the space where you will feel you have arrived at the home, where you can settle for eternity.
WHEN I SAY THIS I AM ONLY USING WATER TO OFFER FLOWERS, NEVER ADDING ANYTHING EXTRA.
He is perfectly aware that people may start following him. Such is the stupidity of humanity. To the man who is saying, "Never follow anybody," they say, "Okay." But their okay means, "Now we are going to follow you." When the person is saying, "Never follow anybody," he is included in that "anybody." Then why is he speaking, what is he doing? He says:
I AM ONLY USING WATER TO OFFER FLOWERS, NEVER ADDING ANYTHING EXTRA.
I am saying the very essential, not adding anything extra, just like watering flowers.
Such a simple thing ... following yourself is such a simple thing. The flowers will start blossoming, you just go on watering them, nourishing them with your attention, with your love, with your silence, with your celebration, with your laughter. Just don't add anything extra from other sources, from scriptures, from great teachers, from buddhas. Nobody is to be included on your path. Your path has to be absolutely pure and virgin.
ON ANOTHER OCCASION DAIO SAID TO A ZEN NUN, "AT THE TOP OF THE HUNDRED-FOOT POLE, GO FORWARD."
It will look a very absurd statement.
AT THE TOP OF THE HUNDRED-FOOT POLE, GO FORWARD.
You will think that man is mad. There is no way to go anywhere, you will cling to the pole. But going inside is just like this, as if you are standing on a hundred-foot-long pole. And
when you go in there is no road, just pure inner sky. It is a jump into the unknown, but a jump of tremendous beauty.
You may have heard, or you may not have heard ... On the China Wall that surrounds the whole of China -- it is the biggest wall in the world ... It took one thousand years to build; it is almost a mountain. And it is so wide that you can drive a car on it, and as high as sixty feet, seventy feet, eighty feet -- as the terrain allows. It was built against the Mongol attackers, to prevent them from entering China. And of course they were absolutely unable -- a hundred-foot wall standing between Mongolia and China.
China had suffered so much from the Mongols that it took on this tremendous task -- almost inhuman. It took one thousand years to make the wall, and millions of people were engaged in the work. But it had to be done because great Mongols like Genghis Khan ... he alone killed forty million people. Killing was their joy. His son killed thirty million people; another Mongol, Tamerlane, again killed forty million people. The successor of Tamerlane, Nadir Shah, is thought to have killed more than any of his forefathers, but there are no records available. The whole of China must have become so threatened by these monsters -- murderers for no reason, just for the simple joy they would burn a whole city alive -- that they made this China Wall.
A fictitious story is connected with the China Wall. There is a place in the China Wall where it is said that if you stand there and look at the other side, you simply give a good laughter and jump, you never return. Many people tried but they simply laughed and jumped.
And it is one hundred feet high, a mountainous terrain. The fiction became so much of a reality that the government had to put soldiers there to prevent people from looking from that place. Nobody could explain it. What happens? Why do they simply laugh? What do they see?
And then without saying anything to anybody, they simply jump.
I don't think it is a historical fact but I understand it as mythological, and a very beautiful phenomenon. When you look in, you are looking into a tremendous nothingness. And all that the mystics have done is, they have given a laugh and jumped. They have simply said goodbye and jumped.
It is so enchanting, so magnetically pulling; the gravitation is so much that once you look in, you cannot resist taking the jump. It is risky, it is dangerous, you may be lost. But on the contrary, you find yourself for the first time. You were lost before; hence the laughter. And now you have come home, which was just looking inwards, and everything that you ever wanted is fulfilled. You have entered the lotus paradise.
This statement -- AT THE TOP OF THE HUNDRED-FOOT POLE, GO FORWARD -- is not concerned with an actual pole. It is concerned with your hundred-foot-long ego. That is your pole, where you are standing.
Look within and take a jump!
Then go forward.
THE NUN REPLIED, "AT THE TOP OF THE HUNDRED-FOOT POLE, THERE IS NO PLACE TO GO."
DAIO SAID, "WHERE THERE IS NO PLACE TO STEP, GO A HUNDRED THOUSAND STEPS FARTHER -- ONLY THEN WILL YOU BE ABLE TO WALK ALONE IN THE RED SKIES, PERVADING THE UNIVERSE AS YOUR WHOLE BODY."
Zen has a language of its own. It is simple, but because we are complicated we cannot understand the simple language. A hundred-foot-long pole ... you would never have thought that it could be representative of the ego.
Once you see the metaphor, it becomes very clear that everybody is standing on a very long pole. And people are trying to get on longer poles. When Henry Ford was dying, before his death he was asked, "What have you learned in your whole life? Because you became the world's greatest rich man -- from poverty to riches."
Henry Ford said, "Don't remind me. I have learned only one thing: climbing poles. And when you have climbed the pole, you look so awkward, so stupid. Fortunately you are alone there sitting on your pole. I have learned the art of climbing poles, that has been my whole life. I have not learned anything. I am dying without having learned anything from life."
But Daio's interpretation:
WHERE THERE IS NO PLACE TO STEP ...
'Place' is always outside. Inside there is no place, there is only space. And you should understand the difference between place and space.
You are sitting here. The place you are sitting in is one thing and the space that you are within is another. It is nothing material, so there is no question of falling. There is no fear of falling into a ditch. There is no place of any kind, just pure silence and spaciousness. Where there is no place to step, that is the real place from where to begin the journey.
Howsoever absurd, he has said a great truth.
GO A HUNDRED THOUSAND STEPS FURTHER -- ONLY THEN WILL YOU BE ABLE TO WALK ALONE IN THE RED SKIES, PERVADING THE UNIVERSE AS YOUR WHOLE BODY.
THE NUN AGREED AND DAIO CONTINUED: "THAT'S ALL. NOW YOU WANT TO RETURN TO YOUR OLD CAPITAL AND HAVE COME WITH INCENSE IN YOUR SLEEVE TO ASK FOR A SAYING. I ONCE MADE A VERSE OF PRAISE ON THE MASTER OF IKUSAN, SO I WILL WRITE THAT:
'ATOP THE POLE, WALK ON BY THE ORDINARY ROUTE. IT IS MOST PAINFUL, WHEN TAKING A TUMBLE IN A VALLEY. EARTH, MOUNTAINS, AND RIVERS CANNOT HOLD YOU UP, AND SPACE SUPPRESSES LAUGHTER, FILLING A DONKEY'S CHEEKS.'" Once you have taken the jump into the inner space, everything is easy. Before taking the jump everything is difficult. You have never thought that you have any interiority, you have never thought that there is any space inside.
When I say "your interiority" I don't mean your bones and your heart and your brain. These are all outside coverings of your inside nothingness. When you detach yourself from your body and mind and heart, you find that place from where the journey begins. That is the true pilgrimage, the only pilgrimage that is of any worth. All others are unnecessarily running here and there, not knowing where they are going.
I have heard ... Once George Bernard Shaw was caught in a railway train without a ticket.
He had purchased a ticket, but where had he put it? He had much luggage. He must have been like Avirbhava -- she travels with twelve suitcases! So he looked into this suitcase, into that suitcase. The whole compartment was filled with his clothes and things and books, and the ticket collector finally said in desperation, "I know you, everybody knows you. I cannot conceive that you are traveling without a ticket. It must have got lost -- you have so much luggage. Don't be worried, I will not come again, and I will give the message to the other ticket collectors on the train not to bother you."
George Bernard Shaw shouted at him, "You idiot! You think I am taking all this trouble for you? The problem is not the ticket, the problem is that without the ticket I don't know where I am going. The train is going so fast and I don't know which station I am to get out at.
And why are you standing here like an idiot? Just do your work and let me find my ticket!" He was a world famous man, but he was a man with a very bad memory.
A similar story is told about Mulla Nasruddin, but juicier. The ticket collector comes, and Mulla Nasruddin looks into everything -- his bags, his pockets. The ticket collector is standing there and he says, "You have looked in every pocket, but you don't look in the left-side pocket of your coat."
Mulla Nasruddin said, "Don't interfere in my work. Never mention that pocket!"
He said, "You are strange. I am simply helping you because you cannot find the ticket.
Perhaps ... why are you leaving out that pocket?"
Mulla Nasruddin said, "That is my only hope. If the ticket is not in the left pocket, I am finished. So first I will look into everything else. Only as the last resort may I touch that pocket. That is my last hope, don't destroy it."
"I ASK YOU, ZEN NUN," CONTINUED DAIO, "TO BRING THIS UP AND LOOK AT IT TIME AND AGAIN: HOW TO GO FORWARD FROM ATOP THE POLE?"
I give you this poem. Remember, that this is my message: that you have to leave the place and enter into space.
"SUDDENLY, WHEN THE TIME COMES, YOU CAN GO FORWARD A STEP, AND SPACE WILL SURELY SWALLOW A LAUGH. REMEMBER, REMEMBER."
Don't be afraid of laughing. Just take a step from place into space, have a good laugh and just go on. We are doing that every day -- not one laugh but many laughs.
(A LOUD LAUGH IS HEARD FROM SARDAR GURUDAYAL SINGH.) Sardar Gurudayal Singh, wherever this caravan is going you will be needed. Without you life will not be so juicy.
A haiku by Sodo:
AFTER THE MOON-VIEWING, MY SHADOW WALKING HOME ALONG WITH ME.
AFTER THE MOON-VIEWING ... A full moon -- that has become traditional in Zen. On the full-moon night the Zen seekers don't sleep, they walk into the mountains where the moon has made waterfalls look as if silver is falling, where the moon has made the whole surroundings a dream.
Sodo says, AFTER THE MOON-VIEWING ... This is called moon-viewing; it is a tremendously aesthetic experience.
MY SHADOW WALKING HOME ALONG WITH ME.
Such silence. Nobody is with me, just my shadow walking along with me. After seeing this whole beautiful world, when you enter into your home nobody will be with you, not even your shadow. Your aloneness will be total.
Every meditation is a preparation for enjoying the aloneness which is our nature.
NOT YET HAVING BECOME A BUDDHA, THIS ANCIENT PINE TREE, IDLY DREAMING.
According to those who have awakened, everything is full of buddhahood. Buddhahood is just the nature of existence. Issa's haiku is saying:
NOT YET HAVING BECOME A BUDDHA, THIS ANCIENT PINE TREE, Although it is ancient, it has not yet become a buddha.
It is still dreaming. Someday it may wake up. This can be said about everybody. We are all unconscious of our ultimate reality, and we go on dreaming, we go on sleeping, we go on desiring, we go on longing for this and that, not knowing that the greatest treasure is within our awakening.
There is no more than becoming a buddha. You have come to the highest peak of consciousness.
Consciousness is the only wealth.
Question 1 Maneesha has asked:
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE ONE, MOST SIGNIFICANT ATTRIBUTE A SANNYASIN OF YOURS NEEDS?
My sannyasins don't need, Maneesha, any attribute. My perception of sannyas is to be just yourself. If I say any attribute, I am imposing that attribute on my sannyasins. My sannyas is absolute freedom. With freedom of course a great responsibility comes, but that is not my business.
There is a special event happening in the streets of Jerusalem, and there is great excitement throughout the city. Pontius and Mrs. Pilate are standing on the balcony of the palace, waving to the crowds below. They are watching as Jesus and the procession following him slowly make their way through the streets towards Crucifix Hill.
Suddenly, Jesus stumbles and he and his cross crash to the ground. The procession grinds to a standstill. Slowly, Jesus gets back on his feet, picks up the cross, and carries on.
"Pontius, did you see that?" remarks Mrs. Pilate, out of the corner of her mouth, as she continues waving with a smile plastered on her face.
"Yes, dear," replies Pontius, "I'm afraid he did it again."
"Well, I really don't care who he is," remarks Mrs. Pilate. "If he drops his cross one more time, he is out of the parade!"
In the small hours of the morning, Paddy is crawling along the street on his hands and knees. Suddenly, he notices a large pair of boots in front of him, and looking up, he sees the outline of Police Officer O'Leary.
"What is going on here?" asks the cop.
"I'm just looking for a ten-dollar bill," mumbles Paddy.
"Oh!" says O'Leary, "are you sure you lost it here?"
"Well," slobbers Paddy, "I didn't say I had lost one. I'm just looking."
Luigi gets home to Italy from his holiday in California. He is very depressed, and his friend Alfonso asks him, "What's the matter? You no like-a California?"
"Mama mia!" replies Luigi. "What a nightmare! I go-a to California and stay at the Pope and Pasta Hotel in Palm Springs. In the morning, I go-a to breakfast. I tell-a the waiter, 'I want two pissis of toast.' He bring-a me only one piss.
"I say, 'I want-a two piss.' He say, 'Go to the bathroom.' I say, 'You no understand. I wanna piss on the plate.' He say, 'You no piss on the plate, you son-of-a-bitch!'
"Later, I have-a lunch. The waitress brings me a knife and a spoon, but no fock. I tell her, 'I wanna fock.' She tell me, 'Everyone wanna fock.' I say, 'You no understand, I wanna fock on the table.' She say, 'You no gonna fock on the table, you son-of-a-bitch!'
"So I go-a back to my hotel room, and there are no shits on my bed. I call-a the manager and tell him, 'I wanna shit.' He say, 'Go to the bathroom.' I say, 'You no understand, I wanna shit on my bed.' He say, 'You no gonna shit on the bed, you son-of-a-bitch!'
"So, I'm-a finished. I go-a to check out, and the man at the desk say, 'Happy holidays, and peace on you.'
"I say, 'Piss on you too, you son-of-a-bitch, I go-a home!'" Now is the time. The air is clean, you have laughed and you are ready.
(Drumbeat) (Gibberish) Nivedano ...
(Drumbeat) Be silent, close your eyes.
Feel your body to be completely frozen.
Gather yourself in.
Just like an arrow, move deeper and deeper within yourself.
Soon you will reach the one-hundred-foot pole from where begins the journey into space.
Take a jump without looking back.
It is our space, it is our origin.
You are blessed.
This evening is blessed by your being a buddha, just a pure awareness.
This awareness is your very nature; you can forget it but you cannot lose it.
It cannot be stolen. It is your very center.
To make it clear, Nivedano ...
(Drumbeat) Relax, but go on entering deeper and deeper into yourself.
The body remains far away, miles away, the mind remains miles away.
You are just a silent watchfulness, a peace that passeth understanding, a bliss that no word can express.
An experience of eternity and immortality which will bring you a great feeling of dance, rejoicings, songs.
Even your silence will become a song and your no-movement will become a dance.
Those who have known this source have become pure love, compassion, consciousness, purity.
This is your ultimate nature.
Life is only a school to bring you to this ultimate nature. Those who remain unfortunately unaware of this grandeur of your being, this Everest of your consciousness, are really pitiable.
Feel this moment and the silence of it because you have to carry it with you twenty-four hours.
On this path there is no specific period for meditation. The whole life has to become meditation. Sitting, standing, walking; waking, sleeping, meditation continues just like a thread in a garland of flowers. It does not show up but it is there, the connecting link of each flower.
All your actions, gestures, are just like flowers, but a consciousness should run through all of them. Only then the garland is a garland; otherwise it is just a heap of flowers.
Let your life be a garland with a consciousness connecting every action, every movement, every mood, and it will bring a total transformation. You will be a new man.
Each meditation will take away something false from you and will bring some new, fresh quality.
Slowly slowly a day comes when your whole life becomes the life of a buddha.
It is not far away, it is always within your reach.
(Drumbeat) Come back. But bring with you the silence, the experience.
Sit down for a few minutes like a buddha.
This is your nature.
As Daio said, REMEMBER, REMEMBER!
He was referring to this experience of meditation:
In twenty-four hours, whatever you are doing it does not matter, your remembrance should remain a continuity.
Yes, Beloved Master.
Can we celebrate the gathering of the buddhas?
Yes, Beloved Master.