Devise No Word

Fri, 13 June 1977 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
Chapter #:
am in Buddha Hall
Archive Code:
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104 mins





'DEVISE NO WORD,' says the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma -- because with the word starts the world. That is exactly what the Bible says -- 'In the beginning was the word.'

And in the end also is the word.

The moment you enter into the world of words you start falling away from that which is.

The more you enter into language, the farther you are away from God. Language is a great falsification. It is not a bridge, it is not a communication -- it is a barrier.

Bodhidharma says, 'Devise no word.' If your mind creates no word, in that silence is God or truth or nirvana. The moment the word enters, you are no more in your own self. You have gone away. The word takes you on a journey away from yourself. In fact, you cannot go away from yourself -- but you can dream about it. In fact, you are always there, you can only be there and nowhere else -- but still you can fall asleep and you can dream a thousand and one dreams.

Let me tell you again one of the most beautiful stories ever devised -- the story of Adam's fall. It says that God forbade Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Zen will agree perfectly because it is knowledge that is making you stupid, it is knowledge that is not allowing you to know. Adam was capable of knowing before he ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The moment he ate knowledge, the moment he became knowledgeable, he knew no more. The innocence was lost. He became cunning and clever. That intelligence was lost. Yes, he started growing in intellect but intelligence was no more there. Intellect has nothing to do with intelligence, it is just the contrary, the opposite. The more you are an intellectual, the less intelligent you are bound to be.

Intellect is a substitute to hide your unintelligence; it is counterfeit. You don't have intelligence so you substitute by intellect is of course cheap. You can purchase it anywhere, it is available. In fact, people are too willing to impart their knowledge to you.

They are ready to throw all their rubbish on you.

Adam became knowledgeable hence the fall. So knowledge is the fall.

The story says he ate an apple, a fruit, from the Tree of Knowledge. It can't be an apple.

Apples don't grow on the Tree of Knowledge. Somewhere the story has got mixed up.

Apples are so innocent -- just by eating an apple you cannot be thrown out of heaven, you cannot be expelled. God cannot be so angry with you.

No, it can't be an apple; the apple is just metaphoric. It must be the word, language. On the Tree of Knowledge fruits of words, concepts, philosophies, systems, grow -- not apples. Forget the apple. Remember the word.

And then, the serpent is the first teacher of humanity, the first education system. That serpent -- that is the first demagogue, the first academician. He has taught the trick of knowledge: he persuaded Eve to eat. He could not persuade Adam directly. Why could he not persuade Adam directly? Why had he to persuade Eve first? Eve is more vulnerable.

Women are always more vulnerable, more open, soft. They can be taken anywhere by anybody; they are more suggestible; they can be hypnotised more easily than man. The serpent persuaded the woman. He was not only the first academician, he was the first salesman too. And he did well.

But he was not wrong. Whatsoever he was saying he was right. He was saying. 'You will become knowledgeable, you will know what is what. Without eating this fr ut you will never know what is what.'

There is a kind of knowing which is totally different: you know and yet you cannot know what is what. It is a very diffused kind of knowing. It does not categorise, it toes not divide, it is non-analytical. Adam must have lived in that non-analytical innocence.

Science was not possible; religion was there -- showering all over. Adam must have been a mystic before he ate from the Tree of Knowledge -- as every child is a mystic. Every child is a born mystic then we drag him towards the school and the education and the serpent. The serpent is the civilisation, the culture, the conditioning.

And the serpent is such a cunning animal that the metaphor seems to be perfect. Such a crooked animal, so slippery -- just like logic. You can't decide where it is moving. And it moves without legs; it has no legs to move. But it goes so fast. It is exactly like untruth. It has no legs that's why the untruth has always to borrow legs from truth; that's why every untrue statement tries hard to prove that it is true. Those are the borrowed legs.

The serpent, the first teacher, the first academician, convinced Eve, and naturally Eve could easily convince Adam. The woman has always been powerful over the man -- whatsoever man goes on thinking is irrelevant, notwithstanding what man pretends. Man goes on pretending that he is more powerful, that is simply nonsense. And the woman allows the man to think it -- it is perfectly okay, let him think. It does not change the situation. The woman has remained powerful.

And there is a reason.... The feminine is more powerful than the masculine; the soft is more powerful than the hard; the voter is more powerful than the rock. You an ask Lao Tzu who is a man of knowing. He knows. He is not a man of knowledge but he knows.

And he says that if you want to become infinitely powerful become feminine, become passive. The passive is always more powerful, more pregnant than the active -- that's why man does not become pregnant. He is desert-like. The woman has the capacity to become pregnant, she is potential. She carries life; she can contain life in her. She can contain many lives in her.

Adam falls into the trap, becomes interested. He must have thought that if he becomes more knowledgeable he will become more active, he will know more. He must have become ambitious. That's what the serpent has done. The serpent has said, 'If you eat you will become like gods, powerful like gods -- that's why God has prohibited you to eat. He is afraid. He is jealous.'

Each son thinks the same way -- that the father is jealous of him, that he is afraid of him, that he wants him never to become as powerful as he is so he always remains in control.

This biblical parable is such a great parable. It has such great insight.

Adam was in a state of knowing, then he became knowledgeable. Religion disappeared, science was born. Science... the word 'science' exactly means knowledge. Those fruits were the fruits of science. He lost his innocence and became cunning.

This happens every time a child is born into the world. Each child is born into God's garden -- the Garden of Eden -- and each child is persuaded by the serpent of civilisation, culture, education. Each child is conditioned, is pulled, is manipulated towards ambition, towards ego goals -- become like gods, that's the whole idea behind science. Science thinks that one day or other it will be able to know all the mysteries and then man will be a god, infinitely powerful. It is an ambition, an ego trip.

We drag each child towards the ego and ego lives on language. So the more articulate the child is, the more egoistic he becomes. The better he can express and communicate through language, the more famous he becomes. He will become a leader of men or he may become a great author, a writer, a poet, and this and that -- these are the people who are the most famous people in the world. He will become a thinker or a professor or a philosopher. These are the people who dominate.

Why do they dominate in this world? The man who is articulate in language is the dominant man. You cannot think of a dumb leader and you cannot think of a man who cannot speak and is not expressive of what he thinks becoming famous. Impossible. All fame comes to language. So the child starts becoming more and more entangled with language, with the word -- and says Bodhidharma, 'Devise no word.'

I have called the serpent the first teacher. Then the whole work of the religious Master is nothing but how to undo the serpent, how to undo that which has been taught to you, how to undo the whole educational system, how to make you free of your conditionings, how to help you to drop the word. The moment you drop the word you are again innocent -- that's what saintlihoodness is, innocence, primal innocence.

The moment language disappears from your mind and you are no more spinning in words a great silence arises... a silence that you have almost forgotten. You are not at all alert that you had it one day. It was there permeating you when you were in the womb of your mother. When you were born and when you opened your eyes for the first time it was there permeating the whole existence. It was there very, very alive. You lived in it for a few days, for a few months, a few years. Slowly, slowly it disappears. The dust gathers and the mirror reflects no more. When people start saying that now you are a grown-up, they are simply saying that you have lost your innocence.

They have corrupted you, they have hypnotised you into language. Now you don't see, you think. Now you don't know, you think. Now you go about and about and about and you never hit the target itself. Round and round you go. You will talk about God, you will talk about love, and you will talk about this and that and you will never know anything -- because to know love one has to be loving. It does not help to think about it, to read about it. You can become one of the greatest experts about love and you will not know an iota of it. It is an experience. Language is very tricky. It substitutes the real with the about.

One day a man came to me and he said, 'I have come to know about God.' I said, 'Why about? Why not God himself?' Why about? And how is it going to help if you know about God? Yes, you will accumulate a little information, you will become more knowledgeable -- but that is not going to help, that is not going to transform you, that is not going to become your inner luminousness. You will remain as dark as before.

The whole effort of a Jesus or a Buddha or a Bodhidharma is nothing but how to undo that which the society has done to you. These are the most antisocial people in the world.

They destroy whatsoever the society has created around you, all the fences around you, all the defenses around you, all the walls around you -- they destroy, they go on destroying. They are great nihilists. They simply destroy -- because that which is, need not be created. It is already there. It has not to be invented, it has only to be discovered.

Or, it will be better to say, rediscovered. You have known it, that's why we have a very, very dim dark feeling for bliss. Somehow we know what it is although we cannot exactly put what it is into words. We are seeking for it. We are groping in the dark and moving towards something called bliss. If you have not known it before, how can you go on groping for it? You must have known it sometime. You may have forgotten, true, but you must have known and somewhere deep in your unconscious, in the recesses of your being, you must be carrying a nostalgia, a dream.

That is exactly the case. You have known God. You have lived as a God. When you were a child you lived without ego -- before you came into contact with the serpent. You have known, your eyes were clear, you had a transparent clarity, you were able to see through and through. You have lived like a God and you have known what bliss is but now it is forgotten. But still it goes on knocking somewhere deep down from your unconscious -- 'Seek it. Seek it again.'

Hence you seek God, hence you seek meditation, hence you seek love, hence you seek all that you seek. Sometimes in the right direction, sometimes in the wrong direction, but you are continuously seeking one thing that you know was there and that you know is no more there. The day you know what God is, the day you meet that experience, you will laugh. You will say, 'So this is God? But I have known it before. I can recognise it.'

That's how people recognise God, otherwise how will they recognise it? If suddenly one day you come across me and you have not known me, how will you recognise me?

People have recognised. When Buddha came to that moment he could recognise immediately, 'Yes, this is it.' When Bodhidharma came to that moment he started laughing. He said, 'So this is it? This has been there in my childhood. It was destroyed, it was contaminated. Dust was thrown in my eyes and my clarity was lost. Now the eyes are again functioning well and I can see it.'

God is that which is. You are God unaware, fallen asleep.

One thing more about the biblical story.. It says that God expelled Adam. That's not right.

God cannot expel. In that way God is powerless. Where will he expel? Tell me. Where?

It is all his garden; wherever you are you are in the garden. From one end to another end it is the Garden of Eden. There is no way to expel. God's kingdom is infinite. How can he expel you? Where can he expel you to? There is no other place. His is the only world, there is no other world. Adam is not expelled. God cannot expel because there is no place to expel.

Secondly, God cannot expel because Adam is God. Adam is part of God. How can you expel your own part? I cannot expel my hand and I cannot expel my leg. It is not possible. Adam's expulsion will be a mutilation of God himself. No, he cannot do that; he is not a masochist, he cannot cut himself into parts. God is compassion. Adam is not expelled.

Then what has happened? Adam has fallen asleep. Eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge he has fallen asleep. Now he no more looks at reality, he dreams about it.

Now he has his own ideas, he has his own concepts, he has his own visions. Now he has become a fabricator, now he goes on inventing. Rather than seeing that which is, he goes on inventing. He is using that which is, only as a screen to project his language world.

That's why Bodhidharma says, 'Devise no word.' And if you have already devised, undevise them, drop them. This is one of the most fundamental messages of Zen. They call this state in China MO CHAO -- when you are not devising any word. MO means serene or silent and CHAO means reflection or awareness. Reflection does not mean what it usually means in English, it does not mean contemplation. It means a mirror-like quality. It exactly, literally, means reflection. MO CHAO means serene reflection. The lake is silent -- no ripples. It reflects perfectly. It is a full moon night and the full moon is reflected in the lake.

And have you seen it? The moon in the reflection is far more beautiful than the moon in the sky. Something is added unto it -- the serenity of the lake, the silence of the lake, the coolness of the lake. The mirror-like beauty of the lake is added to it. It is something more. When God reflects in you, in your MO CHAO, God becomes even more beautiful Something is added.

But if you think, then there are ripples. Then the lake is in turmoil. Then you are not in a state to reflect. Then you are very, very destructive to the reality. Then the moon is not reflected as it is, it is destroyed by your ripples. And if there are great waves, of course it is destroyed even more. Then you don't add anything to the beauty of moon, you take all beauty away. And it is a perversion. It is not exactly as the moon is, it is something else.

It is not true, it is untrue.

This MO CHAO, serene reflection, is expressed in a famous poem by a Zen Master, Hung Chin:
















Zen is based on MO CHAO a serene reflection. This has to be understood. By serenity is not meant a forced stillness. You can force your mind to be still but that won't help much.

That's what so many people who think they are meditators are doing in the world. They force the mind violently. They are very aggressive to their mind. If you go on being aggressive you will come to the point where the mind, out of sheer tiredness, yields. But this will be only on the surface; deep in the recesses of your unconscious the turmoil will continue. It will be a false serenity. A forced serenity is a false serenity, it is not real.

No, will cannot bring it. By effort it cannot be brought. It comes only through understanding, not by will. So never try to replace understanding by will -- although the temptation is great. Always the temptation is there because to do something through will looks easier. To do something through violence looks easier; to do the same thing through love and understanding looks very very difficult and it seems it will take millenia to arrive. So we always try to find a short-cut.

And there are no short cuts in spiritual growth; there have never been and there will never be. Don't fall a victim to the short-cut. The serenity has to grow, not be forced. It has to come from your innermost core, through understanding.

So try to understand what language has done to you, try to understand what language has already destroyed in you, try to understand that your knowledgeability is not your knowing. Look into it. Watch it. In different situations be aware of it -- how it distracts you from reality.

You come across a rose flower and the moment you see it, immediately language jumps in and something inside your mind says, 'A beautiful rose flower.' And you have destroyed something. Now it is neither beautiful nor a rose -- a word is there. Don't allow the word to interfere with each and every of your experiences. Sometimes just be there with the rose and don't say, 'A rose.' There is no need. The rose has no name, the names are given by us. And the name is not the real thing. So if you stay too attached to the name you will miss the real. The name will come in your eyes and you will project something -- all the past roses.

When you say it is a rose you are classifying it and no rose can be classified because all roses are so unique and so individual that classification is just not possible. Don't give it a class, don't pigeon-hole it, don't put it in a box. Enjoy its beauty, enjoy its colour, enjoy its dance. Just be there. Don't say anything. Watch. Be in MO CHAO, a silent, serene reflection. Just reflect. Let the rose flower reflect in you. YOU be a mirror. If you can become a mirror you have become a meditator. Meditation is nothing but skill in mirroring. And now no word moves inside you so there is no distraction.

Words are associated with each other, linked with each other. One word leads to another and that leads to another and you have gone far away. The moment you say 'This is a beautiful rose' immediately you remember the girlfriend who used to like beautiful roses.

Then you remember all that happened with the girlfriend -- the fantastic love affair, the honeymoon, and then the misery that naturally follows, and the divorce... and all that.

And this flower -- you have forgotten all about it. This rose Flower is no more there. The language, the word, distracted you and you went into a journey. One word leads to another; there is a continuous linkage. All words are linked, interlinked. There is great association. Just use one word and just wait and see how it starts spinning things.

You say 'dog', just an ordinary word, and just wait for a second and immediately you start moving with that word. You remember one dog in your childhood which used to horrify you -- just the neighbour's dog. And you were so much afraid when you used to come from your school, and your heart starts beating again and you start feeling a little fear arising. That dog is still too much. And then you remember the neighbour and so on and so forth.

One thing leads to a thousand and one things and there is no end to it. Yes, the word is in the beginning -- the biblical statement is perfectly true. Everything starts with the word.

The world starts with the word; when you drop the word the world disappears. Then you are in God. Again the expelled son is back_ He has awakened.

So don't force silence upon yourself. That's why my insistence here is not to force -- rather dance, sing. Let your activity be satisfied. Let your mind run hither and thither, let it get tired on its own accord. Jump and breathe and dance and jog and swim and when you feel that now your body-mind is tired then sit silently and watch.

By and by small moments of serenity will start entering you. They come in drops. There is a particular word for it... Buddhists have called it CHITTA-KSHANA, a moment of consciousness. These CHITTA-KSHANA, these atomic moments of consciousness, start floating in you. They come like intervals. One word has left, another has not arisen. Just in-between the two suddenly a window opens -- an interval, a gap. And you can see reality very clearly, very luminously. You can see again with those eyes of childhood that you have forgotten completely. The world is again psychedelic, very colourful, very alive, full of wonder.

That's what this Hung Chin says....



Wonder is the taste of that serenity. The modern mind has lost all capacity to wonder. It has lost all capacity to look into the mysterious, into the miraculous, because of knowledge, because it thinks it knows. The moment you think you know, wonder stops arising. The moment you start again becoming less knowledgeable, wonder enters back, starts penetrating you. Watch it. If you think you know this tree then you are no more in any wonder about it.

That's why your own wife and her beauty does not fill your eyes with wonder. You think you know her. Had she been somebody else's wife you would certainly have been attracted. But now you think you know her, now you think you are acquainted with her.

And you are not -- because each person is such a unique mystery there is no way to know. You cannot know a woman by becoming her husband and you cannot know a man by becoming a wife.

You may have lived for thirty years together but you don't know. You remain strangers.

Because we are all mysteries there is no way to get acquainted, and each moment the unpredictable is possible.

Sometimes you come across it. You have lived for ten years with a woman and suddenly one day she is angry and you had never thought that she would be so angry. For ten years you have watched her and she has been always so tender, so loving, so compassionate, and suddenly one day she is so angry that she would like to kill you. Unpredictable. And you were getting settled and you had started taking her for granted and you were thinking that you knew her. Nobody knows anybody. Neither she knows you nor you know her.

Yes, you may have given birth to a child. The child has remained nine months in your womb, but you don't know it. When the child comes he is as unpredictable as anybody else's child. Don't for a single moment think that you know anybody. We are strangers.

So is this whole existence. These trees surround you here.... You see them every day and by and by you have stopped seeing them because you think that now you know -- what is the point? Please listen to me. Have a look again and you will be surprised. Nothing is ever known. Knowledge happens not. Knowledge is just sheer ignorance. Life remains mysterious. Yes, we can enjoy it, we can dance with it, we can sing with it, we can celebrate -- that's possible. But we cannot know it.

All the great Masters of the world have said that knowledge is not possible. It is not in the nature of things. And whatsoever you think you know is just so-so -- your make-believe.

Because of that make-believe you become so burdened that you stop wondering. A child wonders because he does not know. Once he starts getting acquainted -- he reads geography and history and all kinds of nonsense -- then he thinks he knows. Then the flower does not smell the way it used to any more. Then the butterfly does not attract him any more as it used to. Then he will not collect seashells on the seashore. He has become a grown-up.

In fact, he has stopped growing. In fact, he has died. The day you think you know, your death has happened -- because now there will be no wonder and no joy and no surprise.

Now you will live a dead life. You can enter into your grave, you will not be losing anything. Because you are not going to be surprised by anything what is the point of going on living? Commit suicide. In fact, that's what you are actually doing. We commit suicide. The day you think you know, you have committed suicide.

With this MO CHAO, with this serene reflection, again you will become a child, again you will attain to those beautiful eyes of childhood -- innocent, unknowing, yet penetrating.

So remember, sereneness or silence is not calmness, is not quietitude. It implies transcendency over all words or thoughts denoting a state of beyond, of pervasive peace.

It is not a still mind, it is stillness itself. It is not a disciplined thing out of your effort. It is nothing to be practised, it is something to be understood, to be loved. You have to play with it rather than work it out. It is absence of mentation. Yes, that is what meditation is all about -- absence of mentation. The mind is no longer thinking, the mind is silent.

It has no savour of mental activity, it is clear awareness in the tranquillity of nothingness.

The Japanese have a beautiful word for it: they call it KOKORO. KOKORO means absolute nothingness; KOKORO means a tremendous absence; KOKORO means blankness -- but not negative. Nothingness gives the sense of something being negated.

No. All that is rubbish is negated, certainly, obviously, but once you negate all that is rubbish your own innermost nature asserts. It is very positive.

When the ripples have disappeared from the lake you can say that now nothing exists on the surface of the lake. Absolute nothingness resides, floats. But this is not a negative state. In fact, now the lake asserts itself in its total silence. Its nature is visible on the surface; those waves and ripples were hiding it. Now it is there, just present. Not noisy, very silent. Not declaring that 'I am here' -- there is no 'I' any more.

'I' is nothing but all your noise together, put together. When noise disappears, when the mind is no more, when mentation is no more there, suddenly you are for the first time -- and yet you are not. You are not in the old way; you have died and you are reborn. This is the second childhood.

Master Suigan, at the end of the summer session made this declaration, 'I have been talking, East and West, all this summer, for my brotherhood. See if my eyebrows are still growing.'

One of his disciples said, 'How finely they are growing, Sir.'

Another said, 'One who commits a theft feels uneasy in his heart.'

And a third one, without saying anything, simply uttered, 'Kwan!'

'Kwan' is just an ejaculation with no sense attached to it. Nor is it a symbol, it is the thing itself.

The Master has been talking.... Now this is the irony, the paradox -- even a Zen Master has to talk. He talks against talking but still he has to talk.

It is almost like you have a disease and the disease is poisoning you and we prepare a medicine from another poison to destroy the disease. Almost all medicines are prepared out of poison. To kill poison you have to use poison.

There is a thorn in your foot. We search for another thorn to take that thorn out of the foot. A thorn has to be pulled out by another thorn. Yes, it is ironical that even a Zen Master has to talk continuously. Buddha talked for forty-two years continuously, morning, afternoon, evening -- and in-between. And he talked about only one thing -- that is: stop talking, be silent, 'devise no word'.

Now this Master, this Suigan, has talked for many months, and then at the conclusion of the session he says, 'I have been talking, East and West, all this summer, for my brotherhood. See if my eyebrows are still growing.' He is saying, 'Look, am I still alive or dead. With so much talk I may have fallen dead, I may have stopped growing.'

The first disciple said, 'How finely they are growing.' He is true, a hundred per cent true.

He can see into the Master. Those words have not disturbed the silence of the Master, they have not become his death -- his life is as flowing as ever. They have not become any obstruction. You are allowed to talk only when your words don't destroy your silence. When your silence remains untouched by your words then you can talk. Then y our words will be a blessing to the world. Then you will help many people to come out of their words. Then your words will become a medicine.

But if your word disturbs your silence, if while, you are speaking you lose contact with your innermost core of serenity, MO CHAO, then it is futile. Then it is better to heal yourself first. 'Physician heal thyself.' Then don't start healing anybody. You will harm rather than heal anybody.

The disciple says, 'Yes, Master, how finely they are growing. I can see your silence remains undisturbed.'

The second disciple says, 'One who commits a theft feels uneasy in his heart.' He is even better than the first. He says, 'Master, although you are beyond theft, still, even if you commit theft, you will feel guilty. We know that words don't disturb you but still words are such nuisance that you are feeling a little bit guilty. I can see it.'

And I can understand the second disciple's idea. Yes, speaking to you I also feel guilty because there is every danger you may not listen to what I am saying, you may not listen to what I mean to say and you may start talking just like me. The danger is there. I am committing a crime. It has to be committed because it seems there is no other way to help you. That risk has to be taken.

The second disciple reaches a little deeper. The first was a hundred per cent correct, remember, the second was two hundred per cent correct. He says, 'Master, one who commits a theft feels uneasy in his heart. I can see it.'

The third is three hundred per cent correct. The third one, without saying anything, simply uttered, 'Ewan!' It is just like 'hoo!' To say anything is meaningless. He simply utters a sound. And he is saying, 'Whatsoever you have been saying is just empty sound, sir! Don't be worried. Whatsoever you have been saying is just hot air, just like my "Kwan!" Yes, it is good sometimes to help a man wake up but it doesn't mean anything.

If somebody is fast asleep and you shout in his ear "Kwan!" he will open his eyes, that's all. The work is done. But the "Kwan!" does not mean anything.'

That's exactly what all the utterances of the Masters are -- a 'Kwan!' They don't mean anything, they don't carry any philosophy in them. They are just shouts to wake you up.

The third has understood totally. He is in exactly the same space as the Master himself.

From where does this 'Kwan!' come? It comes from KOKORO, nothingness. And when you are in this nothingness everything is possible. This nothingness is so potent, this nothingness is so positive, this nothingness is God. The Buddhists don't use the word God because God seems to be confining. They use nothingness -- KOKORO, SHUNYATA.

In this nothingness you will see that God is omnipresent. This nothingness is filling the whole existence.

These are the words of John Donne: 'God is so omnipresent that God is an angel in an angel and a stone in a stone and a straw in a straw.'

In this nothingness you will have penetrated into the very nature of things. This penetration into the nature of things is the goal. And that is possible only when you 'devise no word'. Then things are.

Listen to these words of Wordsworth:






Then everything is as it is. The cock is crowing and the green fields sleep in the sun. 'God is so omnipresent that God is an angel in an angel and a stone in a stone and a straw in a straw.' Then God disappears. There is only godliness. Then there is no deity, there is only divineness, pure liquid divineness, overfilling all the space.

Just the other night I was reading Leonardo Da Vinci's diary. In his diary he writes one sentence which struck me. 'Among the great things which are to be found among us, the being of nothingness is the greatest.'


That being of nothingness comes through no word, no language, no concept, no mind, no mentation -- MO CHAO.

Now this small parable.


Now, the first thing is -- Zen has no theory. It is a nontheoretical approach into reality. It has no doctrine and no dogma -- hence it has no church, no priest, no pope. Zen is very earthly, down to earth; it does not deal in abstract concepts. That's a rare phenomenon.

That came out of two geniuses meeting -- the Indian genius and the Chinese genius. The Indian genius is very abstract even Buddha. He tries hard not to be abstract but what can he do? An Indian is after all an Indian.

The Indian genius is very abstract, It talks about great things, theories; spins great ideas.

He flies into the high sky, it never lands on the earth. The Indian genius has not known how to land back on the earth for centuries. It goes up and then it does not know how to come back. It has no roots. It has wings but no roots. That is the misery.

The Chinese genius is more earthbound, more practical, more pragmatic. They don't go into the sky too much. Even if they go there a little they always keep their feet on the earth, rooted in the earth. They don't fly like a bird, they go into the sky like a tree. They keep their roots in the earth, they always keep a very deep proportion. Lao Tzu is very practical, so is Confucius.

When Bodhidharma went to China with the great message of zen there happened a great meeting, a great synthesis between the Indian genius and the Chinese genius. Zen is neither Indian nor Chinese. It carries both and yet it is beyond both.

So if you ask an Indian Buddhist -- they are very few -- if you ask an Indian Buddhist he will not take Zen seriously. He will say, 'All nonsense.' Wherever Indian Buddhism is still prevalent in Ceylon, in Burma, in Thailand, no one talks about Zen. People laugh.

They say it is like a joke.

If you talk to the Chinese Zen people and the Japanese Zen people about great Buddhist scriptures, they say, 'Burn them immediately. All abstract theories are nonsense. They take man astray from reality.'

To me Zen is one of the greatest syntheses -- a transcendental phenomenon. The first thing about it is that it is existential not theoretical. It does not say anything about truth, it gives you truth as it is. It simply wakes you up. It shocks you to wake up, it shouts at you to wake up -- but IT docs not give you theories, it does not give you doctrines, it does not give you scriptures. Zen is the only religion which is capable of burning scriptures, the only religion which is capable of destroying all idols and all ideals too.


Zen has no theory. That is unique about Zen. The moment you start talking about Zen theory, Zen is no more Zen. There is theory but no more Zen. Zen and theory can't exist together. Theory is very limited; Zen is an unlimited experience. Zen is more like love -- you cannot define it.

Said the Master,


Such a beautiful statement. He says, 'YOU HAVE TOO MUCH ZEN.' He is saying, 'You have nothing of Zen in you.' That's how Zen Masters talk. He wants to say, 'You have nothing of Zen in you' -- but he says, on the contrary, 'You have too much Zen.' How can you have too much Zen? Either you have it or you don't have it. This is a way of saying that you don't have any Zen in you. 'You have too much of Zen' means 'You have too much of theory. You know too much about it. And you have not even had a single glimpse of it.'



The second thing.... First there is no theory in Zen, second there cannot be anybody called a student of Zen. It is not possible. A student looks for the theory. A student wants to become knowledgeable. A student goes to the serpent not to the Master. The student goes to the teacher. The student goes to a college, a university, an institution.

Zen has no students. Zen has no theories so it cannot have students, it cannot have professors. Yes, it has Masters and it has disciples. A Master is not a teacher, remember.

The work of the Master is exactly the opposite to the work of the teacher. The teacher teaches you, the teacher makes you learn many things -- the Master helps you to unlearn.

The Master is the antidote to the teacher. In the dictionary you will find that they mean the same but remember, at least in the world of Zen, they don't mean the same.

I am a Master, I am not a teacher, and those who are really here are not students but disciples. What is the difference between a student and a disciple? The student wants to know more, grab more. The student wants to become a scholar. The student is hankering for the Tree of Knowledge. The student wants to eat as many apples as possible. The student is on an ego-trip -- curious, enquiring, but not ready to be transformed.

The disciple is a different phenomenon. The disciple is not hankering for knowledge; he wants to see, not to know. He wants to be. He is no longer interested in having more knowledge, he wants to have more being. His direction is totally different. If to have more being he has to drop all his knowing, he is ready. He is ready to sacrifice everything.

The disciple is not a hoarder; the student is a hoarder. And of course, when you hoard, you hoard in the memory. Memory goes on growing in the mind of a student but not his consciousness. Inside a disciple the memory by and by starts disappearing. He does not carry the burden of the past any more. He knows only the very essentials. His knowledge is utilitarian. But his consciousness starts growing. His whole energy moves from memory to consciousness.

There is a great difference between a student and a disciple. The student wants to know about -- his whole effort is how to think better. The disciple wants to be -- his whole effort is how to be, how to come back home, how to attain to those childhood eyes again, how to be reborn. That's what Jesus means when he says, 'Unless you are born again.' He was searching for disciples. And to the man, Nicodemus, to whom he said this, 'Unless you are born again you will not understand me and you will not be able to enter my kingdom of God'....

You may not know that that man Nicodemus was a professor and he had come in search of knowledge. He was a famous rabbi. He was on the board of the great temple of Jerusalem. He had not come during the day because he was afraid that people would laugh -- such a great scholar, a well-known professor all over the country, going to an ordinary man, a hippie-type man.

Yes, Jesus was a hippie moving with uneducated people, unsocial elements, befriending prostitutes, befriending all kinds of people, staying with people who were not respectable.

And he was a young man and he looked crazy. He was. And he was talking about things which only neurotics or Buddhas can talk about. Whenever there is a question of deciding whether someone is a Buddha or a neurotic, you will decide that he is a neurotic -- because to decide that he is a Buddha is against your ego. So people knew that Jesus was a little neurotic, a little mad, eccentric, and he had gathered some dangerous people around him.

Nicodemus could not go to him in the daylight; in the middle of the night he went and enquired. He enquired, 'What is this kingdom of God that you go on talking about? What is this? I want to know more about it.' 'About it' -- mind you. And Jesus said, 'Unless you are born again you will not know what it is.' Now this was too much for Nicodemus.

Born again? That much price? To die and to be born again. It seems too much.

A student is ready to pay in small coins; a disciple is ready to pay with his life. A student has an enquiry; the disciple... it is not just an enquiry. In English there is no right word for it. In Sanskrit we have a word -- MUMUKSHA. For enquiry we have another word -- JIGYASA. It means one wants to know more. MUMUKSHA means one wants to be more. One wants to be freed from all confinement. One wants no more to be contained in any kind of slavery -- of the tradition, of the scripture, of the society, of the state. One wants no kind of slavery any more; one wants to be free, utterly free. That rebellion, that urge to be totally free, is MUMUKSHA. In the English language there is no word to translate it. We can call it the desire to become desireless; the desire to be so utterly free that not even this desire remains.

Now the student says,


He is a student, he is not a disciple -- that's where things are messy. And he says, 'Is it not natural?' Yes, it is natural for a student. What else can the student do? The student and the scholar and the professor -- they deal in words. They devise words. They coin new words.

They go on playing with words. Their whole business is of words -- empty, impotent words. But they go on playing with those words, creating new ones.

BUT IS IT NOT NATURAL,' he says, 'FOR A STUDENT OF ZEN TO TALK ABOUT ZEN?' For a student it of course looks very unnatural for a student not to talk about Zen.

Then what is the point of coming to a Master? What is the point of coming to a Zen monastery if one cannot talk? It is natural.

It is not natural for a disciple. A disciple has come to become silent. A disciple knows that to be silent is natural. Listen to the Master in silence. In fact, don't listen too much to his words, listen to his silence which is always there behind the words. You start by listening to his words and then by and by you start listening to his silence. Slowly, slowly, you graduate from words to silence. Slowly, slowly, a shift happens, the gestalt changes -- you are no more concerned about what the Master is saying, you become concerned about what he is.

For a disciple that is natural but for a student, of course, what else can he do? He can talk.

Enquired the puzzled disciple, 'IS IT NOT NATURAL FOR A STUDENT OF ZEN TO TALK ABOUT ZEN? WHY DO YOU HATE TALKING ABOUT ZEN?' HE says. The Master does not hate. The Master cannot hate. He simply sees the futility of it.

Remember, love and hate are both relationships. The Master is not related to the word at all; he is not in love with language and he does not hate.

Hate is again a relationship, you are not freed yet, you are still attached. It is in a reverse way but you are still attached, you are still worried. You may be escaping from language but you are still not free. And you are still concerned with language and that language will go on haunting you.

No, the Master is not against it, he is simply free of it. He has no relationship with language, he has broken the bridge. He lives without language. He lives without thinking.

He lives in MO CHAO, in silent, serene reflection. He is a mirror.


Now this will have to be understood. It is a zen metaphor.

Zen people say that there is a constant struggle between the head and the stomach -- and the head turns the stomach. The head is very destructive to the stomach. The stomach is the real seat of your being. The head has become the dictator because of language and words and theories and education and learning and knowledge. The head has almost become your seat -- it is not. That head can be dropped, and by dropping it you lose nothing, you gain much. By dropping it you gain all. Living with the head you live only in dead words. They cannot satisfy you, they cannot liberate you. Head versus stomach.

Just the other night I was talking about a Zen Master who used to keep two dolls around him. They were almost alike but inside there was a difference. One doll was too heavy in the head -- some heavy metal must have been put inside the head. Another doll was too heavy at the bottom. In the stomach heavy metal was put. And they looked alike and they were dressed alike. They were always sitting by his side.

And whenever somebody will come and ask 'What is Zen?' or 'What is meditation?' and 'How to attain it?' first he would push one doll -- the head-heavy doll -- and it would fall flat and would not be able to get back up. How can it get up? The head is too heavy. Then he would push the other doll -- the bottom was too heavy, so you could go on pushing, but it popped back and sat again in the Buddha posture.

And he would say, 'This is Zen -- the stomach. This is East -- the stomach.'

In all old Eastern countries, particularly in the Ear East, they have always thought that man lives in the belly. In the old days -- just a hundred years before -- if you had gone to japan you would have found people who if you asked them 'Where do you think?' they would show their belly -- 'We think here'. Now they are disappearing, particularly after the second world war. Japan itself has become like the first doll -- the American impact is too much. Now they will laugh and nobody will tell you that they think from the belly -- it looks so foolish to think from the belly. Now they have started thinking from the head.

But the emphasis is important. The belly is your source of life. You were joined to your mother from the navel; it is from there that life started pulsating. The head is the farthest corner of your existence, the centre is the navel. Your existence, your being, resides there. Your thinking may be in the head but thinking is a specialisation. Just as you use hands for certain purposes, you use legs for certain other purposes, you use eyes for certain other purposes, and ears and nose... so you use your head, your brain mechanism, for thinking.

But who is using all this? Who uses the legs to walk, who uses the hands and who uses the eyes? Then who uses the brain? Now even in Western psychology they are becoming suspicious about their old idea that the brain is the mind. Now great suspicion has arisen:

it is not. Now a few people have started to think that the brain is different from the mind.

And you also have glimpses sometimes that the brain is not the mind. For example, you see a man passing by on the road.... You remember the face, you remember that you have known this man, you remember that you must be knowing his name and suddenly the name is there on your tongue. And you say, 'It is on my tongue. I know it is there, but it is not coming up.'

Now there are two things. The brain is supplying the name but it is taking time. The brain says, 'Wait. It is there in the files. Wait.' But the one who is waiting is not the brain -- because you know, 'Yes, it must be there.' The brain is the mechanism that the mind is using. Then you try hard and it doesn't come up and, frustrated, you drop the whole idea.

And you go into the garden and you start smoking a cigarette -- and suddenly it is there.

You and your brain are two things. The brain is your machinery just like everything else is your machinery. This hand is my mechanism, I used it. My brain is my mechanism; I use it.

Where is the seat of the mind? Zen says it is in the stomach, it is in the belly, it is in the navel -- where exactly, from where the first pulsation came. And then it spread all over.

Go back to it.

When the Master says 'BECAUSE IT TURNS MY STOMACH' he is saying that people who are too brainy hit hard into his mind. They are a disturbance, they are a nuisance. 'It turns my stomach.'

His head versus stomach can be given many formulations: intellect versus intuition; logic versus love; consciousness versus unconsciousness; part versus whole; doing versus happening; death versus life; having versus being. These seven formulations are possible and all these seven formulations are significant.

Intellect is very, very limited; intuition is infinite. Intuition always comes from the belly.

Whenever you feel something intuitive coming to you -- a hunch -- it always comes exactly from the belly. Your belly will be affected immediately. When you fall in love you don't fall from the head -- that's why head people call love blind. It is, because it has nothing to do with the brain. When you fall in love, you fall in love from some other source. If you ask great scientists, great poets, great creative people, they will also say that when something new happens it never happens from the head, it never comes out of the brain. It comes from somewhere beyond.

Madame Curie was working hard on a mathematical problem for three years. She had done all that could be done. She was a mathematical genius and she had failed, utterly failed. Then one night she dropped the whole idea. It seemed that she was getting nowhere and that she would get nowhere. Three years is quite a long time for one problem.

That night she dropped the idea. Next morning she was going to start something new, to work on some new project. And that night it was solved. In the middle of the night she woke up, went to the table and did the whole mathematical problem, solved it, went back and fell asleep.

In the morning when she came back to her table she could not believe her eyes because nobody had entered the room except the servant who had come in the night to prepare her bed. But the servant could not do this -- Madame Curie had not even been able to do it.

And then she looked more into the handwriting -- it was her handwriting. Not exactly but it was hers -- she could see it. It looked as if she was drunk -- it was a little hazy, shaky -- but it was hers. From where had it come?

Then she remembered a dream last night -- that she had dreamed that she was going to solve the problem and she was writing. And then she remembered the whole dream. She had solved it in the dream. The brain had failed. From the brain there was no answer. It had come from the belly, from the mind.

Exactly the same happened to Buddha. He worked for six years, tried every possible way to attain to enlightenment, and could not. The same space came as it came to Madame Curie and one night he dropped the whole project. He said, 'There is nowhere to go and nothing is going to happen and I forget about it.' That night he slept relaxed and that night he became enlightened. In the morning when he opened his eyes he was a totally different man. Something had happened in the night. From where?

But remember -- why does it happen when you have done everything you can do? Yes, it happens only then. When your brain capacity is finished to the optimum only then does intuition start working. It is a higher energy. By using your brain totally, you become capable of using it -- from there you can step towards intuition.

Intuition will not work. You can go to Bodh Gaya where the tree under which Buddha became enlightened is still alive and you can sit there relaxed and you can say, 'I drop all.'

Nothing will happen because you don't have anything to drop. Those sixty ears are a must. Great effort is needed to attain to effortlessness.

Intellect versus intuition, logic versus love.... These are two different styles of being -- logic and love. Logic is linear; love is total. Logic moves in a line just like language moves in a line. Have you watched this? Language moves in a line just like logic moves in a line. But existence is not linear. Existence is simultaneous. It is not that I am existing, then you exist, then somebody else exists, then the tree and then the mountain -- we exist all together.

Language is a falsification because it puts things into a line. You make a sentence: first one word exists, then another, then another. The grammar makes it certain what words should exist first, then what, then what -- how things should follow.

That's why the Chinese language is one of the most beautiful languages -- because it is the least of a language. There is no alphabet in Chinese. Because there is no alphabet Chinese exists totally simultaneously. It is truer to existence than any other language. It is more fluid, it is not very fixed. It is more like love than like logic. It is more intuitive. It comes more from the belly. It can mean a thousand and one things. Because of that, people think it is very unscientific. It is unscientific -- love is unscientific, existence is unscientific. It can mean different things. It is more poetic.

But that's how it is. The tree can mean a thousand and one things, the tree has no one meaning. To the painter it has one meaning, to the woodcutter it has another, to the poet still another and to somebody who is not concerned at all it has no meaning. To the child playing around it, it has another meaning; to the worshipper of a tree it is a God. It has a thousand and one meanings. A tree is not confined to a single meaning. The Chinese language is such that each symbol can mean many things simultaneously. You can come upon it from many directions.

But language is linear. A line moves; one by one things start happening. In logic also things start happening one by one. And if one thing happens then the other cannot happen. Just see it: if you say one thing then you cannot say the opposite -- you have prohibited it. In existence the opposites exist together. Life exists with death; love exists with hate -- there is no denying. It is not that love exists so hate cannot exist. They exist together. Light exists with darkness -- but if you make it a sentence, if you say, 'In the room there was light' you cannot say immediately 'In the room there was darkness'. Now it has become impossible. You have confined it. You have dropped the paradoxical.

Existence is paradoxical.

And I call Zen the path of paradox. It is paradoxical. Intuition is paradoxical. It is not linear, it is multi-dimensional.

Consciousness versus unconsciousness. But remember, when I say unconsciousness I don't mean the Freudian unconscious. That is a very poor unconscious, a very small unconscious. It is just the repressed conscious, it is not much. To Zen the unconscious is God, to Zen the conscious is poor -- a small part, just the tip of the iceberg. The unconscious is the vast, the enormous, the huge, the unlimited. The conscious has to dissolve into the unconscious, not otherwise -- it is not that the unconscious has to become conscious. And that unconscious lives in the belly.

But remember, the word 'unconscious' does not have good connotations. It seems as if there is no consciousness. No, there is a different kind of consciousness. Not this kind of consciousness that you know a different kind of consciousness a separate kind of consciousness a totally different kind -- not intellectual intuitive; not analytical synthetic; not divisible indivisible.

Part versus total. The head is part only the belly is your totality. The head is just on your circumference the belly is your centre.

Doing versus happening. For the head things are to be done; it is a great doer. For the belly things only happen; there is no doing.

And death versus life. In the head there accumulates death because all thoughts are dead.

In the belly life pulsates.

And finally having versus being. The head is a hoarder it is a miser it goes on accumulating. Its whole effort is how to have more and more. Whether it is money or knowledge does not matter whatsoever it is have. More and more of it -- have more women have more men, have more houses have more money have more power have more knowledge but have more.

And the head goes on trying to have more because it thinks that by having more it will become more. It never becomes more because having can never be transformed into being.

The belly is the centre of being; it does not think in terms of having it thinks in terms of being. One is. One enjoys this moment of isness. In that moment of isness all is available -- all benediction all blessing.

The Master says 'BECAUSE IT TURNS MY STOMACH.' He means all these things.

The head is destructive. Drop the head. But by dropping I don't mean that you are not to use it. You have to use it but you are not to be used by it.

Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1

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