Fri, 15 June 1977 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
Chapter #:
am in Buddha Hall
Archive Code:
Short Title:
Audio Available:
Video Available:
97 mins






EXISTENCE is in continuous celebration, except man. Existence is a carnival, an orgy of joy, except man. Man has fallen out of this tremendous celebration that goes on and on.

Man is no more a part of it, man stands aloof, alienated -- it is as if man has lost the roots he should have in existence. Man is a tree which is dying, drying, no longer alive. Birds don't come to it, clouds don't sing to it, winds don't dance around it.

What has happened to man and how? Why is man in such a hell? Why is man always in such a mess? There must be something very fundamentally wrong.

The Zen analysis, the Zen diagnosis, is that it is because man thinks that he is. The trees don't think -- they don't have a self. The rocks don't think -- they don't have a self. The sky has no self, the earth has no self. Without the self there is no possibility of getting into misery. The self is the door to misery. Buddha called it ATTA, the ego, the self.

We are miserable because we are too much in the self. What does it mean when I say we are too much in the self? And what exactly happens when we are too much in the self?

Either you can be in existence or you can be in the self -- both are not possible together.

To be in the self means to be apart, to be separate. To be in the self means to become an island. To be in the self means to draw a boundary line around you. To be in the self means to make a distinction between 'this I am' and 'that I am not'. The definition, the boundary, between 'I' and 'not I' is what the self is -- the self isolates.

And it makes you frozen -- you are no-longer flowing. If you are flowing the self cannot exist, hence people have become almost like ice-cubes. They don't have any warmth, they don't have any love -- love is warmth and they are afraid of love. If warmth comes to them they will start melting and the boundaries will disappear. In love the boundaries disappear; in joy also the boundaries disappear, because joy is not cold. Except death, nothing is cold.

The self is very cold. The self is death. Those who live in the self are already dead, or maybe they were never born in the first place. They missed their birth. To be born, to be alive, means to be flowing, to be warm, to be melting, to be dissolving, to not know where you end and where existence begins, to not know the boundaries, to remain in that diffused consciousness. You are conscious, certainly, but there is no self-consciousness in it. Consciousness in itself is unself-consciousness.

Consciousness can make man far more happier than anything else on the earth. It is a great opportunity. But there is a danger lurking just by the side. Consciousness can turn into self-consciousness at any moment, and the moment consciousness turns into self- consciousness that which was going to be a bliss becomes a curse. Then you are a dead thing here. Then you only pretend that you live, you only believe that you live. You only drag on, you only wait for death to come and free you from this so-called life.

The Zen approach is how to make you again an unself, a no-self, how to dissolve the boundaries again, how not to cling to these boundaries, how to become open again, how to be vulnerable, how to be available to existence so that it can penetrate you to your very core.

Says Lao Tzu, 'Everybody seems to be so certain of himself except me. Everybody seems to be so well-defined except me. I remain very undefined, I remain kind of ambiguous. I don't know exactly where I am or what I am or what I am not. I don't know how to define the self and the other. I don't know u here "I" and "thou" can be separated.'

Existentially they are not separate. 'I' is the one polarity of 'thou', they are vibrations of the same energy. That energy which is speaking in me is listening in you, it is not separate, it can't be separate. It is one spectrum, it is one wavelength. It is the same wave that is speaking in me and that is hearing in you. It is the same energy that is man in you and woman in somebody else. It is the same energy that is human in you and vegetable in the trees. It is the same energy out of which the whole existence is made. It is one stuff in the rocks and in the stars. In man and woman it is the same stuff. It is one whole.

To lose this one whole and to become confined in the self is the misery. That's what hell is. Don't wait for any other hell, you are already there. Your ego is your hell. There is no other hell. Don't think that somewhere deep, hidden underneath the earth, is hell. It is already there, you are in it, it is in you. It comes with the ego.

So we have to understand this phenomenon of the ego. Once we understand this phenomenon of the ego, Zen becomes very clear-cut. Then Zen is a very, very simple methodology. Once the understanding of what this self is arises in you, you can easily become an unself. That very understanding liberates you from the self. As the understanding arises, the self starts disappearing -- just as when you bring light into a room, the darkness disappears.

The first thing is: when a child is born he has no ego. He does not know who he is. He is simply blank. Then we start writing on him. We tell him that he is a boy or that she is a girl, that he is a Mohammedan or a Hindu, that he is good or bad, that he is intelligent or stupid. We start feeding ideas to him. We start giving him ideas about who he is: he is beautiful or not beautiful, obedient or disobedient, loved or not loved, needed or not needed -- there is a continuous feeding of ideas. These ideas gather in his consciousness, the mirror becomes surrounded by much dust, and certain ideas start getting fixed, getting rooted in the being of the child. He starts thinking the way you are teaching, him.

By and by he completely forgets that he came into the world as pure emptiness. He starts believing. And a child trusts infinitely. Whatsoever you say he trusts you. He loves you.

He does not know doubt yet, he does not suspect. How can he suspect? He is such purity, he is just pure consciousness, he is pure love. So when the mother says something, he trusts her.

Now psychologists say that if you go on telling a person something continuously, he will become that. You become that which you think you are. Or, it is not that you become it, but that the idea gets very deeply rooted -- and that's what all conditioning is. If you tell a small boy continuously that he is stupid, he will become stupid, he will start thinking that he is stupid. Not only that, he will start behaving in a stupid way. He has to adjust to a certain idea that is being given to him. When everybody thinks that he is stupid he also thinks that he must be stupid. It is very difficult to think something which nobody thinks about you. It is impossible. Some support is needed.

The child is very, very unsupported. He looks around, he looks into your eyes. Your eyes function like a mirror and he sees his face there and what you are saying. A child can become beautiful, can become ugly, can become a saint, can become a criminal. It depends on the conditioning, on how you condition him.

But whether he becomes a saint or a sinner does not matter -- as far as the misery is concerned he will be miserable either way. Whether he becomes stupid or intelligent does not matter. Remember this point. Conditioning brings misery. You can condition him to be a saint and he will become a saint, but he will remain miserable.

You can go and see your so-called saints. You will not find more miserable people anywhere else. Sometimes sinners may be joyous, but never saints. They are such great saints -- how can they laugh, how can they enjoy, how can they dance, how can they sing? How can they be so ordinary and human? They are superhuman and they remain frozen in that super-humanity. It is nothing but pure ego.

Zen is a totally different kind of religion. It brings humanness to religion. It is not bothered about anything superhuman, its whole concern is how to make ordinary life a blessing. Other religions try to destroy your ordinary life and make you somebody extraordinary. These are ego trips and they will not make you happy. They condition you, they respect you -- because you are good the society respects you, because you are good the parents respect you, because you are good the teachers respect you -- and by and by the idea gets into your mind that if you remain good everybody is going to respect you and if you are not good nobody is going to respect you.

But respectability is not life. Respectability is very poisonous. A really alive man does not bother about respectability. He lives; he lives authentically. What others think is not a consideration at all. Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples, 'Don't consider. Remember, never consider others, because it is out of consideration for the others that the ego arises in you. It has to be cut, root and all.'

Once the child starts getting fixed he has a self. This self is a manufactured thing. It is a social by-product. You don't really have it, you only believe it. It is a belief, and the most dangerous belief of all. In reality there is no self, in reality it cannot happen -- because we are not separate from existence, we are joined together into one universe. That is the meaning of the word 'universe' -- it is one. It is not a multiverse, it is a universe. It is all one; in death, in life, in birth, in love, in hate, we are all one. We pulsate together.

The breath that I am taking in has come from you. Just a moment ago it was your breath, now it is my breath. A moment later it will not be mine again, it will be somebody else's.

You cannot even claim your breath -- that this is MINE. It moves.

We live in a sea of life. We live into each other. What belongs to you can belong to me, what belongs to me can belong to you. Just a moment before I started speaking, something was in me; now I am pouring it into you and it will become yours. It will become your consciousness, it will become your memory, it will become your mind, it will be completely yours. Once a thought has been heard, understood, it is yours. Then it is no longer mine. We are interlinked.

So the self is a false entity created by the society for its own purposes. If you understand the purposes you can go on playing the role but you will not be befooled by it. The purpose is that everybody needs an identity card otherwise things will become very difficult. Everybody needs a name, everybody needs a certain address, everybody needs an identity card, a passport, otherwise things will become very difficult. How to call somebody? How to address somebody? These are utilitarian things -- they are needed, certainly needed, but they have no truth in them. They are arrangements.

We call a certain flower 'rose'. That is not its name -- it has no name -- but w e have to call it that otherwise it will be difficult to make a distinction between a rose and a lotus.

And if you want a rose it will be difficult to say what you want.

These are necessities. Yes, you need a certain name, a certain label, but you are not the label or the name. This awareness has to arise in you -- that you are not your name, that you are not your form, that you are neither a Hindu nor a Christian nor an Indian nor Chinese, that you don't belong to anybody, to any sect, to any organisation, that the whole belongs to you and you belong to the whole. Nothing less can be true. With this understanding your ego starts becoming looser and looser and looser and one day you know that you can use it but you are not used by it.

The second thing to remember is: the ego gets identified with a role, with a function.

Somebody is a clerk, somebody is a Commissioner, somebody is a gardener and somebody is a governor. These are functions, these are things that you do; they are not your being.

When somebody says 'Who are you?' and you say 'I am an engineer' your statement is existentially wrong. How can you be an engineer? That is what you do, that is not what you are. Don't get too enclosed by your function because to become too enclosed by the function is to become imprisoned. You are doing the work of an engineer or the work of a doctor or the work of a governor but that does not mean that you are that. You can drop the work of an engineer and you can become a painter, and you can drop the work of a painter and you can become a sweeper... you are infinite.

When born a child has infinity available, but by and by that infinity is no longer available, he starts getting fixed in a certain direction. A child is born multi-dimensional but sooner or later he will start choosing. And we will help him to choose so that he will become somebody.

There is a Chinese saying that a man is born infinite but only very rare people die infinite.

Man is born infinite and dies finite. When you were born you were just pure existence, when you die you will be a doctor or an engineer or a professor. You have been a loser in life. When you were born all alternatives were open, infinite possibilities were open -- you could have become a professor, you could have become a scientist, you could have become a poet -- millions of opportunities were available, all doors were open. Then by and by you settled, you became a professor -- you became a professor of mathematics, you became an expert, a specialist. Narrower and narrower you went on becoming. And now you are like a small tunnel which goes on becoming narrower and narrower. You were born like the whole sky, but Soon you entered into a tunnel and you will never come out of it.

The tunnel is the ego. It is getting identified with the function. It is very insulting to think about a man as if he is a clerk. It is very insulting to think about yourself as if you are just a clerk, it is very degrading. You are gods and goddesses, nothing less than that is true.

Maybe more but not less. When I say that you are gods and goddesses I mean that your possibility is infinite, your potentiality is infinite.

Maybe you don't try to make that whole potentiality actual -- nobody really can because it is so vast it will be impossible. You are the whole universe; even in eternal time you would not be able to exhaust your potentiality. That's what I mean when I say you are a god -- you are inexhaustible.

But something will become actual. You learn a language, you become very articulate, and you become an orator. You have a certain sense of words, and you become a poet. You have a certain musical ear, you love music, you have a feel for sounds, and you become a musician. But these are just very, very tiny possibilities. Don't think that with them you are finished; nobody is ever finished with anything. Whatsoever you have done is nothing in comparison to that which you can do. And whatsoever you can do is nothing in comparison with that which you are.

Ego means getting identified with the function. Certainly a governor has a kind of ego -- he is a governor and he thinks he has arrived. A prime minister has an ego and he thinks he has arrived. What more is there? This is so foolish, so stupid. Life is so great there is no way to finish it. There is no way. The more you enter into it, the vaster the possibilities are that open their doors. Yes, you can arrive at one peak and suddenly there is another peak -- it is non-ending. Man goes on being born every moment if he remains available to his potential being.

The emphasis of the ego is on doing and the emphasis of consciousness is on being. Zen is all for being and we are all for doing. So we get miserable because our beings are so big and we are forcing them into such small tunnels. That creates misery, that creates confinement. Freedom is lost and from everywhere you start feeling hampered, blocked, prevented, obstructed, hindered. You start feeling limited from everywhere. But nobody else is responsible, it is you.

A man of understanding functions, works at a thousand and one things, but always gets out of them. When he goes to the office he may become a governor, but the moment he steps out of the office he is no longer a governor, he is again the whole sky, he is again a god. When he comes home, he becomes the father, but he does not become identified with it. He loves his wife, he becomes a husband, but he does not get identified with it.

He has to do a thousand and one things but he remains free of all functions. He is a father, he is a husband, he is a mother, he is a brother, a child, a teacher, a governor, a prime minister, a president, a sweeper, a singer, a thousand and one things -- but still he keeps free of all these. He remains transcendental, he remains beyond. Nothing can contain him. He moves through all these rooms but no room becomes his imprisonment.

In fact, the more he moves, the more free he becomes.

Just see to it. When you are in the office be a clerk, be a commissioner, be a governor -- that's perfectly okay -- but the moment you get out of the office don't be a governor, don't be a clerk, don't be a commissioner. That function is finished. Why carry it? Don't walk on the road as if you are a governor, you are not. That governorship will be heavy on your head, it won't allow you to enjoy. The birds will be singing in the trees but how can a governor participate? How can a governor dance with the birds? And the rains have come and a peacock may be dancing -- how can a governor stand there in a crowd and watch? Impossible. A governor has to remain a governor. He goes on his way, he never looks here or there, he never looks at the greenery of the trees, he never looks at the moon. He remains a governor.

These fixed identities kill you. The more fixed you are, the more dead you are. This has to be remembered. You are not confined by anything that you do. Your action is very, very irrelevant to your being. Your action is not at all meaningful as far as your being is concerned.

People come to me sometimes and they say, 'What about past karma? W?lat about past lives?' Because I say you can become enlightened in a single instant they ask, 'What about the past karma?' I say that karma is never a confinement, actions are never a confinement. If you remain confined it is simply because you want to remain confined, otherwise there is no confinement. Just as you get out of the office and you drop out of your function of the governor, so with each life you can get out of that life. That dream is over, sweet or nightmarish. You get out of it.

This is what a meditator is constantly doing. Each moment he gets out of the past, he drops the past completely. It is no longer there, it does not hang around, he is free of it.

Then there is no karma. Karma is not hindering you, you are clinging to it. This is a habit, just a habit, and you are practising that habit continuously.

When you are not with your wife you are not a husband. How can you be a husband without a wife? It is simply foolish. When you are not with your child you are not a father or a mother, How can you be? When you are not writing poetry you are not a poet.

When you are not dancing you are not a dancer. Only when you dance are you a dancer.

In that moment you pulsate in a certain function as a dancer. But that is only for the moment. When the dance stops the dancer disappears, and you are out of it. This way one keeps oneself free -- floating, flowing.

I have heard.

The king's jester punned so incessantly that the king, in desperation, condemned him to be hanged. However, when the executioners had taken the jester to the gallows, the king, thinking that after all a good jester was not easy to find, relented, and sent a messenger post haste with a royal pardon. Arriving at the gallows just in time, where the jester stood with the rope already about his neck, the messenger read the king's decree -- to the effect that the jester would be pardoned if he would promise never to make another pun. The jester could not resist the temptation of the opportunity, however, for he cackled out, 'No noose is good news.' And they hanged him.

Past karma. Your past life is no longer there, how can it go on hanging around you? It hangs there only because of your habit, because you go on practising it. In this life you go on practising it. The day you stop this practice you are free of it. In a single moment all the past can be dropped.

This is one of the great messages of Zen: you can become enlightened instantaneously.

All other religions are very miserly about enlightenment but Zen is not. They are very miserly, very businesslike. They say that the accounts have to be closed, your bad karmas have to be balanced by your good karmas; it will take time. it is not easy. But you have been here for eternity already, almost for eternity, and you have done so many things. If everything has to be cleared it will be impossible.

And meanwhile, while you are clearing everything of the past, you will be doing many other things -- they will become your future problems. You will be eating -- or at least you will be breathing. And when you are breathing you are being violent, when you are eating you will be violent. And you will be living, and life is violence. So something is again gathering around. This will be a vicious circle. You will never be able to get out of it.

The Zen illogic, or the Zen logic, is very, very clear. Zen says you can get right out of it all this moment because it is just a clinging on your part. It is not that the karmas are clinging to you, you are clinging to them. If you stop clinging... finished.

How does one stop clinging? One has to start in the actual life, in this life. Be a husband and never be a husband. That's what I mean when I say that a sannyasin has to be a perfect actor. Be a mother and never be a mother. Don't get identified with the role. It is a role, fulfil it as perfectly as possible, fulfil it as aesthetically as possible, fulfil it as lovingly as possible, enjoy fulfilling it, let it be a work of art. Be a beautiful wife, be a beautiful mother, be a beautiful husband, be a beautiful lover, but don't become one. The moment you become one you are getting into trouble.

Don t allow functions to settle on you. Don't allow roles to settle on you. Be exactly like a skilful actor. The actor goes on playing many roles -- sometimes he is a father and sometimes he is a mother and sometimes he is a murderer and sometimes he is in a very serious role and sometimes he is just playing a ridiculous part. But he goes on playing all parts perfectly alike, he is not bothered about what part he is playing. He remains skilful, he brings all that he has got to it. If you make him a murderer he will be the best murderer in the world, if you make him a saint he will be the best saint in the world. And he can change: in one act he is the saint, in another act he becomes the murderer. But his perfection remains intact.

This fluidity has to happen in life too. Life is a big drama. Yes, the stage is very big -- the whole earth functions as a stage and all the people around function as actors. And nobody knows to where this whole is going, or to what end. The story is not given, it has to be created, it has to be improvised moment to moment.

In Zen there are certain dramas which are called Noh dramas. No script exists, only the actors are there. The curtain is raised and they improvise. Things start happen g.

Something is bound to happen when people are there. Even if they sit silently looking at each other, something is happening. Something is bound to happen, without any preparation, without any rehearsal.

Life is exactly like that -- it is moment to moment. Go on slipping out of the past and whatsoever is going to happen, allow it to happen without inhibition without any repression. Go into it as totally as possible and your freedom will grow.

Another thing before we enter this story. The ego or the self is the part pretending to be the whole -- it is just as if my hands pretend to be the whole body. Then there will be difficulty. We are parts of the infinite universe and we start pretending to be the whole.

The ego is a kind of madness, it is neurosis, it is megalomania. The ego is very, very mad; if you listen to it you can see its madness. It thinks that all is possible. It thinks that it can conquer the whole, that it can conquer nature, that it can conquer God. It thinks in terms of conquering. It thinks in terms of aggression. It thinks that all is possible, that all can be done. And it goes on becoming more and more ambitious, it goes on becoming more and more mad.

In China there is a very ancient Zen story called THE MONKEY. The monkey is one of the most ancient symbols for the mind, for the self, for the ego. The monkey is the metaphor for the stupidity of the ego. And this story is rare. Only Zen people can write such a story, no other religion can be so courageous. For other religions -- for Christians, for Hindus, for Mohammedans -- it will look sacriligious, it will look disrespectful towards Buddha or towards God. It is not. Zen people love Buddha so tremendously that they can even play jokes upon him. It is out of great love; they are not afraid. Zen people are not God-fearing people, remember, they are God-loving people. When you love somebody you can laugh also. And they know that by their laughter Buddha is not reduced. In fact, by their laughter they are offering their love.

This story has been condemned by other religions. Yes, it is certain that Christians cannot write such stories about Jesus. Jainas cannot write such stories about Mahavira nor can Indian Buddhists write a story like this about Buddha. Only in China and Japan did religion come to such a glorious growth that it became possible. Humour became possible.

Listen to this story.

A monkey came to the Buddha. He claimed that he could do everything, that he was no ordinary monkey. He was like Alexander the Great. He said, 'Impossible! The very word does not exist in my dictionary. I can do everything.' He was a great monkey -- at least that was what he believed.

Buddha said, 'I will have a wager with you. If you are really so clever and so great, jump clear of the palm of my right hand. If you succeed I will tell the Jade Emperor to come and live with me in the Western paradise and you shall have his throne without more ado.

But if you fail you shall go back to earth and do penance there for a KALPA before you come back to me with your talk.'

'This Buddha,' the monkey thought to himself, 'is a perfect fool. I can jump a hundred and eight thousand leagues while his palm cannot be as much as eight inches across. How could I fail to jump clear of it?'

'You are sure you are in a position to do this for me?' he said.

'Of course I am,' said Buddha.

He stretched out his right hand, which looked about the size of a lotus leaf. The monkey put his cudgel behind his ear and leaped with all his might.

'That's all right,' he said to himself, 'I am right off it now.' He was moving so fast that he was almost invisible and Buddha watching him with the eye of wisdom saw a mere whirling shoot along.

The monkey came at last to five pink pillars sticking up in the air. 'This is the end of the world,' said the monkey to himself. 'All I have got to do is to go back to Buddha and claim my forfeit. The throne is mine.'

'Wait a minute,' he said presently, 'I had better just have a record of some kind in case I have trouble with the Buddha.' So at the base of the centre pillar he wrote: THE GREAT SAGE, EQUAL TO HEAVEN, REACHED THIS PLACE. Then to mark his disrespect he relieved nature at the bottom of the first pillar and somersaulted back to where he had come from.

Standing on Buddha's palm he said, 'Well I have gone and come back. You can go and tell the Jade Emperor to hand over the palaces of Heaven to me.'

'You stinking ape,' said Buddha. 'You have been on the palm of my hand all the time.'

'You are quite mistaken,' said the monkey. 'I got to the end of the world where I saw five flesh-coloured pillars sticking up into the sky. I wrote something on one of them. I will take you there and show you if you like.'

'No need for that,' said the Buddha. 'Just look down.'

The monkey peered down with his fiery, steely eyes and there at the base of the middle finger of Buddha's hand he saw written the words: THE GREAT SAGE, EQUAL TO HEAVEN, REACHED THIS PLACE. And from the fork between the thumb and first finger came the smell of monkey's urine.

Now this monkey is the metaphor for the ego. The ego thinks it can do everything. It lives with this fallacy. The part lives with the fallacy that it is the whole. The impotent ego lives with the fallacy that it is omnipotent. The ego, which does not exist at all, thinks it is the very centre of the whole existence. Hence the misery.

We go on making all kinds of efforts and they all fail because the very presupposition is false. Man goes on trying to succeed and never succeeds. All success brings frustration.

We have piled up much money and we have piled up many devices and we have progressed much in science, but misery grows.

Today misery is greater than ever. It should not be so; logically it should not be so. Our century is the most scientifically advanced century. Man has never been so affluent and man has never had so much technology to exploit nature -- but man has never been so miserable either. What has gone wrong? The very presupposition is false.

For the no-self everything is possible; for the self nothing is possible. If you want to conquer the world you will be defeated. If you don't want to conquer, you are the conqueror. In surrender to existence is victory. Will does not lead to paradise, only surrender.

So remember these things and now enter into this small parable.







What has happened? This is a very simple story but one of tremendous import.

This governor comes to see a Zen Master. He writes his name, Kitagaki, but he cannot forget that he is the Governor of Kyoto. When you come to a Master you have to forget something like that otherwise you can't come. You may come physically but spiritually you are far away, miles away. The governor will stand in-between, the function will stand in-between.

How can a governor come to a Zen Master? A man can come, a woman can come, but not a governor. The governor' is a function. Consciousness can come but not the ego.

Seeing the card the Master said, 'I HAVE NO BUSINESS WITH SUCH A FELLOW.'

He does not even understand the ABC, why should he bother to come? You come to the Master only in deep humbleness, because learning is possible only in humbleness. You have come to learn, not to show who you are. You have come to surrender, not to perform, not to manipulate, not to impress. You have come in deep humility. Only then do you come. If you come with certain ideas -- that you are this and that -- you don't come at all.

But we carry our function as our mask. The original face remains hidden. If you have much money, it is on your face, it is hiding your real face. If you are on some political trip, politics is there.

A Zen Master is no ordinary religious teacher. He is not a priest, he is not a pope or a SHANKARACHARYA. He believes in no hierarchy. He wants to see you directly and he wants you to see him directly. He does not want anything to hinder, to stand in- between.

This 'governor' will stand in-between. Because of this 'governor' the Master will not be able to penetrate Kitagaki and Kitagaki will not be able to understand the Master. This 'governor' is going to be too much of a thing in-between, it will not allow communication.

Naturally, when you are a governor you are not relaxed. You are tense. When you are a governor you are not ready to listen, you are ready to order. When you are a governor you cannot bow down, you cannot surrender. You would like the Zen Master to surrender to you.

The Master is perfectly right when he says, 'I HAVE NO BUSINESS WITH SUCH A FELLOW. TELL HIM TO GET OUT OF HERE.' It looks rude. It is not. It is out of deep compassion. It looks rude because we have become too accustomed to formalities. But a Zen Master is no longer a part of your formal world, that's why he is a Zen Master. He lives outside society. He is a drop-out. He is a rebel.

He does not bother about your formalities because with the formalities the lie continues, with the formalities the ego continues. The ego is supported by all kinds of formalities.

The Master has pulled away the very earth from the governor's feet. He has pulled away all props. He says that he doesn't want to see such a fellow. It appears hard and rude on the surface but go into it and see the compassion. He would not have cared if he was not so compassionate. He would have said, 'Okay, bring in that fellow' and would have let him have an interview and been finished with him because why bother? But he really wants that fellow to come in and that fellow cannot come in with the idea of being a governor. The governorship has to be left outside the door. The old mind has to be left outside the temple? He has to come as a clean slate. He has to enter the temple as a child, with no idea of who he is. Then things can start. Then the spark of the Master can ignite something in the fellow.

It is out of compassion, remember. Sometimes Masters have been very hard because of compassion, almost cruel -- and Zen Masters more so.

Once a great politician, a prime minister, Kuan Tzu, went to see a Zen Master. He asked the Master, 'Your Reverence, how do you explain egotism?

The Zen Master's face suddenly turned blue. In an extremely haughty and contemptuous manner he said to the premier, 'What are you saying, you numbskull?'

This unreasonable and unexpected defiance so hurt the feelings of the prime minister that a slight, sullen expression of anger began to show on his face.

The Zen Master then smiled and said, 'Your Excellency, this is egotism.'

Zen Masters are very, very realistic, very pragmatic, very down-to-earth. They believe in immediacy, they don't believe in explanations. They hit hard to wake you up.

If this prime minister had gone to somebody else -- to a Hindu saint or to a Jaina saint -- they would have explained with long explanations. They would have explained the theories, the philosophy behind it. They would have dissected the whole idea. But this Zen Master simply hits the nail on the head. Rather than go into the theory, he simply goes into the facts. He creates the situation by making the premier angry. Suddenly the ego is no more a theoretical problem, it is an actuality, an immediate fact. The ego is arising, the smoke is already there around the consciousness of the premier. And then he says, 'Your Excellency, this is egotism.' He has created something and now it can be pointed out directly.

It looks hard to answer this poor man -- who was not asking anything absurd, just a very religious question, 'What is ego? What is egotism? -- by saying, 'What are you saying, you numbskull?' And then too the Zen Master was not very, very Zen because Zen Masters are known to hit you, to shout, to jump on you, to throw you out of the door, to create a situation in which the problem becomes real and you can be awakened to the problem directly. Zen is direct. It does not believe in indirect things.


The man must have been of great intelligence because ordinary governors are not known to act in that way. An ordinary governor would have become angry, an ordinary governor would have taken revenge. But this man understood. He must have been a man of rare intelligence, of great understanding, not a stupid fellow. He understood. He could see into it. He could see the compassion of the Master, the hint, the indication. A very subtle hint was there. If he had not been very, very intelligent he would have missed it.

It happens many times. Many people miss because the hints are very subtle. Reality is very subtle. He must have been able to read into the Master's compassion. He didn't get angry, he didn't become disturbed. He must have seen the reason why the Master said, 'I HAVE NO BUSINESS WITH SUCH A FELLOW.' It was so clear. If you are alert, things are really very clear; if you are not alert then things are not clear at all. If you are not alert, your inner anger, your reaction, will make things even more confused.



Things have changed utterly -- just by dropping the words: 'Governor of Kyoto'. Can that small change bring about such a great change? Yes, life consists of very small things. The ego is not a very big thing, it is very small. But while you are suffering from it, it looks very big. If you are intelligent enough to drop it, it looks very small -- it is just like a small particle of dust in your eye. When the small particle of dust is in your eye it looks as if the whole of the Himalayas have fallen into your eye. All looks dark and you are becoming blind and it is irritating. But when you take that small particle of dust and put it on your palm and you see it so small that is exactly what the ego is like. Once you start seeing it, it is not a big thing. And life consists of very-small changes. With a small change there is a shift, and the gestalt changes.

You have to understand what happened inside the man. This is just on the outside -- HE SCRATCHED OUT THE WORDS: 'GOVERNOR OF KYOTO'. But what happened inside? There he scratched out something too. And that was far more important, that was really important. He scratched out his function, he scratched out his role, he scratched out his identity. He became a clean sheet. He scratched out the idea that he was somebody.

He forgot all that he had learned up to now. At that moment he dropped everything. He did not know who he was so why pretend? Yes, he worked as a governor, that's okay, but what had that got to do with a Zen Master and why should a Zen Master bother about whether you are a governor or not? This small change inside can change the whole world.

Human brain is divided into two parts, two hemispheres. Now scientific research has shown many facts about the human brain. The right side, the right hemisphere of the brain, functions in a totally different way to the left side. They are bridged by a very small bridge and through that bridge the gear changes. The left side of the brain functions through reason -- it is prose, it is logic, it is aggression, it is ambition, it is ego, it is male, it is yang, it is very violent. This left hemisphere of the brain is the hemisphere of mathematics, action, analysis, sequence, masculinity, time, aggression, work -- all kinds of such things.

The two sides of the brain are bridged by a very, very fragile bridge, and you continuously change from the left to the right, from the right to the left. In fact, that's why your breathing changes. Sometimes you are breathing through the left nostril and then there is a change and you start breathing through the right nostril. When you breathe through the right nostril your left hemisphere functions -- they are connected crosswise.

When you are breathing through the left nostril your right hemisphere functions.

Your left hand is joined to the right hemisphere, your right hand is joined to the left hemisphere. That's why if they write with their left hand we force children to write with their right hand. It seems that right is right and left is wrong. Why? A child who writes with his left hand will never be the type of man this society requires him to be. He will be more poetic, more imaginative. He will have great dreams. He can become a painter, a dancer, a singer, a musician, but he will never be skilful in mathematics, engineering, science. He will not become a great general, a murderer, a politician -- no.

For all that, the left hand is dangerous. Right-handed people are needed. History is made by right-handed people. Left-handed people have to be changed because if you use the left hand your imaginative part, your feminine part will function, your egolessness will function. You will be more soft, open. You will be more receptive. So we force children to change.

Sooner or later there is going to be a revolt against the right-handed people by the left- handed people. They have to revolt. In fact, fifty per cent of people are left-handed -- because there is a balance. But we force them to change. Out of fifty per cent almost forty per cent reluctantly become right-handed. Ten per cent persist. But they persist in fear, in anxiety. Something is wrong. It is not only a question of hands, it is a question of the inside brain.

Linguists have now become aware that there are two kinds of languages in the world. A few languages function from the left hemisphere -- for example, English functions from the left hemisphere. It is a scientific language, more rational. The language of the Hopis functions from the right hemisphere. It is a totally different kind of language, more pictorial, less scientific, more poetic, more colourful, more alive. Hopis cannot develop mathematics very much.

We have been forced to remain more and more in the left hemisphere and we have by and by forgotten the right hemisphere. We have forgotten the world of the right hemisphere.

When you drop the ego this change happens inside, that's why all great Masters have insisted on surrender. It has nothing to do with the outside, it is something very deep inside. When you surrender your ego, when you say 'I trust you and now I will follow you, now I will be your shadow, now whatsoever you say will be the law' suddenly the left side of your brain stops functioning. There is no need for it to function. Doubt disappears. Reason disappears so doubt disappears. Argumentation disappears. A totally new kind of energy arises in you -- you become more poetic, more celebrating, more joyful. And then growth happens. The growth is through the feminine, the growth is through the right hemisphere.

So this parable is just symbolic. The governor understood. He said, 'Okay. I will drop this idea of being a governor.' By scratching out the idea that he was the Governor of Kyoto he shifted from his left hemisphere to his right hemisphere. And only with this shift is something possible.

Chuang Tzu, telling the story of the Spirit of the Ocean speaking to the Spirit of the River, says, 'You cannot speak of the ocean to a well frog, the creature of a narrower sphere. You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, the creature of a season. You cannot speak of Tao to a pedagogue, his scope is too limited. But now that you have emerged from your narrow sphere and seen the great ocean, you know your own insignificance and I can speak to you of great principles.'

This is what the ocean says to the river when the river falls into the ocean. Up to that moment the ocean has kept quiet and has remained silent.

The river was there, hesitating whether to go into the ocean or not, and the ocean was silent. Then the river falls into the ocean and the ocean says, 'But now that you have emerged from your narrow sphere and seen the great ocean, you know your insignificance and I can speak to you of great principles.'

That is exactly what happened when Kitagaki said, 'Yes, I was wrong.' This feeling that he was wrong is a radical change. It is very difficult for people to accept that they are wrong. They go on defending, they go on rationalising. The easier thing would have been for Kitagaki to think that this man is arrogant, egoistic. If you were there inside Kitagaki what would have happened? Just think. You would have thought that this man was arrogant. What kind of Master is he? A Master has to be very humble. A Master is the very incarnation of humbleness. And this man is very egoistic, he does not know even the etiquette. He is rude, primitive. You would have been angry. You would have found a thousand and one rationalisations. People go on existing for their rationalisations.

Said the worried patient to the psychiatrist, 'I'm in love with my horse.'

'But that's nothing,' replied the psychiatrist. 'A lot of people love animals. My wife and I have a dog that we love very much.'

'Ah, but doctor, it's a physical attraction that I feel toward my horse!'

'Ummmmmmm!' said the psychiatrist. 'What kind of horse is it? Male or female?'

'Female of course!' the gent shot back angrily. 'What do you think I am, queer?'

You can always find something to defend. You can defend your foolishness, you can defend your disease, yon can defend your neurosis. You can go on defending the state in which you are. You can defend your suffering, your misery. People defend their hell so hard -- they don't want to get out of it.

The moment the governor said 'Yes, I feel my error' the whole of his inner being changed. Have you watched what happens the moment you say 'Yes, I am in error'?

Suddenly a tension has gone. Now there is no defense, now you need not be defensive, now you can be open.

The moment he scratched out the words 'Governor of Kyoto' he became a different kind of man. He was no longer the same person, remember. That's why the Master says, 'OH, IS THAT KITAGAKI? I WANT TO SEE THAT FELLOW.' Now he is a totally different kind of person.

In a pub two persons were sitting. 'I am going to leave this job and I want you to come with me,' said one of them after his eighth drink.

'Oh, really?' remarked his pal.

'Yeah. I know a place in Africa where there's a lot of gold just lying around waiting for someone to pick it up.'

'I knew there was a catch to it.'

'What's the catch?'

'You've got to bend over!'

When you come to a Master you have got to bend over -- and that is the most difficult thing in the world. It is not jUst a formality in the East that you touch the feet of the Master. It is not that. It is symbolic. Now it has become a formality, that's why it has become meaningless, but if you really touch the feet of the Master something changes tremendously inside you. You are no longer the same person, you have scratched out the 'Governor of Kyoto'. You are freer, more open, ready to receive. You are more feminine the moment you touch the Master's feet; you are more passive, available. You are ready to go with the Master. The journey is of the unknown so you have to trust. There is no way to prove anything about it. You have not known it, you have not experienced it, there is no way to prove that it even exists. You have to believe, you have to trust.

It is just like a bird teaching her children to fly in the sky.... They have never flown before, they have just come out of the eggs, they are just getting ready. They don't even know that they have wings. They have wings, but how can they know if they have never been in the sky? How can they know that they have wings? The mother teaches them.

How does she teach? She goes out and flutters around. The children are watching and they start feeling something arising in them. Yes, they would also like to go the same way. But they are afraid. They are just there sitting on the edge of the nest, fearful, frightened. So the mother comes and goes again and persuades them, 'You come please.'

Maybe one child, a little more courageous, more ready to jump into danger, jumps. His jump is very awkward, his flight is not much of a flight, within minutes he is back -- but now he knows he has wings. Now it is only a question of time to learn the skill.But he is capable of it. Sometimes the mother has to push the children, just to push them, so that they become aware of their wings.

The same is the situation of a Master. You have to trust like a child trusts his mother. The Master is taking you on a journey on which you have never been before. In fact, he is taking you on a journey about which you have not even dreamed -- what to say about experience? He is taking you on a journey about which you have not even heard. You cannot hear even if somebody is talking about it because it is so unfamiliar. The Master is changing your whole mind. He is bringing you to a metamorphosis, a transformation, a metanoia. Sometimes he will persuade, sometimes he will push, but once you are in the sky you will know and you will be grateful forever.

And the beauty is that he has not given you anything. The wings are yours, the energy to fly is yours, the sky is yours as much as the Master's -- he has not given you anything.

But still, he has given you a lot. He has given you courage, he has given you the possibility of trusting, of going on a new adventure, of going into the unknown. But surrender is a must.


That scratching of the name has become a symbol of surrender. And he has understood his error. That's very indicative. Now the Master is ready to receive him. The Master can receive you only when you are ready to be received. Before that it will be premature, it will not be of any use, it will not help you.

Had the Master been a little more formal the governor would have missed. Because the Master was not formal the governor had an opportunity to grow. He did grow -- because this growth sometimes happens in a single moment.

Intelligence needs no time. If you are intelligent, what I am saying is already happening in you; if you are stupid then you have to think about it. Otherwise the moment I say something, something happens in you. Here I say it, there it starts happening -- you start feeling for it, you start having a taste for it, you start fluttering your wings, you start getting ready to take a jump, you start becoming courageous, you start getting attracted towards the very risk of it. While I am saying something, if you are intelligent, there is no need to do anything; it will have happened just by hearing it.

Buddha said that there are two types of people: those who attain to the truth just by hearing it and those who have to do much. The second category is mediocre but you will be surprised to know that the second category has become very important. The first he calls SHRAVAKA -- exactly the same word that Mahavira uses. Those who attain by just hearing -- SHRAVAKA. And the second he calls SADHU -- those who cannot attain just by hearing but who have to do much because their intelligence is not enough. Otherwise intelligence is liberation. Heard rightly it has already happened. Then any situation can be the opportunity.

Zen calls this state of mind MU-SIN. MU-SIN means a state of no-mind, of pure intelligence. No thoughts are moving around, there is just the flame of awareness. In this state the observer is no longer separate from the observed, the knower is no longer separate from the known, the hearer is no longer separate from the speaker.

A few people here come to that state many times -- the state of MU-SIN, when you are not separate from me, when suddenly boundaries merge, when suddenly we overlap. In that moment there is the communication, in that moment there is the transfer. Then anything will do. My silence will do, my word will do, any gesture of my hand will do.

You have to be in MU-SIN, a state of mind which has no ego, which has no boundary.

Only in this state is God possible, is nirvana possible.

There is a famous haiku of Basho:




It is said that Basho was sitting by the side of an old pond, a very ancient pond. And on a rock was sitting a frog. It must have been a very sunny morning and the frog must have been enjoying a sun bath. Basho was watching, just sitting there silently. He must have been in a state of MU-SIN.




And with the sound of the frog jumping into the old pond -- plop -- it is said that Basho became enlightened. That plop was enough to make him awake.

Yes, in MU-SIN, even this plop is enough.

This governor must have been a very, very intelligent man. Standing outside the Master's door, he must have been coming slowly, slowly, to a certain glimpse of MU-SIN. And when the attendant came, and with apologies said, 'Sir, the Master is not willing to see you. He has rejected it. He says, 'I don't want to see this fellow' -- plop, something happened in that moment. The governor recognised his error and he became a totally different man. He was no longer the same man.

Yes, it can happen in a single moment. It is a question of pure understanding. This cuckoo can do it -- plop. Just the wind passing through the trees can do it -- plop. It is possible. The impossible is possible, if you are in MU-SIN. And Zen is nothing but a discipline of how to attain to this MU-SIN, this state of no-mind.

Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1

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