Symbols of the Tiredness of Man

Fri, 19 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:
95 mins







There is a story of a man who went through mountains to find the end of the world. He must have been a great philosopher -- philosophers are known to have such crazy ideas.

There is no need to go on a great search to find the end of the world, the world is beautiful as it is. There is no need to go in search of the beginning and no need to go in search of the end. The middle is so perfectly beautiful -- why not enjoy it?

But the man was a great philosopher. He was not happy here. Philosophers are never happy here. Now is not their time and here is not their space. They live there, they live somewhere else.

He left his family -- children, wife, parents -- and went on this crazy mad search to find the end of the world. He passed many mountains, many seas. It was a long journey, naturally, very, very long, and many times he thought he had arrived. Whenever he started feeling tired he would think he had arrived. Whenever he was feeling exhausted he would deceive himself. But sooner or later, after a great rest, he would start seeing things again and the idea would start persisting again: the end has not come yet, it is still the middle -- because he could see further ahead, the horizon was still there, as far away as before. So he would commence his journey again.

Again and again he found that whenever he thought that he had arrived he deceived himself. Once that he knew he knew the deception, the self-deception, the journey became more arduous -- because he would feel sometimes that now he had arrived but he would know deep down that it was again going to be a deception. And so he had to continue.

On his way he passed many temples and many teachers -- people who had arrived, people who thought they had arrived. And they all said and claimed that this was the end of the world. Where was he going? And he would also believe in them and he would stay with them for a time being but sooner or later he would become disillusioned. They had not come to the very end themselves, these teachers. And these temples were just again symbols of the tiredness of man, of limitations, of human limitations -- limitations of mind and reason and feeling. But the end was not here. And he had to start his pilgrimage again.

And it is said that after many, many lives -- after millions and millions of lives really -- he finally came to a place that looked like the end. And this time he was not tired and this time he was not exhausted either and this time he was not in any way deceiving himselff.

Moreover there was no temple and no teacher, he was absolutely alone. And the horizon had suddenly disappeared. There was no further goal. Even if he had wanted to continue the journey there was nowhere to go. He encountered infinite emptiness.

Of course there was a sign saying: 'This is the end of the world'. Someone who had been there before must have put it there out of compassion for those who might dare to come.

The man was standing on the very edge of the world -- a great cliff beyond which there was nothing but chaos, nothing but nothingness, a tremendous emptiness, a zero. Of course he became very frightened. He had not been thinking about this chaos -- that if you come to the end, or, for that matter, to the beginning, you will come to chaos. He had not been thinking of that; it was so unexpected. There was no God, there was no Buddha, there was no nirvana, there was no paradise -- just chaos, utter chaos, emptiness. You can imagine him standing there on the last cliff, trembling, shaking like a leaf in a strong wind.

He could not take another step. He became so frightened that he escaped back to the world and into the world. He didn't even look at the other side of the sign. The sign board had some other message on the other side. On one side it was written: 'This is the end of the world', and on the other side was written: 'This is the beginning of the other'.

But he got so frightened he forgot that there might be a message on the other side of the board. He escaped, he escaped immediately. He didn't look back. He came back to the world and into the world and lost himself into worldly affairs so that he no longer remembered, so that that dangerous cliff came into his dreams no more.

You may be that person yourself. This is exactly my feeling about everybody. You have lived here down the ages for eternity. It is impossible that sometime or other you may not have come across this emptiness. It is impossible not to have come to the end of the world in some moments. But you have escaped. It was so fearful, it was so frightening, so scary. One step more and you would have become the enlightened one -- one step more, just a single step more.

The Zen teaching is nothing but the teaching of how to take that one step, how to jump into nothingness. That nothingness is what nirvana is, that nothingness is what God is.

That chaos is not only chaos -- that is only one side of the board. From the other side that chaos is immense creativity. It is only out of chaos that stars are born. It is only out of chaos that creation happens. Chaos is one aspect of the same energy. Chaos is potential creativity. Nothingness is the other side of allness.

Zen is a single seer the journey of one single step. You can call it the last step or you can call it the first step, it doesn't matter. It: is the first and it is the last -- the alpha and the omega. The whole teaching of Zen consists of only one thing: how to take a jump into nothingness; how to come to the very end of your mind -- which is the end of the world; how to stand there on the cliff facing the abyss and not get frightened; how to gather courage and take the last jump. It is death. It is committing suicide. But only out of suicide is there spiritual growth and only out of being crucified is there resurrection.

If you understand well, then the symbol, the Christian symbol, of the cross can have immense meaning.Jesus is on the cross -- and that is the cliff. In the last moment he also becomes afraid like this man. At the last moment he looks at the sky and says, 'What are you doing to me? Have you forsaken me?' A human trembling, a great anguish, facing death, facing annihilation.

But he gathers courage. He understands what he is going to do. He was trying to escape into the world, he was trying to escape into the mind. His mind started functioning -- 'What are you doing to me?' It is a complaint against God. 'Have you forsaken me?' It seems that something is going against the expectations of Jesus. He understood it. He was a man of tremendous intelligence. He looked into it. He must have laughed at his own stupidity. What has he said to God?

And in a single moment the transformation.... He relaxed and he said, 'Thy kingdom cone. Thy will be done.' He relaxed. This is the step. He died and was born anew -- a new consciousness, a new being.

When you die in the mind you are born into consciousness. When you die in the body you are born into the universal body. When you die as the ego you are born as a God, as the God. When you die in your small territory, you simply become spread all over existence -- you become existence itself Now this step has to be understood and I would like to repeat : the end of the mind is the end of the world -- because Zen says the mind is the world. Ordinarily we cultivate eke mind, we strengthen the mind, we make it more and more capable, skillful, efficient.

That's what we go on doing in the schools, colleges and the universities. That's what we mean by education, by learning.

Zen is a kind of uneducation. Zen is a kind of unlearning. It teaches you how to drop that which you have learned, how to become unskillful again, how to become a child again, how to start existing without mind again, how to be here without any mind.

The mind brings all kinds of miseries. The first: the mind is never in the present, it goes on missing the present. And only the present is. The mind is always in the past -- always and always in the past. Or always in the future -- always and always in the future. The mind goes on jumping from the past to the future, from the future to the past. It never stays here now. The mind is like a pendulum of a clock -- it goes on moving from one polarity to another polarity but never stays in the middle.

Zen says that one has to get out of this trap of the past and the future -- because the door opens in the present, the door opens at this moment, either low or never. And the door is open but our eyes are wavering. We look into the past, we look into the future, and the present is very, very small between these two and we go on missing it.

Zen says that unless you drop the mind you can never be in tune with existence, you cannot pulsate with the pulse of the universe. If you don't drop the mind you go on living in a private world of your own creation; you don't live in the real world, you remain idiotic.

That is the meaning of the word 'idiot'. Idiot means living in a private world. The idiot lives in a private world. He has a private idiom. He has his own way. He confines himself in his own way. He never follows the universal, the existential. He goes on projecting his own ideas. The mind is the idiot... howsoever clever, remember. The idiot can be very clever, can be a great expert, can accumulate much knowledge, can have many, many degrees -- Phd's and D.Litts and so on, so forth -- but the idiot remains the idiot. It does not make any difference. The idiot only becomes more dangerous.

Intelligence is never out of the mind. Intelligence arises only when the mind has been discarded. When the mind has been put aside, intelligence arises. Mind is blocking the fountain of intelligence like a rock. Mind is always mediocre, mind is always stupid, unintelligent. To be in the mind is to be unintelligent. To be beyond the mind is to be intelligent. Intelligence is not the quality of the mind at all.

All meditation is the search for this intelligence -- how to drop learning, how to drop knowledge, how to drop all your accumulated past. Once it is accumulated it becomes more and more difficult to drop it, and every day it becomes bigger. The load goes on growing. The weight on your back goes on growing every single moment. It is not age that kills you, it is the weight.

A man who lives in no-mind lives without death because he dies every moment. He never collects, he never looks back, he never looks ahead -- he is just here, he is just here with this cry of the cuckoo. He is just here. His being is in this moment. He flows with the moment. He is not frigid, not confined with the past. In fact, he has no biography and he has no dreams for the future. He lives as it comes.

And Zen says that mind may be useful in the world but is not useful as far as the ultimate is concerned. Mind may be useful with the trivia but is useless with the ultimate. The ultimate cam lot be thought because it is below and beyond thought. You are that ultimate, how can you think it? Before thought comes you are already that. Thought is a later addition to it. The child is born -- he is the ultimate. Thought will could by and by; he will accumulate knowledge, he'll write many things on his slate of being. And he will become a knower -- this and that -- and he will get identified with being a doctor or an engineer or a professor. But the moment he was born he was just pure awareness, just a freshness, a clean slate, nothing written on it, not even his own signature. He had no name and he had no idea who he was.

That is primal innocence, and that is our ultimate. Our ultimate being is before thought and after thought. Not that it disappears when thought is there, but it becomes clouded -- just like the sun surrounded by too many clouds, dark clouds. It appears as if the sun has disappeared. We never lose our ultimacy, we cannot. That's what ultimacy is -- it cannot be lost. It is our innermost nature. There is no way to lose it. But it can become clouded.

The flame can become too clouded with smoke; can almost be thought of as lost. The sun can be so clouded that it appears as if it has become dark night. That's the situation. We are before thought, we are while thought is there, we will be there when thought has disappeared -- we are always there. But when thought is there it is very difficult to how who we are, what exactly this consciousness is. Thought is a distraction. Thought is a disturbance.

It is only when thought is again not there that we come into contact with it. If one thinks about it one can think and think and think but it eludes thought. It goes on slipping out of it. And then seeing that thinking is not leading anywhere it stops on its own accord. If one really goes on thinking to the very end, a state of non-thinking happens automatically.

This end of the thinking comes finally and naturally -- that's what Zen proposes.

The method of Zen is called Koan. It is a special method, the greatest contribution of Zen to the world. Koan is a special method to Zen just like there are other methods to other schools -- for example, VIPASSANA, insight, is Buddha's method which he has contributed to the world -- watchfulness. Jalaluddin, the Sufi mystic, has contributed another method -- that of absorption, of getting lost into God, of losing one's sense of being. There are other methods of Sufi's -- JIKRA, remembrance of the name of God, or the turn, the whirling. Just like these methods are the yoga postures of Patanjali -- a special contribution to the world. All great religions have contributed something or other.

The special contribution of Zen is koan. Koan is a riddle and a very special riddle -- a riddle which is impossible to solve, a riddle which cannot be solved by its very formation. You go on thinking. You have to think and ponder and meditate over it.

For example, a koan is given to the disciple to go and meditate on the sound of one hand clapping. Now one hand cam lot clap -- so from the very beginning a solution is prohibited, rejected. One hand cannot make the sound of clapping. Clapping needs at least two hands. Clapping means the clapping of two. Clapping is a conflict, it cannot happen with one hand.

So the riddle is impossible. It is no ordinary riddle. It is not that if you think long enough you will find the solution, no. The more you think the more it will be found that the solution is impossible. The solution exists not. It has been denied from the very beginning. The koan has to be formulated in such a way that there is no possibility for your mind to think about it. And you have to think about it.

And the disciple sits in meditation and continues to think. He goes on thinking and thinking and thinking. Months pass and he starts getting crazy and mad -- the sound of one hand clapping. And he comes to the Master with many solutions and the Master will beat him. That too is very special to Zen. The compassion is so great that if the Master thinks that a beating is going to help, he will beat. If he feels that kicking is going to help, he will kick. If he feels that the disciple has to be thrown physically out of the window, he will throw him out. He will do anything that he feels is needed. And he will not do it preplanned -- he will look into the disciple and whatsoever happens ill that moment in his consciousness, he will be immediate. His behaviour will be absolutely unexpected.

A Zen Master is unpredictable. If you go to a Hindu swami he is predictable. If you ask a question his answer is predictable. He recites the Vedas, the Upanishads, almost like a parrot. You can know his answer beforehand. Not so with a Zen Master. If you go to a Zen Master you never know what is going to happen. Nobody ever knows. Even after thousands of years they are so immediate that nothing can be said about how he will react to your question, to your answer. The disciple comes with many solutions. Those solutions are just so-so -- because a solution is impossible. So even without hearing the solution, what the disciple has brought, sometimes the Master will hit him.

Once it happened.... A disciple came. Every day for three months he had been bringing some solution to a koan. He came with the idea that he would hit the wall with his hand.

Now this is not a solution. Again you have brought in two -- of course there are not two hands but that is not the point. The Master hits him.

And so on, so forth.... Every day he brings something or other. He imagines and thinks that maybe this will work. After three months have passed he comes and he has not uttered a single thing and the Master slaps him. And he says, 'Wait, Sir, I have not even said anything.' The Master said, 'Then it will be too late. If you say something then it will be too late.'

And that day something happens to the disciple. He has not said anything. Every day he had been saying something and of course he was being hit -- so it was rational. He was thinking in his mind that whatsoever he was saying was wrong, that's why the Master hit him. Now even that reason is dropped. He has not said anything and the Master hits him.

Now it is absolutely irrational. Now the mind cannot cope with it.

When the mind cannot cope with something, it drops. When the mind proves to be impotent about something, it drops.

A koan is a riddle which cannot be solved -- but you have to think about it. For hours together -- six hours, eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours, sometimes eighteen hours -- the disciple simply sits absorbed, looking at the problem from every possible corner, from every possibility; trying to enter from this side and that side. From every direction, through every dimension, he tries to tackle the problem, to find some solution. He comes to the Master, he is thrown back to himself.... What will happen?

By and by all his possibilities will be exhausted. All that he can think he has thought.

Now there seems to be no possibility, nowhere further to go. Then one day he is simply looking at the riddle and no thought arises. That is the point -- when you are looking at the riddle and no thought arises. And when no thought arises you can see into the riddle -- that it is absurd.

Yes, before also you had felt many times that it was absurd -- in fact, you knew that it was absurd, that it could not be solved -- but that was also from the mind, that was not your insight. That was your mind's solution -- it cannot be solved, way bother? Drop it.

Forget all about it. It cannot be solved. But this was also from the mind. One day, when the mind has nothing more to say, when out of sheer exhaustion it has stopped functioning, when it has lost all its expertise, all its efficiency, when all its intelligence has proved futile, it disappears. In that gap... the insight. In that gap you see, and you see for the first time. In that gap thinking is not there but knowing happens -- and that is the point of transformation.

When thinking stows and knowing happens, when thoughts disappear and clarity comes and you can see truth is not something to be thought about, truth has to be seen.... That's why we call those people who attain to truth, seers -- not thinkers. They have seen it.

They have looked into it, they have not thought about it -- they are not great philosophers, they are not logicians. They are people without mind, they are people beyond mind. They look directly. No thought stands between them and the reality. That which is, is revealed as it is, in its suchness. Their mind is no longer there functioning through thought. There are no more ripples, it is a pure mirror. It simply mirrors; it reflects that which is.

If one has something more to think about then it is not the true end. If you think that there is still something left to think about, this is not the true end, the mind will not go. You cannot do it purposely; you cannot say, 'Okay, if nothing can be thought I will put my mind aside and I will try to see.' You will not be able to do it. The blind is there. This is being done by the mind itself and whatsoever is being done by the mind strengthens the mind. If you have something to think still, if you feel that the mind can still supply some answer, if even a lingering trust in the mind remains, then it is not the true end.

When one comes to the true end, thinking stops and seeing begins. And in this seeing is revolution, is the radical change, is mutation, metanoia.

It is as when you use a drill. You can ask our carpenters -- Asheesh, Christos, Siddhesh.

Zen people say it is like using a drill. As long as you can drill it, it is not the end. When no resistance is left, when you can drill no more -- it goes zzzzzzzzz -- then this is the end. I am not a carpenter but I know this is exactly how it goes inside. I have never used a drill but this is exactly how it goes inside. Suddenly all resistance is gone. There is nothing left any more to drill. Thought becomes impotent.

When you can drill no more, the end is reached; when you can't think any more, the end is reached. Then there is no word, no thought, no image, nothing, only nothingness. You have come to the end of the mind, or, call it the end of the world. You will come across a sign board where you will find: 'This is the end of the world' -- but don't escape from there. There is another side to it too.

And the other side is the real side. The world ending is not the real thing, God beginning is the real thing. The world ending is just disease ending; on the other side arises health.

You are health for the first time, and whole, and holy.

So don't escape. This is frightening. When you cannot drill any more with the mind it is very frightening, because you have been so identified with the mind that you think you are the mind. And if the mind is working no more and the mind cannot work anything out any more you feel that you are lost -- 'Have I gone mad or something?'

Yes, it is almost like madness. I say 'like madness' but it is not similar to madness, it is not exactly like madness. In madness the mind continues. In fact, in madness the mind functions more -- continuously for twenty-four hours it functions. It just starts functioning very irrationally. It goes bizarre. It has no more logic; it is no longer rational, no longer even reasonable; it goes in all direction; it becomes contradictory; it loses all contact with reality -- but the mind continues. Just see the point: a madman is more in the mind than you are. And if you go on being in the mind too much, one day you will become mad. The mad people are just ahead of you in the queue. they have used their mind more than you have. They have used it to the very extreme hence they have gone berserk. They are great mind people.

When satori happens or when drilling stops and mind functions no more you may feel for a single moment that you have gone mad, but in fact there is now no possibility of going mad because only a mind can go mad. Now that the mind is no more you cannot go mad.

For a moment the idea of madness may come to you -- because you have lived with the mind so long and suddenly it has stopped. You will be in an emptiness. That emptiness is very, very scary. It is like death. You are disappearing, losing identity. It is very paralysing -- for a single moment.

And that is the point where a Master is needed to push you. If he feels like kicking he will kick. If he feels like hitting he will hit.If he feels like kissing he will kiss. Nobody knows.

Not even the Master knows what is needed exactly in that moment. that moment decides.

And then a small gesture and you are pushed. And you have taken the first and the last step. Once you have taken the jump and seen the other side of the phenomenon and have read the board from the other side, here begins God. Then you are at ease. Then there i8s no problem.

All problems are gone. In fact, the origins of all problems -- the mind itself -- is gone.

Then one starts living a non-problematic life. Then one starts living for the first time.

But if you find God or Buddha or Christ or anything then this is not the true end, remember. if you come to this point and suddenly you see Christ that standeth before you showering his compassion and love on you, then this is not the true end. Your mind is playing the last trick. Or if you find Krishna with his flute singing a beautiful song....

This is the mind's last effort to allure you, to distract you. Or if you find God sitting on a golden throne with angels all around, then you have missed. This is not the real end yet.

This is again thought projection. This has to be understood because Zen is very persistent about it. If you have something to see, some object is still there, then this is not the true end. then something is still there to be drilled upon.

That's why the great Zen Master, Hui Neng, has said, 'If you meet Buddha on the way, kill him immediately. If you see the patriarch, Bodhidharma, on the way, kill him immediately.'

Don't have any mercy. go on drilling. Drill the Buddha too. Unless you come to nothingness go on drilling.

In this country this is very difficult because this country has come up to this point many times and then got stuck there. It is Buddha alone who takes the last and the final step -- otherwise people go to the last but one. god stands there and it is so beautiful.... It is beautiful. It is such a blessing to see God showering all over or to see kundalini arising. A beautiful experience, tremendously beautiful experience. You have not known anything like that. Or there is light inside you, infinite light; thousands of suns have arisen simultaneously, so much light, so much dazzling light. It is incredible. Or, you see the lotus, the one-thousand-petalled lotus opening in your SAHASTRAR, in your head. great fragrance never known goes on raining on you. You are transported to another world.

But Zen says go on drilling. Kundalini has arisen, this is not the end. You are seeing light, this is not the end. The lotus is opening, this is not the end. Go on drilling. Come to nothingness. Experience as such is the barrier because experience is a mind game. and the mind is so clever that if you are seeking God it will supply God. The demand creates supply. If you are after Krishna too much the mind will supply Krishna. The mind will say, 'Okay have it. Here stands Krishna.' Don't be finished otherwise you have not come to the very end -- you got lost in Krishna again.

And sooner or later even Krishna will be gone. Once the mind has stopped, your Krishna will be gone. It may happen like this: you see Krishna with his flute singing and you see beautiful girls dancing around Krishna, GOPIS -- sooner or later Krishna will be forgotten and you will fall in love with a GOPI. The world starts again. You are back home.

The mind is very cunning and when it is a question of life and death to it -- and it IS a question of life and death when you are meditating -- the mind will try all possible ways to protect itself. It is a question of survival. so don't listen to the mind.

Says Hui Neng, 'You have been told to abide by the Buddha, by the law and by the SANGHA but I say unto you abide only by yourself.' If you abide by Buddha and then Buddha arises like a lotus flower -- so beautiful, so tremendously beautiful, so celestial, so divine -- Hui Neng says, 'Kill him immediately.' Don't wait a single minute because he is so fascinating you can get lost. Destroy him. Just say good-bye to him. Say, 'Thank you, but get out of my way.' 'Don't abide by the Buddha,' says Hui Neng, a follower of Buddha. 'Don't abide by the law, by the DHARMA. Don't abide by the SANGHA, the community. Just, I say unto you, abide by yourself.'

When you are left alone, totally alone, utterly alone, you have come. If something else is there as an object, then you have not come. then the duality persists. It has found a new way of being. When only one is, you have come -- so abide by yourself.

Says Hui Neng, 'My advice to you is, having nothing to do, take a rest. Even if that blue- eyed barbarian, Bodhidharma, should come here, he can only teach you to do nothing.

Put on your clothes, cat your food, and move your bowels -- that's all. No death, no fear, because there is nobody to die. No transmigration, no dread, because there is nobody to transmigrate. It is always here. There is nowhere to go.'

When Hui Neng was dying somebody asked, 'Master, where are you going?' He opened his eyes and said, 'What kind of foolish question? Where can one go? There is nowhere to go. One is always here -- now.'

Have you watched this quality of consciousness? You are always here now, you cannot be then and there. How can you be then and there? When tomorrow comes it always comes like today, it never comes like tomorrow. When it is gone it is yesterday, when it has not come it is tomorrow, but whenever it is there it is today and you can be only in the today. You cannot be in the yesterday -- it exists not. You cannot be in the tomorrow - - it is not yet. You are always here now. Have you watched this phenomenon? You cannot be anywhere else. Hui Neng said, 'Where can I go? There is nowhere to go in the first place and nobody to go anywhere. I am one with the all. There is no death to fear, no transmigration to dread, no nirvana to achieve and nobody's enlightenment to attain. Try to be just as ordinary as possible, having nothing to do.'

This is the Zen approach: nothing is there to be done. There is nothing to do. One has just to be. Have a rest and be ordinary and be natural. Eat your food, have your sleep, move your bowels.

Zen is the natural way, the natural way. 'To be natural is the way. Let the mind be free.

Do not purposely do evil and do not purposely do good. Cling to nothing. That is Tao.'

And that is enough. 'Cling to nothing.' This has to be remembered on the outside, and on the inside too. 'Cling to nothing'. Sometimes you cling to money, sometimes tot he wife, to the husband, and sometimes you start clinging inside to Krishna and Christ -- but you go on clinging. 'Cling to nothing' -- only then can you come to the very end of the world.

and the end is the beginning and the chaos is creation.

Another Zen Master, Hsuan Chien, says, 'Here in my place there is no truth to tell you.

My duty is to lighten the heavy burden of dead weight on your back. My mission is to destroy all that binds and makes you a slave. And my duty is to kill everything and everybody that stands between you and yourself.'

Zen people are really of a different quality. Such utterances you cannot find anywhere else -- such rebellious utterances, such statements, so fiery, so radiant, so alive.

Thousands of years have passed, Hui Neng still remains a rebel. You cannot make a tradition out of him. Zen is the only religion which has not become a tradition -- it cannot. It does not allow anything to settle. It won't allow even Buddha inside. It won't talk even about truth. It says, 'There is no truth to give to you in my place. We take everything away.' And when nothing is left that is the truth -- when you are in your utter nudity, in your utter nudeness. When nothing is left with you, only your pure being, that is the truth.

Yes, this Hsuan Chien is right -- 'Here in my place there is no truth to tell you.' And that's what I am doing here too. Here in my place too I am not giving you any truth, I am only taking lies away from you -- lies you have gathered down the centuries, false conceptions, absurd notions. I am taking them away by and by. I only take things away from you, I don't give you anything. When you have left everything and you don't cling to anything, suddenly it is there. It has been always there; your eyes have just to be completely uncovered.

Zen, in destroying your mind, destroys your ego too -- because they are just two names for the same thing.

Listen to the story Suzuki writes about a great Zen Master, Ryokan.


Zen people have always liked the bamboo. The bamboo is their symbol. And the reason?

It is green all the year. In every season it is green -- come rain, come summer, come winter, it is green. Nothing changes it. It lives a kind of eternity. Its greenness means its freshness, its youth, its radiance, its aliveness. To does not gather dead weight.

Secondly, it has very full roots in the ground, it is very grounded. That too is a very, very significant porn t to remember. A man needs to be very grounded. We are on the earth and we are of the earth and we are made of the earth. We need to be tremendously grounded. Very few people are really grounded; they have become like trees which are up-rooted. And, particularly, your so-called religions make you very up-rooted. You start living in the heaven, in the high sky, and you forget the earth. In fact, not only do you forget, you have been taught to be against it. You condemn it. How can you get grounded if you condemn the earth?

Zen is very grounded in the world. Is is not against the world, it is beyond the world -- remember it. It does not teach you any anti-worldly religion, it teaches you a very worldly religion and yet a very unworldly one. It says: be in the world but don't be of the world. It does not say to you: renounce the world.

That's my standpoint too, hence nay love for Zen. We pulsate on the same wavelength.

The bamboo is very grounded. It goes high into the sky. Impossibly high it goes. A bamboo is a thin tree but it defeats many trees. It goes very high. It moves int he winds with no fear because it is grounded int he earth. It sings a thousand and one songs in the sky but it is not against the earth. It has wings but it has roots too.

And the third thing which is very, very significant is: it is empty inside. And that's how man should be. Grounded, every green, young, fresh, alive, living, pulsating, streaming with energy, dancing, celebrating, and yet empty inside -- just empty like a bamboo.

Ryokan must have loved bamboo tremendously because he sings about it in many songs; he paints bamboo in many paintings.


 -- this character of emptiness.


Just think. A bamboo started growing inside the hut. He didn't remove the bamboo, he started to remove the roof because the bamboo needed sky, the bamboo needed more space. The house was not as important as the bamboo -- the empty bamboo growing in it, the alive bamboo growing in it.

But then one thing more happened....


Suzuki says:


No, that is not my feeling. That's how Zen people work. If they can destroy something they will destroy it utterly. If it has to be destroyed it has to be destroyed utterly. And they take drastic steps. Now this was a drastic step -- to burn the roof. Suzuki says:


Now Suzuki says 'unfortunately'. No, that is not right. Ryokan knows it is not unfortunate. That is what is exactly meant -- the roof should go with the whole structure, the whole structure should go.

When a bamboo starts growing inside you, when a new something starts growing inside you -- call it meditation, call it zazen -- when it starts growing inside you the mind is the structure around it -- because in the beginning it is always the mind that you start with, there is no other way to start. If you have come to me you have come to me because of the mind. If you have started meditating, you have started because of your mind. Even if you are listening to me against the mind, you are listening from the mind, so everything will be in the structure of the mind. That roof, that structure, that hut, is the mind and the bamboo grows inside it.

He burns the roof. Suzuki says 'unfortunately' the fire got too much beyond control and not only did it burn the whole structure it burned the bamboo itself. Naturally Suzuki thinks that when it burns the bamboo itself then it is an accident. No, it is not.

First, to protect your meditation I will have to burn the structure of the mind, bat this meditation that you have started is part of your mind. When the mind is burned this meditation will be burned too. This mind and this meditation are together. This meditation has come out of this mind; it has to go with this mind. Another kind of meditation will arrive when this mind and meditation are both are gone.

Yes, that is the meaning of this beautiful story. I am not ready to agree with Suzuki.

Suzuki has missed the point. He has become too much concerned with the bamboo. He has lost track. It is fortunate that the fire got too extensive -- in fact, it was meant to be so.

When a Master like Ryokan is going to do something he knows what he is doing. It cannot be just accident. In fact, in the life of a Master like Ryokan accidents don't happen. All is done in full awareness, in total, absolute consciousness.

This is what he meant. The structure will go and with the structure will go the bamboo.

'The mind has to go and the meditation that you started with the mind will have to go too.

And then another kind of meditation will arrive that has nothing to do with you -- a totally discontinuous something. It is discontinuous, no more continuous with you. And then it is from God, then it is from the whole -- a gift. It is not created by you, it is a happening.

Now this story .


This is a koan I explained to you. It is almost like asking: What is the meaning of the sun always rising int he East? Or: What is the meaning of the full moon?

Somebody asked Picasso... he was observing him painting. He watched the whole way and when the painting was finished he asked, 'What is the meaning of your painting?'

And Picasso got very, very angry, almost in a rage, and he shouted, 'Go and ask the rose in the garden what the meaning of the rose is! Why do people come to me and ask for the meaning? If the rose can be there without any meaning why can't my painting be there without any meaning?'

Why this necessity for, why this constant obsession with meaning? Meaning is of the mind. This is the mind game. The mind always asks, 'What is the meaning?'

And now asking such a question.... Bodhidharma went from India to China. He entered China from the West side. He had to enter from somewhere. Now, Zen Masters give this koan to their disciples -- 'Why did Bodhidharma enter from the West? Why? Why did he come to China in the first place? Why?' You don't ask a cloud, 'Why have you come to China?' You don't ask a star, 'Why are you there?'

Men like Bodhidharma are so pure they don't exist through meaning, they simply exist without any meaning. They don't exist for any purpose. They are not business people, they are like flowers, they are flower people. They exist without any meaning -- they simply exist. What else is there to do? Their existence is not utilitarian, that is the meaning -- that there is no meaning.

Now the question is given, the koan is given to the disciple. Think about it.


Now this Bodhidharma is one of the most meaningless men who has ever walked on this earth. You cannot conceive of anybody more meaningless than this Bodhidharma.

Sometimes be surpasses even Gautam Buddha. In many ways he is just incredible -- far out. When he entered China the Emperor came to receive him on the border because for many years news was coming, rumours were coming: Bodhidharma is coming, Bodhidharma is coming, and he is a rare phenomenon.

The Emperor also got interested. His name was Emperor Wu. He came to receive him.

And when he came to receive him he was very much embarrassed because Bodhidharma was coming with one shoe on one foot and one shoe on his head.

Now this was too much. Yes, the king had heard that this man was a little strange but he had not thought he was so strange. What is the meaning? The first idea must have come to his mind -- what is the meaning of Bodhidharma carrying one shoe on his head? But it would have been too impolite to ask before a great gathering -- ten thousand monks had gathered from all over China to receive this great man. He was heir to Buddha's transmission. What Buddha had given to Mahakashyap had come into his hands. He was the heir, the successor of Buddha.

Even those monks started feeling very fidgety -- because what will the king think? And this man will destroy their prestige utterly. So unmannerly and so mad! Has something gone wrong? The king had prepared a speech to be delivered but it was difficult to deliver the speech before this man. He had prepared it with great learning and the court people must have prepared it, rehearsed it. And it was meaningless. This man was standing there -- was not even sitting -- he was just standing with his shoe on his head. You just imagine!

Finally the kink, asked, 'Sir, it may be impolite but I have to ask. Why are you carrying this shoe on your head?' And Bodhidharma said, 'Why not? The shoe got too tired and it has carried me for so long -- why shouldn't I carry it?'

What is he saying? He is saying, 'Don't ask for the meaning.'

By and by when people became accustomed to his ways the they understood what he was saying. He is reported to have said to his disciples, 'That was just to give him a taste of me so that he never asks about the meaning. Things should be settled from the very beginning. I had to do something meaningless because I am a meaningless person -- as meaningless as a flower, as meaningless as a cloud.'

Just think. Existence is meaningless. Watch it. There is no meaning in existence.

Meaning is man-created. And because you constantly look for meaning you start feeling meaninglessness. Remember... because you constantly look for meaning -- 'What is the meaning of it?' -- sooner or later you are bound to realise that there is no meaning. Then great calamity! This calamity is happening in the West. The greatest thinkers in the West are in very much anguish today. The anguish is: What is the meaning of life? It looks meaningless. And they have been trained that one can live only with meaning. They should listen to Bodhidharma. They should move towards Zen.

Zen says there is no meaning. No need to look for it. Enjoy this tremendous meaninglessness. There is no purpose. The existence is not going somewhere, it has no goal orientation at all. It is simply here; it is a celebration, it is a joy, it is a joke. That's what Hindus call LEELA. It is playfulness. Their word is perfectly right. LEELA means playfulness. In a play you don't ask for the meaning. In a play there is no meaning. The play itself is the joy, the very joy.

Since then many koans have been coined around Bodhidharma: What is his meaning?

What is the meaning of his coming from the West?



That's what I would like you to understand. He has come with a question. He wants a certain help. He has been struggling with it, maybe for months or for years. You cannot understand the Zen patience. Sometimes it takes twenty years. A man goes on struggling with the same problem, the same problem, day in, day out, year in, year out. Seasons come and pass and he is only concerned with one thing. He loses all consciousness of the world. His whole consciousness becomes focussed on one problem -- and deep down he knows it is meaningless. But he has to work at it, he has to drill through it -- until he comes to the point of no resistance.

This man may have worked for years and he is not getting anywhere. He has come to the Master to ask for help. He wants some visible help. What should he do? Some hints.

Some map. Some guide.

And what does the Master say? Now this is how Zen Masters work. It is completely irrelevant. The man is asking help and the Master says --



Now why ask for a low salaam? Why ask that the disciple should put his head onto the Master's feet? One never knows. The Master must have looked into the disciple, must have seen where the problem was. The problem was not in the problem, the problem was somewhere in the ego. The monk must have been carrying a subtle ego. The Master saw where the problem was. And the man was struggling with the koan. He could go on struggling for ages and nothing would happen because the problem was somewhere else.

He was an egoistic person. In fact, when you come to a Master you naturally touch the feet. He had not touched the feet. When you come to a Master you naturally bow down.

He had simply come and asked to be helped.

Help cannot be given directly. Help can be given only When you are humble. You cannot demand help, you can only beg -- only then can the help be given. Otherwise the help cannot be given. It is not that the Master would not like to give it -- he would like to give it, but you will not be able to receive unless you are standing there with a beggar's bowl in your heart, with a non-egoistic attitude.

This bowing down is nothing but a gesture. Learning is possible only when you drop the ego. Yes, there are many kinds of learning. You can go into the university, there is no need to drop the ego. In fact, the lore egoistic you are, the more capable you will be there in the university -- because the ego competes, the ego is ambitious, the ego is jealous, the ego fights with others. You will be more successful with the ego. If you are humble there is no possibility for you to grow to a status in the university, no. You have to be ruthlessly competitive, you have to be violently aggressive, you have to be very egoistic, you have to think that you are the topmost man in the world. Only then will the gold medal come to you, otherwise not.

When you go to the university you go with the ego, but when you come to the Master it is a totally different kind of learning -- it is an unlearning. Here you have to bow down.

On the surface it will look as if the man is asking a question -- to be helped with his problem. On the surface it will look as if the Master is egoistic. Why does he ask for a low salaam? This is the trouble with the egoistic mind. If you read this with an ego in your mind you will see that this Master seems to be egoistic. How can he help? The man is in trouble. Rather than looking into his trouble, rather than being compassionate towards his problem, he asks him first to do a formality. What kind of Master is this? But then you would have missed the whole point.

These stories are so deep that they will not become available to you if you look through the ego. The Master is absolutely non-egoistic that's why he has been able to see and pinpoint exactly where the problem is. He must have looked. And it takes no time.

When you come to me it takes no time to see where the problem is. Sometimes I may not say it, sometimes I may ask you.... Because the world has changed a lot. To ask somebody low to bow down may prevent him, may not be a help. The world has changed. It was a totally different kind of world where this story must have happened -- a different milieu. Now the whole world is educated, educated in the ways of the ego.

Sometimes I ask you what your problem is. I see your problem and I ask you, 'What is your problem? I would like you to say something about it.' If I feel that you are coming closer I give you a few more hints, I bring you closer. But rather than saying 'This is your problem', rather than directing you directly to your problem, I like you to reveal it to me.

That helps you to remain egoistic. You feel you are explaining to me, you feel you are saying it to me, you feel your ego is satisfied. I have to persuade y our egos first. Of course, finally I persuade them towards suicide but that is the final thing. It cannot be done right in the beginning. Right in the beginning I do everything to support your ego.

When somebody new comes to me I give him tremendous attention. The more you are here, the more I start forgetting about you.


Humiliating! First you ask him to bow down and then you hit him, you give him a kick, you treat him as if he is a football or a stone in the way.

But he kicked rightly. He kicked exactly at the problem. Something happened out of that kick. The kick worked almost like an electroshock.


The kick was so unexpected. When you are bowing down to a person in such humbleness you don't expect that he will kick you. You are being so humble, how can you expect that he will kick you? Yes, you can expect that if you are fighting with a person he will kick you, but when you are surrendering -- then he will kick you? It is so unexpected and so illogical.

Bus that is its logic, the very logic. Because it is unexpected it can do something. The mind is incapable of tackling the unexpected, the mind is simply shocked. It cannot explain it, it cannot explain it away. It is simply in a shock. It cannot do anything about it.

It is so unexpected, it is so mad. The mind stops, there is a gap, an interval arises. That kick brought the gap.

But this kick cannot be given to anybody and everybody. The man was worthy of it. He had worked for years. He had come to a point where a slight push, just a kick, would do.

All his irresolutions disappeared in that moment. Suddenly he became one. All his confusion disappeared. In that gap there was light, in that gap there was clarity. With that sudden kick, something went in like an arrow, penetrated his heart.


Zen is the only religion in the world which teaches sudden enlightenment. It says that enlightenment takes no time, it can happen in a single split moment. It happens really only in a single split moment. You may prepare for it for years but whenever it happens, it happens in a single moment. It does not happen gradually, not in parts. It does not happen that sometimes a fragment then another fragment, then another fragment.... You don't grow towards it slowly. It is a jump. The exact word for it comes from physics -- it is a quantum leap. Such a sudden jump. In a single moment you are no more the same; the whole consciousness changes.

But remember, it needs great preparation. I am not saying that if you come to me and I kick your head it will happen. Before I kick your head you will have to drill to the very end. When only the last, the very lat core has remained, just a slight resistance, when you are just on the verge of it, then the kick can help. Then just a kick and rrrrrrrrr... it goes!


Yes, when you see for the first time a great laughter arises in you -- the laughter about the whole ridiculousness of your misery, the laughter about the whole foolishness of your problems, the laughter about the whole absurdity of your suffering. There was no need; there was no point in suffering. You were in a nightmare of your own creation. You were the author of it and you were the actor in it and you were the director in it and you were the screen and you were the projector and you were the spectator and you were al in all. It was simply authored by you. It is just a nightmare. There was no need to be in it for a single moment but you lived in it for millions of lives -- hence the laughter.

The disciple is right when he says, 'SINCE THEN I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO STOP LAUGHING.' Yes, it is so. Your misery is simply stupid. It is ridiculous. You cling to it that's why it is there. And you go on shouting 'I don't want it' and you go on clinging.

When you see one day, when the kick happens to you, when your eyes open and you see, you will not be able to believe it, how it continued for so long.

When Buddha attained, somebody asked him, 'What have you attained?' He laughed. He said, 'Nothing, nothing at all. In fact, I have lost something; I have attained nothing.' The man said, 'But we always thought that an enlightened person attained something.' Buddha said, 'Utterly wrong, absolutely wrong. I have lost something -- I have lost my misery -- and I have attained nothing -- because whatsoever you think I have attained has been always there and now I laugh at the whole ridiculousness. Why was I missing it? It was in me, it was within me. Why was I missing it How did it happen in the first place?'

How have you missed God? You are God. How do you go on searching for him?

I have heard...

When a monk asked Hui Neng, 'How to attain to Buddhahood, sir?' he gave him a sound beating saying, 'If I don't beat you the world will laugh at me.'

What does he mean, this Hui Neng? He is saying, 'The very effort that you want to attain Buddhahood is foolish because you are a Buddha. If I don't beat you the people will laugh at me -- at least those who know, they will laugh. I cannot help you to become a Buddha. You are already a Buddha.'

You are already that which you are seeking -- hence the laughter.

Meditate on this small parable. It is of tremendous significance. And work hard, drill hard into the mind, so that one day you can deserve the kick.

Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1

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