In lecture yesterday you spoke about the Master’s work: keeping his disciples from settling for less than “freedom from the self”. In the West, much is made of the experience that “This is it,” that nothing can be different than it is – right now!
Is this a copper mind experience? How can there be anything else?
Deva Sambuddha, I also say This Is It, but when I say this is it, it has a totally different meaning. It is not the same statement as it is being made in the West. The statement in itself has no meaning of its own; the meaning comes through your experience.
Man can live on different planes. When Gautam the Buddha says “This is it!” he is using the same words as you use. The words are exactly the same and the dictionary meaning is the same, but the existential meaning is totally different; it may be even diametrically opposed to your meaning.
In the West it has become fashionable to say that this is all, to live right now is all there is. But the people who are saying it have no idea of meditativeness, have no idea of absolute silence, thoughtless awareness, they have not experienced witnessing. Hence what they are saying – “This is it” – is nothing more significant than their mind.
So if your mind is full of lust, your “this is it” will be only lust and nothing else. If your mind is full of greed, full of anger, full of jealousy, then how it can have the same meaning as it has when Chuang Tzu says “This is it”? It is not possible to have the same meaning. Meaning comes from the person, his presence, his realization.
The West has got clichés from the East. Now Zen has become very fashionable in the West, not that the West is capable yet to understand Zen. Zen, the very word “Zen”, comes from dhyana. Buddha never used himself Sanskrit language; he was the first enlightened person in India who used the language of the people. That was one of the things that made the priesthood, the brahmins of India, to be antagonistic to Buddha. Amongst many things that was one of the major, because the priests of India have always used Sanskrit as their language, it was their property. And only the scholarly people could understand it; the masses were absolutely ignorant about it. Hence what was written in the scriptures was known only to the few priests, and of course through that knowledge they were powerful. And they never wanted it to be known by the masses, otherwise their power will be lost, their vested interests will be destroyed.
Buddha was the first man who dynamited their whole establishment. He used the language of the people; the language of the people in Buddha’s time was Pali. In Pali, dhyana is pronounced as jhana. Because Buddha used the word jhana it changed its color. When it reached China through Bodhidharma it became Ch’an, because in Chinese jhana cannot be written; in Chinese there is no alphabet. The Chinese is a pictorial language, so the closest picture that they had which could express the word jhana was ch’an or ch’ana.
And from China it reached Japan. They use the same pictorial language, but their pronunciations are different. In Japan it became Zen; in a way it came back to the original place. It came closer to Buddha’s Jhana; it became Zen.
Now the West has not yet understood what it is all about, but Zen has an appeal for the simple reason because it is very absurd, illogical, paradoxical. And the West has become fed up with logical philosophies – with Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein – it has become fed up. From Aristotle to Wittgenstein, two thousand years of logical thinking has not led anywhere except to a point where West feels that life is absolutely meaningless and accidental. Now this is the right situation for any illogical philosophy to become fashionable.
The western painting has become illogical. You can see it in Picasso, Dali, Cezanne and other painters: the painting has become absolutely illogical, absurd. The poetry has become illogical – Ezra Pound and others. You can read it, but you will not find any meaning in it. The novels, the plays, all other art forms have taken a turn; they have become very illogical. This illogicalness is the outcome of two thousand years of logical effort which has completely failed: it has not provided any significance and meaning to man’s life.
In the same flood of illogicalness, Zen also has become influential, but the reasons for its influence are totally different. It is not that the West has experienced meditation – it is simply a reaction against logic that Zen has become a great appeal. The absurd anecdotes. the absurd lives of the Zen Masters – seems to be appealing because it has no logical construction.
A great Zen Master, Ryokan, is known in Japan as the Great Fool – a great Master, of the same caliber as Buddha, is known as the Great Fool for the simple reason because his whole life was absurd, unpredictable. If you ask him a question he may hit you on the head; if you don’t ask him a question he may hit you on the head. He used to say, “Ask me a question and I will beat you; don’t ask me a question and I will beat you!” He used to throw his disciples…
Once he cut one of his disciples’ finger with a knife, and when the finger was cut and the disciple was in deep agony, he said, “This is it!” And in that moment the disciple became enlightened – because he was meditating for twenty years. Don’t forget those twenty years! In the West those twenty years are completely forgotten. Those twenty years have brought this climax. At the right moment the Master gave the last push. He wanted to bring him to the present, and cutting the finger is so painful that you cannot think of the past, you cannot think of the future, you cannot fantasize any more. For a moment everything stops. It is like an electric shock – you are suddenly here-now. But those twenty years of meditation had created a different quality: the shock became a satori. Just by cutting somebody’s finger, you cannot make him enlightened, but Ryokan did the miracle.
Ryokan lived in such a way that anybody will call him a fool, an idiot, and he enjoyed the word “idiot” very much; he himself used to call himself an idiot. He will forget his robe; will reach to the marketplace naked – with his shoes on! He will forget about everything.
He had written a list of things that he has to take when he goes out, and he has pasted the list on the door so that he can look at the list, that what things he had to carry: his staff, his robes, the shoes, the cap. And even this was written: “Where you have to put the cap – on the head.” Otherwise he will forget, he may put the shoes on the head! But still the same thing continued – because he will forget to read the list.
This Ryokan helped many people to become enlightened. His illogical ways, his absurd methods proved of tremendous help. Now in the West people will love Ryokan; they will feel at ease with him. They are fed up with Aristotle. Aristotle has become “Aristotlitis” – a great disease! They don’t want to do anything with Aristotle; they want something more alive, something more paradoxical because life is paradox; it is not logic.
Remember it, that life is not logical and cannot be understood by just logic. Life is far more than logic, far bigger than logic. It is not arithmetic. So there are planes to understand.
The West is not yet capable of being here-now; he has only heard the word. And there are different motives why the western youth, particularly the new generation, has become infatuated with Zen-like things. The Third World War is gathering around. Life seems to be very fragile; it had never been so before. Wars have always been there – in three thousand years we have fought five thousand wars – so war is not a new thing, but something new has happened. The Third World War will be the last war, it will be a total war. It will destroy not only humanity but all life from the earth. And the clouds are becoming darker and coming closer every day. It is creating a great fear. The western new generation is freaking out.
And now because the world can end, the whole future Zen seems to be appealing: Live here and live now because there is no future. Tomorrow may never arrive. This is a totally different reason why West has become interested in right now.
Sambuddha, this has to be remembered: the motive is different. The eastern mystics, from Buddha to Ryokan, were talking about the beauty of now-here for totally different reasons. Not that there is no future – there is infinite future, eternity – but the future never comes. All that comes is now; now is the only reality. When future comes, it also comes in the form of now. When tomorrow comes it will come as today, so you have to learn the art of being here, living today, because tomorrow will come but it will also be another today. And if you know how to live this day you will know how to live that day which will be coming. This was a totally different vision.
These are the four planes which have to be understood. First is the body. On the bodily plane, the man who lives identified with the body, if he says, “This is it,” he will only mean food and sex and nothing else. His “this is it” will contain only of two things, food and sex, which are not very different either. Food is nourishment for you; you cannot survive without food. And sex is nourishment for the coming generations; they cannot survive without sex. Your parents’ sex has created you; your sex will create your children. The society needs sex as food; it is food, it is survival for the society, just as food is your survival.
Food and sex are deeply connected. Hence it always happens if somebody starts controlling sex, becomes a celibate, he will start eating more; he will substitute his sexuality by food. It almost always happens when women get married they start becoming fatter, for the simple reason that before marriage they are interested in sex, after marriage they become fed up with it. They start feeling as if the man is exploiting their bodies. Reluctantly they go into it, but they are fed up. Then their interest changes towards food.
And the people who starve themselves for any reason – maybe naturopathy, dieting, or some religious reason, fasting – the people who will starve themselves will become full of sexual fantasies. Hence Jain monks are more full of sexual fantasies than anybody else, because of the fasting. It is a natural change: their energy starts moving from one pole to another.
Sambuddha, anybody who knows only his body, his “this is it” simply means food and sex. That’s what is happening in institutes like Esalen – food and sex. That’s what is happening all over America. Sambuddha comes from America.
The second plane is mind. With food and sex, you can have pleasure and pain. On the body level, if your body is satisfied, you will have a pleasant feeling; if it is not satisfied you will feel pain. The second phenomenon above the body is mind. Mind goes a little higher than pleasure; it starts experiencing happiness and unhappiness. With body there is only duality, food and sex, only two dimensions; with mind there are many dimensions. Mind opens up a greater world: music, poetry, painting, dance, et cetera, et cetera. It opens up many dimensions; you can enjoy more.
With the first you are just like an animal; your “this is it” will be nothing but animalistic. With the second, if you know that you are more than the body, higher than the body, you will have many dimensions, more richness. You become human; you rise above animals. When you say, “This is it,” now it will be music, poetry, painting, dance; it will have a totally different meaning.
On the third plane is the soul, the self. With the body the duality; with the mind, manyness, multitude; with soul only oneness, and that is meditation. You will know the real meaning of “this is it” only when you arrive at the third point.
And with the fourth… In the East we have called it the fourth, simply “the fourth”, turiya; we have not given it any name because no name is possible, it is inexpressible. With the fourth, turiya, there is neither two nor many nor one. You can call it either wholeness or nothingness. Buddha used the word “nothingness”, Isa Upanishad uses the word “wholeness”; they mean the same thing. The zero symbolizes both, nothing and the whole. This is the state of bliss, ecstasy.
On the body level pleasure is opposed by pain; on the mind level happiness is opposed by unhappiness; on the soul level joy is opposed by misery. But on the fourth, bliss is not opposed by anything; bliss has no polar opposite to it.
Where you are on these four planes will make the difference. When I say, “This is it,” I am talking from the fourth plane. And when in America, in the institutes like Esalen, people are talking about “this is it,” they are talking about the first plane, the body.
You ask me, In the West, much is made of the experience that “This is it,” that nothing can be different than it is – right now!
Yes, nothing can be different than it is, but you can be different. The world is the same – to the Buddha, to the enlightened, to the unenlightened – but you are different and that makes the difference. That’s the difference that makes the difference. The world is the same – Buddha moves here, you move here, gods live here, dogs live here – it is the same world. But because their awareness is different, their depth and height is different, their “this is it” will be different too, their now will also be different.
So, when I am talking about now, my “now” contains “this” and “that” both. When in the West people are talking about now, their now only contains “this”.
Remember what the Isa Upanishad says: This is whole. That is whole. The whole comes from the whole, still the whole remains behind.
This is the fourth state, turiya, the ultimate state beyond which nothing happens. Unless you have reached to it, Sambuddha, you are living at the copper mine. You have to move to the silver mine, then to the gold mine, and then to the diamond mine, and then to the beyond.
From I Am That, Discourse #14
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