The Master of the Shouts – Osho

A little note about Rinzai, master of the irrational.

Rinzai, also known as Lin-Chi, was born in the early ninth century and was to become the founder of one of the most significant schools of Zen.

Brilliant as a child, later, when Rinzai became a priest, he studied the sutras and scriptures. Realizing the answer did not lie within them, he went on pilgrimage, visiting Obaku and Daigu, two great masters. After his enlightenment he became priest of a small temple on the banks of the Hu-t’o River.

Maneesha has asked:

Our beloved master, Rinzai became known as the master of the shouts. His specialty consists . . . he used shouts as a method to silence you – a sudden shout. You are asking about God, you are asking about heaven, you are asking about great philosophical or theological problems and the master immediately shouts. Your mind gets a shock, almost an electric shock. For a moment you are not, only the shout is. For a moment the mind stops, time stops – and that is the whole secret of meditation.

Many mystics around the world have used sounds, but in a very superficial way. Rinzai used shouts in a tremendously deep way. His shouts would become just like a sword entering in you, piercing to the very center.

You can understand . . . when you shout Yaa-Hoo! your mind disappears. Yaa-Hoo! has no meaning, but shouting it you get suddenly thrown to your own center, and once you have touched your own center, even for a simple glimpse, your life has started changing.

Rinzai would shout at the disciples to give them a first experience of their centering. You are both a circumference and a center. You live on the circumference; the shout simply pushes you to the center. Once you experience being at the center you suddenly see the whole world changing. Your eyes are no more the same; your clarity and transparency are absolute. You see the same green leaves greener, the same roses rosier, the same life as a festival, as a ceremony. You would love to dance.

And then the disciples, once they learned that the shout can help them to reach to their very center . . . It was a strange sight when Rinzai started accepting disciples near the river. The disciples would be shouting around the whole valley, and the valley would resound with shouts. You could tell from miles away that you were somewhere close to Rinzai. It was not only that he was shouting, but that shouting was a method to throw you from the circumference to the center.

There are many ways to throw you to the center. Every way is valid if you reach to your center, because your center is the only immortal part in you. Everything else is going to die.

Today Professor Barks is here. He has done a tremendous job in translating Rumi. He has come as close as possible, but I don’t think he knows that Rumi’s whole effort by whirling is to find the center. If you whirl for hours, you will see slowly that something at the very center is not moving at all, and that is you. Your body is whirling, but your consciousness is a pillar of light.

Rumi attained his first enlightenment by whirling for thirty-six hours continuously. People thought he was mad. Even today a small group of his followers continues. They are called whirling dervishes. But the point is the same: whirling, your whole body becomes a cyclone, and your witnessing self becomes the center. Everything moves around you, but the center remains unmoving. To know this unmoving center is to know the very master key of all the mysteries of life.

Rinzai had no idea about Rumi, neither did Rumi have any idea about Rinzai, but both were working on the same strategy – somehow to force you to the center. As your consciousness becomes deeper, as it becomes an easy thing to go to the center just like you go in your house and come out, you have become a buddha.

Then slowly, slowly your center starts changing your circumference. Then you cannot be violent, then you cannot be destructive; then you are love. Not that you love – you are love. Then you are silence, then you are truth, although the old you has disappeared. That was your circumference, that was the cyclone that is gone. Now, only the center remains.

Rinzai’s method is far simpler than Rumi’s. Very few people will be able to whirl for hours, but shouting is a simpler method. Anybody can shout and can shout wholeheartedly, and it can be very intense and urgent. Whirling you will take hours to find out the center; shouting, a split second and you are at the center.

The anecdote…

Rinzai became known as the master of the shouts. On one occasion a monk asked, “What about the cardinal principle of the Buddha-dharma?”

Now, he is asking something important. What is the cardinal principle of the religion of Buddha?

Rinzai shouted – the monk bowed.

“Do you say that’s a good shout?” Rinzai asked.

The monk commented: “The thief in the grass has met complete defeat.”

“What is my offence?” Rinzai asked.

The monk replied, “It won’t be pardoned a second time.”

Rinzai gave another shout.

The first shout of Rinzai was perfectly good. The monk bowed down because he felt a great relief by moving from the circumference to the center. But Rinzai was a little suspicious. Because everything in this world becomes traditional, it had started becoming traditional that Rinzai will shout and you have to bow down to show that you have understood it, that it has reached to your center. It was becoming a tradition.

This is very unfortunate. Everything becomes a habit, a ritual, a tradition, and loses all meaning. Now, his bowing down may be true or may be just a mannerism. That’s why Rinzai asked, “Do you say that’s a good shout?”

The monk commented: “The thief in the grass has met complete defeat.”

What does he mean by this? The monk is saying, “You have been found being unsuccessful. Your shout missed.”

The monk commented: “The thief in the grass has met complete defeat.”

“What is my offense?” Rinzai asked.

The monk replied, “It won’t be pardoned a second time.”

The monk is saying, “Your shout missed.” He is not saying that shouting at him a second time will not be pardoned; he is saying, “Your being a failure will not be pardoned – It won’t be pardoned a second time. The first time I forgive you; you missed, you did not reach to my center. I bowed down because you tried, you tried hard. But the second time it will not be pardoned.”

Anybody reading it will think that he is saying, “If you shout a second time it will not be pardoned.” That is not the case. He is saying, “Your failure will not be pardoned a second time.”

Rinzai gave a shout – and the anecdote ends suddenly. After the shout there is silence. The second shout succeeded. Now the monk is silent, Rinzai is silent.

There have been long progressions for reaching to yourself, like yoga. But devices like Rinzai’s are very simple, don’t require any discipline as a prerequisite. Anybody . . . no need of having a certain character; good or bad, sinner or saint, it does not matter. What matters is to reach to the center, because at the center you are neither a sinner nor a saint. Your being a sinner or a saint are all on the periphery. Our whole society lives on the periphery; all our divisions are very superficial.

I am reminded of a great follower of Buddha, Nagarjuna. He lived naked. Perhaps Nagarjuna is the greatest logician that has walked on the earth. Aristotle is no comparison to him, neither is Shankara; Nagarjuna’s argumentation is the most refined. But he used to live naked – a beautiful man – and even kings and queens were disciples to him. In a certain capital the queen was his disciple. She asked him, “You will have to give me a favor. I want to take away your begging bowl.”

He said, “That is not a problem. You can have it.”

She said, “That is only half of it. I have prepared a begging bowl for you. This one you give to me; it will be a present, the most precious to me in the whole world. And I have made a begging bowl which you cannot reject, you have to accept it.”

He said, “I have not seen it either.”

She said, “Seeing or not seeing is not the question. First, give me the promise that you will not reject it.”

So he said, “Okay, I will not reject it.”

She brought out the bowl, and it was made of solid gold, studded with diamonds. Nagarjuna said, “You don’t understand the situation. Whether I reject it or not, I will not be able to keep it even for a few hours. A naked man carrying a begging bowl made of solid gold, studded with great diamonds – do you think I will be able to keep it? But I have promised, so I will accept it.”

A thief was watching the whole transaction. He followed Nagarjuna. He knew that this fellow lives outside the city in a dilapidated temple, and every afternoon after he has taken his food, he goes to sleep. This is a very good time to take this begging bowl away. Anyway, somebody is going to take it away . . .

So he went and he was hiding behind a wall by the side of a window watching that somebody else does not enter inside. Nagarjuna made his place to sleep and he had complete awareness that somebody had been following him.

“Why keep him unnecessarily waiting? Anyway, I am going to sleep and he will take the begging bowl. It is better to give it him. Why make him a thief?” So he threw the begging bowl outside the window where the thief was sitting.

The thief could not believe it. This is really a strange man. A strange desire arose in the thief that it would be good to have a little time to sit at this man’s feet, so he asked from the window, “Can I come in?”

Nagarjuna said, “What do you think I have thrown the begging bowl for? – to bring you in. Come in. That was just an invitation.”

The thief could not understand, but was very much impressed by the man.

Nagarjuna said, “I did not want to make you a thief, that’s why I have thrown the begging bowl. Now you can have it.”

The thief said, “It is so precious; you are a man of great mastery over yourself. I also hope one day I will not be a thief but a master like you.”

Nagarjuna said, “Why postpone it? It is a very simple secret. You can become a master.”

He said, “You don’t understand. I am a thief; I am a born thief. I cannot resist the temptation.”

Nagarjuna said, “It does not matter at all. You can remain a thief. I will give you a small meditation: whatever you do, even if you go to steal in the palace, just be a witness of what you are doing. I don’t want you not to be a thief; do whatever you want to do, but do it with full awareness. Just be a witness.”

He said, “This seems to be simple. I have been going to many saints. They say, ‘First you drop stealing, otherwise you cannot be religious.’ You are the first man who is not asking me to drop stealing.”

Nagarjuna said, “Those saints that you have met are not saints. No saint will ask you to drop stealing. Why? Do it perfectly well. Just remain a witness.”

The thief could not understand the strategy. After the third or fourth day he came back to Nagarjuna and said, “You are very clever. In these four days there have been so many opportunities to steal, but as I go to steal, to take something, immediately my hand relaxes. The moment I witness myself stealing it seems to be so embarrassing that I pull my hand back. For four days I have not been able to steal anything.”

Nagarjuna said, “Now it is your problem; I have nothing to do with it. You can choose. You can choose witnessing, or you can choose stealing.”

The man said, “Only in these four days have I been able to feel my own dignity. I cannot drop witnessing. I am coming with you.”

What witnessing does is again throw you back to your center. At the center you are a buddha. On the periphery, who you are does not matter. Once you start living at the center, slowly, slowly your circumference will start changing its colors. It will become as pure as you are at the center. It will become as compassionate as you are at the center. It will take all the fragrance of the center in all your activities.

The authentic religion does not preach morality. Morality comes on its own accord. The authentic religion teaches you to be centered in yourself. Then everything that is good follows, and what is bad simply does not arise. It is not a question of choice; choicelessly you are good. It is not that you are being good; you cannot be otherwise.

This is the miracle of Zen.

Zen simply means witnessing.

These shouts throw you to the center, and once you have learned to be at the center, you will know that on the periphery you are always a beggar, and at the center you are always an emperor. And who wants to be a beggar?

Religion is the alchemy of transforming beggars into emperors.

A great Zen poet, Ikkyu, wrote:

Crazy madman,
Blowing up a crazy wind,
Wandering here and there,
Amidst brothels and wine shops.

Is there an enlightened monk
Who can match me
Even for a single word?

I paint the south; I paint the north;
I am painting the west and east.

He is saying “People think I am crazy . . . ” Crazy madman, blowing up a crazy wind, wandering here and there, amidst brothels and wine shops.

An authentic buddha is not afraid of brothels and wine shops. The saints who are afraid are really repressed people; they are not transformed beings.

Is there an enlightened monk who can match me?

A buddha can move with absolute freedom in the marketplace. Those who renounce the world are the cowards, the escapists, and they have destroyed all the religions of the world. All the religions are in the hands of the cowards.

An authentic religious man is a lion, and he is so centered in himself that he is not worried about being anywhere. He is so certain of his purity, of his eternity, of his divinity that he knows that if a thief comes to him, it is the thief who will have to change; if a prostitute comes to him, it is the prostitute who will have to change.

Our so-called saints are so much afraid. Their fear shows their repressions. A repressed man is not a religious man; he is simply sick, he needs psychiatric treatment.

-Osho

From Rinzai: The Master of the Irrational, Discourse #1

Copyright © OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

 

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