Maneesha, the way of Zen requires certain conditions to be fulfilled. They are not the conditions that other religions require; they are the conditions of receptivity, of awareness, of listening, of an understanding of the wordless, a deep penetration into silence. No other religion asks you these things. They want you to be virtuous, to be moral, not to indulge in adultery. Their requirements are very superficial.
Zen requires real qualities of being. Only then the master can impart his understanding of the ultimate. In other words, Zen is not a theology, but a being-to-being communion. The disciple has to rise to the same height as the master, otherwise he will miss whatever is being said to him. These qualities will bring him very close to the height of the master.
A master certainly knows at what height you are and he speaks accordingly. He never wastes a single word or a single moment.
Maneesha has brought this small anecdote, which will explain to you what Rinzai, who was the founder of Zen in Japan, is about.
When Rinzai once visited Horin, Horin said: “Into the sea, the moonlight falls clear and shadowless, but the wanton fish deceive themselves.”
Rinzai commented: “If the moonlight on the sea is without shadows, how can the fish be deceived?”
All deception is taking the shadow for the real. But strangely enough – perhaps you have never observed it – a shadow itself cannot cast a shadow. Hence the ancient law that if you see a man without a shadow, remember he is a ghost, because a real man will have a shadow. Only a man who appears as a man but is transparent – you can pass your hand through him and you will not touch anything – will not make any shadow.
The reflection of the moon in the lake is a shadow itself. How can it cast a shadow? That is impossible. But what Horin wanted to say is not anything unnecessary or non-essential.
He said, “Into the sea, the moonlight falls clear and shadowless, but the wanton fish deceive themselves.”
What do they deceive themselves about? What is their deception? What is their illusion? Their illusion is to take the reflection as the real moon.
But Rinzai commented: “If the moonlight on the sea is without shadows, how can the fish be deceived?”
The fish can certainly be deceived, because even men are deceived by shadows. Rinzai’s question is clear and from a height of consciousness. Everybody in the world is deceived by shadows. What are all your imaginations? What are all your dreams?
Have you ever considered the fact that while dreaming you never think that this is unreal? While awake you may think perhaps that all you are saying is unreal, only a dream; but in a dream you can never think that it is a dream, for the simple reason that if you are so much aware as to experience the dream as a dream, the dream will stop. Dreaming can continue only in a very unconscious, unaware state.
The real question is not about the fish. The fish is only a symbol. The real question is about the man.
“If the moonlight on the sea is without shadows, how can the fish be deceived?”
There is only one way for the fish to be deceived, and that is to take the reflection as the real moon.
Horin missed the point. He started explaining why the fish gets caught into a deception. That was not what Rinzai wanted him to do. For him the fish was not the point at all, neither was the reflection of the moon. His concern was this, that what to say about a fish, even men are deceived by shadows – and not only in dreams, but in actual life when they are awake. Every day you continue to get deceived, but you are not aware, hence it does not hurt you and your dignity.
You see a woman as very beautiful – and she is certainly beautiful, but where does that beauty go after the honeymoon? Then you want to kill the same woman for whom you were ready to die one day.
You can appreciate other women’s beauty, but I have never heard of any husband appreciating his own wife’s beauty. Perhaps what he saw was not the real woman as she is; he saw the woman as he wanted to see her.
It was a dream projection, and a dream projection cannot be prolonged for long. Sooner or later the dream projection drops away, and suddenly you see the real person. Nothing has changed: the woman is the same, the man is the same, but neither the woman thinks you are the same man she fell in love with, nor do you think she is the same woman you had fallen in love with.
What happened? Just within a week . . . and if you are intelligent enough, then just over the weekend. It depends on intelligence. The idiots can live out their whole lives. The more intelligent a person is, the sooner he will see his projections, imaginations dropping, the clouds disappearing, and he will see the pure sky without any clouds – and it is going to change his opinion.
Rinzai is saying that we are all living in shadow. You think, you project, you imagine, you dream. The greatest lovers in the world were those who never met; their love is eternal. People sing songs of Siri and Farhad, of Laila and Majnu, of Soni and Mahival, and the only reason why their love is remembered is that they were never allowed by their parents and the society to be together.
If Laila and Majnu had got married, you would never have heard their names. Have you ever heard any story, any poetry concerning a married couple? I at least have searched enough, and I have not found it. It seems to be intrinsically impossible, because as they come close, their projections start falling. If they are kept away, forced to be apart, then their dreams become even more beautiful. Their imagination takes wings.
And not only in this matter but in other matters also, you live in shadows, in your hopes. What have you got in your hopes? Just empty imagination that tomorrow something will happen that has not happened up to now, and you will feel fulfilled. It never happens. What happens tomorrow is death, and death creates fear for a simple reason you may not be aware of.
The fear of death is that it takes the future out of your hands. You have been living in the future in your imagination, and death comes and puts a full stop. No more tomorrow. The future is simply your idea of how things should be. The existence has no obligation to you to fulfill your desires and your hopes. People even give promises, people say to each other, “I will love you my whole life,” not knowing at all that the whole life is a long thing.
One man was saying to his girlfriend, “I will love you my whole life.”
Then for a moment he became silent, and the woman said, “Why have you become silent suddenly?”
He said, “Just tell me one thing. In your old age, will you start looking like your mother? – because then I cannot give that promise. Suddenly I thought, ‘What am I saying? In the old age this woman is going to look like the mother-in-law!’” And mother-in-laws . . . it is just strange that people don’t shoot them.
I have heard, a hunter was going into the forest for hunting. His wife insisted on going and she also insisted on taking his mother-in-law. Not to create any trouble he said, “Okay, there is no harm in it. You can sit in the top of a tree and you can see.”
The mother-in-law was not too old to climb a tree, so she was sitting in a small tree when a lion came near. The wife saw it from her tall tree and shouted to her husband, “Just see, one lion is very close to my mother.”
The husband said, “It is not my problem, it is the lion’s problem. Now he has got into trouble. If he wants to get out, he will get out. You just keep quiet.”
People expect something, and it is never fulfilled. There is always frustration all around. People are living in despair, and the reason is that what they expected… existence has no desire, no reason to go according to their expectations. If you want to be happy, go along with existence and its ends wherever it takes you.
That’s what I mean by let-go: you simply drop your projections, your imaginations, and let the existence take hold of your whole life. Then there is no despair, because there is no possibility of being frustrated. There is no anguish and no anxiety; you are relaxed with existence. Whatever happens, that is good.
The whole existence is wiser than you, so whatever happens – Buddha says suchness – just whatever happens, remember, such is the nature of existence. Don’t stand aloof and against existence; be part, and feel a certain oneness.
That oneness can be called suchness, or isness, or thisness, but the meaning is that whatever happens is good. You have to find out the beauty of it and the joy of it. Only such a man can be blissful; otherwise there is always the feeling of being deceived.
Every man – out of a thousand, perhaps one man dies without the idea that he has been deceived by life. Almost everybody dies with the idea, “What was it? Seventy years I struggled; what is the game?” All your expectations are shattered, all your dreams are broken, all your promises remain unfulfilled. You are dying a bankrupt.
Almost everybody dies a bankrupt as far as his expectations are concerned. Only a man of let-go is not deceived by anything. He takes everything that comes in the way happily and joyously, and if things change, he allows the change without any hindrance, without creating any barriers to prevent the change. Such a man knows no deceptions. He knows life has never deceived him, but has always fulfilled those longings which he was not even aware of.
Horin then said: “Seeing there is wind, waves arise; playing with the water, the rough sail flaps.”
He did not understand that Rinzai was not talking about the fish, and he is trying to explain his own statement without listening to what Rinzai has raised as a question.
Rinzai said: “The frog in the moon shines brightly alone, and all rivers and hills are at peace. The long breath of the wind is the voice of autumn in earth and sky.”
Everything is as it should be. So peaceful are the hills in the full moon night . . . rivers are at peace, dancing in the full moon night. Because of their dance the full moon’s reflection becomes a silver spread over all. Everything is silent and peaceful, there is no frustration in the hills, there is no frustration in the rivers. Even the frog in the moon shines brightly alone.
If you look at nature, just taking man and his mind away, everything is bliss, everything is buddha. It is only man’s mind that creates trouble, because it cannot allow a let-go.
The long breath of the wind is the voice of autumn in earth and sky.
And there is great joy that autumn is coming. The moon is full of blissfulness and all that shines in the moonlight, except man . . .
Man can also be as happy as the hills and as peaceful as the rivers if he looks at the moon and the surroundings without any mind. With no thought, he will also become part of the whole scene.
But man remains always concerned with his own stupid ideas. When the whole existence is rejoicing, it is only man who is worried. Have you ever seen a tree worried? No animal is ever worried. Even in dying, it dies peacefully. Such is the way of existence, that anything that is born is going to die.
But man’s mind intrudes, always creates problems, because it expects things to be different than they are. He is not ready to accept the suchness of existence; he wants it according to him. This, according to him, is the whole misery. Everybody is trying that everything should be according to him. One may say it, one may not say it, but even without saying it, your mind is weaving thoughts about how things should be brought according to your idea – and this is impossible.
You cannot change existence.
All that you can do is drop your mind.
Horin said: “Though you may spread your three inches of tongue, and illuminate the celestial quietness, just try and say a single word to fit the occasion!”
Rinzai responded – and his response is of fundamental importance: “When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword. When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem.”
Each according to his worth, each according to his receptivity. You are not yet able to receive one word and understand it. I cannot recite a poem to you, because you will not understand it; you will certainly misunderstand.
I have heard, a thief was brought into the court, and the judge said, “Why have you entered this man’s house?”
The poor thief said, “I have entered to steal something. But the man was so strange: he caught hold of me, and when I tried hard to escape he said, ‘Don’t be worried, just sit down and listen. I have written a new poem.’ I thought it was better to listen silently, but the poem went on and on and on. And he was holding me by the hand, so this way the whole night he tortured me. I didn’t understand a single word of what he was saying, and I could not escape either.
“By the morning the police came, and now I am standing here before you with only one hope: that you will not give me the punishment to listen to this poet again. I am ready even to go to the gallows. I had no idea that this house belongs to a poet, otherwise I would not have entered.”
Poets are like that. It is very difficult for them to find audiences. They go on searching around to see if they can find somebody, and everybody goes on running away saying, “I have to do some special work. Right now, I am not available.” Who wants to waste time?
“Unless you are a poet,” Rinzai is saying, “don’t say anything to a person who is not worthy of it, because that is insulting him, that is degrading him, that is taking his dignity, that is bringing up his unworthiness. So don’t ask me for a single word; you are not yet capable of receiving it. You have not understood a single thing, and you went on explaining. You are not a fish and you don’t know what goes on in the mind of the fish.
“Talk about man and talk about his deceptions, and find out the reason why he gets deceived. It is his own resistance to existence, and an effort to give a mold to the whole life – which is not possible. He is trying the impossible and goes on failing.”
This failure is not just his mistake. It is not that he has not been doing rightly; whatever he does he will be a failure. Nobody can be wiser than the cosmic existence. So the wise people allow themselves to go along with the existential river, not even asking, “Where are we going?”
Existence is going nowhere. It is simply here, just playing with thousands of forms, thousands of situations, creating more and more consciousness, more and more happiness, more and more love. If it is not happening to you, it simply means you are keeping your doors closed.
Just open your heart and relax with existence and suddenly you will see, The frog in the moon shines brightly alone. No company is needed, no richness is needed – just a poor frog. No political position is needed – and all rivers and hills are at peace. They don’t have anything, but they have peace, which you cannot purchase.
The long breath of the wind is the voice of autumn in earth and sky. Just be with existence wherever it is going and you will be unworried. Your tensions will disappear. You will be as happy as a child, you will be as beautiful as a flower.
When you break up a cherry tree
There are no flowers at all;
The flowers are brought by the
Even though you soar boundlessly
Even beyond the clouds,
Just don’t rely on
The teachings of Gautama.
Two things Ikkyu is saying: one, you cannot bring the flowers, which will come in their own time. You have to wait; you have to be patient. You cannot ask, “Why are the cherry flowers not coming?” The tree is there, you are watering the tree . . . You can even, Ikkyu says, break up a cherry tree and look inside the tree to find where the flowers are hidden. There are no flowers at all.
The flowers are brought by the spring wind. Let the spring come, let the right moment and the climate and the right wind reach the cherry tree. It will blossom suddenly; it will explode into immense beauty.
The cherry tree is waiting; it is not in a hurry; it is not running somewhere to catch up with spring. It is simply waiting silently, joyously. Spring comes; even if it is a day or two late, what does it matter? It has always been coming.
The second thing Ikkyu says: Even though you soar boundlessly even beyond the clouds, just don’t rely on the teachings of Gautama. That can be said only by the Zen masters about their own originator: “Don’t rely on Gautama the Buddha’s teachings” – because his teachings were in a different context. He was talking to a different kind of people. You may not be that kind of person at all, and the times have changed; those teachings may be no more relevant.
Only rely on your own consciousness. Even Gautama’s consciousness is not reliable. He is not saying that Gautama is wrong; he is saying that Gautama was dealing with situations fifteen hundred years before.
I have told you of an instance when just in a single day . . . In the morning a man asked Gautam Buddha, “Is there a God?”
And Gautama said, “No, there is no God.”
In the afternoon another man asked, “What do you think about God?”
Gautama said, “Yes, God is.”
You can understand the trouble Ananda, who was continuously with him, was in. He started having a migraine. What kind of man is this? In the morning he says, “There is no God,” and in the afternoon he has forgotten completely, and he is saying, “There is God.”
He waited for the time in the night when there would be nobody around, but before that a third person came in the evening, sat down and asked Gautama, “I have no conception either for or against God. Just help me to understand.”
And Gautam Buddha did not say anything to the man, but on the contrary simply closed his eyes, remained silent. Seeing this, the other man also closed his eyes and sat. He thought perhaps Buddha was going to say something in his silence and they both remained in silence for two hours.
The man felt so beautiful and so fresh and so young, so rejuvenated, that after two hours he opened his eyes and he was a changed man. He touched Gautam Buddha’s feet, thanked him and told him, “I was not expecting that much. You have given me more than I had asked. You have given me a taste. I had come only to ask a question; you have taken me to the experience itself. I will remain grateful to you my whole life.”
In the night Ananda said, “You should at least think of me. The whole day I have been in such a trouble. What kind of man are you? In the morning you say no, in the afternoon you say yes, in the evening you don’t say anything, but just remain silent – and that fellow gets the answer and you have not said anything.”
Buddha said, “The first man, to whom I said, ‘There is no God,’ was an atheist, and he had come to get a confirmation of his atheism, that if Gautam Buddha also is an atheist, then there is no problem. Atheism is certainly the right approach. There is no God. “The second man had also come for confirmation of his own prejudice. He was a theist and he wanted support. They were not seekers; they were only asking for consolation. They had already got the idea; they were simply asking me to support their ideas. They were satisfied with their ideas without ever moving into any new space.
“But the third man was really a seeker. He plainly said, ‘I don’t have any idea for or against.’ For such a man only, silence is the answer. And because he had no prejudice, seeing me closing my eyes and becoming silent, he immediately understood the hint. He closed his eyes and he went deep into silence. Although I had not said anything to him, he went away immensely richer than he had come.
“And Ananda,” Buddha said, “you should not be disturbed, because none of these questions were yours. It is not your problem.”
Ananda said, “It is not my problem, but I have ears and I am always close to you.”
Buddha said, “You will have to learn that I don’t have any fixed philosophy so that I can hand over immediately ready-made answers. I have to see the person, his capacity. I don’t want to insult anybody. I don’t want to give something which they cannot understand, which is going to be over their heads.”
If this was the situation in Buddha’s own time, Ikkyu is right: Just don’t rely on the teachings of Gautama. Find out your own sources. Go deeper into your own being. You will find there the affirmation of Gautam Buddha.
But don’t rely on the teachings. Just don’t sit with the scriptures, reading them for years, studying them for years. That is not going to help. Gautam Buddha had not read those scriptures before he became enlightened, so it is absolutely certain that they cannot be the cause of anybody’s enlightenment. Just do what he did; don’t be too much concerned what he said. Whatever he said was meant for his contemporaries, for his time, for the people he was talking to.
Do what Buddha did. He became a no-mind, and becoming a no-mind, you will have to throw even Buddha and his scriptures out of your being. Only in this emptiness is there a possibility of the cherry blossoms of your being coming from the potential to the actual. You can bring the spring by bringing the no-mind.
As no-mind comes, thousands of miracles follow. But don’t desire those miracles; if you start desiring them, you will never have the no-mind, because those desires will not allow the mind to be empty.
So remember, it is one of the most significant things for a seeker that he should not become too much concerned about the search. He should remain playful. “If there is a truth in existence, someday, somewhere I am going to encounter it.”
But don’t be serious, just be playful. In playfulness you are relaxed, and in relaxation, utter relaxation, you will find Gautam Buddha himself, so why bother about his teachings? When you can find Gautam Buddha himself, then why bother about dead scriptures? Ikkyu is right, absolutely right.
Maneesha has asked a question:
Our beloved master,
Is the witness a presence or simply an absence – the absence of identification with body and mind?
Maneesha, it is a difficult question – difficult only because your mind never accepts contradictions, and existence absolutely is in favor of contradictions. In fact, existence is made of contradictions. So these two words, presence and absence, are both right.
In the witness there is absence, certainly, of your personality, of your mind, of your thoughts, feelings – anything that you are carrying within your mind is absent. If you look from this side, it appears that no-mind is empty mind.
But the moment all these things are emptied out, the potential of your being starts growing – a new presence which was hindered from growing by all the furniture that you have been carrying in the mind. Now that all that furniture and all those stones are thrown and the soil is ready, there comes a new presence.
So both are there as far as your mind is concerned. Meditation is an effort of creating absence. But when the mind is really absent, in that silence, in that unlimited space, your potential starts glowing, radiating, flowering. Suddenly you are full of cherry blossoms, a new presence, a new fragrance.
So absence and presence are both together in your meditation. On the one hand you are emptying, on the other hand the empty space is being filled with your potential. Before there was no space for it to blossom.
Meditation is simply creating a space for your potential to come to flower. A man of meditation has such a presence that you can feel it.
In my dining room I have got a small statue of Buddha. It is only a statue, but when Jayesh came for the first time and saw it, he said, “This statue has a great presence.” I have loved that statue and carried it from India to America, from America to India, because it has a presence. It is only a statue, but a statue of a meditating buddha. Something of meditation in that very posture radiates a very alive aura.
I have brought another statue for your Buddha Auditorium, to be placed just at the gate, so you can see that even a statue, because it is in a meditative posture, radiates something. Just sitting by the side of the statue you will find something flowing from the statue towards you. It is not a worship; it is just being silently close and watching the posture. Because the posture is of meditation, something of meditativeness radiates even from the stone.
So when you are meditating, you are doing both the things: on one hand you are throwing away all that is garbage, and on the other hand you are helping roses to blossom. You will have an absence and you will have a great presence, together: absence of all that was ugly in you, and presence of all that is beautiful.
From Rinzai: Master of the Irrational, Discourse #6
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