Maneesha, Hakuin is one of the most respected Zen masters. His respect is because of his ability to express the inexpressible, to create devices that somehow can manage to give you a glimpse of the unknown. He is basically concerned with the method. If a right method is used in the right time and ripe time, it is not going to fail. If you are on the right way, it may take some time to reach, but you will reach. The whole question before Hakuin is: the right way, the right method, the right beginning.
It was Gautam Buddha’s habitual way of expression. All the great qualities that he has called for in an experienced, self-realized man, all begin with the word ‘right’. For example, he will not say simply samadhi. He will say samma samadhi. Samadhi can go wrong, people can mistake similar experiences for samadhi and get lost.
That’s what happened to Aldous Huxley when he took LSD. He was a man of tremendous knowledge, particularly of the East, and most of the saints of the East he knew well. He immediately said that, “The experience of LSD is samadhi, the same experience that Patanjali has described, the ultimate phenomenon.”
This gives a clear illustration that Buddha was right not to use simply the word samadhi. It is dangerous. You can find something else and think it is samadhi; there are similar phenomena. There are people who have become addicted to opium, or hashish, or marijuana. And these drugs have been used for centuries, from the very beginning of man. It is nothing new.
The reason why they became addicted is because the drugs gave them a glimpse of something . . . how things should be. They are temporary glimpses, and they are produced by chemicals so they don’t go beyond the mind. But mind gets a glimpse, just as the lake reflects the faraway moon. And the experience is so beautiful that not to repeat it again and again becomes impossible.
All the societies have been fighting against drugs but the fight has not been successful. It will never succeed the way the society is. It can succeed only if you give people the right experience of samma samadhi — ‘samma samadhi’ means right samadhi — so that they can make a differentiation, a discrimination between what is right and what is wrong. Those who have known their buddha-nature are not addicted to drugs, do not need drugs for their experience. Their experience is not caused by any chemicals; their experience is caused by turning their whole energy in towards the center of their being. That has nothing to do with chemicals. But chemicals can give you an illusion, something very similar.
Hakuin has adopted Buddha’s habit. Buddha never spoke about anything without adding the word ‘right’ first, because his understanding was — and he is correct — that everything can go wrong if you get caught up with something similar which is illusory. And you cannot make the distinction because you don’t know the real. Unless you know the real, how can you expect to make a discrimination between the unreal and the real?
It was a great contribution of Gautam Buddha that he would talk about all the qualities using the word ‘right’ first. Samma means right. Because everything can be taken for granted as right if you don’t have any experience of it. Then any illusion, any hallucination . . . and these hallucinations will drag you through life after life.
A man like Aldous Huxley, one of the most intelligent men of this century, got caught into it. He became addicted to LSD and he preached that what he was experiencing was the same as what Buddha experienced and Kabir experienced. This is definitely going beyond the limitations. Aldous Huxley has no way to know what Kabir experienced, he has no way to know what Buddha experienced. Buddha’s experience was not dependent on any LSD, it was an inner experience dependent only on his own consciousness.
LSD gives you unconsciousness, not consciousness. If you are in a good mood LSD can give you paradise; LSD is simply a magnifying glass. If you are in a good mood, a loving mood, and you take LSD, you feel the whole world is filled with love. You will even touch your chair with a loving hand. All around everything will be beautiful, nothing will be wrong.
But it lasts only for a few hours and when you wake up, you wake up in a far worse world than the one you had been in before you took the LSD, because you have seen something beautiful and now you see an ordinary world which has lost its luster. You have seen in LSD rainbows all around; suddenly they have all disappeared. You have seen people having auras and now they are just so ordinary. But even to imagine that they had an aura looks stupid.
But Buddha or Kabir, once they become enlightened . . . this enlightenment is not something that has to be renewed every year like a license. Once it has happened, it has happened. It may become bigger and more mature, but there is no way of going back. That is the criterion of whether you are hallucinating through drugs or you are authentically meditating.
The word ‘right’ has to be understood. Many people have been worried about why Buddha continually uses the word right about every quality. They are not aware that for every real quality there is a phony quality available — “made in U.S.A.” That phony quality is cheap, but it serves only for a few hours, and then you are caught in it because it is so beautiful — again and again . . . And every time you take it, you have to take it in a bigger dose because your body becomes immune. A moment comes when no LSD can make any difference; your body has become completely immune.
India is far more experienced with drugs because for ten thousand years at least it has been trying to use all kinds of drugs and poisons to create a cheap imitation of the ultimate experience. They have gone even to the point . . . even today there are monasteries in Ladakh where they keep cobra snakes.
When a person becomes so accustomed to all the drugs that no drug helps anymore, then the last thing is a cobra bite. The cobra bites on his tongue, then he feels a little samadhi. Otherwise a cobra bite usually means the end. And you will be surprised: there are cases of the cobra dying, because the man is so full of poison.
It has been used in India for centuries. Each great king used to raise a beautiful girl, and from her very childhood she was given poison — from smaller doses to bigger doses. It made her so immune that she was able to absorb any dose of poison without falling unconscious. And the final stage was, when she became a young girl, blossomed in her youth, she could be sent to the enemy king. There was no difficulty in it, she had just to move to the other capital and the king himself would become interested in her. Those girls were chosen from thousands of beautiful girls; they were unique specimens. Immediately the king would become aware that there was a beautiful girl he had never seen before, and just a kiss from that girl was enough to kill the man.
It is good that nowadays you don’t find such trained and disciplined girls. They were available at the time of Gautam Buddha. And it was not something that you use one time and then throw away, in the American way. They would kill the king and they would come home ready to be sent somewhere else, because nobody could think that the kiss of the girl had killed the king.
Aldous Huxley and his colleagues are not aware of the whole history of drugs. And why was the girl ready to take it? It gave such a good feeling, such a joyful feeling. She was not thinking about what she was being prepared for, but she was floating in a euphoria.
Buddha is right when he says samma samadhi. He will not accept Aldous Huxley’s samadhi as a right samadhi. It is an illusion.
But I wonder that nobody has criticized Aldous Huxley. All the governments are against drugs; obviously they should criticize Aldous Huxley first. But they don’t have either the intelligence or the experience. That man at least had the experience of the illusory — the governments don’t have the experience even of the illusory. But down the ages, although every government has been against drugs, this has not made any change. No prohibition ever makes any change; on the contrary it increases your interest in the things prohibited.
I am against all prohibition. My own understanding is that if LSD can give some glimpse of samadhi, then all its bad aftereffects should be removed, because it is a chemical and it is in our hands. Those bad aftereffects are the problem. They should be removed and an LSD number two should be made — clean, taken in complete awareness that it is going to give you only a glimpse. Its addictiveness can be taken out, and when you know it is going to give you only a glimpse there is no harm. It may lead you to the search for the real.
Rather than prohibiting the drugs, what is needed is to produce drugs which lead people to samadhi, which give an indication: if a chemical drug can be such a blessing, what will the real thing be? It is just a dewdrop in comparison with the real oceanic feeling, the oceanic ecstasy.
But nobody listens to any right approach. Thousands of people are unnecessarily in the jails. The number may be millions, not thousands, and most of them are underage; even six-year-olds have been found taking drugs. Nobody has suggested any solution for it.
And once a boy or girl, whatever their age, takes the drug, they cannot forget the experience. Everything else becomes just rotten; the mind continuously hankers for the drug.
It is the duty of the governments of the whole world, through their chemical drug research, to produce drugs which are not harmful, which are not addictive. Any bad aftereffects have been removed, and only that part which gives a joyous feeling, a desire to dance and a desire to find something real is left, because that feeling will disappear within hours.
These drugs can be used in a right way. Everything can be used in a right way and everything can be used in a wrong way, but it is still the same thing.
Hakuin said to his disciples:
The study of Zen is like drilling wood to get fire.
An old, ancient method.
The wisest course is to forge straight ahead without stopping. If you rest at the first sign of heat and then again as soon as the first wisp of smoke arises, even though you drill for three asamkhyeye kalpas . . .
Asamk means innumerable, and kalpas means yugas, or ages. If you drill for asamk, for innumerable ages, you will never find a spark of fire.
What he is saying is that there are things which have to be done fast. If you do them slowly, at the most you may create smoke but not fire. To create fire you have to drill hard and without resting. If, seeing that the wood is becoming hot, you say, “Let us rest a little,” the wood will become cool again. If, seeing that the wood is smoking, you say, “Now the fire is not far away we can rest a little,” the smoke will disappear, the wood will become cool again. The fire is hidden in the wood but you have to be very continuous until you find the spark, the flame jumping up from the wood.
This is a very good example for meditators. You go a little while and then you say, “I have to go tomorrow again, what is the hurry? It is enough, now rest — and if finally, everybody has to become a buddha, what does it matter whether it is Sunday or Saturday? There are only seven days; someday I will become a buddha.” But if you think in terms of going slowly, in a lousy way, taking rests, you will never reach.
Although the path is very short, it is short only for those who go like an arrow. The arrow does not stop on the way, there are no stations for the arrow. It does not rest a little while in the air and then go again, it simply goes straight without halting on the way. And that should be remembered by every meditator.
I have been using the word ‘arrow’ purposely so that you can understand that going into yourself is not a morning walk — that you can return from anywhere. It is not something that you can do in parts; you have to do it one day in a single quantum leap. Whenever you decide, then don’t look back, just go ahead.
Certainly it needs guts and courage because you are moving in a dark and unknown space. You don’t have with you even a lamp — no companion, you don’t have any map. And meditation demands that you go with the speed of light, so fast that the journey of thousands of lives is completed in a single moment.
My native place is close to the seashore, barely a few hundred paces from the beach. Suppose a man of my village is concerned because he does not now the flavor of sea, and wants to go and taste it for himself. If he turns back after having taken only a few steps, or even if he returns after having taken a hundred steps, in either case when will he ever know the ocean’s bitter salty taste?
You have to go to the ocean; one hundred feet or two hundred feet, that is not the question. You have to go all the way.
But, though a man comes as far as the mountains of Koshu or Shinshu, Hida or Mino, if he goes straight ahead without stopping, within a few days he will reach the shore, and, the moment he dips the tip of one finger into the sea and licks it, he will instantly know the taste of the water of the distant oceans and the nearby seas and of the southern beaches and the northern shores. In fact of all the sea water in the world.
But the question is of going to the sea, not just going in a lukewarm way: “Today a few steps and then we will see tomorrow.” But tomorrow you will have to take these few steps again. And if this becomes your habit — “A few steps today and then we will see tomorrow” — if this becomes your pattern then you will never reach. Always you will be going on those few steps, and then the decision that, “It is enough, now we will see tomorrow.”
For the meditator there is no tomorrow.
Future is not the concern of meditation. Future is the concern of the mind; mind cannot live without future. If suddenly all future disappears, mind will be at a loss what to do. Future is the space in which mind goes on weaving imaginations, projects, ideas: what one is going to become, what one is going to achieve. All ambitions are laid out in the future. But if the future completely disappears — suddenly you come to the point where you see that there is no future — either your heart will stop or you will run away backwards, thinking that at least the past will be there. But the past is not there.
The past and the future both are in your mind.
Existentially there is only this moment.
So when you meditate today, do it as if this is the last day. You may not have any chance to meditate again, so go all the way to the seashore. And once you have got the taste of your being — the rejoicing, the dancing, the blessing, the ecstasy — then there is no problem, you know the way. It is not far, it is just within you, just a few inches away from your mind. But once you have to know it. Just once you have to know it, then there is no problem. Then you cannot forget it, then you cannot go away against it; then it becomes your very life. And when meditation becomes one’s very life, there is nothing more in this existence to make you richer, to make you more of a splendor. The secret is hidden within you.
A Zen poet wrote:
With a pierced net — a net with holes.
With a pierced net
All the butterflies
Of the universe.
He is not talking about butterflies; neither is he talking about a pierced net. He is talking about your mind, which is certainly pierced — so many holes, so many loopholes, so many stitches here and there, so many cracks. But the poet is saying, don’t be worried:
With a pierced net
All the butterflies
Of the universe.
Just know the secret. And the secret is to go beyond the pierced net. Be a master of your mind, then even a pierced net is capable of catching all the butterflies of the world. Right now your mind catches nothing. From all the holes and loopholes everything goes on leaking out. Have you seen that you are leaking continuously? I don’t think . . . but now you will see.
Basho says, sitting silently . . . It is right, but he does not know that when you sit silently it is not necessarily true that the grass grows by itself. What seems to be more likely is that the mind leaks by itself. Basho’s experience is a great experience, but this is a very simple experiment that you can do. Just sitting in your room with closed eyes, see: thoughts are rushing this way and that way, everything is leaking.
When I say go beyond the mind, I mean go beyond all this leaking so that you can find something solid to stand upon. Before you take the jump, you need to find a spot at least to stand on, from which to jump into the darkness, into the unknown territory of your own being.
Buddha is reported to have said that everything that is great is bitter in the beginning and very sweet in the end — and vice versa. That which is very sweet in the beginning, for example a honeymoon, is very bitter in the end. Meditation may be entering into darkness, unknown territory, but it ends up in self-illumination, in a great explosion of light. And once the explosion has happened, you remain the buddha forever; you cannot go back. The mind has gone, just as a shadow disappears. You function now from no-mind, and any action from no-mind is good, is a blessing to the world.
Maneesha has asked:
Our beloved Master,
Hakuin said, “The wisest course is to forge straight ahead without stopping.” But if we knew where straight ahead was, would we need to walk it?
It is just a way of saying it. There is no problem in it when Hakuin says, The wisest course is to forge straight ahead. He is talking to the disciples, not to the students; he is talking to the meditators.
When I say to you, go straight in, you don’t ask me, “Where is this ‘in’?” You don’t consult an encyclopedia or a map of the world — where is this ‘in’? You understand, you know perfectly well where it is, just you have not gone that way before.
So, Maneesha, you know perfectly well where you have to go. Just go straight ahead. Walking will not do, not even running. That’s why I have used the word ‘arrow’ — with the speed of light. I have used the words ‘quantum leap’. One moment you were not a buddha and another moment you are a buddha — so fast.
There is no distance between you and your buddhahood, only a misunderstanding. It is something like, two plus two is four but by some mistake you have been calculating that two plus two is five, and I tell you that this is a mistake: two plus two is not five, it is four. Do you think you will have to do something? Immediately you see the point.
It is said that psychotics are ones who think two plus two is certainly five. They are very fundamentalist. All fundamentalists are psychotics. They know everything — where God is . . . They know that the Holy Ghost committed a crime, and rather than hanging God on the cross, the Jews hung the poor boy Jesus — it was not his fault.
The Holy Ghost and God are not separate. The Holy Ghost seems to be God’s personality, his mask. Not to say directly that God committed adultery, and with a poor virgin, Mary, they say that the Holy Ghost did it. And the poor boy who was born out of this criminal act, they crucified. They should have crucified God, but the difficulty is . . . In fact everybody would like to crucify God, but where to find him? They found the only begotten son, so they said, “It is near enough. Crucify this fellow at least.”
The psychotics cannot be convinced that two plus two is not five; the neurotics are those who think that perhaps two plus two is four, but they are very uncertain of it, very worried why is it four? Why is it not five? With five they were perfectly at ease. This is the way psychologists find out who is a psychotic and who is a neurotic.
You cannot remove the psychotic from his position, whatever position he has taken. The neurotic you can remove, but he will remain always worried: “This seems to be right, but who knows? Perhaps I was right before, because then I was at ease. Here, with two plus two making four it creates such an anxiety.”
There is no distance between you and your ultimate reality. Just an about turn . . . just, rather than looking outwards, close your eyes and look in. In a single instance, when you have forgotten the outside world completely — the past, the future, everything — and you remain only in this moment, looking inwards, the happening, the transformation, the arrival of the buddha . . .
Maneesha is also asking:
Is not our uncertainty, our groping, because we have to discover for ourselves what is straight ahead and what is going off track?
If you look in you cannot go off track, because there are no tracks. There are not two ways even. It is the outside world where if you don’t know, naturally you will have to grope around. In the inside world you don’t even have hands with which to grope. The inside world is a pure seeing.
In this country we have called this seeing darshan. Darshan means just seeing. And that does everything, you don’t have to do anything else.
From The Language of Existence #2
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