A Successor Has to be a Master – Osho

Maneesha, this is the last talk on Hyakujo, and the piece that you have chosen is the strangest – a beautiful ending, showing Hyakujo at his peak.

On one occasion, Isan, Goho and Ungan, were all standing together in attendance on Hyakujo.

These three were the most intimate disciples. One of the three was going to be the successor – so was the rumor. In the thousands of disciples these three were possible successors. And every master, before choosing, asks a question which is in fact a koan which cannot be answered.

Hyakujo said to Isan . . .

This was the evening of his life, time to depart from the world. He was in search now for whom to transmit the light that he had carried his whole life. He asked Isan, “With your mouth and lips closed, how would you say it?”

Two things: first, the it is the ultimate experience. Zen is very particular. There have been gods which are male gods, created by male chauvinists: “How can a god be a woman?” And there have been women goddesses in the primitive tribes, far closer to the idea of the father god than the mother goddess, because the mother gives birth to life. God can be conceived as the whole womb of universe. He creates the world. It seems to be more human to conceive of God as a woman, but the male chauvinist mind won’t allow it. So only in very primitive tribes is there still some idea of mother goddesses. But all over the world, in the so-called civilized societies, the male chauvinist has replaced the mother goddesses and has put father gods.

To avoid this stupid controversy about whether God is a man or a woman, Zen calls the ultimate experience, it – neither he nor she. That comes very close to the point of how God can be male, or God can be female. It can only be a neutral life principle which can express itself in thousands of ways in men, in women, in trees, in mountains. Those are all just his expressions. In reality, hidden behind all these expressions, is a pure life principle. It can only be called it.

So when Hyakujo asked, “With your mouth and lips closed, how would you say it?”

Those who are not acquainted with the world of Zen, will be simply surprised, “What are you asking, what is it! In the first place you are asking an impossible thing: ‘With your mouth and lips closed,’ and in the second place you are asking, ‘How would you say it?’ – two mysteries in one question.”

Isan said, “I would ask you to say it.” He challenged his masters: “It is impossible, but I will give you a chance. If I cannot say it, I want you to say it. With your lips closed, with your mouth shut, say it.”

Hyakujo said, “I could say it, but if I did so, I fear I should have no successors.”

What he is saying is, “If I have to say it, then you are not capable of being my successor. I can say it. Neither the lips are needed nor the mouth. Just a good hit and you will know it that I have said it.” Ordinarily Hyakujo was not very much into hitting people. Perhaps this was the first time he had gone so far: “My hit is going to be so great that perhaps you will fall dead. I won’t have any successors. And even if you survive my hit, you would have disqualified yourself. You have not answered. Rather than answering my question, you have questioned me – and this is a test to choose a successor.”

Hyakujo turned to Goho. “With your mouth and lips closed, how would you say it?” He asked his second disciple.

Goho said, “Osho! You should shut up!”

It is a little better than the first answer from Isan: “I would ask you to say it.” He is simply accepting his defeat but hiding it in a circular way rather than saying, “I cannot say it.” Even if he had remained silent without saying it, that would have been far better. But very stupidly he said, “I would ask you . . .” He was not a master, and he was not going to be chosen to be his successor. Hyakujo was the master almost on the verge of death.

The second disciple Goho did a little better. Goho said, “Osho!” Osho is a very honorable word. There are many respectful words, but the sweetness of Osho, the love, the respect, the gratitude, all are together in it. It is just like Christians using ‘reverend’, but that is no comparison to it. Just the very sound of Osho – even if we don’t understand Japanese, the very sound is very sweet. He said, “Osho! You should shut up!”

It looks very contradictory, on the one hand addressing him with the most honorable word in Japanese, and on the other hand telling him “You should shut up!” but that is how Zen is. It is as sharp as a sword – it cuts hard and straight to the heart – and it is as soft as a lotus leaf. It is both together. It is not right for the disciple to say to the master, “You should shut up!” To avoid the disrespectfulness of his answer, he first addresses the master, Osho! Don’t misunderstand me. I have great respect and love for you, but you are asking nonsense. You should shut up. At the moment of death, have you gone a little senile? Just shut up!

Hyakujo said, “In the distant land where no one stirs, I shall shade my eyes with my hand and watch for you.”

Beautifully, he has rejected. He is not accepted as a successor because he has not answered the question. But yet he has been very careful. Although he has not answered, he has been very loving, honoring, grateful. Out of this gratitude and love he has earned a special virtue. Hyakujo says, “In the distand land . . .” Somewhere in the universe, if we meet sometime, where no one stirs – where everything is silent, utterly quiet – I shall shade my eyes with my hand and watch for you. He is saying, “You can be my companion, but you cannot be my successor. Somewhere faraway in the distant future at some corner of the universe I will watch for you. You will reach to the goal. Of that I am certain.” But saying this he has rejected him as a successor. His answer was better than Isan’s answer.

Then Hyakujo asked Ungan, “With your mouth and lips closed, how would you say it?”

Ungan said, “Osho, do you have them or not” It is a little better. With tremendous respect he says, “Osho, what are you asking, do you have it already or not. If you have it, then what is the point of asking. And if you don’t have it, you will not understand it.” But this too is not the answer. Although the second answer is better than the other, Hyakujo sadly said, “My successors will be missing.” I will not have any successor, it seems. You are all well versed, you are all great scholars, you have tremendous love and respect for me, but that is not enough for the successor.

What is enough, what is needed is that the successor should be able to say it. His whole life will be devoted to teaching people, to provoking people, to challenging people to get it. If he cannot say it, how can he be a successor?

A successor has to be a master. You are all mystics but none of you is capable of being a successor, a master. This will help you to understand. The mystic is one who can experience, but is not articulate enough that through some gestures, some device he can manage to convey it to others.

Out of a hundred mystics perhaps one is a master, because the task is immensely difficult. To say it perhaps is the most impossible thing in the world. You can go roundabout, you can bring the person to the experience by creating false devices, but you cannot say it. Those false devices need a very articulate craftsman – a master who knows that even lies can be used to indicate the truth. Hyakujo said, “Perhaps I will not have any successors.”

A little biographical note:

All that is known about Hyakujo’s last days is that once, when he was getting rather old and feeble, his monks tried to persuade him not to work, but their words had no effect on him.

Fearing for his health, they finally resorted to hiding his working tools from him. But Hyakujo refused to eat, following his own precept of: “A day without work is a day without food.” Finally, his monks returned his tools. Hyakujo died in 814 at the age of 90.

He did not choose anyone as a successor. He left it to the assembly to find out a successor. So the assembly of the sannyasins nominated a successor. This nomination is just like nominating a pope; he is not authentically a successor.


From Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, Discourse #9

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.


Robert Adams on Enlightenment and Gurus – Ed Muzika

Robert Adams never named a successor. He told me once that there was a book he had just read by Lakshman, who claimed that Ramana Maharshi had named Lakshman as his successor. Robert said that Ramana never named a successor and he should know since he was there. A few years later, I met Ganeshan, the editor of the Mountain Path, the publication of Ramana Ashrama, as well as Ramana’s nephew, who said he too never heard of a successor.

Perhaps Ramana gave a secret transmission, as did the Fifth Buddhist Patriarch to the Sixth Patriarch, so that the latter would survive. As it was, the latter was pursued for 12 years, sought by both jealous wannabes, who wanted his succession bowl and robes and those who wanted enlightenment at the point of a sword. But, what would be the point of a secret transmission?

There is and was no need for a line of succession from Robert’s point of view. Robert laughed at that idea and said, “What’s the point?” He hadn’t needed to be named a successor. He saw the whole concept of imaginary succession of imaginary students within an unreal mental space as the ultimate joke.

Robert’s only wish was to have his students find their true selves and be liberated from imagined suffering and death. He left it to his students to find and teach their own way, without the public relations boost to build their “practice.” If anything, he went out of his way to tear down anyone with an ego declaring that he/she was his successor or being enlightened, and there were so many around Robert. He never even claimed that for himself; however, he never denied it either. We just knew it by his bearing and his teachings themselves.

Robert almost always refused to comment on whether he thought one or another teacher was enlightened. I remember asking him once about Rajneesh, because he had the bearing, far off look and soft voice of Robert. Robert nodded and said yes, that he was. All of the other times I asked any such nonsense questions about anybody, he would say no. For Robert, enlightenment was a rare, rare thing.

My friend Swami Shankarananda calls the endless list of those claiming successorship of one Advaitin guru or another, “California Advaitins.” This is very apt.

The point of this is, is that no one knows who has it or not. Just try the only practice Robert Adams ever taught, namely self-inquiry, Atman Vichara, and watch the impact on your imaginary self. Of course, to do that, you need to have faith, and that is an entirely different story.

More of Robert’s last days:

Robert’s health had been seriously deteriorating beginning sometime during 1993 or 94. The L Dopa medication he had been taking to control his Parkinson’s symptoms was becoming ineffective. He was finding it increasingly difficult to move or talk. His voice had grown very weak and sometimes, if his medication was not working, he was almost impossible to understand.

Before going to lunch with a student (this was his way of giving private teachings, which was to go the a vegetarian restaurant near his home called Follow Your Heart), he’d take his L Dopa an hour ahead of time so that he could move and be understood. The same with Satsang. On rare occasions, but increasingly so, he would sit before the audience in his chair and just stare out into the audience. He would do this for a long time, then suddenly get up and briskly walk out. He could not talk, and his walk seemed off balance.

His close students knew something was wrong.

By 1994, he had grown very weak. His wife, Nicole Adams, later told me that Robert knew that there was something wrong with his body and that is one of the reasons he wanted to move to Sedona, thinking he might have better health there.

As related elsewhere on this site, by 1994 the number of people coming to Satsang had increased dramatically. During the last six months before he moved to Sedona in 1995, it was obvious he was very ill. People were coming to Satsang from all over the world.

One day at Satsang, we had an exceptionally large audience. Just before Satsang began and people were milling about and talking, Robert leaned over and whispered in my ear, “They are all coming to see the dying guru. The day I die, the place will be packed.”

Before Robert moved to Sedona, I believe in September of 1995 (I am chronologically challeneged.), his wife, Nichole would spend much of the day taking care of his daily needs. Robert was barely functional before he took his L-dopa and another medication the name of which I forgot.

After he moved to Sedona, Mary Skene, one of the last of the old-timers, began to assume the task of taking care of him.

Robert had liver cancer. After a while the pain gave way, as he described it, to a “tingling.” He gradually ate less and less as the disease progressed and became quite thin. Other students would come over and do the shopping and sometimes prepare meals.

Robert became evermore silent. He wanted quiet throughout the house. When I came to visit the last time, he would pace back and forth between the bedroom and the living room where I was sitting. He wanted to be with me, as he knew this was our last meeting, but he had a hard time socializing and being up out of bed.

Robert died in 1997. The picture above was taken about six months before he died. It seems that all Advaitin teachers and most Zen masters die of cancer. Anyway, after he died, wannabe gurus from all over the world began to descend on Los Angles and Sedona giving talks and workshops. It was apparent they were trying to glean Robert’s students. I felt them to be spiritual vultures.

The point of all this, is beware of teachers who proclaim some special talent, enlightenment or successorship. Beware of those who do a lot of advertising or give expensive workshops. Robert never charged a dime for someone to come to Satsang and never gave any workshop. As Robert said many times, the best teachers are unknown. They avoid having  large following and are looking for quality not quantity.

However, as he thought very highly of Rajneesh, one of the highest profile teachers of our time, it appears there may be exceptions to this rule.

-Ed Muzika

As seen at:  http://www.wearesentience.com/robert-on-enlightenment–gurus.html

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