Anything I see happening in myself is false, illusory, and a mind trip, right? And my recognition of the mind trip is a mind trip too?
RIGHT. As far as thoughts go, everything is a mind trip. When thoughts cease and you see without any thoughts crowding in your mind, when you see clearly with no smoke of the thoughts surrounding you, when your look is simple, innocent, uncorrupted by thoughts, then it is not a mind trip. Only meditation is not a mind trip; everything else is a mind trip. Or, love is not a mind trip; everything else is a mind trip. If love or meditation has happened to you, you will know what I am indicating towards. In a deep moment of love, thinking stops. The moment is so intriguing, the moment is so tremendously powerful, the moment is so intensely alive, that thinking stops. You are simply in awe, a great wonder surrounds you. Or in deep meditation, when the moment of silence has come and you are absolutely silent, still—no flickering, no wavering, no trembling, the flame of your consciousness is straight—then thinking stops. Then you are outside the grip of the mind. Otherwise, everything is a mind trip.
Remember it: one has to go beyond the mind because the mind is samsar, the mind is the world. It is because of your thinking that you are missing the truth. Once thinking is stopped you are face to face with the reality. It is the continuous screen of thinking that is distorting reality. It is as if you are looking in a lake full of ripples. It is a full moon night, and the lake is reflecting the beautiful moon—but it is full of ripples. You cannot gather it together; the moon goes on splitting into a thousand fragments. The whole lake seems to be spread over by the moon, silvery, many fragments of the moon all around. Then the wind stops, the ripples disappear: those fragments start falling into one moon. The silver that was spread all over the lake becomes more concentrated in one place. When the lake is completely without ripples, the moon is reflected perfectly.
When the mind is with thoughts, the lake is with ripples; when the mind is without thoughts, the lake is without ripples. God is reflected perfectly when there is no ripple in you. Forget all about God—the only thing to be done is how to become ripple-less, how to become thoughtless, how to drop this constant obsession with thinking. It can be dropped—it is because of your cooperation that it continues. It is your energy that you go on giving to it that keeps it alive. It is just like a man on a bicycle: he goes on pedaling—it is his energy that keeps the cycle going on. Once he stops pedaling, the cycle may go a little further because of the past momentum, but then it has to stop.
Don’t give energy to your thoughts. Become a witness—indifferent, aloof, distant. Just see the thoughts, and don’t be in any way involved in them. Note the fact: the thoughts are there; but don’t choose this way or that, don’t be for or against, don’t be pro or con. Just be a watcher. Let the mind-traffic move, just stand by the side and look at it, unaffected by it, as if it has nothing to do with you.
Sometimes try it: go on the busiest street where the traffic rush is too much. Stand by the side of the road and see the traffic—so many people going hither and thither, and cars and bicycles and trucks and buses. You just stand by the side and look, and do the same inside: close your eyes and see—the mind is a traffic of thoughts, thoughts rushing here and there. You watch, you just be a watcher. By and by, you will see that the traffic is becoming less and less. By and by, you will see that the road is empty, nobody is passing. In those rare moments, first glimpses of samadhi will enter in you.
There are three stages of samadhi. First, when you achieve glimpses through gaps—one thought comes, then it has gone and another has not come for the time being. There may even be a gap for a few seconds; in that interval reality penetrates you—the moon becomes one. The reflection is there only for a single moment, but you will see the first glimpse.
This is what in Zen they call satori. By and by, the gaps will become bigger, and when the gaps become bigger and you can see reality more clearly, that vision of reality changes you. Then you cannot be the same because your vision becomes your reality also. Whatsoever you are seeing affects your being. Your vision, by and by, is absorbed, digested. That is the second stage of samadhi.
And then comes the last stage: when suddenly the whole traffic disappears, as if you were fast asleep and dreaming and somebody has shaken you and awakened you, and the whole traffic of dreaming has stopped. In that third stage you become one with reality, because there is nothing to divide. The fence that was dividing you has disappeared. The wall is no more there. The wall is made of the bricks of thoughts, desires, feelings, emotions; once it disappears—it is a China wall, very ancient, and every strong—but once it disappears, there is no fence between you and God. When for the first time the third stage happens, that is where the Upanishads announced, “Aham Brahamasi“—I am God, I am the Brahma. It is where the Sufi mystic, Mansur, declares, “Ana’l Haq“—I am the truth. It is there when Jesus declares, “I and my God are one, I and my Father are one.”
Turning inwards is not a turning at all. Going inwards is not a going at all. Turning inwards simply means that you have been running after this desire and that, and you have been running and running and you have been coming again and again to frustration. That each desire brings misery, that there is no fulfillment through desire. That you never reach anywhere, that contentment is impossible. Seeing this truth, that running after desires takes you nowhere, you stop. Not that you make any effort to stop. If you make any effort to stop it is again running, in a subtle way. You are still desiring – maybe now it is desirelessness that you desire.
If you are making an effort to go in, you are still going out. Any effort can only take you out, outwards. All journeys are outward journeys, there is no inward journey. How can you journey inwards? You are already there, there is no point in going. When going stops, journeying disappears, when desiring is no more clouding your mind, you are in. This is called turning in. But it is not a turning at all, it is simply not going out.
But in language it is always a problem to express these things.
There is an ancient parable: It was a beautiful afternoon, and a tortoise went for a walk on the land. And he rested under sunlit trees and he roamed around in the bushes just for the delight of it. Then he came back to the pond. One of his friends, a fish, asked ‘Where have you been?’ And he said ‘I went for a walk on the land.’ And the fish said ‘What do you mean by “a walk on the land”? You must mean swimming.’ And the tortoise laughed and he said ‘No, it was not swimming, it was nothing like swimming. It was a walk on the solid land.’ And the fish said ‘Are you kidding or something? I have been to every place, you can swim everywhere. I have never seen a place where you cannot dive and swim. You are talking nonsense. Have you gone mad?’
You understand the difficulty of the fish? She has never been on the land, walking on the land makes no sense. If the tortoise wants to make sense of his statement he will have to say ‘I went swimming on the solid land.’ Which will be absurd. But only the word ‘swimming’ can be understood by the fish.
A mind full of desires can only understand desire. Hence the desire for God. It is absurd, you cannot desire God. God comes to you when desire leaves. The cessation of desire is the coming of God to you. Again, I am using the word ’coming’, which is not true. Because God is already there – you only recognize when the desire has ceased. Nothing ever comes, nothing ever goes, all is as it is. That’s what Buddha means when he says: yatha bhutam – things are as they are. Nothing has gone wrong, nothing needs to be put right. Things are as they are, and they always remain as they are. The trees are green and the roses are red and the clouds float in the sky. Everything is where it has always been, the way it has always been. That is the meaning of the word ‘nature’ – yatha bhutam.
But man has a capacity to dream, to desire. That capacity to dream is the problem. Then you start moving into the future, then you start planning for the future. You remain here, but your mind can move into the future. It is like a dream. You fall asleep in Poona but you can dream of Calcutta or Chicago or Washington or Moscow. You are here the whole night – in the morning you will not wake up in Moscow or Chicago, you will wake up in Poona. And then you will laugh, ‘I have been roaming too much.’ While you are dreaming of Moscow you have not reached there, you remain here.
You always remain here. Here and now is the only reality, there is no other. But desire can create a dream. And in desire you go on moving outwards.
Now, what does it mean to turn inwards? Tao’s question is significant, it is very relevant. What does it mean to turn inwards? It means seeing the futility of desire, seeing the futility of dreaming, seeing the illusoriness of dreaming. In that very seeing, desire disappears. In that clarity, desire cannot exist. And when you are with no desire, you are in. Not that you have to turn in. Not that first you have to stop desiring, then you have to turn in. The cessation of desire is the turning, the transformation – what Jesus calls ‘metanoia’, the conversion. Suddenly another gestalt opens. It was there, but you were not aware of it because you were too much obsessed with the desire. The desire for money, the desire for power, the desire for prestige, does not allow your meditation to bloom. Because the whole energy goes down the drain in desires.
Once the energy is not moving anywhere… Remember, I repeat again, turning in is not moving in. When the energy is not moving at all, when there is no movement, when everything is still, when all has stopped – because seeing the futility of desire you cannot move anywhere, there is nowhere to go – stillness descends. The world stops. That’s what is meant by ‘turning in’. Suddenly you are in. You have always been there, now you are awake. The night is over, the morning has come, you are awake. This is what is meant by Buddhahood – to become aware, awake, of that which is already the case.
Remember Hakuin’s saying: From the very beginning all beings are Buddhas. From the very beginning to the very end. In the beginning, in the middle, in the end, all are Buddhas. Not for a single moment have you been anybody else. But the emperor is having a nightmare of becoming a beggar, and is tortured by the nightmare.
I find it more difficult to dis-identify from my feelings than from my thoughts, it seems that this is because my feelings are more rooted in my body.
Are feelings closer to the head, in fact, than to the empty heart?
This is a fallacy created by the poets. Your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your sentiments, all are centered in your head. It is just a fallacy to think that your feelings are in the heart. Your heart is just a blood pumping station.
When we are talking about the empty heart, we are really talking about the empty mind. Buddha has used the word ‘heart’ instead of mind because mind has become associated with the idea that it is only the process of thinking, and the process of feeling is in the heart, and the heart is deeper.
These ideas have been created by the poets. But the truth is, you can call it empty mind or you can call it empty heart; it is the same. Emptiness — you are just a watcher and all around there is nothing with which you are identified, there is nothing to which you are clinging. This non-clinging watchfulness is the empty mind, no-mind, or empty heart. These are simply words. The real thing is emptiness — of all thoughts, feelings, sentiments, emotions. Only a single point of witnessing remains.
From The Buddha: The Emptiness of the Heart, Chapter Eight
How is anxiety related to desire? It seems easier to see that one is desiring than to see that one is ‘anxieting’ – In fact, there is no verb form for anxiety, at least not in English. Am I desiring my anxiety or anxieting my desire?
The desire is nothing but an escape from the state of anxiety. Desires don’t create anxiety, as ordinarily is believed. Anxiety creates desire.
Man is anxiety.
Just the other day I was telling you: animals have no anxiety, because they don’t have to become – they are. A dog is a dog, and a tiger is a tiger, and there is no problem! The tiger is not trying to become a tiger. He is! He already is! There is no becoming involved.
In the world of animals there is no anxiety. In the world of Buddhas again there is no anxiety, they have arrived, they have become. They are Siddhas – they are beings. Now there is no goal left, no movement. The journey is complete. They have arrived home.
Hence the similarity in the eyes of the animals and the eyes of Buddhas. The same silence! The same innocence. The same depth. The same purity. Yet the difference is also great: animals are’ unconscious, Buddhas are conscious. Hence animals’ eyes are innocent, but not luminous. There is no anxiety, but there is no celebration either. There is no despair, but no ecstasy either. In the eyes of the Buddhas you will not find anxiety, you will not find agony; you will not find the constant urge to be this, to be that. The fever of becoming you will not find. But there will be a constant overflowing ecstasy – peaceful, blissful, a well-being.
Between these two is man: half animal, half Buddha. And that is where anxiety exists. Anxiety is THIS tension. A part of you wants to go back to the animals. It goes on pulling you backwards. It says, “Come back! It was so beautiful – where are you going?”
The other part goes on hoping for the future. In some indirect way you know perfectly well that to be a Buddha is your destiny. The seed is there! And the seed goes on saying to you, “Find the soil, right soil, and you will become a Buddha. Don’t go back go ahead….” This tug-of-war is anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most important words to be understood, because it is not only a word: it is the very situation man finds himself in. This is the human dilemma. The most fundamental dilemma is anxiety: To be or not to be? To be this or to be that? Where to go? Man is stuck on a crossroads, all the possibilities open. But if you choose one, you have to choose against other possibilities – hence the fear. You may be choosing wrong. If you go to the right – who knows? – the path going to the left may have been the right path.
And there are people, shopkeepers, who go on calling, hawkers, who go on calling, “Come to the right! This is the right way.” “Come to the left – THIS is the right way!” “Come our way, this is the only way!” “Follow Christianity, or Hinduism, or Buddhism… all others are wrong. You will fall in hell.”
Man is paralyzed! Standing on the crossroads, listening to all these people, he is paralyzed. Where to go? Whom to listen to? Whom to believe? How to be certain that you are going on the right track? Great suspicion, great doubt, great anxiety.
And deep inside you, something is pulling you back: “Better become an animal again. Fall into drunkenness. Take drugs, or become a sex maniac. Or become violent – kill people!” Why is there so much violence in the world? The animal past goes on pulling you back. Your humanity is only skin-deep. Any moment you can become a wolf, you can become a tiger; you can tear the other into pieces. Any moment! Any moment you can kill. And not only can you kill others: you can kill yourself too. Suicide and murder, constantly pulling you, destruction calling you, alluring you.
And then there are Buddhas… once in a while you see a man and you are enchanted. He has that enchanted space in him. He has that magic by which your future suddenly becomes your present. At least in his presence, at least when you vibrate with him, you forget all your animal past. You start flying like angels in the sky. Those people are also there.
This is the anxiety: Where to go? What to do? And whatsoever you do, anxiety will remain. If you become an animal, the Buddha part will go on rebelling against it. Go and do something that your animal part feels good doing, but your Buddha part starts creating guilt in you. Even the greatest murderer, before he murders anybody, feels the pangs; a great pain arises in him. His Buddha part tries to stop him, “What are you doing?” He may listen, he may not listen – but he will repent! For years he will repent for what he has done. He should not have done it.
The thief, before he moves into somebody’s house, is again and again warned by the Buddha part, “Don’t do it. There is still time – escape!” If you do it, you feel guilty. If you don’t do it, you will feel guilty. Because if you don’t do it, and you leave and you come home, then you cannot sleep, because the animal part goes on saying, ”You are a fool! So much money, and it was so easily available, and there was nobody in the house, and the whole neighborhood was fast asleep, and there was not a single chance of your being caught – you are just an utter fool! Why have you come back? There is still time – go again!”
If you follow one part, the other part makes you feel guilty. And vice versa. This is anxiety. And this anxiety is very existential. It is not that somebody is suffering it and somebody is not suffering – no. It is existential: everybody is born into it. Humanity is born into it. Human beings are born into anxiety. That is their challenge. That is the problem they have to solve – that is the problem they have to transcend.
Now, there are two ways to transcend it. One is the way of the world – you can call it desire. Desire is the way to hide this anxiety. You rush into earning money, madly. You become so absorbed in earning money that you forget all existential anxiety. Then there is no point, no time to think about real problems. Then you put aside everything and you just go into the search for money, more money. And as you get money, more and more desire arises. This desiring for money or political power is nothing but a cover for your anxiety.
That’s why people are very much frightened when they are left alone and nothing is there to be done. That’s why retired people become very, very uneasy, uncomfortable. They die fast. It is said – now psychological research has proved it – that a man who is retired is going to die ten years earlier than he would have died if he had remained employed. Ten years earlier? Why? Because the anxiety that he has been repressing through his job asserts itself. He was running after money, chasing after political power; there was no time to give to anxiety.
Now there is all the time and nothing to do. Sitting in his armchair he does only one thing – anxieting. Nothing else to do! Now all the repressed anxieties of his whole life – that denied existential part takes revenge. It kills. He becomes ill, heart attacks come, he becomes paralyzed. But there is more possibility that all this is happening because of the psychology, not because of the body.
When a person is succeeding and his desires are taking him farther and farther away, he remains healthy. Politicians are almost always healthy when they are in power; when they lose power, they suddenly become old. When a person is earning and earning and earning, he remains healthy. When he becomes a failure, when he goes bankrupt, then suddenly, yes, in a single night all his hair can turn white – literally.
Desire is a way to avoid anxiety, but only to avoid. You cannot destroy it by desiring. And desire gives you small anxieties, remember, very small anxieties, which are not existential. Of course, when you are earning money you will have a few anxieties: the market and the share market, and things like that, and prices. And you have put so much money – are you going to earn out of it or are you going to lose? These small anxieties. These are nothing compared to the real anxiety – these are tricks to avoid the real.
Of course, when you are ambitious for political power, you will have anxieties, a thousand and one. But they are nothing! they are play-things compared to the fundamental anxiety.
You ask me: How is anxiety related to desire?
Desire is a cover-up for anxiety. It is a trick, a strategy. And meditation is to uncover it.
That’s why people can’t sit silently even for a few minutes. Because when they sit silently, anxieties start raising their heads. They become very much afraid. That’s why people ask, even in meditation, “What should we do? Can we chant a mantra?” Then it is okay; then the mantra becomes your cover. Then you can repeat, “Ram, Ram, Ram,” and you can go on repeating. This repetition keeps your anxiety repressed.
Real meditation is Zen, Vipassana. Real meditation is nothing but to sit silently, doing nothing. Just doing nothing, sitting silently, that is real meditation. There is no other technique, no technique at all in it. No mantra has to be repeated. No prayer has to be done, no God’s name to be pronounced. You simply sit… but that is the hardest thing to do in the world. Looks so simple!
When I say again and again:
Sitting silently, doing nothing, and the Spring comes and the grass grows by itself…
You think it is very easy: “We can sit and the spring will come and the grass will grow by itself.” This is the hardest and the most difficult and the most arduous thing in the world: to sit silently, doing nothing. And this is the greatest meditation.
What is meditation? Just allowing your existence as it is without covering it in any way. So the Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is not meditation at all. It is neither meditation nor transcendental. It is just a strategy to be fool people.
And America needs such people to fool them. America needs something to cover its anxiety.
Because money is there now, so money, and the search for money, cannot become a cover-up for long now. Society is affluent. People have all that you can desire. Now what? Now the anxiety is knocking on the doors, and the anxiety is saying, “Okay, now you have a two-car garage – now what? Let me come in! Now you have a house in the hills, another house on the beach, a beautiful yacht, what else?… now let me come in! You were telling me, ‘Wait! First let me have a house in the hills, another house on the beach. First let me purchase a beautiful yacht.’ Now you have all that – now let me come in. I can’t wait any more!”
Anxiety is knocking on the American door. It always knocks when a society is rich. When a society is poor, Transcendental Meditation is not needed. That’s why in India nobody bothers about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Who bothers? People have so many ways to cover up their anxiety so easily.
But when all the desires are coming to a completion, what to do? Something new is needed. Then in many directions new doors have to be opened: Go to the moon! One company is selling tickets for the moon. Of course, it has to be a Japanese company – ’85, in January. People are purchasing. It is already booked. Tickets are being sold on the black market.
“What to do? Let us go to the moon! At least we can cover up with that. We have to go to the moon. We can say to the anxiety, ‘Wait! First let me go to the moon, then I will look at you. Wait a little more.’” Or do Transcendental Meditation. Any foolish word, repeat it, call it a mantra. Go on repeating it. That becomes a blanket cover.
Real meditation is not a technique. Real meditation is just relaxing, sitting silently, letting it happen, whatsoever it is. Allowing the whole anxiety to come up, to surface. And watching it, watching it. And doing nothing to change it. Witnessing it is real meditation.
In that witnessing your Buddhahood will become more and more powerful. Witnessing is the nourishment for your Buddhahood. And the more powerful your Buddhahood is, the less anxiety there is. The day your Buddhahood is complete, all anxiety is gone.
Excerpt from The Perfect Master, V.1, Chapter Eight
Pratima, satori is exactly your ordinary nature; it is not anything special. Hence there is no question of attaining it – it is already the case. You are in it, you have just forgotten. You have become too occupied with the outside world. You have forgotten your own kingdom, you have forgotten your own treasure, you have forgotten yourself. You have become too concerned with others. You are too much in the world and you don’t give any time, any space for your inner nature to have a dialogue with you, to whisper a few things to you. You have become artificial.
You have created a false ego because nobody can live without a center. You have forgotten your real center, and nobody can live without a center, so you have created a false center as a substitute.
That’s the ego. Ego simply means living with a false center.
Satori is dropping the false, entering into the real; just being yourself, your natural self, your ordinary self.
The word “ordinary” has to be remembered because the mind is not interested in the ordinary at all; it wants to be extraordinary, it wants to be special. It is through being special that the ego survives. It is constantly striving to be more special, more special. It wants to be more rich, more powerful, more respectable; it is ambitious. Hence the word “ordinary” has no appeal for the mind. And that is the beauty of the word ”ordinary” – because it has no appeal for the mind.
Mind is an achiever and the ordinary need not be achieved; it is already the case. The extraordinary has to be achieved, the extraordinary becomes the goal. It is far away; you have to make all kinds of efforts, you have to struggle for it, you have to fight for it because there are so many competitors.
To be ordinary… and there is no competition at all. You can just be ordinary, nobody has any objection. People will simply feel sorry for you that you have dropped out of the competitive race.
One competitor less – they will feel good but sorry for you. They will say, “Poor fellow! What happened to him? Why did he have to drop out?” The dropouts are not respectable people.
Buddha is a dropout. All real Masters are dropouts. To be a sannyasin means to be a dropout. To drop out of the rat race is to drop in, because when you are in the race you cannot enter in. When you are no longer in the race there is nowhere to go. You start moving inwards because life is a flow: if there is no outer direction it takes the inner direction. If the goal is not there far away in the future, then you start moving into your nature in the present. That is satori.
Satori is very ordinary. Satori means your nature. You have come with it; it is your original face – all other faces are masks.
A disciple speaks in accordance with the ultimate, the absolute truth. Remember that one should cut the root and not the branches and the leaves.
What is the root of your misery? The root is your ambition, desiring. One wants to be this and that, one wants to possess this and that, one wants to be somebody, one wants to be significant. Yoka says: Cut the root… only then are you a disciple. And the moment you cut the root – not the branches, not the leaves – you attain the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is not far away; it is the immediate truth, it is your truth, it is your very being.
Most people do not recognize the perfect jewel, the jewel of supreme wisdom, satori. It is hidden in the secret place of Tathagata, awaiting its discovery. It is to live in your suchness; it is hidden in your suchness. Whatsoever you are, live in it. Don’t create any conflict, don’t live through the ideal. Don’t be an idealist, just be natural.
But everybody is being taught to be an idealist: “Become a Jesus” or “Become a Buddha” or “Become a Krishna.” Nobody tells you just to be yourself! Why should you be a Jesus? One Jesus is enough and one Jesus is beautiful – he enriches the existence. Many Jesuses just carrying crosses, and wherever you go you meet them… It won’t look beautiful, it won’t add to the beauty of existence; it will make the whole world ugly. Wherever you go you meet a Mahavira standing naked…. It is because of this that God never creates the same person again. He never repeats; he is original.
He always creates a new person. You have never been before, and there is no one who is like you, and there will never be anybody else like you again. In the whole of eternity you alone are just like you. Look at the beauty of it and the glory of it and the respect that God has shown to you! What more respectability do you need? See the uniqueness of yourself. There is no need to be unique; you are already unique, just as everybody else is unique. You are unique in your ordinariness, in your suchness.
Satori is hidden, says Yoka, in the secret place of your suchness, awaiting its discovery.
It has not to be created, it is already there; you just have to discover it. Go in and discover it! It is waiting and waiting. And centuries have passed and many many lives have passed, and you have become addicted to extroversion. You never move in.
The first step towards satori is meditation. Satori is the ultimate experience of meditation when meditation is fulfilled, when meditation has reached to its ultimate flowering .
The world is complete illusion, yet nothing exists which might be called illusion.
The world that you have created through your mind is illusory, but there is another world which is not your creation. When your mind disappears you discover that world: the world of suchness. That is a totally different experience. No words can describe it. Thousands of mystics have tried to describe it, but nobody has ever been able and nobody will ever be able to describe it. It is so mysterious, it is so beautiful that all words fall short. No poetry reaches to its level, no music even touches its feet.
The perfect light of this wisdom enlightens one.
The moment you have put your mind aside – mind means ambition, the ego trip of being this and that – the moment you have put the whole mind aside, a great light explodes in you and you are enlightened. This is satori. It does not come from the outside: you are not delivered by somebody else; you are delivered by your own being, by your own nature.
That is possible only by practicing Zazen beyond speculation. You can see clouds naturally in the mirror but to hold on to the reflection is impossible.
That is possible only by practicing zazen… Satori is possible only by practicing zazen. Zazen means:
Just sitting, doing nothing, the Spring comes and the grass grows by itself.
You are simply relaxing into your own being, not doing anything at all. It is not a question of doing; it is simply a question of being. You go on relaxing into your being. A moment comes when you are in your utter purity, in your utter simplicity, in your utter innocence. That is satori.
Zazen is a beautiful word. It simply means just sitting – not even doing meditation. In fact, you cannot do meditation. Meditation is just sitting silently; it is not a question of doing. If you are doing something you are disturbing your meditation.
Somebody is chanting a mantra; he is disturbing his meditation. Somebody is focusing on something; he is disturbing his meditation. Somebody is concentrating, somebody is praying, somebody is thinking of God: they are disturbing their meditation. All these are the doings of the mind, and if the doing continues the mind continues. Stop doing, and where is the mind? When the doing disappears, mind disappears. And the disappearance of the mind is satori.
It is beyond speculation, says Yoka. You cannot think about it, you can only experience it. It is the ultimate experience, and the immediate experience, too, of truth, of beauty, of love, of bliss, of God, of nirvana.
From Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Chapter Four
Please, in the question “Who am I?” What does “I” mean? Does it mean the essence of life?
“Who am I?” is not really a question because it has no answer to it; it is unanswerable. It is a device, not a question. It is used as a mantra. When you constantly inquire inside, “Who am I? Who am I?” you are not waiting for an answer. Your mind will supply many answers; all those answers have to be rejected. Your mind will say, “You are the essence of life. You are the eternal soul. You are divine,” and so on and so forth. All those answers have to be rejected: neti neti — one has to go on saying, “Neither this nor that.”
When you have denied all the possible answers that the mind can supply and devise, when the question remains absolutely unanswerable, a miracle happens: suddenly the question also disappears. When all the answers have been rejected, the question has no props, no supports inside to stand on any more. It simply flops, it collapses, it disappears. When the question also has disappeared, then you know. But that knowing is not an answer: it is an existential experience. Nothing can be said about it, or whatever will be said will be wrong. To say anything about it is to falsify it. It is the ultimate mystery, inexpressible, indefinable. No word is adequate enough to describe it. Even the phrase “essence of life” is not adequate; even “God” is not adequate. Nothing is adequate to express it; its very nature is inexpressible.
But you know. You know exactly the way the seed knows how to grow — not like the professor who knows about chemistry or physics or geography or history, but like the bud which knows how to open in the early morning sun. Not like the priest who knows about God; about and about he goes, around and around he goes.
Knowledge is beating around the bush: knowing is a direct penetration. But the moment you directly penetrate into existence, you disappear as a separate entity. You are no more. When the knower is no more, then the knowing is. And the knowing is not about something — you are that knowing itself.
So I cannot say what “I” means in the question “Who am I?” It means nothing! It is just a device to lead you into the unknown, to lead you into the uncharted, to lead you into that which is not available to the mind. It is a sword to cut the very roots of the mind, so only the silence of no-mind is left. In that silence there is no question, no answer, no knower, no known, but only knowing, only experiencing.
That’s why the mystics appear to be in such difficulty to express it. Many of them have remained silent out of the awareness that whatsoever you say goes wrong; the moment you say it, it goes wrong. Those who have spoken, they have spoken with the condition: “Don’t cling to our words.”
Lao Tzu says: “Tao, once described, is no more the real Tao.” The moment you say something about it you have already falsified it, you have betrayed it. It is such an intimate knowing, incommunicable.
“Who am I?” functions like a sword to cut all the answers that the mind can manage. Zen people will say it is a koan, just like other koans. There are many koans, famous koans. One is: “Find out your original face.” And the disciple asks the Master, “What is the original face?” And the Master says, “The face that you had before your parents were born.”
And you start meditating on that: “What is your original face?” Naturally, you have to deny all your faces. Many faces will start surfacing: childhood faces, when you were young, when you became middle-aged, when you became old, when you were healthy, when you were ill…. All kinds of faces will stand in a queue. They will pass before your eyes claiming, “I am the original face.” And you have to go on rejecting.
When all the faces have been rejected and emptiness is left, you have found the original face. Emptiness is the original face. Zero is the ultimate experience. Nothingness – or more accurately no-thingness — is your original face.
Or another famous koan is: “The sound of one hand clapping.” The Master says to the disciple, “Go and listen to the sound of one hand clapping.” Now this is patent absurdity: one hand cannot clap and without clapping there can be no sound. The Master knows it, the disciple knows it. But when the Master says, “Go and meditate on it,” the disciple has to follow.
He starts making efforts to listen to the sound of one hand clapping. Many sounds come to his mind: the birds singing, the sound of running water…. He rushes immediately to the Master; he says, “I have heard it! The sound of running water — isn’t that the sound of one hand clapping?”
And the Master hits him hard on the head and he says, “You fool! Go back, meditate more!”
And he goes on meditating, and the mind goes on providing new answers: “The sound of wind passing through the pine trees — certainly this is the answer.” He is in such a hurry!
Everybody is in such a hurry. Impatiently he rushes to the door of the Master, a little bit apprehensive, afraid too, but maybe this is the answer….
And even before he has said a single thing the Master hits him! He is very much puzzled and he says, “This is too much! I have not even uttered a single word, so how can I be wrong? And why are you hitting me?”
The Master says, “It is not a question of whether you have uttered something or not. You have come with an answer — that is enough proof that you must be wrong. When you have really found it you won’t come; there will be no need. I will come to you.”
Sometimes years pass, and then one day it has happened, there is no answer. First the disciple knew that there was no answer to it, but it was only an intellectual knowing. Now he knows from his very core: “There is no answer!” All answers have evaporated.
And the sure sign that all answers have evaporated is only one: when the question also evaporates. Now he is sitting silently doing nothing, not even meditating. He has forgotten the question: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It is no more there. It is pure silence.
And there are ways…there are inner paths which exist between a Master and a disciple.
And now the Master rushes towards the disciple. He knocks on his door. He hugs the disciple and says, “So it has happened? This is it! No answer, no question: this is it. Ah, this!”
I heard you say that the center of our Buddhahood is at the hara point inside the body. Is there also a sleeping buddha energy in our hearts and in the third eye?
Do we all have the same potential of remembering, each one with his or her unique expression of creativity?
The hara center is the source of all your energy. It can grow just like a tree grows from the roots into different branches.
According to a different calculation of Patanjali, the energy can be divided into seven centers, but the original source remains the hara. From the hara it can go up.
The seventh center is in the head, and the sixth center is what you call the third eye. The fifth center is in our throat, and the fourth center is exactly in the middle: the heart. Below the heart there are three centers, above the heart there are three centers. But all these seven centers grow like a tree from the original source of the hara. That’s why, in Japanese, suicide is called hara-kiri. People don’t cut their throats, they don’t cut their heads. They simply pierce a small knife into the hara center – just exactly two inches below the navel – and the person dies. And you will not know at all that somebody has committed suicide. Just the energy is released from the body, the source is opened.
I am trying to take you to the very original source. From there, it is up to you to bring your energy into any center you want.
Between the first center, the hara, and the seventh center in the head, the energy can move just like the energy moves into different branches of a tree – from the roots to the uppermost flowering. The hara is the source. When it blossoms, it reaches suddenly to the seventh center, piercing your heart, your throat, and at the seventh center it blossoms as a lotus. Man is also a flowering tree.
These are different ways of looking at things. Patanjali’s yoga is one of the ways; Zen is a totally different approach. To me, Zen seems to be more scientific, while Patanjali seems to be more intellectual and philosophical. Zen begins from the very source.
The buddha is not lying anywhere else other than in the hara; he is not lying in the heart. The energy can be brought to the heart, then the expression will be love. The energy can be brought to the third eye, then you will be able to see things which are not ordinarily visible – auras of people, auras of things, a certain kind of X-ray energy that goes deeper into things. If the same energy moves into the seventh center, according to Patanjali, samadhi is attained – you become enlightened.
But these are different calculations. Rather than talking about samadhi, I would rather encourage you to enter into the source of energy from where everything is going to happen. I don’t like to talk about the flowers much, because that talk will remain simply conceptual. My approach is more pragmatic.
I want you to experience your sleeping energy. And the moment you reach there, it awakens. It sleeps only if you are not there. If your awareness reaches to the source, it wakes up, and in its waking is the Buddhahood. In its waking you become for the first time part of existence: no ego, no self, a pure nothingness.
People are afraid of the word ‘nothingness’. In the second question that fear is clear.
The second question is:
Though you have infused the sutras with life and humor, for me, Zen remains the stark beauty of the desert, and I long for something else.
Why can’t I drop the idea that my way is not via emptiness, but fullness? I still carry this longing for some kind of union, a melting outwards rather than dissolving into nothingness inside.
With whom are you going to melt outside? You don’t know even who you are. And who has told you that Zen is a “stark beauty of the desert”? Zen is perhaps the most beautiful path, full of flowers, songs, joy and laughter.
But the idea of nothingness creates a certain fear of dissolving into a desert. It is just your mind that makes the difference between emptiness and fullness. In realizing either, you will be realizing the other too, because they are two aspects of one thing, of one phenomenon which can either be called nothingness, or can be called fullness.
Zen has chosen rightly to call it nothingness, because fullness can give you misunderstandings. The moment you think of fullness you start imagining. The moment you think of melting into someone outside, immediately a God, a paradise, a heaven, and all kinds of imaginations arise. And those imaginations will prevent you from going anywhere.
I am not helping your imagination at all. I am trying to uproot your imagination in every possible way. I want to leave you without images, in utter silence, in nothingness, because that is the only way to attain fullness.
When the dewdrop disappears in the ocean, it is not that it becomes nothing. Yes, it becomes nothing but it also becomes the ocean. In its disappearing as a dewdrop, on the other side it is also becoming the whole ocean. So the fullness and nothingness are not two things, only two concepts of the mind, but in reality, only two ways of saying one thing. Emptiness, or nothingness, is better because it does not allow any imagination to arise.
Fullness is dangerous. If rightly used there is no problem. Fullness will also dissolve God, and paradise, and heaven and hell, and incarnation. But mind is capable of using the idea of fullness in a way that it cannot use the word ‘nothingness’. To prevent the mind from using the word ‘fullness’ and preventing you from realizing the reality, from Gautam Buddha onwards the word ‘nothingness’ has been chosen. But nothingness is not absence; nothingness is not dead. Nothingness is fullness, but so full that you cannot define it, and you cannot make a limit or a boundary to it.
Unbounded fullness and nothingness, in experience, mean exactly the same. But for the beginner, the word ‘fullness’ is dangerous – and everybody is a beginner.
Begin with something which is less capable of taking you astray from reality. Fullness can be used only by a master who knows that nothingness and fullness are synonymous. But for the beginner it is dangerous, because for him fullness means something opposed to nothingness. If ‘fullness’ is synonymous with ‘nothingness’, then there is no problem. Then the desert becomes the ocean, then there is only beauty and song and dance.
Nothingness gives the idea to the mind that everything will be lost. You will be lost, but the truth is, the moment everything is lost, including you, you have gained the whole universe – all the stars within you, and the vast universe inside your heart. It is not losing anything, so don’t be worried about nothing.
The questioner goes on:
Is this just my refusal to grow up? Am I fooling myself? Are we all to embrace the Zen Manifesto no matter what ‘type’ we feel we are?
There is no question of type. All types are just superficial. At the innermost core there is only one existence. The Zen Manifesto is not for a particular type, it is for all – for men and for women, and for black and white, and for Hindu and Mohammedan, and for Christian and Buddhist. It does not matter what kind of conditioning you have been brought up in, Zen is simply a technique of entering into your veryness. The entrance is so deep that nothing remains, and all is found.
Gurdjieff has written a book, All and Nothing. I would like to withdraw the word ‘and’, because all is nothing; there is no question of ‘and’. Whatever type you are – introvert, extrovert – it does not matter, you are all part of the same existence. And when you relax into existence, all your differences disappear; only oneness remains. You can call that oneness whatever you like, but basically it is nothingness. You can give it any color; you can call it by any name, but don’t start calling it by another name from the beginning, because that can take you astray. Somebody may think that he can call it God, then he will start worshipping a God which is man manufactured.
For the beginner, nothing is the most secure path to avoid the mind playing games. Nothing is beyond the reaches of the mind, so it cannot play games with it. But anything else you name it, mind is capable of playing games with it.
The whole effort of meditation is not to allow the mind to play games. It has been playing games for centuries. One has to come to the point of seeing all the games of the mind: all the gods, all the messiahs, all the prophets, all the religions, all the philosophies.
Existence is available to a silent being, not to the learned, not to the well informed, not to the scholar. It is available to the innocent, and meditation is a way of becoming innocent again. Getting back your childhood, being reborn, knowing nothing, a silence, a joy, a blissfulness arises which is indestructible, which is eternal.
From The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself, Chapter Seven