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IF YOU WERE A MAN, A REAL CH'AN MAN, WHEN YOU HEARD ME SAY, "WHERE ARE THERE OLD ADEPTS APPEARING IN THE WORLD?" YOU SHOULD HAVE SPIT RIGHT IN MY FACE. IF YOU DON'T ACT THIS WAY, BUT ACCEPT THINGS AS SOON AS YOU HEAR SOMEONE BRING THEM UP, YOU'VE ALREADY FALLEN INTO THE SECONDARY.
AGAIN, HAVEN'T YOU SEEN MASTER LO SHAN'S SAYING? "THE MYSTIC GATE HAS NO DOCTRINES, ESTABLISHES NO GENERAL PRINCIPLES. IF YOU WANT TO SEARCH FOR IT, LOOK BEFORE THE SOUND." ALL YOU DISCIPLES OF BUDDHA, REAL MIND IS NOT FIXED, AND REAL WISDOM IS NOT BOUNDED. EVEN IF I LET THESE TWO LIPS GO ON TALKING -- FROM NOW TILL THE END OF TIME -- WITHOUT A BREAK, YOU STILL CAN'T DEPEND ON ANOTHER PERSON'S POWER: THIS IS A MATTER IN WHICH EACH AND EVERY PERSON IS FULLY SUFFICIENT IN HIS OWN RIGHT. IT CAN NEITHER BE AUGMENTED NOR DIMINISHED THE LEAST LITTLE BIT.
THE PATRIARCH SAID:
HOLD TO IT AND YOU LOSE IT,
AND ARE BOUND TO ENTER FALSE ROADS.
LET GO OF IT AND NATURALLY
ITS ESSENCE HAS NO GOING OR STAYING.
JUST HAVE FAITH IN THIS TRUTH OF ONE MIND: IT CANNOT BE GRASPED, IT CANNOT BE REJECTED. THEN YOU SHOULD GIVE UP YOUR BODY AND YOUR LIFE RIGHT THERE. IF YOU CANNOT GIVE THEM UP, IT'S BECAUSE OF YOUR OWN HESITANCY -- ON THE LAST DAY OF YOUR LIFE, DON'T BLAME ME.
THE WEATHER IS HOT AND YOU'VE BEEN STANDING A LONG TIME.
TA HUI GAVE A SHOUT AND DESCENDED FROM THE SEAT.
It is sad to have come to the end of Ta Hui's sutras. It has been an immensely rich pilgrimage, going step by step as Ta Hui was growing, as he was transforming, as he was beginning to change from an intellectual into a mystic.
It was great just to watch the transformation from intellect to intuition, from mind to meditation, from an ordinary human being into an immortal... the explosion that happened to him. We have also shared a little bit of light, just by being alert and aware.
These are the last sutras. They are conclusive; they conclude his whole experience, hence they have great potential.
IF YOU WERE A MAN... and by man he means only a man of meditation. A man who is not a man of meditation is only a man in name; there is not much difference between him and other animals. Animals are violent -- so is man; animals are competitive -- so is man; animals are jealous -- so is man. Animals are also capable of thinking -- though not much, but still there is not any qualitative difference.
The only thing that creates the difference is meditation, because no animal has shown the capacity of being meditative. Even in the vast humanity, only very rarely a man comes to the height of meditation. Hence Ta Hui is perfectly right when he says, IF YOU WERE A MAN, A REAL CH'AN MAN...
`Ch'an' is Chinese for meditation. He is saying that you become authentically a man only through meditative transformation, and he is saying it now on his own authority. He has been a man of intellect; he began his journey as a thinker. He is ending his journey as a thoughtless silence. He certainly has the authority to define man: he has passed through the fire test himself, he has proved himself a man.
Man, according to all those who know, is the capacity of going beyond the mind, the capacity to become a no-mind, the capacity just to be without a single thought stirring within you. Once you have known this vastness, this silence, you will not ask any question about existence. Not that you know all the answers -- you don't know even a single answer -- but all questions have disappeared, hence the need for any answer has also disappeared.
In this state of no questions, no answers, just a pure consciousness, a mirror reflecting nothing... just being yourself, without going anywhere, remaining herenow... you attain to the ultimate bliss which every human being has been seeking for centuries, from life to life, but goes on missing because his search is in a wrong direction: he is always looking outside, and the treasure is inside.
He is searching in the temples and in the synagogues and in the churches, and the person for whom he is searching everywhere is just within him. If he can stop all his searching, all his desiring, all his going away -- just for a single moment -- the revolution happens. Suddenly he is no longer a beggar, no more longing, desiring, hoping, waiting. Suddenly he has become the master.
There is an ancient story... A king had become very old, and he had only one son. He consulted a great sage to whom he had always looked for advice, and who had always given rare insights into any problem that he had brought to him. He said to the sage, "I am old. I have only one son, and he is going to succeed me. A vast kingdom I am leaving in his hands, not knowing whether he is capable... will you suggest some way that I can become certain?"
The wise man, the old sage, suggested something very strange, and it was followed. The prince was sent in a chariot outside the kingdom. His clothes were taken away and he was told that he had been expelled from the kingdom, and the clothes of a beggar and a begging bowl were given to him. He could not believe it. He said, "What crime have I committed?"
The charioteer said, "I know nothing. I am simply following the orders given by your father. You are not allowed to enter the kingdom, otherwise you will be put in jail. So simply escape far away." And the chariot returned to the palace.
The young man was shocked. This is ridiculous behavior; has his father gone insane? He was hoping to become the king and he has become a beggar. But what can you do? Soon he was feeling hungry, thirsty and although it was very shameful, he had to beg. He started begging on the street like an ordinary beggar.
Years passed; he completely forgot that he used to be a prince, he settled. Man has immense capacity to adapt to any condition, and when something is absolutely inescapable you cannot do anything else. A certain afternoon, in the hot sun, he was standing before a hotel asking people, "I have been hungry for two days, give me something." A few coins had been dropped into his begging bowl... and then suddenly he heard the noise of a golden chariot. In a second, instantly, he remembered his own chariot. Strange... it looked exactly like that.
The chariot stopped and the same charioteer -- although he had become very old -- got down, touched the feet of the prince, gave his robes and his crown back to him, and said, "Drop it! Throw away all those beggar's clothes. First come to a good hotel; take a good bath, clean yourself, dress well. Your father is dying and he has remembered you; he wants you to come immediately, because he wants to give you the kingdom and the key to his treasures with his own hand."
The people from whom he was begging gathered around. They could not believe their eyes, not because of the clothes, the crown, the golden chariot, but because the face of the young man immediately changed. His eyes had a different look, his pride returned; now he was standing there with great dignity and grandeur. The beggar disappeared in a split second.
Just a moment before he was a totally different man; just a moment later a discontinuity had happened. The abruptness, the suddenness... even he could not believe it, because he could see the change even in his consciousness. The way he walked, the way he sat in the chariot, everything had changed; the way he looked at people -- it was not with the same eyes. Just the remembrance, nothing else had happened; just the awakening of the fact that he is a prince and is going to be a successor to a great kingdom, just words... but all is changed.
The same kind of miracle happens through meditation: you suddenly recognize that a great kingdom belongs to you, the kingdom of the whole existence; that you are not a beggar who was ambitious for trivia, who was desiring this and that, who was hoping to have more power, more prestige. All the symptoms of being a beggar... as one enters into meditation, all these symptoms disappear. One suddenly finds one has the kingdom, one's home; one lacks nothing, one is entire, complete, fulfilled.
It is for this reason that Ta Hui says, IF YOU WERE A MAN, a real meditative man, WHEN YOU HEARD ME SAY, "WHERE ARE THERE OLD ADEPTS APPEARING IN THE WORLD?" YOU SHOULD HAVE SPIT RIGHT IN MY FACE.
These are special ways of Zen; they are not understandable outside the world of Zen. Now Ta Hui is a master and he is saying, "When I was talking nonsense, if you were a real man you would have spit right in my face. You could have stopped me."
It happened that one bishop in Japan wanted very much to see a Zen master, Lin Chi. He had heard much about him, and he was certain that if he went to him with THE BIBLE and read a few beautiful statements of Jesus, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, he was sure that he could convert Lin Chi into being a Christian. And to convert Lin Chi meant converting thousands of his followers; even the emperor of Japan was one of his disciples. Going into the mountains and doing the tedious journey was worth it.
The bishop reached Lin Chi and said that he wanted to read a few sentences from his master, that he hoped that Lin Chi would like them, and that he wanted also to know what Lin Chi thinks about them. And he started to read those beautiful statements of Jesus. When he had read two or three statements, before he could go further, Lin Chi said, "Stop all this nonsense! Whoever has said these words will become a buddha in some future life, but right now it is all gibberish. Just take it away."
The bishop could not believe it; it was not mannerly. Lin Chi could have disagreed, he could have at least been polite. But people don't understand that Zen does not believe in being polite, it believes in being authentic. It is not important to follow the etiquette of the society; to Lin Chi what is important is to state exactly what he feels and what he sees.
Lin Chi said, "These statements right now are meaningless. But whoever has said them -- I don't know him and I don't want to know him -- will become a buddha in a future life. He is on the right lines, but he has to travel much." In Zen it is understood that there is no question of manners, there is no question of etiquette. Those are all part of the ordinary society.
So when Ta Hui says, "If you were really a man of meditation... There were many moments when I was talking nonsense, when I was only an intellectual but speaking as if I knew, and I knew nothing. You remained silent and you heard me as if a buddha was speaking to you. If you had known a little bit of meditation, you would have spit right in my face."
IF YOU DON'T ACT THIS WAY, BUT ACCEPT THINGS AS SOON AS YOU HEAR SOMEONE BRING THEM UP, YOU'VE ALREADY FALLEN INTO THE SECONDARY.
I have explained to you the meaning of the word `secondary'. It has great significance in the terminology of Zen. The secondary means the borrowed -- you have already fallen from the original to the borrowed. If you are a man of meditation and you are listening to a learned man and you don't stop him, you have already fallen into the secondary. You have lost touch with the primary source of knowing. But this strange behavior, although authentic and sincere, has not gone outside the boundaries of Zen.
I have loved Zen, particularly because it does not care for anything except the true, except the experienced. It does not even allow anybody to pour nonsense into your mind. It is very difficult for a man who knows nothing of meditation to talk to a Zen master. They live in two different worlds; communication seems to be impossible.
You go on behaving the way you are expected by the society to behave, and the Zen master behaves the way his consciousness responds in the moment. He has no ethical code to follow, no discipline beyond his own consciousness. Naturally he is strange and wild, but that is his beauty. It is the same beauty as you will see in the wild animals -- their innocence, their authenticity.
Man's politeness is nothing but another name for cunningness: you go on listening to people, smiling, and inside you are saying, "When is this idiot going to stop?"
A man used to come to my house; he was a friend of my grandfather. I had seen them talking, and he was really a nuisance, bringing all kinds of gossips, wasting time, and my grandfather would go on saying, "Good, very good."
I said one day, "There is a limit to everything. This story goes on every day and it is not even that he brings new gossips and stories. I have heard those things many times, and still you go on!"
My grandfather said, "Do you think I hear him? I go on doing my own thinking; just in between I give him the incentive to continue. The poor fellow needs someone to listen."
I have remembered it particularly because everybody is in need of somebody to listen to him -- it doesn't matter what he has to say. Bertrand Russell in one of his great insights says, "In the future, I can see a possibility that there may be millions of psychotherapists in the world. That will be the biggest profession."
It is becoming bigger every day. The only reason for its growing is not that it helps people to become healthy; the only reason is that it allows you to speak all kinds of nonsense and a learned, well-educated man listens to you. Of course you have to pay him....
I have heard about one great psychoanalyst who was tortured by a billionaire. He was talking such rubbish and such nonsense... but he was paying, so there was no question of stopping him. He was paying the greatest fee you could want, and he would go on hour after hour. It was good business but it was very tiring and very boring.
One day the psychoanalyst said to him, "Because I have to give two or three hours to you, I cannot look after my other patients. So I have found a small strategy: I will leave my tape recorder, and you go on talking; everything will be taped, and in the silence of night I can listen to it. It will be more valuable too because my mind will be completely free of business and office work and other patients, so I can pay deeper attention."
The billionaire said, "It is a good idea."
The next day he came, went to the couch and within two minutes he was going out. The psychoanalyst looked from his chair and asked, "What is the matter? Where are you going?"
The billionaire said, "I have talked to my tape recorder; now my tape recorder is talking to your tape recorder. I thought, `Why should I waste my time? I also have many other things to look after.' My business is far bigger than yours -- and late in the night, in silence, I can also talk more freely. It is a good arrangement."
Bertrand Russell says that there will be many, many people getting involved in psychoanalysis just for the simple reason that people will be so much burdened with their thoughts and nobody will have the time to listen to them; they will need professional listeners. That's what a psychoanalyst is -- a professional listener. He does nothing... but even listening helps; one becomes unburdened.
My grandfather said, "It doesn't matter what he says, or who listens -- I am thinking my thoughts... That poor fellow cannot find anybody."
My grandfather died, but that man continued to come. My father was very much disturbed: "This is a nuisance; now who is going to listen to him?"
I said, "You are of course because I am not going to listen. While you are alive, it would not look right that I should listen to him. First you die, and then if he is still alive, I will listen -- but right now it is your responsibility."
He said, "You are strange. You don't have anything to do; why can't you just sit and listen to him?"
I said, "Right now it is your duty. Your father has died, not my father. You are getting the whole heritage, and this man is part of the heritage."
One day he was very busy and the man knocked. He told me, "Somehow tell him that I am not at home."
I went out and I told the man, "He is inside, very busy, and he has asked me to tell you that he is not at home. So you please decide for yourself. It is good that you should go."
He said, "What! He is inside and he says he is not?"
I said, "That's exactly the truth" -- and my father was listening.
So that man said, "Then I will come in."
I said, "That is up to you."
My father was very angry at me. When the man left, after torturing him for two or three hours, he took great revenge on me.
I said, "You are taking revenge on me when in fact you are angry with that man. It is your father who has given you the heritage; I am nobody in this whole business."
He said, "But why did you say that I am in? I have told you that I am out."
I said, "I told him the whole thing, why should I lie? You insist always when you ask me things like `Where have you been?' -- you say, `Don't lie.' Now remember, never say to me, `Don't lie.' Sometimes one needs to lie... do you understand?"
He said, "This is a different thing."
I said, "It is the same thing. You have taught me continuously to be true, and I will remain true whatsoever the consequence, unless you tell me that I am allowed to lie and you will not again insist on the truth..."
He said, "Let me think about it, because it is a very difficult decision to allow you to lie. It is better to listen to that man. There is no need to lie; you should say the truth. You have done right."
But I said, "You should start doing the same as my grandfather was doing. He was never tired; in fact by the evening he used to wait for him. Many times he used to ask me, `Has he not come yet?' Just learn the secret."
He said, "What was his secret? -- because I never came close to them. I never even wanted to be acquainted with this man."
I said, "His secret was very simple: he never listened; he just allowed him to talk. It will take a little time, but it is a good discipline."
In society you go on tolerating people telling lies. You know they are lying, but you will not say to their face, "You are lying." You will pretend that you agree. Society requires you to be hypocrites, and that is the difficulty.
When you come in contact with Zen, hypocrisy is not allowed at all. It is the only small current of non-hypocritical people in the world. Otherwise, can you think of a master telling his disciples, "If you think I am talking nonsense you should spit on my face"? Masters have been beating disciples; that can be understood. But in Zen it happens that disciples have beaten masters.
There was a monastery which had two wings, and the master had a beautiful cat. Every monk -- there were one thousand monks: five hundred in one wing, five hundred in the other wing, and just in the middle was the master's hut. The cat used to wander in this wing, in that wing, and it was so beautiful and so loving that in each wing every monk tried to keep that cat as long as possible. Sometimes there was a quarrel, a fight, because the left wing wanted the cat and the right wing was not allowing them.
The master became tired. One day he called all the monks and said, "It has to be decided; this cat has become a disturbance. Say something, do something which shows your meditation -- anybody, from any wing. If you cannot... If somebody can act in a way that shows that he has meditative insight, the cat will be given to that person, to that wing. If nobody can say anything, that leaves me only one possibility: I will cut the cat in two, and give each wing half of the cat."
The monks were shocked. They tried, but nobody could find a way to show their meditation -- what to do? what to say? -- and you cannot deceive the master, that is absolutely certain.
Because nobody came out, the master had to cut the cat in two. He gave those dead pieces of the cat to both the wings. The monks were crying, but it was no use: the master had given them the chance, but they could not show their meditation.
Just then Rinzai, a monk who had gone to do some work in the city, came back and heard the whole story. He could not understand that one thousand monks were there, "and you could not prevent that old fellow from killing the cat?" He went in and slapped the master.
The master said, "It is too late. If you had been here before, the cat would have been saved."
This can happen only in the atmosphere of Zen. The disciple hits the master and the master accepts with gratitude and says with appreciation, "Where have you been? If you had been here, the poor cat would still have been alive. Not a single monk came to tell me, `What nonsense you are talking! Killing the cat...' And that would have been enough. But they all remained silent, they could not give any response."
Zen has created a very special world -- not of etiquette and manners and hypocrisy, but simply of authenticity. Rinzai hitting the master is simply showing the truth as he feels it: "It was absolute nonsense to kill the poor cat, there was no need. The very idea was wrong and you need a good slap for that. Never do such a thing again."
Anywhere else in the world such a disciple would have been expelled. But in Zen the disciple was appreciated: "Where have you been? You should have been here. You could have saved the cat, you could have prevented me killing unnecessarily a poor cat, a beautiful cat. It was my cat, and I will miss it."
If you go on listening to something that you feel in your consciousness and awareness is nonsense and stupidity, you should do something to stop it; otherwise you are yourself falling into the secondary. The secondary means you are falling from truth into the world of lies; you are falling from silence into the world of language, society, social manners.
AGAIN, HAVEN'T YOU SEEN MASTER LO SHAN'S SAYING? "THE MYSTIC GATE HAS NO DOCTRINES." Doctrines are created by philosophers; doctrines are created by those who do not know. It is a very strange phenomenon: those who do not know feel the wound of not knowing. It hurts. They want something to cover it up, so they create doctrines -- Christian doctrines, Hindu doctrines, Jaina doctrines. Those doctrines help them to forget their ignorance. They don't become wise, they don't become enlightened, but for the time being the device helps them to forget that they are sick, that they are ignorant.
But it is dangerous. It is always good to know that you are sick because then some treatment is possible. It is dangerous to hide your ignorance because that will keep you ignorant forever. The more you hide it, the more it goes on growing like cancer inside you. Ignorance is exactly the cancer of the soul. Don't hide it; if it is there, recognize it so that it can be removed, it can be operated upon.
Gautam Buddha used to say again and again, "I am not a philosopher, I am a physician." You can see why he insisted that he was not here simply to cover up your wounds, to give you a false notion that you know; he was here to heal you. Healing needs a recognition that you are ignorant. Just to recognize for oneself that, "I am ignorant and all my knowledge is borrowed," is a great beginning.
THE MYSTIC GATE HAS NO DOCTRINES, ESTABLISHES NO GENERAL PRINCIPLES. I have been asked throughout my life what my general principles are -- because every religion has its own catechism, its own established doctrines, principles, disciplines. I have been in difficulty to explain to people that I don't have any general principles, I cannot have -- and anybody who has is wrong, because life goes on changing. You cannot have fixed and established principles; they will become your prejudices, and in a changing life your prejudice will always create a distance between you and the real. You will act out of your prejudice, and your action will not be adequate because it will not respond to the reality.
Another small Zen story... There were two ancient temples, very antagonistic to each other. Their enmity had been very ancient, traditional, and their priests were not on speaking terms. Both the priests had two small boys as their disciples and as their helpers to assist in the worship, to bring things from the market, or to do other small things which those old priests could not do. Both had insisted to the boys, "Don't ask anything, don't talk, don't even say `Good morning' if you meet the other temple's boy on the way."
But boys are boys! They were very curious, and in fact the old priests had made them more curious. They were also feeling alone with those old people, they wanted to be friendly with each other -- and one day, finally, one boy dared. He stood on the crossroads, waited for the other boy to come, and he asked, "Where are you going?"
The other boy said, very philosophically, "Wherever the wind takes me."
The first boy was very much shocked. He thought, "My master is right that those people are very strange. It was wrong of me; I wanted to be friendly, and the answer he gave cut me short. It was not a friendly answer -- and I could not find what else to say to a man who is saying,`Wherever the wind takes me."
He told his master, "Forgive me, but out of curiosity I asked that boy just a simple question, `Where are you going?', and he said, `Wherever the wind takes me'. You were right. I am sorry. But I am feeling very much ashamed that I could not answer him, because I could not find in that moment what would be the appropriate answer to this."
The master said, "I had warned you but you didn't listen! Now remember, tomorrow stand in the same place, and he will come because he goes to the market. Ask him again, `Where are you going?', and if he says, `Wherever the wind takes me,' just tell him, `And if the wind is not blowing, are you going anywhere or not?'"
The boy repeated it, rehearsed it, prepared himself, became perfect by the morning, and reached the place one hour before. He was standing there repeating it in his mind. It was a question of his prestige.
The other boy came, and he said, "Where are you going?"
The other boy said, "Wherever my legs take me." Now the whole preparation was useless, because the answer was inadequate. He was at a loss what to do.
He went crying to the master. He said, "Those people are very inconsistent. He has changed his answer. Today he said, `Wherever my legs take me.'"
The master said, "Don't be worried. Prepare for the next answer. Tomorrow when he says `Wherever my legs take me' tell him, `If you were born crippled, lame, would you be going anywhere or not?' Just puzzle him. It is a question not only of your prestige; now it is a question of the prestige of our temple, of our whole heritage, our tradition."
And the boy tried. He could not sleep the whole night; many times in dreams he saw the other boy. In the morning he got ready, reached the place... The other boy came and he asked, "Where are you going?"
And the other boy said, "To fetch some vegetables from the market!"
Such is life. You cannot respond to life with principles, established doctrines. You have to be alert and conscious and responsive to the moment. You have to be unprepared. Life is not an examination in a school or college or university. It is not even for a single moment the same.
This morning, Ta Hui was saying, DON'T REMEMBER WHAT I HAVE SAID TO YOU YESTERDAY, BECAUSE TODAY I AM NOT GOING TO SAY IT.
And he was right: this morning it was raining so much, and now the whole sky has changed. There is no sign of any rain.
Life is constantly changing; hence those who want to be in tune, in synchronicity, in an organic unity with existence, can't afford to have fixed principles, general principles, established doctrines, philosophies. They can only have an alert and conscious being. Then whatever the situation, they will respond accordingly -- not according to any principle, but according to the situation that they are encountering.
There is a story in the life of the founder of Hassidism, Baal Shem-tov... One woman came to him and said, "I am without a child. Your master had blessed my mother, and because of his blessings I was born; otherwise my mother would have been childless."
So Baal Shem blessed her, but the blessing did not work. The woman waited and waited. Years passed and she came with anger saying, "You are thought to be a great master, greater than your own master, but your blessing has not worked."
Baal Shem said, "Did I say that it would work? Have I given you any promise?"
But the woman was insistent: "Then why has your master's blessing worked?"
Baal Shem said, "Your mother had not asked for a child... I was present. My master had blessings for everybody: whoever used to come, he used to bless; it was not especially for your mother. If you were born, it is just an accident. In the first place your mother had not asked and you have asked -- that makes all the difference. Your mother simply loved the master, and the master out of his love used to bless everybody.
"But the situations are different. First, your mother had not asked for anything special -- you are an accident, you are not a by-product of the blessings. Secondly, you asked -- and whenever one desires, one becomes incapable of receiving the blessing. Thirdly, my master used to bless everybody; it was just his habit. I don't bless everybody; it is not my habit. My master was himself, I am myself.
"You asked, and I simply thought, "The chances are fifty-fifty. If I bless this woman the chances are fifty-fifty that she may have a child -- why miss? If she has a child, my blessings have worked and there will be a miracle. If my blessings don't work, I know how to get out of it; I can prove that she is an accident -- nobody is produced by blessings.'"
One should live life without any prejudice and without any doctrines, without any religions, without any philosophies. Only then can one live in innocence, in purity, in spontaneity.
Master Lo Shan's statement has to be remembered: "THE MYSTIC GATE HAS NO DOCTRINES, ESTABLISHES NO GENERAL PRINCIPLES. IF YOU WANT TO SEARCH FOR IT, LOOK BEFORE THE SOUND."
I have told you that THE BIBLE says, "In the beginning there was the word, and God was with the word, and God was the word." Now, according to Zen it is rubbish -- because a word needs meaning; that's the difference between a sound and a word. When you listen to the waterfall, you don't say the waterfall is speaking words; you say, "There is the sound of running water." Sound is meaningless. Certainly there could not be a word in the beginning because there was nobody to give it meaning. It is better to say there was sound.
That is the standpoint of Hinduism. They say, "In the beginning was Omkar...." Om is just a sound, it is not a word. Hence in the Sanskrit alphabet there is no letter for om, just a symbol. It is not part of the alphabet; it is in the margin. In the beginning was om... just a sound.
But Zen goes still further. Master Lo Shan is saying, "IF YOU WANT TO SEARCH FOR IT, LOOK BEFORE THE SOUND" -- because sound needs at least two things to clash. That's why the sound of one hand clapping cannot be heard: there cannot be any sound. If you want to know the ultimate, look before the sound. What is before the sound? Before the sound is silence...
Now you can see these three statements: there was silence in the beginning; there was sound in the beginning; there was word in the beginning -- and you can see the difference. The word is the most superficial; the sound is a little better; but silence is perfect -- and if you don't say it, then it is even more perfect.
If you simply remain silent, without saying "silence"... if you are asked what was in the beginning and you remain just silent, not answering, that's exactly right. Otherwise silence, sound, word... and you go on falling into the secondary.
Remain in the primary, remain in the fundamental, remain in the ultimate. And the ultimate is beyond sound.
ALL YOU DISCIPLES OF BUDDHA, REAL MIND IS NOT FIXED, AND REAL WISDOM IS NOT BOUNDED. EVEN IF I LET THESE TWO LIPS GO ON TALKING -- FROM NOW TILL THE END OF TIME -- WITHOUT A BREAK, YOU STILL CAN'T DEPEND ON ANOTHER PERSON'S POWER: THIS IS A MATTER IN WHICH EACH AND EVERY PERSON IS FULLY SUFFICIENT IN HIS OWN RIGHT.
You don't have to depend on anybody else; you contain your own truth. You are absolutely independent in your being. Your freedom is absolute and there is no way to disturb it. You can forget it but you cannot lose it.
IT CAN NEITHER BE AUGMENTED NOR DIMINISHED THE LEAST LITTLE BIT. THE PATRIARCH SAID -- the patriarch always refers to Bodhidharma; he was the first patriarch in China -- HOLD TO IT AND YOU LOSE IT... In the very holding you show that it is separate from you. Your very holding shows your misunderstanding, your ignorance.
HOLD TO IT AND YOU LOSE IT,
AND ARE BOUND TO ENTER FALSE ROADS.
LET GO OF IT AND NATURALLY
ITS ESSENCE HAS NO GOING OR STAYING.
Let go of it and it is there. It has always been there. The truth is your very essence, so there is no need to cling to it. You are it, you cannot be otherwise.
JUST HAVE FAITH IN THIS TRUTH OF ONE MIND: IT CANNOT BE GRASPED, IT CANNOT BE REJECTED. THEN YOU SHOULD GIVE UP YOUR BODY AND YOUR LIFE RIGHT THERE. The moment you understand that your essence is eternal, you will drop the idea of my body, my mind, my life. The moment you become aware of the eternal in you, you will not confine it to my and mine. It is neither mine nor yours; it simply is. We are all part of one organic unity.
IF YOU CANNOT GIVE THEM UP, IT'S BECAUSE OF YOUR OWN HESITANCY -- ON THE LAST DAY OF YOUR LIFE, DON'T BLAME ME. Ta Hui is reminding you in his last statement that if you don't lose your ego, if you don't lose your identity with the body and mind, if you don't become pure meditation, then "don't blame me at the time of your death." Then you will see the body is going, the mind is going... and you had remained always confined to the body and to the mind, and you never looked beyond.
When the body and the mind are going, people fall unconscious. The shock is so terrible that they cannot remain conscious. Only a meditator can remain conscious because he knows. Even before death, many times when he was in meditation the body was lying there, the mind was there... and he was far above. He was a totally different phenomenon.
A man of meditation dies consciously; hence he does not die. He dies joyously because to him death comes as a freedom, as a freedom from the bondage of body-mind... as if suddenly all the walls have fallen and you have become the whole sky.
Ta Hui's last statement is so beautiful and so poetic: THE WEATHER IS HOT AND YOU HAVE BEEN STANDING A LONG TIME.
TA HUI GAVE A SHOUT AND DESCENDED FROM THE SEAT.
In Zen, the shout of the master has a significance which has not been understood anywhere else. There have even been masters who would not speak at all: they would simply ascend onto the platform, look around the audience, give a good shout, and go back again. Their shout would be as if suddenly a lion had come in and roared.
Just think of yourself coming across a lion, and the roar... Your mind will stop, your breathing will stop, your heart will lose a beat.
The Zen master's shout is simply a way to give you an experience of silence. He has tried in many ways, through many aspects, explaining to you -- and finally he gives you a little taste. He gives you a shout. Suddenly the shout... Naturally everybody becomes silent -- what has happened?
And the master is gone...
Leaving you in silence...
Giving you the taste which he has been explaining all along the way.
Nirvano has a stick hidden behind her; she wanted me to hit poor Niskriya. I said, "Niskriya is German and he will not understand it. Rather than becoming silent, he will stand up to fight -- and to disturb poor Niskriya's work is not right."
I had to persuade her to leave the stick; it is not needed here. I can manage without a shout. Whenever I become silent in the middle of my sentences while speaking, you become silent.
When the shoe fits
Next: Chapter 3, Flight From The Shadow
The Great Zen Master Ta Hui
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