Chapter 5: A play with the devil

Question 3



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The third question:

Question 3


Barry Letts,

CERTAINLY! You know, that s why I never walk down the road!

But you don't understand; you have asked the question, but you don't understand the meaning of it at all. This is a message only for the disciples, and you are not yet a disciple, you are not yet a sannyasin.

This is a Zen way of saying something of immense value. It is a Zen saying: If you meet the Buddha on the Way, kill him! But Buddha is dead, has been dead for twenty-five centuries. Where can you meet him, on what way? And how can you... can you kill one who has been dead for twenty-five centuries?

It has a totally different meaning: it is a message to the disciple who LOVES Buddha, who loves Buddha so much that there is a possibility that Buddha may become his last barrier -- because of his love, because he is a disciple, because he is a sannyasin, because he meditates, goes deeper and deeper into his being and will feel more and more grateful towards Buddha.

And at the last moment even the Master has to be left behind... at the last moment. At the very last you have to say goodbye to the Master too. This is something inner, remember; it has nothing to do with the outer. This is something inner. All thoughts disappear, then only one thought remains -- the thought of your Master.

And it is very difficult to say goodbye. You owe so much to the Master -- he has been your source, your transformation; he has been your nourishment, your life; he has brought you along the long way. And now to say goodbye to the person who has been your guide, your friend? And now to say goodbye to him who has been a constant companion in the dark night of the soul; when the dawn is coming to say goodbye to him? It seems impossible! And the disciple, at the last moment, starts clinging to the idea of the Master.

But that becomes a barrier. The Master will himself give him a push, and if you don't listen to the push then he will give you a kick in the pants! -- because you have to go, you have to go into the unknown.

The Master himself says -- I say to you -- "If you meet me on the Way, kill me." But what way is implied? You will not meet me on M.G. Road! What way? If you go inwards, on the inner Way, on the inward journey, at the last check-post I am waiting for you.


And it will be difficult to say goodbye, it has always been difficult to say goodbye. Hence the statement to just KILL the Master, so there is no need even to say goodbye; kill the Master so there is no need to look back; kill the Master so you can now be left TOTALLY alone, with not even the shadow of the Master with you. And this is done in great gratefulness, in great gratitude.

But Barry Letts, this is not for you. First become a sannyasin, a disciple, start moving inwards; only then can you meet me. You have not yet even met me outwardly, how can you meet me inwardly? You have not yet come closer to me, how can you be in a state of clinging to me? You are far away, you are distant, you are avoiding. You have not even said good morning so what is the point of saying goodbye?

First become a disciple. Move on the inward Way, let me help you to the ultimate point, and then certainly if you meet me on the inner Way, kill me.

But it happens that people understand only according to THEIR idea. You have not understood this Zen koan. And remember again, it is not that the disciple kills the Master in anger. He kills him in gratitude. In fact he kills him because the Master orders him to kill him; he simply followed the commandment -- crying, weeping, with tears in his eyes. And even when he has killed, the gratitude remains.

You know the story of the famous Zen Master, Ikkyu? He was staying in a temple on a very cold night. There were many wooden Buddhas in the temple, so he brought two, three Buddhas and made a good fire, and enjoyed.

In the middle of the night, with the fire and the crackling of the wood and the smoke, the priest awoke: "What is happening? What is going on?" He saw this monk who was a stranger, who had asked for shelter and was given shelter, and what had he done? Three Buddhas gone! Naturally he was in a rage. He said, "Are you mad or something? You have burnt three Buddhas!"

Ikkyu took his staff and started searching. Now there was nothing left, just ashes; he was searching for something in the ashes. And the priest asked, "What are you searching for?"

He said, "For Buddha's bones."

In India, in the East, the bones are called flowers, symbolically. So he said, "I am searching for the flowers, for the bones of Buddha."

Now it was the priest's turn to laugh. He said, "You are really mad! How can you find flowers, bones, in the wooden Buddhas?"

Ikkyu said, "Then you too are not as stupid as you look. Then bring a few more Buddhas, because the night is long and it is too cold. If you know that these are only wooden Buddhas, then what is the fear? We can enjoy! My Buddha inside is feeling cold. And what do you think -- should I care about the living Buddha or the wooden Buddha?"

It was too dangerous to keep this man inside the temple, and the priest had to go to sleep too, so he said, "You please get out, otherwise you may burn other Buddhas. You simply get out! I don't want anything of this nonsense!"

He threw him out into the cold night. When he was being thrown out Ikkyu again said, "What are you doing? Throwing a Buddha, a living Buddha, out on such a cold night to protect the wooden Buddhas?"

But the priest wouldn't listen, he closed the doors in his face. And in the morning when the priest went out of the temple he saw another miracle happening. Just by the side of the road there was a milestone. Ikkyu had gathered a few flowers from the roadside. He had offered the flowers to the milestone, was bowing down and was saying, "BUDDHAM SHARANAM GACHCHHAMI, SANGHAM SHARANAM GACHCHHAMI, DHAMMAM SHARANAM GACHCHHAMI :" I take shelter at the feet of the Buddha, I take shelter in your commune, my Lord, I take shelter in the DHAMMA, the Law that you have taught to us."

The priest said, "What are you doing? In the night you burnt a Buddha, and now you are worshipping the milestone as a Buddha?"

And Ikkyu said, "If you have gratitude you can show it anywhere. If you don't have it even thousands of wooden Buddhas cannot create it." If you have gratitude you can show it anywhere.... Now this is the man of Zen.

Barry Letts, if you understand Ikkyu then you will understand this statement. On the one hand he burned, on the other hand he worshipped.

The Masters who were telling their disciples, "If you meet the Buddha on the Way, kill him!" were worshipping the Buddha every day, morning, afternoon, evening. They were prostrating themselves before the Buddha. And many times it had been asked by the disciples, "Sir, you say 'If you meet the Buddha on the Way, kill him!' Then why do you worship?"

And he would say, "Because he is the only Master in the world... Buddha is the only Master in the world who helps you to get rid of him too; hence the gratitude."

You have not understood the statement. These statements have a very different meaning than is apparent. To understand these statements you will have to become a little grown-up. As far as these statements are concerned, you are like children.

A teacher explained to her class that the four basic elements of successful fiction were religion, royalty, sex and mystery. Then she assigned her class to write their first novel. After about five minutes little Peter walked up to the teacher's desk and said, "Teacher, I have finished."

"In five minutes?" asked the teacher. "Are you sure you included the four basic elements, religion, royalty, sex, and mystery?"

"Yes, I did," said the boy. "I will read it to you:'Holy Moses!' said the princess, 'Pregnant again? wonder who done it this time.... "'

The novel was finished, and all the four basic elements were there: "HOLY Moses!" said the PRINCESS. "PREGNANT again? I WONDER who done it this time.... "

To understand these great statements you will need a little more grown-up mind.

Yes certainly, Barry Letts, if you meet me on the Way, kill me. But first please, be on the Way -- where I am waiting for you, to be killed by you!

But you don't know another thing which is not really ever said. This statement is only half of it; the other half, the first half, is missing. Before you can ever kill me, I will kill you. That's how you will enter the Way!


Next: Chapter 5: A play with the devil, Question 4


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Chapter 5






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