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HYAKUJO: THE EVEREST OF ZEN, WITH BASHO'S HAIKUS

Chapter 3: In search of a lost treasure

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             Hyakujo

 

BELOVED OSHO,
THE QUESTION WAS ASKED OF HYAKUJO: "THERE IS A SUTRA WHICH SAYS THAT NOT TO PERCEIVE ANYTHING IN TERMS OF BEING OR NON-BEING IS TRUE DELIVERANCE. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?" HYAKUJO RESPONDED:
"WHEN WE ATTAIN TO PURITY OF MIND, THAT IS SOMETHING WHICH CAN BE SAID TO EXIST. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, OUR REMAINING FREE FROM ANY THOUGHT OF ACHIEVEMENT IS CALLED NOT PERCEIVING ANYTHING AS EXISTENT. REACHING THE STATE IN WHICH NO THOUGHTS ARISE OR PERSIST, YET WITHOUT BEING CONSCIOUS OF THEIR ABSENCE, IS CALLED NOT PERCEIVING ANYTHING AS NON-EXISTENT.
"THE SURANGAMA SUTRA SAYS, PERCEPTIONS EMPLOYED AS A BASE FOR BUILDING UP POSSIBLE CONCEPTS ARE THE ORIGIN OF ALL IGNORANCE. PERCEPTION THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO PERCEIVE  --  THAT IS NIRVANA, ALSO KNOWN AS DELIVERANCE."
A QUESTION WAS ASKED, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE `NOTHING TO PERCEIVE'?"
HYAKUJO REPLIED: "BEING ABLE TO BEHOLD MEN, WOMEN AND ALL THE VARIOUS SORTS OF APPEARANCES WHILE REMAINING AS FREE FROM LOVE OR HATE AS IF THEY WERE ACTUALLY NOT SEEN AT ALL  --  THAT IS WHAT IS MEANT BY `NOTHING TO PERCEIVE.'"
THEN HE WAS ASKED: "THAT WHICH OCCURS WHEN WE ARE CONFRONTED BY ALL SORTS OF SHAPES AND FORMS IS CALLED PERCEPTION. CAN WE SPEAK OF PERCEPTION TAKING PLACE WHEN nothing CONFRONTS US?"
"YES," REPLIED HYAKUJO.
"WHEN SOMETHING CONFRONTS US, IT FOLLOWS THAT WE PERCEIVE IT," CONTINUED THE QUESTION, "BUT HOW CAN THERE BE PERCEPTION WHEN WE ARE CONFRONTED BY NOTHING AT ALL?"
HYAKUJO ANSWERED BY SAYING: "WE ARE NOT TALKING OF THAT PERCEPTION WHICH IS INDEPENDENT OF THERE BEING AN OBJECT OR NOT. HOW CAN THAT BE?"
"THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION BEING ETERNAL, WE GO ON PERCEIVING WHETHER OBJECTS ARE PRESENT OR NOT. THEREBY WE COME TO UNDERSTAND THAT, WHEREAS OBJECTS NATURALLY APPEAR AND DISAPPEAR, THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION DOES NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS. IT IS THE SAME WITH ALL YOUR OTHER SENSES TOO," CONCLUDED HYAKUJO.

Maneesha, before I discuss the sutras of Hyakujo and the haikus of Basho, I have to settle this great matter about Anando. I call it the great matter, because to me you all are buddhas. You may know it, you may not know it, but in my vision, I perceive you in your perfection. I want and hope that one day, you will also be able to see clearly your buddhahood, because that is the only solution out of the troubles of the mind.
A famous American Jewish writer, Joshua Liebman, has written a book, PEACE OF MIND. The very title is wrong. Mind can never be at peace. Peace is something beyond mind. Mind is the problem. You can change problems, but that will not help. You have to go beyond mind.
I wrote a letter to Joshua Liebman: "Your very title is wrong, your very attitude is wrong. You don't know a simple fact about the inner world: mind is the cause of all trouble; only no-mind can be at peace, because in a state of no-mind you have gone beyond the clouds into the open sky, where problems don't exist."
The mind is a small accumulation of thousands of years of problems. You are still carrying them, and they are just waiting for some situation to surface. Even you are surprised, "From where has this problem surfaced?"
You were not aware that ninety percent of your mind is in darkness. Only a small fragment  --  ten percent  --  has become a little awake. He knows nothing about what is going on in the depths of the ninety percent. And from that unconscious, anything can surface to the conscious. Just a certain situation is needed to trigger it off. It may remain dormant for years, for lives, and it may become suddenly the greatest problem in your life.
This is not only a question for Anando, it is a question for everyone who has a mind. Only those who have not a mind, and function directly and straightforward without bringing any thoughts in between, who rather than thinking simply reflect  -- they don't have any problems. We have called such people buddhas.
You all have the potential of having mind or no-mind. You can have both: when you need to work with the objective reality you can use the mind  --  it is extrovert; when you are working towards the inner world, and the treasure house of your being, you have to use the no-mind.
The problem arises that you are accustomed to using the mind, because you are accustomed to the outside world. So when you start working for the inner, you still continue functioning with the mind. That is not the area of functioning for the mind.
The mind can only be objective, it can never be subjective. And the moment you try to make it subjective, you will get into tremendous anguish, strange anxieties. The whole of the unconscious mind will start arising in flames within you. It is a great struggle of the mind that it does not want you ever to explore the inner, it wants you to remain engaged with something outside. Then it is perfectly happy.
Turning in simply means a death to the mind.
Turning in means the mind will have to be put aside, with all its knowledge, its problems, its anxieties, its anguishes. Of course, the mind has been in power for four million years, it cannot easily give way, so it creates any kind of disturbances that can prevent you from entering into your own being and finding the buddha.

Anando has written:
BELOVED OSHO,
I AM SORRY. I MUST BE THE MOST STUBBORN AND STUPID DISCIPLE OF ALL TIME. I AM NOT EVEN SURE I CAN BE CALLED A DISCIPLE AFTER MY BEHAVIOR.
I FEEL TERRIBLE THAT I FORCED YOU TO HIT ME SO HARD, BUT I SAW THAT MY LAYERS OF PRIDE AND MY STUPID DEFENSES OF INDEPENDENCE FROM LOVE WERE SO OLD AND SO THICK, THAT I NEEDED SOMETHING DRASTIC.
I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DID, EXCEPT THAT BOY, DID IT HURT. NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY THE TRUTH IS SO UNPOPULAR.
BUT IN SPITE OF MY WORST EFFORTS, YOU, WITH YOUR LOVE, HAVE MANAGED A MIRACLE AGAIN. I FEEL HEALED AND SO GRATEFUL.
THANK YOU SOUNDS SO INADEQUATE, BUT I SAY FROM THE DEPTH OF MY BEING: I WASH YOUR FEET WITH MY TEARS OF GRATITUDE.
ANANDO.

Anando, you have done perfectly well. It was something troublesome in you that you have dropped in this crisis. This crisis was painful  --  every crisis is  --  but few crises bring a new approach, a new attitude, a new being in you. And this crisis has brought a new dawn to your life.
People don't understand at all that they are afraid of love. People think they are very loving, but their unconscious is very afraid of love. Love means merging, and that seems to the mind as if you are losing your independence, your individuality.
In ordinary love affairs it is true to some extent. That is the whole struggle between lovers, continuously fighting. It is not certain things that they are fighting about  --  any excuse and they are fighting. Their fight is to survive as an individual. This flood of love creates great fear in them.
But this is about the ordinary love affairs. What to say about the great love affair between the disciple and the master? It is a very tidal wave, but the difference is that the tidal wave will not take away your independence. In fact, you don't have independence right now, it is just a vague idea. You don't know freedom, you don't know independence.
With the tidal wave of a master's love, all that is slave in you will be drowned. You will come out fresh, more independent, more individual, and yet, more grateful, more peaceful, more graceful.
That's what has happened to you, Anando, you have come back home. You have gone a little astray, but with me it is very difficult to go astray. I give you as much rope as you want  --  I give you the whole rope  --  and then you come back with that whole load of rope.
You proved to be an authentic disciple. And what you are saying is not simply words, it is your very heart.
When I hit someone, remember always, I hit myself more deeply. I can understand that you are healed, because my pain has disappeared, and I can feel your gratefulness. Not only was I feeling the pain through which you were going, the whole assembly was sad.
I would like Anando to bow down to all the buddhas here  --  they were all sad for all these days that you were in deep pain. Fighting with it, you have come victorious.
It is not enough to be grateful to me, you have to be grateful to all the buddhas who are working here together in search of a lost treasure, a lost golden climate. It is not an organization of buddhas  -- buddhas don't organize  --  it is simply a meeting of brothers and sisters in a deep love. They are all moving towards the same center of their being, and the universal being.

Anando, come in front and bow down to the whole assembly. This will be a record for the future.
(ANANDO WALKS TO THE FRONT OF THE ASSEMBLY AND STANDS IN FRONT OF EVERYONE IN NAMASTE. OSHO TELLS HER TO BOW DOWN. SHE SIMPLY STANDS AND BOWS, AND IN RESPONSE, BEFORE SHE RETURNS TO HER PLACE, EVERYONE BOWS DOWN.)

Now, the biographical note:-
THE GREAT PEARL'S TREATISE ON SUDDEN ENLIGHTENMENT WAS WRITTEN BEFORE HE ACTUALLY HAD ANY DISCIPLES  -- IN THE PERIOD DESCRIBED AS "WHEN HE LIVED A RETIRED LIFE, CONCEALING HIS ABILITIES AND OUTWARDLY APPEARING SOMEWHAT MAD." EVEN THOUGH THE BOOK IS WRITTEN IN THE STYLE OF A DIALOGUE, HYAKUJO COMPOSED THE QUESTIONS AS WELL AS THE ANSWERS HIMSELF SO THAT HE COULD EXPLAIN HIS POINTS IN THE MANNER HE WISHED.

The sutra:
BELOVED OSHO,
THE QUESTION WAS ASKED OF HYAKUJO: "THERE IS A SUTRA WHICH SAYS THAT NOT TO PERCEIVE ANYTHING IN TERMS OF BEING OR NON-BEING IS TRUE DELIVERANCE.
"THERE IS A SUTRA WHICH SAYS THAT NOT TO PERCEIVE ANYTHING IN TERMS OF BEING OR NON-BEING IS TRUE DELIVERANCE. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?"
HYAKUJO RESPONDED: "WHEN WE ATTAIN TO PURITY OF MIND, THAT IS SOMETHING WHICH CAN BE SAID TO EXIST. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, OUR REMAINING FREE FROM ANY THOUGHT OF ACHIEVEMENT IS CALLED NOT PERCEIVING ANYTHING AS EXISTENT. REACHING THE STATE IN WHICH NO THOUGHTS ARISE OR PERSIST, YET WITHOUT BEING CONSCIOUS OF THEIR ABSENCE, IS CALLED NOT PERCEIVING ANYTHING AS NON-EXISTENT.
"THE Surangama SUTRA SAYS, PERCEPTIONS EMPLOYED AS A BASE FOR BUILDING UP POSSIBLE CONCEPTS ARE THE ORIGIN OF ALL IGNORANCE. PERCEPTION THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO PERCEIVE  --  THAT IS NIRVANA, ALSO KNOWN AS DELIVERANCE."
A QUESTION WAS ASKED, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE `NOTHING TO PERCEIVE'?"
Hyakujo, even before becoming a master, has already become enlightened. It is not necessary for every enlightened being to become a master. Most of the enlightened beings have remained silent, for the simple reason, that to say the truth is to annoy the whole world. And not to say the truth, one feels like one has betrayed oneself.
The situation of an enlightened man is a very difficult situation. He has all the blessings, and all the joys, but there is a problem: he cannot communicate it to those who are moving in darkness, in blindness. And the trouble is, with enlightenment arises great compassion and love spontaneously. So the enlightened person tries to help in every possible way, creates devices, even tells lies to help you to come to the truth.
Very few enlightened people are articulate, because that is a totally different expertise. So they remain silent, although their silence becomes heavy on them. They become sad because they cannot communicate. They know the truth, and that somebody is searching for it, but they cannot even indicate the way. They feel helpless.
A few people who became enlightened remained silent for a few years, just pondering over the problem of communion. That was the case with Hyakujo. He became enlightened, and waited for the right moment when he had found the right words, the right devices which can help somebody.
He wrote these sutras after his enlightenment, but before his becoming a master. He himself asked the question. It is a preparation for himself  --  the homework. He asked the question and he himself answers it, trying to see whether he will be able to answer the questions which are bound to arise when he declares his enlightenment.
One of the most difficult things is: what is nirvana? The word `nirvana' has a very special meaning to it. No other religion in the world has ever dared to think of such a thing. `Nirvana' literally means blowing away the flame. You have a candle, you blow away the flame  --  now where you can find that flame again? Is it possible to find that flame again in this vast universe? It has gone into the oceanic existence, become one with it. There is no way to find it.
Buddha used `nirvana' as the ultimate state when your individual consciousness disappears into the universal consciousness. It is just like blowing away a flame. No more will you be heard; no more will you be; only existence will be there. You will walk, and it will be existence who will be walking within you. You will talk, and it will be existence who will be talking through you. You will become just a hollow bamboo, and existence can make a flute out of you.
The words or the silences are all coming from the cosmic sources. The enlightened masters have danced, have sung, have written poetries, have done all kinds of creative work, but not as themselves. They are allowing existence to use them as instruments of the cosmic soul. They will not do anything on their own.

I am reminded of an English poet, Coleridge....
After his death, forty thousand incomplete poems were found in his house. His friends were aware all his life, and they insisted, "Why don't you complete a poem which is so beautiful? Just two lines more and it will be completed  --  or sometimes one line more and it will be completed."
But according to me, Coleridge was authentically a mystic poet. He simply said, "I never write anything, I only allow existence. At this point existence stopped, what can I do? I cannot manage to complete the poem. If existence wants to complete it some day, it will be completed; if not, it is not my concern."
He completed only seven poems, but even seven poems have made him one of the greatest poets that has ever lived on the earth. His poems give the sense that they are coming from beyond. He is just a receiving center, he is not a composer, he is not writing them. He is just in the hands of existence... perhaps a fountain pen, but the hands are cosmic.
He was courageous enough. It needed immense courage to see thousands of poems gathering which could be completed  --  and he was capable of completing them. But he tried a few times and he found out that the one line he composed was dead, and the other lines which had flown through him, had a life of their own  -- they had a heartbeat.
Nirvana is disappearance into the ultimate. Even while living, you start living in the hands of the ultimate. The ultimate is our freedom, the ultimate is our independence.
Anando has raised a question about independence in her letter. There are independences and there are great differences between them. One independence is from others  --  you are independent from others. That is a very small independence that does not carry much meaning. Another independence is, you are independent from yourself. That is the great freedom, the ultimate freedom  --  you are no more.
As long as you are, there is a certain slavery to circumstances, to the body, to the mind, to the society. You cannot be absolutely independent as long as you are.
Nirvana is absolute freedom.
Now there is no one who can be enslaved.
The dewdrop has disappeared into the ocean.

These sutras are good enough to make Hyakujo a master  --  and finally he became a master. He did not revise these sutras. He continued his whole life on the same line.
The first sutra says that NOT TO PERCEIVE ANYTHING IN TERMS OF BEING OR NON-BEING IS TRUE DELIVERANCE.
Everything that you can see is just a reflection of the moon in the river. If somebody asks you if the reflection of the moon in the lake has a being, or if it is a non-being, what are you going to say? Neither is it a being, nor is it a non-being, it is just a reflection in the mirror. So whatever you see with your eyes, your eyes are just mirrors. Whatever you see around in the world outside, you are simply reflecting them, you are not seeing them. And all your reflections neither can be called beings nor non-beings. What are they?  --  just reflections. Your eyes are just mirrors.
You don't have any way to find out that what you are seeing is really there. All your senses can deceive you, and there is no way to judge whether you have seen something which is a mirage or real water.

There is a great Christian college in Allahabad....
I was invited to give some lectures there. It is just on the bank of the great Ganges, in a very beautiful place.
I was sitting by the side of the riverbank with a friend who was a professor in the Christian college, and the friend became very excited.
I said, "What is the matter?"
Far away there was a very beautiful woman taking a bath in the river, but her back was towards us. So I said, "What is the problem? Let her take the bath."
He said, "The problem is, I want to see her face."
I said, "You can go and look at her face."
He went with great excitement, and came back so disappointed because it was not a woman at all. It was a Hindu monk with long hair. When he saw the monk he said, "My God, I was just about to fall in love."
I said, "Before falling in love, at least you should encounter the person from the front side. From the back side... And are you certain that he is a monk and not a woman?"
He said, "You are creating doubt in me. For a moment I was also doubtful because he is beautiful. Now I will have to go back again."
I said, "Leave it. You know now that he is a monk."
He said, "No. You have created the doubt, and I don't want to live with this doubt. He may really be a woman, because I did not see any beard or mustache. Who knows? My conclusion that he is a monk is dependent only on his orange clothes, but that is not a decisive point because a Hindu nun will also use orange clothes."
He said, "I will have to go."
He went again. Even the monk became surprised as to why this man was coming again, and he looked down from this way and that way.
The monk said, "What is the matter?"
He said, "Nothing is the matter. You just have such beautiful hair that my friend who is sitting there and I got into a discussion about whether you are a man or a woman."
The monk must have been a man of a great sense of humor. He said, "Aha! I don't know myself. A monk is a monk  --  he is neither a man nor a woman."
The man became even more disappointed. He said to me, "Now it is very difficult. His body is very shapely, and he himself says that he does not know who he is."

What you can see with your eyes is only a reflection. Hyakujo is saying that all our perceptions are neither beings nor non-beings. They are ephemeral. They are made of the same stuff as dreams are made of. Don't be too much concerned, attached, identified with them. That creates the bondage.
Hyakujo himself responded to his question: "WHEN WE ATTAIN TO PURITY OF MIND, THAT IS SOMETHING WHICH CAN BE SAID TO EXIST. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, OUR REMAINING FREE FROM ANY THOUGHT OF ACHIEVEMENT IS CALLED NOT PERCEIVING ANYTHING AS EXISTENT."
Nothing can be called existent, because everything is in a flux. This is a Buddhist attitude, that you cannot refer to anything with a noun or a pronoun. Their approach is really deep. They say, "You say, `the river is,' but the river is constantly flowing."
They are saying exactly what Epicurus and Heraclitus in Greece said: "You cannot step in the same river twice."
When I read Heraclitus for the first time, that you cannot step in the same river twice, I tried. And my conclusion was that if I meet Heraclitus somewhere  -- not much chance because he was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha, but one never knows, everything is possible in this vast universe  --  I am going to tell him, "You cannot step in the same river even once. I have tried; you were simply postulating. When you put your feet in the river, the water is flowing. As your foot goes a little deeper, the water is flowing... a little more, and water is flowing. By the time you touch the ground, perhaps so much water has gone  --  every second it is flowing  --  that you cannot say that you have stepped in the same river, in the same water."
Gautam Buddha's very profound approach was, that for mediocre reasons we have made all verbs into nouns. Otherwise a tree should be called treeing; it is continuously growing. At no point you can call it a tree; either it is growing or it is dying. Everything is a process, not a thing  --  an event, but not a thing. And if everything is a process, you cannot call anything a being. The river is flowing, the water is flowing, the trees are growing, the stars are moving, the earth is moving, you are moving...

The whole existence all around is in movement. There is not a single thing in the outside world which is not moving either backwards or forwards. But movement is the reality, that's why it is called ephemeral. Only one thing is not moving, has never moved, and that is your ultimate center of being. That has remained the same in this whole world going around in circles.
The great scientist, Bacon, can be called the father of Western science. He wrote a very great book, NOVUM ORGANUM, in which he has stated in aphorisms the differences between philosophical attitudes and science. He says in NOVUM ORGANUM  --  Novum Organum means a new canon of thought  --  "If I can find a center in the world which is not moving, I can explain the whole world without any difficulty. But there is no center in the world which is not moving; everything is moving. By the time you have explained it, it is no longer the same."
He was not aware of the inner world. There, there is a center which is unmoving, but he was not a religious man.
We are in search of a center inside, and all the mystics, all the buddhas, are in absolute agreement that in the deepest core of your being there is a center which is the only unmoving center in the whole of existence.
And strangely enough, that unmoving center is not only yours. At that center we all meet, just like lines drawn from the circumference to the center. You can draw many lines from the circumference to the center. On the circumference they are different lines. As they move closer to the center, they also become closer to each other. When they reach the center, they are one.
We are many on the circumference.
At the center we are one.
And that oneness is the only freedom, because now there is no other to make you a slave. Only you are, and because only you are, you cannot even say that you are. To say that you are, you need others for context. Unless the other is, you cannot be. You need for your I a thou. Without a thou the I cannot exist; linguistically it is impossible.
So at the very center only is-ness remains.
Neither me nor you, but just a pure existence.

"THE SURANGAMA SUTRA SAYS, PERCEPTIONS EMPLOYED AS A BASE FOR BUILDING UP POSSIBLE CONCEPTS ARE THE ORIGIN OF ALL IGNORANCE. PERCEPTION THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO PERCEIVE  --  THAT IS NIRVANA."
There is nothing to perceive, only you are. Only the mirror is there and nothing to reflect. So deeply are we rooted in one cosmic whole, that there is no other which can be reflected. All around there is nothingness, but this nothingness is very alive. It is not the nothingness of a cemetery, it is the nothingness that you experience every day in meditation  --  everything becomes absolutely silent. Somebody passing by the side of the road cannot infer that there are ten thousand people.
This silence is vibrating, has a heartbeat.
This is a small example of the ultimate silence that surrounds the cosmos. It has a heartbeat, it is not simply nothing. It is called nothingness because there is nothing to perceive, no reflection is made. When you go deep inside you, you will see that no reflection is made. A pure mirror without any reflections, a purity without any ripples  --  this, according to Buddha, is nirvana.
A QUESTION WAS ASKED, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE `NOTHING TO PERCEIVE'?"
How can you perceive nothing? You can perceive an object, a tree, a moon. You can perceive an object, but how can you perceive nothing? The question is very philosophical, but it is good to face it because some day it may arise in you too, that when you are absolutely silent, just a mirror, nothing to perceive, how do you know? Nothing to perceive  --  can you perceive nothing? You can perceive no-thing, and that perception of no-thing, gives you the idea of nothingness. There is no-thingness around you, no objects but just a pure space.
Have you ever thought about the word `object'? We call things `objects'. `Object' simply means that which obstructs, hinders, prevents. It is an objection; you cannot go. It is a barrier. Things are called objects because they prevent you from moving beyond them. They are like walls; they are not like doors. No object, or no thing simply means there is nothing around to "object" you.
This is the perception that as far as you can see, there is no thing left. The mirror is pure, unreflective, centered in itself in deep blissfulness.

Hyakujo replied: "THAT WHICH OCCURS WHEN WE ARE CONFRONTED BY ALL SORTS OF SHAPES AND FORMS IS CALLED PERCEPTION. CAN WE SPEAK OF PERCEPTION TAKING PLACE WHEN NOTHING CONFRONTS US?"
"YES," REPLIED HYAKUJO.
"WHEN SOMETHING CONFRONTS US, IT FOLLOWS THAT WE PERCEIVE IT."
If we can perceive something, it means that when something will be removed, we will perceive nothing.
The question continues: "BUT HOW CAN THERE BE PERCEPTION WHEN WE ARE CONFRONTED BY NOTHING AT ALL?"
HYAKUJO ANSWERED BY SAYING: "WE ARE NOT TALKING OF THAT PERCEPTION WHICH IS INDEPENDENT OF THERE BEING AN OBJECT OR NOT. HOW CAN that BE?"
"THE TRUE NATURE OF PERCEPTION BEING ETERNAL, WE GO ON PERCEIVING, WHETHER OBJECTS ARE PRESENT OR NOT."
A mirror can exist without reflecting. Just take that case, that a mirror can exist without any reflection. A consciousness can exist without any perception. There is no need, no necessity. The mirror and its mirror quality is not dependent on anything and its reflection. For example, the lake can go on existing whether the moon comes or not. If it comes, it will be reflected; if it does not come, who cares? The lake is perfectly satisfied unto itself, so is the case of the inner lake of consciousness.
"THEREBY WE COME TO UNDERSTAND THAT, WHEREAS objects NATURALLY APPEAR AND DISAPPEAR, THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION DOES neither OF THOSE THINGS."
The mirror remains; things come and go. Consciousness remains, awareness remains, witnessing remains; things come and go. Life comes, death comes, your mirror-like witnessing remains eternally. It is the only thing in the whole of existence which never changes.

Basho wrote:
AUTUMN EVE  --  PLEASE
TURN TO ME.
I, TOO, AM A STRANGER.

Basho's haikus have no parallel. All Zen masters have written haikus, but Basho seems to have melted and merged into nature more deeply than anybody else.
"Autumn eve  --  please turn to me. I, too, am a stranger." Just as you are, he is saying, "Here in this world we are all strangers."
We ordinarily forget the matter, we start taking everybody for granted. Have you ever thought about it? These ten thousand buddhas are all strangers. We make efforts to forget that everybody is a stranger  --  we make marriages, friendships, we try to introduce each other  --  just to forget the feeling that everybody is a stranger. It will make us very much frightened, that we are surrounded with strangers. All our families, all our clubs, all our religions, all our nations are only an opportunity to hide the fact that we are all strangers.
Zen is an effort to make you fully aware of your strangeness. This will give you freedom from the crowd. This will give you a sense of being yourself, a deep intensity of consciousness that you are surrounded in a strange world where everybody is a stranger.
It has many deeper implications. If you can understand the fact that everybody is a stranger, all your expectations will drop. Who are you to expect? A husband expects certain things from the wife. He has forgotten the fact that the wife is a stranger. We have just met on the way, talked a little bit, walked together on the way, and we have forgotten the fact that we are still strangers.
We don't know ourselves, how can we know others? But on the surface, we try to make familiarity, we try to forget the fearsome idea that we are alone. The wife, the children, the Rotary Club... somewhere we want to be associated.
We don't want to stand alone in deep freedom under the sky, and dance under the sun and the rain. No, we simply want a coziness with the crowd, we want to disappear in the crowd  --  it feels warmer there.
It is not without any reason that Jesus could call people sheep, and himself the shepherd  --  and nobody objected. This is strange: Jesus was crucified, but nobody ever objected to any of his teachings, and nobody ever argued against him.
The reality seems to be that people accepted it deep down themselves that they were nothing but sheep, they needed a crowd to surround them, they could not move alone in an unknown territory. Nobody stood up to Jesus, and said to him, "You are insulting humanity. You are humiliating us by being a shepherd and making us sheep."
That nobody objected makes it clear that the people felt he was right, "We need a crowd."
Basho is saying, "Autumn eve  --  please turn to me."  --  you are not the only stranger here  --  "I, too, am a stranger."

I have heard...
An Englishman who got off the train was feeling very dizzy. His wife had come to pick him up from the station. She asked, "What is the matter? You are looking very pale and dizzy."
He said, "It was a difficult situation. Whenever I sit in the opposite direction  --  the train is going to the East, and I am sitting facing the West  --  it makes me dizzy."
The wife said, "It is such a small thing, you could have said to anybody, `This makes me dizzy, please change the seat.'"
He said, "You are right, but we were all strangers. Nobody has introduced me to anybody."
The wife said, "You are an idiot! We are strangers, that is true, but that does not mean that you cannot ask a small thing."
He said, "Next time I will try."
And the next day, he came back even more dizzy.
The wife said, "What happened now?"
He said, "On the front seat there was nobody, so I could not ask. You need somebody to ask; the seat was empty..."
The wife said, "I will not interfere in your matters. You are simply either a philosopher or insane."
Both mean the same.

Another haiku by Basho:
THE CRESCENT MOON  --
THE EASTERN SKY IS DARK,
AND THE SOUND OF A BELL.

He depicts in words. Without any colors he makes paintings. "The crescent moon  --  the eastern sky is dark, and the sound of a bell." You can almost hear the sound of a bell. These are his moments of meditation. When he opens his eyes once in a while, he sees something: "The crescent moon  --  the eastern sky is dark, and the sound of a bell"  --  just fragments out of a meditative mind. They don't say much, they simply depict a situation. Very visual  --  you can see it, you can hear it. Basho is very earth bound.


 

Next: Chapter 3: In search of a lost treasure, Question 1

 


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