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ZEN

MA TZU: THE EMPTY MIRROR

Chapter 5: Like a cow

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             The Empty Mirror

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
MA TZU HAD THREE OUTSTANDING DISCIPLES WHO ENJOYED A SPECIAL INTIMACY WITH HIM. THEY WERE NAN-CHUAN, CHIH-TSANG, AND HUI-HAI (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HYAKUJO).
ONE EVENING, AS THE THREE DISCIPLES WERE ATTENDING ON THEIR MASTER, ENJOYING THE MOON TOGETHER, HE ASKED THEM WHAT THEY THOUGHT WOULD BE THE BEST WAY OF SPENDING SUCH A NIGHT.
CHIH-TSANG WAS THE FIRST TO ANSWER. HE SAID, "A GOOD TIME TO MAKE OFFERINGS."
HUI-HAI SAID, "A GOOD TIME TO CULTIVATE ONE'S SPIRITUAL LIFE."
NAN-CHUAN MADE NO ANSWER, BUT SHOOK HIS SLEEVES AND WENT AWAY.
MA TZU TURNED TO CHIH-TSANG AND SAID, "THE SUTRAS WILL JOIN THE TSANG."
(HE WAS MAKING A PUN ON CHIH-TSANG'S NAME, TSANG, WHICH IN CHINESE MEANS `BASKET', AS IN CARRYING THE WORD OF BUDDHA.)
HE TURNED TOWARD HUI-HAI AND SAID: "DHYANA WILL RETURN TO THE SEA."
(MA TZU WAS MAKING A SECOND PUN, SINCE, IN CHINESE, HAI MEANS `SEA'.)
THEN MA TZU CONCLUDED, "NAN-CHUAN ALONE TRANSCENDS THE REALM OF ALL THINGS, ALL BY HIMSELF."
ON ANOTHER OCCASION A MONK ASKED MA TZU, "WHAT IS THE BUDDHA?"
MA TZU ANSWERED, "MIND IS THE BUDDHA."
THE MONK THEN ASKED, "WHAT IS THE WAY?"
"NO-MIND IS THE WAY," ANSWERED MA TZU.
THE MONK THEN ASKED, "ARE THE BUDDHA AND THE WAY SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT?"
MA TZU REPLIED, "THE BUDDHA IS LIKE STRETCHING OUT THE HAND, THE WAY IS LIKE CLENCHING THE FIST."

Maneesha, before entering the sutras something has to be said about Ma Tzu himself, because it is very strange... No other Zen master has ever behaved the way Ma Tzu behaved -- but it is very symbolic.
MA TZU IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN A STRANGE-LOOKING MAN. IT IS SAID THAT HE WALKED LIKE A COW, AND LOOKED AROUND LIKE A TIGER. HE COULD TOUCH HIS NOSE WITH HIS TONGUE, AND HAD TWO RINGS ON THE SOLES OF HIS FEET.
MA TZU'S WAY OF TEACHING WAS MOST VARIED. HE IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DISCIPLES, EACH OF WHOM BECAME THE MASTER OF A PARTICULAR LOCALITY.
Obviously this strange man, Ma Tzu, behaved according to his spontaneity, not caring about anybody in the world. That is the first thing to be understood. Only a man of tremendous courage can walk on all fours like a cow -- a man who does not care a bit about the opinions of others. He knows the truth and that is the end.
And walking like a cow is very symbolic. You cannot fall asleep standing up, it is very difficult. You have to lie down horizontally, so that the gravitational pull is equal all over the body. Standing, leaning or sitting, the gravitational pull will be different on different parts of the body. That is a disturbance in your harmoniousness. But when you lie down you come into a deep harmony with the gravitational field.
There is a strange story in Zen circles -- it is very ancient -- that animals know our language perfectly well, but they don't speak, they don't show even a sign that they understand us.
Once a Zen master said to a monkey -- only a Zen master can do such a thing -- "I know it perfectly well; my insight says that you understand my language but you are trying to hide the fact."
The monkey said, "Yes, sir. But please don't tell anybody because I will not speak in front of anybody else. So keep it a secret. Every animal understands your language, but no animal wants to be enslaved by you. The moment any animal speaks, he is going to be put to do some work."
That ancient story reminded me of a child who never spoke until he was eight years old. Every effort was made, every test was made; his ears were perfect, there was no defect as far as physiology was concerned. It was a mystery why he did not respond. Finally they took him to a psychiatrist, but to no avail.
One day he shouted at his mother, "Mummy, where is the salt?" He was taking his lunch. The mother could not believe it, and she was alone in the house, nobody would believe her. For eight years the child had been defying.
The mother asked him, "Why have you been silent for eight years?"
He said, "Everything was perfect until now. Just today the salt is missing. There was no need to speak before. Why bother?"
But she said, "Will you speak in front of others?"
He refused. He said, "This is just a secret between us. Don't tell anybody, otherwise you will be thought to be lying. I will keep my silence again."
What is the reason why animals don't speak and why they don't grow their minds, their intelligence; why they are so contented, like a cow? It is because they are horizontal. There is no disturbance. In their physiology, in their psychology, everything is balanced. Gravitation is not disturbed. Man, by standing up on his two legs, has disturbed the whole balance. And his head started growing just because he was standing up.
It is a scientific fact that man's standing on two legs is the cause of his increasing intelligence. Mind, in a small head, is a very complicated phenomenon; one billion small nerves make it, and those small nerves are almost invisible. They need a very small quantity of oxygen in the blood. Just a little more blood and it is almost like a flood -- just as in Bangladesh, right now, three fourths of Bangladesh is taken over by water. Animals have not grown their brain, their mind, because the flood of blood to every part is equal.
Since man is standing up, it is very difficult for his heart, for his lungs, because it is going against gravitation to send oxygen and blood to the brain. The quantity became so small that this was the reason that man could grow very subtle nerves which can think, which can philosophize, which can even transcend thinking, which can make one a buddha.
Ma Tzu's habit of walking on all fours just like a cow... The first implication is that he is now a no-mind, just as all animals are; that he has joined the world and dropped his mind; that he is now in tune with the universe, not struggling against it but just floating with it. The second implication is that because he has dropped the mind, he has become an emptiness -- and it automatically grows into compassion, into love, into humbleness, into egolessness. You cannot find another animal like the cow in its humbleness, simplicity, contentment -- and yet he looked around like a tiger.
That is the contradiction of Zen. You should be like a cow, utterly humble, but you should be as rebellious and revolutionary and radical as a tiger. So although he walked like a cow, you could see that his eyes were those of a tiger -- he would jump on you and finish you! Whether it is symbolic or actual is very difficult to decide. But the contemporary sources all say that it is true.
He walked like a cow, and looked around like a tiger. He could touch his nose with his tongue. Very rare people can do it. Only very rare people can move their earlobes. Try to move your earlobes. They are yours but absolutely out of your control -- you have no control over them.
I have come across only one man, a doctor in my village, and he was a student with me in the school and in the university. He is the only man in the whole world, perhaps, who can move his earlobes according to his will. It is a miracle to see how he manages it, because it is an impossibility if the earlobes are natural. They don't have any nervous system, so you cannot manage them. You need a certain nervous system that can be controlled by the mind. But there is no nervous system, it is just pure flesh.
Perhaps this doctor -- his name is Manohar -- has got, by some mistake of nature, a nervous system in his earlobes. There is no other explanation. In China it is ancient lore that you cannot touch your nose with your tongue. But near to your death, you can touch it. The simple reason is that your teeth have fallen out -- it is nothing miraculous -- and so the nose and the tongue have come closer.
In India a similar kind of idea has been prevalent, which is more significant. Six months before your death you stop being able to see the tip of your nose because your eyes start rolling up. The moment you cannot see the tip, you can be certain that within six months you will be dead, because the eyes have started moving upwards. That's why, when somebody dies, you immediately close his eyes. Because to see him... just the white of the eyes is showing, the black part has turned up, and it freaks you out to have somebody looking at you with pure white eyes! So in every culture the eyes are closed immediately after death.
But everybody dies with open eyes. Nobody can die with closed eyes, because closing the lids of the eyes needs a certain willpower, a certain life energy. You cannot die with a fist, because the fist needs some life energy. You can die only with an open hand, because an open hand is relaxed, it needs no life, no energy. In the same way, everybody dies with open eyes. And not to make others freak out, immediately the older people pull the eyelids down. The old fellow who has died cannot now even open them again, because for that too some energy is needed. He may want to have a look -- what is happening around? -- but he cannot open them.
So it is nothing special about Ma Tzu that he touched his nose with his tongue. The special thing is that people ordinarily don't try it; otherwise everybody can touch. It is just that your teeth are the barrier. So whenever by chance your teeth fall out, and they will fall out one day, then try it and you will find that Ma Tzu was not doing some great miraculous thing, he was just very old.
In India they have the idea that on the feet of a buddha, on the underneath of the feet, there are two rings. They are the signs, when a child is born, that the person will become a buddha. It is not necessary for every buddha to have those two rings, but any child that is born with those two rings is inevitably going to become a buddha.
It is not inevitable for everybody. You may become or you may not become, it is your choice. But it is not a choice for a man like Ma Tzu. He had earned enough from his meditation in his past life, and was so close to buddhahood when he died that it was absolutely certain he would become a buddha.
Perhaps Eno had seen those two rings on his feet when he said to Nangaku, "This young man is going to become a buddha. I am old, and he is asking for initiation, but you are going to be my successor, so it is better that you take care of him from the very beginning. Give him initiation, and remember, be respectful to him. He is already a buddha -- just a little push and he will be on the other shore."

The story Maneesha has brought:
MA TZU HAD THREE OUTSTANDING DISCIPLES WHO ENJOYED A SPECIAL INTIMACY WITH HIM. THEY WERE NAN-CHUAN, CHIH-TSANG, AND HUI-HAI (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HYAKUJO).
It is almost inevitable from the way ancient masters worked that there will be a certain intimacy between them and a few disciples. They may have thousands of disciples, but a few disciples will be intimate. From these intimate disciples will be chosen their successor.
It is no more applicable as far as I am concerned because nobody is going to be a successor to me. The very idea of succeeding was an idea borrowed from the royal families. Just as kings were succeeded by their eldest sons, it reflected on the tradition of masters also that somebody would become their successor.
I want to make a complete break. As far as I am concerned, you are all intimate to me. I can afford the intimacy of all of you, because there is no question of any succeeding. Nobody is going to be my successor. I want everybody to be a master unto himself.
To be a successor is a little humiliating. It is against the dignity of an enlightened man. Neither has he anybody before him as his predecessor nor has he anybody after him who is his successor. He is alone, standing like an Everest; no one precedes him, no one succeeds him.
His aloneness is a message to all who fall in love with him, that they also have to be alone. In your aloneness you are beautiful, pure. It does not mean that you have to renounce the world. It simply means that you don't have to belong to the world. You can remain in the marketplace, but just be a mirror, a witness, watching whatever is going on.
But traditionally they never understood that it is against the freedom of the individual to be a successor. It makes a spiritual experience almost like a treasury or a kingdom. It is neither. Nobody can succeed. Everybody has to be on his own, and that independence and the taste of that independence is so valuable that I want to bring a new kind of master and a new kind of disciple into the world. They are intimate in their love, in their trust, but they are not bound in any way -- by any thread, visible or invisible. The master is himself, the disciple is also himself. And the function of the master is to prove to the disciple that to be oneself is the greatest glory in the world, the most splendorous thing.
But Ma Tzu is old... part of the old world. He had these three disciples as intimate disciples -- NAN-CHUAN, CHIH-TSANG, AND HUI-HAI (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HYAKUJO). Nan-chuan is better known as Nansen. He had a special place in the master's heart, but in the line of transmission, Hyakujo became the successor of Ma Tzu.
ONE EVENING, AS THE THREE DISCIPLES WERE ATTENDING ON THEIR MASTER, ENJOYING THE MOON TOGETHER, HE ASKED THEM WHAT THEY THOUGHT WOULD BE THE BEST WAY OF SPENDING SUCH A NIGHT.
CHIH-TSANG WAS THE FIRST TO ANSWER. HE SAID, "A GOOD TIME TO MAKE OFFERINGS" -- a good time to feel grateful to existence.
HUI-HAI SAID, "A GOOD TIME TO CULTIVATE ONE'S SPIRITUAL LIFE."
NAN-CHUAN MADE NO ANSWER, BUT SHOOK HIS SLEEVES AND WENT AWAY.
MA TZU TURNED TO CHIH-TSANG AND SAID, "THE SUTRAS WILL JOIN THE TSANG."
(HE WAS MAKING A PUN ON CHIH-TSANG'S NAME, TSANG, WHICH IN CHINESE MEANS `BASKET', AS IN CARRYING THE WORD OF BUDDHA.)
Buddha's sutras are divided into three baskets. Ma Tzu said to Chih-tsang, just making a pun on his name, "You will be one of the enlightened ones who will carry the Buddha's sutras. You will be a basket to carry the Buddha's sutras. You will be a great scholar." And that's how it came to be.
A master's insight, his clarity, is always, twenty-four hours a day, the same. He could see through this man although he is just making a pun on his name. But he uses even that opportunity to indicate to him that he will be a great scholar.
HE TURNED TO HUI-HAI AND SAID: "DHYANA WILL RETURN TO THE SEA."
(MA TZU WAS MAKING A SECOND PUN, SINCE, IN CHINESE, HAI MEANS `SEA'.)
Hui-hai had said that it was a good time for cultivating spirituality. And the way to cultivate spirituality is dhyana, meditation. His Chinese name `hai' means `sea'. And every meditation is bringing your small river of life to the great ocean of existence, to the sea.
So Ma Tzu was saying to Hui-hai, "You will reach the sea." And Hui-hai became a great enlightened master. Then Ma Tzu concluded, "Nan-chuan alone transcends the realm of all things, all by himself." Nan-chuan had not answered. On the contrary he simply left the place. His gesture shows that talking about scriptures is not the right way, talking about cultivating spirituality is absolutely absurd. You cannot cultivate it, it is already there. Hence he did not answer. And rather than answering, he shook his sleeves and went away. This was his answer.
In Zen you have to understand that even a gesture is an answer. It is wordless, but he is answering. He is saying, "Keep your scriptures and keep cultivating your spirituality, I am leaving. This is not my place. I am already a buddha, I have nothing to do. Cultivating spirituality or becoming a great scholar, these are not for me. These are for ordinary human beings."
It is said in histories of Zen that Nan-chuan, known as Nansen, had a special place in the master's heart. He was a very beautiful man with great understanding. He went deeper into meditation and finally became an enlightened master. Everybody was thinking that Nansen would be chosen as the successor. But in the line of transmission, Hyakujo became the successor of Ma Tzu.
It shows something very special, that it does not matter who is closer to your heart; what matters is who is closer to truth. Ma Tzu loved Nansen, and everybody thought that he would be chosen. But finally, before his death, he chose Hyakujo, because he was the man who was closest to the truth. He may not be close to his heart; it does not matter. It is not a personal transmission. It is a universal phenomenon, that the lamp of enlightenment should be transmitted to whomever is closer to the ultimate truth.

ON ANOTHER OCCASION A MONK ASKED MA TZU, "WHAT IS THE BUDDHA?"
MA TZU ANSWERED, "MIND IS THE BUDDHA."
Listen very carefully because these are very great statements.
MA TZU ANSWERED, "MIND IS THE BUDDHA."
THE MONK THEN ASKED, "WHAT IS THE WAY?"
"NO-MIND IS THE WAY," ANSWERED MA TZU.
Now he is being his strange self. First he says, "MIND IS THE BUDDHA." And when asked, "WHAT IS THE WAY?" he says, "NO-MIND IS THE WAY." He is canceling mind and making no-mind the way. Mind becomes no-mind, if it is empty. No-mind is not some other entity. No-mind is the same entity as the mind; the difference is whether the mind is full of thoughts, or empty of thoughts. If empty, it is no-mind, if full of thoughts, it is mind.
So he did well in answering slowly because a sudden answer may not be understood. He said, "MIND IS THE BUDDHA." It feels consoling -- you have the mind, so Buddha is not far away.
THE MONK THEN ASKED, "WHAT IS THE WAY?"
And then he plays his trick. He says, "NO-MIND IS THE WAY" -- you will have to empty the mind of all its content.
THE MONK THEN ASKED, "ARE THE BUDDHA AND THE WAY SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT?"
MA TZU REPLIED, "THE BUDDHA IS LIKE STRETCHING OUT THE HAND, THE WAY IS LIKE CLENCHING THE FIST."
There is no real difference. My hand open, or my hand as a fist -- it is the same thing, just different formations of the same thing. It is a very beautiful statement, that the Buddha and the way are almost the same. As you travel the path you become inch by inch, every day, a buddha. It is just like a sculpture. If you are making a statue of Gautam Buddha, you cannot make it completely in one stroke. You will have to take out, chunk by chunk, pieces that are not necessary, to cut the marble into the shape of Gautam Buddha.
That's exactly what you are doing with yourself. In meditation, every day, you are dropping something and gaining something deeper into your being. You are dropping some chunk of the marble and making clear at least a part of the buddha.
Slowly slowly the whole buddha arises in its totality, and in that moment you disappear. In that moment only buddha remains in you, you are the buddha. The path, the traveler and the goal are only different stages of the same phenomenon.
A poem by Ikkyu:
WHAT A NAUGHTY FELLOW HE WAS,
THE MAN WHO WAS CALLED SAKYA!
BY HIM MANY PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN TO PUZZLING.

Sakya is Gautam Buddha's family name. Ikkyu is saying what a naughty fellow he was, that many people were driven by him to puzzling.
It is true. For twenty-five centuries continuously Gautam Buddha has been harassing people. I am harassing you every night; whether you want to be a buddha or not, I am intent that you have to become a buddha.
Ikkyu is saying it out of love, it is not derogatory. He is simply saying, "What a naughty fellow!" Twenty-five centuries after Gautam Buddha, people are still puzzling how to become a buddha. As long as man exists on the earth this is going to remain a puzzling matter, because nobody else in the whole sky of consciousness seems to have puzzled humanity as much as Gautam Buddha. He insisted on originality, he insisted on your authentic being, he wanted your total freedom. No man has loved humanity so much. No man has given more dignity to man than Gautam Buddha. He does not want you to become a follower, he wants you to become a buddha.
All great religious teachers, compared to Gautam Buddha, fall very short. They want you to become followers, they want you to practice a certain discipline, they want you to manage your affairs, your morality, your lifestyle. They make a mold of you and they give you a beautiful prison cell.
Buddha stands alone, totally for freedom. Without freedom man cannot know his ultimate mystery; chained he cannot move his wings into the sky and cannot go into the beyond. Every religion is chaining people, keeping some hold on them, not allowing them to be their original beings, but giving them personalities and masks -- and this they call religious education.
Buddha does not give you any religious education. He wants you simply to be yourself, whatever it is. That is your religion -- to be yourself. No man has loved freedom so much. No man has loved mankind so much. He would not accept followers for the simple reason that to accept a follower is to destroy his dignity. He accepted only fellow travelers. His last statement before dying was, "If I ever come back, I will come as your friend." Maitreya means the friend.

 

 

Next: Chapter 5: Like a cow, Question 1

 


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 HOME PAGE

 

GAIN ENERGY APPRENTICE LEVEL1

THE ENERGY BLOCKAGE REMOVAL PROCESS

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THE KARMA CLEARING PROCESS APPRENTICE LEVEL3

MASTERY OF  RELATIONSHIPS TANTRA APPRENTICE LEVEL4

 

STUDENTS EXPERIENCES  2005 AND 2006

 

MORE STUDENTS EXPERIENCES

 - FIFTY FULL TESTIMONIALS

2003 COURSE

 
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