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RINZAI: MASTER OF THE IRRATIONAL

Chapter 1: The Master of the shouts

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             Rinzai

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
RINZAI BECAME KNOWN AS THE MASTER OF THE SHOUTS. ON ONE OCCASION, A MONK ASKED, "WHAT ABOUT THE CARDINAL PRINCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA-DHARMA?"
RINZAI SHOUTED -- THE MONK BOWED.
"DO YOU SAY THAT'S A GOOD SHOUT?" RINZAI ASKED.
THE MONK COMMENTED: "THE THIEF IN THE GRASS HAS MET COMPLETE DEFEAT."
"WHAT'S MY OFFENSE?" RINZAI ASKED.
THE MONK REPLIED, "IT WON'T BE PARDONED A SECOND TIME."
RINZAI GAVE A SHOUT.

Maneesha, this silent and beautiful evening we are going to start a new series of meditations on the sutras of Rinzai. Rinzai is one of the most loved masters in the tradition of Zen.
The first transmission of the light happened between Gautam Buddha and Mahakashyapa. The second great transmission happened between Bodhidharma and his successor. Bodhidharma took the ultimate experience of consciousness from India to China; Rinzai introduced the same consciousness, the same path of entering into oneself, from China to Japan.
These three names -- Mahakashyapa, Bodhidharma and Rinzai -- stand like great peaks of the Himalayas.
One of the most difficult things is to change an experience into explanation, and from one language to another it becomes almost an impossible task. But Bodhidharma managed it, and Rinzai also managed. This transmission of the lamp has to be understood deeply; only then will you be able to understand the sutras that follow.
No language is able to translate an inner experience, a subjective experience, for the simple reason that language is created for the objective world, about things, about people. No language has been created about the innermost center of your being, for the simple reason that when two men of the same experience meet there is no need to say anything. Their very presence, their very silence, the depth of their eyes and the grace of their gestures is enough.
There are only three possible situations. Either two enlightened beings meet, then language is not needed; they both meet beyond language, their meeting is the meeting of no-mind.
The second situation is if two unenlightened people meet: they will talk much, they will use great words, much philosophy, much metaphysics, but it will all be meaningless. It will not be supported by their experience. They are just parrots, repeating other people's words. Obviously they cannot create the language for the buddhas. They have no idea what it is in the innermost core of your being.
The third possibility is a meeting between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person. The enlightened person knows, the unenlightened person does not know. But although the enlightened person knows, it is not enough to convey it. To know is one thing; to transfer it into language is another thing.
You know what love is -- you can sing a song, you can dance, but you cannot say a single word about what love is. You can have it, you can be overwhelmed by it, you can know the absolute experience of love, but still you cannot bring even a fragment of it into words. Words are not meant for it. To transfer it from one language to another language is almost an impossibility.
Even Buddha did not say anything to Mahakashyapa. Mahakashyapa simply lived with Buddha for many years sitting silently under his tree. He never asked a question, he simply waited and waited and waited. The longer he waited the more silent he became. The longer and deeper his patience, the greater became his trust and his love and his gratitude. Just by waiting he was going through a metamorphosis. He was changing into a new man. Nobody would have known it if by chance this incident had not happened.
A great philosopher of those days, Maulingaputta, came to Buddha. In India in those days it was a very common tradition that teachers would go to other teachers to discuss matters. With great respect they would fight tooth and nail, and whoever was defeated would become the disciple of the victorious one.
Maulingaputta had defeated hundreds of teachers and he had come to Gautam Buddha now with five hundred followers to challenge him. This challenge was not antagonistic; this challenge was absolutely in search for truth.
Maulingaputta said with deep respectfulness, "I want to challenge you to have a debate with me."
Buddha said, "There is no problem... but that will not decide anything. You have been discussing with hundreds of teachers and you have been victorious, not because you have the truth but because you are more logical, more argumentative, more sophisticated than the others. It does not mean that you have the truth; it simply means you are better educated -- you have done your homework better than the others, you are clever, more intelligent and have a sharper logical capacity. But that does not mean you have the truth.
"Do you want to inquire about the truth or just to have a debate? -- because with these hundreds of debates, what has happened? You have gathered hundreds of followers and you don't have the truth yourself. Now you have taken responsibility for hundreds of followers. Do you understand what you are doing?"
Those days were of tremendous honesty. Maulingaputta said, "You are right. I don't know as an experience what truth is, but I can argue about anything. I have been trained in argumentation." He was a sophist. Sophists can argue either for or against, it doesn't matter.
In Greece, before Socrates, there was no philosophy, but only sophistry. Teachers were roaming around teaching people how to argue. It does not matter for what, and whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether you have a weightier argument than the other.
Socrates changed the whole history of philosophy in the West. He said that this is absolutely stupid. Just being logically more proficient does not mean you have the truth. Somebody may have the truth... and it is more probable that the man who has the truth may not be able even to say it. The question of arguing about it, for it, does not arise. He may not even find words to convey it.
Buddha said to Maulingaputta, "If you are really a man in search of truth, then sit down by my side for two years as if you are not -- no questions, no communications -- and after two years I will remind you that the day has come; now you can challenge me."
At this moment Mahakashyapa, who had been there for thirty years with Buddha, suddenly burst out laughing. The whole gathering of ten thousand monks could not believe it: this man had never spoken a word to anybody, not even to Buddha. He had never come even to touch his feet or to say hello. He remained sitting far away under his tree. He had monopolized the tree and nobody else could sit there. What had happened that he suddenly started laughing so loudly? Maulingaputta said, "What is the matter?"
Buddha said, "You can ask him yourself."
Mahakashyapa said, "The matter is simple. This man, Gautam Buddha, is cheating you. He cheated me; he told me also to remain silent for two years. Now thirty years have passed, and the question does not arise. My silence has deepened. Now I know who I am. I know the very height of my consciousness. Not that I have found any answer -- there is no question and no answer, just a pure clear silence.
"So if you want to ask him, we will all enjoy. You can ask, but this is the time to ask. Don't wait for two years. That's why I laughed: again he is back to his tricks. There are many here who came with the same desire" -- Sariputra and Moggalyan and other great philosophers of that time had come with the same desire to discuss -- "but this barrier of two years' silence is very dangerous. If you want to ask anything now, right now is the time. That's why I laughed."
Maulingaputta had brought a beautiful lotus flower as a gift for Gautam Buddha. Buddha called Mahakashyapa and gave the lotus flower to him. This is called in the Zen tradition "the first transmission." Nothing has been said, but everything has been heard. Mahakashyapa's silence and his childlike laughter were enough to prove he had found it. The giving of the lotus flower to Mahakashyapa is a certificate.
In this way Mahakashyapa became the first patriarch of the Zen tradition. After him there have been six others. Again and again from master to disciple the flame has been transferred in silence. The sixth was a woman, and Bodhidharma was her disciple. Those were the golden days -- when a woman, particularly in the East, was not thought to be inferior to man. She could become the master. She transferred her understanding to Bodhidharma and told him, "Your work is to pass over the Himalayas and go to China."

It is a difficult task, first, to go by foot across the Himalayas. It took three years for poor Bodhidharma to reach China. And then the greatest barrier was that he knew nothing of Chinese -- it would be difficult even if you knew Chinese -- but he managed. He was surrounded slowly, slowly by people who were really thirsty.
All that was happening was that he would sit silently facing the wall. He sat for nine years continuously, and those who wanted to sit would come and sit around him. Just sitting around him without any language, without any communication, some energy started moving. Something started happening to people. Their lifestyles changed, their lives became a grace and a beauty.
After fourteen years Bodhidharma left China and went back to disappear into the Himalayas. He was too old now. You cannot find a better place to disappear than the Himalayas -- utter silence, eternal snows which have never melted, thousands of places where nobody has ever reached.
Before leaving he called four of his disciples and told them, "I am leaving, my time has come. This body cannot contain me anymore. Soon my consciousness will open its wings and will be gone. Before it happens, I want to reach to the Himalayas. I have called you four; one of you is going to be my successor. So this is a great test. I am asking the same question to all four. Who is my successor will depend on your answers."
Bodhidharma asked, "What is the essence of my coming from India to China?"
The first man said, "You have come to spread the great experience of Gautam Buddha."
Bodhidharma said, "You are right, but barely. You are just my skin. Sit down."
He looked to the next disciple, who said, "Your coming to China means bringing the very revolution in the innermost being from unconsciousness to consciousness."
Bodhidharma said, "A little better, but still not satisfactory. Sit down."
He looked at the third disciple, and the third disciple said, "You have come to spread that which cannot be said."
Bodhidharma said, "You are far better than the other two. But even saying this much, that nothing can be said about it, you have said something. Just sit down. The first one has my skin, the second one has my bones, you have my flesh."
He looked at the fourth one who had only tears of gratitude and joy and just collapsed at the feet of Bodhidharma without saying a word.
Bodhidharma told him, "You have my very marrow, you are my chosen disciple. What others could not say with their words you have said with your tears. What others could not say with great significant statements, you have stated by your gratitude."
Rinzai comes after a few more patriarchs. And just as Bodhidharma was sent by his master, Rinzai's master sent him to Japan. It was again the same difficult task, but just as Mahakashyapa succeeded and Bodhidharma succeeded, Rinzai also succeeded in creating silence, in turning people inwards.
The message is not linguistic.
The message is existential.
The master can only create a certain situation, a certain device in which, if you allow, if you are receptive, you can be transformed. This transformation is almost a death and a resurrection. Your old personality will fade away; your original face will show.
The face that you are carrying right now is given to you by the society, by the culture, by the education, by the parents. Your personality is not your originality; your originality has been covered with all kinds of lies, convenient to the society and the vested interests.
Being with a master your personality is going to drop just as dead leaves drop. You will remain utterly naked, as you were born. All knowledge that you have borrowed will disappear. You will be as innocent as a child. In this innocence there is no need to say anything.
That's what happened to Maulingaputta. After two years he completely forgot about the time. Those two years were of such silence.... For a few days he counted, then he dropped the idea of counting. For a few days thoughts passed through his mind, but how long can they...? If you are not interested in them, if you are just a mirror, they come like clouds and go away, without leaving any trace behind. After two years he was pure innocence -- no question, no answer, no debate, no challenge. Those were all parts of the personality that had melted down in those two years living in the energy field of a buddha.
Buddha himself told Maulingaputta, "Have you forgotten? Today two years are complete. Now if you want to challenge me, if you want to ask any question and discuss anything, I am ready."
Maulingaputta touched Buddha's feet and said, "Mahakashyapa was right. I am no more; who is there to challenge you? I am no more; who is going to ask the question, and who is going to listen to the answer? These two years passed so soon. It seems as if just the other day I had come here. You have done a miracle."
Buddha said, "I have not done anything. Just being in my presence, slowly, slowly your heart starts being in a kind of synchronicity with the master's heart. By and by you melt down in the warmth and love of the master. This has been my experience -- that at least two years is the time necessary to complete the process. Forgive me for keeping you waiting for two years, but there is no other way of reaching from heart to heart, from being to being."
Rinzai did the same miracle in Japan, and his credit is tremendous because in Japan Zen reached to the highest peak. The seed was born in India, in Gautam Buddha. It was carried as a flower by Mahakashyapa for six generations. Bodhidharma, who carried it as a full blown flower to China, was the seventh. Even the emperor came to receive Bodhidharma; his fame had reached before him. But the emperor could not understand the ways of Zen.
Zen has a certain way, a certain approach which is not available to any other religious tradition. It is unique, a category in itself.
The emperor Wu had come from far away, from his capital to the border of China, to receive Bodhidharma. He was shocked at what he saw, because Bodhidharma was carrying one shoe on his head and one shoe was on his foot.
Now, the emperor was a very sophisticated man; he had a great court of very cultured people. This kind of behavior... but just because of his sophistication and culture he could not say anything about it. He was not yet even introduced. He avoided seeing the shoe sitting on Bodhidharma's head.
The emperor asked -- because he was the man who had made thousands of Buddha statues in China, had brought one thousand scholars from India to translate in combination with Chinese scholars all the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. He had done much and converted the whole country into a land of Buddha. Obviously the monks used to say to him, "You have accumulated too much virtue. All these virtuous acts... immense is going to be your reward in the other world." So he asked Bodhidharma, "I have done all these things; what is going to be my reward?"
Bodhidharma said, "You idiot! You will fall directly into hell. You are asking for a reward? The very idea of reward is of greed. The very idea of achieving something is not a reflection of your wisdom."
The emperor was shocked, his court was shocked -- but how to get away now? This man is not the right man to bring into the country. Still he asked another question, did not take any note of the insulting language that Bodhidharma had used. He said, "Your Holiness..." and he could not complete his sentence.
Bodhidharma said, "There is nothing holy, nothing unholy. All is empty, just pure nothingness. These divisions of the mind, the sacred and the profane, the holy and the unholy, the saint and the sinner, do not exist as you enter into deeper meditations. All divisions disappear. So don't call me `your holiness'; I have left behind that kind of childish language of being holy, of being unholy. Be straightforward."
The king said, "My mind continuously remains cluttered with thoughts. I have been reading the Buddhist scriptures, and they all say that unless you are thoughtless and yet perfectly aware you will not find the truth."
Bodhidharma said unexpectedly -- he was a very unexpected man, you could not have predicted his behavior -- he said, "If that is the problem, come early in the morning. I am not entering China, I am going to live outside in this small temple. You can come early in the morning, at three o'clock. But come alone -- no courtiers, no guards, no arms. Just come alone, and I will put all your thoughts aside from your mind. I will bring silence to your mind."
The emperor was very much afraid. This man seems to be almost insane. The whole night he could not sleep, was hanging between whether to go or not to go, alone "... and that man is so mad, keeping one shoe on his head, calling me `idiot,' and he has a big staff and he has told me not to bring any arms. He can do anything: he may hit me, he may throw a rock" -- he thought all kinds of things.
But by the time of going he felt a great pull: "Whatever he said, however he behaved, he has a tremendous presence and a great magnetic pull. I will risk it."
He went to the temple, and Bodhidharma was waiting for him. Bodhidharma said, "It is a very simple matter. You just sit here and I am sitting in front of you. You see my staff -- if I feel that some thought is stubborn and is not leaving you, I will hit your head. Your work is only to watch your thoughts without any judgment. Just be a witness."
The emperor thought, "Perhaps I have taken a wrong step. This man can hit any moment, because my mind is full of thoughts. But let us try, now that I have come. It will look very cowardly to go away." So he sat before Bodhidharma, just watching his thoughts.
The watching of the thoughts implies no judgment, no appreciation, no identification. Just watch as you watch the crowd passing on the road, or you watch the clouds moving in the sky -- with no judgment. Your mind is only a screen. A few clouds are moving; you simply watch. You are the watcher, and everything else in the world is the watched.
As the morning sun was rising the whole aura of the emperor changed. Just within two hours there was no thought left. Witnessing is such a fire, the only fire that can bring you to your truth, that can burn all your falsity, all your phoniness. Bodhidharma saw the changing face, a new grace arising. He shook the emperor and asked him, "Is there any thought anymore?"
The emperor fell at his feet and told him, "You certainly did it! I pray you, don't leave China. All those scholars and monks and priests are simply parrots. They go on talking about witnessing and watching, but you have given me the experience. Without teaching me about witnessing you have simply made me a witness. I don't need anything anymore."
The moment you find your witness, you have found your ultimate eternal being. That is your purest consciousness. That makes you a buddha, and it is everybody's potential.
Rinzai managed to transform the whole fabric of the Japanese consciousness. He did more than anybody else. He brought new dimensions into meditation. It is unbelievable but he managed to transform everything into meditation. For example archery... Now, nobody can think that archery can be a meditative act; but Rinzai maintained that every act, if you do it with full awareness, just as a witness, not as a doer, becomes meditation.
A little note about Rinzai, master of the irrational.
RINZAI, ALSO KNOWN AS LIN-CHI, WAS BORN IN THE EARLY NINTH CENTURY AND WAS TO BECOME THE FOUNDER OF ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT SCHOOLS OF ZEN.
BRILLIANT AS A CHILD, LATER, WHEN RINZAI BECAME A PRIEST, HE STUDIED THE SUTRAS AND SCRIPTURES. REALIZING THE ANSWER DID NOT LIE WITHIN THEM, HE WENT ON PILGRIMAGE, VISITING OBAKU AND DAIGU, TWO GREAT MASTERS. AFTER HIS ENLIGHTENMENT HE BECAME PRIEST OF A SMALL TEMPLE ON THE BANKS OF THE HU-T'O RIVER.

Maneesha has asked:
OUR BELOVED MASTER,
RINZAI BECAME KNOWN AS THE MASTER OF THE SHOUTS. His speciality consists... he used shouts as a method to silence you -- a sudden shout.
You are asking about God, you are asking about heaven, you are asking about great philosophical or theological problems and the master immediately shouts. Your mind gets a shock, almost an electric shock. For a moment you are not, only the shout is. For a moment the mind stops, time stops -- and that is the whole secret of meditation.
Many mystics around the world have used sounds, but in a very superficial way. Rinzai used shouts in a tremendously deep way. His shouts would become just like a sword entering in you, piercing to the very center.
You can understand... when you shout Yaa-Hoo! your mind disappears. Yaa-Hoo! has no meaning, but shouting it you get suddenly thrown to your own center, and once you have touched your own center, even for a simple glimpse, your life has started changing.
Rinzai would shout at the disciples to give them a first experience of their centering. You are both a circumference and a center. You live on the circumference; the shout simply pushes you to the center. Once you experience being at the center you suddenly see the whole world changing. Your eyes are no more the same; your clarity and transparency are absolute. You see the same green leaves greener, the same roses rosier, the same life as a festival, as a ceremony. You would love to dance.
And then the disciples, once they learned that the shout can help them to reach to their very center... It was a strange sight when Rinzai started accepting disciples near the river. The disciples would be shouting around the whole valley, and the valley would resound with shouts. You could tell from miles away that you were somewhere close to Rinzai. It was not only that he was shouting, but that shouting was a method to throw you from the circumference to the center.
There are many ways to throw you to the center. Every way is valid if you reach to your center, because your center is the only immortal part in you. Everything else is going to die.
Today Professor Barks is here. He has done a tremendous job in translating Rumi. He has come as close as possible, but I don't think he knows that Rumi's whole effort by whirling is to find the center. If you whirl for hours, you will see slowly that something at the very center is not moving at all, and that is you. Your body is whirling, but your consciousness is a pillar of light.
Rumi attained his first enlightenment by whirling for thirty-six hours continuously. People thought he was mad. Even today a small group of his followers continues. They are called whirling dervishes. But the point is the same: whirling, your whole body becomes a cyclone, and your witnessing self becomes the center. Everything moves around you, but the center remains unmoving. To know this unmoving center is to know the very master key of all the mysteries of life.
Rinzai had no idea about Rumi, neither did Rumi have any idea about Rinzai, but both were working on the same strategy -- somehow to force you to the center. As your consciousness becomes deeper, as it becomes an easy thing to go to the center just like you go in your house and come out, you have become a buddha.
Then slowly, slowly your center starts changing your circumference. Then you cannot be violent, then you cannot be destructive; then you are love. Not that you love -- you are love. Then you are silence, then you are truth, although the old you has disappeared. That was your circumference, that was the cyclone that is gone. Now, only the center remains.
Rinzai's method is far simpler than Rumi's. Very few people will be able to whirl for hours, but shouting is a simpler method. Anybody can shout and can shout wholeheartedly, and it can be very intense and urgent. Whirling you will take hours to find out the center; shouting, a split second and you are at the center.

The anecdote...
RINZAI BECAME KNOWN AS THE MASTER OF THE SHOUTS. ON ONE OCCASION A MONK ASKED, "WHAT ABOUT THE CARDINAL PRINCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA-DHARMA?"
Now, he is asking something important. What is the cardinal principle of the religion of Buddha?
RINZAI SHOUTED -- THE MONK BOWED.
"DO YOU SAY THAT'S A GOOD SHOUT?" RINZAI ASKED.
THE MONK COMMENTED: "THE THIEF IN THE GRASS HAS MET COMPLETE DEFEAT."
"WHAT IS MY OFFENCE?" RINZAI ASKED.
THE MONK REPLIED, "IT WON'T BE PARDONED A SECOND TIME."
RINZAI GAVE ANOTHER SHOUT.
The first shout of Rinzai was perfectly good. The monk bowed down because he felt a great relief by moving from the circumference to the center. But Rinzai was a little suspicious. Because everything in this world becomes traditional, it had started becoming traditional that Rinzai will shout and you have to bow down to show that you have understood it, that it has reached to your center. It was becoming a tradition.
This is very unfortunate. Everything becomes a habit, a ritual, a tradition, and loses all meaning. Now, his bowing down may be true or may be just a mannerism. That's why Rinzai asked, "DO YOU SAY THAT'S A GOOD SHOUT?"
THE MONK COMMENTED: "THE THIEF IN THE GRASS HAS MET COMPLETE DEFEAT."
What does he mean by this? The monk is saying, "You have been found being unsuccessful. Your shout missed."
THE MONK COMMENTED: "THE THIEF IN THE GRASS HAS MET COMPLETE DEFEAT."
"WHAT IS MY OFFENSE?" RINZAI ASKED.
THE MONK REPLIED, "IT WON'T BE PARDONED A SECOND TIME."
The monk is saying, "Your shout missed." He is not saying that shouting at him a second time will not be pardoned; he is saying, "Your being a failure will not be pardoned -- IT WON'T BE PARDONED A SECOND TIME. The first time I forgive you; you missed, you did not reach to my center. I bowed down because you tried, you tried hard. But the second time it will not be pardoned."
Anybody reading it will think that he is saying, "If you shout a second time it will not be pardoned." That is not the case. He is saying, "Your failure will not be pardoned a second time."
RINZAI GAVE A SHOUT -- and the anecdote ends suddenly. After the shout there is silence. The second shout succeeded. Now the monk is silent, Rinzai is silent.
There have been long progressions for reaching to yourself, like yoga. But devices like Rinzai's are very simple, don't require any discipline as a prerequisite. Anybody... no need of having a certain character; good or bad, sinner or saint, it does not matter. What matters is to reach to the center, because at the center you are neither a sinner nor a saint. Your being a sinner or a saint are all on the periphery. Our whole society lives on the periphery; all our divisions are very superficial.

I am reminded of a great follower of Buddha, Nagarjuna. He lived naked. Perhaps Nagarjuna is the greatest logician that has walked on the earth. Aristotle is no comparison to him, neither is Shankara; Nagarjuna's argumentation is the most refined. But he used to live naked -- a beautiful man -- and even kings and queens were disciples to him. In a certain capital the queen was his disciple. She asked him, "You will have to give me a favor. I want to take away your begging bowl."
He said, "That is not a problem. You can have it."
She said, "That is only half of it. I have prepared a begging bowl for you. This one you give to me; it will be a present, the most precious to me in the whole world. And I have made a begging bowl which you cannot reject, you have to accept it."
He said, "I have not seen it either."
She said, "Seeing or not seeing is not the question. First, give me the promise that you will not reject it."
So he said, "Okay, I will not reject it."
She brought out the bowl, and it was made of solid gold, studded with diamonds. Nagarjuna said, "You don't understand the situation. Whether I reject it or not, I will not be able to keep it even for a few hours. A naked man carrying a begging bowl made of solid gold, studded with great diamonds -- do you think I will be able to keep it? But I have promised, so I will accept it."
A thief was watching the whole transaction. He followed Nagarjuna. He knew that this fellow lives outside the city in a dilapidated temple, and every afternoon after he has taken his food, he goes to sleep. This is a very good time to take this begging bowl away. Anyway, somebody is going to take it away....
So he went and he was hiding behind a wall by the side of a window watching that somebody else does not enter inside. Nagarjuna made his place to sleep and he had complete awareness that somebody had been following him.
"Why keep him unnecessarily waiting? Anyway I am going to sleep and he will take the begging bowl. It is better to give it him. Why make him a thief?" So he threw the begging bowl outside the window where the thief was sitting.
The thief could not believe it. This is really a strange man. A strange desire arose in the thief that it would be good to have a little time to sit at this man's feet, so he asked from the window, "Can I come in?"
Nagarjuna said, "What do you think I have thrown the begging bowl for? -- to bring you in. Come in. That was just an invitation."
The thief could not understand, but was very much impressed by the man.
Nagarjuna said, "I did not want to make you a thief, that's why I have thrown the begging bowl. Now you can have it."
The thief said, "It is so precious; you are a man of great mastery over yourself. I also hope one day I will not be a thief but a master like you."
Nagarjuna said, "Why postpone it? It is a very simple secret. You can become a master."
He said, "You don't understand. I am a thief, I am a born thief. I cannot resist the temptation."
Nagarjuna said, "It does not matter at all. You can remain a thief. I will give you a small meditation: whatever you do, even if you go to steal in the palace, just be a witness of what you are doing. I don't want you not to be a thief; do whatever you want to do, but do it with full awareness. Just be a witness."
He said, "This seems to be simple. I have been going to many saints. They say, `First you drop stealing, otherwise you cannot be religious.' You are the first man who is not asking me to drop stealing."
Nagarjuna said, "Those saints that you have met are not saints. No saint will ask you to drop stealing. Why? Do it perfectly well. Just remain a witness."
The thief could not understand the strategy. After the third or fourth day he came back to Nagarjuna and said, "You are very clever. In these four days there have been so many opportunities to steal, but as I go to steal, to take something, immediately my hand relaxes. The moment I witness myself stealing it seems to be so embarrassing that I pull my hand back. For four days I have not been able to steal anything."
Nagarjuna said, "Now it is your problem; I have nothing to do with it. You can choose. You can choose witnessing, or you can choose stealing."
The man said, "Only in these four days have I been able to feel my own dignity. I cannot drop witnessing. I am coming with you."
What witnessing does is again throw you back to your center. At the center you are a buddha. On the periphery, who you are does not matter. Once you start living at the center, slowly, slowly your circumference will start changing its colors. It will become as pure as you are at the center. It will become as compassionate as you are at the center. It will take all the fragrance of the center in all your activities.
The authentic religion does not preach morality. Morality comes on its own accord. The authentic religion teaches you to be centered in yourself. Then everything that is good follows, and what is bad simply does not arise. It is not a question of choice; choicelessly you are good. It is not that you are being good; you cannot be otherwise.
This is the miracle of Zen.
Zen simply means witnessing.
These shouts throw you to the center, and once you have learned to be at the center, you will know that on the periphery you are always a beggar, and at the center you are always an emperor. And who wants to be a beggar?
Religion is the alchemy of transforming beggars into emperors.
A great Zen poet, Ikkyu, wrote:
CRAZY MADMAN,
BLOWING UP A CRAZY WIND,
WANDERING HERE AND THERE,
AMIDST BROTHELS AND WINE SHOPS.
IS THERE AN ENLIGHTENED MONK
WHO CAN MATCH ME
EVEN FOR A SINGLE WORD?
I PAINT THE SOUTH; I PAINT THE NORTH;
I AM PAINTING THE WEST AND EAST.

He is saying "People think I am crazy...." CRAZY MADMAN, BLOWING UP A CRAZY WIND, WANDERING HERE AND THERE, AMIDST BROTHELS AND WINE SHOPS.
An authentic buddha is not afraid of brothels and wine shops. The saints who are afraid are really repressed people; they are not transformed beings.
IS THERE AN ENLIGHTENED MONK WHO CAN MATCH ME?
A buddha can move with absolute freedom in the marketplace. Those who renounce the world are the cowards, the escapists, and they have destroyed all the religions of the world. All the religions are in the hands of the cowards.
An authentic religious man is a lion, and he is so centered in himself that he is not worried about being anywhere. He is so certain of his purity, of his eternity, of his divinity that he knows that if a thief comes to him, it is the thief who will have to change; if a prostitute comes to him, it is the prostitute who will have to change.
Our so-called saints are so much afraid. Their fear shows their repressions. A repressed man is not a religious man; he is simply sick, he needs psychiatric treatment.

 

 

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