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RINZAI: MASTER OF THE IRRATIONAL

Chapter 4: How coarse

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             Rinzai

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
ONE DAY WHEN RINZAI AND PU'HUA WERE BOTH ATTENDING A DINNER AT A PATRON'S HOUSE, RINZAI ASKED: "A HAIR SWALLOWS UP THE GREAT SEA, AND A MUSTARD SEED CONTAINS MOUNT SUMERU. IS THIS THE MARVELOUS ACTIVITY OF SUPERNATURAL POWER OR ORIGINAL SUBSTANCE AS IT IS?" PU'HUA KICKED OVER THE DINNER TABLE.
"HOW COARSE!" EXCLAIMED THE MASTER.
PU'HUA RETORTED, "WHAT PLACE DO YOU THINK THIS IS -- TALKING ABOUT COARSE AND FINE!"
THE NEXT DAY RINZAI AND PU'HUA AGAIN ATTENDED A DINNER. THE MASTER ASKED, "HOW DOES TODAY'S FEAST COMPARE WITH YESTERDAY'S?"
PU'HUA KICKED OVER THE DINNER TABLE AS BEFORE. "GOOD ENOUGH," SAID RINZAI, "BUT HOW COARSE!"
PU'HUA COMMENTED, "BLIND MAN! WHAT HAS BUDDHA-DHARMA GOT TO DO WITH COARSE AND FINE?" RINZAI STUCK OUT HIS TONGUE.

Maneesha, before I discuss this small and yet significant anecdote about Rinzai, I have to introduce to the Museum of Gods a gift from Rafia.
For a few months there has been a very strange tension arising in American traffic, because so many cars are on the road that you can walk home faster than you can take your car. For three hours, four hours, five hours people are simply stuck. Naturally, there is a limit to patience, and a few people started bringing their guns.
In San Francisco and L.A. six persons were shot for no reason, but just because after honking for five hours and not being able to move one inch, they became so angry -- and anger is inside everybody, just it needs a certain time to surface -- that they shot people who were absolutely unknown to them. These people were not blocking the way, they were not the cause; they also were blocked. Nobody knew where the flow of the traffic had been stopped or what had happened -- whether it was an accident or a truck had turned over.
Seeing this situation, that six people have been killed within a week, other car owners started purchasing guns, because it is getting very dangerous; at least in self-defense, even if you are not going to kill somebody, you can show your gun.
But the situation was becoming worse because in America you don't need any license for guns. They are freely available in the market. The license is needed for the seller, the shopkeeper, not by the owner of the gun. It is absolutely stupid to give people weapons that are dangerous to life, but the constitution of America allows it.
It was allowed in the beginning, but now it has become a solid tradition. The constitution allowed guns to people to kill Red Indians. Red Indians were killed just like animals -- hunted, chased deep into the forest or into the mountains. Now America belongs to non-Americans, the whole of America, and strangely enough the American constitution talks about freedom, about freedom of speech and individuality, and they themselves are holding onto somebody else's land.
It seems that the whole world is blind.
France has sent as a gift to America the Statue of Liberty, and America is the greatest slave land today. In fact the slavery is such that there is no possibility for the Red Indians -- to whom the land belongs -- ever to be back again in power. They have been crippled completely. Most of them have been killed, and the rest are forced to live on reservations, in deep forests, not allowed to live in the cities, and they are given pensions.
One would think this is very compassionate, but the real reason for giving them pensions -- not work -- is a very psychological strategy. What will they do with the money? They will drink alcohol, they will go to prostitutes, they will gamble, and they will produce more and more children, because each child brings more pension. They have completely forgotten the very idea of freedom, that this is their land.
At that time guns were allowed freely for everybody, and that situation continues. Still you can have almost any kind of gun, automatic or semi-automatic -- and if the government says that only six people were killed, you can be sure at least eighteen people must have been killed. Always remember, any government report is bound to be a lie. If it is concerned with the enemy, then too it is a lie.
A few months ago, when the Russian nuclear plant had an accident, American radio immediately declared that two hundred people had died. "Their dead bodies have been found, and many more may have been consumed by the fire."
A group of journalists from Europe came to explore the situation -- and only four persons had died. The American radio has not even been asked for an apology. From where did they get the idea of two hundred dead and many more consumed by the fire? So when it is concerned with others they lie, when it is concerned with themselves they lie.
Politicians' main function seems to be lying.
And this mad humanity seems to be concerned continuously with war. As far back as you can see, there are wars and wars and wars, and each war has taken millions of lives.
Genghis Khan killed forty million people, Tamerlane killed thirty million people alone -- and they did not have very sophisticated means. Data is not available about many other killers. Alexander the Great and Napoleon and Ivan the Terrible all killed... their greatness depends on how many people they have killed. Adolf Hitler killed thirty million people. Joseph Stalin killed in his own country one million Russians.
It seems the main purpose on this earth is to kill; and particularly in America today they are piling up weapons, knowing perfectly well that they have enough weapons to destroy this earth many times. But it seems to be a mania, a kind of neurosis.
Rafia has brought a small gift for the Museum of Gods, and it is not a toy. In the beginning it was produced as a toy. Now the so-called intelligent and civilized and mature people are carrying it with themselves, and psychologists are even suggesting that it is helpful. If you are feeling angry, rather then using a machine-gun, use this small instrument. If you are wanting to use old methods, then the middle button is for bombing... (THE MASTER AIMS A SMALL BLACK BOX AT THE AUDIENCE AND PUSHES THE MIDDLE BUTTON, MAKING BOMBING SOUNDS FOR SOME TIME. SEE PHOTO ON PAGE 190.)
The first button is for death rays...
(HE PUSHES THE LEFT BUTTON, MAKING ELECTRONIC SIREN SOUNDS.)
And the third button is for nuclear weapons, missiles...
(HE PUSHES THE RIGHT BUTTON, MAKING SOUNDS LIKE FLYING MISSILES THAT LAND WITH LOUD EXPLOSIONS.)
Buttons exactly like these are going to destroy humanity. And why have people started carrying this toy? Psychologists suggest that it helps to release your anger.
If there is somebody you want to kill, three ways are available. For a faraway enemy -- this is the latest witchcraft -- send nuclear missiles...
(HE PUSHES THE BUTTON, MAKING MORE MISSILE SOUNDS.)
If the enemy is very close by, bombing is better...
(HE PUSHES THE BOMBING BUTTON AGAIN.)
If you don't want to destroy things, only life, then death rays are good...
(HE SENDS OUT SOME MORE DEATH RAY SOUNDS.)
Now it is being carried by adult, mature people in their pockets. It seems that killing has become a god in itself. There have been war-gods, whose only function is to create war; there have been destruction-gods -- for example Shiva, in Hindu mythology, is the one who will destroy the whole of humanity. I don't think Ronald Reagan will be able to compete with Shiva. He is trying his best to be the Shiva of Hindu mythology.
This small instrument shows the mind of man. Death rays simply kill life; they don't destroy your houses, they don't destroy your furniture, they don't destroy anything but only the living. You will be destroyed, your plants, your trees will be destroyed, and all that is dead will remain. Just think of a place where everything alive has been destroyed and only dead things are standing untouched: it will create a nightmare to your mind.
And this small instrument is exactly the replica of what Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan are carrying with themselves. It is just a question of pushing a button, and immediately life will disappear from this earth. It has never been so easy to destroy.
All religions have been life-negative, and that is the cause of this much destructiveness in the human mind. If they had told people to learn silence and peace and meditation, and love life, and dance life, then these idiots like Ronald Reagan would not have happened. It is all the religions that are destroying man's love for life, man's love for joy, man's love for laughter, for dancing, for playing music, for singing. Everything has been denied by the religions, and the ultimate consequence is that the whole creative energy in man has turned to being self-destructive.
Nobody analyzes exactly why people are so much interested in destroying. Where has the joy of creating gone? The whole responsibility lies with the religions. These politicians are simply carrying the ideologies that religions have preached. Any kind of ideology that is life-negative is dangerous -- more dangerous than death rays, more dangerous than nuclear missiles.
If we want to save the world from being destroyed unnecessarily, a world which has created people like Buddha and Mahavira and Bodhidharma... An earth that is capable of reaching to such heights of consciousness is worthy to be saved. The whole universe is so vast, yet we are not certain that anywhere life has reached to such heights as we have come to. It is suspected that five hundred planets in the whole universe must have some kind of life, but it is just guesswork -- although it is being done by scientists, so it must have some possibility.
Nobody can say with absolute certainty that there is anywhere else in this vast universe a consciousness of a buddha -- and you are destroying this earth, which is the only place in this vast universe a small planet has come to the highest peak of consciousness. It is not only a crime against humanity, it is a crime against the whole universe.
War is not a god, and man has not to be sacrificed to it. But the only way to save man from this destructiveness that is coming closer and closer is to spread more love, is to spread more meditation, is to spread more freedom, more individuality. More life-affirmation is the only way to prevent this beautiful earth and its tremendous possibilities from being destroyed.
Even though man has remained mad, fighting continuously, a few individuals have been creating also. We can be proud of Leonardo da Vinci, we can be proud of Michelangelo, we can be proud of Leo Tolstoy, we can be proud of Fyodor Dostoevsky, we can be proud of Chuang Tzu, we can be proud of Rinzai. Thousands of flowers, in spite of the madness of the masses, have still grown up and blossomed, have left tremendous fragrance that is still alive, goes on moving from one being to another being.
The politicians have to be prevented in any case because it is not only destroying this humanity, it is destroying the only living place in the whole universe. The earth has taken four million years to bring about human beings, and all human beings can become buddhas. Perhaps four million years more may be needed.
And a buddha is such a beauty, is such a grace, is such a rose, that to turn the whole earth into a graveyard will be the greatest crime. But it will remain unrecorded because there will be no one to record it. It will consume everyone; nobody is going to be the victor, nobody is going to be the defeated. The only difference will be ten minutes: if Russia starts the war, within ten minutes -- just ten minutes -- American missiles will be on the way. If America starts, within ten minutes Russian missiles will be turned towards America.
So only a time span of ten minutes... and everybody will be consumed alive in the greatest fire that has ever happened on the earth -- millions of wars together, not only destroying man but animals, trees, anything that has life.
So this is Rafia's very significant gift... because war has been the undeclared god of the mad humanity up to now.
The director-general, Avirbhava, is not present, she is sick, so Anando, the associate director-general of the Museum of Gods, should take it for your museum.
(ANANDO COMES FORWARD TO TAKE THE SMALL BLACK BOX, AND AS SHE SITS DOWN A MISSILE SOUND ACCIDENTALLY GETS TRIGGERED. EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE MASTER, STARTS LAUGHING. SEE PHOTO ON PAGE 191.)
Don't start bombing here!

Maneesha has brought a very small anecdote, but very difficult to understand. Many may have read it without knowing what it signifies. But you have to understand it very clearly; it has great significance, but in a Zen way.
ONE DAY WHEN RINZAI AND PU'HUA WERE BOTH ATTENDING A DINNER AT A PATRON'S HOUSE, RINZAI SAID: "A HAIR SWALLOWS UP THE GREAT SEA, AND A MUSTARD SEED CONTAINS MOUNT SUMERU. IS THIS THE MARVELOUS ACTIVITY OF SUPERNATURAL POWER OR ORIGINAL SUBSTANCE AS IT IS?"
What he was saying is of great significance. Have you ever thought that even a simple mustard seed can make the whole earth green? Any seed, a single seed, contains infinity. First it will become one plant, and that plant will bring hundreds of seeds; then each seed will become again a plant, and that will become a continuous chain, unending. The whole earth just needs one single seed of anything, and it will soon be green all over.
Rinzai is saying that the smallest life contains the eternal life; the small and the bigger are not different.
He is making a significant statement, but PU'HUA KICKED OVER THE DINNER TABLE.
"HOW COARSE!" EXCLAIMED THE MASTER.
The disciple, rather than saying anything in response to it, kicked over the dinner table. What is he saying by kicking over the dinner table? He is one of the intimate disciples of Rinzai, and he is saying, "This is not the right place to say such great and immensely meaningful things. The people who have arranged this dinner cannot understand what you are saying."
The master said, "HOW COARSE! It is not expected from you to be so coarse. You could have acted in some more sophisticated way and told me that, `This is not the right place to make such great statements. Great statements can be made only to great people, people who have the open being and the silence of no-mind. Only they will understand this.'"
PU'HUA RETORTED, "WHAT PLACE DO YOU THINK THIS IS -- TALKING ABOUT COARSE AND FINE!"
THE NEXT DAY RINZAI AND PU'HUA AGAIN ATTENDED A DINNER. THE MASTER ASKED, "HOW DOES TODAY'S FEAST COMPARE WITH YESTERDAY'S?"
PU'HUA KICKED OVER THE DINNER TABLE AS BEFORE. "GOOD ENOUGH," SAID RINZAI, "BUT HOW COARSE!"
PU'HUA COMMENTED, "BLIND MAN! WHAT HAS BUDDHA-DHARMA GOT TO DO WITH COARSE AND FINE?" RINZAI STUCK OUT HIS TONGUE.
Zen is a very playful religion. Rinzai sticking out his tongue to his disciple must be absolutely unparalleled. No master anywhere in the world would have done such a thing. But Zen accepts with absolute certainty that whatever the master's action is, it has significance. He is not condemning Pu'hua, but just making a laughingstock of him.
He is saying, "Whichever the place, whether the person can understand or not, you still can make great statements. They fall into the person like seeds. Perhaps not today, but tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, when the rains come the seeds may sprout." You may not understand today, you may ignore it today, but who knows about your tomorrows? Tomorrow you may suddenly become aware of what a great seed has been sown in your unconscious mind.
So Rinzai's standpoint is that it does not matter whether the person is capable of understanding it or not. If you have it, share it. Don't be bothered whether the person deserves it or not.
Everybody intrinsically is a buddha. Sooner or later he will understand it. It may not happen in your life, you may be dead -- but the day he will understand it, he will bow down to the earth in deep respect, in gratitude that when he was not even prepared you had delivered to him the very master key which opens all the doors of existence.
He is not agreeing with Pu'hua, whose standpoint is very ordinary and practical. Pu'hua says, "What is the point of saying things to people which are absolutely irrelevant to their mind?"
But even that which is not understood this moment... you may suddenly get it in the middle of the night. Suddenly a great realization may come as you are relaxed and silent, and you will see what you have missed. But it does not matter if you miss in the morning and get it in the evening. Whenever you get it, it is always early.
Rinzai's standpoint is that of a great master.
I am reminded of Jesus' once saying -- and Pu'hua will agree with that saying -- "Don't go on throwing your seeds; they may fall on stones, they may fall on roads, they may fall on the boundaries of fields where people walk. They may sprout, but still they will be killed. Throw your seeds in the very good soil."
Pu'hua will absolutely agree with Jesus. But that is a statement not out of abundance, not out of your too-much-overflowing energy; that is the standpoint of a miserly man.
Rinzai says, "Don't bother! Even the stone sometimes becomes a fertile ground. Don't bother, because the more you give the more you have, so it does not matter even if it falls on the wrong ground. You should not be the choosers; that is judgmental. Who are you to choose who is worthy and who is not worthy?"
He is perfectly right, and although Pu'hua seems to be more pragmatic, practical, still he has something to contribute to the anecdote.
At the end he says, "BLIND MAN! WHAT HAS BUDDHA-DHARMA GOT TO DO WITH COARSE AND FINE?"
Because Rinzai has made the statement, "Your kicking over the table is very coarse," he says, "BLIND MAN! WHAT HAS BUDDHA-DHARMA GOT TO DO WITH COARSE AND FINE?"
It is true, buddha-dharma has nothing to do with coarse and fine. It has to go beyond both. That's where RINZAI STUCK OUT HIS TONGUE -- just making a laughingstock of Pu'hua, but not denying him, or that what he was saying was right.
So the anecdote is very strange in the sense that Pu'hua is right on a very practical ground, and Rinzai is right as far as the ultimate is concerned. Both are right, just their rightness is concerned with different contexts.
Where Rinzai is, he is sharing himself out of abundance. He is just a rain cloud so full of water that it does not matter where it falls; he has to unburden himself.
And Pu'hua is also right, but on a much lower level. He is saying, "You should give your insights only to those who understand." But if buddhas become so miserly, life will lose many significant explosions in people's consciousness, because sometimes a casual visitor suddenly catches fire.
Life is so mysterious that somebody may be searching for truth for years and will be getting even farther away from it by his searching -- searching in a wrong direction. And somebody may be a casual visitor who has nothing to do with truth, who has never thought about it, but he is innocent, he has no prejudice, no idea. Coming close enough to a master he may suddenly become aflame.
So one never knows, one should not be judgmental. If you have it, share it with the stones. Even the stones one day can become buddhas. Share with everyone -- with the blind, with the deaf, because their day will also come. It is only a question of time. Everybody is going to become a buddha, everybody is on the path. However far astray you go, you will come back. You have to realize your being and its potential.
Ikkyu wrote:
STRAW-SANDALED,
WITH EMACIATED LEGS AND NO INTIMATES,
ONLY THE PILLAR MOVES WITH ME,
ACCOMPANYING MY SONG.
THE CUCKOO LAMENTS
WITH ITS BLOOD:
IT IS SPRING IN MY HEART.

He is saying, "I am a poor beggar -- STRAW-SANDALED. I have only sandals of straw -- WITH EMACIATED LEGS AND NO INTIMATES, ONLY THE PILLAR MOVES WITH ME."
What is this pillar? In Zen they call the consciousness your real pillar. ONLY THE PILLAR MOVES WITH ME, ACCOMPANYING MY SONG. THE CUCKOO LAMENTS WITH ITS BLOOD; IT IS SPRING IN MY HEART.
It does not matter that you possess money or power, it does not matter that you are an emperor. All that matters is whether you possess the pillar of consciousness -- your whole being just lighted inside, no darkness. In that very moment it is spring for you. Thousands of flowers will start blossoming around you.
It is one of the great contributions of Zen that whenever one person becomes enlightened the whole existence rejoices in it, because we are all connected, so deeply connected that even if one person becomes enlightened, his enlightenment is a moment of joy for the whole existence. Not only man, but trees will rejoice, the birds will sing, the whole sky will be filled with tremendous love for you. It starts showering on you.

It is so clear when your enlightenment happens that you have been a welcome guest to all the mysteries of existence. Your springtime has come.

 

 


 

Next: Chapter 4: How coarse, Question 1

 


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