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ZEN

RINZAI: MASTER OF THE IRRATIONAL

Chapter 7: There is no final destination

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             Rinzai

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
ONCE, WHEN KINGYU SAW RINZAI COMING TO HIS MONASTERY, HE SAT IN HIS ROOM HOLDING HIS STICK CROSSWISE. RINZAI STRUCK THE STICK THREE TIMES WITH HIS HAND, THEN ENTERED THE MONK'S HALL AND SAT DOWN IN THE FIRST SEAT.
KINGYU CAME IN, SAW RINZAI, AND SAID, "IN AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN HOST AND GUEST, EACH SHOULD OBSERVE THE CUSTOMARY FORMALITIES. WHERE ARE YOU FROM, AND WHY ARE YOU SO RUDE?"
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, OLD OSHO?" ANSWERED RINZAI.
AS KINGYU WAS ABOUT TO OPEN HIS MOUTH TO REPLY, RINZAI STRUCK HIM. KINGYU PRETENDED TO FALL DOWN. RINZAI HIT HIM AGAIN. KINGYU SAID, "TODAY THINGS WERE NOT TO MY ADVANTAGE."
AT A LATER TIME, ISAN ASKED KYOZAN, "IN THE CASE OF THESE TWO VENERABLE ONES, WAS EITHER THE WINNER OR LOSER?"
KYOZAN SAID, "WHEN ONE WINS, ONE WINS UNCONDITIONALLY. WHEN ONE LOSES, ONE LOSES UNCONDITIONALLY."

Maneesha, the anecdote that you have brought can be understood only if you understand Zen's position about conditionality. In our lives everything is conditioned -- conditioned by circumstances, conditioned by traditions. When I say everything is conditioned, I mean nothing is yours; everything has come to you from the outside. You are just a gathering point. On your own you are nothing, you are utterly empty.
Zen wants you to approach life unconditionally. That means without any prejudice, without any precondition, without any expectation. You can be total only if you are standing at your very center.
You love, but your love is conditional. You have friends but your friends are conditional. Just a small change in circumstances and the lovers become enemies and the friends are no more friends.
Machiavelli had a great insight when he wrote the book THE PRINCE. Although it is a book of diplomacy and has nothing to do with religion, there are insights which can help you to understand. Machiavelli says, "A king should never tell to his friend what he cannot tell to the enemy, because no one knows: who is a friend today may be an enemy tomorrow, and who is an enemy today may be a friend tomorrow." He is laying down a diplomatic policy -- but our whole life is diplomatic. We say things because the listener will appreciate them; then it has become conditional. To say the truth we don't have to consider at all whether it will be liked or not.
Gurdjieff used to teach his disciples unconditionality as a basic principle for finding the truth. If you put any conditions, those conditions will be the barriers, and what are all your religions except conditions?
When a follower of Krishna or a follower of Christ sits for meditation, his desire is to see Krishna -- he is expecting existence to be according to his desire -- and the Christian is asking for Christ. Because of their conditioned minds it is possible Hindus may see Krishna. The Christian will not see Krishna and the Hindu will not see Christ; they will see according to their conditions. They will see their own conditions in a kind of hallucination, and they will feel immensely joyous that they have realized God.
All your so-called saints are simply psychopaths. They don't understand that the basic foundation of finding the truth is to first clean your mind of all conditions. Approach existence absolutely empty. Allow existence to say something. Don't ask.
That's where Zen comes to be the highest kind of religiousness. Just compare it to Jesus' saying to his followers, "Ask and it shall be given unto you" -- but ask. What you can ask will be some desire, some longing, some passion, some greed. What can you ask? -- and existence has no obligation to fulfill your asking.
Jesus goes on by saying, "Knock and the doors shall be opened unto you." It seems as if existence is closed; unless you knock, the doors will not be opened.
The truth is, existence has no doors, so where are you going to knock? And existence is every moment available; your doors are closed. Are you going to knock on your own doors? And who is going to open them?
Jesus says, "Seek and ye shall find." Beautiful words, and if you don't understand, then great poetry. But if you understand, then they are not fundamental statements of a religious consciousness.
A religious consciousness will just change the whole thing into its opposite: seek and you will miss; don't seek and you have already found. Knock and you will be knocking in vain, because existence has no doors; it is in every dimension open. Ask and you will be living in an illusion. It will be given to you not by existence, but by your own imagination.
Don't put any condition on existence, don't put any pressure on existence. Just be available and rejoice, whatever comes to you. And existence comes in such abundance to the unconditional man that it is simply surprising. You had not asked and all the treasures, all the splendors, all the mysteries, are your own. You were not seeking, and the truth is already there.
You are the truth, the whole seeking is stupid. The more you seek, the farther you will go away from the truth. So stop seeking -- and complete stoppage of desiring, seeking, asking, they are all the same things. Just remain at your center, available and open, unconditionally, and you have found that which cannot be said.
In this background you should understand this anecdote.
ONCE, WHEN KINGYU SAW RINZAI COMING TO HIS MONASTERY, HE SAT IN HIS ROOM HOLDING HIS STICK CROSSWISE. RINZAI STRUCK THE STICK THREE TIMES WITH HIS HAND, THEN ENTERED THE MONKS' HALL AND SAT DOWN IN THE FIRST SEAT.
Obviously the first seat belonged to Kingyu; he was the master of the monastery. And this is strange behavior from a guest, that he knocks first the stick of the master three times, and then, without saying anything, enters the assembly hall and sits in the place of the master.
KINGYU CAME IN, SAW RINZAI, AND SAID, "IN AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN HOST AND GUEST, EACH SHOULD OBSERVE THE CUSTOMARY FORMALITIES."
That's where Rinzai differs, and any great master will differ. Kingyu had many more disciples than Rinzai, because the masses could understand him more clearly. He was following in a way the formalities of the masses. He expects Rinzai also...
He says to Rinzai, "IN AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN HOST AND GUEST" -- he thinks he is the host, which formally he is, and Rinzai is a guest, which formally he is -- "EACH SHOULD OBSERVE THE CUSTOMARY FORMALITIES."
There Rinzai does not agree, and no great master can agree. Traditional formalities? Then what is Zen all about? It is the revolution against the formal. It is all for the spontaneous, not for the customary.
"WHERE ARE YOU FROM, AND WHY ARE YOU SO RUDE?"
He is not rude. On the surface he will appear rude to anybody, but he is exactly expressing his position. When he struck three times on the stick, he told his host, "Try to understand that a greater master is here. You are only a formal teacher."
Those three strikings on the stick show that from now onwards, "formally, you are the host; but in existence I am the host, you are the guest." What is true on the surface is not necessarily true at the center.
Rinzai is saying, "A master has come to a disciple." He has made it clear by striking the stick of Kingyu that from now onwards, "While I'm here, I am the master." He is not being rude, he is simply being straightforward, and that is the quality of an authentic master.
Kingyu asked him, "WHERE ARE YOU FROM, AND WHY ARE YOU SO RUDE?" He could not understand the behavior, although the behavior is clear. The master has struck three times on Kingyu's stick, and he is sitting in his seat in the assembly hall.
Rinzai is saying, "You are a mere teacher, you are not yet a master. Whatever you know is mere knowledge, it is not your own existential experience."
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, OLD OSHO?" ANSWERED RINZAI. OSHO is a very honorable word. Just in a single word he has said, "I have not been rude; I have just declared that I have come here."
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, OLD OSHO? You are old and you are well respected by me, but that does not mean that you know the truth. You have strived hard your whole life, you disciplined yourself, you have been training yourself, but you have not yet got the point. I respect you, your old age, your lifelong effort.
"I am not rude, but truth has to be said even if it appears to be rude. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, OLD OSHO?"
By the word `osho' he has made the position clear: "I am not rude, and I cannot be rude to anybody. It is really out of compassion that I have struck on your stick, showing you that you don't deserve to have it. It should be in my hands. You did not understand, that's why I had to come to the assembly hall and sit in the position where you used to sit.
"Obviously you are feeling insulted, but all I am saying is that the moment a real master enters, then he is always the host, he is never the guest."
AS KINGYU WAS ABOUT TO OPEN HIS MOUTH TO REPLY, RINZAI STRUCK HIM. He did not allow him to speak, because it is not a question of speaking, it is not a dialogue.
Try to understand: don't be bothered about words, but the actual situation. He was going to open his mouth means he was going to say something. Rinzai struck him to say, "Don't say anything, see! Don't get lost into explanations, just see the situation, just look into my eyes!"
KINGYU PRETENDED TO FALL DOWN. RINZAI HIT HIM AGAIN -- because no pretensions are allowed in Zen. Either you fall down, not by any effort but as a happening... You don't pretend; it is not a drama.
KINGYU PRETENDED TO FALL DOWN. RINZAI HIT HIM AGAIN. Now this hit is for his pretension -- not only this pretending to fall, but his whole life is a pretension. He is not a master, yet he has been pretending to be the master.
KINGYU SAID, "TODAY THINGS WERE NOT TO MY ADVANTAGE."
That is not the response of one who has understood. He is still thinking in terms of advantage. He has not understood the meaning of the behavior of Rinzai. He throws the responsibility, like everybody else in the world, on destiny, on kismet, on the lines of the hand, on the birth chart -- all kinds of stupid excuses. "What can I do? TODAY THINGS WERE NOT TO MY ADVANTAGE."
The reality is that Rinzai did too much, gave him again and again opportunities to understand -- which would have been one of the greatest days in his life -- that a master has walked down from his hill to his monastery, uninvited, and tried to wake him up. But he is thinking of advantages....
AT A LATER TIME, ISAN ASKED KYOZAN, "IN THE CASE OF THESE TWO VENERABLE ONES, WAS EITHER THE WINNER OR LOSER?"
This was asked century after century in Zen: "What happened that day? Who was the winner and who was the loser?"
AT A LATER TIME, ISAN ASKED KYOZAN -- both great masters -- "IN THE CASE OF THESE TWO VENERABLE ONES, WAS EITHER THE WINNER OR LOSER?" KYOZAN SAID, "WHEN ONE WINS, ONE WINS UNCONDITIONALLY. WHEN ONE LOSES, ONE LOSES UNCONDITIONALLY."
This is such a profound statement; it means the question of being a winner or loser is meaningless. The point is, whatever happens it should be unconditional, it should be spontaneous. To be a failure spontaneously is as valuable as to be victorious. The real value is in spontaneity, in unconditionality.
If you fail, you accept your failure unconditionally, with joy. That's a gift of nature. One never knows, even a dark night may turn into a beautiful dawn. You should not start having opinions about who has won and who has lost. Both the participants in a Zen encounter should remain spontaneous whatever happens. The value is in the spontaneity; it has been taken away from victory completely.
Victory is part of a struggling world, a world with conditions, a world with desires. Zen pays no attention to victory or defeat; they are both meaningless. What is meaningful is spontaneity. It is possible that the spontaneous one may be defeated and the victorious may not be unconditional. In the eyes of Zen, the defeated one is at a higher state.
It happened once, a Zen samurai, a Zen warrior, had come home early from the front, and he found the servant making love to his wife.
Being a man of Zen, he said to the servant, "Don't be worried, just finish your job. I am waiting outside. You will have to take a sword in your hand and fight with me. It is perfectly okay whatever is happening. I am waiting outside."
This poor servant started trembling. He does not even know how to hold a sword, and his master is a famous warrior; he will chop off his head in a single blow.
So he ran from the back door to the Zen master who was also the master of the warrior. He said to the master, "I have got into trouble. It is all my fault, but it has happened."
The master listened to his story and he said, "There is no need to be worried. I will teach you how to hold the sword, and I will also tell you that it does not matter that your master is a great warrior. All that matters is spontaneity. And in spontaneity you will be the better, because he seems to be confident: there is no question of this servant surviving; it will be almost like a cat playing with a rat.
"So don't be worried. Be total, and hit him hard, because this is your only chance of living, survival. So don't be half-hearted, don't be conditional, thinking that perhaps he may forgive you. He will never forgive you. You will have to fight with him. You have provoked and challenged him. But there is no problem: as far as I can see, you will end up the winner."
The servant could not believe it, and the master said, "You should understand that I am his master also, and I know that he will behave according to his training. Knowing perfectly well that he is going to win, he cannot be unconditional -- and you have no other alternative than to be unconditional. Just be total. You don't know where to hit, how to hit, so hit anywhere. Just go crazy!"
The servant said, "If you say so, I will do it. In fact there is no chance of my survival, so why not do it totally!"
Seeing that the time had come, he learned how to hold the sword, and he came back and challenged his master, "Now come on!"
The master could not believe it. He was thinking the servant would fall at his feet and cry and weep and say, "Just forgive me!"
But instead of that the servant roared like a lion, and he has got a sword from the Zen master. He recognized the sword, and he said, "From where did you get it?"
The servant said, "From your master. Now come, let it be decided once and for all. Either I will survive or you will survive, but both cannot."
The master felt a little tremble in his heart, but still he thought, "How can he manage? It is years' training.... I have been fighting for years in wars, and this poor servant..." But he had to take out his sword.
The servant went really crazy. Not knowing where to hit, he was hitting here and there and just... The samurai was at a loss, because he could fight with any warrior who knew how to fight -- but this man knows nothing and he is doing all kinds of things. The servant pushed him to the wall, and the master had to ask him, "Please forgive me. You will kill me. You don't know how to fight -- what are you doing?"
The servant said, "It is not a question of doing. It is my last moment; I will do everything with totality."
The servant became the winner, and the warrior also went to the master and said, "What miracle have you done? Within five minutes he became such a great warrior, and he was making such blows, so stupid that he could have killed me. He knows nothing but he could have killed me. He pushed me to the wall of my house, his sword on my chest. I had to ask to be forgiven and tell him that whatever he is doing it is perfectly okay and to continue."
The master said, "You have to learn a lesson, that it is finally the totality, the unconditional absoluteness... whether it brings defeat or victory does not matter. What matters is that the man was total, and the total man never is defeated. His totality is his victory."
That's what Kyozan is saying: "WHEN ONE WINS, ONE WINS UNCONDITIONALLY." He does not take any credit that "I am the victor"; it is always the unconditional consciousness that is the victor.
"WHEN ONE LOSES, ONE LOSES UNCONDITIONALLY." There is no question of any defeatism; there is no question of feeling a failure. He gave his total effort. But if nature wants that the other should win, it is perfectly okay. "I have not left anything, I did my best and was total, and I was absolutely spontaneous. More than that I cannot do."
So when two warriors fight in Japan -- and it happens often, even today -- most probably nobody wins and nobody is defeated, because both are total. Their efforts are so spontaneous that finally they end up without winning or being defeated. Very rarely is a person defeated, and whoever is defeated, it is just circumstantial. The victor does not declare himself and his egoism; on the contrary, he embraces the defeated and he appreciates the way the defeated fought. It was spontaneous and total, "and it is just by chance that I am the winner and you are not. It is just by chance. But as far as your spontaneity and totality are concerned, you are absolutely equal to me."
This is a very different approach. Victory or defeat are no more the values. A great shift in values takes place: spontaneity, absoluteness, putting all that you have at the stake, that is valuable. Whether victory happens or defeat happens, that is not material.
One German professor, Herrigel, was one of the first Western disciples of a Zen master in Japan. He was learning archery. He was already a great archer in Germany, because there values are different. He was a great archer because he was always right one hundred percent, his arrow reaching to the exact middle of the target, the bull's-eye. In Germany your success will be counted by the percentage -- a hundred percent, ninety percent, eighty percent. That is the way it is counted all around the world, except in Japan.
In Japan, when Herrigel had learned archery for years in Germany and had become the champion archer of Germany, he heard about a different valuation. He went to Japan and remained there for three years with a master. He could not understand why the master was always saying, "You missed" -- and his arrow was always reaching exactly to the bull's- eye.
The master said, "That is not the point, whether your arrow reaches the bull's-eye or not. The point is that you should be spontaneous. Forget about the target. Remember that you should be spontaneous, you should not make an effort."
Three years passed, but the German professor, Herrigel, could not understand what this man was talking about. Every day he would try, and the master would say, "No!"
Finally he decided to go back: "This is useless, wasting time!" He could not understand what this spontaneity is. He could not understand how you can be spontaneous when you are an archer. You have to take the bow in your hand, you have to aim, you have to be exact so that your arrow reaches to the point -- how can you be without effort? Some effort is absolutely needed. And you will agree that he was not wrong.
But Zen will not agree. The Zen master continued working, without getting bored or fed up that three years have passed and this man cannot relax.
Herrigel told him after three years, "Tomorrow I have to leave. I'm sorry that I could not understand. I still carry the idea that I am one hundred percent right, so how can you say that I don't know archery at all?"
So the next day, early in the morning, he went to see the master for the last time. The master was teaching somebody else, so he sat there on the bench and just looked. For the first time he was not concerned; he was going, he had dropped the idea of learning archery through Zen, so he was totally relaxed and was watching, just watching how the master took the bow in his hand and how he totally relaxed as if not concerned at all whether the arrow reaches to the target or not, with no tension and with no desire, being just playful and relaxed.
He had been seeing the master for three years, but because he was full of desire he could not see that his archery was totally different: the value is not in the target, the value is in your gesture, in you. Are you relaxed? Are you total? Is your mind absolutely silent? A different orientation... because the archery is not important, the meditation is important. And a man of meditation, although he does not care about the target, simply reaches the target, with no mind, in utter clarity, in silence, relaxed.
Zen has brought a different valuation to everything. In China they have a saying that when a musician becomes perfect, he throws away his instruments; when an archer becomes perfect, he throws away his bows and arrows. Strange, because what is the point of becoming a perfect archer and now you are throwing away your bows and arrows?
One man declared to the emperor of China, "Now you have to announce it and recognize me as the greatest archer in China. I am ready for any challenge." And he was absolutely perfect, just like Professor Herrigel -- one hundred percent successful.
But the king said, "Have you heard about an old archer who lives deep in the mountains?"
He said, "I have heard about him, but I am ready to contest."
The king laughed. He said, "You should go and meet that old man. If he recognizes you, I will recognize you, because I don't know archery.... But he is a great archer, perhaps the greatest, so you should go. Bring his recognition, and my recognition is available. But without asking him I cannot do it. It is not a question of a challenge."
So the man had to travel to the high mountains, where he found a very old man whose back was bent, who could not stand straight. He asked, "Are you the archer?"
The man said, "I used to be. But perhaps half a century has passed, and when I became a perfect archer, according to my master, I had to throw away my bows and arrows. You think you are a perfect master; have you come for recognition?" The king had sent information to him that he was sending somebody.
The man said, "Yes."
The old man said, "Then why are you carrying the bow and the arrows?"
The man said, "Strange... That's what my mastery is."
The old man laughed. He brought him out of his small cottage to a mountain cliff. The old man was so old, maybe one hundred and forty years old, and the cliff went so deep underneath, thousands of feet into the valley. If you just missed a single step or trembled or hesitated, you were gone. The old man walked to the very edge of the cliff, half his feet hanging off the cliff, half his feet on the cliff.
The young man could not believe his eyes. The old man said, "Now you also come. There is enough space here for one more!" The young man tried just two steps and sat down, trembling, seeing the situation.
The old man laughed and he said, "What kind of archer are you? How many birds can you kill with a single arrow?"
The young man said, "Of course one bird."
The old man said, "You have to learn under a Zen master. It is a sheer wastage of one arrow, just one bird. My master never allowed anybody the certificate unless he was able with one arrow to bring down the whole flock."
The young man said, "How many can you bring down?"
He said, "You say the number."
Just then a flock of birds flew over. The old man just looked, and seven birds fell down.
The young man said, "My God!"
The old man said, "When you can look with totality, your very eyes become arrows. But you are a novice; you could not come to the edge of the cliff. If you are trembling inside, then your archery cannot be perfect. You may manage to hit the targets, but that is not the point. The point is that you have an untrembling total presence. Then your total presence becomes as sharp as any arrow.
"That's why the ancient proverb: When the musician becomes perfect, he throws away the musical instruments. Now his very voice, his very being is musical; now the very air around him has a music. And when the archer becomes perfect, his untrembling totality becomes almost a death ray, if he looks towards a flock of birds, or a flock of animals."
The master said, "You go back and learn from this point. The target is not the target; you are the target. Become total -- and if I am alive, I will visit you after five years to see whether I can give you the recognition. Or if I am gone, my son will come after five years. He is as great an adept as I am, and you will be able to recognize him, because whatever I can do with my eyes, he can also do."
After five years the old man came. These five years the archer tried his best to be total, and he succeeded. The old man asked, "Where are your bows and arrows?"
He said, "It must be two years by now, but it seems like centuries have passed and I have not seen the arrows and the bow. Now I can do what you were able to do."
The old man did not ask for a test, he simply gave the recognition. He said, "I can see in your eyes the unwavering totality. I can see in your body the spontaneous relaxedness. You can go to the king and tell him that the old man gives the recognition, and just for your recognition I have come down from the hills."
Zen brings a new valuation into everything. It is not a life-renouncing religion, it is a life-transforming religion. It transforms everything, it negates nothing. But one thing has to be remembered: unconditionality, totality, spontaneity -- strange values, because no religion talks about them, and they are the authentic values that will give you the alchemy to change your being.
All religions talk about formalities, etiquette, manners. They are all concerned with your polished personality. They make you pretenders, they make you actors, but they don't change your center.
This a beautiful anecdote, and Kyozan is saying, "WHEN ONE WINS, ONE WINS UNCONDITIONALLY." There was no desire to win, one was simply playful, enjoying the very art and enjoying the meditativeness and spontaneity. Now whatever happens, that is not the concern.
Of course when two persons will be fighting, one will be defeated, one will be victorious. What does it matter who is victorious and who is defeated? All that matters is whether both are at the same degree of concentration, at the same degree of unconditionality. Whoever is higher in unconditionality -- he may be the defeated one, but according to Zen he is at a higher point of consciousness, and that is real victory. The formal victory is another thing.
Ikkyu wrote:
MYSELF OF LONG AGO,
IN NATURE
NON-EXISTENT:
NO FINAL DESTINATION,
NOTHING OF ANY VALUE.

He is giving you the very manifesto of Zen. MYSELF OF LONG AGO, IN NATURE... I have disappeared in nature, I don't know when, I have not kept a diary and I don't remember that I was anything else at any time.
MYSELF OF LONG AGO, IN NATURE NON-EXISTENT: I don't find myself, I find only nature. No final destination... I am going nowhere. There is no final destination, because final destination will mean death.
Life is a continuity always and always. There is no final destination it is going towards. Just the pilgrimage, just the journey in itself is life, not reaching to some point, no goal -- just dancing and being in pilgrimage, moving joyously, without bothering about any destination.
What will you do by getting to a destination? Nobody has asked this, because everybody is trying to have some destination in life. But the implications...
If you really reach the destination of life, then what? Then you will look very embarrassed. Nowhere to go... you have reached to the final destination -- and in the journey you have lost everything. You had to lose everything. So standing naked at the final destination, you will look all around like an idiot: what was the point? You were hurrying so hard, and you were worrying so hard, and this is the outcome.
I have told you about one of Rabindranath's stories. It is a song. The story says in song, "I have been searching for God for centuries. Sometimes he was around the moon, but by the time I reached there he had moved to some other star. I saw him at another star, but by the time I reached there he had moved again. This went on and on, but there was great joy in that he is there, and one day I am going to find him. How long can he hide? How long can he escape?
"And it happened that one day I reached a house where there was a board saying that this was the house of God. I had a great sense of relief that my destiny was fulfilled. I went up the steps and I was just going to knock on the door when I became aware that, `Just wait, have a second thought! What are you going to do if God comes and opens the door? What will you do next?'"
Your whole life has been a journey, a pilgrimage, finding, searching. You are trained as a runner since millions of years, and suddenly you meet God and you don't have anything to say. What will you say?
Have you ever thought that if you meet God by chance, neither will you have anything to say, nor will he have anything to say? You unnecessarily burned yourself out, finished. Final destination means ultimate death.
Ikkyu is right when he says, "NO FINAL DESTINATION, NOTHING OF ANY VALUE" -- everything is just to enjoy and dance and sing. But don't ask about value; don't ask what is virtue and what is good. Rejoice in everything, and go on in different pilgrimages knowing perfectly well that life is not going to end anywhere, the journey will continue, the caravan will continue. There is no place where the road ends.

 

 

Next: Chapter 7: There is no final destination, Question 1

 


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