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THE BUDDHA: THE EMPTINESS OF THE HEART

Chapter 6: To take up a koan

 

Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The emptiness of the heart

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
BUKKO SAID:
AT THE BEGINNING YOU HAVE TO TAKE UP A KOAN.
THE KOAN IS SOME DEEP SAYING OF A PATRIARCH. ITS EFFECT IN THIS WORLD OF DISTINCTIONS IS TO MAKE A MAN'S GAZE STRAIGHT, AND TO GIVE HIM STRENGTH AS HE STANDS ON THE BRINK OF THE RIVER BANK.
FOR THE PAST TWO OR THREE YEARS, I HAVE BEEN GIVING, IN MY INTERVIEWS, THREE KOANS: "THE TRUE FACE BEFORE FATHER AND MOTHER WERE BORN," "THE HEART, THE BUDDHA," AND "NO HEART, NO BUDDHA." FOR ONE FACING THE TURBULENCE OF LIFE-AND-DEATH, THESE KOANS CLEAR AWAY THE SANDY SOIL OF WORLDLY CONCERNS AND OPEN UP THE GOLDEN TREASURE WHICH WAS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING, THE AGELESS ROOT OF ALL THINGS.
HOWEVER, IF AFTER GRAPPLING WITH A KOAN FOR THREE OR FIVE YEARS, THERE IS STILL NO SATORI, THEN THE KOAN SHOULD BE DROPPED; OTHERWISE IT MAY BECOME AN INVISIBLE CHAIN ROUND ONE. EVEN THESE TRADITIONAL METHODS CAN BECOME A MEDICINE WHICH POISONS.
IN GENERAL, MEDITATION HAS TO BE DONE WITH URGENCY, BUT IF, AFTER THREE OR FIVE YEARS THE URGENCY IS STILL MAINTAINED FORCIBLY, THE TENSION BECOMES A WRONG ONE AND IT IS A SERIOUS CONDITION. MANY LOSE HEART AND GIVE UP AS A RESULT.
AN ANCIENT HAS SAID, "SOMETIMES QUICKLY AND SOMETIMES SLOWLY, SOMETIMES HOT ON THE TRAIL AND SOMETIMES RESTING AT A DISTANCE."
BUKKO CONTINUED:
SO THIS MOUNTAIN PRIEST NOW MAKES PEOPLE AT THIS STAGE THROW DOWN THEIR KOAN. WHEN IT IS DROPPED AND THERE IS A COOLING DOWN, IN DUE TIME THEY HIT ON WHAT THEIR OWN TRUE NATURE IS, AS THE SOLUTION OF THE KOAN.
IN CONCENTRATION ON A KOAN, THERE IS A TIME OF ROUSING THE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY, THERE IS A TIME OF BREAKING THE CLINGING ATTACHMENTS, THERE IS A TIME OF FURIOUS DASHING FORWARD, AND THERE IS A TIME OF DAMPING THE FUEL AND STOPPING THE BOILING.
SINCE COMING TO JAPAN, THIS MOUNTAIN PRIEST HAS BEEN MAKING THE PUPILS LOOK INTO A KOAN, BUT WHEN THEY HAVE DONE THIS FOR A GOOD TIME, HE TELLS THEM TO THROW IT DOWN. THE POINT IS THAT MANY PEOPLE COME TO SUCCESS IF THEY FIRST HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF WRESTLING WITH A KOAN AND LATER REDUCE THE EFFORT; BUT FEW COME TO SUCCESS AT THE TIME WHEN THEY ARE PUTTING OUT EXCEPTIONAL EFFORT.
SO THE INSTRUCTION IS THAT THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET LOOKED INTO A KOAN ABSOLUTELY MUST DO SO, BUT THOSE WHO HAVE HAD ONE FOR A GOOD TIME MUST THROW IT DOWN. AT THE TIME OF ZAZEN THEY THROW IT ALL AWAY. THEY SLEEP WHEN IT IS TIME TO SLEEP, GO WHEN IT IS TIME TO GO, SIT WHEN IT IS TIME TO SIT, AND SO ON, AS IF THEY WERE NOT DOING ZEN AT ALL.
Maneesha, before I discuss what Bukko is saying, I have to introduce you to the word koan.
It is something like a puzzle that cannot be solved -- basically insoluble. For example, how you looked before you were born -- there is no way to solve the problem, there is nowhere to find the answer. Or the koan -- the most famous one -- the sound of one hand clapping. Now, one hand cannot clap; for clapping the other hand will be needed.
So first you have to understand the meaning of koan. It is some kind of statement which has no answer anywhere, and the master gives it to the disciple to meditate on and find the answer. From the very beginning the disciple knows, and the master knows, there is no possible way to find the answer. But it is a great strategy: when the mind cannot find the answer -- and the meditation has to be very urgent, with total energy focused on the koan -- the mind feels almost impotent. It looks here and there, brings out this answer, that answer, and gets hits from the master for bringing a wrong answer.
Every answer is wrong, because the very function of the koan is not to get the answer; the very function of the koan is to tire your mind to such a point that it gives up. If there were an answer, the mind would find it. It does not matter whether you are very intelligent, or not very intelligent -- no intelligence of any category can find the answer.
But naturally, mind tries and tries. And the disciple comes every morning to see the master, to tell him what he has found in the twenty-four hours. In the beginning, the disciples think perhaps they may be able to make it out....
A disciple was given the koan of one hand clapping. He heard the sound of the wind passing through the pine trees, and he thought, "Perhaps this is the sound of one hand clapping." He rushed to give the answer to the master, but before he could even open his mouth he was beaten.
He said, "This is too much! I have not said anything."
The master said, "It does not matter whether you have said anything or not -- you were going to say something."
The student said, "But at least you should have heard it first..."
The master said, "It does not matter, whatever you say is going to be wrong. Just go and meditate!"
When disciples become accustomed, they don't rush to the master with answers. They know there is no answer. Knowing that there is no answer, mind gives up. And the whole strategy is very subtle, to put the mind aside; tired, exhausted, it has no desire to function anymore.
The moment you put the mind aside, you have entered into the world of meditation. It has nothing to do with the koan, but the koan helped to tire the mind.
Bukko is a very practical master; most of the Zen masters are not so practical. They speak from their peaks of consciousness; Bukko is speaking from the same ground as where you are. Hence, he is of much more help than the great masters who speak from a faraway peak of consciousness. Bukko knows that even if they shout they will not be understood; it is better to come down to the dark valley and talk to people in such a way that they can somehow get the point, that mind is of no use in the internal journey. That is the point: that mind is a hindrance, not a help; a wall, not a bridge.
And Bukko is very compassionate in going into the details -- no other master has gone into the details -- and even giving warnings that the method is not a hundred percent foolproof. No device can be; even the method itself can become a hindrance.
AT THE BEGINNING YOU HAVE TO TAKE UP A KOAN, says Bukko. THE KOAN IS SOME DEEP SAYING OF A PATRIARCH. ITS EFFECT IN THIS WORLD OF DISTINCTIONS IS TO MAKE A MAN'S GAZE STRAIGHT, AND TO GIVE HIM STRENGTH AS HE STANDS ON THE BRINK OF THE RIVER BANK.
Your mind is very wavering, wobbly. A koan concentrates all your energies. A koan has not to be done in a lukewarm way, that is dangerous. It has to be done with totality, so you can exhaust the mind quickly -- as quickly as possible.
Zen masters have experienced that the longest period is three years -- if you cannot get tired in three years that means you are not putting your total energy into it. You are saving energy, you are not going really hot. If you go really hot, then in a single moment you can see straight: there is no answer. And with the very experience that there is no answer at all, mind drops by the side. You have entered the space of your being.
But if you go on doing it so-so, the danger is that after three years... if you have not got it yet, then it is better to drop the koan. It is not going to help, it is now going to hamper and hinder. It has become just a habit. Sitting silently, and just by the way, with many other thoughts coming and going, one thought is also there: What is the sound of one hand clapping? But you are not totally concentrated so that only the koan is there and nothing else.
Bukko says, THE KOAN IS SOME DEEP SAYING OF A PATRIARCH. ITS EFFECT IN THIS WORLD OF DISTINCTIONS IS TO MAKE A MAN'S GAZE STRAIGHT... to put his whole energy straight on a single point; to make his consciousness like an arrow -- not going in all directions, a part here and a part there, a part in the past and a part in the future, and you are doing the koan with whatever small bit is left which has not gone anywhere. This way you will never come to the end; on the contrary, this will become your habit. You will do the koan your whole life, it will never bring meditation to you.
So if within three years a koan has not dropped by itself, with the mind, and you don't enter into being, into the silence of being where there is no question and no answer -- then please stop the koan. Don't let it become a habit; don't let it become a mental conditioning.
The first thing is to make your gaze straight, and to give you strength as you stand on the brink of the river bank.
FOR THE PAST TWO OR THREE YEARS, I HAVE BEEN GIVING, IN MY INTERVIEWS, THREE KOANS: "THE TRUE FACE BEFORE FATHER AND MOTHER WERE BORN...."
Not only you, but before your father and mother were born -- your true face. There is no way to find where you were, what your true face was....
Second, "THE HEART, THE BUDDHA." Find the heart which is the buddha.
And the third, "NO HEART, NO BUDDHA." These three koans he has used. There are a thousand and one koans -- anything which is insoluble, which looks beautiful but when you start working on it, you find that you have come to the end of the road; it does not go anywhere.
FOR ONE FACING THE TURBULENCE OF LIFE-AND-DEATH, THESE KOANS CLEAR AWAY THE SANDY SOIL OF WORLDLY CONCERNS AND OPEN UP THE GOLDEN TREASURE WHICH WAS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING, THE AGELESS ROOT OF ALL THINGS.
The koan can do a miracle, although it is just a device. The question is with what urgency, with what totality, you make your whole mind concerned only with the koan, twenty-four hours. It is not something that you do for one hour and forget about it.
It is a monastery method. Remember, there are methods which are individual and you can do anywhere, and there are methods which are monastery methods; you can do them only in a monastery, where you are allowed to meditate twenty-four hours, where there is nothing else to do but to meditate.
The koan is a monastery method. If you can put in all your energy, not leaving a small chunk of your consciousness aside, as is the habit of people... They never stake everything. For safety, for an emergency, they keep holding something back. They never put all they have into the method.

I have heard, Mulla Nasruddin was caught traveling without a ticket. The ticket checker was puzzled, because Mulla opened all his suitcases and threw things all over the compartment, and finally, the very effort of his search... He had looked into every pocket except one pocket on the left side of his coat. The ticket checker noticed it and he said, "Your effort proves that certainly you have the ticket, and it has got mixed up because you are carrying so much luggage. So don't be worried, when you get off you can look for it. But one question I have to ask you: You have looked into everything else, why don't you look in your left-side pocket?"
Mulla said, "Don't mention that!"
The man said, "Why? When you are looking, then why are you saving that one pocket?"
He said, "That is my only hope, that perhaps it may be there. If it is not there, then it is certain -- it is nowhere. I cannot drop my hope. First I will have to look through everything."
And he was not only looking into his own suitcases, he started looking into other people's! The ticket checker said, "You stop! These are not your suitcases. Are you a madman? You are not looking in the pocket where I think the ticket is, and you have started opening other peoples suitcases?"
Mulla said, "I will search first throughout the world; only as a last resort, when everything else is finished, will I check in my left pocket. That is my only hope!"

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People always keep something aside, they never put everything, in totality, at the stake. And what they put aside keeps them divided. They cannot be total; they remain only a part involved and a part not involved.
So the first thing the koan does is to make you completely straightforward, pointing to a single goal, like an arrow. If this is done, soon your mind will be tired. But if you are saving some energy, your mind will always rejuvenate itself. The saved energy will never allow you to be so tired and so exhausted that you simply drop the koan, you simply say, "I am fed up; I am finished. This is stupid -- there cannot be any sound with one hand clapping!"
At that exhausted moment, mind stops -- tired, utterly fed up. With the mind stopping, even for a single moment, in the blink of an eye you are on the other shore.
FOR ONE FACING THE TURBULENCE OF LIFE-AND-DEATH, THESE KOANS CLEAR AWAY THE SANDY SOIL OF WORLDLY CONCERNS AND OPEN UP THE GOLDEN TREASURE WHICH WAS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING, THE AGELESS ROOT OF ALL THINGS.
A very simple device, if done rightly, can open up the cosmic treasure -- your ultimate home.
HOWEVER, IF AFTER GRAPPLING WITH A KOAN FOR THREE OR FIVE YEARS, THERE IS STILL NO SATORI, no enlightenment, THEN THE KOAN SHOULD BE DROPPED.
This is what I call a compassionate master. Bukko is very much concerned with the disciple -- not just saying the ultimate truths, but almost trailing along with him by his side, as a fellow traveler, making him aware of every pitfall.
IF, FOR THREE OR FIVE YEARS, THERE IS STILL NO SATORI, THEN THE KOAN SHOULD BE DROPPED; OTHERWISE IT MAY BECOME AN INVISIBLE CHAIN ROUND ONE.
You will have started thinking that this is a kind of mantra, a religious ritual -- every day you do it. Nothing happens, but perhaps sometime you will accumulate enough virtue... But what virtue can you accumulate by thinking about a koan like the sound of one hand clapping?
These are not mantras that you go on repeating all your life; these are absolutely scientific devices. But one has to do it with totality, then it can open the door. If you do it half-heartedly, then please don't do it, because doing it half-heartedly you will never come to the gate. You will go on repeating your nonsense -- because it is nonsense; you have to remember that it is nonsense that you are repeating. There is no sound of one hand clapping, and there is no face that you can find anywhere before your parents were born.
These are not puzzles that you can, with great intelligence, solve. They look like puzzles, but they are not puzzles; they are simply absurdities. But the absurd is capable of tiring the mind. Only the absurd can tire it -- anything rational, the mind will manage; anything reasonable, the mind will manage; anything logical, the mind will manage. Only something absurd... Mind cannot manage the absurd; it can go nuts but it cannot solve the problem. Before it goes nuts you have to drop the problem.
Remember that either your koan can drive you nuts, if you are doing it half-heartedly, or it can make you a buddha if you are doing it totally, wholeheartedly. The whole question is of urgency and totality.
Before the koan becomes a chain, a bondage, it has to be dropped.
EVEN THESE TRADITIONAL METHODS CAN BECOME A MEDICINE WHICH POISONS.
IN GENERAL, MEDITATION HAS TO BE DONE WITH URGENCY, BUT IF, AFTER THREE OR FIVE YEARS, THE URGENCY IS STILL MAINTAINED FORCIBLY, THE TENSION BECOMES A WRONG ONE AND IT IS A SERIOUS CONDITION.
It can drive you mad. Just think: for five years, day and night, a person is thinking about the sound of one hand clapping. He will go mad! It will become such a psychological condition that he may want to stop it but it will not stop. It will go on and on inside in him, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Even in his sleep it will continue. The moment he opens his eyes, the first thought will be, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Before going to sleep, the last thought will be, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" And the same will continue through the whole night like an undercurrent.
Bukko is making it clear: "Remember that even medicine can become poison. It can become out of date; you should not use it beyond its limit." And if you want to do it within its limits, then do it so totally that you are finished before the time limit on the medicine is finished.
On every bottle of medicine, there is a date, a last date beyond which you should not use it. On every device there is a time limit, and if you want to experience the eternal in you, then don't go slowly; then be fast, before the time limit on the device is finished.
And always remember that it is a nonsense device, there is no answer for it. It is not meant to have an answer; its purpose is there, and the purpose is to exhaust your mind. So put in your total energy, so it is exhausted quickly. The quicker you exhaust the mind, the sooner the realization, the transcendence, the opening of the doors of your eternal treasures.
IN GENERAL, MEDITATION HAS TO BE DONE WITH URGENCY, BUT IF, AFTER THREE OR FIVE YEARS, THE URGENCY IS STILL MAINTAINED FORCIBLY, THE TENSION BECOMES A WRONG ONE AND IT IS A SERIOUS CONDITION. MANY LOSE HEART AND GIVE UP AS A RESULT.
AN ANCIENT HAS SAID, "SOMETIMES QUICKLY AND SOMETIMES SLOWLY, SOMETIMES HOT ON THE TRAIL AND SOMETIMES RESTING AT A DISTANCE."
BUKKO CONTINUED:
SO THIS MOUNTAIN PRIEST NOW MAKES PEOPLE AT THIS STAGE THROW DOWN THEIR KOAN. WHEN IT IS DROPPED AND THERE IS A COOLING DOWN...
because you were going with full speed, your mind was becoming hotter and hotter, on a single point for years.
Bukko says, "I tell my disciples, now it is time to drop it, and let the mind cool down."
... THERE IS A COOLING DOWN, IN DUE TIME THEY HIT ON WHAT THEIR OWN TRUE NATURE IS, AS THE SOLUTION OF THE KOAN.
When the mind cools down, that is almost the equivalent of mind being put aside. In one case it is sudden enlightenment, in the other case it will be called gradual enlightenment.
I don't use koans for the simple reason that you are not in a monastery. The method is basically a monastery method -- nobody has made the distinction before. My people are in the world; they cannot put their totality into meditating twenty-four hours. It is enough for them to put their totality into it for a few minutes and just have a drink of their eternity, of their immortality, just to have a glimpse of the roots. And don't continue it, just let it remain like a faraway echo surrounding you. A fragrance -- just as when you pass a rose garden, even if you don't touch the roses, your clothes will carry the fragrance of the roses.
You are in the world, and I want everyone of my sannyasins to be in the world. I don't want you to be in a monastery, because a monastery takes all your twenty-four hours, destroys all your capabilities for creativity. And most often people become so tired that they leave the monastery and enter another monastery. This is a constant phenomenon in Japan: people who get tired of one monastery move into another monastery. And because they don't have to work at anything -- food is supplied by the monastery, clothes are supplied by the monastery; their only work is to concentrate on the koan -- either they become fed up with the monastery and they think something is wrong with the koan because nothing is happening and three years have passed, or they go nuts. Their urgency and totality takes a wrong turn and they go mad.
This happens constantly in Zen monasteries. In fact, every Zen monastery has a special retreat place for monks who go mad. But their method to bring the mad monk back into the world is very simple. Modern psychiatry and psychology should study the method because what they cannot do in ten years time is done within three weeks in the monasteries. And in fact, nothing is done; just in the monastery, in a faraway place in the bamboos, hidden by the side of a river, is a small cottage. The man is left alone there, and is told not to talk to anybody. Anyway, nobody passes by there except the man who brings the food every day. But he is not allowed to talk to the man; neither is the man allowed even to make gestures or to say hello.
Three weeks sitting silently, nobody to talk to, nothing to do... the mind cools down.
What psychoanalysis cannot do in fifteen years, the Zen monastery has been doing for one thousand years for thousands of monks.
Nobody goes to visit for those three weeks; the man is just left alone. At first he talks to himself; then slowly slowly the heat goes away, he cools down. A beautiful scene: the flowers, the bamboos, and the river; and no other man around. And as he cools down, he is brought back to the monastery.
But in any case, one should not do a method in such a way that it drives you mad. And the reason why people go mad through certain methods is that they are trying to be clever. They keep a certain amount of energy on the side -- in the left pocket! -- so they are never total. And unless they are total, the mind cannot be put aside. So totality is really the function, the purpose of a koan.
I am not using it, and I will not tell anybody else to use it unless he is part of a monastery where he has no mundane work to do, where he is completely dependent on the society. But when you are dependent on the society, you cannot be rebellious. That's why Zen masters have achieved buddhahood but their buddhahood is not a rebellion; it is not a revolution.
I want my buddhas to be rebellions. But you can be a rebel only if you don't depend on the society. If you are independent in your working, in your earning, you can be rebellious against all orthodoxies.
It is very cunning, but perhaps without any intention, that rich people, emperors, all donate to the monasteries. It is very good for them: they are earning spiritual virtue, opening a bank account in heaven. And on the other end, they are keeping those people from ever becoming rebellious. They have crippled them completely; they have forgotten how to do anything. They are not asked to do anything but just sit and meditate on the koan -- which is an absurdity.
It is by chance -- and I will say only by chance -- that someone becomes enlightened through a koan, because one has to keep repeating it for at least two or three years, constantly involved in it.
Remember the difference, that going out of the mind is not going beyond mind. Going out of the mind is very easy. Many people go mad without any koans, but perhaps they have also a certain koan of their own. Maybe it is money, maybe it is a woman or a man. They drive themselves mad, continuously thinking about it.
I know a man who drove himself mad because of money. He was so much in love with money that it was almost impossible to believe it. If you had a hundred-rupee note in your hand, it is yours but he would touch it, just to feel it. And you could even see his saliva coming out!
I became friendly with the fellow, so he used to come to my place and I would give him a few notes just to play with. He would be so happy. Finally I heard that he had been forced into a madhouse, because it became a difficult situation. He started stealing, he started borrowing and would never repay, so the whole city became aware. And he would never purchase anything because he would have to give up the money.
Money was his god -- it is many people's god, it is their koan. It is also just like a koan, insoluble: however much you have, your desire is always for more. It is insoluble. Even the richest man in the world is not satisfied with his riches, he wants more.

IN CONCENTRATION ON A KOAN, THERE IS A TIME OF ROUSING THE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY, THERE IS A TIME OF BREAKING THE CLINGING ATTACHMENTS, THERE IS A TIME OF FURIOUS DASHING FORWARD, AND THERE IS A TIME OF DAMPING THE FUEL AND STOPPING THE BOILING.
SINCE COMING TO JAPAN, THIS MOUNTAIN PRIEST HAS BEEN MAKING THE PUPILS LOOK INTO A KOAN, BUT WHEN THEY HAVE DONE THIS FOR A GOOD TIME, HE TELLS THEM TO THROW IT DOWN. THE POINT IS THAT MANY PEOPLE COME TO SUCCESS IF THEY FIRST HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF WRESTLING WITH A KOAN AND LATER REDUCE THE EFFORT...
That's why I say Bukko is a very practical and pragmatic teacher. He is not like a Bodhidharma, a sword -- in one blow your head is gone. He is more businesslike. He says that even if you have not attained satori, enlightenment, it helps just to get hot. If it is not enough to evaporate, he starts telling you, "Cool down, drop it." His experience is that even this little bit of heating up, and then cooling down, gives a certain space, a gap, a comparison between the two states. And through that gate, through that small acquaintance with the difference between the heated mind and the cool mind, a person may come to success rather than at the time when he was putting out exceptional effort.
But this is, in my understanding, a very businesslike approach. Perhaps somebody may have attained enlightenment in this way, but I will not say that this is a principle; it can only be an accident.
I don't use koans at all, because my people are to put their totality into meditation for five minutes, and that's enough. Then just the remembrance of it will transform their lives. And going inwards just for a few minutes has never driven anyone mad. You can go as deep as possible, with your totality, because you know Nivedano is sitting there and he won't allow you to go beyond the limit. Just as you are coming close to the limit, where you can lose your mind, Nivedano's drum immediately calls you back.

We are not to lose the mind; we have to go beyond the mind, and use the mind from the space of being beyond. Mind is a good mechanism; we are not against the mind. We simply don't want the mind to be dominant, to be the master. We want our consciousness to be the master and mind only a functionary, a servant.
Bukko says, SO THE INSTRUCTION IS THAT THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET LOOKED INTO A KOAN ABSOLUTELY MUST DO SO, BUT THOSE WHO HAVE HAD ONE FOR A GOOD TIME MUST THROW IT DOWN. AT THE TIME OF ZAZEN THEY THROW IT ALL AWAY. THEY SLEEP WHEN IT IS TIME TO SLEEP, GO WHEN IT IS TIME TO GO, SIT WHEN IT IS TIME TO SIT, AND SO ON, AS IF THEY WERE NOT DOING ZEN AT ALL.
This part in itself is beautiful. This part can be of immense help to you. While you are doing your meditations, do them totally. Forget the whole world, as if for those few minutes there is no world; only you and this space that you are running towards with the speed of light, like an arrow, to hit some unknown center of your being.
And just gather the experience, the joy, the blissfulness, and come back. Come back with your buddhahood as a fragrance around you. And then watch -- in your day-to-day life, working, all kinds of things -- just out of the corner of your eye, remember. You may be chopping wood, or carrying water from the well -- you are a buddha. Although nobody has seen Gautam Buddha chopping wood and carrying water from the well -- so many disciples loved him that they managed to chop the wood for him and carry the water from the well.
Before you gather a few buddhas around you, you have to chop the wood and you have to carry the water. But don't forget that you are a buddha. It is a good opportunity, before other buddhas start chopping your wood!
This last statement is beautiful:
Be a buddha, but don't be an exhibitionist. Don't try to convince others that you are a buddha -- that's what mad people do. It is enough that you know you are a buddha. You don't have to convince the neighbors that you are really a buddha.
I used to go to madhouses....
One of my friends was the governor of one of the states, so he allowed me -- I could visit any madhouse in the state, or any jail, wherever I wanted to go. Otherwise, it is very difficult to see mad people.
You cannot change their opinion, whatever opinion they have. If they think that they are a railway train, they will go by your side making the noise of the train. They will not bother that you are standing there... they are going somewhere. They are a train and you cannot convince them otherwise.
I asked a madman who was going like this, "Do you have any passengers?"
He said, "I am just an engine and I'm shunting. I am not going anywhere, just shunting from this room to that room. I am only an engine, I don't care about passengers!"
And he was so serious. I said, "It would be good to connect a train with you."
He said, "I don't like the idea. Why should I bother with any passengers and trains? I am enjoying myself perfectly." And he went on.
The superintendent said, "We have tried. It doesn't work -- nothing works."
You cannot change the mind of a madman. And I am making this statement for a particular reason: don't have such a mind, which cannot be changed. That's what fundamentalists have -- fundamentalist Christians like Ronald Reagan. You cannot change their minds, and that is a sign of madness. An intelligent man is always available to change, if a better argument is given to him. You cannot change the fundamentalist; he has decided, and decided for eternity.
There is no way to convince even Jesus that "You are not the son of God." Thousands of people tried it: "Listen, don't make unnecessary fuss! And you look like a clown, sitting on a donkey, followed by a few idiots and claiming that you are the only begotten son of God. You are a humiliation to our religion!"
The Jews were trying hard to convince him -- "You are just a carpenter, remember? Your father is Joseph and your mother is Mary, remember?"
But a fundamentalist....
In a crowd, Jesus was speaking and somebody said, "Your mother is standing outside." And it hurts what he said; he said, "Tell that woman that I don't have any relatives here! My father is in heaven."
Now telling that poor woman -- she had not seen him for years, because for years he had been wandering in Kashmir, in Ladakh, in Tibet. In the Bible there is no account about what happened for seventeen years of his life. And he lived only thirty-three years; only three years, the last three years, are depicted. What happened to the seventeen years before? One mention of the time when he was thirteen is there, and after that there is a big gap.
The mother had not seen him for so long, naturally the poor old woman... And he insulted her, he did not even give her an appointment. He is no ordinary man, these relatives drag him down to humanity. He is a son of God, he is divine, he is not human.
You cannot change the mind of a fundamentalist. And to me, the fundamentalist is equivalent to the madman. A reasonable man, an intelligent man, is never fundamentalist. He is always ready and available to change anything if he can find a better argument, a better idea, a better solution. He is flexible, he is not adamant and stubborn. He is ready to bend, to change, to transform.
I want you never to be a fundamentalist. Always remain vulnerable. To be vulnerable to existence is the most beautiful experience.
But for that, you need some acquaintance with existence -- from your inner being, not from outside. You know the stars from the outside, but you have not known the universe from your inside. From your very roots you have to come in contact, and that contact will be your liberation. That contact will make you a buddha.
You are a buddha; just a little dust has gathered on the mirror.
I am reminded of Michelangelo.... He passed through the market where marble shops were. And he was a sculptor, perhaps the best the world has known. He saw in front of a shop, on the other side of the road, a big marble rock. He asked, "How much will it cost?"
The owner said, "It will not cost anything, because for ten years it has been lying there and I have not found anybody to be interested in it. If you want it you can take it -- I need more space for other rocks and that rock is taking too much space. But I don't think anybody can make anything out of it. It is a strange rock, the shape is strange."
So Michelangelo took that rock, and after two years working on it he created the world's most famous statue of Jesus -- he has just been brought down from the cross and Mary, his mother, is holding him in her lap. The statue is of the cross and Jesus and the mother, and life size.
Michelangelo was certainly one of the greatest men as far as sculpture is concerned. Jesus looks as if he is just going to come back to life -- so alive. You can see every muscle of the man, you can see the holes which the nails have made in his hands....

Just a few years ago, a madman destroyed that statue. Nobody ever thought that anybody would destroy such a beautiful statue -- it was in the Vatican. And in front of the court the madman said, "I had to destroy it because I want to be as famous as Michelangelo. Now my name will always be remembered along with Michelangelo: he made it, I destroyed it."
But when the statue was ready, Michelangelo invited the shop owner to see what had happened to the rock. The shop owner could not believe his eyes. He said, "You have done a miracle! How have you managed?"
Michelangelo said, "No, I have not managed anything. Just as I was passing down the road, I heard the rock saying, `Hidden in me are Jesus and Mary. You just have to take out a few chunks here and there, and Jesus and Mary will reveal themselves.' I have not created Jesus or Mary, I have simply removed the unnecessary marble and left only what is needed to make Jesus and Mary and the cross."
This is really the experience of a meditator. As you go deeper you hear... not in words, but something more like a magnetic pull, towards a buddha which is hidden inside you at the very source. And once you have touched those roots, once you have known your buddhahood just for five minutes, it is enough to be able to remember it twenty-four hours. Slowly slowly it will change your whole life into a beauty, a grace, a tremendous ecstasy.
You don't have to do meditation twenty-four hours. I am against monasteries and monks because they are an absolutely unnecessary load on the society. And particularly in the East, where there is so much poverty, these monks are heavy on the whole economy.

In Thailand, just two years ago, they had to pass a law in the parliament that nobody can become a monk without getting a license from the government. Because one person out of every four was a monk. The other three had to supply everything to the monk. It was a tradition that every family should give one son, particularly the eldest son, to the religion, to the church. They were one fourth of the population; the whole population is poor, and these vagabonds, thinking that they were doing something spiritual, were just being parasites.
I don't want anybody to be a monk, I want you to be in the world. Meditation need not to be done twenty-four hours; meditation is just a small glimpse -- and then carry out your work. Slowly slowly that glimpse will start radiating in your actions, in your silences, in your songs, in your dances.
There is no need to waste twenty-four hours and become a parasite. And when you become a parasite on the society, you cannot rebel against the society. You cannot say a single thing against any superstition.
My people can be sannyasins and yet absolutely rebellious, because they are not dependent on anyone. Their meditation is their own personal affair.
Why are all the religions against me? Because I am introducing a new kind of sannyasin in the world; and the fear is that if this fire catches hold, like a wildfire, then sannyasins will be the most rebellious people in the world. They will destroy all superstitions and all stupidities, and they will not agree to anything that goes against their consciousness.
This is the reason that twenty-one countries have decided in their parliaments that I am a dangerous man. And strangely enough, not a single man in those parliaments has asked, "What do you mean by dangerous?" Everybody understands, it seems, that the danger is in giving individuality to religion, is in giving rebelliousness to individuals. And no vested interest wants it. They are ready for monks, they are ready to give donations to monasteries, but they are really afraid of people who are buddhas and rebellious at the same time. And to me, a buddha who is not rebellious is not much of a buddha. He is just a rotten piece!

A poet wrote:
IN THE EVENING
IF IT WERE RAIN
WE SHOULD SEEK SHELTER,
BUT THINKING, "IT IS ONLY MIST"
WE GO ON AND BECOME DRENCHED.

He is not talking about the rain outside, he is talking about your inside. Don't be afraid -- get drenched in the mist, in the mystery. And when you come back, come back a totally different person. The one who has gone in should be left behind, and you should take a new face -- your original face.
Dropping the mask and bringing out your original face is the whole alchemy of meditation.

An old man for the first time had come to a big city, and he was standing amazed, looking at the high skyscrapers. And then he saw an old woman, a very old woman, entering into a cabin. He did not understand that it was an elevator. He watched to see what happened, and when the elevator came down, a young woman came out.
He said, "My god! If I had known, I would have brought my old woman with me. This is great science!"

But exactly this happens. When you go in, you are an old mask; when you come back, come back as a fresh, original face. This everyday experience, slowly slowly, will become your twenty-four-hour silent experience. There is no need to say to anybody that you are a buddha; they themselves will understand. You cannot hide a fire; you cannot hide a buddha either.


 

Next: Chapter 6: To take up a koan, Question 1

 


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