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THE BUDDHA: THE EMPTINESS OF THE HEART

Chapter 7: From the surface to the center

 

Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The emptiness of the heart

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
SHOITSU SAID TO CHIZEN:
IN THE SCHOOL OF THE ANCESTRAL TEACHERS, WE POINT DIRECTLY TO THE HUMAN MIND. VERBAL EXPLANATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIVE DEVICES ACTUALLY MISS THE POINT.
NOT FALLING INTO SEEING AND HEARING, NOT FOLLOWING SOUND OR FORM, ACTING FREELY IN THE PHENOMENAL WORLD, SITTING AND LYING IN THE HEAP OF MYRIAD FORMS, NOT INVOLVED WITH PHENOMENA IN BREATHING OUT, NOT BOUND TO THE CLUSTERS AND ELEMENTS OF EXISTENCE IN BREATHING IN, THE WHOLE WORLD IS THE GATE OF LIBERATION. ALL WORLDS ARE TRUE REALITY.
A UNIVERSAL MASTER KNOWS WHAT IT COMES TO, THE MOMENT IT IS RAISED. HOW WILL BEGINNERS AND LATECOMERS COME TO GRIPS WITH IT?
IF YOU DON'T GET IT YET, FOR THE TIME BEING WE OPEN UP A PATHWAY IN THE GATEWAY OF THE SECONDARY TRUTH. SPEAK OUT WHERE THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY; MANIFEST FORM IN THE MIDST OF FORMLESSNESS.
DURING YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES RESPONDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE REALM OF DISTINCTIONS, DON'T THINK OF GETTING RID OF ANYTHING. DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AS A HIDDEN MARVEL -- WITH NO ROAD OF REASON, NO FLAVOR, DAY AND NIGHT, FORGETTING SLEEP AND FOOD, KEEP THOSE SAYINGS IN MIND.
IF YOU STILL DON'T GET IT, WE GO ON TO SPEAK OF THE TERTIARY, EXPOUNDING MIND AND NATURE, SPEAKING OF MYSTERY AND MARVEL. ONE ATOM CONTAINS THE COSMOS, ONE THOUGHT PERVADES EVERYWHERE. THUS AN ANCIENT SAID:
"INFINITE LANDS AND WORLDS WITH NO DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN SELF AND OTHERS, TEN AGES PAST AND PRESENT ARE NEVER APART FROM THIS MOMENT OF THOUGHT."

Maneesha, the whole point of Zen, its whole philosophy, its whole theology, is contained in the present moment. If you can stay in the present moment, the doors of wisdom will open on their own. In a thousand ways the same thing has been said, again and again: This moment contains everything -- the whole universe -- past, present and future. This moment is all. If we can enter into this moment's reality, we will be entering the very center of the universe, the very source of life.
Zen's interest is not in gods, not in paradises. Its interest is absolutely life, known in its eternity, with all its joys and celebrations. It is a religion of celebration. It is not sad, serious. Because it is not going to achieve anything, it cannot fail. Its victory is absolutely certain because what it is seeking is already there within you. It is everybody's life source. Combined, it becomes the life source of the whole universe. We are just small branches coming out of the universal source.
The moment you realize your universality, all your anxieties appear to be so trivial, so tiny... just the very realization of your eternity makes them disappear, they become shadows. The moment you realize your life source, they lose their reality. In other words your anxieties, your problems and your anguish are real if you don't know yourself. That is your life, if you don't know your life source.
What has come to be known as existentialism in the West must have preceded Gautam Buddha in the East. Existentialism says life is nothing but anguish, anxiety, angst; it has no meaning. There is only failure; that is your destiny. It gives a very dark color, a very negative approach, to existence. Listening to the modern existentialists one can only feel that perhaps suicide is the only way out. Life in every possible way is going to be full of anxiety.
My own understanding is that before the time of Gautam Buddha there must have been the same kind of feeling in the East, that life is meaningless. I know the names of at least three people who were very famous in those days, but all their literature has been destroyed because their whole point of view was against life. One was Sanjay Bilattiputta, another was Ajit Keshkambal, and the third was Gosal. These three people were as intelligent as any Gautam Buddha. But they preached that life is meaningless; all the meaning that you give to it is your imagination. It is just a hope that keeps you going on, through all the sufferings, through all the meaningless incidents. And from the cradle to the grave, you will not find a single place where you can rest. It is just restlessness.
But with Gautam Buddha, things took a different turn -- a turn which is enormous. The West needs a Gautam Buddha; otherwise the idea of meaninglessness, anxiety, anguish, is bound to create the idea of suicide as the way out. Gautam Buddha accepts everything that existentialism says, but he says life is meaningless and full of anxiety because you have not gone deep enough into your being. On the surface it is all turmoil, just as you see in the ocean: on the surface there is so much turmoil but in the depths there is absolute silence.
The deeper you go into the ocean, the more silent... absolute silence. And attaining the absolute silence you start looking at things with different eyes. The same things are there, the world is the same, but because you now have different eyes, you start seeing in a different way. The same roseflower becomes so beautiful that there is no need for it to have any purpose; just its beauty is enough unto itself. The song of a cuckoo may not have any meaning but it has a beauty, a grandeur which penetrates to the very heart. And if the heart is emptied by meditation, it gives you a glimpse of authentic music, spontaneous music. Everything around you starts taking a different shape, a different context. The only change that is needed is that you go from the surface to the center of your being.
Now this point is very important to understand, because a few have escaped the surface by renouncing the world. They think it is the world that is creating a disturbance, it is the world that is responsible for our anxieties. That has been the traditional attitude of the sannyasin, of the monk. Just leave this world, hide behind a monastery or behind a mountain, just to attain a little peace.
But I know that even hiding behind a mountain, your mind will be the same as it was in the marketplace. It will create troubles and anxieties there, too. Perhaps more than ever, because the cold winter will come and you don't have enough clothes, the hot summer will come and you don't have a roof, a shelter. And from where are you going to get your food? Again you will have to come by the back door, as a beggar, to the same marketplace that you have renounced.
All these so-called saints who have renounced the world have simply become dependent on the world, parasites, but they have not attained any new vision. So the way that takes you away from the turmoil is not the right way. The right way is to go as deep into the turmoil as possible, because in the depths there are no waves, there is no turmoil.
My sannyasin is not to renounce anything in the world. Everything is beautiful. If it does not appeal to you, something is wrong with you. Go inside. First seek and search the source of your being, of your life. Once you have caught the roots of your being, then come out and open your eyes and you will see the same world but with a new color, with a new intensity, with a new love, with a new beauty. The same world is no more the same because you are no more the same. By transforming yourself you have transformed the whole world.
It is absolutely right when Gautam Buddha says, "The moment I became enlightened the whole world became enlightened. Everything appeared to me to be a buddha, either awake or asleep. I could see, even in the flowers or grasses or stones, buddhas fast asleep."
The whole of existence is by its very nature nothing but consciousness, and consciousness can be of different depths. The stone may be very fast asleep. You cannot wake it, but that does not mean that there is no life source hidden in the stone. The stone grows. The Himalayas are growing one foot taller every year. Just stupid fellows! Already they are the tallest mountains in the world, but the same stupidity that human beings have... they go on growing.
Some older mountains in India -- the oldest mountain is Vindhyachal -- have stopped growing millions of years ago. Seeing that there is no point... what are you going to do, unnecessarily growing high? Just enjoy. You cannot enjoy while you are involved in achieving something. When you are not involved in achieving, when there is no desire to reach somewhere, you can enjoy the moment, here, now.
Zen is the religion of here and now. Always remember this context in whatsoever statements we are discussing. It is a totally different approach from that of other religions. Even the Buddhists don't accept Zen, because Zen has such rebelliousness, such independence that it cannot accept any authority unless it is the authority of your own experience. Even Buddhists think of Zen as a little eccentric, outside the mold, not belonging to the vast stream of Buddhism.
But as far as I am concerned, it is the essence of Buddha's very heart. Without Zen, Buddhism is as dead a religion as any other religion. It is Zen which still brings flowers, it is Zen which is still a garden; all the other religions have become deserts. But why does it go on bringing flowers? Because its dependence is not on scriptures, on tradition. Its very world is limited within you, and if you change, the world around you has to change accordingly.
A man like Gautam Buddha, just by being awakened, changes the character of everything around him. His vision, his radiance, his presence... at least for him it is a different world.
These small statements by Zen masters have to be very carefully heard. You are not to agree or disagree. If you start agreeing or disagreeing you miss the point.
Listen silently as if you are listening to the sound of a river, or the sound of the wind blowing through the pine trees. Just hear it, without bringing your mind in to say, "Yes, it is right," or "No, it is not right."
Any statement or interpretation by your mind is going to distort the whole thing. The statement is not linguistic. It is not the language, it is something invisible, side by side with the language, that is being transmitted. So if you silently hear, the language does not matter. Your silence grows deeper -- that's what matters. What the language was saying is immaterial, it was just a vehicle.

Just a few days ago Anando brought me the news. I have never thought about it, and I don't think anybody has ever thought about it -- they have just discovered that electricity does not run in the wires but along the sides, next to the wire -- a fellow traveler, not inside the wire. It takes the help of the wire, but -- this is a very significant discovery -- the electricity is not in the wire itself.
To me, it takes on a new significance: the words of the master are not the real message; the words are just like the wires for electricity. Alongside the wires runs a message invisible to the eyes, only able to be understood by an empty heart.
Sit silently, in utter emptiness. Your agreement or disagreement are not needed. Just your silence deepening, your emptiness becoming more and more empty, and you have understood without even bothering about the words. Those words were all arbitrary.

SHOITSU SAID TO CHIZEN:
IN THE SCHOOL OF THE ANCESTRAL TEACHERS, WE POINT DIRECTLY TO THE HUMAN MIND. VERBAL EXPLANATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIVE DEVICES ACTUALLY MISS THE POINT.
The question is, how to indicate to you the way to your own heart. Shoitsu is saying that VERBAL EXPLANATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIVE DEVICES ACTUALLY MISS THE POINT -- most of the time. Once in a while, a person has understood that it is not language or philosophy, but the words are used just like a wire and running alongside is a life, an energy. That energy can be absorbed only by your empty heart. If the heart is full of things, too much furniture... life energy will not enter a space which is too full. It enters only into utter emptiness.
Shoitsu is saying, WE POINT DIRECTLY TO THE HUMAN MIND.
What are we doing here? I talk with you, but that is only a preparation so that in meditation I can point directly to your heart. A certain preparation is absolutely needed to cut away all garbage, to throw out all the scriptures, to expel all the ancient buddhas and siddhas, so that you are left absolutely alone. From that point meditation can start. When your heart is utterly empty, it is not difficult to point to the source of your being.
NOT FALLING INTO SEEING AND HEARING, NOT FOLLOWING SOUND OR FORM, ACTING FREELY IN THE PHENOMENAL WORLD, SITTING AND LYING IN THE HEAP OF MYRIAD FORMS, NOT INVOLVED WITH PHENOMENA IN BREATHING OUT, NOT BOUND TO THE CLUSTERS AND ELEMENTS OF EXISTENCE IN BREATHING IN, THE WHOLE WORLD IS THE GATE OF LIBERATION. ALL WORLDS ARE TRUE REALITY.
If you have concentrated your life energy in the empty heart, then all that is false simply disappears and only the real remains. Then the whole world is real, then there is no need to say that it is illusory. It has been said to be illusory by those escapists who wanted to run away from it. They needed some excuse. They called this whole world, all relationships, everything, illusory -- just like dreams.
I have always wondered... I have met with many escapist saints and I have asked them, "If you really see that this world is illusory, made of the same stuff as dreams are made of, why are you escaping from it? What is the point? According to you the world does not exist. You are renouncing a non-existential world!"
If the world does not exist, then why not enjoy it? Have good, nice dreams -- drop nightmares! Sort things out: whatever is a nightmare, drop it.
And that is what happens when a man reaches his center. That which is a nightmare -- and your whole life up to now has been a nightmare -- simply disappears. And a tremendously beautiful world arises out of the ashes of the old world that you used to know. It looks the same but because your vision is different, it is not the same.
Not a single saint I have met -- and I have been roaming around for almost thirty-five years and I have met almost all kinds of saints, Hindu, Jaina, Mohammedan, Christian -- not a single one has been able to answer a simple question: if the world is illusory, then it does not matter, let it be there; where are you going? Escaping from a world that is illusory is so stupid an act. If the world is real there is some point in escaping from it if you don't want it. But it is illusory! And if illusions arise out of your mind, then wherever you go, the illusions will arise.

A great saint was dying and he said to his successor, a young man, "Remember one thing: never allow a cat in your life," and he died. A big crowd had gathered to listen to the last statement of this great saint... and what a sentence! "Never allow a cat in your life." The successor said, "My god, why should I allow a cat in my life in the first place? And this is the whole religion?" But an old man -- who was also a disciple, but was not chosen as a successor because he was too old; he was himself going to die within a year or two -- said, "You don't know, there is a long story behind it. He has just given you the punch line."
He said, "Then I must know the whole story."
The story was that when the saint renounced his wife and children and his home and went into the Himalayas, he lived near a small village. Otherwise, from where will you get your food? But the villagers were happy that they had a saint of their own, so they made a small bamboo cottage for him.
The Indian monks used, in place of underwear, just a long strip of cloth called langot. It is a "mini" -- mini-est -- because just a long strip... they wrap it around themselves. They were allowed to have only two langotis. But a trouble arose: some rats came into the house and they started chewing on the langot. The man was in a great difficulty; he had only two langotis and soon they would be gone. So he asked the villagers, "What to do? because my sect does not allow a saint to have more than two langotis. That's the only possession allowed."
They said, "Why don't you take a cat from the village? She will kill the rats." It was a perfectly rational solution. So the villagers gave him a good cat, and the cat killed the rats. But the problem was, now he had to beg for his food and the cat also needed something to eat, because the rats were finished. So he had to beg for some milk for the cat.
The villagers said, "This is a small village... the best thing for us is that you have a cow. The whole village can contribute some money and purchase a beautiful cow, and in that way you will become very independent. You can have enough milk for yourself and for your cat."
It looked right, so a beautiful cow was brought in. Now the problem was that the cow needed grass. So every day he had to go to the village to beg for the grass. People said, "This does not look right. A great saint asking for grass? In fact no saint has ever asked for grass; it is not conventional."
He said, "But what to do? My cow, my cat..."
So they said, "A simple solution: we are villagers, we don't know much about your philosophy. One woman has become a widow; her husband has died, and she has nobody. So we will persuade her. She will be really happy to serve a saint and then you don't have to come every day. We will clear some ground by the side of your hut so she can grow grass, she can grow wheat... and she will take care of you in sickness, in illness."
The idea was right -- it was always right. It was not much effort to persuade the woman; she was alone and the saint was young... there was a possibility, a hope. So she immediately agreed. She started taking care, and you know how things grow....
Basho says, "The grass grows by itself." In fact many things grow by themselves. So grass started growing, they fell in love... the woman was beautiful, the saint was young. What more is needed? They worked in the field, they started growing wheat and they started growing grass. The cat was very happy and the cow was very happy, everything was perfect. But then the ultimate -- children came in, and then he thought, "My god, that's what I had left behind! I have renounced the world -- this is the whole world again! It grew so slowly that I was not aware until the children came."
Now, just because of the cat the whole world came in. The old man said, "That was the punch line. He told you, `Remember not to allow a cat,' because behind the cat the whole world comes in. He was talking about his own life story, how he again became engaged in the same world -- taking children to the school... and people started laughing at him: `What kind of saint are you? You are keeping a woman! You have fallen down from your greatness.'
"But what to do now? Once you have fallen, you have fallen; it is very difficult to rise again. He thought many times to renounce again, but he thought -- what is the point? Those rats are everywhere. Again the same story will start. It is better to be silent."
Your mind, your body, both need certain things. You cannot renounce the world, you can only become a beggar. But to become a beggar is not to become a saint. My understanding is clear, that you should be in the world. There is nothing to be afraid of; you should just concentrate your life energy within yourself and that makes all the difference. You remain in the world and yet you are not in the world. You are in the world but the world is not in you. And to me, that is the true definition of a sannyasin: remaining in the world, just like a lotus flower, remaining in the water but untouched by it.
A UNIVERSAL MASTER KNOWS WHAT IT COMES TO, THE MOMENT IT IS RAISED. HOW WILL BEGINNERS AND LATECOMERS COME TO GRIPS WITH IT?
IF YOU DON'T GET IT YET, FOR THE TIME BEING WE OPEN UP A PATHWAY IN THE GATEWAY OF THE SECONDARY TRUTH.
I don't agree on that point. Shoitsu is saying that if you cannot understand the direct pointing to your heart, then we have to descend a little lower -- but that will be "secondary truth." That will be just like the moon reflected in water; it will not be the true moon. It will be only a reflected moon. In language, truth at the most can be just a reflection. So he is saying that if you cannot get it directly, instantly, then we will have to come down to language.
I don't agree with the statement because my understanding is that you have to begin with language. You have to begin with the reflection of the moon in the water. And if you have seen the reflection in the water you can be told to look up a little: "It is only a reflection; the reality is there high up in the sky." Language is not a secondary thing to be used when the first has failed. Language is the primary thing, to create the background for pointing directly to your innermost heart.
SPEAK OUT WHERE THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY; MANIFEST FORM IN THE MIDST OF FORMLESSNESS.
DURING YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES RESPONDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE REALM OF DISTINCTIONS, DON'T THINK OF GETTING RID OF ANYTHING.
On that point I am in agreement with him.
... DON'T THINK OF GETTING RID OF ANYTHING. DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AS A HIDDEN MARVEL -- WITH NO ROAD OF REASON, NO FLAVOR, DAY AND NIGHT, FORGETTING SLEEP AND FOOD, KEEP THOSE SAYINGS IN MIND.
IF YOU STILL DON'T GET IT, WE GO ON TO SPEAK OF THE TERTIARY,
The third step, if you don't understand the language, he says then we will have to descend even a little lower. I think that I not only disagree with him, but it is humiliating to the disciples to say, "We will have to speak on a third level."
... EXPOUNDING MIND AND NATURE, SPEAKING OF MYSTERY AND MARVEL. ONE ATOM CONTAINS THE COSMOS, ONE THOUGHT PERVADES EVERYWHERE. THUS AN ANCIENT SAID:
"INFINITE LANDS AND WORLDS
WITH NO DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN SELF AND OTHERS,
TEN AGES PAST AND PRESENT
ARE NEVER APART FROM THIS MOMENT OF THOUGHT."
Shoitsu is putting the bullocks behind the cart -- of course there will not be much progress. The bullocks have to be in front of the cart; the words, the language, have to be a primary preparation for the ultimate understanding of your life source. There is only one way, and that is pointing directly to your heart. There are not some lower ways, some higher ways; there is only one way.
He is saying, "We will try the second way, and if even that does not work, we will go still lower." This is happening because he is putting things the wrong way round. The bullocks have to be ahead of the cart, and then everything is okay. Language, concepts, words, all have to be used in preparing the ground for emptiness. And you know by your experience here that it works. I am talking to you, I am using words and concepts; still a great silence is being created within you.
This silence can be deepened by meditation. And when you are deep in meditation, silent, just a watchful witness, the direct pointing by the master can happen. I don't have to explain it to you because you go through the process every day.

A Zen poet, Kanzan wrote:
TALKING ABOUT FOOD WON'T MAKE YOU FULL,
BABBLING OF CLOTHES WON'T KEEP OUT THE COLD.
A BOWL OF RICE IS WHAT FILLS THE BELLY;
IT TAKES A SUIT OF CLOTHING TO MAKE YOU WARM.
AND YET, WITHOUT STOPPING TO CONSIDER THIS,
YOU COMPLAIN THAT BUDDHA IS HARD TO FIND.
TURN YOUR MIND WITHIN!
THERE HE IS!
WHY LOOK FOR HIM ABROAD?

This small haiku says much more than Shoitsu, and clearly. Two things:
TALKING ABOUT FOOD WON'T MAKE YOU FULL; BABBLING OF CLOTHES WON'T KEEP OUT THE COLD. A BOWL OF RICE IS WHAT FILLS THE BELLY; IT TAKES A SUIT OF CLOTHING TO MAKE YOU WARM. AND YET, WITHOUT STOPPING TO CONSIDER THIS, YOU COMPLAIN THAT BUDDHA IS HARD TO FIND. TURN YOUR MIND WITHIN! THERE HE IS! WHY LOOK FOR HIM ABROAD?

You have been looking for him outside for centuries, for many many lives. It is time to give a chance to your interiority. Look for him withinwards, and what you have not found outside, you will find, without fail, inside. Nobody in the whole history of consciousness has failed to find the buddha if he has looked withinwards. Without any exception, everybody who has looked in, has found the buddha. You cannot be an exception. You cannot be, because life itself in its purity is the buddha.


 

Next: Chapter 7: From the surface to the center, Question 1

 


    Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The emptiness of the heart

 

 

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