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THE GRASS GROWS BY ITSELF

Chapter 8: A Field Dyed Deep Violet

 

Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Zen         The grass grows by itself

 

NINAGAWA-SHINZAEMON, A LINKED-VERSE POET, AND DEVOTEE OF ZEN, DESIRED TO BECOME A DISCIPLE OF THE REMARKABLE MASTER, IKKYU, WHO WAS ABBOT OF THE DAITOKUJI IN MURASAKINO -- A VIOLET FIELD.

HE CALLED UPON IKKYU, AND THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE TOOK PLACE AT THE TEMPLE ENTRANCE.

IKKYU: WHO ARE YOU?
NINAGAWA: A DEVOTEE OF BUDDHISM.
IKKYU: YOU ARE FROM?
NINAGAWA: YOUR REGION.
IKKYU: AH. AND WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE THESE DAYS?
NINAGAWA: THE CROWS CAW, THE SPARROWS TWITTER.
IKKYU: AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE NOW?
NINAGAWA: IN A FIELD DYED DEEP VIOLET.
IKKYU: WHY?
NINAGAWA: MISCANTHUS, MORNING GLORIES, SAFFLOWERS, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, ASTERS.
IKKYU: AND AFTER THEY'RE GONE?
NINAGAWA: IT IS MIYAGINO -- THE FIELD OF AUTUMN FLOWERING.
IKKYU: WHAT HAPPENS IN THAT FIELD?
NINAGAWA: THE STREAM FLOWS THROUGH, THE WIND SWEEPS OVER.

AMAZED AT NINAGAWA'S ZEN-LIKE SPEECH, IKKYU LED HIM TO HIS ROOM AND SERVED HIM TEA. THEN HE SPOKE THIS IMPROMPTU VERSE:
I WANT TO SERVE
YOU DELICACIES.
ALAS! THE ZEN SECT
CAN OFFER NOTHING.

AT WHICH THE VISITOR REPLIED:

THE MIND WHICH TREATS ME
TO NOTHING IS THE ORIGINAL VOID --
A DELICACY OF DELICACIES.

DEEPLY MOVED, THE MASTER SAID:
MY SON, YOU HAVE LEARNED MUCH.

Poetry is closer than theology to religion, imagination nearer than reason. And, of course, religion transcends both -- it is neither.
But through logic, to drop into the abyss of religion is a little bit difficult, because logic has a rigidity about it. It is not flexible; it is closed, not open; it has no windows, no doors, to go out of itself. It is like a grave. One can die within it, but one cannot move into a living process, one cannot become more alive through it. Logic is a straitjacket, a prison.
Poetry is closer to religion, because it is more flexible, liquid, more flowing. It is not religion, but you can drop out of it more easily than from logic. It has openings -- doors and windows -- and fresh winds can always reach into the deepest core of the heart of a poet. Poetry is not rigid; you can drop out of it, if you like; it will not cling to you. And, because it is imaginative, it can stumble, even unknowingly, upon the unknown. It goes on groping in the dark -- it IS a groping in the dark -- and it goes on groping, it goes on searching. It is always ready to move into any new dimension.
Logic is resistant: you cannot find more orthodox people than logicians. They will never listen to a new dimension opening, they will not even look at it. They will simply say it is not possible. All that is possible, they think, is already known; all that can happen has already happened. They are always suspicious of the unknown.
The heart of the poet is always in love with the unknown. He goes on groping in the dark for something new, something original, something untasted before, something unlived, unexperienced. A poet gropes. And sometimes he can stumble upon the unknown, he can fall into the abyss of religion.
Poetry is metaphoric, metaphorical, it lives through metaphors. The same is the language of religion. Of course, when a metaphor is used in a poetic way, it means one thing; and when it is used in a religious way, it means something else. But both use metaphors. There is a meeting ground. Their meanings may differ, but their methods are of the same family. They look like twins. Vast is the difference within, but at least in form, at the surface, they are more alike than logic and religion. Because of this likeness religion has always spoken in the way of the poet: Upanishads, Vedas, Kabir, Meera, Zen poets....
Zen poets have written beautiful haikus, so condensed that a vast poetic world becomes like a seed in the haiku. Sometimes they are very simple, you cannot even catch the significance immediately. But if you ponder over them, meditate upon them, then, by and by, the small haiku becomes a door. A few days before I was reading Basho's famous haiku. It is very small, but if you meditate upon it, suddenly a door opens.
The haiku is:
Old pond
frog jump-in
water-sound.
Just visualize it -- an old pond, very ancient, a frog jumps in, the water-sound. Finished. Nothing more to say. A whole situation condensed. If you meditate on it, suddenly you will feel a silence surrounding you. Something will change within you. It is objective art.
Zen poets, Sufi mystics, Hindu saints, have all spoken in the language of poetry, and even if sometimes Buddha and Mahavira and Jesus don't speak in the language of poetry, the poetry is still there, whether they speak in it or not. If you listen to them, you will feel a certain poetic quality underneath their words. Their prose is only on the surface. The form is of prose, but the spirit is of poetry. In fact, one who is enlightened cannot do otherwise. If he must speak in prose, he can; but he cannot avoid poetry. The poetry will be there just beneath the surface -- if you have a little insight, you will see it; it is vibrant and alive there. Religion and poetry have the same language: their words differ, but somewhere they have a meeting point. And that meeting point is the subject of this story.
A poet comes to meet a Zen master. He must have been a very great poet, because only the highest and greatest poets can have a meeting ground with the mystic. Each and every poet will not have that, because where the poetry becomes ultimate, there is the first step of mysticism. Where the poetry ends, culminates, reaches its peak, its GOURISHANKAR, becomes the Everest, there is the first step of the temple of the mystic. The highest poetry is the lowest mysticism -- there is the meeting point. So only very great poets can attain to the height where a Zen master will have to say: MY SON, YOU HAVE LEARNED MUCH.
Now we should enter into this story.
NINAGAWA-SHINZAEMON, A LINKED-VERSE POET, AND DEVOTEE OF ZEN, DESIRED TO BECOME A DISCIPLE OF THE REMARKABLE MASTER, IKKYU, WHO WAS ABBOT OF THE DAITOKUJI IN MURASAKINO -- A VIOLET FIELD.
This has always been my feeling: that the greatest of the poets cannot avoid religion; they have to come into it, because poetry leads to a certain point, and beyond that is religion. If you persist in being a poet, you will become religious. You can remain a poet only if you have not travelled the whole extent of it. So only small poets can remain poets: great poets are bound to move into religion. You cannot escape it, because a certain point comes where the poetry ends and religion begins. If you follow up to that extent, where will you go? At that moment poetry converts itself into religion. One has to follow.
The same thing happens to a logician, to a scientist, but in a different way. With a scientist also, if he persists, goes on and on and on, there comes a moment where he feels there is a cul-de-sac, the road moves nowhere. Now there comes an abyss, there is no more road ahead.
It is different with a poet: there is a road ahead, but now it is no longer of poetry. His road automatically converts into the road of religion. But for a scientist, a logician, or a philosopher, it happens in a different way. He comes to a cul-de-sac, the road simply ends. It goes no further, there is no road, just a precipice, an abyss.
This happened to Albert Einstein in his last days. It can happen only to the greatest. The lesser minds on e same road never reach to the cul-de-sac point. They die somewhere on the road believing that the road was leading somewhere, because there was still road ahead of them. The conversion happens only to the greatest. In the last days of Albert Einstein's life, he started feeling that his whole life had been a wastage. Somebody asked him, "If you are born again, what would you like to be?" He said, "Never again a scientist. I would rather be a plumber, but never again a scientist. Finished!" In the last days, he started thinking about God, or the ultimate meaning of life, the mystery of mysteries, and he said, "The more I penetrated into the mystery of existence, the more and more I felt that the mystery is eternal, unending, infinite. The more I came to know, the less I became certain about my knowledge."
The mystery is vast, it cannot be exhausted. This is what a concept of God is: the mysterious, the vast, that which cannot be exhausted. You can know, and know, and know, and still it remains unknown. You move into it, and go in, and in, and in, and still you are moving on the periphery. You go on dropping into it, but there is no bottom to it. You can never exactly reach to the center of the mystery. The moment never comes when you can say: I have known all. Nobody has said that, except fools. A wise man starts feeling more and more ignorant, only fools gather a few things from here and there, and start thinking that they know. Only fools are knowers, claimers of knowledge.
Even in a scientific search the moment comes when the road leads nowhere. Then, suddenly, there is a jump. A poet can move into religion without any jump, he can simply slip, the roads are linked together. But a scientist has to take a jump: a total about-turn, three hundred and sixty degrees. He has to go completely upside down, inside out, outside in. But a poet can simply slip, like a snake slipping out of his old skin. That's why I say that poetry is closer to religion.
This man, Ninagawa, must have been a very, very great poet; hence he became interested in Zen, meditation.
If poetry does not lead you to meditation, it is not poetry. At the most, it may be a clever composition of words, but there will be no poetry in it. You may be a good linguist, a good composer, a good grammarian, one who knows all the rules about how to write poetry, but you are not a poet -- because poetry in its deepest core is meditative.
A poet is not a composer: a poet is a visionary. He doesn't compose, the poetry happens to him in certain moments -- those moments are of meditation. In fact, when the poet is not, then the poetry happens. When the poet is completely absent, suddenly he is filled with something unknown, unasked for; suddenly something of the unknown has entered into him, a fresh breeze has come into his house. Now he has to translate this fresh breeze into language -- he is not a composer, he is a translator. A poet is a translator: something happens inside his being and he translates it into language, into words. Something wordless stirs within. It is more like a feeling, and less like a thought. It is less in the head, and more in the heart.
A poet is very courageous. To live with the heart takes the deepest courage. The word'courage' is very interesting It comes from a Latin root COR, which means the heart. The word courage comes from the root'cor'. Cor means the heart -- so to be courageous means to live with the heart. And weaklings, only weaklings, live with the head; afraid, they created a security of logic around them; fearful, they close every window and door with theology, concepts, words, theories -- and inside them they hide.
The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown; it is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths: life is dangerous and only cowards can avoid the danger. But then, they are already dead. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to take the risk, the heart is a gambler, the head is a businessman. The head always calculates -- it is cunning. The heart is non-calculating.
This English word'courage' is beautiful, very interesting. To live through the heart is the meaning: a poet lives through the heart. And, by and by, in the heart he starts listening to the sounds of the unknown. The head cannot listen; it is very far away from the unknown. The head is filled with the known.
What is your mind? It is all that you have known. It is the past, the dead, that which has gone. Mind is nothing but the accumulated past, the memory. Heart is the future, heart is always the hope, heart is always somewhere in the future. Head thinks about the past; heart dreams about the future.
And I tell you that the present is nearer to the future than to the past. That's why I say that the poet is nearer to religion. Philosophy, logic metaphysics, theology, science, all belong to the past, the known; poetry, music, dance, art -- all the arts -- belong to the future.
Religion belongs to the present, and I tell you that the future is nearer to the present than to the past, because the past is already gone. The future is to come. The future is yet to be. The future has yet the possibility. It will come; it is already coming Every moment it is becoming the present, and the present is becoming the past. The past has no possibility, it has been used. You have already moved away from it -- it is exhausted, it is a dead thing, it is like a grave. The future is like a seed; it is coming, ever coming, always reaching and meeting with the present. You are always moving. The present is nothing but a movement into the future; it is already the step that you have taken; it is going into the future. Poetry is concerned with possibility, hope, drams; it is nearer.
This man, Ninagawa, must have been a great poet. Why do I say he must have been a great poet? -- I have not read his poetry, I don't know what he wrote. But I say he must have been a great poet, because he became interested in Zen. And not only that -- he DESIRED TO BECOME A DISCIPLE OF THE REMARKABLE MASTER, IKKYU.
To be interested in Zen is not enough unless you become a disciple. To be interested in religion is not enough -- it is good, but it doesn't go very far. Interest remains a curiosity, interest remains mental, unless you take a jump into commitment, unless you become a disciple.
To become a disciple is a great decision. It is no ordinary decision, it is a very difficult, almost impossible decision. I always say that to become a disciple is the most impossible revolution. Because how can one trust another? How can one leave his life in the hands of another? It is the most impossible revolution, but it happens, and when it happens, it is beautiful, there is nothing like it. But only those who are very courageous, almost daredevils, only they can take the step. It is not for cowards. It is not for head-oriented people. It is for those who live in the heart, for those who have courage, for those who can risk. This is the greatest gamble ever because you risk your total life, you give yourself to somebody. You don't know who he is, you cannot know. You may feel certain things, but you can never be certain about the master. Always a doubt remains. In spite of the doubt, one has to take the jump. The doubt cannot be satisfied. No. You can hide it, but you cannot convince the doubting part -- how can you convince it? You have to be with the master, only then will the doubt disappear. Before it is not possible. Only experience will help it to disappear. So how can you convince it?
The mind always hesitates. People come to me and they say that they are hesitating, they are fifty-fifty, what to do? Should they wait? If they wait, they can wait forever, because if they think that they will take the jump only when the mind is a hundred percent certain, convinced, then they will never take it. Because the mind can never be a hundred percent for something -- that is the nature of the mind. It is always divided, fragmented; t can never to total. That is the difference between heart and mind. Heart is always total, mind is always divided. Mind is the division of your being: heart is the undivided being.
Discipleship is of the heart. The mind goes on rambling and talking and doubting and being suspicious. In spite of that, in spite of the chattering mind, one takes the jump. I say "in spite of that". That is the only way -- you simply don't listen to the mind. You simply move beneath the mind, reach the heart, and ask the heart. Discipleship is like love, it is not like a business partnership. It is not a bargain. You simply give, without knowing whether something is going to happen or not. Whether you will receive anything back, you don't know. You simply give. That's why it is courage.
He was not only interested in Zen, he was a devotee. He loved it. Interest, curiosity, enquiry, is of the mind, devotion is of the heart.
... DESIRED TO BECOME A DISCIPLE. What is becoming a disciple? What does it mean? It means: I have tried, and failed; I have searched and couldn't find; I have done all that I could do, and I have remained the same. No transformation has happened to me. So I surrender. Now, the master will be the deciding factor, no me. I will simply follow him like a shadow. Whatsoever he ways I will do. I will not ask for proofs. I will not ask that he should first convince me. I will not argue, I will simply follow -- in deep trust.
The mind may still go on about: "What are you doing? This is not good. This will not lead anywhere, this is foolish, this is mad." The mind will go on saying this, but, once you have taken the decision to be a disciple, you don't listen to the mind, you listen to the master. Up to now you have listened to your own mind, the ego, from now onwards, you will listen to the master, now the master will be your mind. This is the meaning of discipleship: you will put yourself aside and allow the master to penetrate into the deepest core of your being. You are no more. Now only the master is. To be a disciple means to be a shadow, to put your ego completely aside.

HE CALLED UPON IKKYU, AND THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE TOOK PLACE AT THE TEMPLE ENTRANCE.
Zen stories are very, very meaningful: no word is there unnecessarily, not even a single word.
... THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE TOOK PLACE AT THE TEMPLE ENTRANCE. First, the word 'dialogue'. Dialogue is not just talking, it is not discussing, it is not arguing, it is not a debate. A dialogue has a different quality. A dialogue is the meeting of two beings, meeting in love, trying to understand each other. Not trying to argue, not trying to discuss -- just a very sympathetic attitude. Dialogue is participating in the being of the other: two friends or two lovers talking with no antagonism inside, with no effort to prove yourself right, and the other wrong.
That happens while you are talking with people -- you go on and on in subtle ways, trying to prove that you are right. And the other goes on trying to prove that he is right. Then dialogue is not possible. Dialogue means trying to understand the other with an open mind. Dialogue is a rare phenomenon and it is beautiful, because both are enriched through a dialogue. In fact, while you talk, either it can be a discussion -- both opposite to each other, a verbal fight, trying to prove that I am right and you are wrong -- or a dialogue, which is different. Dialogue is not posing against each other, but taking each other's hand, moving together towards the truth, helping each other to find the way. It is togetherness, it is a cooperation, it is a harmonious effort to find the truth. It is not in any way a fight, not at all. It is a friendship, moving together to find the truth, helping each other to find the truth. Nobody has the truth already, but when two persons start finding out, enquiring about the truth together, that is dialogue -- and both are enriched. And when truth is found, it is neither of me, nor of you. When truth is found, it is greater than both who participated in the enquiry, it is higher than both, it surrounds both -- and both are enriched.
Dialogue is the beginning between a master and a disciple; and it must happen at the entrance, otherwise going into the temple is not possible. Hence the words "at the entrance" -- it must happen at the gate. The first thing is the dialogue: if it doesn't happen, then there is no possibility of any disciplehood. Then Ikkyu would have said good-bye, at the very entrance, because there would be no need to invite the person into the temple, there would be no meaning in it. So sitting at the entrance, just sitting on the steps, this dialogue happened.
Ikkyu tried to feel the man. He had to feel the man, the potentiality, the possibility, the attitude. How deep was the enquiry? How deep was the urge to enquire? Was it just a curiosity? Was he just a philosopher, or really a devotee? Ikkyu was just trying to feel his being, and Ninagawa allowed it, he participated in it. He didn't become scared, he didn't try to defend, he didn't try to pretend to be something which he was not. He opened his heart to this man completely. He allowed this man to enter in him, to feel, because that's how a master has to decide whether you have come here accidentally, or you have really come.
The coming can be accidental -- somebody told you and you were passing by the road so you said, "Okay, there is time enough to go to the movie. Let us go and see who this master is."
If it is accidental then it is better to end the relationship at the entrance, because it will lead nowhere. If the mind is argumentative, if the mind is too filled with its own ideas, then you can become a student, but not a disciple. And a master is not a teacher, he is not in search of students, he is not running a school. He is creating a temple of the heart, he is making a shrine; he is bringing a holy, sacred phenomenon to the earth.
Ikkyu had to feel, and he felt him very deeply, and the man proved his mettle, he was authentic. He didn't react, he responded to the master, and whatsoever the master asked, he gave a total response to it. Those responses are beautiful, move slowly.
HE CALLED UPON IKKYU, AND THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE TOOK PLACE AT THE TEMPLE ENTRANCE.
IKKYU: WHO ARE YOU?
That is going to be the whole search. "Who am I?" is all that religion is about. If you already know who you are, then there is no need to bother Or, if in your ignorance you have become identified with the name and the form, too identified, too filled with your name and form, then, too, you are not yet mature enough for a master like Ikkyu to accept you. You have to go to a lesser master, in fact, to a teacher who will teach you that you are not the name, and you are not the form, and you are not the body, and this and that, and create a philosophical soil into which a master can throw the seed. You need to go to some teacher. So the first thing Ikkyu asked was, "Who are you?"
Ninagawa said: A DEVOTEE OF BUDDHISM.
A very, very humble attitude -- non-claiming. He didn't say his name, that "I am Ninagawa -- you don't know? Have you not heard about the greatest poet in the country? Don't you read newspapers? What nonsense are you asking: Who are you? Everybody knows in the country, even the emperor."
Poets are very, very egoistical people. Poets, writers, novelists -- all have very crystallized egos. You cannot find more egoistical people than literary people. It is very difficult to have any dialogue with them. They already know. They can teach you, but they cannot be taught. Just because they can compose a few lines, just because they can write an article, or a novel, or a story, they start feeling very much that they are somebodies. In fact, a real poet will have no ego -- if a poet has a very crystallized ego, he is not a poet at all. Because he has learned nothing out of his poetry, he has not even learned this basic truth: that poetry descends only when you are not. So he must be composing, he must be doing something. Poetry can be a technique, so he may be a technician, but he is not a poet. He may be able to arrange beautiful words, in rhythm, he may follow all the rules, he may be perfect -- but he is not a poet. He may be clever, technically right, but deep inside, if the ego is still there, he does not know what poetry is, because poetry happens only when you are not. In fact, a great poet will not claim that he is the creator of this poetry. How can he claim it? He was not when it happened.
It happened that when Coleridge -- one of the greatest poets -- died, he left almost forty thousand pieces incomplete. He would start a poem, write three lines, and then stop. Years would pass, and then suddenly one day he would add two more lines, then stop. Forty thousand incomplete poems! Just before he died, somebody asked, "What have you been doing? These are such beautiful things, why don't you complete them?" He said, "How can I complete them? I never wrote them, they came. When they come, they come; when they don't come, they don't come. What can I do? They cannot be pulled, they cannot be forced to come. I don't know from where they come: out of the blue a line descends. Sometimes the whole poem comes in succession, sometimes not, and nothing can be done because I don't know from where they come. In fact, when they come I am not. I am so dazed, I become just a void. So how can I complete them?"
That's why ancient poems exist without any signature. Nobody knows who wrote them. Who wrote the Upanishads, the greatest of poems -- who wrote them, nobody knows. The authors never signed them, they never signed them because they felt so humble. They were not the makers, not the creators.
When Ninagawa was asked, "Who are you?" if he had been just like other poets, ordinary poets and writers and authors, too filled with their own egos, he would have said something like, "You don't know that I am a Nobel Laureate, a Nobel Prize winner, and that the emperor has praised me and appointed me as the royal poet?" No, Ninagawa said: A DEVOTEE OF BUDDHISM. He didn't talk about poetry, he didn't talk about his famous name, he didn't talk about himself at all. He simply said: A DEVOTEE OF BUDDHISM -- a devotee of Buddha. A devotee -- that showed that he was there because of his heart, because of his love. He was there not because of his reasoning, he was there because of his feeling. Just a devotee.
IKKYU: YOU ARE FROM?
NINAGAWA: YOUR REGION.
A beautiful metaphor. In fact he was from the region, from the same part of the country, from where Ikkyu came. But he was not talking about that. He was talking about the inner region, the inner search: "Maybe you are far ahead, maybe you have reached, and I am just a beginner, but I belong to the same region, the search is the same. I am a fellow traveller." Once your heart is filled with the urge to know the truth, you become a fellow traveller of all the Buddhas. They have reached: you will reach. Maybe it will take many, many lives, but that makes no difference -- you have started on the path. You may be just at the beginning, but now you are a fellow traveller.
Says Ninagawa: YOUR REGION.
I belong to the same part of the world to which you belong. IKKYU: AH. AND WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE THESE DAYS?
He goes on poking at him, provoking him, maybe he is just a pretender trying to deceive, saying beautiful things learned somewhere, borrowed. He may have been a scholar of Zen classics where such dialogues are given. But he cannot escape Ikkyu. If he is a pretender, he will fall somewhere or other.
AH. AND WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE THESE DAYS?
Ikkyu brings him back and back. He understands what Ninagawa is saying, what he means by "your region", but he doesn't allow it for a moment. So he says, "What is happening there these days? Who has become the prime minister there? Whose wife has moved with whom? Some rumor, some gossip; what is happening there? Some events must have taken place -- somebody died, somebody got married. Events -- what is happening there?"
NINAGAWA: THE CROWS CAW, THE SPARROWS TWITTER.
Prime ministers, ministers, and their world, politics, the market, economics, are not real history. They are just accidents; they happen on the periphery. They are not part of eternity, they happen in time. What is eternal is the only news for those who know, and what is accidental is the only news for those who don't know.
NINAGAWA: THE CROWD CAW, THE SPARROWS TWITTER.
This is the eternal news, which has always been happening and is happening still. Summer and winter, nature flows, and clouds come and go. This is eternity. In the morning the sun rises, and in the evening the sun sets, still. And in the night there are stars in the sky with their subtle music. This is all. That is the real news. The crows don't bother who has become the prime minister, and the sparrows don't pay a single, a single bit of attention to the world of events. Only man is filled with this junk.

Henry Ford has said, "History is bunk." It is rare for something like this to come from a very rich man, but it is true. What does it matter whether Napoleon wins or is defeated? Who rules? The eternal moves, not even aware that these things are happening. What is Ninagawa saying? He is saying it is always the same; THE CROWS CAW, THE SPARROWS TWITTER.

AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE NOW?
Ikkyu's hard -- from another dimension he attacks.
AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE NOW?
NINAGAWA: IN A FIELD DYED DEEP VIOLET.
The temple was known as the violet field, Murasakino.
IKKYU: WHY?
Why do you call it that? You are in a field dyed deep violet. Why do you call it DYED DEEP VIOLET?
NINAGAWA: MISCANTHUS, MORNING GLORIES, SAFFLOWERS, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, ASTERS.
Flowers all over. Ninagawa doesn't say that this was the name of the temple -- violet field. Names belong to the memory, to the past, and the master was asking about the now. And now, all over, all around are flowers:
MISCANTHUS, MORNING GLORIES, SAFFLOWERS, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, ASTERS.
They were giving the whole place a deep violet color. When Ikkyu asked about the now, Ninagawa talked about the now.
Ikkyu is really impossible; he won't relax. He asks:
AND AFTER THEY'RE GONE?
These flowers are here now, okay, so you call it a deep violet color, a violet field. But soon these flowers will be gone, then what will you call it, after they are gone?
NINAGAWA: IT IS MIYAGINO -- THE FIELD OF AUTUMN FLOWERING.
This is to be understood. Clouds come and go -- these are two aspects of the same coin. Flowers flower, then disappear -- these are also two aspects of the same phenomenon. Absence and presence are not opposite: they are two aspects of the same thing. Now there are flowers, so it is called the violet field, and when the flowers are gone people will say that this is the field of the absence of these autumn flowers. It will still be the violet field, but from the other side, the absence.
It happened once that a Zen master loved his mother very much. In fact, before he became a Zen disciple, his father died. He wanted to become a Zen monk, but his mother said, "I am poor, and I am alone, and your father is dead." So he said, "Don't worry. Even when I become a monk, I will be your son and you will be my mother. I am not renouncing, you are not losing anything." So the mother allowed him to become a monk.
He loved the mother very much. He would go to the market to purchase things for her, and people would laugh. They would say, "We have never seen a monk purchasing things." Buddhist monks simply beg; and not only would he not be begging, he would be purchasing meat and fish, and people would simply ridicule him. This was too much.
Of course he was buying these things for his mother, not for himself; she liked them and she was not a nun or a religious person. Then the mother, seeing that people laughed, that the whole town laughed about a monk purchasing fish, became a vegetarian. And because people laughed about him purchasing things, she said, "Don't go. I will purchase them myself." He continued to be a devoted son.
Then one day he went to preach somewhere and the mother died when he was not there. He came just in time; the dead body was there and people were getting ready to take it to the cemetery.
He came near the body and said, "Mother, so you have left?" And he himself replied, "Yes, son, I have left the body." Then he said, "Don't be too worried, because soon I will also be leaving the body." Then he replied, from the mother's side, "Good, I will wait for you." And then he told the people, "I have said good-bye to my mother. The dialogue is over. The funeral is over. Now you can take the dead body." Somebody asked, "We cannot follow, what is the matter? To whom were you talking?" He said, "To the absence of my mother, because that is another aspect of her being." They asked, "But why were you answering?" He said, "Because she could not answer, so I had to do both. Absence cannot answer, so I had to answer from her side. But she is there, as she was before, only now she is in her absent aspect."
So when Ikkyu asked: AND AFTER THEY ARE GONE?
Ninagawa said: IT IS MIYAGINO -- THE FIELD OF AUTUMN FLOWERING. It is the same field, but in an absent aspect. Manifested or unmanifested, being or non-being, life or death, are two aspects of the same phenomenon. There is nothing to choose, and those who choose are stupid, and unnecessarily fall into suffering. Now amazed, Ikkyu asked the last question:
WHAT HAPPENS IN THAT FIELD -- when flowers are gone?
NINAGAWA: THE STREAM FLOWS THROUGH, THE WIND SWEEPS OVER. AMAZED AT NINAGAWA'S ZEN-LIKE SPEECH, IKKYU LED HIM TO HIS ROOM AND SERVED HIM TEA.
Remember, it is Zen-like, but it is not exactly Zen. He is a poet, and a very great poet of deep understanding, but the highest of poetry is just the beginning of Zen, the beginning of religion.
It is Zen-like stuff. He understands, he has a certain glimpse, he is open, he feels, he has groped in the dark and he knows a certain quality; through his own enquiry he has stumbled upon it. But still it is just a glimpse. Sometimes it can happen -- a dark night, a sudden lightning, and you have a glimpse. Then again there is darkness. This is what happens to the greatest poet: he is just on the boundary line from where he can have glimpses of the beyond. But they are glimpses. They are Zen-like.
When will they become Zen? They will become Zen only when they are no longer glimpses, but have become your very being. Then you live in them from moment to moment, they don't come and go. They have simply become your innermost being, the way you are. It is not like lightning, it is full noontide, it is day; the sun is high in the sky and remains there; there is no possibility of darkness coming again. It is not a glimpse, it has become part of you, you carry it wherever you go. The inner light is burning now -- you don't depend on accidents, you have settled in it, it has become your home.
Trying to reach reality through the head is just like someone trying to see through the ears. It is not possible. Ears can hear, but cannot see. Trying to reach reality through the heart is like trying to see with the hands. The hands cannot see, but they can still give a glimpse of what seeing can be.
A blind person, if he loves a woman, touches her face, feels the curves, touches the body, feels the roundness, the warmth and the marble-like texture, then through the hands comes a certain glimpse of seeing. Hands can give you a certain glimpse of seeing, not exactly seeing because how can hands see? They can only grope. But when you touch a face with closed eyes, you can feel the curves, the nose, the eyes, the way the face is.
A poet is like a hand, he feels the nature of reality with his hands. Certain glimpses come to him, Zen-like. And a real man of Zen is like eyes, he is not groping, he has no need to touch with the hand -- he can see.
AMAZED AT NINAGAWA'S ZEN-LIKE SPEECH, IKKYU LED HIM TO HIS ROOM AND SERVED HIM TEA. These are symbols showing that you are allowed -- come nearer and closer.
... AND SERVED HIM TEA. Tea is a Zen symbol which means awareness, because tea makes you more alert, more aware. Tea was invented by Buddhists and for centuries they have used tea as a help in meditation. And tea is helpful. If you take a cup of tea, strong, and then sit in meditation for at lest one hour you will not feel sleepy, and you can remain aware. Otherwise, whenever you feel silent, and sit relaxed, sleep comes. To avoid sleep, tea has helped.
The story is that Bodhidharma was meditating on a certain mountain in China called "Ta". From that "Ta" comes the name "tea". That mountain can be pronounced as "Ta", or "Cha"; that's why in India tea is called CHAI, or CHA.
Bodhidharma was meditating, he was really a great meditator. He liked to meditate for eighteen hours, but it was difficult. He would feel sleepy again and again, and his eyelids would drop, again and again. So he cut off his eyelids and threw them away, now there was no possibility of closing the eyes. The story is beautiful -- those eyelids became the first seeds of tea, and a certain plant came out of them. Bodhidharma prepared the first tea in the world out of the plants, and he was amazed to find that if you took the leaves and drank them, you could remain alert for longer periods. So for centuries Zen people have been drinking tea, and tea has become a very, very sacred thing.
When a Zen master serves tea, it is a metaphor. He is saying: Be more aware. You are on the right path, he says to Ninagawa, you are on the right path, but you are walking a little sleepily. You have found the direction, now move in the same direction. Soon your Zen-like being will become Zen, but you will need to be more aware.
AMAZED AT NINAGAWA'S ZEN-LIKE SPEECH, IKKYU LED HIM TO HIS ROOM AND SERVED HIM TEA.
He is serving awareness, a cup full of awareness. It is a symbol to indicate that he should become more aware, that's all that he needs.
THEN IKKYU SPOKE THIS IMPROMPTU VERSE:
I WANT TO SERVE
YOU DELICACIES.
ALAS! THE ZEN SECT
CAN OFFER NOTHING.
It has two meanings. The ordinary meaning is that in the Zen sect delicacies are not allowed. Very simple food is allowed; rice, a few vegetables, tea -- no delicacies. So the first, the ordinary meaning is:
I WANT TO SERVE
YOU DELICACIES.
ALAS! THE ZEN SECT
CAN OFFER NOTHING.
This is the last effort of Ikkyu to penetrate him to the deepest core, to see whether he can understand the meaning or not.
The second meaning is:
I WANT TO SERVE
YOU DELICACIES
ALAS! THE ZEN SECT
CAN OFFER...
ONLY NOTHING.
I can offer nothing. It can mean: I cannot offer anything, or it can mean: I can offer you only nothing. Then nothing is offered. Awareness and nothingness are two aspects of the same thing. The more you become aware, the more you feel being nothing.
So first Ikkyu served tea to say: Become aware. Then he says, "Alas! I cannot offer anything -- except nothing."
This is the last net thrown by the master. After he had given the tea, if Ninagawa had been a pretender, he would have relaxed. He would have thought, "I am accepted. The master has led me to his tea-room, offered me tea, served me tea. I am relaxed." After taking tea he would have relaxed, because you cannot pretend for long. Pretension is such a strain that one relaxes. And when the master has served and given you tea, now there is no need to pretend, everything is finished. So it was the last trap.
Ninagawa replied:
THE MIND WHICH TREATS ME
TO NOTHING IS THE ORIGINAL VOID --
A DELICACY OF DELICACIES.
No. He had a really Zen-like understanding, he was not a mere poet. Something of the real poetry of existence had happened to him. He could immediately understand. He could be immediate and he could respond. He said:
THE MIND WHICH TREATS ME
TO NOTHING IS THE ORIGINAL VOID --
A DELICACY OF DELICACIES.
Nothing is the delicacy of delicacies -- more than that cannot be offered. That is the last delicacy, the last taste of existence itself. It is as if you have eaten God himself -- the delicacy of delicacies.
DEEPLY MOVED, THE MASTER SAID: MY SON, YOU HAVE LEARNED MUCH.
This learning is not knowledge. Zen makes a difference between learning and knowledge, let me explain it to you. Knowledge is borrowed: learning is yours. Knowledge is through words, language, concepts: learning is through experience. Knowledge is always finished: you know it, it is complete. Learning is never complete, it is always on the way. Learning is a process -- one goes on and on and on, to the very last moment one goes on learning. Knowledge stops somewhere, and becomes the ego. Learning never stops, it remains humbleness. Knowledge is borrowed: you cannot deceive a master by your knowledge, because your words will be just on the surface; deep down your being will show. Your words cannot hide you. For a master your words are transparent. Whatsoever you show that you know he can always see behind to what is really there. This man would have been caught by Ikkyu if he had been a man of knowledge. But no, he was really a man of learning: he had learned, he was not pretending. Through many experiences of life, existence, he had learned much.
MY SON, SAID IKKYU, YOU HAVE LEARNED MUCH.
And this is very much from a Zen master, because they are very miserly about saying such things. When a Zen master says such a thing he means it. And he can say such a thing only when he is really moved, when he really feels the authentic. Only then, otherwise not.
Look into this story, and feel yourself parallel to it. Have you learned, or have you only gathered knowledge? Let it become a very fundamental law: don't react through knowledge, react -- that is, respond -- spontaneously. Only then will you be closer and closer to me, and only then, one day, can I lead you in and serve you tea. Otherwise you can just be physically closer to me and that won't help. I have to serve awareness to you and I have to give you the delicacy of delicacies -- nothingness.

 

 

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