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Chapter 7: Nothingness is your original face

 

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OUR BELOVED MASTER,
BANKEI SAID:
WHAT I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IS NOTHING SPECIAL; IT'S THE UNBORN, ENLIGHTENED, NO-MIND INNATE IN EVERYONE. WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
WHILE YOU ARE ALL HERE LISTENING TO MY SERMON, WHEN A DOG BARKS OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE, YOU KNOW IT IS A DOG, AND WHEN A CROW CAWS, YOU KNOW IT IS A CROW. AND ALSO YOU CAN DISTINGUISH THE COLORS BLACK AND WHITE, AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.
EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE NOT THINKING ABOUT HEARING DOGS AND CROWS, OR SEEING BLACK, WHITE, MEN OR WOMEN DURING THE TALK; NONETHELESS, RIGHT HERE YOU CAN SEE AND HEAR THEM ALL, BEFORE CONCEPTUALLY DISCRIMINATING THEM. THEN EVEN IF A THOUSAND OR TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE SHOULD TELL SOMEONE THAT A DOG'S BARK IS A CROW'S CAW, THAT PERSON WOULD HARDLY BE DECEIVED BY THEM.
ISN'T THIS ENLIGHTENED NO-MIND, WITH ITS INCONCEIVABLE QUALITIES OF CLEAR AWARENESS, SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR?
BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT EVERYONE HAS SUCH WONDERFUL QUALITIES AND POWERS, THEY GET CONFUSED BY ONE THING AND ANOTHER. THAT CONFUSION ULTIMATELY ARISES FROM SELF-IMPORTANCE.
SELF-IMPORTANCE MEANS, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT YOU GET ANGRY AND UPSET WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR NEIGHBOR CRITICIZE YOU, AND ONLY DISLIKE AND MALTREAT THAT PERSON. ALSO, WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR NEIGHBOR PRAISE YOU, YOU THINK WELL OF THAT PERSON, AND ACT NICELY; THIS TOO IS BECAUSE OF SELF-IMPORTANCE.
CONSIDERING THE ROOT SOURCE OF THIS SELF-IMPORTANCE, WHEN PEOPLE ARE BORN THEY HAVE NO BAD THOUGHTS OF HATRED OR LIKING FOR ANYONE. IT IS JUST THAT, AS THEY GROW UP, THEY LEARN AND CULTIVATE VARIOUS BAD THINGS AND BAD THOUGHTS BY SEEING AND HEARING THEM, PILING THEM UP INTO MENTAL HABITS. ALWAYS PUTTING THESE MENTAL HABITS TO USE, VARIOUS KINDS OF CONFUSION AND ERROR BEGIN.

Maneesha, before I discuss the very important man of Zen, Bankei, and his remarkable statements, I have to introduce Avirbhava's new gods for the museum. Before I do it, I will say something to you about insects, which are worshipped by many people as gods.
This museum is going to be a hilarious phenomenon. It is going to be a mirror for you of what humanity has been doing -- its priests, its so-called wise men, all driving humanity into different directions of stupidity. But when religious garbage is poured on anything, poor people, the poor masses believe in it. And this is not only in the ancient world; man has worshipped almost anything, and is still worshipping almost anything, without considering at all that it is very undignified, that you are destroying your own humanity.
My researchers have found that certain creatures of various insect species have been considered to be expressions of God since the earliest times.
"According to the legends of the Teton Indians in America, the spider was the first creature in life to attain maturity. Particularly the grey spiders were heralded as the patron saints of traveling. The Indians would stomp on a spider before setting out on the trail and pray to its spirit for a safe journey."
A good idea! Released from the body, now the spirit can guide.
I have told you before that there is a species of spiders: when the male and female spiders are making love, the male spider becomes so drunk, so orgasmic, his long legs trembling... and the female spider starts eating him. By the time his orgasm is finished, he is finished.
Somebody has informed me that there is another spider which is a little more intelligent. First he brings a fly as a present to the girlfriend, so while he is making love, she is eating the fly -- just to save his own life. She has to eat something. Certainly it is an intelligent step.
You also bring ice cream and roses and sweets and chocolates; the reason is the same. If you don't give the woman something to eat, she will eat you! Just let her chew something and she will not chew you.
"These spiders have also been considered to be incarnations of the spirit of fertility in certain primitive societies, including those of Polynesia and the Philippines.
Butterflies were worshipped as family gods in Samoa, and were considered to be the incarnations of the bushman god, Kay-gon.
Beetles have been considered holy since ancient times. In Egypt, the scarab, or dung beetle, was worshipped as a direct descendant of the god Ra. Ra is the greatest god of the Egyptian religion" and his direct descendant is the dung beetle!
"Even today, in Southern Africa, the Hottentots sacrifice live sheep and cows to the glorious beetle."
But remember also that in India, in the times of the RIGVEDAS, horses were sacrificed, cows were sacrificed, even man was sacrificed to please the gods. And who are the gods? Somebody is a monkey, somebody is an elephant... and man is sacrificed, killed and eaten by the priest as a prasad, as the god's gift. And this is being done to praise the gods so they don't become angry.
Before I ask Avirbhava to bring her new additions to the museum, a little joke:

Two cockroaches, Clod and Crunch, are enjoying dinner on a pile of garbage in Poona.
"Do you know," says Clod, "that they have just built a new apartment building on Burning Ghats Road?"
"Really?" says Crunch, munching on an old banana peel.
"Yes," says Clod, "and the kitchen is so clean there is not a speck of dust anywhere. In the refrigerator everything is spotless. In fact, there is not a crumb of dirt in the whole place."
"Please, please!" says Crunch, spitting out his banana peel, "not while I'm eating!"

Okay, Avirbhava, bring your things.

(THREE HUGE BUTTERFLIES START DANCING AROUND THE PODIUM, HUMMING WILDLY. A LARGE MOTH FLIES UP TO THE ROOF OF THE AUDITORIUM, WHILE A SPIDER AND A CATERPILLAR PARADE PAST.
THE MASTER IS CHUCKLING IN HIS CHAIR, AND EVERYONE IS GOING CRAZY WITH LAUGHTER, ENJOYING THE SHOW TREMENDOUSLY.)
BANKEI SAID:
WHAT I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IS NOTHING SPECIAL.
That makes it special, because ordinarily people who are saying ordinary things think that they are very special. Only a man who has attained to buddhahood can make such a statement: WHAT I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IS NOTHING SPECIAL; it is just simple and ordinary. The desire to be special is the desire of the ignorant; the desire to be simple is the desire of the conscious. It is only the unconscious mind which creates the ego of being special. When the unconscious mind is gone, everything simply is. There is nothing extraordinary in it.
He is saying, IT'S THE UNBORN, ENLIGHTENED, NO-MIND INNATE IN EVERYONE.
Whatever I am saying is to provoke the sleeping buddha in everyone. It is everyone's inherent nature -- how can it be special? It is another matter that millions have decided never to look in; that is why we have very few buddhas in the world. But even then, it does not become a special thing.
Those who are closing their eyes, keeping their backs towards themselves, can turn in a single moment. In a single moment the whole world can become a buddhafield.
WHILE YOU ARE ALL HERE LISTENING TO MY SERMON, WHEN A DOG BARKS OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE, YOU KNOW IT IS A DOG, AND WHEN A CROW CAWS, YOU KNOW IT IS A CROW. AND ALSO YOU CAN DISTINGUISH THE COLORS BLACK AND WHITE, AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.
EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE NOT THINKING ABOUT HEARING DOGS OR CROWS, OR SEEING BLACK, WHITE, MEN OR WOMEN DURING THE TALK; NONETHELESS, RIGHT HERE YOU CAN SEE AND HEAR THEM ALL, BEFORE CONCEPTUALLY DISCRIMINATING THEM. THEN EVEN IF A THOUSAND OR TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE SHOULD TELL SOMEONE THAT A DOG'S BARK IS A CROW'S CAW, THAT PERSON WOULD HARDLY BE DECEIVED BY THEM.
What he is saying is that one who has known his buddhahood, even if ten thousand people try to convince him that it is not so, he cannot be convinced. It is indubitably certain for him that his self-nature is eternal and ultimate.
But the point is that it should not be a belief, it should be an experience. If it is only a belief, then anybody can criticize it: a better argument, a better intelligence, can destroy it completely. But if it is your experience then the whole world can be on one side, and still you will say that "I am experiencing it, hence it does not matter how many people are against me. No argumentation can destroy my confidence in my own experience."
Philosophy is more concerned with argument, and following philosophy, religions have created theology; that is the argument for God. That is exactly the meaning of theology: logic for God. But nobody has ever been able to prove the existence of God logically. Great treatises and very intelligent people have been involved in it.
Zen has never made any theology or any philosophy. It is an existential approach, not intellectual; you have to experience it, no belief is needed. Once you know it, no argument can destroy it. Knowing is very simple, getting from mind to no-mind is within your reach. Becoming a witness of your thoughts is the simplest thing in the world, even without knowing you are witnessing them. When you say, "I am feeling anger," what do you mean? If you don't witness anger, then how can you say, "I am feeling anger," or "I am feeling a headache?" Who is feeling the headache? There must be a witness beyond the head. There must be a witness beyond all your feelings -- love, anger, hate -- beyond all your thoughts, beyond all your beliefs. This witness is simply the miracle of Zen.
Zen has pointed to the very central fact that transforms man and brings him into a totally new world of eternity where death does not exist, where misery has never been heard of, where suffering is unknown. On the contrary there are only blessings; there is only blissfulness, only benediction, and a tremendous gratitude as a prayer to the whole existence in thankfulness.
ISN'T THIS ENLIGHTENED NO-MIND, WITH ITS INCONCEIVABLE QUALITIES OF CLEAR AWARENESS, SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR?
BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT EVERYONE HAS SUCH WONDERFUL QUALITIES AND POWERS, THEY GET CONFUSED BY ONE THING AND ANOTHER. THAT CONFUSION ULTIMATELY ARISES FROM SELF-IMPORTANCE.
All your confusions are arising out of your desire to be important. You try to show that which you are not. You say things which you don't know. You advise people although you don't follow the advice yourself.

Kahlil Gibran has a story: In a big city there were many dogs, and one dog was a philosopher. Rarely does such a disease happen to dogs, but once in a while, for a change, there are exceptions. He continuously preached from morning till night to every dog, "Because of your barking our whole doghood loses its dignity; otherwise we are the highest animals in the world. Just stop barking unnecessarily."
The dogs were always very thankful for his advice, but said, "What to do? A strange urge arises -- seeing a postman, or a sannyasin, or a policeman, anybody in uniform." Dogs are very much against uniforms. They seem to be very free thinkers. They don't want people to be in a crowd, they want everybody to be individual, themselves.
Everybody respected the philosopher dog. He was thought to be the wisest ever born of their species. He never barked. But one night, a dark night, the other dogs decided, "He has been preaching for years and nobody listens; it makes us so ashamed. At least to give him peace, one night we should try to stop barking -- just for one night. It is going to be difficult, but we will hide in dark corners of streets, in dark groves and keep control. It is only a question of a few hours and in the morning we will be free to bark."
The philosopher went around and he could not meet any dog. He could not believe: "Where have all the dogs disappeared to?" And there was such a silence and nobody for him to teach, and suddenly a great urge to bark arose in him. Now he knew why he was not barking -- because from morning to night, all his energy was involved in teaching; there was no time nor energy to bark. And in front of everybody else how could he bark -- against his own philosophy?
But now there were no other dogs, so the question of preaching was not there. Neither was there any witness that he was barking against his own wisdom. So he walked and barked as much as he could, because it was a lifelong repressed feeling. Nobody had ever heard such barking; he went almost crazy. All the dogs of the city who were hiding here and there slowly, slowly gathered by his side. And when they saw that their philosopher himself was barking there was an explosion: thousands of dogs were barking. And for the first time the philosopher felt his humbleness -- that he too is a dog, and he was unnecessarily harassing others and harassing himself.

The religions have done the same to man: they have harassed themselves and their followers into all kinds of self-torture, into all kinds of unnaturalness. They have given them the greed to be great saints. They have given them the greed that they will be a beloved of God if they follow certain principles. Nobody follows! All people have back doors in their lives.
At the front door you will meet one person, and at the back door you will meet somebody else -- at the back door he will be more natural. At the front door or in the sitting room the person is a gentleman, or a lady, hiding everything natural. But Zen wants you to be natural and not split; the front door and back door should not be two doors.
You should have only one face, your own original face. And you should be grateful that nature has given you a tremendous opportunity to be creative, to be loving, to be silent, to be able to know the ultimate source of life. Nothing more can be asked. And everything is so easy if you simply drop your egoistic idea of being special.
SELF-IMPORTANCE MEANS, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT YOU GET ANGRY AND UPSET WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR NEIGHBOR CRITICIZE YOU, AND ONLY DISLIKE AND MALTREAT THE PERSON. ALSO, WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR NEIGHBOR PRAISE YOU, YOU THINK WELL OF THAT PERSON, AND ACT NICELY; THIS TOO IS BECAUSE OF SELF-IMPORTANCE.
A man of simplicity will neither feel gratified by anybody's praise nor will feel angry at anybody's anger. Those are their problems -- why are you unnecessarily taking them? Somebody is angry, he is burning in his own anger, in his own fire -- why do you immediately jump in? Somebody is praising you and you immediately accept it knowing perfectly well that nobody is going to praise you unless he has some purpose. The moment somebody says to you, "You are so beautiful, so intelligent," beware! That person wants to exploit you in some way or other. Otherwise who has time to praise you -- and why?
So whenever somebody says to you, "You are so beautiful," immediately say, "Shut up! It is my problem, not your problem."
Neither accept praise nor accept anger, and just remain attuned to your simplicity.
CONSIDERING THE ROOT SOURCE OF THIS SELF-IMPORTANCE, WHEN PEOPLE ARE BORN THEY HAVE NO BAD THOUGHTS OF HATRED OR LIKING FOR ANYONE. IT IS JUST THAT, AS THEY GROW UP, THEY LEARN AND CULTIVATE VARIOUS BAD THINGS AND BAD THOUGHTS BY SEEING AND HEARING THEM, PILING THEM UP INTO MENTAL HABITS. ALWAYS PUTTING THESE MENTAL HABITS TO USE, VARIOUS KINDS OF CONFUSION AND ERROR BEGIN.
Every child is born a buddha. Then slowly, slowly he starts imitating others; as time passes he forgets his simplicity, his buddhahood. He is lost in the crowd, which is a vast jungle in which he will meet all kinds of people but not a buddha. He will imitate all kinds of people and will not think for a single moment, "Is life just imitation?" And can imitation give you any joy, just being a carbon copy?
Unless you are original, simply yourself, you can never have joy enough to dance and sing, joy enough to be grateful to existence.
But every child is driven into conditioning. You should ask your conditioning what you are doing and why you are doing it. Why are you smoking? -- just because others are smoking. Why, in a hot country, are you wearing a tie? -- because every gentleman...

When I was a professor in the university I was continually amazed. The city I was in was exactly in the center of India, very hot, and the professors were putting on ties and shoes and wearing coats, and perspiring. And I would say, "Who is telling you to do all these things? If you want to perspire, you can go to a sauna bath. But why? To have a twenty-four-hour sauna bath is not good."
But the people who had been ruling India for three hundred years had come from cold countries, and they had brought their habits. And the ruling party becomes an example: whoever is ruling must be right. The British people even living in India never dropped their habits.
Knowing perfectly that this is a hot country, carrying habits which they had cultivated in England is absolutely stupid. Not only did they carry them, but they taught their habits in every school, college and university, to every bureaucrat, to all people in important posts in the government -- and nobody took note that this is a hot country.
One of my friends, a scholar of Tibetan, wanted to go to Tibet. I said, "You will not be able to survive."
He asked, "Why?"
I said, "You are such an orthodox and stupid brahmin" -- both things go together -- "that unless you take a cold bath before sunrise and then do your puja, your worship, you can only then take even a cup of tea. Before taking a bath, you cannot do anything. And do you know that in the Tibetan scriptures it is said that everybody should have a bath at least once a year? And that, too, people don't follow. Who follows scriptures? But when this is written in the scriptures, that means that, all things considered, at least one bath per year is not too much."
He said, "You unnecessarily create confusion. I am completely ready to go."
I said, "I will see you back after three days." And on the third day I received him at the airport. He looked very shy, and I said, "What happened?"
He said, "You were right. It is too cold, and without taking a bath I cannot do my puja, and I cannot even take my breakfast; there is no question of lunch and dinner. The first thing is a bath before sunrise."
Friends in Tibet tried to help him: "This is a different climate, totally different. You are in the land of eternal ice, everything is frozen since eternity. Do you want to kill yourself?"
In three days he had double pneumonia; he rushed back home. He said he would not have reached back alive if he had stayed longer. Scholarship is one thing, but your life...
I said, "It is good. In the morning you had gone wrong, in the evening you have come home. But now learn another lesson: why do you go on wearing the tie and the coat and the hat -- because you are a professor?"
When I went to the university in my lunghi and a shawl, they were so shocked that nobody had the courage even to ask, "What is the matter?" Finally the vice-chancellor called me to his room. He closed the door, because he knew that I might say something which might become troublesome. And he said, "This is too much."
I said, "What is too much? I am being paid for my teaching, not for my clothes. And you cannot decide what I should wear. And if you insist I will not wear anything."
He said, "Wait! Something is good, better than nothing. You can do as you like, but do at least one thing, just to please me -- don't use these wooden sandals, because they disturb the whole university. Wherever you go, for miles it can be heard that you are arriving."
I said, "It is a question of principle; it is a question of religion."
"A question of religion? I never thought of that. I have myself been a professor of philosophy and religion."
I said, "You don't know much. In India for thousands of years, all the monks -- Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist -- have used wooden sandals for the sake of being non-violent. Because shoes are made of leather, some animal has to be killed. It is not that I am mad; I am simply following a long tradition of all the greatest men born in this country."
He said, "That's good. But do something so that they don't make so much noise."
It is because of him that I had to change from wooden sandals to rubber and velvet. But I have consistently been true to the idea that leather shoes show your indifference to life. They are anti-life. And I have used a special design for my shoes which keeps the feet completely open, so in the heat there is no need for me to perspire.
Every child, if left and helped to grow according to his own sensibilities, will bring something beautiful into the world, some unique personality. Right now everybody is a copy of everybody else.
This very vice-chancellor, when for the first time I entered the university, looked at me and asked, "Why are you growing a beard?"
I said, "I am not growing it, it is growing. Don't ask nonsense questions. On the contrary, I can ask why you are cutting your beard."
He said, "Settled. I will not ask anything and you will not ask anything."
I said, "No. You can ask anything, but you have to have the courage to receive the answer. You have to say that you asked a wrong question. I am not growing it, I am not pulling my hairs every day so that they grow; I am not watering them. You are shaving twice a day. My hairs are natural and you are unnecessarily becoming a woman."
He said, "What?"
I said, "It is so easy to understand. Do you think a woman would look good with a beard? The same is true about you -- without a beard, you look just like a woman. A little weird, but..."
He said, "I promise never to disturb you, but don't spread these ideas in the university, that I look like a woman, a little weird."
I looked as I wanted. I lived as naturally as I wanted. That has given me a tremendous sense of peace and integrity. There is no regret. There is no complaint against life, only deep gratitude.
I want every one of you to live only according to your own consciousness. And as your meditation grows deeper, your consciousness will become wider. Live according to you, according to your consciousness, even if it goes against the whole world. Only then can you feel a sense of reality, a sense of solidarity, a sense of individuality.
Basho wrote:
I AM A MAN WHO BREAKFASTS
WITH A VIEW OF MORNING GLORIES
OPENING IN THE DEW.

He is saying that he lives in nature. I AM A MAN WHO BREAKFASTS WITH A VIEW OF MORNING GLORIES OPENING IN THE DEW.
In a very indirect way, in a poetic way, he is saying he is a natural man.
Another Zen poet wrote:
AMONG THE GREATEST TREASURES
TO BE FOUND ON EARTH,
BEING OF NOTHINGNESS
IS THE GREATEST.

Just be nothing, and you have the greatest treasure in existence. Meditation slowly, slowly makes you nothing. Nothingness is your original face, and the miracle is that in nothingness you find everything, the whole world is yours.


 

Next: Chapter 7: Nothingness is your original face, Question 1

 


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ENERGY

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MEDITATION HEAD

 HOME PAGE

 

GAIN ENERGY APPRENTICE LEVEL1

THE ENERGY BLOCKAGE REMOVAL PROCESS

LEVEL2

THE KARMA CLEARING PROCESS APPRENTICE LEVEL3

MASTERY OF  RELATIONSHIPS TANTRA APPRENTICE LEVEL4

 

STUDENTS EXPERIENCES  2005 AND 2006

 

MORE STUDENTS EXPERIENCES

 - FIFTY FULL TESTIMONIALS

2003 COURSE

 
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