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Chapter 5: Suchness is our self-nature
Energy Enhancement Enlightened Texts Zen Bodhidharma
THE BUDDHA SAID PEOPLE ARE DELUDED. THIS IS WHY WHEN THEY ACT THEY FALL INTO THE RIVER OF ENDLESS REBIRTH. AND TRYING TO GET OUT, THEY ONLY SINK DEEPER. AND ALL BECAUSE THEY DON'T SEE THEIR NATURE. IF PEOPLE WEREN'T DELUDED, WHY ELSE WOULD THEY ASK ABOUT SOMETHING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM? NOT ONE OF THEM UNDERSTANDS THE MOVEMENT OF HIS OWN HANDS AND FEET. THE BUDDHA WASN'T MISTAKEN. DELUDED PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE. SOMETHING SO HARD TO FATHOM IS KNOWN BY A BUDDHA AND NO ONE ELSE. ONLY THE WISE KNOW THIS MIND, THIS MIND CALLED DHARMA-NATURE, THIS MIND CALLED LIBERATION. NEITHER LIFE NOR DEATH CAN RESTRAIN THIS MIND. NOTHING CAN. IT'S ALSO CALLED THE UNSTOPPABLE TATHAGATA, THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE, THE SACRED SELF, THE IMMORTAL, THE GREAT SAGE. ITS NAMES VARY BUT NOT ITS ESSENCE. BUDDHAS VARY TOO, BUT NONE LEAVES HIS OWN MIND.
THE MIND'S CAPACITY IS LIMITLESS, AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS ARE INEXHAUSTIBLE. SEEING FORMS WITH YOUR EYES, HEARING SOUNDS WITH YOUR EARS, SMELLING ODORS WITH YOUR NOSE, TASTING FLAVORS WITH YOUR TONGUE, EVERY MOVEMENT OR MODE, IT'S ALL YOUR MIND. AT EVERY MOMENT, WHERE LANGUAGES CAN'T GO, THAT'S YOUR MIND.
THE SUTRAS SAY, "A TATHAGATA'S FORMS ARE ENDLESS. AND SO IS HIS AWARENESS." THE ENDLESS VARIETY OF FORMS IS DUE TO THE MIND. ITS ABILITY TO DISTINGUISH THINGS, WHATEVER THEIR MOVEMENT OR MODE, IS THE MIND'S AWARENESS. BUT THE MIND HAS NO FORM AND ITS AWARENESS NO LIMIT. HENCE, IT'S SAID, "A TATHAGATA'S FORMS ARE ENDLESS. AND SO IS HIS AWARENESS."
A MATERIAL BODY OF THE FOUR ELEMENTS IS TROUBLE. A MATERIAL BODY IS SUBJECT TO BIRTH AND DEATH. BUT THE REAL BODY EXISTS WITHOUT EXISTING BECAUSE A TATHAGATA'S REAL BODY NEVER CHANGES. THE SUTRAS SAY, "PEOPLE SHOULD REALIZE THAT THE BUDDHA-NATURE IS SOMETHING THEY HAVE ALWAYS HAD." MAHAKASHYAPA ONLY REALIZED HIS OWN NATURE. ...THE SUTRAS SAY, "EVERYTHING THAT HAS FORM IS AN ILLUSION." THEY ALSO SAY, "WHEREVER YOU ARE, THERE'S A BUDDHA." YOUR MIND IS THE BUDDHA. DON'T USE A BUDDHA TO WORSHIP A BUDDHA.
EVEN IF A BUDDHA OR BODHISATTVA SHOULD SUDDENLY APPEAR BEFORE YOU, THERE'S NO NEED FOR REVERENCE. THIS MIND OF OURS IS EMPTY AND CONTAINS NO SUCH FORM. THOSE WHO HOLD ONTO APPEARANCES ARE DEVILS. THEY FALL FROM THE PATH. WHY WORSHIP ILLUSIONS BORN OF THE MIND? THOSE WHO WORSHIP DON'T KNOW. AND THOSE WHO KNOW DON'T WORSHIP. BY WORSHIPING YOU COME UNDER THE SPELL OF DEVILS. I POINT THIS OUT BECAUSE I'M AFRAID YOU'RE UNAWARE OF IT. THE BASIC NATURE OF A BUDDHA HAS NO SUCH FORM. KEEP THIS IN MIND, EVEN IF SOMETHING UNUSUAL SHOULD APPEAR. DON'T EMBRACE IT, AND DON'T FEAR IT. AND DON'T DOUBT THAT YOUR MIND IS BASICALLY PURE. WHERE COULD THERE BE ROOM FOR ANY SUCH FORM? ALSO, AT THE APPEARANCE OF SPIRITS, DEMONS, OR DIVINE BEINGS, CONCEIVE NEITHER RESPECT NOR FEAR. YOUR MIND IS BASICALLY EMPTY. ALL APPEARANCES ARE ILLUSIONS. DON'T HOLD ONTO APPEARANCES.
It is one of the most strange coincidences that Gautam Buddha and Mahavira both revolted against the knowledgeable, the learned, the scholarly, the brahmins, the pundits, for a single reason -- that by being knowledgeable, you simply cover up your ignorance. It is not dispelled out of your being.
It is just like on a dark night when you don't have even a lamp in your house. You may have as much information about light as you like, but your information about light is not going to bring light into the house. The house will remain dark. But one thing is possible: your information may create a delusion for you. You may become so engaged in the information about light that you forget about darkness. But darkness is there; whether you forget it or not makes no difference.
In fact it is better to know that the darkness is there, and something has to be done to create light, to destroy darkness. Knowing about light is of no help; real light is needed. The strange coincidence is that both Gautam Buddha and Mahavira were surrounded by brahmin scholars. And all that they have said has been compiled by the same people against whom they were speaking their whole lives.
Mahavira had eleven intimate disciples -- they were all brahmin scholars of great integrity, of great learning, of great knowledge, but their ignorance was just the same as anybody else's. Ignorance can decorate itself with knowledge, but that only hides it; it does not destroy it. One has to discover one's own light, one's own being, one's own self-nature. The moment one discovers one's inner being, all darkness starts disappearing, because at the very center of your being is nothing but pure light. But it has to be discovered.
The people who are interested in knowledge, or interested in scriptures, or interested in learning from other wise men, are not doing anything to reach to their own light, to the very source of enlightenment.
The same happened with Gautam Buddha. His closest disciples were brahmins and hence a great misunderstanding has arisen in their reportings. What they have reported about Gautam Buddha is mixed, polluted, corrupted by their own knowledgeability, by their own learning. Their minds have come in and interfered with the message that was given in silence -- a message that was transmitted heart to heart, being to being, but not from mind to mind.
The same unfortunate situation has happened with Bodhidharma -- even on a far greater scale because Bodhidharma was born in India, but he was teaching in China. The people who surrounded him, who became interested in him, were the people who were interested in knowledge. And certainly he had the golden key that opens all the mysteries of life. His every word comes from an authentic experience. He attracted thousands of monks, but the problem is that those were the people who crammed his words and forgot the phenomenal presence of Bodhidharma. And they have written these sutras. Naturally, there are great mistakes but even though there are many stones, there are a few diamonds, and we can find those diamonds.
Even though they were not able to experience in the same way as Bodhidharma, they were certainly impressed by his charismatic being. Just like moths come to the flame of a candle, they came from faraway provinces in China, just to sit at his feet. But it is not enough. It is a good beginning, but it is not the end of the journey. They could not forget their own minds. Even while listening to him, they were still thinking their own thoughts, they were still comparing whether it fits with their ideology or not. They were interpreting, giving new meanings, new colors to his words.
And because Bodhidharma has not written anything .... No enlightened being has written anything for the simple reason that the written word is a dead word. A spoken word has the warmth, the splendor, and the presence of the master. The spoken word is a totally different category from the written word. The written word is only a corpse; the spoken word is alive, it is still breathing. It has a heartbeat which the written word cannot have. That's why no enlightened man around the world, in any age, has ever written anything.
So you have to be very aware. I will point out where the minds of the disciples who are collecting these sutras have interfered and destroyed something immensely beautiful. But even though they could not report exactly what Bodhidharma was saying, here and there, perhaps by mistake, they have reported the actual words.
Even to find a few actual words spoken by Bodhidharma and give them again a heartbeat, is a great joy. My commentary is not just a commentary; it is giving life, a resurrection, to those beautiful words which have fallen in wrong hands. They have to be relieved and released from this confused, imprisoned corpse-like existence.
THE BUDDHA SAID PEOPLE ARE DELUDED. THIS IS WHY WHEN THEY ACT THEY FALL INTO THE RIVER OF ENDLESS REBIRTH. AND TRYING TO GET OUT, THEY ONLY SINK DEEPER. AND ALL BECAUSE THEY DON'T SEE THEIR NATURE. IF PEOPLE WERE NOT DELUDED, WHY ELSE WOULD THEY ASK ABOUT SOMETHING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM? NOT ONE OF THEM UNDERSTANDS THE MOVEMENT OF HIS OWN HANDS AND FEET. THE BUDDHA WAS NOT MISTAKEN. DELUDED PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE.
The first thing to be understood is that these are actual words of Bodhidharma with no interference from the people who have been collecting these words.
The emphasis in these sutras is that people are deluded. What is their delusion? Their delusion is that they don't know who they are. Because they don't know who they are, they create false personalities around themselves -- because it is impossible to live knowing that you don't know who you are; you would certainly go mad.
Just think for a moment: if you are aware that you don't know who you are, it will be such a shock, such a shattering of all your identity. You cannot live without knowing yourself, who you are. And if you cannot know, then you have to create something. It will be a false substitute, but it will take away the maddening situation of not knowing oneself.
Ask somebody who he is, and he will say he is a doctor, he is an engineer, he is a professor, he is a Christian, he is a Hindu, he is a Buddhist .... These are false identities. These are creating a false layer around yourself to forget the maddening situation that you don't know yourself.
You are getting identified with a thousand and one things. You are a husband, you are a wife ...but these are not your nature. You were not born as a husband, and you were not born as an engineer; and you were not born as a doctor, or a professor. These are created by you and by the society so that you don't feel continuously in an emptiness, which can be dangerous and can create an insanity in you.
And people are not satisfied. They go on making the false layer thicker and thicker. They become members of political parties, they become members of religions, they become members of Rotary clubs, Lions clubs; they go on creating some idea of who they are. This is needed just to keep you in your normal insanity.
One has to face oneself in utter nudity, without all these clothes that you have covered over yourself.
This is the delusion, that everybody is living a life which is not coming out of his self-nature, which is more like acting than like an authentic living. Just watch yourself, and you will see the great insight in the very significant and meaningful statement, PEOPLE ARE DELUDED. That's why their actions always go in wrong directions. That's why they live a life of misery, suffering, agony, anguish.
When Bodhidharma says that these people go on falling into darkness, he is saying that they go on becoming more and more deluded. They have to make the layer of their delusion as thick as possible so they can remain unaware of their reality. And out of this false layer, their love becomes false, their friendship becomes false, their whole life becomes just a drama.
They are doing everything, but it is not coming from their spontaneity. It is not coming from their individuality. It is not coming from their very being. Hence, they are always wishy-washy, they are always hesitant, they are always asking what is right, and what is wrong; they are always asking questions about everything.
The man who knows himself has no questions to ask. The man who knows himself knows exactly what has to be done, and there is no question of choosing. Whatever he does, is right. Out of your self-nature, only right arises. Just as out of a real rosebush, only authentic roses arise. It is a natural phenomenon.
I used to live for few months in Raipur and just by my side lived a retired professor of mathematics. I used to see him from my windows. He had a beautiful pot with beautiful flowers, and every day he used to bring water to shower on the pot. The first day there was no problem, but as days passed, I was surprised that those flowers went on being the same. Their petals didn't fall, they didn't disappear as is the natural way of life -- that the old disappears to give place for the new. Finally I could not resist my temptation. I went close to his window and I was surprised. Those were not real flowers, they were plastic flowers. But to keep the illusion in the neighborhood that they were real, he was watering them. I knocked on the door, and asked the old man, "What are you doing? These flowers don't need watering."
He said, "I know it also, but the whole neighborhood does not know about it. I have to water them, just to keep up appearances."
Your false personality is just a plastic flower. It cannot give you fulfillment, it cannot give you enlightenment, it cannot give you liberation from misery.
It cannot take you from your agony into an ecstatic experience. It cannot take you away from darkness into light, from death into immortality. This is the delusion.
SOMETHING SO HARD TO FATHOM IS KNOWN BY A BUDDHA AND NO ONE ELSE.
Remember, by `buddha' is not meant any personal name. `Buddha' simply means the awakened one. Anyone who becomes awakened, enlightened, is the buddha. You are also the buddha; the only difference is that you are not aware of it. You have never looked inside yourself and found the buddha there.
Your very life source is nothing but enlightenment.
Bodhidharma is saying: SOMETHING SO HARD TO FATHOM IS KNOWN BY A BUDDHA AND NO ONE ELSE. You will know only that you are deluded if you enter yourself and find your authentic individuality. Then there will be a comparison. The man who has never seen real roses may remain with plastic flowers his whole life, believing that these are real roses. To wake him up, you have to bring real roses so that he can compare and he can see the difference. The plastic flowers are dead; they don't have any fragrance. They have not grown up; they will not die.
The real flower is fragile. With the morning it comes into existence, dances in the rain, in the wind, in the sun, and by the evening it is gone. It comes from the unknown and moves back into the unknown. The same is the situation of our human life.
We come from the unknown and we go on moving into the unknown. We will come again; we have been here thousands of times, and we will be here thousands of times. Our essential being is immortal but our body, our embodiment, is mortal. Our frame in which we are, our houses, the body, the mind, they are made of material things. They will get tired, they will become old, they will die. But your consciousness, for which Bodhidharma uses the word `no-mind' -- Gautam Buddha has also used the word, `no-mind' -- is something beyond body and mind, something beyond everything; that no-mind is eternal. It comes into expression, and goes again into the unknown.
This movement from the unknown to the known, and from the known to the unknown, continues for eternity, unless somebody becomes enlightened. Then that is his last life; then this flower will not come back again. This flower that has become aware of himself need not come back to life because life is nothing but a school in which to learn. He has learned the lesson, he is now beyond delusions. He will move from the known for the first time not into the unknown, but into the unknowable.
If from the known you move to the unknown, you will be born again. But if you move from the known to the unknowable, to the mystery of existence, you become one with the universe; there is no coming back.
ONLY THE WISE KNOW THIS no-MIND, THIS no-MIND CALLED DHARMA-NATURE, THIS no-MIND CALLED LIBERATION.
Here the person who has taken these notes has missed the point. Instead of saying no-mind, he says mind. Mind is not your ultimate reality. He has not understood Bodhidharma and it is a great sin to misrepresent a man of enlightenment because for centuries people will be confused.
NEITHER LIFE NOR DEATH CAN RESTRAIN THIS no-MIND. NOTHING CAN. IT IS ALSO CALLED THE UNSTOPPABLE TATHAGATA, THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE, THE SACRED SELF, THE IMMORTAL, THE GREAT SAGE.
And the person who has taken these notes is not even intelligent enough to see the point that mind cannot be called TATHAGATA. Mind cannot be called THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE. The mind cannot be called THE SACRED SELF, THE IMMORTAL, THE GREAT SAGE.
The mind is very ordinary, mundane. It is useful for day-to-day work; its function is in the outside world. In the inner world it is absolutely useless. Those who want to know their inner being have to go beyond mind.
They have to leave the mind behind.
That is the whole process of meditation.
One word TATHAGATA has to be understood. The translator could not find any word to translate it; perhaps he could not even understand the meaning of the word because in the West and in Western languages, no parallel word exists. Tathagata is specifically a Buddhist term. Gautam Buddha preached the philosophy of TATHATA and tathata is very close to the word `suchness.' Whatever happens, Buddha says, such is the nature of things. There is no need to be happy, there is no need to be miserable, there is no need to be affected at all by anything that happens. Birth happens, death happens, but you have to remain in a suchness, remembering that this is how life functions.
This is the way of life.
You cannot do anything against it.
Just as rivers move towards the ocean, that is their suchness. Just as fire is hot, that is its suchness. Suchness is our self-nature.
So whatever happens ...somebody comes and insults Gautam Buddha, abuses him. He listens silently and when asked by his disciples, when the man went, "Why did you remain silent?" Buddha said, "That was his suchness, that was his way of behaving. It was my suchness to remain silent. I'm not holier than that man, I'm not higher than that man, just our suchness is different, our natures differ."
The word tathata is of great profundity. A man who understands what tathata is becomes undisturbed in every situation; nothing can disturb him, he becomes unperturbable. And TATHAGAT means one who has been living moment-to-moment in tathata. Tathagat is one of the most beautiful words possible in any language: one who lives simply according to his nature without being bothered about other people's nature.
Gautam Buddha used to say, "Once I was passing through a forest, and a branch of a tree fell on me. What do you think? Should I beat that branch of the tree because it hurt me, it wounded me?" The person to whom he was talking said, "There is no question of beating the branch; it had no desire to hurt you, it had no desire to fall on you. It was just a natural accident that you happened to be under the tree when the branch fell."
Buddha said, "If somebody insults me, that is also the same. I simply happened to be there and that man was full of anger. If I had not been there he would have been angry with somebody else. It was his nature; he was following his nature. I followed my nature."
And to be in tune with your nature, you certainly become impenetrable, unperturbable. You become so crystallized in yourself that nothing can disturb you.
ITS NAMES VARY BUT NOT ITS ESSENCE. BUDDHAS VARY TOO, BUT NONE LEAVES HIS OWN no-MIND.
This is a significant statement to be understood. BUDDHAS VARY TOO .... Each awakened person has a uniqueness of his own. This has created great misunderstandings in people, because Christ does not behave like Gautam Buddha, Mahavira does not behave like Gautam Buddha, Krishna does not behave like Gautam Buddha. Even Bodhidharma, a disciple of Gautam Buddha, does not behave like Gautam Buddha. This has created a great confusion in the world. People think these people cannot all be right.
Buddhists think only Gautam Buddha is right; Christ cannot be right. The misunderstanding arises because they think every buddha down the ages is going to be the same.
In existence, nothing is the same.
Every person has his own uniqueness.
And when he becomes enlightened, his uniqueness becomes even more unique. He becomes a Himalayan peak, like Gourishankar, standing aloof, alone, reaching to the stars. It is not like any other peak in the Himalayas, or like any other mountain. It is just itself.
That's why I have been speaking on so many awakened people. This has been done for the first time in the whole history of man. Hindus have been speaking on Krishna, on Rama; Buddhists have been speaking on Buddha, on Bodhidharma; Christians have been speaking on Christ, St. Francis, Meister Eckhart. Mohammedans have been speaking about Mohammed; Sufis have been speaking about Jalaluddin Rumi, Sarmad, Al-Hillaj Mansoor. But nobody has dared to bring all the enlightened people together.
My whole effort has been to make it clear to the world that all enlightened people, howsoever different in their behavior, howsoever different in their philosophies, howsoever different in their actions, howsoever different in their individualities, still have the same taste, still have the same no-mind. Their innermost core is the same. It is the same light.
Don't go according to the shape of the candle. The candle can have any kind of shape, but the flame in every candle -- of different shapes, different sizes, different colors -- is the same. Those who know the flame don't bother about the candles and their shapes and their sizes and their colors. What is important is not the candle; what is important is the flame.
No-mind is the flame of every awakened being. He functions out of his self-nature, not out of his mind.
THE no-MIND'S CAPACITY IS LIMITLESS, AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS ARE INEXHAUSTIBLE. SEEING FORMS WITH YOUR EYES, HEARING SOUNDS WITH YOUR EARS, TASTING FLAVORS WITH YOUR TONGUE, EVERY MOVEMENT OR MODE, IT'S ALL YOUR no-MIND. AT EVERY MOMENT, WHERE LANGUAGE CAN'T GO, THAT'S YOUR no-MIND.
But the reporter of Bodhidharma's sayings goes on saying it is your mind. Now it is so stupid, so illogical, so irrational that one can not conceive what kind of disciple this was who could not see a simple contradiction. Language can't go to the mind ...language BELONGS to the mind, there is no need to go. Language cannot go to the no-mind, to the silence beyond thoughts. Mind is full of thoughts and all thoughts are in the form of language.
THE SUTRAS SAY, "A TATHAGATA'S FORMS ARE ENDLESS. AND SO IS HIS AWARENESS."
Not understanding that the forms of tathagatas, of the buddhas, of the people, of awakening are endless, religions have been fighting about trivia. For example, Jainas don't accept Gautam Buddha as enlightened for a simple reason: because they accept Mahavira as enlightened, and Mahavira lived naked. Gautam Buddha did not live naked. Just the clothes .... Because Buddha used clothes, he is not enlightened. Mahavira lived naked; he is enlightened. And the same is the situation with Buddhist scholars. They don't accept Mahavira as enlightened because he lived naked.
Nobody is ready to accept the varieties. They want buddhas to be produced almost like cars on an assembly line. Every car looks the same. In the factories of Ford, every minute one Ford car comes out of the assembly line, and you cannot make any distinction between one Ford and the other. In one hour, sixty Ford cars will come out and they will be all similar.
A buddha is not a machine. Machines can be similar. Even people who are not enlightened are not similar. Here, five thousand people are here, and you cannot find two persons similar. Even twins are not exactly similar. Their mother recognizes them and slowly, slowly their friends start recognizing them. Although they look almost the same -- but it is almost -- there are slight differences even in twins. And these buddhas are not twins. Christ has his own flavor, Mahavira has his beauty, Buddha has his own splendor.
I want it to be impressed in you as deeply as possible that all over the world, in different ages, in different races, enlightened people have existed. And it is time that they should be recognized as belonging to the same category, although protecting their uniqueness. They have a certain oneness but that is their innermost core. On the periphery, they are as unique as you can conceive. And it is beautiful. Having all the buddhas like Jesus Christ, everybody carrying his cross on his shoulder, the world would be very poor. Wherever you go, you would meet a Jesus Christ carrying a cross. Or if all the enlightened people lived naked, like Mahavira, that would not be enriching the world.
Mahavira alone is perfectly good. He has his uniqueness, his beauty, his grandeur, and he is incomparable.
Every enlightened being is incomparable.
He is unparalleled by anybody else.
This is how things should be. The world should not have only roses, it should have all kinds of flowers, and it should have all kinds of fragrances. Only then existence becomes richer.
ITS ABILITY TO DISTINGUISH THINGS, WHATEVER THEIR MOVEMENT OR MODE, IS THE no-MIND'S AWARENESS. BUT THE no-MIND HAS NO FORM AND ITS AWARENESS NO LIMIT. HENCE, IT IS SAID, "A TATHAGATA'S FORMS ARE ENDLESS. AND SO IS HIS AWARENESS."
A MATERIAL BODY OF THE FOUR ELEMENTS IS TROUBLE. A MATERIAL BODY IS SUBJECT TO BIRTH AND DEATH. BUT THE REAL BODY -- the real being -- EXISTS WITHOUT EXISTING, BECAUSE A TATHAGATA'S REAL BODY NEVER CHANGES.
Within your so-called body there is an inner being, an inner body, the body of your awareness, the body of your flame of consciousness. That never changes.
THE SUTRAS SAY, "PEOPLE SHOULD REALIZE THAT THE BUDDHA-NATURE IS SOMETHING THEY HAVE ALWAYS HAD."
This is one of the most important emphases of Bodhidharma. That you all have -- every human being has -- the same space within you, the same no-mind, and the same potential to blossom into a unique flowering. Nobody is poor and nobody is rich as far as the inner being is concerned. You have always had it. Even this very moment you are all buddhas. But you have never looked into yourself, you have never discovered it. Remember buddhahood, enlightenment, awakening, liberation, moksha, nirvana; all these words mean the same thing.
When you become enlightened, the first thing is to have a good laugh about yourself. And the second thing is to have a good hot cup of tea. A good laugh, because you have been searching for something which you always had within you. And a cup of tea ...you are so tired, ages of search and seeking and finding nothing. And the problem was you could have gone searching for ages and you would not have found, because the searcher is himself your search. What you are trying to find outside in the world, you are not going to find because the searcher himself is the sought.
Once you discover yourself, you will be simply amazed -- you have always been enlightened, just you were not aware of it. It's as if you had a diamond, a Kohinoor, in your pocket, and you were begging all your life, not knowing that in your pocket you have the most precious diamond in the world. The day you discover it, you are bound to be surprised that life has played a great joke with you.
MAHAKASHYAPA ONLY REALIZED HIS OWN NATURE.
You need to be reminded about that story. Bodhidharma is not the founder of Zen. The real founder is Mahakashyapa. But because he never spoke, people have always forgotten him; he has fallen into shadows, but he was a tremendously beautiful man, a man of immense grace. And how he became the founder of Zen is something to be remembered.
One day, a poor man in Vaishali -- he was a shoemaker -- found in his pond, a lotus flower out of season. He was very happy that he could sell it for a good price because it was not the season, and it was a beautiful lotus flower. He took the flower, and as he was going towards the palace he saw the richest man of the city coming towards him in his golden chariot. Seeing the beautiful lotus flower, the super-rich man stopped the chariot and asked Sudas, "How much will you take for your untimely lotus flower?"
Poor Sudas could not conceive how much. He said, "Whatever you can give will be enough for me. I am a poor man." The rich man said, "Perhaps you don't know but I am going to see Gautam Buddha who is staying outside the city in a mango grove, and I would like this untimely lotus flower to put at his feet. Even he will be surprised with such a gift. I will give you five hundred gold coins."
Sudas could not believe it. He had never dreamt that he would ever have five hundred gold coins. But just then the king's chariot stopped, and the king said to Sudas, "Whatever that rich man is giving you, I will give you four times more. Don't sell it, wait."
Sudas could not believe what was happening. Five hundred gold coins, four times. Two thousand gold coins for a single flower. He asked the king, "I don't understand. What is the reason why you are so interested?"
But the rich man was not to be defeated so easily. He was richer than the king; in fact the king owed much money to him. He said, "It is not right of you. You are the king, but right now we are competitors. I will give four times more than what the king is giving." And this way they went on four times, four times ...and Sudas lost track of how much money. The poor man did not know much arithmetic either; it was going beyond his capacity to count. But one thing he suddenly understood. And he stopped both the men and said, "Wait, I am not going to sell it." They were both shocked and said, "What is the problem? Do you want more?"
He said, "I don't know how much the price has gone to. And I don't want more. I simply don't want to sell it for the simple reason that both of you are going to give it to Gautam Buddha. I don't know anything about him, I have just heard his name. If the man is such that you are fighting to give any amount of money, then I will not miss the chance. I will present the lotus flower to Gautam Buddha. Let him be doubly surprised." From a poor man, who was being offered uncountable money .... But he refused.
Sudas went. The king and the rich man had reached there before and they had already told the story: "We have been shocked by a shoemaker; we have been defeated. He refused to sell it at any price. I was ready to offer him my whole treasury." And then Sudas, walking, arrived, touched Gautam Buddha's feet, and offered his flower at his feet.
Gautam Buddha said, "Sudas, you should have accepted; they were giving you so much money. I cannot give you anything." There were tears in the eyes of Sudas, and he said, "If you can just hold my flower in your hand, it is enough. It is far greater than the whole kingdom. It is far greater than the super-rich man's whole treasury. I am poor, but I am perfectly okay; I earn my livelihood. There is no need for me to be rich. But it will be a historical event remembered for centuries and centuries -- as long as man remembers you, Sudas will be remembered and his flower will be remembered. You just take it in your hand."
Buddha took the flower in his hand ...and this was the time of the morning when he used to give his morning sermon. Everybody was waiting for him to start but rather than starting the morning sermon, he simply went on looking at the lotus flower. Minutes passed, one hour passed. People started becoming restless, thinking, "What has happened? This flower seems to be something magical that he is simply looking at the flower."
At that moment Mahakashyapa, one of the disciples of Gautam Buddha -- who had never spoken, and who had not been mentioned before this or again after this, in any scriptures -- laughed. And Gautam Buddha called Mahakashyapa, and gave the flower to him.
And he said, "It is not only the flower that I am giving to you, I am transmitting to you my whole light, my whole fragrance, my whole awakening. It is a transmission in silence; this flower is only symbolic."
This is the beginning of Zen.
People asked Mahakashyapa, "What happened? Although we were present and we were eyewitnesses, we could not see anything except the flower being given to you. And you touched the feet of Gautam Buddha and went back to your seat again and closed your eyes. What happened?"
Mahakashyapa is reported to have said only one thing: "You ask my master. While he is alive, I have no right to answer." And Gautam Buddha said, "This is a new beginning, of transferring without words my whole experience. One just has to be receptive. And Mahakashyapa, by his laughter, showed his receptivity. You don't know why he laughed. He laughed because in that moment, he suddenly looked into himself and he found that he is also a buddha. And I offered the flower as a recognition -- `I accept your awakening.'"
This man Mahakashyapa was the founder of Zen -- or this situation between Mahakashyapa and Gautam Buddha is the beginning of the river of Zen. But Bodhidharma was such a strong individual that he has almost become the founder, although he came one thousand years later than Mahakashyapa. But he is immensely articulate. He can say things which cannot be said. He can speak the unspeakable. He can find ways and means and devices to bring you back home, to awaken you to your self-nature.
MAHAKASHYAPA ONLY REALIZED HIS OWN NATURE. Nothing was given to him; it was only a recognition from the master. The master never gives anything to the disciple except the final recognition. The disciple already has everything. He just has to be tricked in some way to look into himself. All the meditations are simply arbitrary methods to look into yourself. Once you look into yourself the master can give you the recognition. ...THE SUTRAS SAY, "EVERYTHING THAT HAS FORM IS AN ILLUSION." THEY ALSO SAY, "WHEREVER YOU ARE THERE IS A BUDDHA."
You are there: there may not be anybody else, but wherever you are, there is a buddha, because you are a buddha. Don't look all around for where the buddha is. Wherever you are, there is a buddha, because you are there.
YOUR no-MIND IS THE BUDDHA. DON'T USE A BUDDHA TO WORSHIP A BUDDHA.
Hence, Buddha has not taught worshiping, because it is ugly. All are buddhas -- a few are asleep, a few are awake, but that does not make much difference. Those who are asleep will become awake. Those who are awake have been asleep. There is no question of worshiping. There is no prayer as such in Buddha's teachings.
EVEN IF A BUDDHA OR A BODHISATTVA SHOULD SUDDENLY APPEAR BEFORE YOU, THERE IS NO NEED FOR REVERENCE.
Bodhidharma is saying something that can be misunderstood. In fact, everything that he is saying can be misunderstood, so you have to be very alert not to misunderstand him. To understand him is very difficult, to misunderstand him is very simple. If you can manage not to misunderstand him, there is a possibility for understanding him.
When he says THERE IS NO need FOR REVERENCE, the sentence is clear. But it can be easily misunderstood. He is saying: THERE IS NO NEED FOR REVERENCE. He is not saying that there is no possibility of a spontaneous reverence. There is no NEED; it is not a duty. You are not obliged to revere a buddha, but your whole being may feel to, although there is no need. Without any need, you may feel a great reverence, a great gratitude just because the buddha represents your future, reminds you of your self-nature.
He is a reminder. He is an arrow pointing towards you. So there is no need for reverence, but there may be a spontaneous feeling for reverence.
Even Mahakashyapa touched Gautam Buddha's feet; there was no need. Even Bodhidharma, every day -- although Buddha had died one thousand years before -- used to bow down from China, towards the direction of the place where Buddha became enlightened, near Bodh Gaya, by the bank of a small river, Niranjana.
He used to find on the map, the place where Buddha had become enlightened one thousand years before, and he would touch the earth in China with his head. And he is saying: THERE IS NO NEED FOR REVERENCE.
Certainly there is no need. But there arises a spontaneous reverence, and that is authentic reverence. When you do it as a need, it is false. When you have to do it because it is expected of you, then it is hypocrisy. But when it has been said to you that there is no need and still it arises in you, then it has an authenticity, a sincerity, a love, a gratitude, a truth, a beauty of its own.
THIS no-MIND OF OURS IS EMPTY AND CONTAINS NO SUCH FORM. THOSE WHO HOLD ONTO APPEARANCES, ARE DEVILS.
It has to be said to you that in Buddhism, neither God exists nor devils. God and the devil can exist only together. They are two sides of the same coin. God cannot do without the devil, and the devil cannot do without God; they are partners in the same business -- but both are hypothetical. So when Bodhidharma uses the word `devil' he simply means darkness. It is a personalization of darkness. There is no person as devil; there is no person as God. There is godliness, and there is evil. These are qualities, not persons.
THOSE WHO HOLD ONTO APPEARANCES ARE DEVILS.
They are living in darkness, they are living a life of evil.
THEY FALL FROM THE PATH. WHY WORSHIP ILLUSIONS BORN OF THE MIND? THOSE WHO WORSHIP DON'T KNOW.
These are very strong and very pregnant statements. THOSE WHO WORSHIP DON'T KNOW. Certainly they are not aware that they are carrying within themselves the buddha himself.
AND THOSE WHO KNOW DON'T WORSHIP.
So in the temples, in the synagogues, in the mosques, in the churches, all that worshiping going on is utterly out of ignorance, out of darkness. THOSE WHO KNOW DON'T WORSHIP: They live a life which itself is worship. They don't go to the church, they don't go to the temple. They live a life which is twenty-four hours nothing but a worship. They live a life which is nothing but a prayerfulness. They live a life of compassion and love and gratitude. Each of their actions shows their enlightenment.
BY WORSHIPING YOU COME UNDER THE SPELL OF DEVILS. I POINT THIS OUT BECAUSE I AM AFRAID YOU ARE UNAWARE OF IT. THE BASIC NATURE OF A BUDDHA HAS NO SUCH FORM. KEEP THIS IN MIND, EVEN IF SOMETHING UNUSUAL SHOULD APPEAR. DON'T EMBRACE IT, AND DON'T FEAR IT. AND DON'T DOUBT THAT YOUR no-MIND IS BASICALLY PURE. WHERE COULD THERE BE ROOM FOR ANY SUCH FORM? ALSO, AT THE APPEARANCE OF SPIRITS, DEMONS, OR DIVINE BEINGS, CONCEIVE NEITHER RESPECT NOR FEAR.
These are only fantasies of your mind; they are only hallucinations. There are people who see Krishna, there are people who see Christ, there are people who see ghosts. There are people, all kinds of people, seeing all kinds of illusions. They are your mind creations. There is no need either for respect or for fear.
YOUR no-MIND IS BASICALLY EMPTY. ALL APPEARANCES ARE ILLUSION. DON'T HOLD ONTO APPEARANCES.
Remember only one thing: your basic nature is absolute silence, serenity, peace, almost a nothingness, an emptiness. And that is your buddha-nature, that is your nature awakened to its own potential. To be aware of it is the greatest experience of life, because it brings liberation from life, birth, death. It takes you out of the wheel that goes on eternally giving you birth and death, and all the agonies and the sufferings. It takes you out into the world of ecstasy, of eternal blissfulness.
These sutras are not just for your entertainment. They are for your enlightenment. And remember the enlightenment is not going to come from outside. It is already there. You just have to wake up. You have been asleep for millions of lives. How many more do you want to sleep? It is time. In fact, you have already overslept. Now be kind to yourself and wake up.
Next: Chapter 6: Understanding comes in mid-sentence
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