The Master would laugh at those of his disciples who deliberated endlessly before making up their mind.
The way he put it was:
"People who deliberate fully before they take a step will spend their lives on one leg."
After the Master attained Enlightenment, he took to living simply - because he found simple living to his taste.
He laughed at his disciples when they took to simple living in imitation of him.
"Of what use is to copy my behavior" he would say,
"without my motivation. Or to adopt my motivation without the vision that produced it?"
They understood him better when he said:
"Does a goat become a rabbi because he grows a beard?"
To a disciple who was always seeking answers from him the Master said:
"You have within yourself the answer to every question you propose - if you only knew how to look for it."
And another day he said:
"In the land of the spirit, you cannot walk by the light of someone else's lamp.
You want to borrow mine. I'd rather teach you how to make your own."
"If you make me your authority" said the Master to a starry-eyed disciple,
"you harm yourself because you refuse to see things for yourself."
And after a pause he added gently:
"You harm me too, because you refuse to see me as I am."
To a visitor who described himself as a seeker after Truth the Master said:
"if what you seek is Truth, there is one thing you must have above all else."
"I know. An overwhelming passion for it."
"No. An unremitting readiness to admit you may be wrong."
An easygoing disciple complained that he had never experienced the Silence that the Master frequently commented.
Said the Master "Silence only comes to active people."
All questions at the public meeting that day were about life beyond the grave.
The Master only laughed and did not give a single answer.
To his disciples, who demanded to know the reason for his evasiveness, he later said:
"Have you observed that it is precisely those who do not know what to do with this life who want another that will last forever?"
"But is there life after death or is there not?" persisted a disciple.
"Is there a life before death? - That is the question!" said the Master enigmatically.
The Master was always teaching that guilt is an evil emotion to be avoided like the devil - all guilt.
"But are we not to hate our sins?" a disciple said one day.
"When you are guily, it is not your sins you hate but yourself."
The disciple would frequently be absorbed in questions of right and wrong. Sometimes the answer would be evident enough. Sometimes it was elusive.
The Master, if he happened to be present at such discussions, would take no part in them.
Once he was confronted with this question:
"Is it right to kill someone who seeks to kill me? Or is it wrong?"
He said "How should I know?"
The shocked disciples answered "Then how would we tell right from wrong?"
The Master said "While alive, be dead to yourself, be totally dead.
Then act as you will and your action will be right."
"What is the greatest enemy of Enlightenment?"
"And where does fear come from?"
"And what is delusion?"
"To think that the flowers around you are poisonous snakes."
"How shall I attain Enlightenment?"
"Open your eyes and see."
"That there isn't a single snake around."
To a disciple who wanted to become self-confident the Master said:
"You look for certainty in the eyes of others and you think that is self-confidence."
"Shall I give no weight to the opinion of others, then?"
"On the contrary. Weigh everything they say, but do not be controlled by it."
"How does one break the control?"
"How does one break a delusion?"
"How shall I rid myself of fear?"
"How can you rid yourself of what you cling to?"
"You mean I actually cling to me fears?
I cannot agree to that."
"Consider what your fear protects you from and you will agree!
And you will see your folly."
"Is salvation obtained through action or through meditation?"
"Through neither. Salvation comes from seeing."
"That the gold necklace you wish to acquire is hanging around your neck.
That the snake you are so frightened of is only a rope on the ground."
To everyone's surprise the Master seemed unenthusiastic about religious education for the young.
When asked why, he said "Innoculate them when they are young and you prevent them from catching the real thing when they grow up."
The Master loved ordinary people and was suspicious of those who stood out for their holiness.
To a disciple who consulted him on marriage he said "Be sure you don't marry a saint."
"Because it is the surest way to make yourself a martyr" was the Master's merry reply.
To the woman who complained that riches hadn't made her happy the Master said:
"You speak as if luxury and comfort were ingredients of happiness;
whereas all you need to be really happy, my dear, is something to be enthusiastic about."
An affluent industrialist said to the Master
"What do you do for a profession?"
"Nothing" said the Master
The industrialist laughed scornfully.
"Isn't that laziness?"
"Heavens no. Laziness is mostly the vice of very active people."
Later the master said to his disciples:
"Do nothing and all things will be done through you.
Doing nothing really takes a lot of doing. Try it!"
A newly married couple said:
"What shall we do to make our love endure?"
Said the Master: "Love other things together."
When it became clear that the Master was going to die, the disciples were depressed.
Said the Master simingly:
"Don't you see that death gives loveliness to life?"
"No. We'd much rather you never died."
"Whatever is truly alive must die.
Look at the flowers, only plastic flowers never die."
The theme of the Master's talk was Life.
One day he told of meeting a pilot who flew laborers from China into Burma during World War II to work on jungle roads. The flight was long and boring, so the laborers would take to gambling. Since they had no money to gamble with, they gambled with their lives - the loser jumped out of the plane without a parachute!
"How terrible!" said the horrified disciples.
"True" said the Master
"But it made the game exciting."
Later in the day he said:
"You never live so fully as when you gamble with your lives."
To a disciple who begged for wisdom the Master said: "Try this out:
Close your eyes, and see yourself and every living being thrown off the top of a precipice.
Each time you cling to something to stop yourself from falling, understand that it is falling too…"
The disciple tried it out and never was the same again.
"How shall I get liberation?"
"Find out who has bound you" said the Master.
The disciple returned after a week and said:
"No one has bound me."
"Then why ask to be liberated?"
That was a moment of Enlightenment for the disciple, who suddenly became free.
The Master, while being gracious to all his disciples, could not conceal his preferences for those who lived in the "world" - the married, the merchants, the farmers - over those who lived in the monastery.
When he was confronted about this, he said:
"Spirituality practiced in the state of activity is incomparably superior to that practiced in the state of withdrawal."
People have learned to read printed books.
They have forgotten the art of reading unprinted ones.
"What did Enlightenment bring you?"
"And what is Joy?"
"The realization that when everything is lost, you have only lost a toy."
The Master would frequently assert that holiness was less a matter of what one did than of what one allowed to happens.
To a group of disciples who had difficulty understanding that he told the following story:
"There was once a one-legged dragon who said to the centipede:
How do you manage all those legs?
It is all I can do to manage one."
"To tell you the truth," said the centipede,
"I do not manage them at all."
"Why are you so wary of thought?" said the philosopher.
"Thought is the one tool we have for organizing the world."
"True. But thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it."
To his disciples he later said:
"A thought is a screen, not a mirror, that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality."
In the quest of truth, it would seem better and indeed necessary to give up what is dearest to us.
If the Master were to teach, we would make beliefs out of his teachings.
The Master is not concerned with what we believe - only with what we see.
One day the Master asked:
"What, in your opinion, is the most important of all religious questions?"
He got many answers:
"Does God exists?"
"Who is God?"
"What is the path to God?"
"Is there a life after death?"
"No" said the Master. "The most important question is:
Who am I?"
The disciples got some idea of what he was hinting at when they overheard him talking to a preacher:
Master: "So then, according to you, when you die your soul will be in heaven?"
Master: "And your body will be in the grave?"
Master: "And where, may I ask, will you be?"
"I wish to see God."
"you are looking at him right now." said the Master
"Then why do I not see him?"
"Why does the eye not see itself?" said the Master.
Later the Master explained:
"As well ask a knife to cut itself or a tooth to bite itself
as ask that God reveal himself."
"Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description."
"Then how does one speak of God?"
"Why, then, do you speak in words?"
At that the Master laughed unproariously:
"When I speak, you mustn't listen to the words, my dear.
Listen to the Silence."
Sometimes there would be a rush of noisy visitors and the Silence of the monastery would be shaterred.
This would upset the disciples; not the Master, who seemed just as content with the noise as with the Silence.
To his protesting disciples he said one day:
"Silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of self."
"What must I do to attain holiness?" said a traveler.
"Follow your heart" said the Master.
That seemed to please the traveler.
Before he left, however, the Master said to him in a whisper:
"To follow your heart, you are going to need a strong constitution."
The Master always frowned on anything that seemed sensational.
"The divine" he claimed, "is only found in the ordinary."
To a disciple who was attempting forms of asceticism that bordered on the bizarre the Master was heard to say:
"Holiness is a mysterious thing: the greater it is, the less it is noticed."
"What shall I do to love my neighbor?"
"Stop hating yourself."
The disciple pondered those words long and seriously and came back to say:
"But I love myself too much, for I am selfish and self-centered.
How do I get rid of that?"
"Be friendly to yourself and your self will be contented and it will set you free to love your neighbor."
So you are forced to be free?
You are bound to be liberated?
The disciples soughts Enlightenment,
but did not know what it was or how it was attainable.
Said the Master:
"It cannot be attained. You cannot get hold of it."
Seing the disciples downcast look, the Master said:
"Don't be distressed. You cannot lose it either."
And to this day, the disciples are in search of that which can neither be lost not taken hold of.
The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu's dictum:
"Those who know do not say;
Those who say do not know."
When the Master entered, they asked him exactly what the words meant.
Said the Master:
"Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?"
All of them knew.
Then he said: "Put it into words."
All of them were silent.
It is one thing that a man be holy.
It is quite another that he should seem holy to you.
Said the Master:
"Water remains alive and free by flowing.
You will remain alive and free by going.
If you do not get away from me,
you will stagnate and die - and be contaminated."
"When God is experienced, the self disappears."
"Is the God experience, then, a nonexperience?"
"It is like sleep," said the Master
"The sleep experience is only known when sleep is over."
The Master once told the story of a priceless antique bowl that fetched a fortune at a public auction.
It had been used by a tramp who ended his days in poverty, quite unaware of the value of the bowl with which he begged for pennies.
When a disciple asked the Master what the bowl stood for, the Master said: "Your self!"
Asked to elaborate, he said:
"All your attention is focused on the penny knowledge you collect from books and teachers.
You would do better to pay attention to the bowl in which you hold it."
The Master always insisted that we must learn by ourselves - teach ourselves - rather than depend on other people's authority.
"Here is one way to find out whether what you need in a plank is a nail or a screw:
Drive the nail in.
If it splits the plank,
you know you needed the screw."
On the question of his own Enlightenment the Master always remained reticent, even though the disciples tried every means to get him to talk.
All the information they had on this subject was what the Master once said to his youngest son who wanted to know what his father felt when he became Enlightened.
The answer was: "A fool."
When the boy asked why, the Master had replied:
"Well, son, it was like going to great pains to break into a house by climbing a ladder and smashing a window - and realizing later that the door of the house was open."
To a disciple who complained of his limitations the Master said:
"You are limited indeed.
But have you noticed you can do things today that you would have thought impossible fifteen years ago?
"My talents changed."
"No. You changed."
"Isn't that the same thing?"
"No. You are what you think you are.
When your thinking changed, you changed."
People every day know more and more about the Cosmos and less and less about themselves.
Of all the millions of stange objects in the universe - the black holes, and quasars, and pulsars - the strangest, unquestionably, is the self!
"What is the highest act a person can perform?"
"Sitting in meditation."
"Wouldn't that lead to inaction?"
"It is inaction."
"Is action, then, inferior?"
"Inaction gives life to actions.
Without it they are dead."
Why then do you spend all your time in work?
When one works, one need not cease to sit in meditation.
The owner of Fun Park commented on the irony of the fact that while the kids had a great time at his park he himself was habitually depressed.
The Master quoted the words of a tramp to a wealthy landowner:
"You own the property. Others enjoy the landscape."
About the existence of God:
If you cannot say anything about Him who is beyond thoughts and words, how can you ask anything about Him?
To the industrialist:
"Your efforts produce better things;
Mine, better people"
"The aim of life is the flowering of persons.
Nowadays people seem concerned mostly with the perfectioning of things."
The Master always left you to grow at your own pace.
He was never known to "push".
He explained this with the following parable:
A man once saw a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon, too slowly for his taste, so he begain to blow on it gently.
The warmth of his breath speeded up the process all right.
But what emerged was not a butterfly but a creature with mangled wings.
In growth, you cannot speed the process up.
Get your pirorities right:
Better have the money than calculate it;
Better have the experience than define it.
The discussion among the disciples once centered on the usefulness of reading.
Some thought it was a waste of time, others disagreed.
When the Master was appealed to, he said:
"Have you ever read one of those texts in which the notes sceawled in the margin by a reader prove to be as illuminating as the text itself?"
The disciples nodded in agreement.
"Life," said the Master, "is one such text."
"The trouble with the world," said the Master with a sigh,
"is that human beings refuse to grow up."
"When can a person be said to have grown up" asked a disciple.
"On the day he does not need to be lied to about anything."
The Master was an advocate both of learning and of Wisdom.
"Learning," he said when asked "is gotten by reading books or listening to lectures."
"By reading the book that is you."
He added as an afterthought:
"Not an easy task at all, for every minute of the day brings a new edition of the book!"
Do you know the one person who will never abandon you in the whole of your lifetime?
And have the answer to every question you may have?
The Master would often say that Silence alone brought transformation.
Wherever you may be, look when there is apparently nothing to see,
listen when all is seemingly quiet.
Do you want to know what the Enlightenment life is like?
Look at those birds flying over the lake.
They cast a reflection on the water that they have no awareness of
and the lake has no attachment to.
"Of what use is a Master?" someone asked.
Said the disciple:
"To teach you what you have always known,
to show you what you are always looking at."
"An artist, by his paintings, taught me to see the sunset.
The Master, by his teachings, taught me to see the reality of every moment."