CHAO CHOU THEN ASKED, ”HOW CAN ONE APPROACH IT?”

The logical mind goes on missing the point. If it is the ordinary mind, then there is no question of approaching it; it is already there.

Now, Nan Chuan is not saying about anything special. He is saying: The ordinary mind which you already have… there is no questions of ”how” and there is no question of approaching it. You have never lost it, you have simply forgotten about it. It has become covered; you have only to uncover it.


NAN CHUAN REPLIED, ”IF YOU WANT TO APPROACH IT, YOU WILL CERTAINLY MISS IT.”

If you want to approach it, that is a sure sign that you are going to miss it because we approach things which are far away, we approach things which are not available, we approach things which are objects in the outside world.

The ordinary mind is your subjectivity; you cannot approach it. Who is going to approach it? You are it! There is no separation between you and the ordinary mind. You are creating now a new illusion of separation, hence the question, ”How to approach it?” Now you have divided the subject.

No means has to be employed, no methods are needed. A simple understanding that you are born with it is enough. But the logical mind persists.


”THE TAO IS NOT A MATTER OF KNOWING…”

It is the knower, hence it cannot be a matter of knowing.


”IT IS NOT A MATTER OF KNOWING NOR A MATTER OF NOT KNOWING.”

”But don’t misunderstand me,” Nan Chuan is trying to say, because the logical mind immediately jumps to the opposite: if it is not a matter of knowing, then it must be a matter of not knowing. He makes you aware from the very beginning it is neither a matter of knowing nor a matter of not knowing.

Science believes in only two categories: the known and the unknown. And the unknown is being transformed into the known every day. The ultimate idea of science is that one day will come when there will be no more unknown left; all unknown would have become known.

Religion begins with the third category: the unknowable. It is neither a matter of knowing nor a matter of not knowing. You are not ignorant of it and you are not knowledgeable about it. It transcends both. It stands behind all divisions and dualities.


”TO KNOW IS A DELUSORY WAY OF THINKING…”

If somebody says, ”I have known Tao, I have known truth, I have known God, I have known Dhamma,” know perfectly well that he has been living in an illusion, because it is the knower and can never become the known.


”TO KNOW IS A DELUSORY WAY OF THINKING AND NOT TO KNOW IS A MATTER OF INSENSIBILITY.”

Those who think ”We don’t know,” are simply insensible, and those who think ”We know,” are only egoistic. You have to drop both – you have to drop your egoistic ideas of knowing and you have to drop your insensibilities. You have to become more sensitive and more egoless. And then happens a transcendence. Then life becomes way simple uncomplicated, but tremendously mysterious.


”IF ONE CAN REALIZE THE TAO UNMISTAKABLY…”

Remember, Nan Chuan says, ”If one can realize…” It is not a question of knowing or not knowing but a question of realizing that ”I am it!”

When one transcends the dual there is no doubt left. Doubt is the shadow of duality.
There is no question that whether it is right or wrong: it is self-evident.


”IF ONE CAN REALIZE THE TAO UNMISTAKABLY, HIS MIND WILL BE LIKE THE GREAT SPACE…”

Like sky, unbounded, open. a silent lake. In that clarity is Buddhahood, in that clarity is awakening.


”HOW, THEN, CAN ONE REGARD THIS AS RIGHT AND THAT AS WRONG?”

There is nothing left. so one cannot have any doubt.
all duality gone, the knower gone, the known gone, the seer gone, the seen gone, the observer gone, the observed gone, the objective, the subjective… all are gone. There is only a pure clarity, a silent witnessing.


UPON HEARING THIS REMARK. CHAO CHOU WAS IMMEDIATELY AWAKENED.

don’t think that it was the first encounter with the Master: it was the last encounter, in fact. as if the fruit was absolutely ripe and just a little breeze and the fruit falls to the earth.

For Zen, realization is always sudden, it is always immediate.
And it should be immediate for the simple reason because it is your nature that opens up. Any remark that you can allow to penetrate inside you will be able to do the miracle. It is not the question of whether the remark is very significant or not;

All that is required is a state of silence, of meditative awareness. Then anything can trigger the process, anything trivial can trigger the process.
Enlightenment is bound to be sudden; it cannot be gradual because it is not an achievement. It is simply a discovery of something forgotten. It is a remembrance, a recognition.


Chapter 2: Come and Get It!

WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING AND WHAT IS MISUNDERSTANDING?

Mind is misunderstanding – any kind of mind, good or bad, educated or uneducated, cultured or uncultured, Christian or Hindu; it does not matter what kind of mind it is. Mind as such is misunderstanding. Mind means you are carrying a priori conclusions; you are not seeing that which is, you are seeing that which you want to see. You are not seeing but projecting. Your mind is a projector; it uses everything as a kind of screen, it projects itself on the screen.

In the dim light you can see a rope as a snake. the snake does not exist; it is your fear projected.

The world that we know is not actually the world that is; it is the world that we are projecting. This is a misunderstanding. That’s why the eastern mystics have called our world nothing but a maya, an illusion.
It does not mean that the rocks are not there, that the walls are not there and you can pass through them. It simply means that what exists is not known by you, and what is known by you is something else. Something certainly exists, but it remains unknown to the mind.

The mind is a barrier. It does not allow you to see, to feel, to know, to understand. It goes on creating misunderstanding, it is the source of all distortions. Hence, unless mind is put aside, understanding does not arise.

Understanding means a state of no-mind. That’s what meditation is all about. Meditation is the art of putting the mind aside, not allowing it to interfere, not allowing it to stand between you and the real. When you face the real without any interference of any kind – philosophical, political, religious – when there is no idea between you and the real, when the real is simply reflected in you like a tree is reflected in the lake, then there is understanding.

Understanding is a byproduct of meditation; misunderstanding is a shadow of the mind.

Buddha has said meditation is the means and wisdom is the end. Meditation is the tree and wisdom is its flowering. But people who go on carrying their prejudices, their ideologies, their political doctrines, their theologies, their nationalities, their pasts, remain stupid.


Joke:

A professor with a wooden eye stood alone in a corner at the dance. He was so self-conscious about his wooden eye that he hardly ever mixed with people. He was very sad and lonely. Then he spotted a girl across the room who was also alone. She had a huge wart on her nose.
”Well,” he thought to himself, ”she is no beauty with that wart and all, but never mind – maybe she would dance with me.”
So he gathered up all his courage and walked over to her. ”Would you… would you like to dance with me?” he stammered.
Her face brightened. ”Would I! Would I!” she cried.
Offended, the professor yelled back, ”Wart nose! Wart nose!”


If you want to have understanding, move from mind to no-mind. Don’t go on polishing the mind. That’s what people are doing. You can go on polishing it your whole life; you will have a very polished mind in the end, but that will simply mean a very polished misunderstanding.


Story:

Buddha said, ”Once I was staying in a village for four months. Every day I used to see a man sitting in front of his house counting all the cows and the buffaloes and the bulls going to the river to drink water and coming back from the river.
Do these cows and the bulls and the buffaloes belong to you? Why you go on counting?
He said, ’No, they don’t belong to me’. I am a poor man. I don’t have even a single cow.
Why are you wasting your time? And every day! It is better to have one’s own cow, even if one has only one cow, because that will give you milk and nourishment.

Seeing you I remembered that man, Maulingaputta.
And Buddha said, ”I am remembering that man because whatsoever you know does not belong to you. These are other people’s cows – the Vedas, the Upanishads. I can see your head is full of all kinds of things, beautiful sayings, wise sayings. They have made you look wise, but you are not a wise man.


I AM A HYPOCRITE. WHAT SHOULD L DO?

the miracle of awareness is that whatsoever is wrong, the moment you become fully aware of it drops on its own accord, and whatsoever is right, when you become fully aware of it, it becomes your very being.
Awareness is the most alchemical phenomenon in the world.

Just go on becoming more and more aware. Watch each act, each thought, each dream. And don’t do anything – don’t be in a hurry to do something. Just simply go on watching, taking notes what is happening inside you, how you are living your life. And slowly you will become aware of a change happening on its own accord. And when any change happens by itself it has a beauty of its own.


OSHO, PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE FEAR OF GOING MAD, WALKING ON A RAZOR’S EDGE.

Every child is born sane, but cannot live sane long. He is bound to become mad; just to survive he has to become mad.
Only once in a while there has been a sane person – a Buddha. a Zarathustra, a Lao Tzu, a Jesus. And the strangest thing is that these sane people look mad.


Joke:

”A beard and a cigar.”
So first came Fidel Castro and behind him the others followed. The man behind him was wearing a beard and smoking a cigar and said, ”Public relations,” so they let him in.
Next came another man with a beard, smoking a cigar, who said, ”Chief of Police.” ”Come in,” was the reply.
Next approached a man with no beard and no cigar. When he was stopped at the entrance, to identify himself he pulled at the front of his pants and said, ”Secret Police!”


Joke:

A Jewish army captain walks into a prostitute’s parlor, marches up to the Madam and says, ”How much would you charge for the pleasure of my company?”
”Twenty dollars, sir,” she replies.
”Jolly good!” he says and walks across to the window, opens it and shouts, ”Company, forward march!”


Fear does not allow you to live totally; it always holds back. It never allows you intensity, passion, totality, wholeness; it keeps you divided.
Drop ambitiousness and start living, because the ambitious person cannot live; he always postpones. His real life will always be tomorrow – and the tomorrow never comes. The ambitious person is bound to be aggressive and violent, and the violent person and aggressive person are bound to go mad.


HOW NOT TO BE A JEW?

Calculativeness is Jewishness, always to be calculating about life, always thinking in terms of business, in terms of money, in terms of profit.
To give less and to get more – that is Jewishness. And it is really difficult to drop the idea, because that will mean a total transformation.

We have to unlearn the achieving mind, the ambitious mind, and we have to learn a totally new way of life, of enjoying, of rejoicing.
And that’s exactly what Zen is. Its basic, most essential quality is the capacity to enjoy the ordinary, the very ordinary, with extraordinary perceptiveness.

To be non-greedy simply means you have to live each moment for no motive at all, for the sheer joy of living.

This is one of the most fundamental laws of life. Ais dhammo sanantano – this is the fundamental law – Buddha says that you cannot directly find bliss; it comes always as a byproduct, as a shadow. You love, and there will be bliss; but don’t seek bliss in love, otherwise bliss will not be found and love will disappear.

I am not saying live in the moment so that you can get bliss. I am not saying live in the moment because that is the way to get to bliss. If that is your argument you will miss and then you will say that I was not right. I am saying live in the moment and you will suddenly find, from nowhere, bliss descending on you.


Chapter 3: The Empty Door is Open Wide

Man is absolutely unaware of his own being. He knows everything else. He thinks as if he knows himself And there is the fundamental error, the most fundamental mistake one can commit.
We are, but we don’t know who we are. Our names deceive us.
One cannot know oneself by looking in the mirrors because the mirrors can only reflect your body – and you are not your body.

Discovering oneself is arduous: it is going on the greatest exploration. It is easier to go to the moon, easier to go to the Everest. It is far more difficult to go to one’s own center – for the simple reason that you will have to travel alone, all alone. As one of the great Greek mystics, Plotinus, says, ”It is a flight of the alone to the alone.”

you cannot discover the meaning of the words of Gautam the Buddha or Jesus the Christ or Mahavira the Jain – impossible. You can understand only that much which you have experienced; understanding never goes beyond your experience.
Knowing is experiencing; information only accumulates in the memory system.

Ninety-nine percent so-called religious people – saints, mahatmas – are just scholars. As far as words are concerned they are very clever, but if you look deep into their eyes you will find just the same stupid human beings. Nothing has changed.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan became full of beautiful words, but they have not transformed his consciousness.

Zen is the most beautiful method ever discovered to enter into the innermost core of your being. It does not believe in character, it only believes in consciousness. By changing your consciousness, your character is changed automatically.


THE FIRST THING is to know the difference between a Master and a teacher. Zen makes a very clearcut distinction:
the teacher is one who teaches you; he may not have known himself but he has studied. He is a scholar, he knows the scriptures. He can give you education, information.
The Master is one who brings transformation to your being, who helps you to find out your own light.
The work of the teacher is direct; he simply transfers whatsoever he knows to you. Knowledge is transferable, wisdom is not transferable. Hence the work of the Master is indirect, it can never be direct.

The Master is like the sun rising in the morning. The flowers start opening. The sun is not coming to each flower and forcing it to open – not in that direct way, but its rays are dancing around the flower. It is giving warmth to the flower, it is encouraging the flower, but in a very delicate way. Flowers have to be tackled in a delicate way; if you force their petals to open you will destroy them. The sun simply creates a climate in which they can open, in which they feel like opening. An inner feel arises in them; some inner instinct synchronizes with the warmth of the sun.
Exactly is the work of the Master. He cannot hand you over what he knows, but he can create a certain energy field in which your petals can open up.


ONE DAY SHEN TSAN WAS HELPING HIS OLD TEACHER TO BATHE. WHILE WASHING THE OLD MAN S BACK, HE SAID TO HIM, ”THIS IS SUCH A FINE TEMPLE, BUT THE BUDDHA IN IT IS NOT AT ALL HOLY!”

The Zen use of the word ”holy” simply means one who is whole, one who lives each moment in totality.


”THIS IS SUCH A FINE TEMPLE…”

Every body is a fine temple, according to Zen. Every body is a shrine of God.
You need not go anywhere else to find God; if you can find yourself you have found God. He is hiding within you – he is your within.


”BUT THE BUDDHA IN IT IS NOT AT ALL HOLY!”

Maybe the old teacher was taking a bath and also reciting a sutra.
when you are taking a bath, take the bath, forget about gayatri. Then let this bath be your only mantra.
You want to optimize eating while reciting a mantra. then you are not tasting your food. If you are eating, then let your whole consciousness be that of taste, of smell. Forget everything! Then even ordinary bread may taste like the most delicious food possible. But you are not present.

Eating should be meditative, prayerful. You should be more respectful to food because it is life, it is nourishment.

The most stupid thing in life is to live halfheartedly, because the moment that is gone is gone forever. But people are living so unconsciously that it is almost impossible for them to be conscious of what they are doing.


Joke:

That night he could not sleep for thinking about the mystery of the disappearing shit and when he found his lighter missing the next day he went back to the garden. He found the lighter but no trace of the shit.
Straightening up, his eyes met those of an offended old lady. ”Ah!” she cried. ”So you are the one who shit on my turtle!”


Every man has a Buddha inside him, but the Buddha is not holy, is not whole. We are living in fragments. Somebody is living in his head, somebody is living in his body, somebody is living somewhere else. Somebody is focused on the money, somebody on power, somebody on some other trip, some other number. But nobody is wholly, fully aware what he is doing, what he is being.


”THIS IS SUCH A FINE TEMPLE,” SHEN TSAN SAID, ”BUT THE BUDDHA IN IT IS NOT AT ALL HOLY!” HIS OLD TEACHER TURNED ROUND AND LOOKED AT HIM, WHEREUPON SHEN TSAN COMMENTED, ”THOUGH THE BUDDHA IS NOT HOLY, HE CAN STILL RADIATE THE LIGHT.”


AGAIN, ONE DAY, WHILE THE OLD MAN WAS READING A SUTRA NEAR A PAPER-COVERED WINDOW, A BEE TRIED DESPERATELY, WITH ALL ITS STRENGTH, TO FLY OUT OF THE ROOM THROUGH THE PAPER BUT WAS UNABLE TO GET THROUGH.

Buddha’s whole approach is, first see how you get into anger. If you can see the entrance, the same door is the exit; no other door is needed. But without knowing the entrance if you try to find out the exit you are not going to find; you will get more and more desperate. And that’s what people go on doing.


THE BEE WAS TRYING, WITH ALL ITS STRENGTH, TO FLY OUT OF THE ROOM THROUGH THE PAPER BUT WAS UNABLE TO GET THROUGH. SHEN TSAN, SEEING THIS, SAID, ”THE WORLD IS SO VAST AND WIDE THAT YOU MAY EASILY SET YOURSELF FREE IN IT. WHY, THEN, DO YOU FOOLISHLY BORE INTO OLD, ROTTEN PAPER?”

Now this was too much! The Master is reading some old scripture. And older the scripture is, people think, the better it is; the more rotten, the more important they think; the more ancient, the more significant they think.
Zen believes in burning the scriptures.


”WHILE THE EMPTY DOOR IS OPEN WIDE HOW FOOLISH IT IS TO TRY TO GET OUT BY THRUSTING AGAINST THE WINDOW! ALAS! HOW CAN YOU, MASTER,
RAISE YOUR HEAD ABOVE THE SLOUGH
BY PUTTING YOUR NOSE AGAINST OLD, ROTTEN PAPER
FOR A HUNDRED YEARS?”

HEARING THIS REMARK, THE OLD MAN LAID DOWN HIS BOOK AND SAID TO SHEN TSAN, ”FOR QUITE A FEW TIMES NOW, YOU HAVE MADE UNUSUAL REMARKS. FROM WHOM DID YOU GAIN YOUR KNOWLEDGE WHILE YOU WERE AWAY FROM HOME?””

ONLY BUDDHAS can make unusual remarks; they are bound to make unusual remarks.
This was the time now, the right time. Everything has to be said at a certain right time; if you say it when the time is not right it is useless. Hence the Master has to wait, wait for the right season, for the right climate, for the right moment. One never knows when it will come, but when it comes, only then the awakening is possible.


SHEN TSAN REPLIED, ”L HAVE REACHED THE STATE OF PEACEFUL REST… I HAVE COME TO MY CENTER… THROUGH THE GRACE OF MASTER PAI CHANG ”

Remember the word ”grace”: not through the effort but through the grace.


NOW I HAVE COME BACK HOME TO PAY MY DEBT OF GRATITUDE TO YOU.

A real seeker always feels grateful, to everybody, whosoever has helped him in any possible way.


”SINGULARLY RADIATING IS THE WONDROUS LIGHT FREE FROM THE BONDAGE OF MATTER AND THE SENSES.”

If you become conscious you immediately know that you are not the body nor the mind; you are pure consciousness, and that pure consciousness is the wondrous light. That is the light Buddha has said about: ”Be a light unto yourself.”


”IT EXISTS IN PERFECTION FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.”

This is the Zen discovery: that you are not to attain it, it is already the case. You are perfect from the very beginning.


BY MERELY CASTING AWAY YOUR DELUSIONS; THE SUCHNESS OF BUDDHAHOOD IS REALIZED

And immediately you realize you have been the Buddha since the beginning. You have always been the Buddha and nobody else. You have been a god from the very beginning, you cannot be otherwise. Godliness is your intrinsic essence, it is nothing to be achieved.


Chapter 4: At a Time Like This?

CAN A WOMAN REALLY DRIVE A MAN CRAZY?

The woman never tries to understand you. The illogical functioning of the psyche is not interested in understanding; it simply reaches to the conclusions without any procedures.

a woman can really drive a man crazy, but still, your cooperation will be needed. Without your cooperation, no, nobody can drive you crazy.
Rejoice in her! Rejoice in her differences, rejoice in her different approaches towards life. Rejoice that she is not a man but a woman. She does not think like you; not only is her body different from you, her psyche is also different from you. And once you forget trying to understand her, there is no way for her to drive you crazy.

Become more existential and less intellectual. Love her, dance with her, sing with her, but don’t try to argue with her.
Every husband wants his wife to sit at the table, calm, cool and collected. ”And let us discuss the matter.” But she starts throwing things! She knows if she becomes calm and cool you are going to win. She starts slamming the door. She will put more salt in your vegetables and no sugar in your tea! She will make so many illogical efforts and she will cry and she will weep and she will start pulling her hair. She will beat the children, who have nothing to do with the matter.
The moment she says…”Right, absolutely right! That’s what I was thinking.” And that way you will feel happy and you will go victorious. And your sugar in the tea will be in the right amount and your salt in the vegetables will be right amount, and children will be saved. For some small thing the woman can put the whole house on fire! But it all depends on you.