Ah This 01

First Discourse from the series of 8 discourses - Ah This by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

Ascending to the high seat, Dogen Zenji said: “Zen master Hogen studied with Keishin Zenji. Once Keishin Zenji asked him, ‘Joza, where do you go?’
Hogen said. ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly.’
Keishin said, ‘What is the matter of your pilgrimage?’
Hogen said, ‘I don’t know.’
Keishin said, ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
Hogen suddenly attained great enlightenment.”
Zen is just Zen. There is nothing comparable to it. It is unique. Unique in the sense that it is the most ordinary and yet the most extraordinary phenomenon that has happened to human consciousness. It is the most ordinary because it does not believe in knowledge, it does not believe in mind. It is not a philosophy, not a religion either. It is the acceptance of ordinary existence with a total heart, with one’s total being; not desiring some other world, supra-mundane, supra-mental. It has no interest in any esoteric nonsense, no interest in metaphysics at all. It does not hanker for the other shore; this shore is more than enough. Zen’s acceptance of this shore is so tremendous, that through that very acceptance it transforms this shore – and this very shore becomes the other shore.
This very body the buddha, this very earth the lotus paradise.
Hence Zen is ordinary. It does not want you to create a certain kind of spirituality, a certain kind of holiness. All that it asks is to live your life with immediacy, spontaneity. Then the mundane becomes the sacred.
The great miracle of Zen is in the transformation of the mundane into the sacred. It is tremendously extraordinary because in this way life has never been approached before, in this way life has never been respected before.
Zen goes beyond Buddha and beyond Lao Tzu. It is a culmination, a transcendence of both the Indian genius and the Chinese genius. The Indian genius reached its highest peak in Gautama the Buddha and the Chinese genius reached its highest peak in Lao Tzu. The meeting of the essence of Buddha’s teaching and the essence of Lao Tzu’s teaching merged into one stream, so deeply that no separation is possible now. Even to make a distinction between what belongs to Buddha and what to Lao Tzu is impossible. The merger is so total. It is not only a synthesis, it is an integration. Out of this meeting Zen was born. Zen is neither Buddhist nor Taoist and yet both.
To call Zen “Zen Buddhism” is not right, it is far more. Buddha is not as earthly as Zen. Lao Tzu is tremendously earthly, but Zen is not only earthly. Its vision transforms the earth into heaven. Lao Tzu is earthly, Buddha is unearthly: Zen is both – and in being both it becomes the most extraordinary phenomenon.
The future of humanity will come closer and closer to the approach of Zen. This is because the meeting of East and West is possible only through something like Zen, which is earthly and yet unearthly. The West is very earthly, the East is very unearthly. Who will become the bridge? Buddha cannot be the bridge. He is so essentially Eastern, the very flavor of the East, the very fragrance of the East, uncompromising. Lao Tzu cannot be the bridge. He is too earthly. China has always been very earthly: more part of the Western psyche than of the Eastern psyche.
It is not by accident that China is the first country in the East to turn communist, to become materialist; to believe in a godless philosophy, to believe that man is only matter and nothing else. This is not just accidental. China has been earthly for almost five thousand years; it is very Western. Hence Lao Tzu cannot become the bridge: he is more like Zorba the Greek. And Buddha is so unearthly you cannot even catch hold of him. How can he become the bridge?
When I look all around, Zen seems to be the only possibility, because in Zen, Buddha and Lao Tzu have become one. The meeting has already happened. The seed is there, the seed of that great bridge which can make East and West one. Zen will be the meeting-point. It has a great future, a great past and a great future.
The miracle is that Zen is neither interested in the past nor in the future. Its total interest is in the present. Maybe that’s why the miracle is possible, because the past and the future are bridged by the present.
The present is not part of time. Have you ever thought about it? How long is the present? The past has a duration, the future has a duration. What is the duration of the present? How long does it last? Between the past and the future can you measure the present? It is immeasurable; it is almost not. It is not time, not at all. It is the penetration of eternity into time.
Zen lives in the present. Its whole teaching is how to be in the present: how to get out of the past which is no more and how not to get involved in the future which is not yet, just to be rooted, centered, in that which is.
The whole approach of Zen is of immediacy and because of this it can bridge the past and the future. It can bridge many things. It can bridge the past and the future, it can bridge the East and the West, it can bridge body and soul. It can bridge the unbridgeable worlds: this world and that, the mundane and the sacred.
Before we enter into this small anecdote it would be good to understand a few things. First, the masters do not tell the truth. Even if they want to they cannot; it is impossible. What then is their function? What do they go on doing? They cannot tell the truth, but they can call forth the truth which is fast asleep in you. They can provoke it, they can challenge it. They can shake you up, they can wake you up. They cannot give you godliness, truth, nirvana, because in the first place you already have it. You are born with it. It is innate, it is intrinsic. It is your very nature. So anybody who pretends to give you the truth is simply exploiting your stupidity, your gullibility. He is cunning, cunning and utterly ignorant too. He knows nothing; not even a glimpse of truth has happened to him. He is a pseudo master.
Truth cannot be given, it is already in you. It can be called forth, it can be provoked. A context can be created, a certain space can be created in which it rises in you and is no longer asleep, it becomes awakened.
The function of the master is far more complex than you think. It would be far easier, simpler, if truth could be conveyed. It cannot be, hence indirect ways and means must be devised.
The New Testament has the beautiful story of Lazarus. Christians missed the whole point of it. Christ is so unfortunate – he has fallen in with the wrong company. Not even a single Christian theologian has been able to discover the meaning of the story of Lazarus, his death and resurrection.

Lazarus dies. He is the brother of Mary Magdalene and Martha and a great devotee of Jesus. Jesus is far away. By the time he gets the information and the invitation, “Come immediately” two days have already passed, and by the time he reaches Lazarus four days have passed. But Mary and Martha wait for him – their trust is such. The whole village laughs at them. They are being stupid in others’ eyes because they keep the corpse in a cave; they watch day in, day out, guarding the corpse. The corpse has already started stinking; it is deteriorating.
The village people say, “You are fools! Jesus cannot do anything. When somebody is dead, he is dead!”
Jesus comes. He goes to the cave. He does not enter the cave; he stands outside and calls forth Lazarus. The people have gathered. They must be laughing, “This man seems to be crazy!”
Somebody says to him, “What are you doing? He is dead! He has been dead for four days. In fact, to enter the cave is difficult, his body is stinking. It is impossible! Whom are you calling?”
Unperturbed, Jesus shouts again and again, “Lazarus, come out!”
This crowd is in for a great surprise. Lazarus walks out of the cave, shaken, shocked, as if out of a great slumber, as if he had fallen into a coma. He himself cannot believe what happened, why he is in the cave.

This in fact is just a way of saying what the function of a master is. Whether Lazarus was really dead or not is not the point. Whether Jesus was capable of raising the dead or not is not the point. To get involved in these stupid questions is absurd. Only scholars can be so foolish. No man of understanding will think that this is something historical. It is far more! It is not a fact, it is a truth. It is not something that happens in time, it is something more: something that happens in eternity.
You are all dead. You are all in the same situation as Lazarus. You are all living in your dark caves. You are all stinking and deteriorating, because death is not something that comes one day, suddenly – you are dying every day. Since the day of your birth you have been dying. It is a long process: it takes seventy, eighty, ninety years to complete it. Each moment, something of you dies; something in you dies, but you are absolutely unaware of the whole situation. You go on as if you are alive. You go on living as if you know what life is.
The function of the master is to call forth: “Lazarus, come out of the cave! Come out of your grave! Come out of your death!”
The master cannot give you the truth but he can call forth the truth. He can stir something in you. He can trigger a process in you which will ignite a fire, a flame. You are truth, just so much dust has gathered around you. The function of the master is negative. He must give you a bath, a shower, so the dust disappears.
That’s exactly the meaning of Christian baptism. That’s what John the Baptist did in the River Jordan. People go on misunderstanding. Today also, baptism happens in the churches. It is meaningless.
John the Baptist prepared people for an inner bath. When they were ready he would take them symbolically into the River Jordan. This was only symbolic. Just as your orange clothes are symbolic, this bath in the River Jordan was symbolic – symbolic. The master can give you a bath. He can take the dust, the dust of centuries, away from you. And suddenly all is clear, all is clarity. That clarity is enlightenment.
The great master Daie says, “All the teachings of the sages, of the saints, of the masters, have expounded no more than this: they are commentaries on your sudden cry, ‘Ah, this!’”
When suddenly you are clear and a great joy and rejoicing arises in you, and your whole being, every fiber of your body, mind and soul dances. You say, “Ah, this! Alleluia!” a great shout of joy arises in your being. This is enlightenment. Suddenly stars come down from the rafters. You become part of the eternal dance of existence.
Auden says:
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters!
Dance, dance, dance till you drop!
Yes, it happens. It is not something that you have to do. It is something that, even if you want not to do, you will find it impossible. You will find it impossible to resist. You will have to dance.
The beauty of this, the beauty of now, the joy that existence is and the closeness of it… Yes, stars come down from the rafters. They are so close you can just touch them; you can hold them in your hands.
Daie is right. He says, “All the teachings the sages expounded are no more than commentaries on your sudden cry, ‘Ah, this!’” The whole heart says, “Aha!” And the silence that follows it, and the peace, and the joy, and the meeting, and the merger, and the orgasmic experience, the ecstasy!
Masters don’t teach the truth; there is no way to teach it. It is a transmission beyond scriptures, beyond words. It is a transmission. It is energy provoking energy in you. It is a kind of synchronicity.
The master has disappeared as an ego; he is pure joy. The disciple sits by the master’s side, slowly, slowly partaking of his joy, of his being, eating and drinking out of that eternal, inexhaustible source: aes dhammo sanantano. Then one day…and one cannot predict when that day will come; it is unpredictable. One day suddenly it has happened. A process has started in you which reveals the truth of your being to you. You come face to face with yourself. God is not somewhere else: he is now, here.
The masters illuminate and confirm realization. They illuminate in a thousand and one ways. They go on pointing toward truth, fingers pointing to the moon. There are many fools who start clinging to the fingers. By clinging to the fingers you will not see the moon, remember. There are even greater fools who start biting the fingers. That is not going to give you any nourishment. Forget the finger and look at where it is pointing.
The masters illuminate. They shower great light – they are light.
They shower great light on your being. They are like a searchlight; they focus their being on your being. You have lived in darkness for centuries, for millions of lives. Suddenly a master’s searchlight starts revealing a few forgotten territories in you. They are within you. The master is not bringing them. He is simply bringing his light. He is focusing himself on you. And the master can focus only when the disciple is open, when the disciple is surrendered, when the disciple is ready to learn, not to argue; when the disciple has come not to accumulate knowledge but to know truth; when the disciple is not only curious but is a seeker and is ready to risk all. Even if life has to be risked and sacrificed the disciple is ready. In fact, when you risk your sleepy life, you sacrifice your sleepy life. You attain a totally different quality of life: the life of light, of love, the life which is beyond death, beyond time, beyond change.
They illuminate and confirm realization. First, the master illuminates the way, the truth that is within you. Second, when you realize it, when you recognize it… It is very difficult for you to believe that you have attained it. The most unbelievable thing is when realization of truth happens to you, because you were told that it is very difficult, almost impossible; that it takes millions of lives to arrive at it. You were told it is somewhere else, maybe in heaven. And when you recognize it within yourself, how can you believe it?
The master confirms it. He says, “Yes, this is it!” His confirmation is as much needed as his illumination. He begins by illuminating and ends by confirming. The masters are evidence of truth, not its proof.
Meditate over the subtle difference between evidence and proof. The master is evidence, he is a witness. He has seen, he has known, he has become. You can feel it. The evidence can be felt. You can come closer and closer. You can allow the fragrance of the master to penetrate to the innermost core of your being. The master is only evidence, he is not proof. If you want any proof… There is no proof.
God can neither be proved nor disproved. It is not an argument. God is not a hypothesis, it is not a theory: it is experience. The master is living evidence. To see it you will need a different approach than that to which you are accustomed.
You know how to approach a teacher, how to approach a professor, how to approach a priest. They don’t require much because they simply impart information, which can be done even by a tape recorder, or by a computer, or by a gramophone record or a book.

I was a student in a university. I never attended the classes of my professors. Naturally, they were offended. And one day the head of the department called me and he asked, “Why have you joined the university? We never see you, you never attend any classes. And remember, when the examination time comes don’t ask for an attendance record, because seventy-five percent attendance is a must to enter the examination.”
I took hold of the hand of that old man and I replied, “Come with me. I will show you where I am and why I have entered the university.”
He was a little afraid of where I was taking him and why. It was a well-known fact that I was a little eccentric! He asked, “But where are you taking me?”
I replied, “I will show you that you have to give me one hundred percent attendance. Come with me.” I took him to the library and I told the librarian, “Tell this old man, has there ever been a single day when I have not been in the library?”
The librarian said, “Even on holidays he is here. If the library is not open then this student goes on sitting in the garden of the library, but he comes. And every day we have to tell him, ‘Now please leave, because it is closing time.’”
I told the professor, “I find the books far clearer than your so-called professors. And, moreover, they simply repeat what is already written in the books, so what is the point of going on listening to them secondhand? I can look in the books directly!” I told him, “If you can prove that your teachers are teaching something which is not in the books, then I am ready to come to the classes. If you cannot prove it, then keep in mind that you must give me one hundred percent attendance – otherwise I will create trouble!”
I never went to ask him. He gave me one hundred percent attendance. He followed the point; it was so simple. He said, “You are right. Why listen to secondhand knowledge? You can go directly to the books. I know those professors. I myself am just a gramophone record. The truth is,” he said to me, “that for thirty years I have not read anything. I just go on using my old notes.”
For thirty years he has been teaching the same thing, again and again and again; and in thirty years, millions of books have been published.

You know how to approach a teacher, you know how to approach a book, you know how to approach dead information. But you don’t know how to approach a master. It is a totally different way of communing. It is not communication; it is communion because the master is not proof but evidence. He is not an argument for godliness, he is a witness. He does not possess great knowledge about godliness, he knows. He is not knowledgeable, he simply knows.
Remember, to know about is worthless: the word about means around. To know about something means to go on moving in circles, around and around. The word about is beautiful. Whenever you read about, read around. When somebody says, “I know about God,” read he knows around God. He goes in a circle. And real knowing is never about, never around. It is direct, it is a straight line.
Jesus says: “Straight is the path…” It does not go in circles. It is a jump from the periphery to the center. The master is an evidence of that jump, that quantum leap, that transformation.
You have to approach the master with great love, with great trust, with an open heart. You are not aware of who you are. He is aware of who he is, and he is aware of who you are. The caterpillar might be said to be unaware that it may become a butterfly. You are caterpillars – bodhisattvas. All caterpillars are bodhisattvas and all bodhisattvas are caterpillars. A bodhisattva means one who can become a butterfly, who can become a buddha, who is a buddha in the seed, in essence. But how can the caterpillar be aware that he can become a butterfly? The only way is to commune with butterflies, to see butterflies moving in the wind, in the sun. Seeing them soaring high, seeing them moving from one flower to another flower, seeing their beauty, their color, maybe a deep desire, a longing arises in the caterpillar, “Can I also be the same?” In that very moment the caterpillar has started awakening, a process has been triggered.
The master–disciple relationship is the relationship between a caterpillar and a butterfly, a friendship between a caterpillar and a butterfly. The butterfly cannot prove that the caterpillar can become a butterfly; there is no logical way. But the butterfly can provoke a longing in the caterpillar; that is possible.
The master helps you to reach your own experience. He does not give you the Vedas, the Koran, the Bible; he throws you to yourself. He makes you aware of your inner sources. He makes you aware of your own juice, of your own godliness. He liberates you from the scriptures. He liberates you from the interpretations of others. He liberates you from all belief. He liberates you from all speculation, from all guesswork. He liberates you from philosophy and from religion and from theology. He liberates you, in short, from the world of words – because the word is the problem.
You become so obsessed with the word love that you forget that love is an experience, not a word. You become so obsessed with the word God that you forget that God is an experience, not a word. The word God is not God, and the word fire is not fire, and the word love is not love either.
The master liberates you from words. He liberates you from all kinds of imaginative philosophies. He brings you to a state of wordless silence. The failure of religion and philosophy is that they all become substitutes for real experience. Beware of it!

Marlene and Florence, two Denver secretaries, were chatting over lunch. “I was raped last night by a scholar,” whispered Marlene.
“Really?” said Florence. “How did you know he was a scholar?”
“I had to help him.”

Scholars are crippled people, paralyzed, hung up in their heads. They have forgotten everything except words. They are great system-makers. They accumulate beautiful theories; they arrange them in beautiful patterns, but that’s all they do. They know nothing, although they deceive others, and deceive themselves too, that they know.

A man went into a restaurant to have some lunch and when the waiter came he said, “I will have a plate of kiddlies, please.”
“What?” said the waiter.
“Kiddlies,” said the man.
“What?” asked the waiter again. So the man picked up the menu and pointed at what he wanted.
“Kiddlies,” he repeated firmly.
“Ah,” said the waiter. “I see. Kidneys. Why didn’t you say so?”
“But,” said the man, “I said kiddlies, diddle I?”

It is very difficult to pull them out. Scholars live in their own words. They have forgotten that reality has anything else in it other than words. They are utterly deaf, utterly blind. They can’t see, they can’t hear, they can’t feel. Words are words. You can’t see them, you can’t feel them, but they can give you a great ego.

A cannibal rushed into his village to spread the word that a hunting party had captured a Christian theologian.
“Good,” said one of the cannibals enthusiastically, “I have always wanted to try a baloney sandwich.”

Beware of getting lost in philosophy and religion if you really want to know what truth is. Beware of being Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan, because they are all ways of being deaf, blind, insensitive.

Three deaf British gentlemen were traveling on a train bound for London. The first said, “Pardon me, conductor, what station is this?”
“Wembley, sir,” answered the conductor.
“Good Lord!” exclaimed the second Englishman. “I am sure it is Thursday.”
“So am I,” agreed the third. “Let us all go into the bar car and have a drink.”

That’s how it goes on between professors, philosophers, theologians. They can’t hear what is being said. They have their own ideas and they are so full of them, so many thick layers of words, that reality cannot reach them.
Zen says if you can drop philosophizing, there is hope for you. The moment you drop philosophizing you become innocent like a child. But remember, the Zen emphasis on not knowing does not mean that it emphasizes ignorance. Not knowing is not ignorance, not knowing is a state of innocence. There is neither knowledge nor ignorance – both have been transcended.
An ignorant man is one who ignores. That’s how the word comes: the root is ignoring. The ignorant person is one who goes on ignoring something essential. In this way the knowledgeable person is the most ignorant person, because he knows about heaven and hell and he knows nothing about himself. He knows about God, but he knows nothing about who he is, what is this consciousness, inside. He is ignorant because he is ignoring the most fundamental thing in life: he is ignoring himself. He is keeping himself occupied with the nonessential. He is ignorant, full of knowledge, yet utterly ignorant.
Not knowing simply means a state of no-mind. The mind can be knowledgeable, the mind can be ignorant. If you have little information you will be thought ignorant; if you have more information you will be thought knowledgeable. Between ignorance and knowledge, the difference is that of quantity, of degrees. The ignorant person is less knowledgeable, that’s all; the very knowledgeable person may appear to the world as less ignorant, but they are not different, their qualities are not different.
Zen emphasizes the state of not knowing. Not knowing means one is neither ignorant nor knowledgeable. One is not knowledgeable because one is not interested in mere information, and one is not ignorant because one is not ignoring. One is not ignoring the most essential quest. One is not ignoring one’s own being, one’s own consciousness.
Not knowing has a beauty of its own, a purity. It is just like a pure mirror, a lake utterly silent, reflecting the stars and the trees on the bank. The state of not knowing is the highest point in man’s evolution.
Knowledge is introduced to the mind after physical birth. Knowing is always present, like the heart knowing how to beat or a seed knowing how to sprout, or a flower knowing how to grow, or a fish knowing how to swim. And it is quite different from knowing about things. So please make a distinction between knowledge and knowing.
The state of not knowing is really the state of knowing, because when all knowledge and all ignorance have disappeared, you can reflect existence as it is. Knowledge is acquired after your birth, but knowing comes with you. And the more knowledge you acquire, the more and more knowing starts disappearing because it becomes covered with knowledge. Knowledge is exactly like dust and knowing is like a mirror.
The heart of knowing is now. Knowledge is always of the past. Knowledge means memory. Knowledge means you have known something, you have experienced something, and you have accumulated your experience. Knowing is of the present. How can you be in the present if you are clinging too much to knowledge? That is impossible. You will have to drop clinging to knowledge. Knowledge is acquired, knowing is your nature. Knowing is always now. The heart of knowing is now, and the heart of now?
The word now is beautiful. The heart of it is the letter O which is also a symbol for zero. The heart of now is zero, nothingness. When the mind is no more, when you are just a nothingness, just a zero – Buddha calls it exactly that: shunya, the zero, then everything that surrounds you, all that is within and without, is known; known, not as knowledge, known in a totally different way. The same way that the flower knows how to open, and the fish knows how to swim, and the child knows in the mother’s womb how to grow, and you know how to breathe – even while asleep, even in a coma, you go on breathing – and the heart knows how to beat. This is a totally different kind of knowing, so intrinsic, so internal. It is not acquired, it is natural.
Knowledge is got in exchange for knowing, and when you have knowledge, what happens to knowing? You forget knowing. You have knowledge and you have forgotten knowing. And knowing is the door to the divine; knowledge is a barrier to the divine. Knowledge has utility in the world. Yes, it will make you more efficient, skillful, a good mechanic, this and that. You may be able to earn in a better way. All that is there, I am not denying it. You can use knowledge in this way, but don’t let knowledge become a barrier to the divine. Whenever knowledge is not needed, put it aside and drown yourself in a state of not knowing, which is also a state of knowing, real knowing. Knowledge is got in exchange for knowing and knowing is forgotten. It has only to be remembered – you have forgotten it.
The function of the master is to help you remember it. The mind has to be re-minded, for knowing is nothing but re-cognition, re-collection, re-membrance. When you come across some truth, when you come across a master and you see the truth of his being, something within you immediately recognizes it. Not even a single moment is lost. You don’t think about it, whether it is true or not; thinking needs time. When you listen to the truth, when you feel the presence of truth, when you come into close communion with truth, something within you immediately recognizes it, with no argumentation. Not that you accept, not that you believe, you recognize. And it could not be recognized if it were not already known somehow, somewhere, deep down within you.
This is the fundamental approach of Zen.

“Has your baby brother learned to talk yet?”
“Oh, sure,” replied little Mike. “Now Mommy and Daddy are teaching him to keep quiet.”

Society teaches you knowledge. So many schools, colleges, universities, all devoted to creating knowledge, more knowledge, implanting knowledge in people. The function of the master is just the opposite. What the society has done to you, the master has to undo. His function is basically antisocial, and nothing can be done about it. The master is bound to be antisocial.
Jesus, Pythagoras, Buddha, Lao Tzu, they are all antisocial. Not that they want to be antisocial, but the moment they recognize the beauty of not knowing, the vastness of not knowing, the innocence of not knowing, the moment the taste of not knowing happens to them, they want to impart it to others, they want to share it with others. And that very process is antisocial.
People ask me why society is against me. Society is not against me – I am antisocial. I can’t help it. I have to do my thing. I have to share what has happened to me, and in that very sharing I go against the society. Its whole structure is rooted in knowledge, and the master’s function is to destroy knowledge; to destroy ignorance and to bring you back your childhood.
Jesus says, “Unless you are like small children you will not enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Society, in fact, makes you uprooted from your nature. It pushes you off your center. It makes you neurotic.

Conducting a university course, a famous psychiatrist was asked by a student, “Sir, you have told us about the abnormal person and his behavior, but what about the normal person?”
“When we find him,” replied the psychiatrist, “we cure him.”

Society goes on curing normal people. Every child is born normal, remember; then society cures him. Then he becomes abnormal. He becomes Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Communist, Catholic… There are so many kinds of neurosis in the world. You can choose, you can shop for whatever kind of neurosis you want. Society creates all kinds; all shapes and sizes of neuroses are available, to everybody’s liking.
Zen cures you of your abnormality. It makes you again normal, it makes you again ordinary. It does not make you a saint, remember. It does not make you a holy person, remember. It simply makes you an ordinary person – takes you back to your nature, back to your source.
This beautiful anecdote:
Ascending to the high seat, Dogen Zenji said: “Zen master Hogen studied with Keishin Zenji. Once Keishin Zenji asked him, ‘Joza, where do you go?’
Hogen said, ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly.’
Keishin said, ‘What is the matter of your pilgrimage?’
Hogen said, ‘I don’t know.’
Keishin said, ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
Hogen suddenly attained great enlightenment.”
Now meditate over each word of this small anecdote; it contains all the great scriptures of the world. It contains more than all the great scriptures contain – because it also contains not knowing.
Ascending to the high seat…
This is just a symbolic, metaphorical way of saying something very significant. Zen says that man is a ladder. The lowest rung is the mind and the highest rung of the ladder is no-mind. Zen says only people who have attained no-mind are worthy enough to ascend to the high seat and speak to people, not everybody. It is not a question of a priest or a preacher.
Christians train preachers; they have theological colleges where preachers are trained. What kind of foolishness is this? Yes, you can teach them the art of eloquence; you can teach them how to begin a speech, how to end a speech. And that’s exactly what is taught in Christian theological colleges. Even what gestures to make, when to make a pause, when to speak slowly and when to become loud: everything is cultivated. These stupid people go on preaching about Jesus, and they have not asked a single question!
Once I visited a theological college. The principal was my friend; he invited me. I asked him, “Can you tell me in what theological college Jesus learned because the Sermon on the Mount is so beautiful, he must have learned in some theological college? In what theological college did Buddha learn?”
Mohammed was absolutely uneducated, but the way he speaks, the way he sings the Koran, is superb. It is coming from somewhere else. It is not education, it is not knowledge. It is coming from a state of no-mind.

Little Johnny was the son of the local minister. One day his teacher was asking the class what they wanted to be when they grew up.
When it was his turn to answer he replied, “I want to be a minister just like my father.”
The teacher was impressed with his determination and so she asked him why he wanted to be a preacher.
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “since I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, I figure it would be more interesting to be the guy who stands up and yells than the one who has to sit down and listen.”

You can create preachers, but you cannot create masters.
In India, the seat from where a master speaks is called vyasa peetha. Vyasa was one of the greatest masters India has ever produced, one of the ancientmost buddhas. He was so influential; his impact was so tremendous that thousands of books, which were not written by him, exist in his name. Vyasa’s name became so important that anybody who wanted to sell a book would put Vyasa’s name on it instead of putting his own name. Vyasa’s name was guarantee enough that the book was valuable. Now scholars go crazy deciding which is real, the real book, written by Vyasa.
The seat from where a buddha speaks is called vyasa peetha – the seat of the buddha. Nobody is allowed to ascend to the seat unless he has attained no-mind. Ascending to the high seat… is a metaphor: it says the man has attained the state of no-mind. He has attained the state of not-knowing which is true knowing.
…Dogen Zenji said: “Zen master Hogen studied with Keishin Zenji. Once Keishin Zenji asked him, ‘Joza, where do you go?’”
This is a Zen way of saying, “What is your goal in life? Where are you going?” It also implies another question, “From where are you coming? What is the source of your life?” It also implies “Who are you?” because if you can answer where you are coming from and where you are going to, that means you must know who you are.
The three most important questions are: “Who am I? From where do I come? And to where am I going?”
“…Keishin Zenji asked ‘Joza, where do you go?’
Hogen said, ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly.’”
See the beauty of the answer. This is how tremendously beautiful things transpire between a master and a disciple. He said: ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly.’
If you are going to Kaaba, then it is not a pilgrimage because there is an aim in it. If you are going to Jerusalem or to Kashi it is not a pilgrimage. Wherever there is a goal there is ambition, and wherever there is ambition there is mind, desire. And with desire there is no possibility of any pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage can only be aimless. See the beauty of it! Only a Zen master can approve it and only a Zen disciple can say something so tremendously revolutionary: ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly.’
The master asks, “Where are you going?” And the disciple says, “Nowhere in particular.” Aimlessly, just like a dry leaf in the wind, wherever the wind takes it; to the north, then the north is beautiful; to the south, then the south is beautiful – because all is divine. Wherever you go you encounter it. There is no need to have any aim.
The moment you have any aim you become tense, you become concentrated on the aim. The moment you have any aim you are separate from the whole. You have a private goal and to have a private goal is the root of all ego. Not to have a private goal is to be one with the whole, and to be one with the whole is possible only if you are aimlessly wandering.
A Zen person is a wanderer, aimless, with no goal, with no future. Moment to moment he lives without any mind; just like the dry leaf he makes himself available to the winds. He says to the winds, “Take me wherever you want.” If he rises on the winds high in the sky, he does not feel superior to others who are lying down on the ground. If he falls to the ground, he does not feel inferior to others who are rising on the wind high in the sky. He cannot fail. He cannot ever be frustrated. When there is no goal, how can you fail? When you are not going anywhere in particular, how can you be in frustration? Expectation brings frustration. Private ambitions bring failures.
The Zen person is always victorious, even in his failure.
“Keishin said, ‘What is the matter of your pilgrimage?’”
He asks again to make certain, because Hogen may be simply repeating. He may have read in some old Zen scriptures: “One should be aimless. When one is aimless, life is a pilgrimage.” Hence the master asks again:
“…‘What is the matter of your pilgrimage?’
Hogen said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Now, if Hogen was only repeating some knowledge gathered from scriptures or others, he would have again answered the same thing, maybe paraphrased in a different way. He would have been like a parrot. The master is asking the same question, but the answer has changed, totally changed. Hogen simply says: ‘I don’t know.’
How can you know if you are aimless? How can you know when you don’t have any goal? How can you be when there is no goal? The ego can exist only with goals, ambitions, desires. Hogen said, ‘I don’t know.’
His answer, his response, is not parrotlike. He has not repeated the same thing again. The question is the same, remember, but the answer has changed. That’s the difference between a knowledgeable person and a man of knowing, the wise man, who functions out of a state of not-knowing. ‘I don’t know.’
Keishin must have been tremendously happy. He said:
“‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’”
Knowledge creates a distance between you and reality. The more you know, the greater is the distance; so many books between you and reality. If you cram the whole of the Encyclopedia Britannica, then there is so much distance between you and reality. Unless reality tries to find you through the jungle of Encyclopedia Britannica or you try to find reality through the jungle of Encyclopedia Britannica, there is not going to be any meeting. The more you know, the greater is the distance; the less you know, the smaller is the distance. If you don’t know at all, there is no distance at all. Then you are face to face with reality; not even face to face – you are it. That’s why the master said: ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
Remember, such a beautiful sutra, so exquisite, so tremendously significant: ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
The moment you don’t know, intimacy arises between you and reality; a great friendship arises. It becomes a love affair. You are embracing reality; reality penetrates you, as lovers penetrate each other. You melt into it like snow melting in the sun. You become one with it. There is nothing to divide. It is knowledge that divides; it is not-knowing that unites.
Listening to this tremendously significant sutra:
“‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
Hogen suddenly attained great enlightenment.”
He must have been very close, obviously. When he said: ‘I don’t know’ he must have been just on the borderline. When he said: ‘I am making pilgrimage aimlessly’ he was just one step away from the borderline. When he said: ‘I don’t know’ even that one step disappeared. He was standing on the borderline.
And when the master said, when the master confirmed, illuminated, and said: ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’ When the master patted him on the back: ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’ Hogen suddenly attained enlightenment. Immediately, that very moment, he crossed the border. Immediately his last clinging disappeared. Now he cannot even say: ‘I don’t know.’
The stupid person says, “I know.” The intelligent person comes to know that “I don’t know.” But there is a transcendence of both when only silence prevails. Nothing can be said, nothing can be uttered. Hogen entered that silence; that great enlightenment, and suddenly, immediately, without any lapse of time.
Enlightenment is always sudden because it is not an achievement; it is already the case. It is only a remembering, it is only a reminding, it is only a recognition. You are already enlightened. You are just not aware of it. It is awareness of that which is already the case.
Meditate over this beautiful anecdote. Let this sutra resound in your being: ‘Not knowing is the most intimate.’
One never knows, sudden enlightenment may happen to you as it happened to Hogen. It is going to happen to many people here because what I am doing every day is destroying your knowledge. Destroying and destroying all your clingings and strategies of the mind. Any day when your mind collapses, when you cannot hold it together any more, there is bound to be sudden enlightenment. It is not an attainment, hence it can happen in a single moment, instantly. Society has forced you to forget it; my work here is to help you remember it.
All the teachings of the sages expounded are no more than commentaries on your sudden cry, “Ah, this!”
Enough for today.

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