Ego is the Only Barrier
Osho on Enlightened Zen Master Bokoju
Bokoju whose real name was Muzhou Daoming (780-877) was a disciple of Huangbo Xiyun. He lived and taught at Kaiyuan Temple in ancient Muzhou. Muzhou’s surname was Chen. He was widely known in China by the name “Honored Elder Chen.” The Wudeng Huiyuan records that as a youth he went to a temple to offer incense to Buddha, and upon seeing the monks, he felt as though he had known them from some ancient time. He then returned home and received permission from his parents to become a monk. He looked unusual, with foreboding eyes and seven pockmarks on his face. As a young man Muzhou first studied the Vinaya and was well acquainted with Buddhist scriptures. Later, when he traveled, he met with Huangbo and eventually became his Dharma heir. Muzhou also played a key role in the story of Linji’s enlightenment. He later taught the great Zen master Yunmen Wenyan.
Muzhou possessed a severe teaching style. None but the most confident students dared to address him. It is said he could tell the disposition of a student by the student’s footsteps as he approached his room. When the student came near, Muzhou would often slam the door shut and yell, “Nobody’s here!” If the master would see a monk talking in the meditation hall he’d call the head monk and say, “That monk’s a lumber carrier!”
Osho while talking about Bokoju says, “Simply live and be. That’s what Bokuju says: Eat and dress, just be. Forget about understanding, what is the need? If trees can exist without understanding, what is the need for you? If the whole existence is there without understanding, why bother? Why bring this small tiny mind in and create problems? Relax and be! Bokuju is saying that the understanding comes from the total. You simply eat, don’t try to understand. You simply move, walk, love, sleep, eat, take your bath. Be total. Let things happen. Simply be. And don’t try to understand, because the very effort to try, the very effort to understand, creates a problem. You become divided. Don’t create the problem — just be.”
BEING HERE WITH YOU, I FIND MYSELF MORE AND MORE OFTEN IN MOMENTS OF LET-GO. IT SEEMS THAT IN THESE MOMENTS MY MIND LOSES ALL ITS POWER, AND I CAN WATCH OVERWHELMING WAVES OF ENERGY VIBRATING WITHIN MY BODY. I SUDDENLY BECOME AWARE OF THE EARTH BENEATH MY FEET, AND IT FEELS AS IF I AM CONNECTED WITH EXISTENCE ITSELF, AS IF I AM ONE WITH EXISTENCE.
BELOVED MASTER, WOULD YOU PLEASE TALK TO US AGAIN ABOUT THE STATE OF LET-GO AND MELTING INTO EXISTENCE.
Lokita, the question that you have asked is, “Being here with you, I find myself more and more often in moments of let-go.” That’s the very purpose of this place, that’s the very purpose of me lingering on this shore. My boat has long been waiting. So if you are feeling moments of let-go, that is a good beginning, in the right direction. “It seems that in these moments my mind loses all its power, and I can watch overwhelming waves of energy vibrating within my body.”
It happens, when you are in a let-go, that the mind has no power over you. The mind becomes impotent, it loses all its power. And the same power is felt vibrating all over your body.
So these are exactly the right symptoms.
“I suddenly become aware of the earth beneath my feet, and it feels as if I am connected with existence itself, as if I am one with existence.” Just, please drop those words, “as if.” When you feel that you are one with existence, what is the need of “as if”? That destroys the very beauty of the experience. Perhaps you are afraid to say with certainty that “I feel one with existence,” but here you have to be exactly authentic and sincere in whatever you say. It is also possible in the beginning that when such experiences happen, you yourself are uncertain whether you are imagining, hallucinating, because you have never felt one with existence before. So just to avoid showing your confusion, uncertainty, you can use “as if.” But “as if” is a very poor expression.
There is a great book of philosophy called AS IF. And the whole book is filled with great statements, but all their greatness is destroyed because the man goes on saying “as if”: as if there is a God … It is better to say “There is no God,” or “There is a God.” But “as if there is a God” keeps God in a limbo, hanging in the middle. Neither do you give him reality, nor do you take him as unreal. You make him a hypothesis. So I would like you, when these experiences happen to you again — and they will be happening — to drop the idea of “as if.”
Feel the experience in its totality, and attain to some certainty. That certainty will make the experience happen more often. And as it happens more often, more certainty … and a point comes such that even if the whole world denies it, it does not matter. Your certainty is far bigger, far more crystallized than the whole world.
It is not a question of voting, you know it. I want you to be aware of the dangers of “as if.” That will never allow you a certain ground to stand on; you will be always wavering, wishy-washy.
You are asking me to talk about “the state of let-go and melting into existence.” There is no need to talk about it, it is almost happening to you. It is better to let it happen. No talk can be a substitute for actual experience. But mind plays all kinds of games before it leaves you, it tries in every possible way to keep you entangled. That “as if” is coming from the mind. The experience of becoming one with existence is coming from a different source — beyond mind. You drop that “as if” and listen to the source beyond, and allow these moments more and more to take possession of you, without any fear. That is one of the greatest advantages of being with a master. Alone, you will become so afraid — perhaps you are going insane, how can you be one with existence? And if you talk to people, say that you are being one with existence, they will say, “Shut up. Don’t say it to anybody, otherwise you will be sent to a psychiatric hospital. One with existence?” It is too big even if you say, “I am feeling one with this tree.” They will say, “My God! Lokita has gone out of her mind. Something has to be done to put her back into her normal senses. How can you be one with a tree, or a mountain, or the ocean?”
But in this place … this is a communion, a gathering of fellow seekers, where everybody’s experience is going to help everybody else to experience the same things without any fear. I am here to tell you whether you are moving in the right space or not, and I say with an absolute guarantee, you are moving in a right space.
Those moments are beautiful when you feel the let-go. These are the things you cannot do. Let-go is not something that you can manage to do — that will not be let-go; you are still the manager. It is something like sleep: either it comes or it does not come. You cannot force it to come, you cannot threaten it to come, you cannot blackmail it to come; you have just to wait silently, trustingly. Whenever it comes, it comes. It is beyond your powers of doing. And let-go is a far greater relaxation than sleep.
These moments are happening to you without any effort, that is their beauty. If you don’t listen to your mind and its doubts, those moments will become bigger and bigger. Finally, one starts feeling oneself in a let-go twenty-four hours a day.
Don’t ask me to talk about the state of let-go, because that may give you clues, and you may start forcing them to happen more often — because the beauty of those moments is not of this world. The nourishment that comes in those moments is divine. So there is no need, because they are happening on their own. Just beware, when you become in those moments, a nobody.
A let-go means the ego has disappeared. You will feel oneness with existence, because the ego is the only barrier. Once the ego disappears, you are one with the earth, you are one with stars, you are one with everything all around.
One Zen master, Bokoju, was very puzzling to his students, his disciples. He had a big monastery and a great name as an enlightened master — and he was. Every morning, when he would open his eyes, the first thing he would say was, “Bokoju, are you still here?”
“Yes, sir.” He would answer it too.
The disciples said, “This is madness.”
Finally they gathered courage and asked, “Everything is okay that you say, but what you do every day in the morning is absolutely inconceivable to us, it looks insane. You are Bokoju and you ask, `Bokoju, are you still here?’ And you yourself say, `Yes, sir.'”
Bokoju laughed. He said, “I become so relaxed and so one with existence that a question arises in me: is Bokoju still in the same old personality? So just to hear my own voice, I ask, `Bokoju, are you still here?’ And when I hear the question I say, `He is here.’ That’s why I say, `Yes, sir.'”
“You need not think that I am insane. In the day I am so much engaged with your problems, from the morning until late in the night. But in the night I am left alone, in a let-go. In the morning I have to remind myself, `Who am I? And what am I doing here? Who is this fellow who is waking up?’ So I have made it a strategy. I forget everything, but I keep on remembering only one thing: the name of Bokoju. The day I forget that name also, you can prepare for a funeral.”
They were very much shocked. They said, “No, we don’t want you to forget. You continue as many times as you want to ask; it is your business, in your room.”
He said, “Not many times, just one time.”
And the last day, on the day he died, he did not ask. He woke up, and the disciples waited: “What happened to his lifelong habit? `Bokoju, are you still here?’ And he himself answers, because there is nobody else, `Yes, sir.’ What has happened? He has not asked it.” They gathered courage again, and one disciple asked, “You have forgotten something.”
He said, “I have not forgotten, but Bokoju is no more here. And no one is here to answer `Yes, sir.’
“I have only been waiting for the morning so that I can see you for the last time and bless you for the last time; otherwise in the middle of the night I was evaporating. Now it is not a meaningful question to ask. So come close to me, receive my blessings; Bokoju is going, and from tomorrow this room will be empty to the ordinary eyes — but to those who had loved me, it will be still full of my presence. And those who have loved me totally, they may even hear every morning a sound coming from nowhere, `Bokoju are you still here?’ — `Yes, sir.'”
And the story is that only two disciples were able to hear it after he was dead, disposed of, but many felt his presence. Those two disciples became enlightened very soon. Even when you are becoming one with existence, it does not mean you lose your individual being. You lose only your periphery, your center remains always there. But in such a harmonious state with existence, you can say that you have become one with it. So this is a very vulnerable state for you. Perhaps this anecdote may help you:
“I have to take every precaution to avoid pregnancy,” confided a woman to her friend.
“But hasn’t your husband just had a vasectomy?” asked her friend.
“Yes,” replied the woman, “and that’s why I have to take every precaution.”
You have to take every precaution not to get entangled with doubts, questions, and the mind. And just enjoy the feeling of let-go. The more you enjoy it, the more it will be coming to you.
The mind is the only problem in the growth of your spiritual being. The mind is continuously lying. Even when there is something real happening, it becomes very much afraid, it creates all kinds of doubts, because its life is at risk.
Two women in a restaurant were having an intense conversation. One said to the other, “Why don’t you go to him in a perfectly straightforward way and lie about the whole thing.”
Great advice! But that’s what the mind goes on doing to everybody.
Hymie Goldberg thought he had the perfect marriage, until he moved from New York to California and discovered he still had the same milkman.
Don’t trust the mind — a perfect marriage! And everything else is just a lie.
Mind is a lying energy. Respect with certainty the experiences that are happening to you — the let-go, and because of the let-go the feeling as if the separation has disappeared. That “as if” is not your feeling; that “as if” is an insertion by your mind. You are feeling with absolute certainty that the separation has disappeared and you are one with existence. So all that you have to do is to drop your “as if,” and to not allow your mind to interfere and disturb a beautiful phenomenon that is going to grow in you.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The New Dawn
Chapter title: Compassion – love come of age
29 June 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has also spoken on many Zen Masters and Mystics Mahakashyap, Bodhidharma, Hyakujo, Ma Tzu, Nansen, Dogen, Isan, Joshu, Kyozan, Basho, Bokuju, Sekito, Yakusan, Bankei, Sosan, Yoka, Nan-in, Ikkyu and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- Ancient Music in the Pines
- Ah, This!
- A Bird on the Wing
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
- Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
- God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
- Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
- Joshu: The Lion’s Roar
- Kyozan: A True Man of Zen
- The Language of Existence
- Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror
- Nansen: The Point of Departure
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
- No Water, No Moon
- Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment
- Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing