Joshu The Lions Roar 06

Sixth Discourse from the series of 8 discourses - Joshu The Lions Roar by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

On one occasion, as Joshu was receiving new arrivals in his monastery, he asked one of them, “Have you been here before?”
“Yes,” the monk replied.
“Help yourself to a cup of tea!” Joshu said to him. Then he turned to another new arrival and said, “Have you been here before?”
“No, your reverence,” the visitor replied. “This is my first visit here.”
Joshu said to him, “Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
The prior of the monastery took Joshu aside and said, “One had been here before, and you gave him a cup of tea. The other had not been here, and you also gave him a cup of tea. What is the meaning of this?”
Joshu called out loudly, “Prior!”
“Yes?” The prior replied.
“Help yourself to a cup of tea!” instructed Joshu.
Maneesha, the way of Zen is very light, very weightless. It expresses itself in the simplest way. But just because of that, millions of people who think themselves intelligent misunderstand it. The obviousness, the simplicity, becomes a barrier to them. The mind is always interested in the impossible.
It has to be understood why mind is always interested in the impossible: because the impossible can never be achieved, and mind can go on living, gathering more and more force, taking you farther and farther away from yourself. Because the impossible cannot be achieved, it is a great victory of the mind. The mind avoids the obvious and the simple because they are not only achievable, they are already achieved.
So it is a very political strategy, a diplomatic effort on the part of the mind, not to let you see the obvious – the buddha that is you.

In this simple anecdote you laughed; you laughed as if it is just a joke. It says everything that needs to be said, it contains the whole essence of Zen. But you laughed because you did not understand its implications. Sometimes one laughs because he does not understand; sometimes one laughs because he understands; sometimes one laughs just to hide the fact that he has not understood. You laughed because it looks like a joke – but it only looks like a joke. It is the whole philosophy of Zen. Now let me read it to you with its implications….
On one occasion, as Joshu was receiving new arrivals in his monastery, he asked one of them, “Have you been here before?”
Small things to be noted: one, the master himself is at the reception desk receiving new arrivals. Zen is an effort to look into your potentialities. Why waste time? – not even a few moments. So the master is receiving new arrivals at the gate of the monastery. In the first encounter with each new arrival it will be determined whether he is worthwhile to work upon, or just to let him have a cup of tea and move on.
And the question that he asked does not mean what you think it means. “Have you been here before?” He is not talking about the ordinary “here”; he is talking about the ultimate “here.” It is not concerned with the place, the monastery, or Joshu. It is concerned with a meditative state where time ceases and only now-ness remains; where space disappears and only here-ness is left behind.
This now and here, these two words, contain the whole approach of Zen. If you can be now and here, nothing else has to be done. Every door of existential mystery will be opened unto you.
So when a man like Joshu asks, “Have you been here before?” don’t misunderstand him. He is not talking about the place, he is talking about spacelessness, timelessness. “Have you ever been in deep meditation?” That is what he is asking.
“Yes,” the monk said.
“Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
The monk has understood the meaning of “here.” It is not that he has been here to this monastery before, it simply means he has known the taste of here-ness. A simple “yes” implies a vast meaning, that “I am not a newcomer, don’t count me among the new arrivals. I have been here – where else can I be?”

But it is not said so explicitly. That is the beauty of Zen, that it leaves the most important part to be discovered by you. When the monk says, “Yes,” he is also saying, through his eyes and through his gestures, “What kind of a question are you asking? Where else can I be? Everybody is here, wherever he is – it doesn’t matter. Here is the only point where you can be.”
His “yes” is not to be misunderstood. He does not mean that he has been to this place; he says, “I have been here always – where else can I be?”
With a great respectfulness Joshu said, “Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
A cup of tea in Zen is not the same as it is anywhere else in the world. A cup of tea is the greatest reception a Zen master can give to you. The cup of tea represents awareness. After drinking tea you cannot go to sleep; hence tea became one of the most important symbols of awareness, of meditation. “Have a cup of tea” does not simply mean, “Have a cup of tea.” Certainly the tea is offered, but with the understanding that the cup is full of awareness. A cup of tea has been used in many ways by the Zen masters.

A professor of philosophy reached Joshu. He had many questions in his mind, many complicated answers which he had borrowed from all the scriptures and philosophical systems.
Coming up the mountain he was perspiring, looked a little tired. Joshu received him and told him, “You are tired…just wait, I will prepare a cup of tea for you. It is not time for tea – otherwise tea would have been served immediately – I will prepare it specially. You just wait and rest.”
And Joshu prepared the tea, brought the tea, put the cup and saucer into the hands of the professor, and from the kettle started pouring tea – and went on pouring, to the very brink. The professor watched and then he saw that now, if any more tea is poured in, it will start flowing out. But he still waited, till the cup was full and the saucer was also full. Then he could not contain himself, he said, “Wait! What are you doing? Now my cup and saucer cannot contain a single drop more of tea.”

Joshu said, “Have you ever asked the same question about your mind? Is there any space, empty space, where even a drop of tea can manage to fit? You are too full of thoughts. So many answers, so many questions! You have read too much, you are too learned to become enlightened.
“This cup of tea is simply symbolic. I wanted to show you that before you can ask any question to me, I should make my position clear: you have to be empty; otherwise you have to excuse me, I cannot answer. You don’t have the space to receive it.”
Joshu used the cup of tea in different situations. Now he said, “Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
Joshu then turned to another new arrival and said, “Have you been here before?”
You may not see the difference in the questions. The first question was, “Have you been here before?” The emphasis was on here. In the second question the emphasis is on you.
“Have you been here before?”
“No, your reverence,” the visitor replied.
He is saying, “I am no more – how I can be here before?”
Both monks have understood the difference. Although the question looks similar, they have seen the emphasis of the master. They are watching his eyes, they are watching his face, they are looking at his hands.
To talk to a Zen master is not an ordinary conversation – it is a total, being-to-being communion.
The first monk understood well, and the second also understood well. He said, “No, your reverence.”
But the essential part remains by the side. The essential part is, “How can I be? I am no more, I have never been; the question does not arise. I have tried to find myself – there is no one.”
Joshu said to him, “Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
The prior of the monastery took Joshu aside and said, “One had been here before, and you gave him a cup of tea. The other had not been here, and you also gave him a cup of tea. What is the meaning of this?”
The prior is the head monk of the monastery. He saw a contradiction in it – must be a logical man. He could not see the hidden part that was exchanged between Joshu and those two new arrivals.
He took Joshu aside and asked, “What is the meaning of this? You offered the same to both visitors – although one has visited before, and another has not. But your offering of the cup of tea was the same.”
Joshu called out loudly, “Prior!”
“Yes?” The prior replied.
This is also a very significant method used by Zen: suddenly to call when there is no need. When suddenly someone is called, for a moment his thinking stops because the continuity is not there. Mind can function only with a continuity.
He is asking, “You have offered a cup of tea to different arrivals; to two different persons, the same welcome. I see a contradiction in it.” Now he is wanting to know the meaning of this.
Rather than giving him the meaning,
Joshu called out loudly, “Prior!”
That is breaking his thinking process, suddenly bringing an awareness.
“Yes?” The prior replied.
“Help yourself to a cup of tea!”
– you are also capable of being a little aware once in a while –
…instructed Joshu.
The cup of tea is a symbol of awareness. Zen offers nothing but awareness, and Zen offers awareness to everybody, without any distinction. One has been here, one has not been here; one is the head monk of the monastery – but as far as Joshu is concerned, he has nothing else to offer them except a cup of tea. A cup of tea means Joshu can offer only awareness, watchfulness, witnessing. A cup of tea has become in Zen circles one of the most important symbols.
So it is not a joke.
Joshu has, without saying anything about Zen, made it clear to everybody, all three persons concerned, that “You have come to a man who can only offer a cup of tea; you should not expect anything else. I can teach you awareness – and you are all three capable of it. Even the head monk is capable of it once in a while.”

One Zen monk is reported to have said – every morning of his life after his enlightenment, the first thing in the morning he would say was, “Osho!” Because he has become enlightened now, an honorable word has to be used….
“Reverence” is a little less than “Osho.” “Reverence” only means respect; “Osho” also means respect, and love, and gratitude. You may not have thought about it – because people don’t think about words; otherwise strange meanings come out of them. Have you ever thought? – “respect” simply means looking back: re-spect, looking once again. It simply means that somebody is so beautiful that you have to look again, one more time; you cannot just go on without looking again. Out of this, “respectfulness” has arisen.
But “Osho” contains some more elements: love and gratitude. It is much more than “reverence.” “Reverence” is a Christian word and is used for learned bishops, missionaries, priests. “Osho” cannot be translated correctly as “reverence” because it is used only for the enlightened ones, not the learned ones.
And this Zen master used to call every morning, “Osho, are you still here?” He was asking himself about his own presence: “Are you still here? Then have a cup of tea!”
His disciples knew perfectly well that every morning this was the first thing he would say to himself, so they kept ready the samovar, making its song. And they would ask him, “Master, why do you do this?”
And he used to say, “I am so surprised that existence has given one day again for me. I don’t deserve, I am not worthy of it. I have not done anything to deserve another day, another sunrise, and the whole sky, and the whole universe. I just want to make sure that I am here. This beautiful universe one day will be taken away from me.”
And he used to answer himself also. First he will say, “Osho, are you here?”
And he will say, “Yes sir.”
Then he will say, “Then have a cup of tea!”
This was a monologue. The disciples produced the cup of tea. They loved the master, they loved this small, beautiful approach to the morning. The night is over – it is symbolic of the night in which most of us live the whole life; the morning never comes.
A cup of tea declares that the night is over, wake up! Be aware and see the whole beauty of existence. The universe has allowed you one day more – you cannot demand, it is a gift. One day the sun will rise and the roses will blossom but you will not be there to celebrate this new morning. And there is no way to complain, it is absolutely in the hands of the cosmos.
But we have not paid our gratitude even for our life. Do you think there can be anything more precious than life, than consciousness? And existence gives it to you without asking any payment in return. At least you can be thankful. This thankfulness is the only authentic prayer; all other prayers are childish, they are nothing but hidden demands.

Just today Anando informed me…A group of Christian research scholars has been working for many years on the Lord’s Prayer – every Christian has to do The Lord’s Prayer – and their whole research has now been exposed to the public. They have found that in the Lord’s Prayer, except the word abba, father, everything else is fake. Jesus only called abba; everything else has been added by other people.
Millions of Christians will be shocked, and will be shocked even more because it is the Christian scholars who have found that all other words in the Lord’s Prayer have been added by other people. They may not listen to the scholars – most probably they will not. But when Anando reported it to me, I was thinking that just to say, “Abba” – that is Hebrew for “father” – is enough; the prayer is complete. Just to relate with existence in a loving relationship, to call the existence “Abba,” the prayer is finished. What more can you say? You have shown your gratitude, you have shown that “You are the source of my being.” Hence “Abba” is exactly right, but more than that is non-essential commentary.
These same scholars, a few months ago, have done a tremendous job of research and they have threatened the whole of Christianity with their research. I was thinking that Christians would take note, but nobody has taken any note of it. And I am not the Christian, but I have to take notes!
They came to the conclusion that Jesus was not a Virgin Mary’s son, fathered by a Holy Ghost. Frankly speaking, he was really the son of Mariam and Joseph. But to avoid Joseph and to replace Joseph with God, this whole strategy was used. So, working through ancient scriptures they have found that this is absolutely false – Jesus was not a bastard!
But strangely enough, the Christian leaders around the world, rather being happy that Jesus was a properly licensed son, were shocked. He has to be a bastard; otherwise the main stone of the foundation will be removed. That is the first miracle, that God himself…because the Holy Ghost and God are one.
It is just a trick to talk about the Holy Ghost and then in the next sentence say that the Holy Ghost and God are one. Then why hide God behind the Holy Ghost? Why not bring him directly into the case of making a virgin pregnant? That would look a little awkward to the high position of God, so a mediator has been found: the Holy Ghost.
But if the Holy Ghost is really the father of Jesus, then God can at the most be an uncle – if he is a brother of Holy Ghost. It depends on who he is, in what way he is related with the Holy Ghost, but one thing is certain: he cannot be the father of Jesus.
The bishop of England immediately reacted, saying “The theory of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost is the very foundation of Christianity and we cannot change it.” But their own researchers are saying that it is just an invention to make Jesus special. Everybody is born out of his father and mother, but to make Jesus special…poor fellow has to be made a bastard! And that is the very foundation of Christianity.
The same group of scholars has found that even God is not necessary for Christianity, because there is no evidence of God. Neither is there any evidence of the Holy Ghost. All that we can say is that Jesus and his crucifixion happened. There is no evidence even of his resurrection. The problem is, can you find anybody who will become a Christian just because Jesus was crucified? The whole religion is finished! God is taken away, the Holy Ghost is taken away, the resurrection is taken away, the virgin birth is taken away….
This makes a strange exposition of Christianity. These things make up Christianity, and nothing of them is essential to any religiousness.
And the same group again made a statement that all the miracles are fake. Then the pope had to speak. He said, “Without miracles Christianity will be finished. We need miracles; otherwise what is the difference between an ordinary man and the only begotten son of God?”
The difference is that he walks on water, he turns water into wine, he makes dead people alive, he cures and heals just by touching people. And the Christian scholars’ group is certainly very honest, that all these miracles have been added just to raise Jesus to a special position, above humanity.
But there is no need for anybody to be above humanity; one only has to become more aware, one has to become more aware of one’s being. In that very awareness he touches the highest point of consciousness. Everything else is not only childish, but absurd.
Religion is simply another name of meditation; anything added to it is absolutely unnecessary. It is a hindrance rather than a help.
So Joshu’s offering a cup of tea to everybody, without any distinction, is exactly what I am doing – offering a cup of tea, but in a more direct way than in a symbolic way. Because the symbolic can be misunderstood – it has been misunderstood. In every Zen monastery in China and in Japan it has become a tradition.
One young Japanese woman used to come to every celebration in the commune in America. Her mother is very famous for arranging tea ceremonies. It has become a profession; there are a few professionals who arrange the tea ceremony. And when I came back here, the girl started to come here. Seeing that I am going to stay here, she wanted to stay here – she refused to go back. Her mother came…and she was a famous woman, had great contacts even with the emperor of Japan.
She brought the girl to me, and said, “You tell my girl to go back to Japan!”
I said, “You are a famous woman – you must understand the essentials of Zen. The most essential is freedom. Now it is up to her: if she wants to go, I will not prevent her; if she does not want to go, I will not tell her to go.”
The woman became absolutely angry – freaked out. I said, “This freaking will not help.”
She became so angry that she said, “You are not a buddha!”
I said, “Just because I am not sending your girl away, I lose my buddhahood! I can accept that I am not a buddha but I cannot take away anybody’s freedom.”
She was very much shocked. She said, “I have so many contacts, and I promise to open a center for you in Tokyo.”
I said, “All these bribes will not help. It is absolutely your girl’s freedom to be here or not to be here. It is none of my concern whether she is here or she goes away.”
The mother must have forced her – she was a very strong woman – she must have forced her for three days continuously, so the girl came to me to say, “I am going in spite of myself. Just give me one of your robes.”
I gave her one of my robes and I told her, “Don’t be worried. She will relax, and once in a while she will not object and you can come.”
But once she went away, the mother would not allow her even to come for a holiday. She escaped.
I told her, “This is not good. You should have told your mother that you were going; you should have shown your integrity. But like a thief, without telling anybody, you simply escaped. You will never be able to forgive yourself. You had better go, and unless you have guts to come with an absolute declaration of your individuality…and you are old enough, you are not a child.”
But I came to know from Geeta, who is Japanese and has been here almost since eternity – as long as I remember I have seen her here – she said that almost one third of the girls in Japan are prevented by their mothers from even getting married. The mother is such a power in Japan – that I had never known. One third of the girls remain unmarried just because the mother won’t allow it.
So Geeta told me, “You are talking of freedom, and there is not even freedom to get married!”

But man is living with beautiful words: freedom, democracy, love – but all empty words. Civilization does not exist, culture does not exist. There is no independence in the world. My own experience has been absolutely bitter. The only freedom that I know is possible is to wake up, and to know yourself and your roots in existence. Except that, all are political promises which are not going to be fulfilled, ever.
So only a few people have lived freedom, like Gautam Buddha or Joshu or Nansen. I would like you all to live freedom, but I have to make a distinction clear to you. There are two kinds of freedom: one is freedom from, and another is freedom for. Freedom from is not very difficult, but the real freedom is freedom for – for some creativity, for some love, for some experience.
The first, freedom from, is negative. It prepares the ground, but it is not all.
The second is the real thing – freedom for. Creating your self, discovering your buddha, discovering your potentialities, releasing your own powers, living under the sky with a lion’s roar, without any fear. But this is possible only to a man who has reached his own sources. That’s what we are trying to do in this place: trying to discover the source from where you can have freedom from all bondages and for all creations.
Ryushu wrote:
Quietly I watch spring clouds
grow in the vast sky,
green mountains and white hair
on opposite sides
of slatted bamboo blinds;
a myriad miles of heaven and earth
rain with white blossoms,
and all of them are falling
in one Zen monk’s eyes.
Just the last line makes it a tremendously meaningful poem. Just the last line:
in one zen monk’s eyes.
Thousands of flowers. When you enter your subjectivity, you don’t have two eyes – that’s why, in India, they started talking about a third eye. That is only a symbol, but it has great meaning: as you go deeper inside, your two eyes join together into one force; that becomes your third eye.
And in this third eye:
…white blossoms,
and all of them are falling
in one Zen monk’s eyes.
Ryushu is surprised, that “I am a poor monk and so much beauty is falling, showering on me.”
Meditation makes even a beggar an emperor. And without meditation even the emperor is just a beggar and nothing more.

Maneesha has asked:
I heard you say during our meditation that the intensity of our effort would pull us toward our center. I have also heard you say that potential disciples are pulled magnetically toward the master. Is there a similarity and connection between these two things?
Maneesha, they are not two things. It is the same energy that brings you closer to the master, and it is the same energy that will bring you closer to yourself. In other words, to be closer to yourself is to be closer to the master. They are not two things. The master is at the center, and the moment you reach the center you are surprised: the buddha has reached there before you.
Every master is a buddha, and every disciple is a potential buddha. It is the same energy; somewhere it has become manifest, somewhere it is still dormant, but there is no qualitative difference.

Now it is time for Sardar Gurudayal Singh. Poor fellow has to wait too long…and he does not become enlightened for fear that one never knows what jokes will be told when he is gone. These jokes are keeping him on this shore; otherwise he would have passed to the other shore long before. He is a very ancient man, retired from the army, but he is not going to leave as long as I continue telling jokes.

Wu, the old Chinese waiter at the Mye Long Dong Chinese Restaurant, is always being teased by Colonel Wimple and his cronies, whenever they come to eat.
Finally, one day, as Wu is serving the dessert and coffee, Colonel Wimple leans back in his chair, puffs on his big cigar, and announces in a loud voice, “Okay, Chink! We have been teasing you for a long time now. So I guess from now on we will stop playing jokes on you. What do you say?”
The wizened old waiter pauses for a moment, then says with a smile, “Okie Dokie! You no jokie, me no pee in the coffee!”

Katie the cannibal wanders out of the jungle and into town. She does a little shopping and then stops at the cannibal butcher’s store.
“How much are brains today?” asks Katie.
“Well,” replies Butch, the cannibal butcher, pointing to his display shelf, “the missionaries’ brains are ten dollars a pound, the nuns’ brains are twenty dollars, and the politicians’ brains are two hundred dollars.”
Two Hundred Dollars?” screams Katie. “That’s impossible! How can they be so expensive?”
“Well,” explains Butch, looking quite hurt, “have you any idea how many politicians we have to catch to find one with a brain?”





Be silent; close your eyes. Feel your body to be completely frozen.
Now, look inward – with totality and great urgency, as if this is your last moment.

Deeper and deeper…
Take your consciousness like a spear, piercing to the very center of being.
This space is what we call the buddha; this silence is what we call the buddha.
Just be a witness, because a buddha is only a witness, only a mirror.
You are not the body, you are not the mind, you are just the pure witness.
At the very center of your being…utterly empty silence.

To make it clear, Nivedano…


Relax, and watch silently your transcendence of everything – the body, the mind, the world.
You are beyond.
You are the beyond, the transcendental consciousness.
Rejoice! Those thousands of flowers have started showering on you.
This beautiful evening has become a very mysterious and miraculous evening. Ten thousand buddhas are merged into an oceanic consciousness. This Buddha Auditorium has become a lake of consciousness, without any ripples.
Gather as much of this experience as you can, because soon Nivedano will call you back. You have to bring the buddha to the circumference, into your ordinary activities, in your day-to-day work.
We are not renouncers of the world; we are going to be in the world and yet not allow the world in us.
This is possible only if you are a witness.
Live like a buddha.
The only thing to remember is: just be a witness.
The witness is the master key.
Thousands of masters have come to the same conclusion: that to be at the center, just a witness, is to become a buddha, the awakened one.
Then, slowly slowly persuade the buddha to come to your ordinary life. From the hidden sources, bring him to your extrovert activities.
When the inner and the outer become one, the miracle has happened.



Come back, but come back like a buddha – with the grace, with the silence, with the beauty, with the gratitude.
Sit silently for a few moments, rejoicing this miraculous evening, remembering the path that you have followed to the center and back. This path has to be followed again and again. Slowly slowly, that which is at the center will also spread all over your circumference.
That day is the great day of celebration.

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