Joshu: The Lion’s Roar

Osho on Zen Master Joshu

Zen Master Joshu, also known as Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen (778–897), was one of the great Zen masters of ancient China, because his manner of teaching was to speak words, that so profoundly expressed Zen realization. It is said of Joshu that his “lips emitted light” that students often had immediate insight. It was his ability to express the true nature of the enlightened mind in a way that was pithy and succinct that made his teaching so influential. His sayings and dialogues have been preserved in the Zen literature as timeless and potent manifestations of the enlightened experience.

Osho says about Joshu,At the age of sixty, Joshu started. You can start any time, and this has always been my feeling. Joshu lived so long — he lived one hundred and twenty years — he must have lived one hundred and twenty years, because he started at the age of sixty. And when you start meditating, you become so fresh and young, you can simply live long without any effort.”

And Joshu’s life span shows that there is no time as perfect time to start your spiritual journey, it is never too late to feel sad, one can start anytime, anywhere.

A simple story of joshu:

JOSHU, THE ZEN MASTER, ASKED A NEW MONK IN THE MONASTERY, “HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?”
THE NEW MONK REPLIED, “NO SIR.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.”

JOSHU THEN TURNED TO ANOTHER MONK, “HAVE I SEEN YOU HERE BEFORE?
THE SECOND MONK SAID, “YES SIR, OF COURSE YOU HAVE.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.”
LATER THE MANAGING MONK OF THE MONASTERY ASKED JOSHU, “HOW IS IT YOU MAKE THE SAME OFFER OF TEA TO ANY REPLY?”
AT THIS JOSHU SHOUTED, “MANAGER, ARE YOU STILL HERE?”
THE MANAGER REPLIED, “OF COURSE, MASTER.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.

BELOVED OSHO,

ONCE JOSHU WAS ASKED, “WHAT IS THE SPECIAL TEACHING OF YOUR SCHOOL?”

JOSHU’S RESPONSE WAS, “THOUGH THE FOLDING SCREEN IS BROKEN, THE FRAME IS STILL THERE.”

AT ANOTHER TIME, THE SAME QUESTION WAS ASKED OF JOSHU, AND HE REPLIED, “ASK IN A LOUD VOICE  —  I’M HARD OF HEARING.”

WHEN THE MONK HAD REPEATED THE QUESTION IN A LOUD VOICE, JOSHU SAID, “YOU ASK ME MY SPECIAL TEACHING  — I KNOW YOUR SPECIAL TEACHING.”

ONCE, JOSHU WAS ASKED TO GO TO A KOREAN TEMPLE TO A MEETING. WHEN HE REACHED THE GATE, HE ASKED, “WHAT TEMPLE IS THIS?”

SOMEONE ANSWERED: “A KOREAN ONE.”

JOSHU SAID, “YOU AND I ARE OCEANS AWAY.”

ON ANOTHER OCCASION, A MONK ASKED, “WHEN A BEGGAR COMES, WHAT SHALL WE GIVE HIM?”

JOSHU ANSWERED, “HE IS LACKING IN NOTHING.”

Maneesha, this is the last night of THE LION’S ROAR. Before I discuss the sutras placed before me,

I have to give you a few hints to understand Joshu and his lion’s roar. A lion is a special symbol. He walks alone, unafraid of any danger. He has nothing, but still he is called the king of the jungle. A man of enlightenment has some similarities. He walks alone, and although there may be thousands of dead bodies following him, it does not take away his aloneness. His aloneness is something of his inner being  —  no crowd can take it away, there is no way for anyone to approach it.

And he walks on a dangerous path. Most people have remained outside themselves for a particular reason: to go in is a little dangerous. The outside seems to be familiar, well known. You know how to deal with it, you are well acquainted with it, you are educated and conditioned to relate with it.

But you don’t know the language of the inner, and you don’t know the sky of the inner, and you don’t know where you are going  —  you don’t have any map, you don’t have any guide. Nobody can come with you to help you. This creates tremendous fear. People remain their whole life outside, engaged, keeping themselves occupied. They don’t leave any time gap in their occupations because in the time gap they may become aware of something of the unknown that is always there…With the unknown, somehow our whole stomach gets disturbed. We don’t know how to respond because our whole teaching, our whole upbringing, is to react to particular conditions for which we already have the answer. Our mind functions almost like a computer memory and our educational system goes on pouring information into our mind computer. So whenever a situation arises for which you are already informed, you don’t get frightened  —  you are well prepared, you have done the homework. But for the inner you are absolutely unprepared. Entering into the inner forest, one knows nothing about what is going to happen and whether he will be able to find anything valuable, or whether he will be able to come back again…

Zen, particularly in the hands of Joshu, becomes a lion’s roar that resounds in faraway mountains and valleys. Only a man who knows life as an experience, not as an explanation, is capable to give a lion’s roar to wake up other lions.

I have told you the story, a very ancient story, about a lioness giving birth to a cub while she was jumping from one hillock to another hillock. The cub fell into a crowd of sheep and grew up amongst the sheep. There was no way for him to know that he was not a sheep  —  perhaps that was the only vegetarian lion in the whole history of animalhood! Absolutely vegetarian, just eating grass. Even eating grass he started becoming bigger than the sheep, longer, a beautiful specimen. But the sheep were not afraid, they never thought that he was dangerous. He had grown amongst them, they had relations with him, friends. Somebody mothered him, somebody was taking care of him; there was no question of being afraid. They were just concerned… what a strange kind of sheep!  —  looks like a lion, but must be a natural mistake. And they were very happy to have him amongst them. While they moved in thousands in a crowd, he stood aloof in the middle of them.

One day an old lion saw this phenomenon and could not believe it. He had never seen any lion walking in a crowd of sheep. The moment sheep see a lion they start escaping  —  it was a miracle. The old lion went down to catch hold of the young lion. The sheep started running and the young lion also started running  —  naturally. He believed he was a sheep. But the old lion was a man just like Joshu. He got hold of him. He started trembling, and the old lion said, “You idiot! You are trembling and weeping and crying and asking that you should be released because you want to join your group. There is something you don’t know, it seems you are unaware, and I will not leave you unless I make you aware. You come with me!”

He dragged him to a nearby lake. The lake was silent  —  no ripples, no wind was there. He took the young lion to the edge of the water and told him, “Look in the water. Look at my face and your face.” Instantaneously, from the young lion a roar came out. It was not any effort, it was simply the fact of seeing that he is a lion  —  immediately a roar that resounded in faraway mountains.

The old lion said, “My work is done. Now do you know who you are?”

The young lion thanked the old lion and said, “You have been very kind to me. Otherwise my whole life I would have lived chewing grass with the sheep, continuously afraid of being alone. You have given me a new birth.”

That’s exactly the function of a master: to create a situation in which the lion’s roar comes spontaneously, the recognition of your being. And Joshu was a great craftsman, immensely capable of devising new methods to wake up those who are fast asleep and completely unaware of their being. These sutras will help you to understand his methodology.

ONCE JOSHU WAS ASKED, “WHAT IS THE SPECIAL TEACHING OF YOUR SCHOOL?”

Now such questions are very ordinary and common; you can ask them to any philosopher, you can ask them to any priest, any pedagogue. But you cannot ask such a question to a Zen master.

That is where the Zen master is a completely different category  —  because Zen has no teaching, what to say about special or not special. It has a method of awakening you, but it has no doctrine, no theology. It does not teach you anything, it simply wakes you up and leaves you liberated.

It does not program you for anything. Its function is finished the moment you are aware. Your very awareness will become your discipline, your compassion, your love. Your actions will be transformed by your awareness, not by rehearsals, not by repressing the opposite.

What are teachings? What are doctrines? Ways of repressing. To teach you that you are a Christian, and you should love even your enemy… now in the first place if you are really a man of love, how can you find an enemy? And if you have an enemy, then it is going to be absolutely difficult to love him. It is difficult to love even the friend. And if you want to know the ultimate fact, it is even difficult to love yourself, because you don’t know what you are. You don’t know what love is. So what will you do? You will simply impose, you will become a hypocrite. Every Christian, every Mohammedan, every Hindu, every Buddhist is nothing but a hypocrite. He has to cover up all jealousy, hate, cruelty, greed  —  and cover them up with beautiful disciplines, practiced well. But howsoever you practice them, what you are doing is simply repressing. So what you have repressed remains in you, and will come out at any moment.

There was a Christian missionary who used to say in every sermon, quoting Jesus, “If somebody slaps your cheek, give him the other cheek also.”

Everybody loved the teaching  —  it is beautiful. But in one village, one idiot created trouble. Hearing this, he stood up and slapped the priest on one cheek, and asked him, “Now give me the other cheek!”

The priest was boiling with anger  —  this had never happened, this was strange. Still, he contained his anger. It is only a question of one cheek more; then he will see.

He gave the other cheek. And that man was so stupid, he hit him again on the other cheek! Just as he hit him, the priest jumped on the man and started hitting him here and there  —  everywhere.

The man said, “What are you doing? Have you forgotten your sermon?”

He said, “There are only two cheeks, and Jesus said nothing beyond that. Beyond that I am free.”

So how long can you…?

Once it happened to Gautam Buddha…. A man was going to spread the teaching of his master. He asked Buddha, “If somebody is very unkind, cruel, how many times do I have to forgive him?” Because that was the teaching of Buddha  —  forgive. But the problem is, how many times? And in the very question, “How many times?” it shows that the man has not forgiven, he is just repressing. He is asking, “How many times to repress?”  —  reduced to its exact meaning.

Buddha said, “Seven times.”

That man said, “Okay. The eighth time I am absolutely free.”

Buddha said, “You have not understood my idea. What do you mean by saying the eighth time you are absolutely free?”

He said, “The eighth time I will kill the man! Seven times I forgave him, now it is enough.”

Seeing the situation  —  still, people who make doctrines and moralities and principles to live by, can’t see the underlying repression  —  Buddha said, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Buddha’s chief disciple Sariputra said, “It does not make any difference. Even if you say seven hundred seventy-seven times, it does not make any difference, because after that he is free. And he is waiting for that moment when the principle comes to an end and he can show his reality.”

All discipline is limited. You cannot condition a man absolutely. You can cover him up with a thin layer, but just scratch the layer and immediately all discipline is forgotten. All Christianity is forgotten, all Buddhism is forgotten; immediately your animal comes out.

Hence, masters like Joshu have improved immensely on Gautam Buddha. Although they are disciples of Gautam Buddha, he has shown the way… but the way is always capable of being refined, more refined. Joshu has made a great contribution. He has no teaching, no “special teaching.” He simply wakes you up and then it is up to you how to live. If your wakefulness does not prevent you from being greedy and ambitious, hateful, jealous, revengeful, then nothing can transform you. The ultimate principle of transformation has been given to you. You are awake, alert, responsible  —  now you are free. You can do whatever comes spontaneously to you. There is no abiding teaching, no abiding theology. You are your own decision, your own discipline. That is the beauty of Zen that no other religion has.

ONCE JOSHU WAS ASKED, “WHAT IS THE SPECIAL TEACHING OF YOUR SCHOOL?”

JOSHU’S RESPONSE WAS, “THOUGH THE FOLDING SCREEN IS BROKEN, THE FRAME IS STILL THERE.”

The man who has asked the question was Joshu’s own disciple. He is saying to him, “THOUGH THE FOLDING SCREEN IS BROKEN, THE FRAME IS STILL THERE  —  the frame of the window. The screen is broken, but the frame is still there. You have been with me, you understand that I don’t have any teaching. So you are asking, `What is your special teaching? Must be to the very intimate, inner circle that you give the special teaching.’ So THE FOLDING SCREEN IS BROKEN  —  a part of your mind, that there needs to be a teaching, is broken. But only a part; the frame of the window is still there. You are again asking the same thing, just by joining on the word `special’. There is no teaching, and there is no special teaching.”

Zen is the only way of life which has nothing to teach you. It does exactly what the English word `education’ means in its original roots. To educate means to bring out what is inside you.

It is almost like drawing water from a well. All our educational systems are doing just the opposite. They should not be called educational institutions. But such is the blindness and such is the unintelligence, the retardedness, of the people who decide the fate of millions  —  the politicians, the priests. They can’t see a simple thing, that your educational institutions are feeding things from outside into your mind. They are programming your mind, they are not doing education. They are not drawing your life to the circumference; they are not drawing your innermost awareness into your life. I have been fighting with the Indian government for my whole life but they cannot understand the simple fact that this is an educational institution and what you call educational institutions are not; they are programming schools. But it is almost one man against the whole world. They go on denying that this place is a place of education. They don’t understand the meaning of the word at all.

Zen is not a teaching but it is an education. It draws out whatever you have in your innermost core  — the joy, the bliss, all the flowers that are possible; compassion and love, all the songs that are hidden in you, all the dances, all creativity. You are part of a creative universe; you must have some part to play in the whole creativity that is going on everywhere.

But your so-called educational systems, rather than bringing anything out from you, do just the opposite: they force things upon you. Your religions do the same, your society, culture, everybody is doing the same. Nobody is careful of the delicate seed. They go on throwing all kinds of rubbish and the seed is covered, is never given the right soil, is never given the right climate. Its season never comes. It never becomes a sprout, green and living and radiant. It never becomes foliage; it never brings roses, which you all are carrying.

I am calling those roses hidden in you “the buddha.”

Everybody is carrying a buddha within him, just it has to be carried out. Devices have to be made so that you can carry your center out to the circumference. This is the only education in the world. Everything else is a teaching, not education; and teaching is always in the favor of the vested interests. Teaching can never be revolutionary. The teacher is the servant of the vested interests. Only a sannyasin can be a revolutionary because he has no vested interest, no obligation to any investment. He has liberated himself from all connections, all dominating forces. He stands alone. He is capable of giving a lion’s roar, which may trigger the same roar in you also. Only very few sannyasins in the world have been authentic rebels. Joshu is a great rebel, a whole rebellion.

Source:

This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Joshu: The Lion’s Roar

Chapter #8

Chapter title: The lion’s roar

22 October 1988 pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium

References:

Osho has also spoken on other Zen Masters and Mystics Mahakashyap, Bodhidharma, Hyakujo, Ma Tzu, Nansen, Dogen, Isan, Joshu, Kyozan, Basho, Bokuju, Sekito, Yakusan, Bankei, Sosan, Nan-in and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  2. Ancient Music in the Pines
  3. Ah, This!
  4. A Bird on the Wing
  5. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  6. Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
  7. Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
  8. God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
  9. Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
  10. Joshu: The Lion’s Roar
  11. Kyozan: A True Man of Zen
  12. The Language of Existence
  13. Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror
  14. Nansen: The Point of Departure
  15. Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
  16. No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
  17. No Water, No Moon
  18. Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment
  19. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing

Leave a comment