Kyozan: A True Man of Zen

Osho on Enlightened Zen Master Kyozan

Born in Shaozhou in the south (in modern Guangdong Province), Kyozan became a novice at a young age, and while still a teenager he became determined to follow the Zen path, and so headed north to visit the renowned elder masters in Jiangxi and Hunan. Kyozan then travelled to study under Isan, under whom he attained enlightenment, and remained to become his foremost disciple. Master and disciple had the closest spiritual affinity. Their names were later combined to form the name of the Guiyang school of Zen. Eventually moving to Mt. Yang (in modern Jiangxi Province), Kyozan drew students from throughout the realm.

Osho has talked extensively on Zen and Kyozan through various anecdotes throughout his discourses. He says,KYOZAN ASKED SANSHO, “WHAT IS YOUR NAME? It is very extraordinary of Kyozan to ask Sansho’s name. Both are enlightened, awakened people. It is extraordinary, because to ask the name is to ask about the illusory and the non-essential.

To ask about the name is to ask about the invented, not the existent. You were born without a name. Do you have a name? The name is just given to you — you never had any name. It is just a label, you can change it any moment you want. It has no substantiality in it; hence a great master like Kyozan, asking another master of the same category, Sansho, his name, is a very extraordinary dialogue. Apparently in this dialogue you will not be able to find any great philosophy. Because our whole education is intellectual, is based on name and form, we take it for granted that everybody has a name. Kyozan’s asking the name signifies in the first place, “Are you awakened yet or still asleep in the world of name and form? Have you realized yet that you are nameless, anonymous? Have you found it, that you are no one in particular?” A very simple question, yet it contains immense significance — but only for those who can understand the language of Zen. For others it is very ordinary. Every day you ask people, “What is your name?” Sansho could have said, “My name is Sansho”; then it would not have been a great dialogue. But Sansho said, “My name? — my name is Ejaku!”

Rather than denying, saying that “I have no name”… because even to say that “I have no name” is to accept the reality of I, the namelessness of I. But he could not be caught in the net Kyozan has thrown. This is Zen play. When two masters meet, they ask questions, they answer questions, they provoke each other’s lion’s roar.”

Maneesha, a new series of talks begins today. These are not sermons in a church; these are communions. A discourse, a sermon, remains within the limits of the mind. Only a communion can raise you beyond the mind, and that which is beyond the mind is Zen. A new series of communions is a great event. We will be looking into the very heart of Kyozan. Kyozan was a very simple man — not the philosophic kind, not a poet, nor a sculptor. Nothing can be said about him except that he was absolutely authentic, honest. If he does not know a thing he will say so, even at the risk of people thinking that he has fallen from his enlightenment. But this makes him a unique master.

Zen is full of unique masters, but Kyozan’s uniqueness is his simplicity. He is just like a child. It took Isan, his master, forty years of hard work to make Kyozan enlightened. He was determined, and he said he would not leave the body until Kyozan became enlightened — though he was old enough. Kyozan did everything that Isan said, but nothing penetrated to his very being. He was a very ordinary man. Heaven and hell, God and the beyond had never worried him. He was not a seeker in the sense every seeker is — a seeker of truth. No, he was not seeking truth, because he is reported to have said that, “If you are seeking the truth you have certainly accepted that truth exists, and I will not accept anything on belief. So I am just seeking, searching in all directions, trying to come in tune with the universe. It may be just my fallacy, my fantasy, but I want to go without any prejudice.”

Even the prejudice may prove right, but when a prejudice proves right, you will never know the truth. You will go on projecting your prejudice. And you can create a whole paraphernalia of prejudices, a system of beliefs — rational, logical, appealing, presentable — but if belief is the base stone on which you are creating the whole palace, you are working unnecessarily hard.

Nobody can come to know the truth by any preconceived idea. His preconceived idea will give a certain shape, a certain color to the experience. The experience will not be pure. It will be as polluted as Poona’s air!

But Isan, it seems, took it as a challenge: if an ordinary man like Kyozan cannot be transformed into a buddha, how can you allow others to trust in the existence of the buddha? All the religions have done just the contrary. Krishna is God’s incarnation, so is Rama, so is Parasurama. They have made them sit on such a high pedestal that you can only worship, you can only pray; you cannot conceive that you yourself can also experience what these people on the heights are experiencing. And the creation of hierarchies makes it difficult for almost anyone to be unprejudiced. When the child is born, we have good intentions, but good intentions do not mean that they are going to lead you to the truth. Everybody is burdened with good intentions — with Shrimad Bhagavadgita, with the Holy Koran, with the Holy Bible. Continuously repeating anything, slowly slowly it becomes a truth to you. And for centuries these religions have been repeating.

Isan chose Kyozan to be his successor. It took forty years of tremendous work on him, because he was a simple man, and in the first place he was not in search of truth. Just think of some man who is not in search of truth, and you go on knocking on his door every day…Choosing Kyozan as his successor, and waiting for forty years — what patience! — almost transforming a stone into a diamond. But Isan was determined to make one point absolutely clear to humanity: if Kyozan, a simple and ordinary person, not belonging to any speciality, any category, without any talent, any genius — if he can become enlightened, it will be a proof. To give this proof to humanity he chose Kyozan and worked hard on him. And the day Kyozan became enlightened, the day Isan transferred his enlightenment and the two flames became one, Isan disappeared from the world of matter, body, mind. Kyozan was so radiant now. He was not only once enlightened, he was twice enlightened. His master has given him richer experiences, far deeper spaces, far clearer skies.

A little biographical note:


They had to agree. If he can cut off two fingers he can cut off his whole hand, and the blame would be on them.


In Zen, there is not much to a biography. What is important is that the man has become an eternal flame, that the man has achieved his ultimate potential, that his blue lotus has blossomed. Who cares about dates of birth, about your parents? Those become negligible. That’s why in the East there is nothing like Western history. Western history is factual; it take notes of all the facts from birth to death. Eastern history does not bother about physical appearance; it takes care of your spiritual growth. Those are the real progress points. For the experience you should go to a Jaina temple. Don’t mention my name! And you will see in the temple twenty-four statues of the Jain masters. And you will be puzzled because they all look alike; there is no way to find out who is who.

I am trying to make the point clear to you that it does not matter who is who. Those statues don’t represent the physical body; they represent spiritual silence, spiritual grace, spiritual peace. If you sit there, you will be engulfed if you are not a Jaina — because the Jaina goes with a prejudice. Just go on inquiring why these twenty-four statues are exactly the same. The reason is, the inner experience is the same- whether it happens to Adinath or to Mahavira or to Gautam Buddha, it does not matter. The inner flame and the fragrance and the silence will surround you. Just sit silently, let it happen. Don’t be in a hurry. So we don’t know many names, we don’t know when they were born, we don’t know when they became enlightened, but we know that a sudden explosion of light has happened in a man. We have included only these people in our history.

All that is concerned with the physical we have deleted from Eastern history. But we have remembered, and we continue to remember… and if you sit before the statue of Buddha outside the entrance, just sitting silently, you will be surprised how for the first time you feel so relaxed, so peaceful, so unworried. The form of the statue creates a certain space and a certain energy.

This was discovered in the early days of this century when there was great excitement about the Egyptian pyramids. They are completely sealed. When one pyramid was opened — the first pyramid — there was a strange peace inside, a strange fragrance inside. And the most puzzling thing that came to light was a cat that must have died hundreds of years before, but there was no rottenness of the body. It was as if she had died just then. They could not believe it because the stupa was three thousand years old, and it had never been opened.

When they were closing the last doors, somehow the cat must have got in, and remained in, and of course had to die; there was no way out. She must have died three thousand years before, but the problem is there was no deterioration. And scientists became interested that perhaps the form of the pyramid creates a certain space in which nothing can die. Death came because there was no food, no water, but the pyramid kept the cat as if it was as alive as any cat can be. Now there are on sale in the world markets small pyramids. You just sit under the pyramid for an hour and you will see some changes; you are no more in a hurry, you don’t have any tension. The stupa has done something, but it is still a mystery. The Buddhists also have made stupas: in India, Bodhgaya, where Buddha became enlightened… in Sanchi, where many buddhas became enlightened. But nobody seems to be interested except in their architecture. Studying the architecture is not the way to find the mystery of why these stupas were made in a certain way.

In India, in Tibet, in China, in Japan, in Ceylon — wherever Buddhism went, these stupas, these memorials were raised to give an indication that nobody dies; only the body and the mind are left behind and you open your wings of consciousness. And for the first time when all the shutters are broken the whole blue sky is your empire.

Kyozan studied with many masters, but either they were not masters… and certainly he was not ready to be a disciple. The moment he saw Isan, suddenly a new breeze, a new fragrance passed through him. They met on a small footpath on the mountain. He could not resist… this man smells like sandalwood and has such a light around him, such an at-easeness.

He turned and asked Isan, “Can you accept me as a disciple?”

Isan looked at him. He said, “I have never rejected anyone, that would be humiliation — although I am aware, looking at you, that it is going to be a long task. But if you are ready to go on a long pilgrimage with me, perhaps that which can happen may now happen.”

Isan had one thousand disciple-monks, and they were all puzzled that, having such a great scholarly assembly, he had chosen a farmer, uneducated, who had not even heard the names of the Buddha’s sutras. “Why has he become so interested in him?” And they were great scholars with a fine discipline who had been with him for years — and, “This is a newcomer, a villager.”

Isan said to his other disciples, “Today he is not ready, he is just a seed. But tomorrow you will know why I have chosen him. I am trying to serve two purposes in a single event. If this man can become a buddha, then the doors are open for all men.” And he made it a promise that he would not leave his body until Kyozan could satisfy the whole assembly of disciples that the master had not been wrong.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: Kyozan: A True Man of Zen Chapter #1

Chapter title: The tremendous statement

3 December 1988 pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium


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. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  12. The Language of Existence
  13. Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror
  1. Nansen: The Point of Departure
  2. Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
  3. No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
  4. No Water, No Moon
  5. Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment
  6. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
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