Live Zen 04

Fourth Discourse from the series of 17 discourses - Live Zen by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

Hyakujo and a Wild Duck
When Basho was out walking with Hyakujo he saw a wild duck fly past.
Basho said, “What is it?”
Hyakujo said, “It is a wild duck.”
Basho said, “Where is it?”
Hyakujo said, “It has flown away.”
Basho at last gave Hyakujo’s nose a sharp pinch. Hyakujo cried out with pain.
Basho said, “There, how can it fly away?”

Setcho says:

The wild duck! What, how and where?
Basho has seen, talked, taught and exhausted the meaning of mountain clouds and moonlit seas.
But Jo doesn’t understand – “has flown away.”
Flown away? No, he is brought back!
Say! Say!

Basho is said to have been the first Zen master to use hits, pinches, shouts and pushes to bring a disciple to the present. But such methods leave themselves open to abuse and to becoming simply a tradition.
You seem to devise a different method every day to outsmart us.
You are always at least one step ahead of us!
What do you say?
Maneesha, before Zen master Niskriya takes care of you, I would like to answer this beautiful anecdote…. Basho has tremendous respect in my heart. He is not only a mystic, a master, he is also a poet, a painter, a sculptor; he is a creative phenomenon. Nobody can compare with him as far as his multidimensional personality is concerned.
Bodhidharma is the greatest peak but he is one-dimensional. Basho is not that great a peak but he has a different quality of greatness that is his multidimensionality. Just as Bodhidharma is unique so is Basho. His statements have to be listened to very carefully. He speaks as Basho should speak – he is the very essence of Zen.
If Bodhidharma is the founder then Basho is the flower. He has the fragrance which only a flower can have. That fragrance is manifested in his poetry, in his small statements, in his every gesture. Even in his ordinary talks with people he cannot be other than Basho.
This small anecdote would have been forgotten if Basho were not there. There is nothing new in it but Basho gives it new meaning. There is nothing philosophical or mystical in it, but Basho makes it a mystery. You will have to be very silently aware to see what a great master is….
Bodhidharma is very raw. He smells of the earth when the first rain clouds come – and a beautiful smell out of the earth. Basho is far more refined, perhaps the most refined Zen master up to now. His refinement is in his cultured, meditative spaciousness. Out of that spaciousness many flowers have showered on the world. It does not matter wherever he is and whatever is going on, Basho is going to make it a Zen state of affairs. That uniqueness will not be found again.
Just think of this Hyakujo and a wild duck….
When Basho was out walking with Hyakujo he saw a wild duck flying past.
Basho said, “What is it?”
Certainly the question is not about the wild duck, because Basho is not blind. Hyakujo is far behind in spiritual growth; he is not yet a master. Not even a perfect disciple. He has some intellectual sophistication, but even he missed it. He missed it because he must have thought that Basho had not seen that it is a wild duck.
Basho is not asking about the wild duck at all. He is not asking about the form but the essence.
“What is it?” He is not asking about the past or the present but that which transcends time.
Hyakujo said, “It is a wild duck.”
Perfectly factual, perfectly right – but not in the eyes of a man like Basho.
Basho said, “Where is it?”
He gives another chance to Hyakujo and he again misses it.
Hyakujo said, “It has flown away.”
Basho at last gave Hyakujo’s nose a sharp pinch. Hyakujo cried out with pain.
Basho said, “There, how can it fly away?”
So much is implied in this small conversation. First, as we conceive time and as it is in the eyes of the awakened, is not the same.
For us time passes by.
For the awakened one you pass by.
Time is always present. It never goes anywhere.
It is always now and here.
Have you ever met the past? Yes, you have imagined, dreamt about it. But your dreaming about the past is not the past; your imagination is not the reality. Where is the future? – except in your desires and in your longings and in your passions, where is the future? And these longings and desires and greed and ambitions are part of your mind. They are not part of time.
For a man whose desires have disappeared, whose greed is no longer there, do you think there will be even a slight shadow of tomorrow? With the desires and longings going away the future dies, and with the memories and imaginations and the dreams dropping, the past disappears. Then what remains in your hands? You cannot even call it present, because present is possible only if there is something past and something future. In that context the present is the middle, but if the future disappears and the past dies, the present cannot live. The present is also part of your mind.
Your mind is time.
And when times ceases, your mind ceases.
Then you simply are.
You have to understand this background, only then will you be able to see Basho’s tremendous insight into things, transforming small experiences into great metaphysical truths.
As he saw the wild duck fly past Basho said, “What is it?”
He is not asking about the wild duck, he is asking about it – and the it contains the whole existence. But obviously anybody who understands only language and knows nothing about that which is beyond language, will agree with Hyakujo.
Hyakujo said, “It is a wild duck.”
But he has not understood that Basho would not ask about the wild duck; he can see it himself. He is asking about it, another name of existence. “What is it?” The wild duck is just an excuse to raise the question: What is existence? Existence is not a wild duck, although a wild duck is part of existence – but existence is far bigger.
The it of Basho contains the totality; the poor wild duck is not even a dewdrop in the ocean. But he gives another chance to Hyakujo to understand that his question is not directed about the wild duck.
Basho said, “Where is it?”
Hyakujo goes on committing the same mistake. That is the nature of mind; it goes on committing the same mistake again and again.
Hyakujo said, “It has flown away.”
The simple word it in the eyes of Basho contains the whole existence; hence it cannot fly away. Where will it go? It contains all, but poor Hyakujo is still concerned with the wild duck. He cannot understand that a great master like Basho cannot ask such a stupid question and if he is asking, then there must be much more than language contains. He said, “It has flown away” – still he is concerned with the wild duck. Naturally Basho could see that Hyakujo will not understand easily.
Basho at last gave Hyakujo’s nose a sharp pinch. Hyakujo cried out with pain.
Basho said, “There, how can it fly away?”
Existence cannot go anywhere. It is always here. How can it fly away and where? It is everywhere. That small it contains the whole.
And Basho is the past master because it began with him that he started hitting his disciples, slapping his disciples, pinching their noses.
Words have failed…what to do? The disciple has to be brought to his senses! Basho gave a sharp pinch to Hyakujo’s nose. Hyakujo cried out with pain. Rather than sympathizing or being compassionate,
Basho said, There…”
Pain brings you here. Pain has a certain quality, the same as pleasure; they bring you here. And a sharp pinch on the nose and Basho asked, “There, when the nose is hurting how can it fly away?”
Setcho comments – his commentaries are becoming better every day:
“The wild duck! What, how, and where?”
In existence everything is formal: today somebody is alive and tomorrow he is gone. Who was he? Where was he and where has he gone? The flower that was dancing in the wind just now is no longer there – all the petals have withered away. From where did that flower come? From where to where has it gone? What was it? Certainly it was not just the petals. It was a certain expression of existence. It was real; it was not a dream.
It came out from nowhere.
It remained in nowhere.
It has gone into nowhere.
I would suggest to you again to break that word in two: make it now-here – just a small hyphen. That is the meaning of nowhere. Now-here – put together it becomes nowhere, but looked at deeply, now and here are the realities. Perhaps you cannot see it now. It has entered into its own essence.
Again will come the spring and again will come the flower.
It has been coming again and again and going again and again back into its invisible house – the essence.
The wild duck! What, how, and where?
Basho has seen, talked, taught and exhausted the meaning of the mountain clouds and moonlit seas.
But Jo does not understand…
Flown away?
Setcho is using Hyakujo’s everyday name, Jo. Jo does not understand. He sees but he sees only the form. He does not see the formless; otherwise even in the wild duck you will find the same essential soul as you will find within yourself.
The whole existence consists of one soul with millions of formulations – but the content of every form is the same.
“…has flown away.”
Flown away? No, he is brought back!
By pinching hard on the nose of Hyakujo the wild duck is brought back. Setcho means that if even now he cannot understand that nothing goes anywhere, everything remains here – like the pain. Then the wild duck is brought back.
Say! Say!
Setcho has the style of repeating his comments with “Say!” He is commenting in front of disciples. He is asking them, “Say, have you understood it? Is the wild duck back? Say!” In fact it has never gone anywhere, it has been in its essence since eternity and to eternity. For the first time Setcho has made something beautiful, has added something to Basho’s statement.

And Maneesha is asking me: “Osho, Basho is said to have been the first Zen master to use hits, pinches, shouts and pushes to bring a disciple to the present. But such methods leave themselves open to abuse and to becoming simply a tradition.”
True! That fate has befallen the Zen tradition also; much of it has become dead. Still masters ask, “What is it?” when a wild duck flies over – knowing the whole story, still the noses are pinched – but now it is meaningless. You are right that such methods leave themselves open to abuse and to becoming simply a tradition. Everything outward is going to become a tradition and the moment anything becomes a tradition, it loses meaning.
Is it so easy to understand existence just by giving a pinch to somebody’s nose, or shouting, or hitting…? These kinds of strategies can work only once. Basho was very inventive – he never repeated the same strategy again. But even though you are inventive, how many things can you do from the outside? There is a limit.

Maneesha, you are asking, “You seem to devise a different method every day to outsmart us. You are always at least one step ahead of us. What do you say?”
No knowing!
I do not devise. I never know what is going to be my next word. I allow existence to take me over completely. Hence I have been speaking for thirty-five years but I have never felt that I have repeated anything. Every day everything is fresh; every time it has a new dimension, a new meaning, a new significance; every time a new smell, a new fragrance.
I don’t devise, I let the universe devise it. It is not a very great quality; it is sheer laziness. I won’t pinch anybody’s nose – not because there are noses which do not need to be pinched, but just because I am too lazy. I am so lazy that my physiologist, my physician, Amrito exercises for me. He takes my hand and he tells me, “Don’t do anything” – and he exercises my hand…. I said, “Okay.”
Now he has imported machines which will exercise for me. I will enjoy seeing my own leg being exercised by a machine. For the first time a buddha is in such a situation!
But as far as invisible hits and shouts are concerned, they happen on their own. I may just look at you, or I may call Master Niskriya – and he was so beautiful. He functioned exactly the way…even Basho would have felt ashamed! When I told him to hit Maneesha hard he kissed her head. No hit can go deeper than a kiss. And when I said to hit anybody with his staff he hit his own head…. Even Basho would have been surprised.
I have my own ways of working, but being lazy I cannot be too physical. I can love you, I can make you laugh, I can make you cry, I can make you wait. That too is not devised, not pre-considered; it just happens.
Just now a fly is moving under my robe – and I am not going to do anything. She has got into trouble by herself – why should I do anything?
Maneesha, I am not even one step ahead of you, I am with you shoulder to shoulder. But I have found more sophisticated, more conscious ways of working on people then Basho himself. I love him; he is my predecessor – but he has to learn much if he comes back.
There is no need to hit somebody’s head, because my understanding is that an idiot’s head will become even harder. An idiot is not a donkey – that you give a hit of the stick on the donkey’s head and you can get the donkey’s attention. The ordinary human man lives in such deep unconsciousness that your hit will be misunderstood.
Hyakujo may not understand, but at least he understands that he is missing something. But today, you pinch somebody’s nose and you will get a bigger hit on your nose – and the person will say, “I came here to know about God, not to be pinched on my nose…and what have I to do with a wild duck? What kind of nonsense is this…?”
To the contemporary educated man, Zen will appear more mystical than anything. Sometimes not even mystical but pure nonsense, absurd. It was a different climate, a different kind of people – a different air in which Zen was meaningful. Today Basho would be in the Police Commissioner’s office: “Why did you hit poor Hyakujo’s nose? What kind of master are you?”
But I hit you in my own way…very legal, constitutional, without moving – I have refined much on Basho.
I have told you a story…

An emperor of Japan was very much interested in swordsmanship. Every year he used to give huge awards to the winners. One year it happened that three swordsmen were chosen from different areas of the country. They were all masters and they had no idea what test was ahead. Thousands of other swordsmen were present just to watch, because this was a great occasion to see what a swordsman can do.
The king said, “Get ready,” opened a small box – and a fly ran out of the box. The first swordsman cut the fly in the air into two parts. Everybody clapped…the fly was so small, and it was flying!
The second fly was released and the second swordsman cut the fly into three pieces in the air. There was really great clapping, and everybody was waiting for what happens with the third. Now what more can he do? A fly, so small, flying…and he cut it into three pieces in the air. There is not even enough space to make four cuts; just two was too much! The third fly was opened and the third warrior flashed his sword, but the fly went away. So everybody started laughing, that this is stupid, he could not even kill the fly. Even the emperor could not believe why he had been chosen from a province as a great master.
The swordsman said, “Stop laughing! You don’t understand. This fly will never reproduce.”
Such a fine cut. My flies don’t reproduce.
Now a few laughters before we enter into two minutes of silence. These laughters are simply preparations – hence I call them prayers….

One morning at the breakfast table, little Ernie says to his mother, “Mummy, yesterday when you were at work, Daddy took the maid upstairs to the bedroom and….” His mother interrupts him and says, “Ernie, tonight at dinner time I want you to tell this whole story when your father is here.”
So that night at dinner his mother says, “Now, Ernie, dear, I want you to repeat what you told me this morning.”
“Well,” says Ernie, “when you were at work, Daddy took the maid up to the bedroom and did the same thing you and the milkman did last week.”

Gloria is early for her appointment with the optician, so she goes into a shoe store to try on some new shoes.
As the clerk bends over to measure her foot, Gloria, who is very shortsighted, sees his bald head, and thinks it is her bare knee showing. Quickly, she pulls her skirt over it.
Immediately, there is a muffled cry. “Shit!” shouts the clerk, “There goes the electricity again!”

Farmer Hayseed keeps the best bull in the neighborhood and makes money renting its services.
One day, Farmer Hayseed and his son, Ned, leave the bull with young Sam, giving him the instructions to charge ten dollars for every cow that comes to visit it. Sam is sitting in the farmyard when an angry neighbor drives up and demands to see Farmer Hayseed. “He’s out, sir,” says Sam, “and so is Ned, but I can help you.”
“No, you can’t,” snaps the neighbor, “that Ned has gone and got my daughter pregnant!”
“You’re right, sir, you’ll have to see Farmer Hayseed,” says Sam, “I don’t know what he charges for Ned.”

Now two minutes of absolute silence.
Just melt into this silence.
Close your eyes…no movement.
Let your whole energy gather within yourself.

Now let go…

Okay, come back.

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