The Great Zen Master Ta Hui 02

Second Discourse from the series of 38 discourses - The Great Zen Master Ta Hui by Osho.
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Tend the Ox

Since you’re studying this path, then at all times – in your encounters with people and responses to circumstances – you must not let wrong thoughts continue. If you cannot see through them, then the moment a wrong thought comes up you should quickly concentrate your mental energy to pull yourself away. If you always follow those thoughts and let them continue without a break, not only does this obstruct the path, but it makes you out to be a man without wisdom.
In the old days Kuei Shan asked Lazy An, “What work do you do during the twenty-four hours of the day?”
An said, “I tend an ox.”
Kuei Shan said, “How do you tend it?”
An said, “Whenever it gets into the grass, I pull it back by the nose.”
Kuei Shan said, “You’re really tending the ox!”
People who study the path, in controlling wrong thoughts, should be like Lazy An tending his ox; then gradually a wholesome ripening will take place of itself.

Do Not Grasp Another’s Bow

“Do not grasp another’s bow, do not ride another’s horse, do not meddle in another’s affairs.” Though this is a commonplace saying, it can also be sustenance, for entering the path. Just examine yourself constantly: from morning to night, what do you do to help others and help yourself? If you notice even the slightest partiality, or insensitivity, you must admonish yourself. Don’t be careless about this!
In the old days Ch’an master Tao Lin lived up in a tall pine tree on Ch’in Wang mountain; people of the time called him the “Bird’s Nest Monk.” When minister, Po Chu-Yi, was commander of Ch’ien T’ang, he made a special trip to the mountain to visit him.
Po said, “It’s very dangerous where you’re sitting, Ch’an master.”
The master said, “My danger may be very great, minister, but yours is even greater.”
Po said, “I am commander of Ch’ien T’ang: what danger is there?”
The master said, “Fuel and fire are joined, consciousness and identity do not stay: how can you not be in danger?”
Po also asked, “What is the overall meaning of the Buddhist teaching?”
The master said, “Don’t commit any evils, practice the many virtues.”
Po said, “Even a three-year-old child could say this!”
The master said, “Though a three-year-old child can say it, an eighty-year-old man cannot carry it out.” Po then bowed and departed.
Tending the ox is a very ancient symbol in the history of Zen. There exist ten paintings in China; the tenth painting has been a cause of great controversy. I would like you to understand those ten paintings, and the controversy, before we start Ta Hui’s sermon on tending the ox.
The ten paintings are immensely beautiful. In the first, the ox is lost. The man to whom the ox belongs is just standing, looking all around in the thick forest, and he cannot see where the ox has gone. He is simply bewildered, confused. It is getting late, the sun it setting; soon it will be night, and then to go into the thick forest to find the ox will become more and more difficult.
In the second picture he finds footprints of the ox. He feels a little happier; perhaps there is a possibility to find the ox – he has found the footprints. He follows the footprints.
In the third picture he sees the back of the ox standing in the thick forest. It is difficult to see, but he can figure out that it is the back of his ox. In the fourth he has reached the ox; he can see the ox now, its whole body. He rejoices.
In the fifth painting he takes hold of the ox’s horns. It is a great struggle to bring it back home, but he wins. In the sixth picture he is riding on the ox, coming back toward his home. These are beautiful paintings!
In the seventh picture the ox is tied down in his place. In the eighth picture the man is so full of joy that he starts playing on his flute. The ninth picture is an empty frame – there is nothing painted in it.
In the tenth picture, which is the cause of a great controversy, the man is going with a bottle of wine toward the marketplace, almost drunk. You can see, he cannot even walk. This tenth picture has caused a great controversy which has been raging for two thousand years.
One sect, which is the major sect of mahayana, believes that the ninth is the last picture. It represents the no-mind; you have achieved the goal. The ox is your innermost self which you have lost, and the whole series of pictures is in search of your inner self. You have found the self in the ninth. There is immense silence and peace. It is nirvana, it is no-mind.
Beyond the ninth…the people who say this is the end of the journey think that somebody has added the tenth picture, which seems to be absolutely irrelevant. But the people who belong to a small sect of Zen believe in the tenth picture too. They say that when one has become enlightened this is not the end. This is the highest peak of consciousness, it is the greatest achievement, but one has to come back to the human world, to the ordinary world. One has to become again part of the greater humanity. Only then can he share, only then can he provoke others for the search. And certainly when he comes from such height, he is absolutely drunk with ecstasy. That bottle of wine is not an ordinary wine. It is just symbolic of an ecstatic state.
When these pictures were brought to Japan, just twelve or thirteen hundred years ago, only nine pictures were brought. The tenth was troublesome; it was left in China.
I was puzzled when I first looked at the Japanese pictures. They seem to be complete. Once you have achieved nirvana, what more is there? And then I found in an old Chinese book ten pictures. I was immensely happy that somebody had the insight two thousand years ago that a buddha is not a buddha if he cannot come back to the ordinary humanity, if he cannot become again just simple, innocent, carrying his nirvana, carrying his ecstasy in the bottle of wine, utterly drunk with the divine but still going toward the marketplace.
I could see that whoever painted the tenth picture was right. Up to the ninth, it is simply logical. Beyond the ninth, the tenth, is a great realization.
According to me, up to the ninth a man is only a buddha; with the tenth he also becomes a Zorba. And this has been my constant theme: I have been insisting that the tenth picture is authentic, and if it were not there, I was going to paint it. Without it, ending in nothingness looks a little sad, looks a little serious, looks empty.
All this effort of finding yourself, meditating, going beyond the mind, realizing your being and ending up in desert of nothingness…no, there must be something more to it, something more beyond it, where flowers blossom, where songs arise, where dance is again possible – of course, on a totally different level.
But these pictures of tending the ox have been found to be tremendously significant in explaining the whole path step by step.
Ta Hui says,
Since you are studying this path…
Remember what I have said about Ta Hui – he is a teacher; otherwise no master can use the word studying. The master will say, “Since you are following this path, since you are on this path…” Studying? – that is not the way of the seeker; that is the way of the curious student who wants to know something – more information, more knowledge – but who is not interested in actually transforming himself.
But Ta Hui is a teacher. Although he tries in every possible way to pose like a master, he cannot deceive anyone who is enlightened. Here and there will be loopholes, but he cannot imagine that they will show his masterhood to be just a hypocrisy.
It would have been absolutely correct if he had said, “I am only a teacher.” But he is not saying that. When there is a possibility to be accepted as a master – even the emperor accepts him as a great master of Ch’an – then he keeps quiet. He must have known, because he seems to be a very intelligent man, he must have been aware that he is not a master. He is a very good teacher, and I would like you to remember on every point how he shows his unawareness.
Since you are studying this path… Studying belongs to students. A seeker does not study the path, a seeker gets involved. He participates in the whole pilgrimage. He is a pilgrim, he is not a student. He has no desire to know about the path; he wants to reach the goal – path or no path. He wants to come back home.
Then at all times – in your encounters with people and responses to circumstances – you must not let wrong thoughts continue.
Again, a loophole. The question is not of wrong thoughts and right thoughts; all thoughts are wrong as far as going beyond the mind is concerned. He is not even aware of the fact that the right and wrong are never separate; they are always together.
Can you separate love from hate? Millions have tried but not a single person has been able to succeed, because you are going against the very nature of things.
Can you separate darkness from light? Although they look so different, scientific inquiry into light and into darkness has proved something against common sense. The difference between darkness and light is only of degrees. Darkness simply means less light, and light simply means less darkness.
That’s why there are animals, like owls and others, for whom in the night it is as day. They have better eyes than you have, so even in lesser light – which looks to you like darkness – for them it is full light. Their eyes are more capable than your eyes. In the day they cannot open their eyes, because their eyes are so sensitive that the daylight is dazzling. In the daylight their eyes simply close; naturally they see darkness. When for you it is light, for the owls it is night. And when for you it is night, for the owls it is day, full light.
So the difference between light and darkness is only of degrees. You cannot have light without darkness, and you cannot have God without the devil.
It is strange that the religions who believe in God automatically believe in the devil too. They have to, it is just a logical necessity. And the religions who don’t believe in God don’t believe in the devil either. For example, Jainism has no God, therefore there is no devil. It is simply out of the question. But all the religions that believe in God have to accept his polar opposite, the devil.
Why this necessity? Because existence always needs a polarity. Birth is polarized by death, love is polarized by hate, compassion is polarized by cruelty. Look around life. Everything has its polar opposite, and if you can take away the polar opposite then the other will also disappear. They can exist only together.
What is a good thought and what is a bad thought? And how can you separate them? Only a teacher does not know that the final approach toward your being needs all thoughts to disappear – it does not matter whether they are good or bad. We are not talking here of morality; we are talking here of authentic religion.
Of course in morality there are good thoughts and bad thoughts, and they are all arbitrary. Because for Mohammedans, to have four wives is not a bad thought, but to everybody else in the world the very idea of having four wives is a bad thought.
To the ancient Hindus, even a woman having five husbands was not a bad thought; the woman who had five husbands is worshipped as one of the five great women of India! Of course five husbands is not the right number because the weekend remains – what to do with the weekend? Every day for five days the poor woman had to change husbands, and two days were just a holiday. So the weekend is not something new and American; it is very ancient and Indian! Nobody has condemned it as an ugly situation. No Hindu thinker or philosopher or theologian has condemned it; it was acceptable.
Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five brothers who shared one wife, is thought of by Hindus as one of the most religious men that has ever lived on the earth. He is called Dharmaraj, the “king of religiousness”. And this fellow Yudhishthira was a compulsive gambler; he gambled to the extent that he staked his whole kingdom, his whole treasury, and finally he staked his wife! All five brothers were present, and they consented. And nobody has condemned it. They still go on calling Yudhishthira one of the greatest religious men – and he has treated this woman worse than he would an animal, as if a woman were just a dead piece of property, like furniture, that you can gamble with.
So what is right?
For the Mohammedans the Koran is their holy source, and the Koran says God created all other animals for man to eat. Now if God says it, there is no harm in eating animals. Except for man, all animals can be butchered and eaten without any problem. No question of nonviolence ever arises. Then there are Jainas. Their monks keep a mask on their nose because when you exhale the air becomes hot, and in the atmosphere there are very tiny invisible living cells that hot air can kill. To protect those cells which you cannot see, they are continuously keeping their nose covered with a cloth, so by the time their hot air reaches out through the cloth it is no longer hot; the cloth is preventing it and cooling it. Now who is right?
There are Hindu monks who shave their hair, their mustache, their beard – every hair has to be removed. The reason is that they consider that hairs are dead parts of the body. In a way they are right. Dead cells in your body are being thrown out continuously in different ways. That’s why when you cut your hair you don’t feel hurt. If they were living you would have felt the pain. So hairs are just as dead as any corpse. Why carry dead things? Hindus and their monks remove them.
If you look at different people, different traditions, you will be simply surprised. But how to decide what is right and what is wrong?
In China, even eating snakes is not thought to be anything strange. It is in fact one of the most delicious foods. They just have to cut the snake’s head, because its poison is only in the mouth – just a small gland in its mouth has the poison. They chop the head, and the remaining part is just vegetable. If you are a guest in a Chinese house, they will certainly serve you with it, just as a welcome, and those who have eaten it say it is delicious.
There is not a single animal, bird, insect, which is not being eaten somewhere. It will create nausea in you – what kind of people are these? But traditionally they have accepted it as right, and once something is accepted as right, it becomes right to that tradition, to those people. They simply laugh at you – you are missing such beautiful food.
In ancient India, and even now in the South of India, the temples are nothing but whorehouses. It was a custom that everybody should donate his eldest daughter to God, but God is just a stone statue; the priest exploits the poor woman sexually, in the name of God. Then so many women start gathering in the temple, and rich people start coming to the temple. These women are called devadasis, servants of God, but their actual function is to attract the rich people to the temple. They function as religious prostitutes, and because of them the temple goes on becoming richer and richer.
You will be surprised to know that just a few days ago, in Mumbai, a survey was made of the prostitutes. Thirty percent were found to be devadasis from the temples of South India, because if the priest finds someone beautiful enough, then it is better to sell her in the Mumbai market rather than keep her in the temple. That way the priest can get a lump sum of money. Thirty percent of the prostitutes that were offered to God had reached the market of the prostitutes in Mumbai. And no Hindu has objected to it – not even today. The government takes no notice. It continues because nobody wants to irritate anybody, nobody wants to annoy anybody. Everybody is trying to look good in other people’s eyes.
Millions of women in this country have been burned alive! They had to die with their husbands; they had to jump onto the funeral pyre with the dead husband. That was called the tradition of suttee. Those women who managed this suicide – a very painful suicide – were called great women, very religious women.
But the real idea behind it was not religious; there was nothing good in it. The real idea behind it was that the man does not want that his wife, when he is dead…who knows? She may fall in love with somebody else. He wants to keep her as his possession even after death. So the only way is – because leaving her he cannot trust – that she should also die with him, just to satisfy his masochistic, male chauvinistic, stupid idea of being the owner.
They respected these women, they made memorials for them. I have been asking shankaracharyas and learned and wise Hindu monks, “If this is the case, why has not one single man in the whole history jumped with his wife when she has died?” And they have nothing to answer. They simply look embarrassed, they want to change the subject. But with me it is very difficult to change the subject! I said, “If it is something great, then man has proved himself lower than women.”
But the truth is that man has always thought that he is the master, and the woman is the possession – why should he die for the possession? He can have as many women as he wants.
In fact, in ancient India women were sold in the marketplaces – as they were sold all over the world – as slaves. And you will be surprised that the great Hindu saints, sages – because nobody looks behind the curtain – even they were going into the places where women were auctioned, and they were purchasing women.
They had wives and alongside they had purchased women. For these purchased women a special word was used. For the wife the word is patni and for the purchased woman the word is vadhu. Now the distinction is lost, because now there is no auction place for women.
But it was accepted as being perfectly right. Even the so-called seers, saints, whom you would think have gone beyond all worldly things, were not so sensitive as to have revolted against this brutal process of auctioning women, purchasing them just like any other thing you purchase in the market.
What is right? And what is wrong?
So the question is not, You must not let wrong thoughts continue. You must not let thoughts continue – no question of right, no question of wrong.
In other words: every thought is wrong.
All thoughts have to be removed from your mind so the screen of the mind is completely empty, so you have a vast sky open and nothing moves in the mind. That is authentic Zen. But that can be said only by an enlightened master.
Ta Hui has collected, from here and there, whatever he felt seems to be significant. But he had no inner criterion to judge what is the authentic path of self-realization. He was going to all kinds of teachers, and he was collecting all kinds of contradictory thoughts.
He was an intelligent man, but intelligence alone is not able to conceive the nature of your being. It falls short.
If you cannot see through them, then the moment a wrong thought comes up you should quickly concentrate your mental energy to pull yourself away.
First, every thought is wrong.
Second, you don’t have to pull your mental energy away, because mental energy is the root of all your thoughts. It is the mother of all your thought processes, good or bad. The mental energy has not to be pulled away. You have to get out of the mental energy, out of the mess of mental energy; you have to pull yourself out.
You have to stand out of your mind, as a watcher. Whatever is going on in the mind, you don’t even interfere. You simply watch. You simply go on seeing it, as if it is somebody else’s mind, and you have nothing to do with it – it is none of your business.
In this indifferent aloofness, all thoughts disappear.
And with thoughts disappearing there is no mind, because mind is nothing but a collective name of thoughts.
Ta Hui does not know anything about meditation. He has never meditated.
If you always follow those thoughts and let them continue without a break, not only does this obstruct the path, but it makes you out to be a man without wisdom.
He knows nothing about wisdom. He is using a wrong word. Whatever he is saying…only one thing can be said: If you allow thoughts to continue without a break, this will not only obstruct the path, but it makes you out to be a man without knowledge – not without wisdom.
That also has to be clearly seen. Knowledge is absolutely relevant in science. The very meaning of the word science is knowledge, and the whole effort of science is to go on changing the unknown into the known. The ultimate goal of science is that one day there will be nothing left unknown – everything will be known.
All will be reduced to knowledge. And this is the point where religion differs. And the difference is of tremendous value.
Religion says that there are not only two categories in the world, the categories of known and unknown. There is a third category which is more significant than the other two, and that is the category of the unknowable, the mysterious, the miraculous. You can live it, you can be it, you can rejoice it, you can sing it, you can dance it. But you cannot know it. Knowledge is not possible.
To enter into this realm of the unknowable is wisdom.
Wisdom is not knowledge.
Wisdom is innocence and a deep feeling of the miraculous.
A wise man’s eyes are full of wonder; just a small flower makes him wonder. It is so mysterious – why is it there?
It happened one night…

Socrates did not return to his home. His wife was very much disturbed, the whole neighborhood was disturbed. They looked all around – where has he gone? He was not a man to go anywhere; from the school where he used to teach, he used to come directly home. It had never happened before, it was unprecedented. Snow was falling, and they were very much concerned whether he had got lost somewhere in the forest. By the morning they found him. He was standing by the side of a tree, supporting his back with the tree, and looking at the sky. When they reached him he was almost frozen, because there was snow up to his knees.
They shook him – “What are you doing here?” He said, “What am I doing here? The night was so wonderful and the stars were so mysterious that I just went on gazing and gazing and gazing. Many times the thought came that it is getting late, but I was almost hypnotized by the stars and their beauty. I knew that snow was falling, I was shivering – but I could not move.”

Now this man is a man of wisdom. There are millions of people in the world who go on running here and there, never looking at the sky. It is just on top of them – no fee, no ticket, no standing in the queue before a movie house – and such a splendor! And you own it, because nobody else owns it.
A full moon night, and nothing stirs in your heart?
A rosebud opens, and nothing opens in your being?
A cuckoo starts singing its song, and you don’t get cuckoo?
Wisdom is a totally different thing than knowledge. Knowledge de-mystifies existence; wisdom mystifies it. Wisdom belongs to the mystics; knowledge belongs to scientists, to philosophers, to theologians – but they are not the people of religion. They don’t know the heartbeat of the universe.
Only people who enter into the realm of the mysterious open doors upon doors of mystery and suddenly find themselves, not in a mundane world which is meaningless, but in a fairyland where everything is so significant, so poetic, so musical, so beautiful.
This whole experience is the experience of a religious being. And this experience is possible only if you can put your mind aside. Mind is a collector of knowledge; it has no interest in mystery.
In the old days, Kuei Shan asked Lazy An, “What work do you do during the twenty-four hours of the day?” An said, “I tend an ox.” Kuei Shan said, “How do you tend it?” An said, “Whenever it gets into the grass, I pull it back by the nose.” Kuei Shan said, “You’re really tending the ox!”
Zen is full of such small dialogues, which are very special to Zen. In this small statement, just a few words are transferred between two men, but everything that has to be said about Zen has been said.
An was known in the history of Zen as a lazy man. His name became Lazy An, because he never did anything. Kuei Shan asked him, “What work do you do during twenty-four hours of the day?” – because you don’t do anything, just sitting silently.
People loved Lazy An. He was a beautiful man, of a great presence. His very being in a place made it almost holy, he had such an energy – although he was never doing anything. People used to bring food to him. He never even went to beg, which was the way of all Buddhist monks, but people took care of him. They were concerned about him. If it was cold they would bring blankets; if it was raining they would make some arrangement.
An was so lazy he would not even walk; people would have to carry him! People knew that there was no point saying anything to him, you just do whatsoever you do. And he never prevented anybody, or asked, “Where are you taking me?” Even that much was too much – to ask, “Where are you taking me?” He is a special character.
Kuei Shan was also a man of great understanding, so he asked, “What do you go on doing for twenty-four hours a day?”
An said, “I tend an ox.”
He refers to those ten pictures of tending the ox. Just a small statement…and he didn’t say anything more.
Kuei Shan said, “How do you tend it?” An said, “Whenever it gets into the grass, I pull it back by the nose.” Kuei Shan said, “You are really tending the ox!” And that is the end of the dialogue.
But Kuei Shan has given his agreement that this is the way of meditation. When your consciousness starts getting involved in the mind, pull it back. Remain aloof, stand aside. Keep a distance between your self and the mind…and there is no need to do anything else.
Kuei Shan really was satisfied that Lazy An is not lazy at all; he is doing great inner work. Outside of course he looks lazy, but one can see from his aura, his energy field, a certain sweetness surrounding him, a certain fragrance.
He does not do anything; still, wherever he is, people take care of him, on their own accord. They suddenly feel that it is their responsibility to take care of Lazy An; it is as if he is just a small child, so innocent, that anybody will immediately start taking care of him – and he was an old man.
Nobody ever told him to do something. He was doing what can be called the real doing. He was constantly doing only one thing: not allowing his consciousness to be involved in the grassland of the mind, where thoughts grow like grass, wild grass. He just went on pulling his ox back.
And it does not take much time. Once your consciousness becomes accustomed to not being involved in the mind, you don’t have to pull it again and again; to be out of the mind is so peaceful, so joyful, so blissful, that consciousness itself becomes aware that to be in the mind is to be in hell.
Now it is up to you. If you want to be in hell, you can be; otherwise it is not compulsory, it is optional. Hell is optional!
People who study the path…again he goes on using the word studyin controlling wrong thoughts – again he goes on saying wrong things – should be like Lazy An tending his ox.
He has not understood what Lazy An is doing. He is not controlling his thoughts. He is simply pulling his consciousness out of the world of thoughts, out of the area and the territory of the mind….then gradually a wholesome ripening will take place of itself.
Do Not Grasp Another’s Bow

“Do not grasp another’s bow, do not ride another’s horse, do not meddle in another’s affairs.” Though this is a commonplace saying, it can also be sustenance for entering the path.
It is an ancient saying in China: “Do not grasp another’s bow, do not ride another’s horse, do not meddle in another’s affairs.” It is tremendously beautiful, although it is just the wisdom of the people. They are saying, “Do not borrow anything from anybody.” Depend on your own resources, because unless you depend on your own resources you can never be free, and you can never be an individual. You will always remain a slave.
Ta Hui says, “Though this is a commonplace saying, it can also be sustenance for entering the path.” Once in a while, he says something which he must have gathered from someone who knows it.
Just examine yourself constantly…
But immediately he falls back into his own state. This is the trouble; if you are repeating somebody else’s knowledge, you cannot go on long. Soon you will say something which will expose you.
He says, Just examine yourself constantly.
That is not the way of Zen.
That is the way of psychoanalysis, which was not existent in those days, and which is not existent in the East even today. And if the West is not adamant, is not prejudiced, and is open to understand, psychoanalysis will disappear even from the West.
Examining yourself makes no change in you.
You can go on examining yourself constantly. Examining is another word for analyzing – why this thought, why that thought? What is the cause of it? Why did it come to me? What should I do with it? You will get into a madhouse.
No, that is not the way of the East.
The East says, “Remain aware of yourself constantly.”
And being aware is not examining yourself.
Being aware is simply being aloof, but alert. Whatever the mind is doing, let it do; whatever is going on in the mind, let it be. You simply be out of it. You should not be a participant – that’s all that is needed, and mind dies its own death.
By your examining you are entering into the territory of the mind. And mind is such a subtle phenomenon – the moment you enter into it, it starts exploiting your energy for its own purposes.
This is the experience of all the Eastern mystics. Do not analyze, do not examine, do not justify, do not condemn. Don’t make any evaluation. Simply stand aside, as if the road is full of traffic and you step by the side of the road and stand there, without bothering who is going, who is coming, who is good, who is bad.
This discovery of awareness has been such a miracle: the traffic simply disappears, just by your stepping out of it. You don’t have to examine, you don’t have to control, you don’t have to dispel anything. You don’t have to do anything at all – just pure awareness is enough to kill the mind.
From morning to night, what do you do to help others and help yourself? If you notice even the slightest partiality or insensitivity, you must admonish yourself. Don’t be careless about this.
He is simply talking like a moralist teacher, a Catholic priest! He has forgotten that once a man is aware of himself he does whatever is right, and he never does whatever is wrong. It is not a question of choice. His awareness is enough to take him toward the right, and never toward the wrong. He simply remains choicelessly alert and aware, and his whole lifestyle changes. Then whatever he does, it is always beneficial. Then he is a constant blessing to the whole world. But it is not a decision on his part. It is simply his spontaneity. It is simply his nature just to be good. Just as on a rosebush roses blossom, on the bush of awareness roses also blossom – roses of goodness, roses of beauty, roses of grace, roses of all kinds of blessings for others, for himself.
In the old days Ch’an master Tao Lin lived up in a tall pine tree on Ch’in Wang mountain; people of the time called him the “Bird’s Nest Monk.” When minister Po Chu-Yi was commander of Ch’in T’ang, he made a special trip to the mountain to visit him.
Po said, “It’s very dangerous where you’re sitting, Ch’an master.”
The master said, “My danger may be very great, minister, but yours is even greater.”
Po said, “I am commander of Ch’ien T’ang: what danger is there?”
The master said, “Fuel and fire are joined, consciousness and identity do not stay: how can you not be in danger?”
What he is saying is tremendously significant. He is saying, “I am sitting in a bird’s nest in a pine tree.” It is obvious that there is danger of falling, but are you aware that if you fall from your position you will be in a far greater danger? And your fall is possible any moment. You are commander-in-chief, the enemy is not far away. You and your enemy are just like fuel and fire joined. Just close by is fire, very near to it is fuel; they can join any moment. Any moment there can be an explosion. You are sitting on a volcano.
“I am certainly in danger if I fall – perhaps I may break a few of my bones. But it is not much of a danger. Your danger is far greater…consciousness and identity do not stay. Your consciousness is so small; that is the greatest danger in the world, because any moment you can slip into unconsciousness. Then in unconsciousness whatever you do is going to harm you. My consciousness is absolute. I can sit in a bird’s nest in this tall pine tree; I know I will not fall, because I am alert. Even when I am asleep, I am alert.”

Once Ananda had asked Gautam Buddha…he used to sleep in the same room, to take care of anything Buddha needs in the night if he suddenly feels sick. Buddha was fragile, he was old, and he was working so hard, walking continually, till his very last breath. Gautam Buddha used to sleep in the posture which is called the Lion’s posture, because it is just the way the lion sleeps. But Ananda was surprised that once Buddha had taken the posture, he remained in the same posture the whole night; he did not move his feet, he did not move his hand, he did not move anything. He remained almost like a statue. Ananda was surprised – one day perhaps one can manage, but day after day, month after month, year after year…? Finally he could not contain his curiosity. He said, “I have to ask, do you sleep or not? – because you never change your posture.”
Buddha said, “The body sleeps, the mind sleeps, but my awareness is eternal, it knows nothing of sleep. And secondly: you toss and turn because you are trying to find the right posture. I have found it – why should I toss and turn? What are you doing tossing and turning this way and that way? In fact you are trying to find the right pose. I have found it, Ananda. Now there is no need to change it. And as far as awareness is concerned, even in the night there is a small flame of awareness eternally burning within me, even in sleep.”

So the old master was right when he said, “My danger may be very great, minister, but yours is even greater.” Your consciousness is so small, and your identity is so false. You think yourself commander-in-chief, but behind your uniform you are just a mortal. Just a bullet will finish you; just an order from the emperor that you are retired or demoted and you will lose your identity.
“Nobody can take my identity back from me.”
“Nobody can tell me to retire – I am retired already. Nobody can tell me, ‘You are demoted.’ Where else can you throw me? I am already in such a situation that nobody would like to change places with me.
“Rarely people come here. You are a strange fellow, taking so much trouble to come to this mountain, to this lonely spot, and to talk to a strange man who just lives in the pine tree and never gets down.
“My identity is within my own hands. Your identity is given to you; it can be taken away – your danger, minister, is far greater.”
Po also asked, “What is the overall meaning of the Buddhist teaching?”
The master said, “Don’t commit any evils. Practice the many virtues.”
That is absolutely wrong, and I don’t think that it has been said by the Ch’an master Tao Lin; he cannot say this. This must be Ta Hui’s addition, because this is not the teaching of Buddha, and he’s asking the overall teaching of the Buddhist philosophy – just the gist.
The gist of Buddha’s philosophy is simply vipassana – in one word, meditation. Everything else is secondary and nonessential. What Ta Hui is saying is all nonessential: Don’t commit any evils. Practice the many virtues – that is not Buddha’s teaching.
That is where Buddha is unique – different from any other master of the world: his teaching can be reduced to a single statement: “Be silent, go beyond mind, then whatever you do is good.”
Po said, “Even a three-year-old child could say this!”
The master said, “Though a three-year-old child can say it, an eighty-year-old man cannot carry it out.”
That is true, because the only way to carry it out is not mentioned.
The only way to carry it out is silence.
Out of silence all the flowers blossom.
It is difficult even for an eighty-year-old man not to commit any evil and to practice all the virtues, because they are by-products. And you can not do anything which is a by-product. You have to go to the roots.
For example I will tell you… I remember a small incident in Mao Zedong life when he was very young, and his father had died. His mother was very much interested in growing roses of all colors and all varieties; she had such an aesthetic sense, and she had made such a beautiful garden around her house.
Her sister became very sick, and she was very much concerned about her roses. Mao was very young, not more than twelve years old. He said, “Don’t be worried, mother. You can go – it is only a question of a few days – you can be with your sister. As far as your garden is concerned, I will take care.”
The mother went, and Mao took as much care as you can conceive; the whole day from morning till evening he was looking after the roses. But it was very strange, they were dying – trees were dying, flowers were dying – and he could not think what he would say when his mother came back. Her whole garden looked deserted, and he had been doing so much hard work.
His mother came. She looked around the garden and laughed, because Mao was standing there with tears in his eyes. He said, “I worked continuously from morning till evening.” The mother said, “I knew this was going to happen, so don’t be worried. I just came silently and stood at the gate and watched what you were doing.”
What he was doing? – he was washing each flower with water, taking away the dust with his small brush. Naturally all the flowers…he had taken great care, but to take care of the flowers you have to take care of the roots. You don’t have to bother about the roses, they will take care of themselves; you simply take care of the roots. He never bothered about the roots – he had no idea of the roots. He never bothered the roots; he simply washed the flowers.
The trees died, the flowers died and the poor boy was in utter misery. The mother said, “I have seen…standing outside I just wanted to see what is going on, and I could see that you have destroyed the whole garden! But there is no need to cry and weep.”
His mother said to him, “This is what human beings are doing all over the world. Everybody is taking care of the flowers and nobody is concerned about the roots. And the real thing is the roots. Flowers come automatically. You don’t have to take any special care for them.”

So without meditation, even an eighty-year-old man cannot carry it out, although it is so simple that a three-year-old child can say it.
The master said, “Though a three-year-old child can say it, an eighty-year-old man cannot carry it out.” Po then bowed and departed.
This is an incomplete statement. He must have heard it from someone – secondhand, thirdhand – because the old master Tao Lin could not have left out mentioning the roots. Unless meditation is mentioned you don’t know anything about the teachings of Gautam Buddha. And he must have mentioned it: if he had not mentioned it, then Po would not have bowed down and departed. Po was absolutely satisfied, but in this conversation there was no reason to be satisfied.
My way of seeing things is very straightforward. I don’t see from this conversation why Po should be satisfied, but he must have been satisfied because he, with great honor, bowed down and departed. Certainly something is missing, something essential is missing…and it always happens. A man who does not understand, who has not experienced meditation himself, will talk about all the things which are by-products, and will forget about meditation.
This has happened so many times, in so many traditions, that it can be accepted as a rule. For example Mahavira…. It was thought by his disciples, by his followers for twenty-five centuries, that he was teaching nonviolence, that he was teaching non-possessiveness, that he was teaching being authentic and truthful.
Now these are all by-products. But Jaina monks have been following them, and I have seen their faces: they don’t show any signs of joy, of fulfillment, of contentment, of reaching to any great silence or peace or bliss. They look absolutely dry, dead. Although they are following the discipline as accurately as possible, they are just missing the foundation.
All these three things – nonviolence, non-possessiveness, authenticity and truthfulness – arise without any effort on your part…if you succeed in meditation. A man of meditation cannot lie. A man of meditation cannot hurt anybody; hence he is nonviolent.
A man of meditation knows perfectly well that all things are ephemeral. You came into the world without anything, and you will have to go from the world without anything; so you can use things – but you cannot possess them. You can use things just the way you use the railway train. Just because you are sitting in the railway train you don’t start declaring that you are the owner of the train! You are using it for a time being; at one station you get in, at another station you get out.
Life should be taken just the same way. Whatever life gives to you – use it, but don’t become the owner. Don’t cling to it, and then when it goes out of your hands, you are not sad, you are not frustrated; you don’t start thinking of committing suicide just because you have gone bankrupt, or just because your wife has escaped with somebody else.

I have heard about a man who went to the post office and started telling the postmaster, “Please write down that my wife has escaped.” The postmaster said, “I am sorry that your wife has escaped. Perhaps you are in such a disturbed state that you don’t see that this is a post office. The police office is just in front – you go there.” He said, “I am not going there and I am not telling you to take the report without knowing that it is a post office.”
The postmaster said, “This is strange. You know that this is a post office, and still you are telling me to report that your wife has escaped with somebody.”
He said, “Yes, seven days ago. And I am not going to the police station, because last time she escaped I reported it to the police station, and those idiots brought her back. This time I have remained silent for seven days to let them go as far as possible. But then my conscience started pricking and I said, ‘This is not right. At least I should report it.’ So I thought that it is better to report it to the post office. You just take the report and free me from my pricking conscience.”
The postmaster said, “It’s strange. If such is the problem, then why bother? It is good that she has escaped.”
He said, “I am not bothered about her; I am bothered about the man with whom she has escaped. What will be happening to that poor fellow? I am accustomed to her; he is new. She will kill him. Seven days have passed, and nothing has been heard.”
“Don’t you feel any problem – anything?” asked the postman.
“I am not bothered about my wife; I am bothered about the man she has got hold of. I cannot report it to the police office – you can understand my problem – but I am praying every day in the temple. Have mercy on the poor man. Save his life.’”

People are living in such misery. But even if they have been miserable with the wife or the husband, they will not separate. They will not allow freedom to each other. But why go on suffering? There is no reason at all.
This life is to rejoice.
If you can rejoice together – good.
If you can rejoice separately – even better.
All that is needed is a certain deepening of your consciousness, and that happens through meditation. Then all your actions, your behavior, your life starts changing on its own accord; you start seeing things clearly. Right now you see things through such smoke that nothing seems to be clear.

A woman went to the doctor and asked, “What kind of prescription have you given to my husband? He was so good, so obedient and suddenly, since you have given him the prescription, he has escaped.”
The doctor said, “I have not given him any medicine. I have simply prescribed new lenses for his glasses, so naturally he must have escaped. I can see you – that’s enough. He had the wrong prescription, he was not able to see you. The moment he saw you clearly, he escaped. There is no problem in it.”

All that you need is clear eyesight…into your life, into your actions, into your relationships, into everything that surrounds you. Just a clear insight – and that will change everything, without any arduous effort on your part.

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