ZEN AND ZEN MASTERS

The Great Zen Master Ta Hui 30

Thirtieth Discourse from the series of 38 discourses - The Great Zen Master Ta Hui by Osho.
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Be Thoroughgoing

Now that you have taken up this affair, you must steadfastly make yourself thoroughgoing, and sit upright in a room with what you’ve truly experienced and awakened to in the course of your life. It’s like crossing a bridge made of a single plank carrying a two-hundred-pound burden: if your hands and feet slip, you can’t even preserve your own life, much less save others. When monks came seeking the path, Mu Chou would say, “An obvious case: I forgive you thirty blows.”
Wu Ye of Fen Yang told questioners, “No false thinking!” whenever Lu Tsu saw a monk enter the gate, he would immediately turn around and sit facing the wall.
The problem with every awakened soul has always been the same: before awakening it is the very fact of awakening that is his problem. After awakening, it is again the awakening that comes as a problem – how to express it?
To experience something is one thing, and to express it is totally another. It is possible to feel at ease with existence, in a deep suchness, but how to say it? It is possible to listen to this beautiful evening, the dance of the rain and the silent joy of the trees, but how to say it?
Words are so poor, and life is so rich. Life is so vast and words are so small. Just feel this very moment, and you will be able to see its immensity, its tremendous beauty, its splendor, its silence, its song. The heart feels it. The being is showered with flowers. The whole universe is so poetic. It is always poetry, it is never prose. If you just have eyes and sensitivity, life is always a rejoicing. And the deepest source of life is within you.
The whole effort of a seeker is to be awake to the source of being within – which is eternal, immeasurable, immortal. But then the problem arises…a deep urge, an irresistible longing to share it. All the masters, all those who have become awakened, have struggled hard in different ways, rational, irrational. They have even taken recourse to absurdities, just to give you a hint.
Ta Hui is facing the same situation. He has arrived home, and now he wants to invite all those who are still wandering in the darkness. He wants to send the invitation, but where are the words? He is trying his hardest. This morning he gave you two words. One was the great affair of suchness – experiencing life as it is without bringing your mind in – and the second word was faith. Faith is a natural outcome of the experience of suchness. It certainly is a great affair.
Now he will be trying in these last sutras, for a few days more, from different angles, to approach this great affair again and again. One never knows what will penetrate to your heart. There is not much to say, but there is much to show. Every effort has been made, certainly, by different teachers in their uniqueness. Ta Hui will be describing other masters too.
This evening the sutra is, Be Thoroughgoing. Ordinarily people are never thoroughgoing. They are always lukewarm, just so-so, wishy-washy, half-hearted, always thinking with a divided being: To be or not to be? A person who is divided takes one step forward and immediately takes another step backward. He remains in almost the same place as he has always been, although he is making every effort to move.

I have heard about a small child…it must have been a rainy day like today. The child was always a latecomer to the school, and he was always ready with some excuse. That day the excuse was absolutely clear – it was raining hard.
The child said to the teacher, “Before you ask, I can answer the question today. At least today the excuse is absolutely clear. The muddy road to the school is so slippery that you will not believe me, teacher: I would take one step forward, and I would slip two steps back!”
The teacher said, “If this is true, then how did you manage to reach here?”
The boy said, “I started walking toward my home, then finally I managed to reach the school.”

Every man is in search. It may be better to say that every man is a search, a longing for something; he does not understand exactly what, but something is missing, something is incomplete, something is not entire. There is a gap, and that gap allows no one to remain at rest; it asks to be filled, and unless it is filled, you will never feel that you really are.
George Gurdjieff wrote a book, Meetings With Remarkable Men. One of his disciples asked him, “What is the definition of a remarkable man?”
He said, “A remarkable man is. An ordinary man is still trying to find where he is, whether he is or not. A remarkable man is one who has found.”
Everybody is a search, a hunger, an appetite, a thirst, a longing – a longing to know oneself and a longing to know through oneself the whole beautiful universe. Certainly one of the most important things should be, Be Thoroughgoing. Don’t run in all directions; remain one-pointed, remain crystallized.
Life is small and time is moving fast. If you go on only thinking and never taking a solid step toward transformation, toward awareness, toward crystallization, it is not going to happen on its own accord. It cannot happen in a confused mind. Even at the last moment when a person is dying, if you ask him, “Are you certain, can you tell us what you wanted to be in your life?”, ninety-nine point nine percent of people will not be able to answer it.
Gertrude Stein, a woman of tremendous genius, one of the greatest women in the whole of history was dying. Her very close, intimate friends were sitting in silence when suddenly she opened her eyes and said, “What is the answer?” The friends were shocked because the question had not been asked, so how can you say what is the answer? But to a dying woman they could not be hard. A great silence fell over them, but somebody managed to ask her, “You are asking what is the answer – but you have not asked, What is the question?”
Gertrude Stein laughed and said, “Okay then, tell me: What is the question?” And that was her last statement. She died.
In this small incident is contained the life of millions of people. They don’t know what is the question and they don’t know, of course, what is the answer. And still they are running all over the place in all directions.
Be Thoroughgoing means, have a determination that you are going to discover yourself, whatsoever the cost. Having life without knowing it is almost equal to not having it. Living and not knowing what it is, is very humiliating. Loving and not knowing what it is, is unforgivable.
When Ta Hui says, Be Thoroughgoing, he means: put every iota of your energy, stake everything on a single arrow and then perhaps you may be able to come home. You may be able to discover that which is missing. In fact, the reality is that the moment you are absolutely thoroughgoing, one-pointed, single-minded, with an undivided heart, this very thoroughgoingness is the arrival. You don’t have to go anywhere. In this totality, in this intensity, the flower blossoms.
Now that you have taken up this affair…
I love Ta Hui’s continuous use of the words this affair.
Now that you have taken up this affair, you must steadfastly make yourself thoroughgoing, and sit upright in a room with what you have truly experienced and awakened to in the course of your life. It is like crossing a bridge made of a single plank carrying a two-hundred-pound burden: if your hands and feet slip, you can’t even preserve your own life, much less save others.
Here, each moment is risky, because each moment can turn into death. You are all crossing the plank with a mountainous burden on you; just a small slip is enough, and you are gone. You have to be alert, so alert that no other energy is left in you, everything has become just a flame of awareness.
It happened once…

A great warrior came home and was shocked to see that his servant was with his wife in his bedroom. He was a warrior, and warriors have their own ways. He said to the servant, “The only punishment should be that I behead you right now. But being a warrior I cannot do that. You come out, take a sword, and have a chance: you will have to fight with me.”
The poor servant said, “It is better you cut off my head, because you are a great warrior and I don’t know even how to hold the sword. Why are you making a mockery of me?”
But the warrior was persistent. He said, “If you want a few days to learn, I can send you to the best teacher. Learn…but you will have to fight. Whoever wins will have my wife.”
The servant knew that his master would not change his mind. He went to the teacher, and the teacher said, “Don’t be worried, and don’t try to learn because your master is also my student. I know him: as far as swordsmanship is concerned, even I cannot defeat him. He has entered far more deeply into the art. You forget about learning. Learning is dangerous: if you know a little bit, you are finished.”
The man said, “Then what do you suggest?”
The teacher said, “I suggest one thing. You just take this sword; this is the way it is to be held. Go immediately and challenge your master to come out! Certainly your life is at risk, but now there is no way out. So do whatsoever you want to do: the sword is in your hands; hit your master any way it comes to your mind. This way you will be more thoroughgoing, because your mind will not be divided in thinking what is right, what is wrong, and what step should I take and what step should I avoid? It is better to be ignorant in this situation.
Only one thing you should remember: your life is at risk, so be thoroughgoing! And because you don’t know anything, there is nothing wrong, everything is right. And I am coming with you to judge.”
The warrior was amazed that he had come back so quickly – it takes years of learning – and that his master was also with him. The master said, “I have come to see a strange phenomenon: the fight of a great warrior with a man who does not know even how to handle the sword. But I want you to be aware, be alert, because he is going to be more thoroughgoing than you are. Because you will depend more on your training, on your knowledge, you will not be afraid for your life; you will feel a kind of safety and security which he has not. He is absolutely insecure; hence, be alert and thoroughgoing, because he is going to be more thoroughgoing than you are. You will depend on your knowledge.”
And as they started, the warrior became afraid. The servant was hitting him almost madly, not knowing what to do, and he was moving backward just to save himself; he had never known any warrior to do such things as the servant was doing. Every warrior has a certain discipline, but this ignorant man had nothing!
Finally he came to the fencing wall – the servant has pushed him to the fencing wall – and the warrior said, “Wait! I don’t want to lose my life for an unfaithful wife. You can take her. But I am amazed: great warriors have not been able to defeat me, and you made me so afraid because you were hitting this way and that way. I could not believe it – has this man gone crazy or mad or what?”
It was a question of life and death for the servant. It was not a question of life and death for the warrior – and that made the difference.

There are only two types of people in the world: those who understand that every moment life is at risk, hence they do something, and those who are absolutely unaware that death can strike any moment and take away their whole future – all their dreams, all their imaginations, all that they were thinking they were going to do tomorrow.
Death does only one thing:
It takes away your tomorrow.
A man who has entered in this affair of the search leaves tomorrow himself; he does not wait for death to take it away. He has no tomorrow. He has only this moment, and he has to concentrate himself into this moment, without holding anything back. In this crystallization is the great happening of enlightenment.
Now that you have taken up this affair… Certainly you are here, so these words are actually addressed to you; they are not addressed to somebody fictitious. Being with me means you have taken up this great affair, that you are no more just an ordinary human being but a seeker, that you are ready to risk everything to find the secret of existence.
…you must steadfastly make yourself thoroughgoing. Do everything as if there is no time left, as if this is the last moment to do it; so do it fully, completely, without postponing, without saying, “There is no hurry. Something can be done today, something can be done tomorrow.”
Don’t live in installments: that is the meaning of being thoroughgoing. It means don’t be American! Don’t live in installments; live totally now, as if tomorrow does not exist. In fact it does not exist; it is only our idea, it is our laziness. It is our reluctance to put ourselves totally at risk, now. We say, “What is the hurry?” – we find a thousand and one excuses for postponing, particularly the great affair.

Gautam Buddha was dying and a man came running. Buddha had passed by his village thirty times in his forty-two years of wandering; his village was kind of a crossroad. Buddha had passed by the side of his house and had stayed outside the village thirty times – and this man had always postponed. He wanted to see Buddha, he had heard so much about him, but always small excuses…a customer has come, and he is tending his shop; his wife is sick and he has to go to the physician, or something else.
But suddenly one day he heard that Gautam Buddha was outside his village and had told his disciples that now he is going to leave his body: “If you have anything to ask, you can ask. It should not be said by the coming generations that Buddha did not answer a question which was in the mind of one of his disciples. For forty-two years I have been answering you, but perhaps there may be some questions still. Before I leave the body, I want to answer them all.”
The disciples said with tears in their eyes, “You have answered more than we had ever asked, or ever thought to ask. We don’t want to disturb you. You can silently leave your body. This is no moment for any question or answer; this is no moment for any communication with language. We simply want to be silent, watching your disappearance into the universal consciousness.”
Three times he asked – that was his routine… Many times he was asked, “Why do you ask three times?” He said, “Even three times are not enough, people are so deaf.” He again said, “I still ask; if anybody has any question, don’t hide, don’t be shy” – but again and again they said they didn’t have any question.
So Buddha said, “Then I shall enter into the four stages: The first stage of meditation, in which one leaves the body; the second stage, in which one leaves the mind; the third stage, in which one leaves the heart; and the fourth stage, in which one leaves the very self and the dewdrop disappears into the ocean.”
So he closed his eyes… Just then this man from the village came running, saying “I have a few questions!”
People said, “Don’t be stupid. Thirty times Buddha has been near your town, and where have you been?”
He said, “Sometimes there was a customer, sometimes there was a guest, sometimes my wife was sick, sometimes I was engaged in fighting with someone – just trivia, I know. It was stupid of me to postpone, but hearing that Buddha is leaving the body, now I cannot postpone.”
But Ananda, Buddha’s chief disciple said, “Now be silent. He has already moved inward. He has closed his eyes, and it is absolutely ungentlemanly…now wait for some other life. When you find some other buddha, then you can ask your questions. And your questions are not very important either, because if you can postpone them for thirty years they cannot mean much. They are not a priority in your life.”
When the meaning, the significance of life becomes a priority, everything else becomes secondary: you have entered the great affair.
But Buddha had just left his mind. He came back, opened his eyes and said, “Ananda, I would not like it to be on record that when I was still alive somebody had come to ask, and I did not answer. Let the man come. I have just gone beyond the mind; It is not much trouble for me to come back, because that has been happening my whole life. The moment I talk to you, I have to come to the mind. The moment I am not talking to you, I move away from it. There is no problem. Don’t take it seriously.”
The man had many questions in his mind, but the situation was such that he forgot all. He simply said, “I used to think that I had many questions, but looking at you, I only want to ask you one question: What should I ask you? There is not much time…you had just entered the boat and now you have come back out. I cannot waste your time in unnecessary things; just tell me exactly what is the question.”
Gautam Buddha said: “It was worth coming back. You are a man who may not have been very alert in life, who may not have realized your potential, but in this moment you are showing your pure intelligence. The question is only one: you are the question and you are the answer. You in your unawareness is the question; you as awareness is the answer.”
And it is said that that man became enlightened. The situation was such… Buddha came back. There were ten thousand monks with tears in their eyes, and silence all around. Buddha had condensed his whole philosophy: “You as ignorance is the question, and you as alert awareness, you as consciousness, is the answer.”
And how does one becomes conscious? Just by being thoroughgoing, just by being total in every act. “Be as alert,” says Ta Hui “as if you are …crossing a bridge made of a single plank, carrying a two-hundred pound burden: if your hands and feet slip, you can’t even preserve your own life, much less save others.”
In such a situation you will become absolutely aware. You will be simply awareness, nothing else. Just a purity, a luminosity…and that is enlightenment, the great affair. Your seeking the path is really nothing but seeking awareness, Ta Hui reminds you.
Mu Chou once said:
“An obvious case. I forgive you thirty blows.”
Now Zen has special methods of its own, not developed by any other tradition. Mu Chou is one of the great masters who used to hit his disciples with his stick when they would bring the answer to a koan meditation. They were asked to meditate on a koan. A koan is a puzzle which has no answer, and they were told to find out the answer, “and when you have found it, come.”
Naturally every answer was going to be wrong. The sound of one hand clapping…now what answer is going to be right? So Mu Chou did not wait for their answers. He would simply hit them and tell them, “Go back, your answer was wrong. Meditate again; find the right answer.”
He was known as a crazy master – at least he should have the generosity to listen to the poor disciple’s answer. The disciple had been meditating day in, day out, and he has found some answer – he had heard the wind passing through the pine trees and the music…he had heard the sound of running water and he thought, “Perhaps this is it!” – and he had run immediately to the master to tell him that he had heard the sound of one hand clapping, with great expectation. But the master was really a hard taskmaster! He would hit him even before he had uttered a single word.
Many other masters said to Chou, “This is too much! You can hit…but at least listen to his answer.”
But Chou used to say, “Even to listen to their answers is to give an indication that there can be a right answer. I want to make it absolutely clear to them that all answers are wrong. By hitting them again and again, one day it dawns on the disciple that perhaps no answer is right, perhaps there is no answer at all…and then he will not come, because now what is the point? Then he will sit under the tree in the garden of the master, enjoying.”
And when the master sees that a certain disciple has not come for many days – the disciple had to report every day what is his finding for those twenty-four hours – then Chou would go to look for the disciple and would find him giggling under a tree. He would sit with the disciple and giggle, and he would say, “So you have found it!”
This is the man who said once… He gave to a disciple a famous koan: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” And the disciple, rather than going out, took the stick of the master and hit him hard. This was the situation in which Chou said to him, “An obvious case. I forgive you thirty blows” – otherwise, if you had gone and meditated, you would have got thirty blows. You did the right thing. I was asking you something absurd.
But what is the point of asking the absurd? The point is that mind comes to a stop only when it faces the absurd; if it can solve the problem it goes on functioning. When it cannot solve it this way or that way, it tries hard all the doors and everything is closed, a realization arises that there is no way out – mind stops.
In that very stopping is the answer. In that very stopping is the silence, the transcendence…the peace that passeth understanding.
Wu Ye, another master, told questioners,
“No false thinking!”
That was his only teaching. He was asked by the emperor to come to the court to deliver a sermon on some auspicious occasion. He came with his thousands of disciples. There was great silence. All the warriors and the samurais and the courtiers and the queens and the princes and all the rich people of the capital were invited. Wu Ye stepped up onto the platform, looked all around and said, “No false thinking! The sermon is over” – and he stepped down.
The emperor looked…the whole court was shocked: “What kind of sermon is this?” But Wu Ye’s disciples had a great laugh, because they knew this was going to be the sermon. This was the only sermon they had been hearing every day. Every day, without fail, with great seriousness Wu Ye comes and says, “No false thinking!”
He was a simple man. In fact, he has condensed the whole philosophy of Buddha into a simple statement: No false thinking. And if you start looking into the matter, all thinking is false. No false thinking means no thinking; no false thinking means falling into a deep silence, becoming a no-mind.
His disciples slowly, slowly had understood, because they were meditating. But every day the sermon was there – and with great seriousness he used to come. Even his old disciples sometimes were expecting that perhaps today he is going to say something else. But in his whole life, as far as I know – he was the only consistent man – he never said anything else.
Another master Ta Hui mentions is Lu Tsu. Whenever Lu Tsu saw a monk enter the gate, he would immediately turn around and sit facing the wall. Strange behavior! – somebody comes to you and the moment he enters in the door, you immediately turn around and start looking at the wall!
But Lu Tsu had many enlightened disciples. That was his teaching: without saying a word he was saying, “Just sit and look at the wall.” Looking at the wall, how long can you go on thinking? – you will get bored. The same wall…you may paint it many times in your imagination, but you know it is all imagination. Thoughts will come and float like clouds in the sky, but you know that the sky is always empty. The clouds don’t leave any footsteps and slowly, slowly the wall becomes just a screen with no pictures on it, no thoughts on it.
Lu Tsu’s method reminds me of Bodhidharma. He must have learned at least the idea of facing the wall from Bodhidharma, his ancient master, who for nine years continuously…Bodhidharma did not even bother first to face toward you and then to turn toward the wall; he used to sit only facing the wall, for nine years continuously! And he had made it known that he would turn around only when somebody who was total in his search came; he was there not for ordinary disciples, but only for extraordinary seekers, who were total.
One day a man came, and without saying anything he cut off his left hand with his sword and threw it at Bodhidharma’s feet and said, “This is only the beginning. Either you turn around or I will cut off my head.”
Bodhidharma turned immediately. He said, “So you have come! No need to cut off your head. You have given enough proof of your being a seeker who is really ready to risk.”
This was the man who was finally chosen by Bodhidharma as his successor; he had the guts, he had the right to be a successor. When asked why he had been looking at the wall for nine years, Bodhidharma said, “Looking at people hurts, because they are buddhas and they don’t know it; they are buddhas and they are miserable. Looking at them makes one feel so sad and sorry for them, and there is no way you can help them.
“Watching the wall is good, because the wall is not a potential buddha. You don’t have to be concerned about the wall. And anyway, somebody who can understand me will be able to understand even while I’m facing the wall…he can at least sit by my side and start facing the wall.”
And actually many disciples did that. The master is showing the way: what more do you want? Just sit by the side and watch. Watching the wall – slowly, slowly thoughts disappear, thinking stops, mind evaporates and what is left is your authentic reality.
Without finding this authentic reality you will never feel entire and whole, you will never be able to have the feeling that you are part of a great, magnificent, mysterious universe. And not only that you are a part…you are also the whole. You just have to disappear into the whole, then you are in the trees, and you are in the rains and you are in the clouds and you are in the sky and you are all over.
Just to conceive the idea that “I am one with existence” is so relaxing, is so liberating, that even if you want to become miserable, you cannot. I have tried, and I have failed. Sitting alone in my room, I have tried many times to be miserable – because people go on telling me they are miserable, and I also want to taste what this misery is.
But to be frank with you, I have been continuously a failure. I have tried to be angry, I have tried all kinds of things – but if you have realized your oneness with existence there is no one to be angry with, there is no one to fight with, there is no one to be jealous of. This state is certainly the great affair.
Listen to Ta Hui’s invitation! Become part of the great affair. On this pilgrimage from here to here, just be thoroughgoing; half-heartedness will not do. And then even in a single moment one can become enlightened – because one is already enlightened.
You just have to gather yourself. You have fallen apart: your hand is lying here, your leg is lying there, somebody is playing football with your head. You have just to put yourself together. And once you are together, there is nothing more to achieve. But you yourself go on splitting yourself, dividing yourself.
I have heard…

A thief was brought into the court. He was a famous thief, and the magistrate said, “You are such an experienced man. What was the reason that you entered into the house, remained there the whole night, did not steal anything, and yet, got caught?”
He said, “It is a strange story. First I want to ask you one thing: that if you want to send me to the gallows, you can; but don’t give me one sentence, and that is to have two wives.”
The magistrate said, “But there is no punishment like having two wives.”
The thief said, “That’s very good. That’s what happened. I entered into this house, and this man has two wives. One wife lives on the ground floor and the other wife lives on the first floor. They both dragged this man on the staircase, and the drama was so great that I forgot completely for what I had come.” It was so pitiable! Somehow one woman would pull him upstairs, and as he was reaching, the other woman would come and start dragging him downward. This went on the whole night, and I could not escape because I was inside the house and all the three people were awake, and I could not steal anything because the scene was so hilarious.”

But if you look at yourself, do you know how many wives you have? how many husbands you have? in how many places you have left your parts? how many desires, how many ambitions? You have cut yourself into pieces. You have behaved like a butcher with yourself.
All the teaching of the awakened people is simply one: Be integrated. Come together. Find out all your parts and get crystallized. Become one.
In this oneness is your realization, the end of the world of darkness and the beginning of the world of light, truth, blissfulness…and much more that has no words to be expressed.

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