The Great Zen Master Ta Hui 36

ThirtySixth Discourse from the series of 38 discourses - The Great Zen Master Ta Hui by Osho.
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A Talk to the Assembly (Part Two)

Buddha said, “One may wish to reveal it with comparisons, but in the end there is no comparison that can explain this. Saying it’s broad and vast has already limited it – to say nothing of wanting to enter this broad and vast realm with the limited mind. Even if you managed thereby to enter, it would be like taking a ladle to ladle out the ocean: though the ladle is filled, how much could it hold? Nevertheless, the water in the ladle, before it went in there, was identical to the limitless water (of the ocean). Likewise, because your world is just this big, and you feel satisfied with it, this limitless world adapts to your capacity and fills it up. It’s not that the water of the great ocean is only this much.”
Therefore Buddha said, “It’s like the great ocean, not deferring whether mosquitoes or titans drink its water – all get their fill.”
It is the perennial problem: those who have known have come across an unbridgeable gap between their experience and their capacity to express it. What they have known is so vast that whatever they say is going to limit it, and to limit the unlimited is unforgivable. If they don’t say anything, then too they are saying something. They are saying that nothing can be said.
But the experience is so glorious, so nourishing, so fulfilling that to say that nothing can be said about it is to show your uncompassion toward those who are not so blessed with the experience. Unless you say something, howsoever limited, millions will remain unaware that their potential was for the whole sky, and they remained limited in a small world. They never opened their wings into the sky, because they never thought that beyond the cage there exists anything else.
To let people remain unaware of their capacity to fly, and the infinity of the sky, is certainly unkind. This is such a dilemma: if you say something it is not right, and if you don’t say something it is again not right. You have to say something, howsoever small. It may give someone a hint; perhaps it may not quench the thirst but it may provoke a search.
It may not quench the thirst but it may make you aware of it, that you are thirsty. Even to become aware of your thirst is a great beginning, because one cannot remain thirsty if one knows – one is going to seek and search in every possible way. And the ocean of life is not far away. We are in it, we are part of it.
There have been two types of mystics in the world. One Gautam Buddha has called the arhatas. They have chosen to remain silent. They are absolutely committed to the truth and they are not going to compromise on any account. They will not say something which is not absolutely right, they will not say something which is only approximately true, because the approximately true is nothing but a lie. They will not give an example because there is no parallel to their experience, there is no possibility of any comparison. Seeing the situation, one can understand why they have chosen to remain silent.
But there has been another category of awakened people, enlightened ones, who have tried, although their efforts have not been very successful. By their very nature, they cannot be. But even if one person in a million has become awakened by the efforts of a bodhisattva, the second category of enlightened people, the effort was worth making.
The arhatas also have an answer for this. They say that if one man in a million becomes awakened by listening to a bodhisattva, that man was destined to become enlightened whether the bodhisattva had spoken or not.
I have been in a dilemma. You cannot deny what the arhatas are saying. They are saying the man has not become awakened from listening to you, because whatever you are saying is just a hint, far away; it cannot make anyone enlightened. And they have a certain reason for saying it, because people have become enlightened sitting by their side in silence, too. Nothing has been said, nothing has been indicated, but just the presence of the arhata, his silence, his peace, have proved contagious. Anyone who is receptive, available, open, has felt something which was not said, and has moved on the path. Not only has he moved…many have reached to the ultimate.
Hence the arhata has also a reason for saying that there is no need to say anything. Those who can understand will understand even your silence, and those who cannot understand are not going to understand; you may go on for years and years speaking to them, and they will remain deaf. You may talk about light, but they will not open their eyes. You may try to excite them about the beauties of the ultimate, but they will go on postponing the journey.
But the bodhisattva has his own reasoning – and perhaps both are right. The bodhisattva says that there are people who are just on the verge: just a little push and they may be transformed; just a little indication – a finger pointing to the moon – and they may be able to see. And anyway, even if nobody understands, it is still worthwhile to make the effort; at least it shows your compassion, at least it shows you are not unconcerned with the vast humanity which is groping in darkness. You have done whatever is humanly possible to do. If nobody hears it, if nobody listens to it, it is up to them – but they cannot blame you. They cannot complain that you knew and yet you remained silent, that you should have made some effort to wake them up.
These two categories have been in conflict for centuries, and both have been so clear about their approach that not even a single arhata has been converted by the bodhisattvas, or vice-versa: not a single bodhisattva has been converted by the arhatas.
My own understanding is that this conversion has not happened because both have something absolutely true about their approach. One is committed to the truth absolutely; one is committed to love, to compassion absolutely. And both values, truth and love, are of equal significance.
I think there is no need for any arhata to become a bodhisattva, or any bodhisattva to become an arhata. Perhaps both are needed. Perhaps people are needed to sing songs of that which cannot be said, and people are needed to remain silent, so silent that their silence itself becomes a magnetic force. Perhaps both have done immense service to humanity, the one by making different efforts – through language, through devices, singing, dancing – and the other by remaining absolutely centered, but available to anyone who knocks at his door.
I don’t see the conflict as it has been seen down the ages. Those who see the conflict are only learned people; they are neither arhatas nor bodhisattvas.

I am reminded of a great master, Ma Tsu. His monastery was just opposite another monastery in the deep mountains, and the other master was absolutely antagonistic to the methods and to the teachings of Ma Tsu. One disciple of Ma Tsu was having difficult times with the master, because Ma Tsu used to hit, beat…
It was known that once Ma Tsu had thrown a disciple out of the window and jumped on top of him. The disciple had a few fractures and Ma Tsu was sitting on his chest asking, “Got it?” And the strangest thing is that he got it! He never asked a question again! That simply shows he must have got it; since then he became absolutely silent.
The other master was very angry at Ma Tsu: “What kind of things does he go on doing? He seems to be a crazy man!”
One day a disciple who was meditating on a koan came in. He had been coming for many days and getting a beating. There are hundreds of koans in Zen – strange puzzles. He was meditating on the famous koan, “the sound of one hand clapping.” Ma Tsu had said, “Whenever you have found the sound, come to me.”
The disciple meditated in the silence of the night, he heard the wind passing through the pine trees, and he jumped. He said, “This is it!” The sound was so sweet and of course so musical that he went to the master and told him that it is the sound when the wind passes through the pine trees… The master hit him hard and said, “Don’t bring any idiotic answers to me, just go back and meditate.”
And this went on happening. One time he heard a cuckoo calling in the night…so sweet, so overwhelming, so touching that he forgot all the beatings and went again. Finally he got tired. He had brought all the sounds possible, and no answer was being received, every answer was being rejected. An idea arose in his mind, “Perhaps this is not the master – at least for me. I am not saying that he is not a master, but at least he is not for me. I should try his opponent who is just nearby.” And he went there.
The master asked him, “You are a disciple of Ma Tsu, why have you come to me?” The disciple described what had been going on for months: he brings new sounds and he gets only beatings. There is a limit to patience, and he has come here in search of truth, not to hear the sound of one hand clapping. “Unnecessarily, I am being held back by this, and now I have almost exhausted every sound, but he goes on beating. I have come to you. Accept me as your disciple.”
That master had never beaten anyone, but he gave this disciple such a beating that Ma Tsu’s beating felt far better! The master said, “You idiot! Just go back, your master is very compassionate. He only beats you, you need to be killed! Just go back.”
The disciple said, “My God! I have been in search of truth… First these people go on talking about enlightenment, and when you get caught in their idea, then they do all kinds of strange things to you. This man has been known always to be against Ma Tsu, and he has never used the device of beating. Why has he done this to me? But certainly, if I have to choose between the two, Ma Tsu is better.”
He went back, and Ma Tsu asked him, “Where have you been?”
He told the whole thing. He said, “I have been beaten very badly. You beat very considerably, but that man is absolutely mad; he wanted to kill me!”
Ma Tsu said, “He is very compassionate.”
The disciple said, “This is strange. You are enemies, you have been quarreling for years. Everything that is said by one is opposed by the other – but you both agree as far as killing a poor disciple is concerned!”
Ma Tsu said, “I have never said he is wrong, he has never said I am wrong; we are just different. He is an arhata; he simply lives in silence, and anybody who comes has to sit in silence with him. Years pass, and the other also becomes engulfed, overwhelmed, by the silence of the master. But very few people are capable of bearing such a long wait.
“I make every effort to create a shortcut for you. I am a bodhisattva. I trust that there is a possibility that something can be done to bring you toward truth. All these devices, all these teachings, have nothing to do with truth, but they have something to do with you. The effort is to destroy your clinging to the mind, the effort is to defeat your mind. The day your mind is defeated, the day you are free from the cage of the mind, our work is done; then you will know what truth is. Neither of us can give it to you. But still we differ: the arhata never makes any effort; I make every effort possible.”

It is very difficult to say that one category of enlightened people should disappear. As far as I am concerned, both are equally valid and both enrich the existence.
Ta Hui is saying that truth is so vast that even to call it vast is to make it limited. It is oceanic, but even to call it an ocean is to give it boundaries. All words fail, no word is big enough. There is no possibility of any comparison; nothing comes close enough to being a comparison or an example.
He is quoting Gautam Buddha:
Buddha said, “One may wish to reveal it with comparisons, but in the end there is no comparison that can explain this.”
For example, Jesus says God is love. This is a comparison, perhaps the best comparison. In human experience, love has a tremendously significant place; in its purity, perhaps love can give you a hint of what happens to the man who becomes realized, who comes to know the divinity of existence. But even love is not a right comparison according to Gautam Buddha. It is beautiful, but enlightenment is far beyond. Love is a beautiful flower, but it is just a flower, ephemeral; in the morning it blossoms, in the evening it is gone. It was beautiful when it was, but it is not eternal, it does not have immortality. It is beautiful and delicate, and one can enjoy its dance in the wind.
It is poetry to compare love with God or enlightenment, but it is not truth. There is no human experience which can explain that which goes beyond the human mind. It is simple, it is arithmetic; that which is beyond the human mind certainly cannot be compared with any experience of the mind.

You must have heard the ancient parable of a frog who had come from the ocean – he was on a religious pilgrimage. On the way he found a small well, and just to have a little rest he jumped into the well. He was happy to find there another frog, and they started talking to each other. The frog of the well asked him, “From where are you coming?”
The stranger frog said, “It is very difficult to describe. You will have to forgive me, because I am coming from a place which is beyond your comprehension. You have never left this well, and I am coming from the ocean.”
The frog of the well certainly felt offended; this was not expected of a guest. He jumped halfway across the well and said, “Is your ocean this big?”
The frog from the ocean was in great difficulty. He said, “Please, just drop this subject. The ocean is so big that there is no way to measure it by your experience of the well.”
The frog in the well jumped the whole length of the well and he said, “Is it that big?”
And the frog from the ocean said, “You are forcing me to be unnecessarily unkind toward you, but I cannot say such a stupid thing that this small well of yours can be compared to the infinity of the ocean.”
This was too much for the frog in the well. He said, “You just get out! You are talking about this ocean only to humiliate me.”

That’s how people of the mind have always reacted to the people of meditation. People who have never been beyond their mind are always offended by the meditators, because the meditators are talking about the ocean…and there is no comparison if you have lived only in the mind. If you have gone beyond the mind, there is no need of any comparison – you know it yourself. Either you know it or you don’t. There is no way to explain to the one who has never gone beyond the mind.
“Saying it is broad and vast has already limited it – to say nothing of wanting to enter this broad and vast realm with the limited mind. Even if you managed thereby to enter, it would be like taking a ladle to ladle out the ocean: though the ladle is filled, how much could it hold?”
Once Gautam Buddha was passing through a forest and it was the season of autumn. The forest was full of dry leaves, and Ananda finding him alone, said to him, “I have always wanted to ask, but before the others I could not dare. Just tell me the truth: have you told us everything that you know or are you still holding back a few secrets?”
And Gautam Buddha took a handful of leaves from the ground and said to Ananda, “I have told you only this much – the leaves that you see in my hand. But that which I know is as vast as all the leaves in this great forest. It is not that I want to hold it back, but it is simply impossible! Even to talk about a few leaves is an arduous effort, because it simply goes above your head. You know thoughts, but you have never experienced thoughtlessness. You know emotions, but you have never known a state where all emotions are absent, just as if all the clouds in the sky have disappeared.
“So I am trying my best,” he said, “but more than this is not possible to transfer through words. If I can make you understand only this much: that there is much more to life than words can contain; if I can convince you that there is something more than your mind knows, that’s enough. Then the seed is sown.” Otherwise all the efforts of the great philosophers of the world are like taking a ladle to ladle out the ocean.
In fact, such an incident is on record.

Plato, one of the greatest Greek philosophers – the father of Western philosophy – was walking on the beach, and he saw a naked man bringing out the ocean water in his cupped hands and pouring it in a small hole that he had made in the sand. Plato watched him; he was not aware that the other man was none other than Diogenes.
Diogenes was, in the Greek tradition, a very strange fellow. In the Zen world he would have been accepted with great joy; he would have fitted perfectly well. But in the Greek tradition of reason, logic, philosophy, he was a strange fellow. But that was the first encounter between Plato and Diogenes, so he was not aware who this man was. Plato asked him, “What are you doing?”
Diogenes said, “I have decided to empty the ocean.”
Plato said, “You must be mad! This cannot be done. Just by taking with your hands a cupful of water, even in millions of years you will not be able to empty the ocean.”
Diogenes said, “My work is done. I wanted to show to you that even if you go on thinking about truth for millions of years you are not going to find it. Your effort to find the truth through mind is exactly the same as my effort to empty the ocean by taking cupfuls of water out of it.”
Plato was very much shocked, but he had nothing to say against the man. He simply asked, “Are you Diogenes? – because I wanted to meet you.”
Once in the school where Plato used to teach, he had defined man as “a two-legged animal.” When Diogenes heard this he picked up a two-legged sea bird, took out all the feathers, and sent it with a disciple to the academy of Plato: “I am sending a specimen of your definition. This is a human being, a two-legged animal.” Since that time Plato wanted to meet that man…and today Diogenes again had smashed his whole philosophical approach to existence!

Philosophy is nothing but a teaspoon. You can fill it up with ocean water…
Buddha is right when he is saying,
“Though the ladle is filled, how much could it hold? Nevertheless, the water in the ladle, before it went in there, was identical to the limitless water (of the ocean). Likewise, because your world is just this big, and you feel satisfied with it, this limitless world adapts to your capacity and fills it up. It is not that the water of the great ocean is only this much.”
Therefore Buddha said, “It is like the great ocean, not deferring whether mosquitoes or titans drink its water – all get their fill.”
You can watch the ocean…every day millions of rivers are falling into the ocean, but the ocean remains the same. Those millions of rivers pouring into it make almost no difference. And all the clouds that shower rain all over the earth are filled by the ocean. The sun rays are taking the ocean water into the clouds as vapor. Still that does not make any difference – the ocean remains the same. Whether you add millions of rivers to it or you take all the water that all the clouds rain over the earth, it remains the same.
The upanishads have a very strange but very true statement: The ultimate is so perfect that even if you take the whole out of it, it will still remain the same; or, if you can add the whole back into it, it won’t be bigger – it will still remain the same. All these statements are just to show that we are part of an existence which is infinite in all the dimensions. There are no boundaries to it.
As you get out of your mind you suddenly become aware of your own limitless, unbounded, oceanic consciousness. No word is capable to describe it. You can experience it, but you cannot explain it. You can have it, but you cannot say anything about it. Only your silence may give a little indication of the tremendous vastness of existence, of life, of consciousness.
Enlightenment is only an effort to make you aware of your infinity, of your eternity.
You are the whole past.
You are the whole present.
You are the whole future.
The moment one comes to know it is the most blessed moment. You have fulfilled your destiny, you have come home; now there is nothing else beyond it. This is the only richness, this is the only victory. All else is mundane; only this experience is the sacred.
And to be filled with this sacredness, nothing much is needed on your part – just a silent mind, a peaceful heart, a wordless, thoughtless serenity. Suddenly you are no more the dewdrop; instantly you have become the ocean itself. To know the ocean there is only one way…to become it.
Ta Hui is coming to the close of his journey. He started as an intellectual, but he was a fortunate intellectual; he did not get lost in words and theories and arguments. He managed to get beyond the mind, and now he is making statements which belong to the beyond, which are not arguments but only hints for those who are in search.
The whole journey of Ta Hui is significant because it is the journey of everyone who moves from ignorance to innocence, from mind to mindlessness, from darkness to ultimate light.
It is your journey.
Going with Ta Hui, step by step, will help you immensely, because there is no other book that I have come across which describes the whole transformation. All other books come after enlightenment; people have spoken only when they have known. This is a special case. We start with a teacher and we end up with a great master.

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