The Transmission of the Lamp

Osho on Zen Master Sekito

Sekito, an enlightened ZEN master, was born in China in 700 AD and lived for 90 years. He was also known as Shih-Tou, was a contemporary of another Enlightened Zen Master Ma Tzu.  But where the latter was part of what was to become the Rinzai line of Chinese Zen, Sekito was in the Soto line. These are the two lineages of Zen: Rinzai Zen and Soto Zen. Both are the same, they just come from different masters; there is nothing basically different. But there have been so many masters, it is really amazing that there are only two lines. There could have been a thousand lines, but Zen is only given to the disciple if he is ready. Sometimes the master never finds a single man who can carry the lineage, so that line is simply finished, comes to a full stop.

Many, many masters have lived, whose lines would go for two generations, three generations, and then would stop; because it is not a question of following, it is a question of a direct transfer between the master and the disciple. Unless the master chooses to transfer, that line is broken. Only two lines are living still. One is Rinzai Zen — we have talked about almost all the masters of the Rinzai Zen sect. This Sekito Kisen belongs to the Soto line. You will not see any difference. There cannot be any difference between two enlightened people. Between Ma Tzu on one side, Rinzai Zen, and Sekito on the other side, Soto Zen, Zen took flight; both were very powerful people, great masters.

Osho has spoken on Sekito during many of His Zen discourse series.Osho talks about Him “Sekito became a master of hundreds of people who became enlightened. He was a very hard master, almost dangerous to the disciples, but all his hardship came from a very loving heart, a very deep compassion. He wanted them to become enlightened, he did not allow them to escape. Once in a while a disciple might escape and Sekito would follow him for miles and pull him back, “Where are you going? Come back!” And the disciple would say, “Just forgive me, I am tired,” — because he would beat the disciples, he would jump on the disciples. Once he threw a disciple from the window of a second-story building, and jumped on top of him. The disciple had multiple fractures, and Sekito was sitting on his chest asking, “Got it?” And the disciple really got it, he became enlightened. Who cares about multiple fractures, the real thing is enlightenment. At any cost it has to happen. People have never come across a man like Sekito, whose compassion was so great. He was ready to do ANYthing. Even in his old age he would hit so hard that his own hand would hurt. And disciples would say, “You are getting old now, Master, you should not hit people so hard, because they are young and you are old. You are becoming every day more fragile.”He said, “I know. My hand hurts the whole night, but I cannot see somebody groping in the darkness. If just one hit can make him awake, it does not matter if my hand hurts the whole night. Sooner or later these hands will disappear into the earth, but if these hands can help somebody to wake up… You think I am getting old; that is true, but as far as I am concerned, even when I am dead if I see someone stumbling in the darkness I will jump out of my grave and hit him as hard as I can.”

OUR BELOVED MASTER,

WHEN SEKITO RECEIVED THE PRECEPTS, HIS MASTER, SEIGEN, ASKED HIM, “NOW YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE PRECEPTS, YOU WANT TO LEARN THE VINAYA, DON’T YOU?”

Vinaya is one of the scriptures of Gautam Buddha. The whole name is vinaya pitak.

Seigen asked Sekito, “You are initiated into sannyas, do you now want to learn the scriptures called VINAYA?” The word vinaya means humbleness. It is one of the series of discourses of Buddha.

SEKITO REPLIED, “THERE IS NO NEED TO LEARN THE VINAYA.”

There is no need to learn the scriptures, because truth is never found in any scripture. Truth is not a philosophy or a theology. There is no need. Sekito was sent to Seigen by his master, Eno. He was already ripe, but because Eno felt death was coming too fast — he was very old — and perhaps he would not be able to see the enlightenment of Sekito, he felt it was better to send him to a master who can help him in the last stages of his evolution. So he sent him to Seigen, who has been his lifelong competitor. But both recognized each other in their hearts as enlightened.

Sekito is not a beginner, so when Seigen asked, “Would you like to learn the scriptures?” He said, “There is no need to learn the scriptures.”

SEIGEN ASKED, “THEN, YOU WANT TO READ THE BOOK OF SHEELA — the book of character? If you don’t want to learn scriptures about humbleness, would you like to know about scriptures which deal with character, morality?”

Sheela means character. This is what the Buddhist scholar has raised in his question against me: without sheela how can you become enlightened?

SEKITO REPLIED — and this is the reply of a man who was coming very close to enlightenment — “THERE IS NO NEED TO READ THE BOOK OF SHEELA, because all these things will follow enlightenment. They don’t precede, they succeed.”

Enlightenment contains immense treasures. You just become enlightened and everything follows. You don’t have to learn, you don’t have to discipline yourself, you don’t have to make any effort; everything spontaneously follows you. Just first become a buddha.

So he said, “There is no need to read the book of character and morality.”

SEIGEN ASKED, “CAN YOU DELIVER A LETTER TO NANGAKU OSHO?”

Nangaku was another famous master, and this was just a strategy of Seigen. He was trying to figure out where Sekito was. All these questions are not for any answers; he was trying to figure out the newly-arrived person who has lived with a great master, Eno, how far he has reached, how deep he has reached. He is trying to figure out from every nook and corner, so that he can know how ripe he is, and know how much ripening he needs. So this was another methodology. He failed when asking about the Vinaya scriptures; Sekito answered exactly as if he was already enlightened. He asked about Sheela scriptures, and he answered exactly as if he was already enlightened. Then he tried a different way. He said,

“CAN YOU DELIVER A LETTER TO NANGAKU OSHO?”

Nangaku lived in another mountain monastery nearby.

SEKITO SAID, “CERTAINLY.”
SEIGEN SAID, “GO NOW, AND COME BACK QUICKLY. IF YOU COME BACK EVEN A LITTLE LATE, YOU WILL MISS ME. IF YOU MISS ME, YOU CANNOT GET THE BIG HATCHET UNDER MY CHAIR.”

SOON SEKITO REACHED NANGAKU. BEFORE HANDING OVER THE LETTER, SEKITO MADE A BOW AND ASKED, “OSHO, WHEN ONE NEITHER FOLLOWS THE OLD SAINTS NOR EXPRESSES ONE’S INNERMOST SOUL, WHAT WILL ONE DO?”

His question is very important. He is saying — with absolute respect — he is saying,

“OSHO, WHEN ONE NEITHER FOLLOWS THE OLD SAINTS NOR EXPRESSES ONE’S INNERMOST SOUL, WHAT WILL ONE DO?”

NANGAKU SAID, “YOUR QUESTION IS TOO ARROGANT.

Nobody asks such a question immediately. You entered into my temple and you started asking me questions. First, you need initiation. First, you have to be a disciple. I am not here to waste my time on anybody who passes by and asks any type of question. This is arrogance.” It was not arrogance, but that was part of the strategy of Seigen. Nangaku was a very different kind of master.

NANGAKU SAID, “YOUR QUESTION IS TOO ARROGANT. WHY DON’T YOU ASK MODESTLY?” TO WHICH SEKITO REPLIED, “THEN IT WOULD BE BETTER TO SINK INTO HELL ETERNALLY AND NOT EVER HOPE FOR THE LIBERATION THAT THE OLD SAINTS KNOW.”

“If you call my question arrogant, then I would rather suffer eternally in hell than ask you any question modestly.”

No question is ever modest. Every question has to be, in a certain way, arrogant. When you are questioning, you are showing doubt, you are interfering in the silence of the master. Obviously, every question is arrogant, no question can be modest. Only silence is modest.

But that is not a question, that is the answer. But Sekito was really a man with a spine, with guts. He said, “Forget all about the question. I will not ask the question modestly, because no question can be asked modestly. The very question is arrogant. Any question is a doubt. Any question is interfering in the energy field of the master. Only silence can be modest. But then I don’t have to come to you. I can be silent anywhere. I can be silent even in the eternal fire of hell.”

Sekito is really a man of great intelligence and great courage. Nangaku could not put him down. He was sent specially to Nangaku who was known to be very hard. And Seigen wanted to know about Sekito’s response, what response he would make to Nangaku.

And he really made the right response. He said, “Forget all about the question. I would rather fall into hell eternally than ask you a question with modesty. No question is modest, howsoever put. And I have asked it very respectfully. I have called you `Osho, my beloved master’, and you call my question arrogant. Rather than answering it you are insulting me.

“No master insults his disciples, and I am not even a disciple. I am just a stranger, and you are not being nice to me. I am just a guest. You should welcome me. Rather than welcoming me, you are humiliating me. I am not going to ask any question.”

SEKITO, FINDING THAT HE AND NANGAKU WERE NOT ATTUNED TO EACH OTHER, SOON LEFT FOR SEIGEN WITHOUT GIVING NANGAKU THE LETTER.

That man does not deserve even the letter. And he did not stay there, he immediately left.

ON HIS ARRIVAL, SEIGEN ASKED, “DID THEY ENTRUST SOMETHING TO YOU?”
SEKITO SAID, “THEY DID NOT ENTRUST ANYTHING TO ME.”
SEIGEN SAID “BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A REPLY.”
SEKITO SAID, “IF THEY DON’T ENTRUST ANYTHING, THERE IS NO REPLY.” THEN HE SAID, “WHEN I WAS LEAVING HERE, YOU ADDED THAT I SHOULD COME BACK SOON TO RECEIVE THE BIG HATCHET UNDER THE CHAIR. NOW I HAVE COME BACK, PLEASE GIVE ME THE BIG HATCHET.”
SEIGEN WAS SILENT. SEKITO BOWED DOWN AND RETIRED.

The silence of Seigen was his acceptance of Sekito, his courage. He knew that the letter had not been delivered, that there had not been any reply, although Sekito had not mentioned the letter. Sekito simply said, “They did not entrust anything to me, so how can there be any reply?”

Seigen saw the man, that he has the quality and deserves to be enlightened. His silence was his hatchet. He was saying, “When you come I am going to cut your head with a hatchet.”

And now he reminded him, “NOW I HAVE COME BACK, PLEASE GIVE ME THE BIG HATCHET. Cut my head. Do whatsoever you want to do, I am ready.”

Seigen was silent. In that deep silence is the transfer, the transmission of the lamp. It is not a question of language; it is a question of a transfer of energy. Just simply in that silence the flame jumped from Seigen to Sekito. And because he received the flame, the fire, he immediately bowed down and retired. Now there is no need to disturb the master. He has been accepted, not only accepted; the last step for which he had come has been delivered.

Eno was dead before Sekito became enlightened. In fact, the moment Sekito left Eno, before he reached to Seigen, Eno died. He was absolutely aware that death was coming close, and Seigen is the right person to whom Sekito should be handed over. He was absolutely correct in his judgment;

it was Seigen who finally managed Sekito’s enlightenment. But enlightenment happens in silence. That’s why my whole effort here is to make you as silent as possible. Then you don’t need even a Seigen. Sitting anywhere — in your room, under a tree, in the garden, by the side of the river, anywhere — if your silence deepens, existence itself gives you the initiation into buddhahood. And when it comes directly from existence itself, it has a far greater beauty than when it comes through a master. I teach you immediate, sudden enlightenment. The meditation that you are practicing is just preparing you for that great silence in which existence will become a flame inside you.

Etsujin wrote:
FALLING
BUT WITH EASY HEARTS —
POPPIES.

The flowers are falling with easy hearts. They are not even looking back to the tree they have been blossoming on, the tree that has been their home for so long, the tree that has been their nourishment for so long. Now they are going back to the earth from where they have come.

Falling, but with easy hearts… There is no regret. They enjoyed the sun, they enjoyed the moon, they enjoyed the stars. They danced in the wind, they danced in the rain, they danced, celebrated. What more does one need? It is time to go into eternal rest. That’s why their hearts are easy, no tension, no anxiety. They lived totally, they are dying dancingly. They are coming very easily towards the earth where they will disappear again. They came from the earth, the round is complete, they are going back to the earth.

Just as flowers arise from the earth and go back to the earth for eternal rest, you come from existence and you return to existence if you have an easy heart. Then you will not be coming again into the imprisonment of a body. You will simply go back to the very source you have come from, to eternal rest. That eternal rest is nirvana, that eternal rest is moksha, that eternal rest is liberation, that eternal rest is samadhi, truth, enlightenment — different names for the same experience. You have come back home, and you have come back home dancing, with no regret, with no complaint, with easy hearts, peacefully and silently to disappear. This is the most exquisite experience, when you are on the verge of disappearing with an easy and relaxed heart, a simple and pure let-go.

Source:

This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth

Chapter #2

Chapter title: God is an insult to man

7 February 1989 pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium

References:

Osho has also spoken on other Zen Masters and Mystics Mahakashyap, Bodhidharma, Hyakujo, Ma Tzu, Nansen, Dogen, Isan, Joshu, Kyozan, Basho, Bokuju, Sekito, Yakusan, Bankei, Sosan, Nan-in and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  2. Ancient Music in the Pines
  3. Ah, This!
  4. A Bird on the Wing
  5. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  6. Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
  7. Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
  8. God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
  9. Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
  10. Joshu: The Lion’s Roar
  11. Kyozan: A True Man of Zen
  12. The Language of Existence
  13. Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror
  14. Nansen: The Point of Departure
  15. Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
  16. No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
  17. No Water, No Moon
  18. Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment
  19. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing

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