The White Lotus 01

First Discourse from the series of 11 discourses - The White Lotus by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

Question: What is buddha-mind?

Answer: Your mind is it. When you see the selfsame essence of it, you can call it suchness. When you see the changeless nature of it, you can call it dharmakaya. It does not belong to anything; therefore, it is called emancipation. It works easily and freely, never being disturbed by others; therefore, it is called the true path. It was not born and, therefore, it is not going to perish, so it is called nirvana.

Question: What is tathagata?

Answer: One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.

Question: What is buddha?

Answer: One who realizes the truth, and holds nothing that is to be realized.

Question: What is dharma?

Answer: It was never produced, and will never be reduced; therefore, it is called dharma, the norm of the universe.

Question: What is sangha?

Answer: It is so named because of the beauty of its harmony.
I am ecstatic because just the name of Bodhidharma is psychedelic to me. In the long evolution of human consciousness, there has never been such an outlandish buddha as Bodhidharma: very rare, unique, exotic. Only in some small ways George Gurdjieff comes close to him, but not very close, and only in some ways, not in all ways.
There have been many buddhas in the world, but Bodhidharma stands out like Everest. His way of being, living, and expressing the truth, is simply his. It is incomparable. Even his own master, Gautama the Buddha, cannot be compared with Bodhidharma. Even Buddha would have found it difficult to digest this man.
This man Bodhidharma traveled from India to China to spread the message of his master. They are separated by a thousand years, but to Bodhidharma and such men there is no time, no space. For Bodhidharma, Buddha was as contemporary as Buddha is contemporary to me.
On the surface you are my contemporaries, but between me and you there is a long, long distance. We live on different planets. In reality, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Pythagoras, Bahauddin, Bodhidharma: these are my contemporaries. Between them and me there is no gap either of time or of space.
Superficially there is a one-thousand-year gap between Buddha and Bodhidharma, but not even a single moment’s gap in reality, in truth. On the circumference Buddha was already dead for one thousand years when Bodhidharma arrived on the scene, but at the center he is together with Buddha. Bodhidharma speaks the essence of Buddha. Of course he has his own way, his own style, even Buddha will find it strange.
Buddha was a very cultured man, very sophisticated, very graceful. Bodhidharma is just the opposite in his expression. He is not a man but a lion. He does not speak, he roars. He has not that grace which belonged to Gautama the Buddha. He is rough, raw. He is not polished like a diamond. He is just from the mine, absolutely raw, no polishing. That is his beauty. Buddha has a beauty of his own: very feminine, very polished, very fragile. Bodhidharma has his own beauty, like that of a rock: strong, masculine, indestructible, a great power.
Buddha also radiates power, but his power is very silent, like a whisper, a cool breeze. Bodhidharma is a storm, thundering and lightning. Buddha comes to your door without making any noise. He will not even knock on your door, you will not even hear his footsteps. But when Bodhidharma comes to you he will shake the whole house from its very foundations. Buddha will not shake you even if you are asleep. And Bodhidharma? He will wake you up from your grave! He hits hard, he is a hammer.
In his expression, he is just the opposite of Buddha, but his message is the same. He bows down to Buddha as his master. He never says, “This is my message.” He simply says, “This belongs to the buddhas, the ancient buddhas. I am just a messenger. Nothing is mine, because I am not. I am only a hollow bamboo who has been chosen by the buddhas to be a flute for them. They sing; I simply let them sing through me.”

When Bodhidharma reached China, the Emperor Wu came to receive him on the borders. A great enlightened person is coming! And of course Wu was imagining him as something like Gautama the Buddha: very gentle, graceful, kingly.
When he saw Bodhidharma, he was shocked. He looked very primitive. And not only that, he looked very absurd because he was carrying one of his shoes on his head: one shoe on one foot, another shoe on his head!
The emperor was embarrassed. He had come with his whole court and the queens. “What will they think? And what kind of man have I come to receive?” He tried to overlook it, out of politeness. He did not want to ask the question, “Why is this shoe on your head?”
But Bodhidharma would not leave him. He said, “Don’t try to overlook it. Ask directly and be straight from the very beginning. I have already read the question in your head.”
The emperor was at a loss. He had to ask. Now, what to do with such a man? He said, “Yes, you are right, the question has arisen in me. Why are you carrying this shoe on your head?”
Bodhidharma said, “To put things in the right perspective from the very beginning. I am an absurd man. You have to understand it from the very beginning. I don’t want to create any trouble later on. Either you accept me as I am or you simply say that you cannot accept me, and I will leave your kingdom. I will go to the mountains. I will wait there for my people to come to me. This is just to show you that I am illogical, I can be as absurd as one can imagine. That is my way of working. That is my way of destroying your mind. And unless your mind is destroyed you will not know who you are. So what do you say?”
The king was at a loss. He had come with a few questions, but whether to ask this man those questions or not? Bodhidharma may say something ridiculous. Not only that, he may do something ridiculous.
But Bodhidharma insisted: “It is better that you ask whatever you have come to ask.”
The king said, “The first question is: I have been doing many virtuous deeds…”
And Bodhidharma looked deeply into the eyes of the king – a shiver must have gone through his spine – and said, “All nonsense! How can you do a virtuous deed? You are not yet aware. Virtue is a by-product of awareness. What virtuous deeds do you mean? You look like a fool. How can you do a virtuous deed? Virtue follows a buddha, virtue is my shadow.” He said, “You can only do vice, not virtue. It is impossible.”
The king still tried to make some conversation and get rid of this man as politely as possible. He did not want to offend him. He said, “By virtuous deeds I mean that I have made many temples for Buddha, many shrines. I have made many ashrams for the Buddhist bhikkus, sannyasins. I have arranged for thousands of scholars to translate Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. I have put millions and millions of rupees in the service of Gautam Buddha. What is going to be the result, the consequence, of all my virtue and of all my virtuous deeds? Millions of bhikkus take food every day from the palace and all over the country. What is going to be the outcome of it?”
And Bodhidharma laughed. The king had never heard such laughter: a belly laughter that can shake mountains. Bodhidharma laughed and laughed and he said, “You are simply foolish. All your efforts have been a sheer waste. There is going to be no result out of it.
“Don’t try, and don’t imagine that you are going to the seventh heaven, as other Buddhist bhikkus must have been telling you. They have been exploiting you. This is their strategy to exploit foolish people like you. They exploit your greed for the other world. They give you great promises, and their promises cannot be proved wrong because nobody comes back from the other world to say whether those promises have been fulfilled or not. They are exploiters, they are parasites. You have been a victim. Nothing is going to happen out of this which you think is very virtuous. In fact, you will fall in the seventh hell because a man who lives with such wrong desires, who lives with desires, is going to fall into hell.”
The emperor tried to change the subject. He said, “Is there anything holy or not?”
Bodhidharma said, “There is nothing holy, there is nothing unholy. Everything is as it is. Holiness, unholiness, are our mind attitudes, prejudices. This is tathata, suchness: things are simply as they are. Nothing is wrong and nothing is right. Nothing is sin and nothing is virtue.”
The emperor said, “You are too much for me and for my people.”
Bodhidharma said good-bye, turned back, and moved to the mountains. For nine years he was sitting in the mountains facing a wall. People would come because this conversation – if you can call it a conversation – reached faraway places. “The emperor has been hammered like anything, has been crushed. And this Bodhidharma is really something very strange, but he has the quality…some integrity, some strange perfume surrounds him. He is surrounded by an aura of his own.”
People started coming from faraway places to see him, and they would ask, “Why don’t you look at us? Why do you go on looking at the wall?”
And Bodhidharma would say, “I am waiting for the right man. When he comes, I will look at him. Otherwise it is all the same whether I look at the wall or I look at your faces. And the wall can be forgiven because it is a wall. You cannot be forgiven. Hence, it is better for me to look at the wall and not to look at you. You have fallen into such unawareness that I would like to shake you out of it. But then you feel angry, then you feel offended. I don’t want to bother you. I will turn only toward the man who has the capacity, the courage to be with me, to be my disciple.”
And only after many years did one man turn up. He stood for twenty-four hours behind Bodhidharma not saying a single word. Finally Bodhidharma had to ask, “Why are you standing behind me?”
The man said, “Now it is you who are starting it. I have come to kill myself if you don’t turn toward me.”
And he cut off his hand with his sword and presented it to Bodhidharma, saying, “Take it as a token. Next I will cut off my head. Otherwise turn toward me immediately!”
Bodhidharma had to turn. He looked at the man, smiling, and said, “So you are my disciple. So the man has come for whom I have been waiting.”

Bodhidharma was the first patriarch of Zen, and this man was the second patriarch of Zen, and a new tradition started. A new river was born from the source of Bodhidharma.
These fragments were found just at the beginning of this century. They were excavated by M. A. Stein from Tun-Huang – they are notes from some unknown disciples of Bodhidharma. They consist of a question by a disciple and the answer by Bodhidharma.
These notes, fragmentary as they are, still are of great significance: they represent the essential core of Buddha’s message. It is going to be a little arduous to understand them. Be very attentive and silent because these are not ordinary words.
When a man like Bodhidharma speaks, small questions, ordinary questions, are transformed into great inquiries. And whatever he says about those ordinary questions is of immense significance. His every word has to be pondered over, meditated upon. This will also give you a little taste of communion between the disciple and the master.
The first thing that you will note is: the question is asked, the answer is given, but the disciple never asks any question about the answer given. The answer has been totally accepted. It is not an inquiry from a student. It is an inquiry from a disciple. So the answer of Bodhidharma does not create any more questions, it simply ends the question. The disciple asks another question but never raises a question about the answer, concerning the answer.
That is the first thing to be noted. That is a very central part of communion. It is trust, it is faith. It is not belief, but it is certainly faith. And there is a difference between belief and faith. When you believe in something, doubt still persists in you. The belief can only cover it up, it never destroys it. It will rise again and again and again. No belief can destroy your doubt, because belief is in the head and doubt is also in the head. Faith is of the heart, something far superior to the head. The question comes from the head. The answer is received in the heart, at a higher altitude of your being. And then the question simply disappears from the head. The heart knows how to trust, the heart knows what faith is.
Faith is not against doubt, faith is the absence of doubt. Belief is against doubt. Belief represses doubt, faith dissolves it. Belief is like a blind man believing that there is light. Faith is like one who has opened his eyes and seen the light. The moment you see the light there is no question of doubting anymore.
Communion means the communion of two hearts. The student functions from the head, the disciple through the heart. And only the disciple can understand the master. And when all the questions of the disciple are dissolved he becomes a devotee. Then the head has disappeared totally. Then there is only the heart, functioning in rhythm with the master’s heart, in deep accord. This will give you an insight into communion.
The question is:
What is buddha-mind?
It has been asked again and again down the centuries. For twenty-five centuries all those who have become interested in Gautama the Buddha have asked the question: What is buddha-mind?
The question is significant. It is significant because the very question creates a paradox. The buddha-mind is a no-mind. To say anything about the buddha-mind is to say something about no-mind. We live in the mind. The buddha has gone beyond it. He is no longer a mind, he is only a no-mind. So the buddha-mind does not mean a certain type of mind, it simply means a transcendence of mind. The question is significant, is very fundamental. It is the beginning of inquiry, real inquiry.
The disciple is not asking, “What is God?” He is not asking, “What is paradise?” He is not asking, “What is sin?” He is asking a very existential question: What is buddha-mind? Because to understand the reality of the buddha-mind is to understand the very foundation of existence itself.
A buddha-mind is a pure consciousness. It is like a mirror: it simply reflects, it does not project. It has no ideas, no content, no thoughts, no desires, no imagination, no memory. It is present to the ever-present, it lives in the present. And when you are totally in the present, the mind disappears, it loses all its boundaries. A great emptiness arises in you. Of course that emptiness is not empty in the ordinary sense of the word. It is also a kind of fullness: empty as far as the world is concerned, but full, overfull, flooded, as far as truth is concerned. Empty because all misery has been thrown out, overflowing because bliss has descended in.
What is buddha-mind? should be the beginning for all seekers. Asking about God, asking about hell and heaven, are just ordinary things. Asking about the buddha-mind is asking something that – if you can understand it – is bound to transform you, is going to give you a new birth.
The mind is very cunning. It can create questions that are only distractions from your being. The mind is so subtle it can deceive you. It can make you feel that you are a great seeker because you are asking: “What is God? Who created the world? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?” And all these questions are stupid. The whole of philosophy consists of such stupid questions.
Buddha again and again says, “I am not a philosopher, I am a physician. I don’t want to intellectualize, I want to make you intelligent. I don’t want to give you answers to cling to, I want to give you insights in which questions melt, evaporate.”
One has to be very aware of the mind, because the mind can give you questions that will lead you into wrong directions of philosophizing. And then there is no end. You can go on and on forever. Ten thousand years of philosophizing, and not a single conclusion has been arrived at.
Be aware that your mind is a great deceiver. And just as your mind is a deceiver, so are the minds of others. If you ask wrong questions you will get wrong answers. There are people who are always ready to supply whatever you demand. It is just the ordinary law of economics: wherever there is a demand there will be a supply. What you demand is not the question. Whatever you demand – the world is a marketplace – somebody is going to create the supply.
You are cunning, others are also cunning. There are more cunning people than you. The less cunning become the followers, the more cunning become the leaders. The less cunning question, and the more cunning go on answering.
Buddha says, “I am not interested in your questions unless you ask something existential, unless you ask something in order to be transformed – not just to be informed, not just to be made more knowledgeable.”
There exist so many teachers in the world because you ask the wrong questions – and they are ready with many, many answers, with all kinds of answers. And answers come in all shapes and sizes to fit everybody. But remember: there is you and your cunning mind, and there are others who are more cunning.

To safeguard his pint while he left the bar for a moment, a man left a note, “I have spat in this beer.”
When he returned he found another note, “So have I.”

Remember, the world is full of cunning people. These cunning people become politicians, priests. They can even pretend to be prophets. You can avoid them only by asking the right question. They can’t answer the right question because to answer the right question they will have to experience something. It cannot be done by borrowed knowledge. It can be done only if they have authentically experienced truth.
This is a beautiful question, the right question: What is buddha-mind?
Bodhidharma answers:
Your mind is it.
The first thing he says is: Don’t be bothered about Gautama the Buddha. Your mind is it.
It is not a question about the historical person called Gautama the Buddha. He gives a new turn to the question. He immediately makes it more existential, more personal. The question is no longer philosophical, it has become a question about you. You may have asked about Buddha, but in the hands of a Bodhidharma the question is immediately transformed, changed. It becomes an arrow moving toward your heart.
He says: Your mind is it. Buddhahood is not something that happens to somebody else, buddhahood is your potential. It is something that is waiting to happen within you. So the first thing he says: It is your mind. Buddha-mind is not something foreign to you: it is your innermost core, it is your very nature. You are buddhas: maybe unaware of the fact, maybe fast asleep – but that makes no difference. A buddha asleep is still a buddha. A buddha unaware of his own buddhahood is still a buddha.
Your mind is it. It is not somebody else’s mind, because how can you understand somebody else’s mind? In the hands of masters like Bodhidharma everything is changed into the concrete, into the personal. It is taken out from its abstraction and made concrete and real.
People enjoy abstract questions because they are safer. They don’t touch you, they leave you aside. You can ask about God. You can ask about who created the world and when. And cunning and stupid people are always there: the cunning to lead and the stupid to be led.
A Christian theologian has even calculated the exact time when the world was created: four thousand and four years before Jesus was born, the first of January – of course – and on Monday. Now how can there be a first of January if there has not been a December before it? And how can there be a Monday if there has not been a Sunday preceding it? From nowhere – Monday! From nowhere the first of January! And Christians have believed it.
They have believed it so deeply that when Darwin and other scientists discovered the theory of evolution and said that the world has existed for millions of years, Christians were very much offended. Their whole religion was at stake. “The world has existed only for six thousand years, not more than that.”
But scientists discovered and proved that this can’t be the case, because in the earth they have found bodies of animals, bones of animals, skeletons of animals and men, which are ten thousand years old, twenty thousand years old, fifty thousand years old, one hundred thousand years old. How to explain that?
But as I told you, there are cunning people. Christian theologians even found a way out. They said, “Everything is possible for God. God created the world exactly four thousand and four years before Jesus, but he created bones, skeletons, that appear to be millions of years old – just to test the faith of humanity.” You see the cunningness? God created those skeletons so that it can be decided who is really faithful to the Christian dogma and who is not. God created those skeletons to see whether you still have some doubt within your being; then the doubt will surface. It is a strategy of God, and nothing is impossible for him. If he can create the whole world, why can’t he create skeletons that only appear to be millions of years old, although they are not.

When I was reading such Christian theologians, I was reminded of one of my friends who lives in Mumbai but has a factory in Nepal. He creates antiques, he manufactures antiques: buddha statues. They are manufactured right now in his factory in Nepal. Then they are dipped into acids to disfigure them, then they are buried deep down in the earth for six months, and then they are taken out. With inscriptions in ancient languages, with dates reaching far back – three thousand years, two thousand years, one thousand years – in the languages which were prevalent in those days. And then they are sold all over the world.
When I had stayed with this friend for the first time and I saw so many antiques in his house, I asked, “From where did you get them?”
He said, “I cannot lie to you. We manufacture them.”
I was puzzled. I said, “You are doing something so Christian. Do you follow the Christian God? He has also done the same thing. He manufactured everything four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ, but with marks, distortions, which can deceive people.”

People go on clinging to their dogmas, but the whole thing is because we start by asking wrong questions.
When you come to a master be very alert and ask things which are really a deep concern for you, the ultimate concern for you. Ask things upon which your life and death depend.
What is buddha-mind?
Bodhidharma says: Your mind is it. He immediately changes the very flavor of the question. It is no longer abstract, nothing to do with Buddha. Buddha may have been, may not have been. He may not be a historical person, who knows, he may never have existed. He may be just a beautiful fiction. But you are not a fiction, you are here, you are present. The question has to be concerned with you.
Your mind is it. When you see the selfsame essence of it, you can call it suchness.
Now Bodhidharma has started to enter you. He says the mind can manifest in many ways. The ordinary manifestation is that of insanity: thousands of thoughts and desires and memories running inside, clashing with each other, conflicting. A great war going on: sometimes very hot, sometimes very cold, but the war continues. Awake, asleep, it is always there. You are just a battlefield. This is the ordinary state.
But, if you: see the selfsame essence of it… What does he mean by selfsame essence? Your ordinary mind changes every moment. It is never the same for even two seconds. One moment you are angry, another moment you are sad, another moment you are happy. You go on changing, you change so easily. You are a flux. But if you watch this flux, then a totally different kind of mind arises in you – witnessing.
This witnessing is selfsame. Sadness comes, you witness it; happiness comes, you witness it; despair comes, you witness it; joy comes, you witness it. Now, the contents are continuously changing, but the witnessing is the selfsame. It is always the same, it never changes. The mirror remains the same. People go on and go on passing in front of the mirror. It reflects one face for a moment, then another face, but the mirror remains the same.
Bodhidharma says: When you see the selfsame essence of it, you can call it suchness. You can call it tathata, suchness. Suchness is a Buddhist way of expressing that there is something in you which always remains in its intrinsic nature, never changes. It always remains in its selfsame essence, eternally so. That is your real nature. That which changes is not you; that is mind. That which does not change in you is the buddha-mind. You can call it no-mind, you can call it samadhi, satori. It depends upon you. You can give it whatever name you want. You can call it Christ consciousness.
When you see the changeless nature of it, you can call it dharmakaya.
Seeing that it never changes, you can call it the very embodiment of the ultimate law, the very body of dharma.
It does not belong to anything…
It is not identified with anything: It does not belong to anything… The witness in you is always a transcendence, always a surpassing phenomenon. It transcends everything. Whatever is seen, whatever comes before it, it is never one with it.
It does not belong to anything; therefore, it is called emancipation.
It is called liberation. Liberation from the mind brings the buddha-mind into your vision. Liberation from identification, liberation from the body, from the mind, from ideologies, from prejudices, from all that makes you – liberation from you brings you to the reality.
Then you have to understand one thing. Ordinarily, whenever you think of liberation, you think – my liberation. There is nothing like that. There is no liberation which can be called “my liberation.” All liberation is from the idea of the ego. You will not be liberated, you will be liberated from yourself. It is not your liberation, it is liberation from you. It is emancipation from all that you have become identified with.
The Upanishads say: neti, neti: neither this nor that. When you go on negating and saying, “I am not this, I am not that,” a moment comes: nothing is left, nothing to reflect in the mirror, only the mirror. Then you know who you are. But now you cannot say, “This is what I am,” because that will bring the thought back. You cannot say anything about it, you have to be utterly silent about it.
We are deep asleep. The name of that sleep is the ego. And in our sleep anything can happen, all kinds of accidents – and they are happening. You are talking in your sleep and you are getting into trouble because you talk in your sleep. You go on saying things which you are not supposed to say. You decide not to say them again because they bring trouble, but again you go on repeating the same pattern. You go on doing things which you have decided not to do. But you are asleep and others around you are also asleep. People are talking in their sleep, answering each other in their sleep. Great dialogues are going on, great fights, quarrels. And the whole thing is that if you wake up, all this nonsense will disappear.
The buddha-mind is one who has become awakened.

A beautiful, young unmarried movie starlet was throwing a large party in her swanky home for all the men she knew. As the party went on into the wee hours, the hefty-chested young babe drank more and more liquor, but she resisted the advances of her bachelor guests.
Finally, at about 5:30 A.M., she said good night to the last guest and slumped down on the living room couch, dead drunk.
The next morning she found herself in her own bed, clad in her sheerest nightgown. Surprised, she went down to breakfast.
“Wang Lee,” she asked her Chinese manservant, “how did I get to my room last night?”
“I put you there, Missy,” he answered.
“Gee!” she said, “I must have really been on my back.”
“First time on back, Missy,” he replied, “second time on side, third time on stairs, fourth time…”

Everybody is asleep. People are doing things to you in your sleep; you are doing things to people in their sleep. You are all interfering in each other’s sleep. When you look from the vantage point of a buddha, the world simply seems to be a madhouse.

An elephant was walking through the jungle when she suddenly heard a voice behind her. She turned around and saw a little mouse sitting on the ground. The mouse asked if she could give him a ride on her back and she said, “Sure, just crawl up.”
Sometime later the elephant suddenly heard the mouse laughing. She turned her head and asked, “Hey, what’s the matter? Why are you laughing?”
But the mouse replied, “Oh, never mind. Just keep on walking.”
So she trotted on, but after a while the mouse started giggling again. He jumped up and down on her back, choking with laughter.
This time the elephant was really pissed off and said, “Listen, if you don’t tell me why you are laughing I am gonna throw you off my back!”
So the mouse finally said, “Ha, ha, ha! I raped you twice and you didn’t even notice it!”

But this is how it is with everybody. You go on doing great things in your sleep, thinking that the whole world is noticing it, that the whole universe is taking great note of it, that you will be remembered for centuries, that you will have a place in history, that your name is going to be written in golden letters.
In sleep one lives in the ego. As you wake up, suddenly you find the ego disappearing. Just as the sun rises and the mist of the early morning disappears, the ego disappears when you wake up.
A buddha-mind is a mind which has become awakened.
It works easily and freely, being never disturbed by others; therefore, it is called the true path.
The moment you are awakened, the moment you are egoless, all the rocks on the path are removed. The greatest is the ego, and then there are many small rocks: rocks of greed and lust and anger and jealousy and possessiveness. All these rocks are hindering your natural flow, your spontaneity. Once these rocks are gone, your river of consciousness starts flowing easily, freely, and then you are never disturbed by others.
It is impossible to disturb a buddha. You can kill him, but you cannot disturb him. You can destroy him, but you cannot disturb him; that is impossible.
…it is called the true path. That’s why Bodhidharma says: …it is called the true path – because it leads you to the absolute, undisturbed state, to the absolute calmness, quietude, stillness.
It was not born and, therefore, it is not going to perish, so it is called nirvana.
The buddha-mind is never born and is never going to die. It has always been there, you are just not aware of it. You have to turn in and look at it. You are looking outside, you are continuously looking outside, and all the time it is waiting behind you. Just a little turn – a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn, of course – just a small turn and suddenly you face the buddha.
You cannot meet the buddha in Bodhgaya, you cannot meet him in the great temples raised in his name. There are temples, the greatest temples, raised in Buddha’s name, but you will not find the buddha there. Buddha is within you and has always been there. It is your eternity: never born, hence can never die. You can call it nirvana. Here, by nirvana, Bodhidharma means that which is eternal.
The ego is born and dies. You can put the ego together, you can dismantle it any moment. You cannot put your nature together or dismantle it. It is simply there.
The second question:
What is tathagata?
One of the names of Buddha is Tathagata. We have given many names to Buddha, just to signify different qualities of buddhahood. One of the most used is Tathagata; Buddha himself used it. He rarely used the word I, he used Tathagata. He would say, “Tathagata was dwelling in a certain garden and then this happened…” “Tathagata was on the way, moving toward a certain city, then this happened…” He would use Tathagata more often than he would use the word I.
The question is: What is tathagata? Literally it means “one who comes like the wind and goes like the wind,” “thus come, thus gone.” That is the literal meaning of the word tathagata: just a breeze that suddenly comes. It was not there one moment before and then it is there, and then next moment it is gone. And it leaves no trace behind. You cannot see the breeze, you can only feel it. You cannot see the buddha, you can only feel him. Hence those who come to see the buddha will go empty-handed, because whatever they will see is not the buddha.
Seeing my body is not seeing the buddha. The body is only a house where the buddha is dwelling. Seeing the house is not seeing the one who is dwelling inside. But you cannot see the one who is dwelling inside, you can only feel him. Hence those who come with a thinking mind miss. Those who come with a feeling heart are immediately moved, touched, transformed.
It is like the wind: you cannot see it but you can feel it. You can feel the touch of it, the coolness of it. It is so refreshing, it is so rejuvenating, it makes you so alive.
To be in a buddhafield is to be in the field where the wind is blowing constantly. It can be seen only by the disciples. By seen I mean it can be felt only by the disciples. That’s how it has to be seen. And it can be breathed in and out only by the devotees. The disciple feels it touching his body, playing with his hair, moving his clothes. He feels it, he infers that it is there. But the devotee breathes it in; it circulates in his being, it becomes part of his being.
The student comes to see, the disciple to feel, the devotee to be.
What is tathagata?
Bodhidharma says:
One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.
From where does the wind come and to where does it go? It has no destination; it has no motive. It is not going anywhere and not coming from anywhere. It has always been here.
Swami Ramteertha used to tell a parable…

There was a great atheist. In his drawing room he had written in big letters: “God is nowhere.”
His small son was playing one day while he was reading his newspaper. The small son was trying, was learning how to read, so he tried to read the sentence on the wall: “God is nowhere.” But nowhere was a big word, so he broke it into two. He read, “God is now here.”
The father was shocked. He had never read the sentence that way. The whole gestalt changed: “God is nowhere,” and the child was reading, “God is now here.” There is great difference between “nowhere” and “now here”! For the first time he read that sentence with the vision of a child, with the innocence of a child.
It is said that since that day he could not read the old sentence in the old way: “God is nowhere.” Whenever he would look he had to read, “God is now here.” It became something fixed – the impact of the child was such.

A buddha is always here. You have always been here. You don’t come from anywhere and you don’t go to somewhere else. This whole universe contains you. We are part of it.
Bodhidharma says the tathagata is: One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. Read “nowhere” as “now here.” The tathagata is one who is now here and knows that he is always now here. He has not come and he is not going.

Ramana Maharshi was dying, and a disciple asked, “Bhagwan, where will you go?”
He opened his eyes, laughed. That was not the time to laugh at all. He was dying, his death was absolutely certain. He was dying of cancer. There was great pain. Still he laughed and he said, “You fool! My whole life I have been telling you that there is nowhere to go, we are always here. So where can I go? I will be here! The body will be gone, dust unto dust, but where can I go? I will be part of this universe as I am part of it now. Now, the body gives you the idea that I am separate. That is your idea, not mine. For me, my body does not separate me from existence but bridges me.”

You see the difference between the ignorant and the wise? To the ignorant, the body is a wall that separates you from existence. To the wise, to the enlightened, the same body is a bridge. It joins you with existence.
Just watch your body and you will be aware of it. Your body is continuously breathing air in and out. Not only through the nose but through every pore of the body you are breathing in and out. Scientists say that if all the pores of your body are closed, if your body is heavily painted and all the pores are closed and filled with paint but the nose is left to breathe, still you will die within three hours, because just the nose is not enough. Every part of your body needs its own breathing.
You are continuously in communication with existence. If the sun is not going to rise tomorrow, we will all be dead. We will not be able to live at all, not even for a few minutes, because without the sun the whole warmth will disappear. And without warmth, life is impossible. We will become so cold, so frozen, that death is bound to happen. We are continuously in exchange with existence. We are not separate, we are one.
And this is about the body, what about the inner consciousness? That inner consciousness is not divided at all. Your courtyard is surrounded by a wall, but your courtyard still belongs to the sky, is part of the sky.
Just like that: One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. He is tathagata. He is always like the fresh breeze blowing. Those who can understand this, they will be refreshed by the breeze. They will dance in the breeze of the buddha, in his sunlight. They will laugh with the buddha, they will dance with the buddha.
The third question:
What is buddha?
Buddha is awareness, simple awareness. It is awakening, it is waking up. Buddha is nothing to do with Gautam Siddhartha. He is only one of the buddhas. Many more have preceded him, many more have succeeded him. And one day or other you are also going to become a buddha.
You can become one right now, because you are it. It is only a question of recognizing your reality, of remembering.
Bodhidharma says:
One who realizes the truth, and holds nothing that is to be realized.
This is one of the most beautiful statements ever made. What an answer! What great insight! There is nothing to be achieved because you are already the buddha. Achievement is always of something which you are not. You cannot achieve buddhahood, you can only wake up and find that you are a buddha. And then of course you will laugh. You will laugh because you have been trying to be something that you have always been.
In Zen there is a saying:
When the big belly thunders with loud roars of laughter,
Thousands of white lotuses rain through the worlds.
And when it happens: “When the big belly thunders with loud roars of laughter…” Whenever a person becomes awakened, whenever he sees the stupidity he has lived for centuries… First, trying to find things that he had already inside himself. Second, trying to renounce things in order to get something that has nothing to do with those things. First, trying to achieve money, power, prestige. When one is already a buddha, what more richness can you ever have, and what more power, and what more glory? First, one was trying to achieve these things.
Failing in achieving them or succeeding in achieving them, one comes to know the futility of it all. Failure brings frustration and success brings frustration. Nothing fails like success, remember. And then one starts renouncing these things, as if renouncing these things is a condition for achieving that which you are already. That is not a condition at all. There is no need to chase shadows and there is no need to escape from shadows. Shadows are shadows: only this much has to be recognized.
That’s why I say to my sannyasins: Don’t escape from the world. The world is only a shadow. Let it be there, it can’t disturb you. Just become aware of who you are, and that’s enough.
One who realizes the truth – you see the paradox of the statement – One who realizes the truth, and holds nothing that is to be realized.
The ultimate truth can always only be said in a paradoxical way. Paradox is the only way to express it: one who realizes that there is nothing to realize, he is a buddha.

Once Buddha asked Subhuti, one of his most significant disciples, “Subhuti, when in ancient days Tathagata was with another buddha, Dipankara Buddha, did he attain anything? What was his achievement then?”
Subhuti said, “No, World-honored One, he did not attain anything. Nothing was his attainment. When Tathagata was with another buddha, Dipankara Buddha, he had not achieved, attained, realized anything at all.”
Buddha laughed and said, “Subhuti, you have understood the truth very well: because there is nothing to achieve, nothing to attain.”
Then Buddha asked Subhuti, “What have you attained living with me?”
And Subhuti said, “World-honored One, nothing. I have not attained anything living with you. That’s why I bow down to you, I touch your feet, because you have made me aware that there is nothing to achieve, there is nothing to attain. All that is already is. It is as it should be.”

Buddhahood cannot be desired. One cannot be ambitious for it. If one is ambitious, that is the barrier. One has to relax, be still, and see that the universe has already provided you with everything that you need. Even the ultimate buddhahood is already built-in.
The fourth question:
What is dharma?
Simple questions from innocent disciples.
Bodhidharma says:
It was never produced, and will never be reduced; therefore, it is called dharma, the norm of the universe.
Dharma simply means the ultimate law that keeps the universe together, that keeps the universe in harmony, in accord, the norm that makes the universe a cosmos and not a chaos.
The definition of dharma is totally different from the definition of religion. Ordinarily religion is translated as dharma: dharma is translated as religion. Christianity is a religion, Hinduism is a religion, but what Buddha means by dharma is not a religion. It is not definable, containable in a creed. It is not a dogma. It is a very scientific truth.
It is like gravitation. You cannot make a religion out of gravitation. Nobody worships gravitation, nobody makes temples for gravitation – although gravitation has been doing so much for you. If there was no gravitation none of us would be here. We would simply fly upward. It is gravitation that keeps you tethered to the earth, otherwise you will be lost. Even mountains, even trees, will become uprooted with nothing to hold them to the earth. Earth itself would fall into fragments and the whole universe would simply be a chaos. There would be no order of any kind. And life is not possible without order. And consciousness is impossible unless there is something like an ultimate law which keeps everything together.
Dharma simply means the law. You cannot worship it, you can only understand it. You can live it, but you cannot worship it. That is the great contribution of Buddha to the world: religion, in his understanding, is law. You have to live it. You have to live according to the law, according to the norm of the universe. Whenever you go against it you are in misery, and whenever you are in tune with it you are in bliss.
His definition of bliss and misery is very simple. To be in tune with the ultimate law is bliss; that very harmony is bliss. And to be disharmonious, to go astray from the law, is misery. Hell is when you are running away from the universal law and heaven is when you are running toward it. And when you have become one with it, it is nirvana. It is the ultimate peak of bliss, of truth, of consciousness: sat-chit-anand.
One has to be very, very watchful to be aware of the ultimate law. Do you see the meditativeness of the trees surrounding you? Such stillness. Just as you are listening to me, they are listening to me, not even a leaf moving. The birds are singing. The whole universe is still and yet a song… Silent, yet musical. A tremendous harmony permeates everything. From the grass leaf to the greatest star it is the same law.
But you have to be a little more aware. And then the very earth you move on becomes sacred, then trees are gods, then birds are buddhas. Then each person you meet is a potential buddha. How can you hurt anybody? How can you be destructive to anybody, disrespectful to anybody? Impossible! Then it is not etiquette; then it is simple, natural understanding.
But people are so unaware that it is difficult for them to see the greatest thing that surrounds them within and without.

The owner of a big furniture store went to New York to buy some stock, and met a really beautiful girl in the hotel elevator. But she was French and they could not understand a word of each other’s language.
So he took out a pencil and notebook and drew a sketch of a taxi. She nodded her head and laughed, and they went for a ride in the park.
Then he drew a picture of a table in a restaurant with a question mark and she nodded, so they went to dinner.
After dinner he sketched two dancers and she was delighted. They went to a nightclub and danced and had a lovely evening.
At length she motioned for the pencil and drew a picture of a four-poster bed.
He was dumbfounded. He has never been able to figure out how she knew he was in the furniture business.

One has to be aware, otherwise you can miss the obvious! And dharma is the obvious, God is the obvious. It is not a complicated, complex thing. It is not far away, it is very close by. It is dharma that beats in your heart, it is dharma that pulsates in your blood. It is dharma that breathes, it is dharma that lives in you. It is dharma that you are made of: the very stuff that you are made of. And yet you are unaware of it.
The last question:
What is sangha?
Sangha means commune.
Bodhidharma says:
It is so named because of the beauty of its harmony.
A sangha, a commune, is the brotherhood of those disciples and devotees who have gathered around a buddha. It is a brotherhood of the bees who have come to the flowering of the buddha. They have smelled the perfume from far away. Something mysterious has pulled them toward the center. Wherever the buddha is, is the center of the world at that moment.
The center of the world goes on changing because wherever the buddha is, there is the center of the world. For that moment, that place functions as the center of the whole existence. And whoever is a little bit aware, just a little bit aware, is bound to become attracted, enchanted, magnetized, hypnotized. And soon people start gathering around a buddha.
Many circles gather around a buddha. The first circle is of the devotees, the second circle of the disciples, the third circle of the students, the fourth circle of the curious spectators.
Just at the center is a man who has come to know who he is. He is not a priest, he is not a preacher. He is not a psychoanalyst, a therapist. He is simply the one who has become awakened, whose problems have all disappeared, who has the insight to see through and through you. Just being with him is enough to be transformed. Just being with him is enough to be charged, magnetized.
This brotherhood is called a sangha, a commune: a commune because communion is happening. The buddha radiates rays of consciousness around himself, creates vibes of a totally different plane. Those who become affected by those vibes, those who become interested in the rays that reach them and want to seek and search the source of those rays, they make the sangha.
Whenever there is a buddha, a sangha arises automatically. It cannot be avoided. It should not be avoided, it need not be avoided, because this is the only way the buddha can share his being with others, his understanding with others.
He does not solve your particular problems. He simply solves the very root of your problems. He is not an expert. If you bring a particular problem, he is not interested in your particular problem. His whole interest is: Why do problems arise in your life at all? Why solve one problem? Because by solving one, nothing is solved, many more will be there. And if you try to solve problems one by one, it will take millions of lives. And even then there is no hope because by the time you solve one problem, others are arising. When you solve others, the first problem that you thought you had solved has arisen again in a new form.
The buddha is one who has no problems, who lives a nonproblematic life, who lives innocently like a child. His innocence is contagious. He allows people to come close to him, to become infected. He pours his being into those who are available and ready to receive him. Just being with him is more than is needed. It is such a radical change to be with a buddha, but it is something invisible. The world remains absolutely oblivious of it.
Only a few people, sensitive, alert, intelligent, become aware of the existence of a buddha. And the moment they become aware they risk all. They take the plunge because then there is nothing that can hold them back.
Bodhidharma says: It is so named because of the beauty of its harmony. And you will find the brotherhood in absolute harmony around a buddha. No discipline is imposed, but there is discipline, great discipline. No order is imposed, yet there is order, immense order. Just the presence of the buddha is enough. It creates love in the disciples, in the devotees. It creates prayerfulness, gratitude.
If a buddha is not available, it is very difficult to attain that state where you can see that there is nothing to be attained. If a buddha is available, it is very easy. You can ride on the wind. If a buddha is available, you can become part of his being.
And he is already on the other shore. He exists with you on this shore only in the body. His consciousness is on the other shore. If you move closer and closer and become really intimate, surrendered… Slowly, slowly your consciousness also starts reaching the other shore.
And that is the perfection of a sannyasin: to live on the shore, yet not be of this shore.
Enough for today.

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