Osho on Hakuin
Born in Hara, Suruga province, Japan, Hakuin Ekaku was a priest, writer, artist and was one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is regarded as the reviver of the Rinzai School from a moribund period of stagnation, refocusing it on its traditionally rigorous training methods integrating meditation and Koan practice. At the age of fifteen, he obtained consent from his parents to join the monastic life, and was ordained at the local Zen temple, Shōin-ji. Much later, on a spring night in 1726, when he was forty-one, after numerous other “small” enlightenment experiences, Hakuin attained final, decisive awakening while reading the passage in the Lotus Sutra (the same scripture he’d scorned as a youth) that declares a bodhisattva’s mission as one of practicing beyond enlightenment until all beings are saved. That passage became the theme of the rest of his life.
Up until that night, Hakuin’s practice was directed toward his own awakening. But from that moment on, his life was completely devoted to leading others to liberation—something for which he seems to have had a talent. Students gathered around him in increasing numbers, and before long, monks, nuns, and laypeople from all over Japan began to make their way to this once-obscure temple to hear Hakuin expound on the dharma. The countryside around Shoin-ji sometimes came to resemble a big Zen camp meeting. He was the quintessential Zen master of the people, who extended his teaching far beyond the monastery to include folks from all walks of life. All modern Rinzai masters trace their lineage back through Hakuin. Among the more well-known of them to teach recently in the West have been Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, and Maurine Stuart Roshi, one of the first female Zen masters in America.
Compared to a lot of figures from the eighteenth century, we actually know a good deal about the details of Hakuin’s life-primarily through his own autobiographical writings, Goose Grass and Wild Ivy, and also through his student Torei Enji’s Biography of Zen Priest Hakuin.
Osho, when he talks abou Hakuin, says “Hakuin is one of the most respected Zen masters. His respect is because of his ability to express the inexpressible, to create devices that somehow can manage to give you a glimpse of the unknown. He is basically concerned with the method. If a right method is used in the right time and ripe time, it is not going to fail. If you are on the right way, it may take some time to reach, but you will reach. The whole question before Hakuin is: the right way, the right method, the right beginning..”
WHAT IS MATURITY?
MATURITY is to know that nothing can be done. Maturity is acceptance of existence as it is: YATHA BHUTAM. Maturity is not to desire things otherwise. Maturity is relaxing with the whole.
Immaturity is conflict, struggle. The part fighting with the whole is immaturity. The part come to be in tune with the whole, coming to a harmonious settlement with the whole — not in defeat but in understanding is maturity. Nothing can be done. To realize that is maturity.
And also: Nothing matters. You allow it deep into your heart that nothing matters. All is good as it is, is maturity. Otherwise people remain childish. When you are desiring you are childish.
Every desire is a complaint against existence. Every desire is a discontent with the way you are, the being you are. And every desire brings frustration in its wake, because it cannot be fulfilled. Desire brings future in and disturbs the present. And desire creates the idea of ‘I’. Otherwise there is no I. If you go withinwards you will not find anybody there, it is utter silence. That’s what Buddha means when he says ANATTA, no-self. To know no-self is maturity.
Socrates says: Know thyself. And Buddha says: When you will know, you will not find thyself. Thyself is found only in ignorance. If you don’t know, you are. If you know, you disappear. The light of knowledge is enough to disperse the darkness of the ego. Each desire strengthens the idea that ‘I am. And I have to assert, and I have to show to the world who I am. I have to prove, I have to justify myself, I have to defend myself, I have to fight. And not only fight, I have to win. Ambition is immaturity. It is very rare to find a mature person. If you can find a mature person you have found a Buddha. Otherwise all are desiring in different ways. Somebody is desiring money and somebody is desiring moksha. Somebody is desiring power and somebody is desiring God. And somebody wants to prove in the outer world that ‘I am somebody’ and somebody wants to prove in the inner world that ‘I am somebody’. The idea to evolve is immature.
Hakuin is right when he says, ‘From the very beginning all beings are Buddhas.’ To recognize this, to welcome this, is maturity. There is nothing to grow to, there is nowhere to go to, there is no goal.
To think of goals is to think of toys. Spiritual growth, spiritual evolution, spiritual progress, all is just holy cow-dung. You are already there where you want to go, so you can never reach if you try to reach there. Because you are already there — the very effort is ridiculous, it is absurd. Hence so much misery in the world, because you are trying to reach somewhere where you are already. Naturally you cannot reach. Not reaching, you become panicky. Not reaching, you become more and more frustrated. Not reaching, you become more and more ridden with anxiety and anguish. Not reaching, you start creating a hell around yourself — that you are a failure, that you are nobody. The more desperate you are, the more effort you make to reach. And you cannot reach where you already are. To recognize this is sudden enlightenment. Enlightenment is not gradual, it is sudden. It is in a single moment of insight, it is a flash. But people go on working upon themselves. Either they work in the market or they work in the monastery, but they work all the same.
My teaching is: Drop the idea of work. Gurdjieff used to call his system ‘The Work’ and I call my system ‘The Play’. The very idea of work is dangerous, it will give you more and more ego. And it is not accidental that many of Gurdjieff’s followers went mad and died in agony. The reason was, he was trying to put the Eastern realization into Western terminology. And for the West, ‘play’ is a dirty word. The West has been work-oholic for long; it is intoxicated with work.
The word ‘play’ seems childish to the Western mind. Work seems to be more adultish — I don’t call it mature, it is adultish. Gurdjieff was trying to transplant something from the East into the Western mind. Naturally he had to use Western concepts, words, language. And what turned out was really very fatal. Play became work.
If you understand me, even for a single moment, that will do — if even for a single moment the glimpse comes, that why are you rushing? why are you hurrying? Relax in this moment, let this moment BE. And suddenly all starts exploding in you. In that moment you are mature. And that moment can become your very tacit understanding. Then you live as an ordinary man, but you live extraordinarily. Then you live in the marketplace but you are no more part of it. In a subtle way you have transcended it, and without any effort. Without striving you have transcended it. You can go on playing games, but they are all games, you are no more serious. It is all a drama — it is good, enjoy it, but don’t get engulfed by it. The moment you are serious you are possessed by the world. Seriousness is the indication that the world has possessed you. Non-seriousness is the indication that the world is no more powerful over you.
The really enlightened person has a great sense of humor. It is said of Bodhidharma that when he became enlightened he laughed for many months, he would not stop — at the whole ridiculousness of it, that people are already there and trying to reach. In their very striving they go on missing. And whenever anybody used to ask Bodhidharma about enlightenment, either he would hit him or he would laugh. What else can you do? This man deserves to be hit. When somebody asked Bodhidharma how to become a Buddha, he slapped him immediately. And the man said, ‘What are you doing, Sir? I have come to become a Buddha.’ He said, ‘I am making you. If a Buddha comes and asks me how to become a Buddha, what am I supposed to do? I will hit him!’
Maybe that slap brings you back home. That’s why Zen people have been throwing the disciples, beating them. And it has happened sometimes, it has happened. A master threw a disciple out of the window. And when the disciple fell on the ground with a broken back, he became enlightened. Because in that pain, for the first time he was in the present. In that severe pain the future disappeared and the Buddhahood and all nonsense. In that severe pain, for a single moment there was no thought. He became thoughtless, and he understood the whole point.
And the master came running and looked at him, and he was laughing there — with a broken back! And he bowed down to the master and touched his feet and said, ‘I am so thankful to you. Less than that would not have done. You did it in the right time, I deserved it.’ Remember, God has made you perfect. God never makes anything imperfect. God CANNOT make anything imperfect. People say God is omnipotent, I say no. Because He cannot make anything imperfect. How can imperfection come out of perfection? That is impossible. Only perfection comes out of perfection. This world is a perfect world and you are a perfect being. Listen to Hakuin: ‘From the very beginning all beings are Buddhas.’ That’s how it should be. That’s how it is. And you are trying to become a Buddha, you are trying to become perfect. You create your own misery. Then you fail. And when you fail you are miserable. There is no need to tail, just stop trying to succeed. And when I say stop trying to succeed, mind you, I am not saying strive to stop.
A Zen master used to play a small game with his disciples, particularly with new disciples. He would drop his handkerchief and he would say to the disciple, ‘Try to pick it up. TRY to pick it up.’ Naturally the disciple would simply pick it up and give it to him. And he would drop it again, and he would say, ‘Try again! Try to pick it up.’ And it would happen a few times, then the disciple would get the point — that how can you TRY to pick up? Either you pick up or you don’t. How can you try to pick up? And that’s what the master was saying — he was saying, ‘Try to pick up.’ And you will fail, because how can you try? Either you pick up or you don’t pick up. TRYING to pick up? And the master was indicating that that’s what you are doing in your life. Either be a Buddha or don’t be a Buddha. But TRYING to be a Buddha? It is just like that: Either be a Buddha or don’t be a Buddha.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: This Very Body the Buddha
Chapter title: Now is the Only Time for the Heart
13 December 1977 am in Buddha Hall
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:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- Ancient Music in the Pines
- Ah, This!
- A Bird on the Wing
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
- Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
- God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
- Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
- Joshu: The Lion’s Roar
- Kyozan: A True Man of Zen
- The Language of Existence
- Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror
- Nansen: The Point of Departure
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
- No Water, No Moon
- Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment
- Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing