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A monk asked Joshu: "What is the Buddha?"
"The one in the hall."
The monk said, "The one in the hall is a statue, a lump of mud."
Joshu said, "That's so."
"What is the Buddha, then?" asked the monk again.
"The one in the hall," said Joshu.
Now what is this Joshu trying to do? He is saying: "Your question is absurd. Because you are asking an absurd question, I am answering it in an absurd way. Your question is stupid, and there can be no intelligent answer to a stupid question." He is trying to show to this monk that the very question: What is the Buddha? is nonsense, because there is no way to say anything about the Buddha. It is an awakening. It is an experience. It happens within you. You cannot read it through the scriptures, and you cannot ask those who have come to know it. The only way is: you have to go to it; you have to allow it to happen.
In the Buddhist terminology 'Buddha' is equivalent to 'truth'. They don't talk much about truth; they talk much more about Buddha. That too is significant, because when you become a Buddha -- 'Buddha' means when you become Awakened -- truth is, so why talk about truth? Just ask what awakening is. Just ask what awareness is -- because when you are aware, truth is there; when you are not aware, truth is not there.
So the basic and real question is about awareness. But that, too, cannot be asked and solved. One has to become aware -- there is no other way.
A disciple asked a Zen master, "If someone were to ask me a hundred years from now what I thought was your deepest understanding, what should I say?" The master replied, "Tell him I said: This is it!"
Now what type of answer is this? -- This is it! He indicated to the immediate reality: This.
Vedanta, the greatest philosophical effort in India, talks about 'That': TATWAMASI Swetketu -- That art thou, Swetketu. Zen people talk about 'this'. Certainly their understanding is deeper -- because 'that' is again in the future, far away; 'this' is present. This is that. This shore is the other shore. This life is the only life, and this moment is eternity.
If you can live this moment, if you can be here this moment, then everything takes care of itself. Then you need not be anxious. Then there is no need to ask -- before you ask, the answer is delivered. The answer has been always there, but we are not aware. So the whole effort of Zen is how to bring awareness to you.
Man is as if asleep. Man lives in a stupor -- moves, works, is born, lives and dies, but almost fast asleep, snoring. Man's mind is very dull. Mind is dullness. Mind has no intelligence in it. There has never been an intelligent mind. I don't mean that there have never been intelligent people; there have been intelligent people, but there has never been an intelligent mind. Intelligence is something that comes when mind is dropped. Mind is never original, never radical. Mind is always orthodox. Mind is always repetitive, mechanical; it functions like a robot. It goes on repeating the same thing again and again. It is like a computer: whatsoever you feed into it, it goes on chewing it again and again.
Have you watched your own mind and its functioning? Nothing new ever happens to it. Nothing new can happen to it. And because of it you remain oblivious of all that is happening all around you; you go on ignoring it. You are too much attached to this mediocre, stupid instrument. It is good to use it; it is good as a reservoir, as memory; it is
good to keep records -- but it is not a way to see into reality. It has no eyes. Mind is blind like a bat. It has no eyes. Mind can never be intelligent -- only no-mind is intelligent. Only no-mind is original and radical. Only no-mind is revolutionary --revolution in action.
This mind gives you a sort of stupor. Burdened by the memories of the past, burdened by the projections of the future, you go on living -- at the minimum. You don't live at the maximum. Your flame remains very dim. Once you start dropping thoughts, the dust that you have collected in the past, the flame arises -- clean, clear, alive, young. Your whole life becomes a flame, and a flame without any smoke. That is what awareness is.Consciousness without thinking: that's what awareness is.
Being alert and with no thought. Try it! whenever you see thinking gathering, disperse it! pull yourself out of it!
Look at the trees with no screens of thinking between you and the trees. Listen to the chirping of the birds with no chirping of the mind inside. Look at the sun rising and feel that inside you also a sun of consciousness is rising... but don't think about it, don't assert, don't state, don't say. Simply be. And, by and by, you will start feeling glimpses of awareness, sudden glimpses of awareness -- as if a fresh breeze has entered into your room which was getting stale and dead; as if a ray of light has entered into the dark night of your soul; as if, suddenly, life has called you back.
The first birth is only a physical birth; don't be satisfied with it. It is necessary but not enough. A second birth is needed. The first birth was through your mother and father; the second birth is going to be out of the mind. You have to slip out of the mind and that will be your rebirth -- you will be reborn.
And, for the first time, trees will be greener than they are, and flowers will be more beautiful than they are, and life will be more alive than you have ever known it, because you can know it only to the extent that you are alive. You cannot know life if you are not alive. Whatsoever you are, you know life only up to that extent.
Mind, and mind's hold on you, is the imprisonment. Get rid of the mind. The question is not how to know truth; the question is how to get rid of the mind, how to get rid of this constant ignoring, this ignorance; how to be just here naked, throbbing, streaming, flowing, overflowing, and meeting the truth that has already been there, that has always been there.
Somebody asked a very famous Chinese poet, Yang Wang-li: "Now what is poetry?" He said, "If you say it is simply a matter of words, I will say a good poet gets rid of words. If you say it is simply a matter of meaning, I will say a good poet gets rid of meaning.'But,' you ask,'without words and without meaning, where is the poetry?' To this I reply: Get rid of words and get rid of meaning, and there is still poetry."
In fact, only then is there poetry. When words are no more there, when meaning is no more there, then suddenly poetry erupts, explodes. Poetry is a flowering of your being, and religion is more like poetry than like philosophy.
Philosophy tries to explain things -- never succeeds. At the most, it can succeed only in explaining away things, but it never succeeds in explaining them. Religion makes no effort to explain life. It tries to live it. Religion does not take life as a problem to be solved -- it takes life as a mystery to be lived. Religion is not curious about life. Religion is in awe, in tremendous wonder about life.
Just our being here is such a miracle. It cannot be explained why I am here, why you are here. Why these trees are here, why these stars are here. Why at all this universe exists, and goes on peopling itself with trees and birds and people. Why in the first place it is there, there is no way to know. It simply is there. But it inspires awe! It fills the heart with wonder. It is unbelievably true -- it is incredible! It is absurd, but tremendously beautiful.
Why it is there, there is no way to say -- but it is there. And religion says: Don't waste your time for the why. It is there: delight in it! Celebrate it! Be lost into it! And let it be lost into you. Meet it! Let the meeting be like two lovers entering into each other. Let it be an orgasmic experience.
But religion in the West has a very wrong connotation. It has almost reached to a point where the very word 'religion' creates a repulsion, where the very word 'religion' reminds one of dead churches and dead priests. It reminds one of serious looking people, long faces. It has lost the capacity to dance, to sing, to celebrate. And when a religion has lost the capacity to dance, to celebrate, to sing, to love, just to be, then it is no more religion -- it is a corpse, it is theology. Theology is dead religion.
In the West theology has overpowered religion. When theology overpowers religion, then religion is nothing but philosophy. And the philosophy is also not very philosophic --because philosophy can exist only through doubt, and theology bases itself on faith. So it is impotent philosophy, not even philosophy in the real sense.
Religion is not based on belief or faith: religion is based on awe, religion is based on wonder. Religion is based on the mysterious that is your surround. To feel it, to be aware of it, to see it, open your eyes and drop the dust of the ages. Clean your mirror! and see what beauty surrounds you, what tremendous grandeur goes on knocking at your doors.
Why are you sitting with closed eyes? Why are you sitting with such long faces? Why can't you dance? and why can't you laugh?
Nietzsche is right: God is dead... because theologians have killed Him. God can be alive only when a lover is dancing. When a theologian is trying to find arguments to prove God, He is dead. God is alive when two persons fall in love -- then God is throbbing and kicking. God is alive when you look at a flower and you cannot move from there -- something overpowers you, overwhelms you. When you look at the stars and you are one with the mystery, and your boat starts sailing towards the other shore, then God is alive.
When you sing a song -- it may be meaningless, it may be just la-la-la -- it may not have any meaning, but God is alive in that sheer expression of joy.
God is alive when you are alive. If you are not alive, how can your God be alive? Your God is yours. If you are dead, your God is dead; if you are alive, your God is alive. Your God cannot be more than you, because your God is your innermost core of being. So if you want to know what God is, become more alive. If you want to know what God is, become more divine. If you want to know what God is, then don't try to know -- try to feel. He comes through the door of the heart.
God is such a mystery -- or call it life, or existence -- life is such a mystery that even if you enter into the innermost shrine of it you will not be able to believe it. It is unbelievably true. It is incredible.
I was reading a poem of Leopold Staff. Listen to it:
I DIDN'T BELIEVE,
STANDING ON THE BANK OF A RIVER
WHICH WAS WIDE AND SWIFT,
THAT I WOULD CROSS THAT BRIDGE
PLAITED FROM THIN, FRAGILE REEDS
FASTENED WITH BAST.
I WALKED DELICATELY AS A BUTTERFLY
AND HEAVILY AS AN ELEPHANT,
I WALKED SURELY AS A DANCER
AND WAVERED AS A BLIND MAN.
I DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT I WOULD CROSS THAT BRIDGE,
AND NOW THAT I AM STANDING ON THE OTHER SIDE,
I DON'T BELIEVE I CROSSED IT.
Even when you have known God, you will not be able to believe that you have known Him. That is what I mean when I say God is a mystery. Unknown, He remains unknowable. Known also, He remains unknowable. Unseen, He is a mystery; seen He becomes an even greater mystery. It is not a problem that you can solve. It is bigger than you. You can dissolve into it -- you cannot solve it.
I have heard that Wittgenstein, a great Western philosopher, who comes nearest to the Zen attitude, used to say that he did not solve philosophical problems -- he dissolved them. And he used to say: "We leave things as they are but perhaps for the first time we come to see them as they are." Nothing can be done about things as they are. All that can be done is to help you to see them as they are. "We leave things as they are but perhaps for the first time we come to see them as they are."
And again: "Philosophy simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything -- since everything lies open to view, there is nothing to explain."
Yes, life is a mystery, and there is nothing to explain -- because everything is just open, it is just in front of you. Encounter it! Meet it! Be courageous! That is the whole standpoint of Zen.
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