A few things will
have to be understood. The first is that to attain buddhahood is
very difficult. To be awakened is almost to attain the impossible.
Total awakening is a phenomenon that does not and cannot happen
every day, because there is a deep attraction to the sleep and there
is comfort in the sleep. In the sleep there is no responsibility. No
matter how great the unhappiness, no matter how much the anguish,
they are not felt because of the unconscious state of sleep.
Surgeons are very familiar with this phenomenon. Give the body a shot of morphine or some other anesthetic, and then you are able to endure any amount of pain. Your bones can be sawn off, your legs broken, internal parts of your body taken out, exchanged, but the pain is not felt. Unconsciousness is one way - the deepest way - of enduring pain. Numerous are the miseries, and we have discovered a way to endure them, and that is to keep ourselves unaware, unconscious.
As awareness will increase, so will the amount of unhappiness. With growing awareness we feel the prick of the thorn more deeply - and we are already stabbed with thorns, with thousands of thorns. Buddhahood means the capacity to know the unhappiness of life in its totality; the courage to face all the pain without running away from it; no matter how big the hell in life, encountering it face to face, without turning your back to it. It is through encountering the hell that the doors to heaven open. Those who are not prepared to pass through hell will remain deprived of heaven.
We all want to go to heaven, but the road to heaven passes through hell and we do not want to travel on that road. So we have devised a simple trick: that is, even though we live in hell, at the very gates of hell, we go on dreaming of heaven. Because of those dreams the hell remains hidden, and in order to dream sleep is necessary.
So sleep has two uses: first, it does not let the pain of unhappiness be felt in its totality; secondly, it provides the facility to dream. This is why buddhahood is so difficult to attain. The sleep will have to be broken, and the dreams will be shattered the moment sleep is broken.
We have invested so much in our dreams, we have put so much at stake! Our dreams are the only sweetness of our lives. We have never known any happiness in reality; it is only in the dreams that we get some comfort, the whole treasure of happiness that we know is in our dreams. So when someone talks of shattering our dreams it does not please us. Even in our going to buddhas our motivation is that our dreams may come true. Even if we want liberation, that too is nothing but our last dream; that is our last hope of happiness. So we look for sleep, because in sleep dreams are possible, in sleep the miseries are not felt.
Now and then, maybe once in a thousand years, someone awakens. And whenever a single individual awakens, that door which is usually closed opens, even for those who are still asleep. Here we are so many people: suppose we are all asleep, then who will awaken us? If even one of us wakes up, the door opens up for the awakening of us all, because the one who is awake can awaken the sleeping ones, he can shake them to wake up.
It is another matter that you may still not wake up, you may turn over and go to sleep again, you may turn a deaf ear to it all. The awakened one's calls may get lost in your dreams, or even become part of your dreams. We have become so skilled in dreaming that we have no difficulty assimilating even the external realities into our dreams.
You go to bed at night and set the alarm because it is very urgent for you to be up early in the morning. Morning comes, the alarm goes off, and you start dreaming that bells are ringing in some temple. The sound of the alarm is coming from outside you, but you have taken it as a part of your dream - and then the alarm is futile. Now you will not wake up, there is no need to - you have forgotten all about the clock and all about the alarm. What was an external stimulus has now become a part of your internal dream. The mind is indeed wonderful, and its cunningness is great! It will create a dream in which bells are ringing; the sound of bells has been taken in, now there is no reason to wake up.
A colonel retired from military life. He called his orderly, whose name was Rama, and told him that he was to live with him. The colonel lived on his own, he had no wife or children, so he told Rama, "Your only duty will be to wake me up at four a.m. just as you have been doing all these years. For years you have come to me at four in the morning with the words, 'Wake up, sir, it's time for the parade.' All I want you to do from now on is to come to me at four in the morning and say, 'Wake up, sir, it's time for the parade.' And then I'll say to you, 'The parade can go to hell,' and I'll turn over and go back to sleep! This has been my lifelong desire which I have not been able to fulfill up to now. My whole life I wanted to skip the parade but could not do so. Now I am retired, so...."
Such is our mind. It wants to sleep, and when it is time to wake up,
then we get even more pleasure from going on sleeping if we are
given the chance. Now this colonel is insane, but he represents man
truly. Now he can go on sleeping uninterrupted, there is no need to
keep the orderly any more for waking him up at four in the morning.
But the real interest is in someone making the effort to wake him up
and his turning over and going on sleeping and ignoring him. This
satisfaction is not possible even in the natural uninterrupted
So when buddhahood happens to someone and he comes to shake you up from your sleep, your interest in sleeping actually deepens. You turn over and go on sleeping. Then you turn that buddha also into a part of your dreams. You start dreaming about him, you do not allow him to become your path leading you to awakening. You turn him also into a support to deepen your sleep.
But still the opportunity is there. Gurdjieff used to say, "How can you ever wake up unless someone else awakens you?" Your sleep is so deep that unless someone comes along and shakes you, no external element is going to find its way to you through the barrier of your slumbers. And you are so clever that the possibility is that the man who comes to awaken you, you will pull him too into sleep with yourself.
Still, there is one way, and Gurdjieff used to tell a story to illustrate it which is worth understanding. He used to say that ten people are traveling through a dense forest. They are afraid of the beasts prowling in the jungle, so they all do not go to sleep at the same time; one of the them is awake, and this man does not go to sleep without waking someone else. But at least one is always awake and he protects the rest of the nine who are sleeping, and before going to sleep this man will without fail awaken one of the sleeping ones to replace him. Gurdjieff used to call this schoolwork.
This is the very function of an ashram. It is a place where say one hundred people decide to wake up on their own, but the sleep they are in is deep and on his own one may forget the commitment. Our capacity for forgetting is immense!
There was a man who was always forgetting things. No
matter how determined he was to remember, he would just forget. So
he consulted a psychologist. The psychologist advised him to keep a
piece of string handy, and whenever he wanted to remember something,
to tie the string around his finger or around his ear or to make a
knot in his clothing. So the moment he caught sight of the knot he
would be reminded.
Shortly after, the man wanted to remember something, so he found a piece of string and knotted it around his finger as the psychologist had suggested. But the man became even more carefree after tying the thread, because now he thought there is no way to forget. This made him forget even more easily.
At the end of the day the man returned home, had his dinner, and while he was reading the newspaper suddenly he noticed the string around his finger. But try as he might, he could not remember why he had tied the string. Now if one is forgetful one can forget anything - but this time the man was determined to remember what it was that he had forgotten. "No matter how long it takes," he vowed to himself, "I shall not rest until I have remembered what it was! I shall sit and meditate, and if necessary I shall stay up all night long, but I must remember."
So he sat there in his chair, thinking and pondering and racking his brains until two o'clock in the morning - and then he remembered. He remembered that he had tied the string round his finger to remind himself to go to bed early that night.
Yes, our capacity for forgetting is tremendous. In our alchemy of
turning the truth into dreams we are very skillful.
When someone awakens, a door of possibility opens, an opportunity arises. An awakened one can break our dreams, he can create obstacles for us from just turning over and continuing the sleep. This is why Gurdjieff says that awakening is a collective process, a school's, an ashram's work, a process of a group of friends. To awaken on one's own is very arduous. Thus it was that Buddha pioneered the maha-sangha - the great commune, where thousands of bhikshus came together. Even if just a single one of them could wake up, he would become a door to the others' awakening.
With the same purpose, Mahavira founded the organized tradition of munis, sadhus and sadhvis. Hindus established big, well-run ashrams, and the Christians developed precious monasteries. If just one person in the place awakens, he will be useful in awakening others; that single ray will seek to penetrate the darkness of many others living there. Still there is no guarantee that the darkness can be dispelled.
This is why I say that buddhahood happens only once in a while. Then the door opens for a short while. Then if you can stop yourself from turning over and going back to sleep; if you can resist your age-old habit of converting truth into dreams; if you can maintain a little remembrance; if you can see through the deception of what you think in your sleep are gains, and that misery is not destroyed by unconsciousness but only forgotten, you will have to wake up. If life is hell, you will have to see that it is so. It is through that very vision of hell that your journey towards heaven will begin.
No one has ever reached anywhere by running away from it, and no one has ever been able to falsify the truth by closing their eyes to it. The logic of the ostrich is no logic at all - the enemy does not disappear because you have buried your head in the sand. The escapists have never attained to any life-fulfillment. One will have to wake up. If there is struggle you will have to face it, if there is suffering you will have to live it. It is through this living and the process of waking up and awareness that you will come to the point where one transcends unhappiness.
To find a buddha is a rare fortune. Even that much good fortune is the result of your striving for many many lives - if life after life even though you have dreamt you have dreamt of waking up. Life after life you have yearned for liberation - you could not become liberated, you could not go beyond the world, that is another matter, you could not go beyond the world, but the seed of sannyas has been lying within you. The meaningless keeps hold of you, but once in a while you have seen the futility of it. Just as lightning flashes in a dark night and one gets a glimpse of everything, so have there been at some points of your life journey some flashes when you have seen that everything is meaningless. The meaningful has called you sometimes and this is why you have been able to earn the good fortune to come across a buddha. For many it is not possible to even think of it.
On the day of Buddha's
birth, in the same village, a girl was also born. She grew up with
Buddha - she was the same age, had similar life experiences, but she
was deeply afraid of him. She avoided the roads that he frequented,
and if she suddenly saw him on the road she would run away. Then
Buddha renounced the world and left everything. She became even more
afraid of him. Even before he became a bhikshu her fear of him was
great; now she was terrified.
Then one day she happened to be returning from the market at dusk. There was no likelihood of meeting Buddha on that road, and he was not even in her thoughts, but suddenly he was there. Not until she was very close to him did she realize who it was, for she had never taken a good look at him - it is not possible when there is fear. Then there she was, right in front of him. For the first time she looked at Buddha, and all her fear disappeared, and she was transformed.
Zen masters have always been asking seekers who that woman was. That
woman is your shadow. She is not only born with Buddha, she is also
born when you are born. Hindus call her maya, illusion. You and your
maya never come face to face with each other. Neither does your maya
ever take a good look at you nor do you ever look deeply at her. So
the game goes on. If in that game you do come face to face with each
other, it is not you who will melt away but the maya. It is only the
shadow that disappears, not you. Hence the shadow is in fear, it
runs away from wherever you are. Even if it follows you, it is only
from the back, it never comes in front of you.
What we at present call life is no more than a shadow; there is no truth to be found in it at all. But when you come close to a buddha, to one who has attained buddhahood, you will have to confront your shadow. You will have to look deeply at your maya, the illusions; you will have to come face to face with your dreams. The day you look at your dreams rightly, your sleep will be over. You will avoid - you will avoid even blessings. Our habit of being miserable has gone so deep that we find ourselves unable to bear ecstasy even if it is coming to us on its own accord.
A man who lived in the capital
city of an empire was known to the emperor. Whatever this man
did would go wrong, and everything he undertook was to his loss;
misfortune seemed to follow him wherever he went. Out of great
curiosity the emperor consulted a fakir. "I have studied this man
continuously," he told the fakir, "and there has not been a single
hour of good fortune in his life. Is it predestined that he will
meet only unhappiness in his life?"
The fakir said, "Ages old is this habit of his of enjoying unhappiness. He has perfected this through the effort of many lives."
This did not appeal to the emperor. He said, "I don't agree. I think that the reason this fellow's life is the way it is, is because he never found the right situation, the right company, the right milieu.
The fakir said, "Let us then experiment and see."
So one day the emperor arranged for a large pot of gold coins and precious jewels to be left on the road on which this man used to pass every evening. The place he chose to leave the pot of treasure was on a bridge over a river, and the public and the guards were alerted to make sure that no one but this man should be allowed to touch the pot or its contents. Only this man of ill fortune was to be allowed to pick up the treasure and take it away with him. He was to be regarded as the owner of the precious pot.
What happened was very strange! The fakir and the emperor both stood at the other end of the bridge to watch. They saw the man approaching, and the emperor's heart was beating fast - a matter of great principle was about to be resolved concerning man's nature and destiny. The emperor thought that anything can be achieved by man's effort and now for this man nothing much needs to be done. All that was needed was that the man pick up the pot full of immense treasures which was right in the middle of his path, carry it away - no one is going to object to him - and become super rich.
But as the man came closer, the emperor was astonished because the poor man was walking with closed eyes. He bumped into the pot, which fell over spilling some of the treasure out with a jingling noise. But the man avoiding the object he had bumped into, and kept walking steadily across the bridge with eyes still closed. As the man reached the other end of the bridge, the emperor, unable to restrain himself anymore, caught hold of the man and shouted at him, "You fool! Why have you got your eyes closed?"
The man replied, "All my life I have walked across this bridge with my eyes open, and today I suddenly decided to see whether I could walk across it with my eyes closed - and I can! There was only one moment when I bumped into something, but otherwise it was easy. Now I know that it would be alright even if I were to go blind!"
The fakir said, "Look! Even if a buddha stands in your path, you may bump into him but you will pass him by. Then you will boast that you could even have walked past him. That will certainly be the day you have taken some stupid decision like this: I want to see if I can pass by this place with my eyes closed."
This is why I say that to miss is very easy. The opportunity is
rare, and to miss it is very easy. These are two apparently opposite
extremes, but if you understand them in the right perspective, the
situation reverses; then to miss the opportunity is not so easy and
to meet buddhahood is not so difficult. If you can understand the
two things rightly, perhaps you may come across buddhas every day on
the way. And if you meet a buddha even once, you will enter the door
right away - there is no reason for such a person to miss it.
I am taking you into all these experiments with meditation so that it becomes possible for you to recognize the buddha when the meeting happens; so that you do not turn your back on the door when it opens; so that you won't miss even if the door opens only for a single moment. Meditation will help you to recognize the master. Now this is a puzzle, because normally we approach the master in order to learn meditation. But I am telling you, without meditation you will never be able to recognize the master. Where will you look? Only meditation will make you capable of seeing the master. If you go to recognize the master through your thinking, you will miss.
Many people come to me, and I can clearly see that they are so full of their thoughts that no contact is possible between us; it is as if we are at thousands of miles distance. They have so many thoughts, and they weigh me only on the scales of their thoughts, they try to understand me only through thoughts, and they believe only in what their thoughts say to them.
You have never given a thought to how surrendered you are to your thoughts - thoughts which have never delivered you anything else except misery. You never doubt your thoughts. People come to me and tell me that they are skeptics or rationalists, that they cannot trust; and I see the extremity of their trust in their own head - this they never doubt! They have such profound faith in this head of theirs, the head which has never brought them a single drop of happiness, this head where no flowers have ever blossomed, only thorns. And they say they have no place for faith, that they doubt everything, that they think, and that they will not take any decision without thinking about it.
How have you come to this decision that what your head tells you is right? This decision you have certainly taken without any thinking, because anybody who has really thought has first of all abandoned faith in his head. The experience of life - of countless numbers of lives - tells you that this head has only made you wander.
Here I am, holding the door wide open, but if you are too full of thoughts you are going to miss. Your head is full of so many layers of thoughts that even the open door will appear to you as closed. After all you will depend on your intellect in order to understand and the falsity will come in; you are bound to devise one trick or the other.
You will understand buddhahood only when you stop thinking - and that state of nonthinking is meditation. Only in the moment of meditation will the master be recognized; not through thinking, not through logic or calculations, but only by sitting silently, in peace, will he be recognized. Hence the old tradition of keeping silent for the first three or four years of being with a master. No questioning, no attention paid to the mind's frantic activity, keeping it still, just sitting in silence, waiting. It takes three to four years like this before the ages-old wavering of the mind subsides. When the inner turmoil stops, when the mind's race ceases, when the inner marketplace closes down as if for the night, then all goes quiet. This process we have called satsang.
Satsang means going to someone and sitting there with him in silence. And the interesting point about this is that the big question is not whether the man with whom you sit is the right man or a wrong one; sitting silently with him will help you anyway. If he is wrong, you will come to see that he is wrong and you will be free of him. If he is right, you will come to see that he is right and you will enter into him.
Meditation opens the eyes, so there is no need to worry about whether the man with whom you are sitting in silence is right or wrong. It is irrelevant whether he is right or wrong; your sitting in silence is right.
See it this way: if even near the right man you go on thinking, you will miss. It is the thinking that makes you miss. If you sit in silence even near a wrong man, you will attain, because thoughtlessness opens the eyes. You will be able to see that this man is wrong. And remember, the one who is able to see what is wrong, is also able to see what is right. So even from sitting silently with a false master you will not come away emptyhanded. But remain bound up in your thoughts, and even from the true master you will return unfulfilled. Your thoughts are your prisons. No matter how hard I might work on your thoughts, it is not going to make much difference - you will go on deriving your meanings, imposing your definitions.
It had stood since time immemorial, and in it was a golden statue
of the deity.
One night the high priest dreamt that the deity of the temple would arrive the next day. Such an event had never happened before; down the ages the deity had never visited the temple. The high priest himself could not believe it. Remember, it is the priests who have the least trust.
Ordinarily people think that the priest belongs to the temple, lives in the temple, so he must have the greatest faith, but I can assure you the priest has no faith at all. It is he who does everything for the temple deities - washing and bathing them, lifting them up and laying them down. At times the statue slips and falls down from his hands, and it is helplessly unable to do anything in self-defense. The priests' observation is that this idol which cannot even protect itself, how can it possibly look after him? He knows the profession from the inside and he has no faith in it. It is the outsiders who have faith, those who do not know the inside secrets of the trade.
So this high priest had no trust in his dream, but still he was in a dilemma about whether to tell it to others or not. The temple was big, with a hundred priests, and he was afraid just in case it was true. "The world is so strange that sometimes even dreams come true," he thought, "and if in this case it turned out to be true, I will be in trouble." So he decided that he had better tell the other priests in spite of the possibility of becoming a laughingstock.
He gathered the priests together, and said to them, "I do not believe in it, it certainly is just a dream, but it is better that I share it with you. In this dream last night I saw our golden deity standing before me and telling me that he would be visiting the temple the following day."
All the priests burst out laughing. "At your age you have gone crazy!" they said. "Have you ever heard of a deity coming to the temple? This is just a dream!"
"Well," said the high priest, "you think it over. I cannot be held responsible anymore. Now you all decide what you want to do about it!"
So the priests considered the matter together. They also arrived at the conclusion that it was better to heed the dream, just to be on the safe side. "After all," they said, "even dreams sometimes come true. When all truths are like dreams, sometimes dreams can also become a truth. And what harm can there be in making preparations, even though we know that he is not going to come - that no God ever comes? Still, let us prepare."
The temple was thoroughly washed and cleaned, the holy ornaments polished and decorated, the candles and lamps were lit, and the trays of sweet offerings set out. Then, full of doubt, the priests waited. But is there any waiting possible in doubt? They all knew that no one was to come, but still they decided to cook good food and sweet dishes. "If the God does not turn up, so what," they thought; "we will certainly have a good feast."
Then the evening came and went, the sun disappeared over the horizon, and they speculated: "Who will come now? If God was to come, he would come during the daytime. Why should he come at night?"
Then as night fell, they decided to shut the doors of the temple - enough is enough! They shut the temple doors, fed themselves on the food they had prepared for God, turned off the lamps, and making sure that everything was put away neatly they began to ridicule themselves: "What kind of men are we? We spend the whole day washing and cleaning and preparing a feast - and for what? It was all in vain! How crazy are we, to listen to such dreams!" Then they went to bed.
Later that night, God's chariot arrived, its sounds were heard at the temple doors. The high priest, who was half asleep, half awake, felt that the deity has come. He shouted, "Does anybody hear the sound of the chariot at the gate?"
The other priests were angry to be disturbed yet again by the high priest. The whole day had been a hard work for them all, and now the high priest would not even let them sleep in peace. "Stop this nonsense!" they shouted back at him. "Is there something wrong with you? There is no chariot anywhere; what you hear is the rumblings of thunder!" And they went back to sleep.
Outside someone descended from the chariot, climbed the temple steps, and knocked on the doors. One of the priests heard the sound of the knocking and wondered.... The doubt was there anyway, the divided mind was arguing, "Maybe, who knows, the dream may yet be true."
Then another priest mumbled in his sleep, "Someone seems to be knocking."
The disturbance awoke the high priest again, and he chided the others, "This is really too much! Not only am I caught up by my dream, but all of you too! All you can hear is the wind hitting the door. Who is going to knock on the temple door in the middle of the night? Is God a thief that he would come in the middle of the night? He descends under the bright sun, in the full light, in the marketplace where everyone can see him. Enough of this disturbance! Now whatever happens you are not going to create a fuss. Just go back to sleep and let the rest of us sleep too."
In the morning the grief of the priests was great when they arose and opened the temple doors and they saw in the roadway the marks of the chariot wheels. And someone had come up the temple steps, his footprints were there - but now there was nothing they could do except cry and weep. They had missed the opportunity.
Rabindranath gave this poem the title, The Missed Opportunity. The deity came, but the priests were asleep.
When I say I am knocking on your doors, if you are full of thoughts
I can hear that you are interpreting: "It is just a rumble of
thunder," or: "It is just a strong wind blowing," or: "It is just
One young man came to me and said, "All that you say appeals to me very much. I am a psychology student and I like what you say so much that I start wondering if I am just hypnotized with you, if you have just hypnotized me! " Now his mind is telling him to run away from here, there is danger of being hypnotized here, and certainly there is nothing religious about hypnosis.
You listen to the points I make, if you are logical your mind says, "Yes, there is great logic in these points. But so what? Words are words, what am I going to do with these words? Eat them for dinner? Wear them as clothes? Use them as a shelter when it rains? Don't get hung up on the words! Don't astray from the realities of life."
Just two days ago a young sannyasin girl came to me and said, "My father is very worried. He says, 'How long are you going to go on with this meditation and sannyas? It's enough now, just go back and be a normal person again, live the way everyone else is living.'"
The way everyone else lives is what we mean by normal. Mad though their way of life may be, but the way everyone lives seem to be normal. Certainly when I knock on your door I am calling you to be something abnormal. I am beckoning you towards a life that others are not living, that you will live, that will be unique, new, unknown. It needs courage.
The mind persuades you. And until you can free yourself from this persuasion, until you can go beyond this persuasion, this circle will go on revolving through countless lifetimes. Don't interpret, simply look at the facts. Don't be lazy. It is already late enough; wake up! It is morning!
But for those who are asleep the night continues. Only those who are awake can see that the morning has come. And whatsoever I am saying to you, my emphasis is not on what I am saying, it is rather on shaking you, stirring you so that your sleep is broken. So many times I have to use what psychologists call shock treatment.... When someone is gone into extreme insanity, only the administration of electric shocks brings him back into sanity.
You too need strong electric shocks. Hence, many times I say things that give you a jolt, a shock. And this process that I have been calling meditation is exactly electric shock treatment. It will create so many tremors in you that you will become an earthquake - and not until you are an earthquake will you break out of your sleep.
I have heard: One morning a man was being told by his wife how incredible a thunderstorm it was in the night... great rumblings of clouds, flashing lightning and thunderbolts. Several people had died - and then the earthquake to top it all.
The man said, "With all this going on, why didn't you wake me up? I would have liked to have seen it too!"
Some people can absorb even electric shocks; it does not wake them up. They need higher voltage. If you agree I will give you as high a voltage as you need. But even to make you agree I have to start slowly and with lower voltages; otherwise you would run away!
Zen masters walk around among their meditating disciples with their Zen sticks. If the master sees that a disciple is dozing - and it is quite natural to doze off when you are sitting in meditation for seven or eight hours continuously in one posture - he gives him a hit with the stick. But many times it has happened that the master's hit has awoken the disciple not only from his dozing, but from his great sleep. Many times the hit has been the moment of enlightenment.
When stories from the Zen tradition were first translated and made available in Western languages, many Westerners simply could not believe them: How is it possible that someone hits you with a stick on your head and you attain enlightenment? Is enlightenment so easy? And what relationship does enlightenment have with the hit of a staff? One attains to enlightenment through studying the Bible, the Koran, the Gita. How can it be attained through being hit on the head? And these stories of the Zen monks are very strange - that he throws a disciple out of the window and the disciple becomes enlightened the moment he hits the ground! Or the disciple is just entering a room, his hand is on the door, the master slams the disciple's fingers shut in the door - and in that moment the disciple attains to enlightenment.
When he spoke
he was in the habit of raising one finger. This raised finger was a
symbol of advait - nonduality. His disciples even joked about it
behind his back; in their discussions they would raise a finger. All
that was fine, it was innocent. There was a small boy in the service
of the master - bringing tea or water for him, arranging his sitting
mat and so on. This boy had become an expert in raising the finger
and imitating Bokuju. He would sit behind Bokuju while he was
speaking, and when Bokuju raised his finger, he would raise one
finger in imitation of the master. There he would raise one finger
and gesticulate with it as though he was preaching to people.
Bokuju knew it all, because even that which happens at the back of a buddha is right in front of his eyes. There is no way to hide anything from him. And even if you think you have managed to hide from him, it is only because the buddha is choosing to keep you from knowing that he knows, that's all.
One day Bokuju was talking, and the boy was sitting behind him as usual. As Bokuju raised his finger, so the boy raised his. In one moment Bokuju took a knife from his pocket, turned, and sliced off the boy's raised finger! Everyone present was thrown into a state of shock. People were very afraid - and the boy jumped up screaming as his finger fell off and the blood began to gush.
Bokuju caught hold of the boy, pulled him in front of him, and burst out laughing. At this the boy was at a loss - he did not know whether to laugh or cry. For a moment he forgot that his finger had just been cut off. Then Bokuju raised his finger and asked the boy to do the same. The boy raised his missing finger, and it is said that in that moment he became enlightened!
These stories are very strange, defy all understanding, and may even
seem very harsh. This Bokuju looks very wicked, to have cut off a
boy's finger. But the shock of a finger getting chopped-off can
break the sleep. And if a chopped off finger is the price one has to
pay for shattering the sleep, it is well worth it! But only a Bokuju
knows when is the right moment that it can happen. Only he knows
when the layer of sleep is quite thin, when there is just slightest
duality which will shatter in the shock. So the Zen master hits only
when the layer of sleep is very thin; otherwise you will absorb even
the shock. The finger will be gone but no one will wake up.
All meditation techniques are techniques to shake you, to jolt you awake. And I am always waiting for that moment when your layer will be so thin that just the merest indication will shatter it. And if you are able to open your eyes and look even once, the matter is over.
My speaking to you is nothing but persuading you, getting you to agree to a journey which is utterly unfamiliar to you, to a journey where you have no idea of the destination; where it is possible you may get lost, or it is also possible you may reach the destination. I am taking you in search of such a treasure which you have no idea of, and you will have to travel leaving that behind which you call treasure; hence your attachment is understandable. Every now and then you turn around and look back - it is natural. That you want to take along with you very carefully even that which is worthless is natural.
Your sleep is natural, my shaking you is natural. I know it is difficult for your sleep to come to an end, but I also know that it can come to an end in a single moment. I am in search of the right moment to knock at your door. If you keep on coming to me, if you prove to be stubborn, do not run away in the middle, how long will you be able to go on thinking? You will get tired of it; slowly slowly you will stop thinking. And when you stop thinking, your dreams will also drop. Any moment, when I find you are just sitting, you are not thinking, there are no thought waves clouding inside you - a slight hit in that moment, a slight knocking, a soft gush of wind, even a dry leaf falling is enough and you will be awake.
You open your eyes and look just once, and the whole world turns different for you. You can never go back and be the same again. And this too is true that I am not going to be here forever, so you can miss the opportunity. You should not be too carefree, because this too usually deepens the sleep. You should be aware that any moment this door may close, so there should be no slackening of your intensity. You may lose me without having found. There is no way to loose me once you have found, but you may loose me without having found. This door may close before you have noticed it. You should keep this in mind so that you don't fall back to sleep without a care. At the moment the door is open. If you are peaceful you can see it, if you are silent you can enter.
The entire arrangement here is for just one thing: how to bring about your dissolution. The scriptures say that the master is death; that the master is he who becomes your death, and beyond that death is life eternal. Only the one who dissolves will attain to that life. So many times I may appear to you as your enemy also. I shatter your concepts; it is a device to kill you. I annihilate your thoughts; it is a device to kill you. I shatter your calculations of right and wrong; that too is a device to kill you. I not only change the color of your clothes, I not only change your name, I want to change your whole being; this too is a device to kill you. You have to be annihilated.
The moment you disappear, the divine appears within you then and there. You are a seed; if you dissolve, the sprout will shoot out. But you are clinging to the shell of the seed, you think perhaps it is your very life; if this is lost, you are lost. But the shell of the seed is not your life, your life is hidden within it; if the shell breaks, the seed will sprout. The shell is dead, the sprout will be alive. And don't be afraid of losing one seed; when you have become a tree, millions of seeds will sprout from you! But how to explain this to the seed? - it is afraid of breaking.
Recently I was reading a book called The Secret Life of Plants. It is a remarkable book from the West which has just been published. It seems that the work that was pioneered by Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose is about to reach its climax in the West, with the revelation that plants have feelings just like people.
Just try this simple experiment and you will understand what I mean. Take three flower pots, and put an equal amount of the same soil and same manure in each. Then put in each one an equal number of seeds of any seasonal flower which comes to its blooming soon, say within five or six weeks. Make sure that the quantity and quality of seeds sown is identical for all three pots, and then mark the pots each with plus, minus and zero signs respectively, and keep them away from each other.
Now, for at least fifteen minutes each day, you go to the pot marked positive, and you talk very lovingly to the seeds: "Don't be afraid," you tell them. "Break, dissolve into the soil! You need not fear, soon you will sprout and a greater life will manifest. The open skies are ready to welcome you. There is nothing to fear - the sun awaits you."
At first all this may seem crazy to you, but don't be worried, very soon your madness will bring results! Keep the pots at a distance of at least eight to ten feet from each other, so the suggestions given to the seeds of one pot are not heard by the seeds of the other pots. Just go on telling the positive seeds to have courage, to break open, to let the sprouting happen. Tell them, "I am here with you, and all is ready to welcome you!"
To the seeds in the pot marked negative you give food and water and sun and shade exactly the same as you do for the positive seeds. The only difference is that you talk to them differently. You talk negatively, and you say, "Don't bother to break open. You will die and there is going to be no sprouting, and for months the sun is hidden and the skies have prepared no welcome for you. Unnecessarily you will be in trouble, you will suffer and die. So look after yourselves and protect yourselves...."
And to the pot marked zero you give no suggestions - you don't talk to the seeds in this pot at all.
Within four or five weeks you will see some big differences among the three pots. The seeds which you have welcomed will be the first to break open, and their shoots will grow fast. The second to sprout will be the seeds in the pot marked zero - the seeds to whom you gave no suggestions at all. But they will take a longer time to sprout, their shoots will be smaller, lacking the joy and enthusiasm visible in the positive pot. And from the pot to which you gave only negative suggestions there will be virtually no sprouting at all. Even if one or two sprouts appear, they will be sickly and will be dead soon. You can do this little experiment yourselves and see.
I am doing the same on you. I have marked a positive sign on your pot and I am telling you, "Don't be afraid! Break, dissolve! The sun is ready, the sky welcomes you. I am sitting alongside you, don't be afraid. Come, rise and move on!" Even a child starts walking if his father just offers him a finger to hold onto. The child does not know how to walk, but it is his father's finger so he trusts.
And this is all. The master cannot do any more than this. He simply offers you his hand, and soon - if you can trust - you start walking. And before long you will find that you don't need the helping hand anymore. In fact, the child wants to let go of his father's hand - it is natural. "Let me walk on my own," he demands. And the father who really loves his child will let go of the child's hand. He had, in the first place, held the child's hand so that the child can walk. The child was not an excuse for holding the hand; holding the hand was an excuse for the child.
The moment your seed starts breaking, the moment your sprouts start appearing and you no longer need my reassurance, I will withdraw my hand.
The master is quick to free the disciple from himself, but the freedom is only possible when you are willing to be bound in the first place. Otherwise, who will I free? If you were never bound to me, who will I free? If the child never held his father's hand, the question of letting go of it will not arise. But then the child will go on walking on all fours, like an animal.
I knock on your door, I reassure you and lead you out of fear and into trust that all that you will leave behind is rubbish and what you will gain is a treasure.