ZEN and the great difference between conscience and consciousness

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.

A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 27, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Jesus says, “Judge ye not”. This was perfect Zen, had he stopped there. But maybe because he was talking to the Jews and he had to talk in a Jewish way, he added, “… so that ye are not judged.”

Now it is no more Zen. Now it is a bargain. That addition destroyed its very quality, its very depth.“Judge ye not” is enough unto itself; nothing is needed to be added to it.

“Judge ye not” means “Be non-judgemental.” “Judge ye not” means “Look at life without any valuation.” Don’t evaluate – don’t say “this is good” and don’t say “this is bad”. Don’t be moral – don’t call something divine, and don’t call something evil. “Judge ye not” is a great statement that there is no God and no Devil.

Had Jesus stopped there, this small saying – only three words, “judge ye not” – would have transformed the whole character of Christianity. But he added something and destroyed it. He said, “… so that ye are not judged.” Now it becomes conditional. Now it is no more non-judgemental, it is a simple bargain – “so that ye are not judged.” It is business-like.

Out of the fear – so that ye are not judged – don’t judge. But how can you drop judgement out of fear? Or out of greed? So that ye are not judged, don’t judge – but greed and fear cannot make you value-free. It is very very self-centered – “Judge ye not, so that you are not judged.” It is very egoistic.

The whole beauty of the saying is destroyed. The Zen flavour disappears, it becomes ordinary. It becomes good advice. It has no more revolution in it; it is parental advice. Very good – but nothing radical. The second clause is a crucifixion of the radical statement.

Zen stops there: Judge ye not. Because Zen says all is as it is – nothing is good, nothing is bad.

Things are the way they are. Some tree is tall and some tree is small. And somebody is moral and somebody is immoral. And somebody is praying and somebody has gone to steal. That’s the way things are.

Now, see the revolutionary flavour of it. It will make you afraid, it will frighten you. That’s why Zen has no commandments. It does not say: Do this and don’t do that – it has no shoulds and no should-nots. It has not created that prison of the ‘ought’. It is not perfectionistic.

And now psychoanalysis knows it well, perfectionism is a kind of neurosis. And Zen is the only religion which is not neurotic. It accepts. Its acceptance is so total, so utterly total, that it will not even call a thief a thief, that it will not even call a murderer a murderer. Try to see the purity of its spirit – try to see the utter transcendence. All is as it is.

Zen is unconditionally value-free – if you make a condition, you miss the point. Zen has no fear and no greed. Zen has no God and no Devil, and Zen has no heaven and no hell. It does not make people greedy by alluring them, promising them rewards in heaven. And it does not make people frightened, scared, by creating nightmarish conceptions of hell.

It does not bribe you by rewards, and it does not punish you with tortures. It simply gives you an insight to see into things – and that insight frees you.

That insight has no greed as a base to it and no fear as a base to it. All other religions are greedy, all other religions are based deep down somewhere in fear. That’s why we use the word ”god-fearing” for a religious person – a religious person is god-fearing.

But how can fear be religious?

It is impossible. Fear can never be religious – only fearlessness. But if you have the idea of good and bad, you can never be fearless.

Your ideas of good and bad make people guilty, make people cripples, make people paralyzed. How can you help them to be free from all fear? – impossible. You create MORE fear.

Ordinarily, a man who is not religious is less afraid, has less quantity of fear in his being, than the so-called religious. The so-called religious is continuously trembling inside, continuously anxious whether he is going to make it or he is going to lose it. Is he going to be thrown into hell? Or will he be able to make the impossible and enter into paradise?

Even when Jesus is taking his last leave from his friends and disciples, the disciples are more worried about what their places will be in heaven. They will be meeting next in heaven – what will be their places? Who will be who? Of course, they concede Jesus will be just on the right hand of God – then who is going to be next to him? Their worry comes out of their greed and comes out of their fear. They are not much concerned that Jesus is going to be crucified tomorrow, they are much concerned with their own interests.

All other religions are based in very ordinary greed and fear. The same greed that you have for money one day becomes transformed into the greed for God. Then, God is your money; now, money is your God – that’s the only difference. Then God becomes your money. Now you are afraid of the state, of the police, of this and that – and then you start being afraid of hell, and the supreme court, the suprememost court of God… the last day of judgement.

The so-called Christian saints, even in their last moments of life, are constantly trembling, afraid – whether they are going to make it or not.

Zen is unconditionally value-free. Let it sink in you very deeply, because that is my standpoint too.

I want you to understand, that’s all. Understanding is enough. Let understanding be the only law; there is no other.

Don’t move by fear, otherwise you will move in darkness. And don’t move by greed – because greed is nothing but fear upside-down. They are two aspects of the same thing: on one side it is greed, on another side it is fear. A man who is fearful is always greedy, a man who is greedy is always fearful. They remain together, they go together.

Only understanding, only awareness, only the capacity to see into things as they are.

Can’t you accept existence as it is? And by not accepting it, nothing has been changed. What has been changed? For thousands of years we have been rejecting many things – they are still there, even more so.

Thieves have not disappeared. Neither have murderers disappeared. Nothing has changed; things are exactly as they have been always. Prisons go on increasing. Laws go on increasing and go on becoming more and more complicated. And because of the complicated laws, more and more thieves are employed – the lawyers, the judges….

It makes no change anywhere. Your whole prison system has not done any good – in fact it has been very very harmful. The prison system has become the very university for crime – to learn crime, to learn crime   MASTERS. Once a man goes to prison, he becomes a constant visitor.Once he has been into prison, then again and again he comes back. It is very rare to find a man who has been to prison and who never comes back again.He comes out of prison more skillful. He comes out of prison with more ideas – how to do the same thing, now in a more expert way. He comes out of prison less amateurish. He comes out of prison with a degree; the prison is a kind of graduation – graduation into crime. Now he knows more, how to do it better. Now he knows how not to get caught. Now he knows what the loopholes are in the law system.

And those who enforce law are as criminal as anybody else – in fact they have to be more criminal.

They have to deal with criminals, so they have to be more criminal. The police and the prison-guards and the jailers, they are more criminal than the people they are forcing into imprisonment – they have to be. Nothing changes. This is not the way to change things, this has proved an utter failure.

Zen says change comes through understanding, not by enforcing anything.

And what is your heaven and hell? Nothing but the same idea, transported beyond life. The same idea of prison becomes the idea of hell. And the same idea of reward – governmental rewards, presidential rewards, gold medals, this and that – that same idea becomes transported as heaven, paradise, FIRDAUS. But the psychology is the same.

Zen destroys that psychology from the very root. Zen has no condemnation for anything.

It has only understanding: it says try to understand things as they are. Try to understand man as he is – don’t impose an ideal, don’t say how he should be.

The moment you say how man should be, you become blind to the reality that he is.

The ”should” becomes a barrier. Then you can’t see the real, then you can’t see that which is – your ”should” becomes too heavy. You have an ideal, a perfectionist ideal, and every man falls below it, naturally. Then every man is condemned.

And those egoistic people who can manage somehow to force themselves into these ideals – at least superficially, at least outwardly – they become great saints. They are nothing but great egoists. And if you look into their eyes, just one flavour you will find: holier-than-thou. They are the chosen few, they are the chosen people of God. And they are here to condemn you and to transform you.

Zen is not interested in anybody’s transformation. AND it transforms – that is the paradox.

It is not concerned with how you should be, it is only concerned with what you are. See into it, see into it with loving, caring eyes. Try to understand what it is. And out of this understanding, a transformation comes. And the transformation is natural – you have not to do it, it simply happens on its own accord.

Zen transforms, but it doesn’t talk about transformation. It changes, but it is not concerned with change. It brings more beautitude to man than anything else, but it is not concerned with it at all. It comes as a grace, as a gift. It follows understanding. That is the beauty of Zen, it is unconditionally value-free. Valuation is the disease of the mind – that’s what Zen says. Nothing is good and nothing is bad, things are just as they are. Everything is as it is.

In Zen a totally new dimension opens, the dimension of effortless transformation.

The dimension of transformation that comes naturally, by clearer eyes, by clarity. By seeing into the nature of things more directly, without any hindrance of prejudices.

The moment you say a man is good, you have stopped looking at him. You have labelled him already; you have pigeon-holed him, you have categorized him. The moment you say ”this man is bad” how can you look into his eyes now any more? You have decided offhand, you are finished with this man. This man is no more a mystery. You have solved the mystery: you have written on it ”this is bad”, ”this is good”. Now you will be behaving with these labels, and not the realities.

The good man can turn into bad, the bad man can turn into good. It is happening every moment – in the morning the man was good, by the evening he is bad, by the night he is again good. But now you will behave according to the labelling. You will not be talking to the man himself, you will be talking to your own label, to your own image.

Of course, you go on missing realities, real persons. And it creates a thousand and one complexities and problems. Unsolvable problems.

Do you talk to your wife really? When you are in bed with your wife, are you really in bed with your wife, or with a certain image? This is my feeling – that wherever two persons are meeting, there is a crowd really, not two persons. At least four persons certainly are there. Your image of the other and the other’s image of you, those two images are there. And they never fit – the real person goes on changing, the real person is a flux. The real person is a river, it goes on changing its colour.

The real person is ALIVE! The day you label the person he has not gone dead, he is still alive.

Once somebody asked Chuang Tzu, ”Is your work finished?” He said, ”How can it be finished? – because I am still alive!” See into it: he says, ”How can it be finished? I am still alive. It can only be finished the day I am dead. I am still flowing, things will still go on happening.”

When a tree is alive, flowers will come, new leaves will come, new birds will come and make their nests on it, new travellers will come and stay overnight under it… Things will go on changing.

Everything remains possible when you are alive. But the moment you label a man as good, bad, moral, immoral, religious, irreligious, theist, atheist, this and that – you are thinking as if the man has become dead. You should label only when a certain person is dead. You can label him on the grave, not before it. You can go to the grave and you can write: This Man is This. Now he cannot deny you; now things have finished, things have come to a stop. The river flows no more.

But while a man is alive…. And we go on labelling even children, small children. We say, ”This child is very obedient, and this child is very disobedient. And this child is such a joy, and this child is such a problem.” You label. And remember, when you label you create many problems. First, if you label somebody you help him to behave the way you label him – because he starts feeling that now he is under an obligation to prove that you are right.

If the father says, ”My child is a problem,” now the child thinks, ”I have to prove that I am a problem, otherwise my father will be proved wrong.” This is a very unconscious reasoning – how can a child prove his father wrong? So he creates more problems. And the father says, ”Look. He is a problem.”

Three women were talking about their children. And, as women talk, they were bragging about their children. One said, ”My child is only five years old, but he writes poetry. And such beautiful poetry that even accomplished poets will feel ashamed.”

And the second said, ”This is nothing. My child is only four, and he paints – such modern, ultra- modern paintings, even Picasso cannot make any head or tail of it, what it is. And he does not use a brush, he simply uses his hands. And sometimes he simply throws the paint on the canvas and a beautiful thing, something out of the blue, arises. My child is an impressionist, a very original painter.”

The third woman said, ”This is nothing. My child is only three, and he goes to the psychoanalyst by himself.”

If you label, you will manage to drive the child crazy… you will destroy. All labels are destructive. Never label a person as a sinner or a saint. When too many people label a person in one way…. And people tend to think collectively; people don’t have individual original ideas. Mm? You hear a rumour that somebody is a sinner, and you accept it. And then you hand it over to somebody else, and he accepts it. And the rumour goes on growing, and the label becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. And one day, on that man ”The Sinner” is written in such big capital letters, in such neon signs, that he reads it himself and he has to behave accordingly. The whole society expects him to be that way, otherwise people will be very angry – ”What are you doing? You are a sinner, and trying to be a saint! Behave yourself!”

That’s what the society has – a very subtle involvement in its labelling: ”Behave yourself! Don’t do anything that goes against our ideas of you.” That is a very tacit thing, but it is there.

Secondly, when you label a person, howsoever he tries to behave according to the label, he cannot.

He cannot do it perfectly, it is impossible. It cannot be done really, he can only pretend. And then some times or others when he is not pretending, when he is a little relaxed – he is in a holiday mood and he is on a picnic – the reality asserts. Then you think you have been deceived; this man is a deceiver. You were thinking he is good, and today he has stolen money from you. And for years you have been thinking he is good, he is a saint – and now he has stolen money from you.

You think he has deceived you? No, it is your labelling that has deceived you. He is moving according to his reality. Enough he tried to fit within your frame – but one day or other one grows out of the frame. One has to do things one wants to do.

Nobody is here to fulfill your expectations. And only very cowardly people try to fulfill others’ expectations. A real man will destroy all people’s expectations about him, because he is not here to be imprisoned by anybody’s ideas. He will remain free. He will remain inconsistent – that is what freedom is. He will do one thing today, and he will do something exactly opposite tomorrow – so that you cannot carry an idea about him.

A real, genuine man is inconsistent.

Only bogus people are consistent. A real, genuine man carries contradictions within himself. He is utter freedom. He is such a freedom that he can be this and he can be that too, just the opposite too. It is his choice – if he wants to be a leftist he is a leftist, if he wants to be a rightist he becomes a rightist. There is no hindrance in him. If he wants to be inside he can be inside, if he wants to be outside he can be outside. He is free. He can be an extrovert, he can be an introvert, he can do whatsoever. His freedom chooses in the moment what to do.

But we force a pattern on people that they should be consistent.

There is great value put on consistency. We say, ”This man is so consistent. This man is great – he is so consistent.”

But what do you mean by ”consistency”?

”Consistency” means ”This man is dead, he lives no more.” He has stopped the day he has become consistent – since then he has not lived.

When you say, ”My husband is trustworthy,” what do you mean? He has stopped loving, he has stopped living – now no other woman attracts him. If no other woman attracts him, how can you go on attracting him? – you are a woman. In fact, now he pretends. If the man is still living and loving, when he sees a beautiful woman he is attracted. When a woman is living and alive and kicking, when she sees a beautiful man, how is it that she will not feel attracted? It is so natural! I am not saying she has to go with him – but the attraction is natural. She may choose not to go – but to deny the attraction is to deny life itself.

Zen says: Remain true to your freedom. And then a totally different kind of being arises in you, which is very unexpected, unpredictable. Religious, but not moral. Not immoral – amoral: beyond morality, beyond immorality.

This is a new dimension that Zen opens into life. It is altogether a separate reality in which you have lived – this is totally separate from that. It has a new quality; the quality is that of characterlessness.

Sometimes this word hurts very much, because we have loved the word ”character” too long. We have been conditioned for centuries for the word ”character”.

We say, ”That man is a man of character.” But have you watched?

 A man of character is a dead man. A man of character is categorizable, the man of character is predictable. The man of character has no future, has only the past.

Listen to it: The man of character has only his past. Because character means the past. He goes on repeating his past, he is a broken gramophone record. He goes on repeating the same thing again and again and again. He has no more anything new to say. He has nothing new to live, he has nothing new to be. We call that man a man of character. You can rely on him, you can depend on him – he will not break his promises. Yes, that is true. He has great utility, the social utility is great – but that man is dead, that man is a machine.

Machines have characters; you can depend on them. That’s why we are going to remove, by and by, all men and replace them by machines. Machines are more predictable, they have greater characters – you can depend on them.

A horse is not so dependable as a car. A horse has a kind of personality – some day he is not in the mood, and some day he does not want to go the way you want to go, and some day he is very rebellious. And some day he simply stands there and will not move.

He has a soul; you cannot always depend on him.

But a car has no soul. It is just put together; it has no center. It simply goes the way you want it to go. Even if you want the car to go beyond the cliff, it will go. The horse will say, ”Wait. If you want to commit suicide, you commit – I am not taking it. You can jump. I am not jumping.” But the car will not say no, it has no soul to say no. It never says yes, it never says no. Sometimes even the mind of a great mathematician simply won’t work. But the computer goes on working twenty-four hours – day in, day out, year in, year out – there is no question of not working.

A machine has character, very dependable character. And that’s what we have been trying to do – first we tried to make man a machine. We could not succeed in it a hundred percent, so by and by we started to invent machines so that they can replace man. Sooner or later, man will be replaced everywhere. Machines will do far better, far more efficiently, more reliably, faster.

Man has moods, because man has a soul. Because man has a soul, man can only be authentic if he remains without a character. What do I mean when I say ”characterless”? I mean the man goes on dropping his past. He does not live according to his pact – that’s why he is unpredictable. He lives moment to moment, he lives in the present. He looks around and he lives, he sees around and he lives, he feels around and he lives.

He has no fixed ideas how to live; he has only awareness.

His life remains a constant flow. He has spontaneity – that’s what I mean when I say a real man is characterless. He has spontaneity.

He is responsive. If you say something to him, he responds to it, he does not repeat a cliche.

He responds to you, to this moment, to THIS question, to THIS situation. He is not responding to some other LEARNED situation. He responds to you, he looks into you. He is not reacting, he is responding; a reaction comes out of the past. (…)

A characterless man is a man who has no answers, who has no philosophy, who has no particular idea how things should be. Howsoever they are, he remains open. He is a mirror – he reflects.

Have you not watched? If you go before the mirror, if you are angry the mirror reflects your angry face, if you are laughing the mirror reflects your laughing face. If you are old the mirror reflects your old age, if you are young the mirror reflects your youth. You cannot say to the mirror, ”Yesterday you reflected me laughing, and today you are reflecting me so angry and sad? What do you mean? You are inconsistent. You don’t have any character! I will throw you out of the house.”

The mirror has no character. And the real man is like a mirror.

Zen is non-judgemental, Zen is non-evaluative, Zen imposes no character on anybody. Because to impose character, you will need valuation – good and bad. To impose character you will have to make shoulds and should-nots; you will have to give commandments. To impose character you will have to be a Moses – you cannot be a Bodhidharma.

To impose character you will have to create fear and greed. Otherwise who will listen to you?

You will have to be a B. F. Skinner and treat people like rats – train them, punish them, reward them, so that they are forced into a certain pattern. That’s what has been done to you. Your parents have done it, your education has done it, your society, state, has done it.

Zen says: Now it is enough, get out of it. Drop all this nonsense, start being yourself. That does not mean that Zen leaves you in chaos. No, just the opposite.

Zen, instead of giving you a character, and a conscience to manipulate the character, gives you consciousness.

This difference has to be noted, remembered. All other religions give you conscience. Zen gives you consciousness.

Conscience means, ”This is good, that is bad. Do this, don’t do that.” Consciousness simply means, ”Be a mirror: reflect, respond.” (…)

To be responsible does not mean to follow certain rules; to be responsible means to be capable of response.

Zen makes you luminous from within. Not an imposition from the outside, not cultivation from the outside; it does not give you an armour, a defence-mechanism. It does not bother about your periphery, it simply creates a lamp inside at your center, at your very center. And that light goes on growing… and one day your whole personality is luminous.

How did this Zen attitude, this approach, arise?

It arose out of meditation* It is the ultimate peak of a meditative consciousness.

If you meditate, by and by you will see – everything is good, everything is as it should be. TATHATA, ”suchness”, arises. Then, seeing a thief you don’t think that he should be transformed – you simply respond. Then you don’t think that he is bad. And when you don’t think about a man that he is bad, evil, you are creating a possibility for the man to be transformed. You are accepting the man as he is. And through that acceptance is transformation.

Have you watched it happen in your life too? Whenever somebody accepts you utterly, unconditionally, you start changing. His acceptance gives you such courage…. When there is somebody who simply loves you as you are, have you not seen the miracle happening that something changes, immediately starts changing, fast? The very acceptance that you are loved as you are – nothing is expected of you – gives you soul, makes you integrated, makes you confident, gives you trust. Makes you feel that you ARE. That you need not fulfill expectations, that you can BE, that your original being is respected.

Even if you can find a single person who respects you utterly – because all judgement is disrespect – who accepts you as you are, who does not make any demand on you, who says, ”Be as you are. Be authentically yourself. I love you. I love you, not what you do. I love you as you are in your self, your innermost core; I am not worried about your periphery and your clothes. I love your being – not what you have. I am not concerned with what you have, I am concerned only with one thing – what you are. And you are tremendously beautiful.”

That’s what love is. That’s why love is such nourishment. When you can find a woman or a man who simply loves you – for no reason at all, just for love’s sake… and love transforms. Suddenly you are another person you have never been. Suddenly the sadness has disappeared, the dullness gone. Suddenly you find a dance in your step, a song in your heart. You start moving in a different way – a grace arises.

Watch it: whenever somebody loves you, the very phenomenon of love is enough. Your coldness disappears, you start warming up. Your heart is no more indifferent towards the world. You look at flowers more, you look at the sky more – the sky has a message… because a woman has looked into your eyes, or a man has looked into your eyes, and has accepted you utterly, with no expectation.

But this does not last, because man is so foolish. This honeymoon, sooner or later, disappears – a week, two weeks, three weeks at the most. And sooner or later the woman starts expecting and the man starts expecting, ”Do this. Don’t do that.” And again you are pulled back, you are no more in the sky. Again you are burdened, love has disappeared. Now the woman is more interested in your purse. Now the marl is more interested in his food. Arranging the family, arranging the house, and a thousand and one details – but you are no more in tune with each other’s being.

If that harmony remains, then everything is okay. You can go on doing a thousand and one things, nothing is disturbed. But that harmony is lost; you start taking each other for granted. Within those three weeks you have labelled each other. The day your labelling is complete, the honeymoon is over. (…)

Zen believes in love. It does not believe in rules, regulations. It does not believe in any outer discipline, it believes in the inner. It comes out of love, it comes out of respect, out of trust. When you meditate, you start trusting existence.

See the difference: if you ask a Christian or a Hindu, trust is the first demand. He says, ”Trust existence – then you will know what God is.” In Zen, that is not the first demand. Zen says: Meditate. Out of meditation trust arises, and trust makes existence divine. (…)

How can you go on condemning if you know everything is God?

The so-called vedantins in India say ”All is Brahma” – but still they go on condemning. Still they go on saying that you are a sinner and that that one is a saint, and the saint will go to heaven and the sinner will go to hell. This seems very absurd, if all is God. Then how can you be a sinner? Then it is God who is a sinner in you. And how can God go to hell?

Zen says: The day you know all is divine, all is God And they don’t use the word ”god” at all – because the other religions have corrupted the word so badly, contaminated it, polluted it, poisoned it. They don’t use the word ‘god’. When you meditate, and by and by you start seeing things as they are, and you start trusting and respecting things as they are, a trust arises. That trust is tathata – suchness.

Tathata leads to a vision of the interrelatedness of existence. Then the whole universe is one unit, functioning in an organic unity. They have a particular word for it, they call it ‘JIJI MUGE HOKKAI’: when you come to know that the whole existence is unitary – it is really a universe, not a multiverse – that everything is joined with everything else; that sinners and saints all alike are part of one net, they are not separate; that good and bad are joined together. Just as dark and light are joined together, just as death and life are joined together, so are good and bad.

Everything is interconnected. It is a web, a beautiful pattern.

Listen to these words of Berenson. ”It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with a caress. I remember… that I climbed a tree-stump and felt suddenly immersed in itness. I did not call it by that name; in that state of mind there was no word. It was not even a feeling. I had no need for words. It and I were one. Simply it was there, a benediction.”

TATHATA means coming to a moment when you suddenly see that existence is one, interrelated, dancing in one dance, an orchestra. And all is needed – the bad is as much needed as the good.

Then the bad is part of the good. Then the Devil is nobody but an angel of God – and I don’t call him a fallen angel. Maybe on a great mission in the world, sent from God himself – maybe his closest disciple.

The word ‘devil’ comes from ‘divine’. That is very indicative. Yes, the Devil is also divine.

Sasaki relates: When my teacher was speaking to me about this, about this TATHATA, he said, ”Now think about yourself. You think you are a separate being, an island. But you are not. Without your father and mother you would not be. Without their fathers and mothers they would not have been and you would not be.”

And so on, so forth – you can go to the very beginningless beginning. You can go on moving backwards, and you will find everything that has happened in existence up to now, had to happen for you to happen. Otherwise you would not happen. You are so interconnected. You are just a small part of a long infinite chain. All that is is involved in you, all that has passed is involved in you. You are the apex, at this moment, of all that has preceded you. In you the whole past exists. But this is not all. From you will come your children, and their children’s children… and so on, so forth. From your actions will come the resulting actions, and from the resulting actions other results, and from other results other actions. You will disappear, but whatsoever you do will continue. It will have reverberations, down the ages, to the very end.

So the whole past is involved in you, and the whole future too. At this moment the past and future meet in you, ad infinitum, in both the directions. You hold within you the seed from which the future will arise, just as much as you at this moment are the entirety of the past. So you are the entirety of the future too. This moment is all, you are all. Because the whole is involved in you, the whole is at stake in you. The whole criss-crosses you.

They say: You touch a blade of grass and you have touched all the stars. Because everything is involved in everything else, everything is inside everything else. Zen calls this involvement of the whole into each of its parts JIJI MUGE HOKKAI.

‘It is illustrated by the concept of a universal net. The net is called “Indra’s Net”, a great net extending throughout the universe, vertically to represent time, horizontally to represent space. At each point where the threads of the net cross one another is a crystal bead, the symbol of a single existence.

Each crystal bead reflects on its shining surface not only every other bead in the net but every reflection of every other reflection of every other bead upon each individual bead.’

Countless endless reflections of one another. This is called JIJI MUGE HOKKAI. (…)

Now this story:

ONE EVENING AS SHICHIRI KOJUN WAS RECITING SUTRAS A THIEF WITH A SHARP SWORD ENTERED, DEMANDING EITHER HIS MONEY OR HIS LIFE. SHICHIRI TOLD HIM: ”DO NOT DISTURB ME. YOU CAN FIND THE MONEY IN THAT DRAWER.” THEN HE RESUMED HIS RECITATION.

No condemnation, no judgement. Simple acceptance – as if a breeze has come in, not a thief. Not even a slight change in his eyes – as if a friend has come, not a thief. No change in his attitude.

He says, ”DO NOT DISTURB ME. YOU CAN FIND THE MONEY IN THAT DRAWER. Can’t you see I am reciting my sutras? At least you should he that much respectful, not to disturb a man who is reciting his sutras, for such a foolish thing as money. You go and find it yourself! And don’t disturb me.”

Now see: he is not against the thief because he has come to steal. He is not against the thief because he is after money, obsessed with money – no, nothing of the sort. A simple acceptance: this is the way he is. And who knows? This is the way he HAS to be. And why should I condemn? Who am I? If he can be kind enough not to disturb me, that is enough, that is more than enough to expect from somebody else. So don’t disturb me.

A LITTLE WHILE AFTERWARDS HE STOPPED AND CALLED: ”DON’T TAKE IT ALL. I NEED SOME TO PAY TAXES WITH TOMORROW. ”

See the point – so friendly. There is no enmity in it. And because there is no enmity, there is no fear in it. Because there is no condemnation, such deep respect, he can trust that he will leave. When you are giving so wholeheartedly, you can trust – even the worst of men will at least have respect for your respect towards him. He will respect, you can trust. When you trust somebody, when you don’t judge and don’t condemn, you can trust that he will trust you. He simply said:

”DON’T TAKE IT ALL. I NEED SOME TO PAY TAXES WITH TOMORROW.” THE INTRUDER GATHERED UP MOST OF THE MONEY AND STARTED TO LEAVE. ‘THANK A PERSON WHEN YOU RECEIVE A GIFT.

Now, see the compassion of the man. He does not call it theft; he says, ”Thank a man when you receive a gift.” He is transforming; his vision is totally different. He does not want this man to feel guilty; his compassion is tremendous. Otherwise later on he will start feeling guilty. He was bound to feel guilty – stealing from a poor monk, a poor beggar, who had not much in the first place stealing from a man who was so readily ready to give, I who accepted you so totally – this man will feel guilty, this man will start repenting. He will not be able to sleep back home. He may have to come back in the morning to be forgiven.

No, that will not be good. Zen does not want to create guilt in any way. That’s what Zen is all about, a religion without creating any guilt. A religion can be very easily created with guilt, that’s what other religions have done. But when you create guilt you have created something far worse than you were going to cure. Zen does not create any guilt, takes every care not to create any guilt in anybody.

Now he says, ”THANK A PERSON WHEN YOU. RECEIVE A GIFT.” This is a gift! Don’t you know even this much? I am GIVING it to you – you are not stealing it from me.’ What a difference! It is the same thing.

This is what Zen says: Give – rather than it being snatched away. And this is the total vision about life. Before death comes give everything so death need not feel guilty. Give your life to death as a gift. This is the Zen renunciation.

It is altogether different from Hindu or Catholic renunciation – they give in order to get. Zen gives in order so that no guilt is created anywhere in the world; no guilt is left behind.

SHICHIRI ADDED, ”THANK A PERSON WHEN YOU RECEIVE A GIFT.” THE MAN THANKED HIM AND MADE OFF. A FEW DAYS AFTERWARDS THE FELLOW WAS CAUGHT AND CONFESSED, AMONG OTHERS, THE OFFENCE AGAINST SHICHIRI. WHEN SHICHIRI WAS CALLED AS A WITNESS HE SAID: ”THIS MAN IS NO THIEF, AT LEAST AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED. I GAVE HIM THE MONEY AND HE THANKED ME FOR IT.”

You see the point? How respectful! What immense respect! What unconditional respect towards a man – towards a thief!

If this Shichiri was a Christian saint, he would have threatened him to be ready to suffer hell – and hell for eternity. If he was a Hindu saint, he would have preached him a long sermon on no-theft, and he would have made him very frightened that he will be thrown into hellfire. And he would have painted a very nightmarish picture of hell. And he would have preached the uselessness of money.

Look: the Zen master does not say anything about the uselessness of money. In fact, instead he says, ”Leave a little for me; in the morning I will need it.”

Money has a purpose. One need not be obsessed, this way or that, for or against. Money is utilitarian. You need not be only living FOR money, and you need not be against money. It is just utilitarian. That’s why my attitude towards money is: Money has to be used. It is very very instrumental. In the world of religion, money is condemned very much – the religious people are very much afraid of money. That fear is nothing but the greed standing on its head. It is the same greed which has now become afraid.

If you go to Acharya Vinoba Bhave with money in your hand he will close his eyes. He closes his eyes, he will not look at the money. So much fear of money? Why should you close the eyes? And he goes on saying that money is dirt – but he never closes his eyes when he looks at dirt. This is very illogical. In fact, if money is dirt he should have to keep his eyes closed twenty-four hours, because dirt is everywhere. Money is dirt? Then why be so afraid of dirt? What is the fear?

Zen has a totally different and a very fundamental approach. The master does not say that money is dirt and you should not be looking for other people’s money. What does it have to do with people?

Money is nobody’s. So to say to somebody, ”You are a thief,” is to believe in private property. Is to believe that somebody can have it rightly and somebody can have it wrongly, somebody has the RIGHT to own it and somebody has no right. Stealing is condemned because of the capitalist mind in the world; it is part of the capitalist mind.The capitalist mind says money belongs to somebody – there is a right owner, and nobody should take it away.

But Zen says nothing belongs to anybody, nobody is the right owner. How can you own this world? You come into this world empty-handed, you go out of it empty-handed – you cannot own it. Nobody owns it; we use it. And we are all together here to use it.

That is the message: ”Take the money! but leave a little for me too. I am also here to use it, as much as you are here to use it.”

Such a practical, such an empirical attitude! And so free of money! And in the court he said, ”THIS MAN IS NO THIEF…” he has turned this thief into a friend. He says ”… AT LEAST AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED. I don’t know about others – how can I know about others? This much I know: I gave him the money and he thanked me for it. It is finished, accounts are closed. He does not owe it to me any more. He has thanked me for it – what else can one do?”

At the most we can thank. We can thank God for all that he has given us – what else can we do?

AFTER HE HAD FINISHED HIS PRISON TERM, THE MAN WENT TO SHICHIRI AND BECAME HIS DISCIPLE.

What else can you do with such a man as Shichiri? You have to become a disciple. He has converted a thief into a sannyasin. This is the alchemy of a master, he never misses any opportunity. Whatsoever opportunity is there, he uses it – even if a thief comes to a master, he will return a sannyasin.

To come in contact with a master is to be transformed. You may have come for something else, you may not have come for the master at all – the thief was not there for the master. In fact, had he known that in this hut lives a master, he would not have dared at all. He had come only for the money; he had stumbled upon the master by accident. But even if you meet a Buddha by accident, it is going to change you utterly. You will never be the same man again.

Many of you are here just by accident. You were not searching for me, you were not seeking for me.

By a thousand and one accidents you have arrived here. But it becomes more and more difficult to go.

A master does not preach, he never says what should be done. Bodhidharma says, ”Zen has nothing to say, but Zen has much to show.” This master showed a way to this thief. He changed this man, and he changed him with such skill. He must have been a great surgeon – he operated on this man’s heart… and no sound was heard. He destroyed this man utterly, and he created this man again. And the man was not even aware what had happened. This is what the miracle of a master is.

A Zen sutra says: ”The man of understanding does not reject error.” When I came across it, my heart danced. Recite this sutra in the deepest core of your heart: The man of understanding does not reject error.

And another master, speaking on the sutra, commented – his name was Ohasama – he commented: ”Truth does not need to be sought first, for it is present everywhere, even in error. Hence who rejects error rejects truth.”

Tremendous these people are! One who rejects error rejects truth. Do you see the beauty of it? The radical, the revolutionary, standpoint of it? Shichiri did not reject the man because he was a thief; he does not reject the man because of his error – because behind that error is a divine existence, a god. Reject the error, and you reject the god too. Reject the error, and you reject the truth that is hidden behind it.

He accepts the error in order to accept the truth. Once the truth arises, is accepted, spreads, the error will disappear on its own accord.

You need not fight with darkness – that is the meaning. Simply light a candle. You need not fight with darkness, just light a candle. The master lighted a candle in the man. (…)

Another story:

A Zen master had been put into jail several times…. Now a step further! These Zen people are really eccentric people, mad people – but they do beautiful things.

A Zen master had been put into jail several times…. Now, it is one thing to forgive a thief, it is one thing not to think that he is bad, it is another thing to go to jail oneself. And not once, many times – for stealing small things from his neighbours. And the neighbours knew, and they were puzzled:

Why does this man steal? and such small things. But the moment he would be out of prison he would steal again, and he would go back. Even the judges were worried. But they had to send him to jail, because he would confess. He would never say, ‘I have not stolen.’

Finally the neighbours gathered together, and they said, ‘Sir, don’t steal any more. You are getting old, and we are ready to provide you with all that you need – all your necessities, whatsoever it is.

You stop this! We are very much worried, and we are very sad. Why do you go on doing this?

And the old man laughed. And he said, ”I steal in order to get in with the prisoners, and bring them the inner message. Who will help them? Outside, for you prisoners, there are many masters. But inside the jail there is no master. Who will help them, you tell me? This is my way to get in and help those people. So when my punishment is over and I am thrown out, I have to steal something and go back again. I am going to continue this. And I have found there in jail such beautiful souls, such innocent souls – sometimes far MORE innocent….” (…)

Zen has no value system. Zen only brings one thing into the world: understanding, awareness.

Through awareness comes innocence. And innocence is innocent of good and bad, both. Innocence is simply innocence – it knows no distinction.

– Osho – Compassion –

*By meditation we do NOT mean what is often commonly defined as meditation in our society. For more understanding, please read other articles on the nature of meditation. You can find them when you write the keyword (tag) meditation in the search box, I.L.