Discourses — 27 September 2014

Po-Hun Wu-Jen said: ‘The technique of shooting is fine’ – you did well, beautiful! ‘But it is not the technique of non-shooting.’

This may be a little bit difficult because in zen they say that the technique of shooting is just the beginning, to know how to shoot is just the beginning; but to know how not to shoot, so that the arrow shoots by itself, is to know the end.

Try to understand: when you shoot, the ego is there, the doer. And what is the art of non-shooting? The arrow shoots in that too, it reaches the target in that too, but the target is not the point. It may even miss the target – that is not the point. The point is, inside there should be no doer. The source is the point. When you put an arrow on the bow, you should not be there; you should be as if nonexistent, absolutely empty, and the arrow shoots by itself. No doer inside – then there can be no ego. You are so much one with the whole process that there is no division. You are lost in it. The act and the actor are not two – not even the slight distinction of ‘I am the doer and this is my action.’ It takes many years to attain. And if you don’t understand, it is very difficult to attain it; if you understand the thing, you create the possibility.

Herrigel, a German seeker, worked for three years with his master in Japan. He was an archer, when he reached Japan he was already an archer, and a perfect one, because a hundred percent of his targets were hit by the arrow; there was no question of it. When he arrived he was already an archer just like Lieh-Tzu. But the master laughed. He said, ‘Yes, you are skilled in shooting, but what about non-shooting?’

Herrigel said, ‘What is this non-shooting? – never heard of it.’

The master said, ‘Then I will teach you.’

Three years passed; he became more and more skillful and the target became nearer and nearer and nearer. He became absolutely perfect, there was nothing lacking. And he was worried because… and this is the problem for the Western mind: the East looks mysterious, illogical, and the East is. He couldn’t understand this master; was he a madman? … Because now he was absolutely perfect, the master could not find a single fault, and he went on saying, ‘No!’ This is the problem: the gulf between the Eastern and the Western approaches towards life. The master goes on saying no, goes on rejecting.

osho drinking zen

Herrigel started getting frustrated. He said, ‘But where is the fault? Show me the fault and I can learn how to go beyond it.’

The master said, ‘There is no fault. You are faulty. There is no fault, your shooting is perfect – but that is not the point. You are faulty; when you shoot, you are there, you are too much there. The arrow reaches the target, that’s right! – but that is not the point. Why are you there too much? Why the exhibition? Why the ego? Why can’t you simply shoot without being there?’

Herrigel, of course, continued arguing, ‘How can one shoot without being there? Then who will shoot?’ – a very rational approach: then who will shoot?

And the master would say, ‘Just look at me.’ And Herrigel also felt that his master had a different quality, but that quality is mysterious and you cannot catch it. He felt it many times: that when the master shoots it is really different, as if he becomes the arrow, the bow, as if the master is there no more; he is completely one, undivided.

Then he started asking how to do this. The master said, ‘This is not a technique. You have to understand, and you have to soak yourself into that understanding more and more, and sink into it.’

Three years lost, and then Herrigel understood that this was not possible. Either this man is mad, or it is not possible for a Westerner to attain this non-shooting: I have wasted three years, now it is time to go.

So he asked the master straight; the master said, ‘Yes, you can go.’

Herrigel asked, ‘Can you give me a certificate stating that for three years I learned with you?’

The master said, ‘No, because you have not learned anything. You have been three years with me, but you have not learned anything. All that you have learned you could have learned in Germany also. There was no need to come here.’

The day he was to leave he just went to say goodbye, and the master was teaching other disciples, and demonstrating. It was just morning, and the sun was rising and there were birds singing; and Herrigel was now unworried because he had decided, and once the decision is taken the worry disappears. He was not worried. For these three years he was tense in the mind – how to attain? How to fulfill the conditions of this madman? But now there was no worry. He had decided, he was leaving, he had booked; by the evening he would leave and all this nightmare would be left behind. He was just waiting for the master so that when he was finished with his disciples he could say goodbye and a thank you and leave.

So he was sitting on a bench. For the first time, suddenly he felt something. He looked at the master. The master was pulling the string of the bow and, as if he was not walking towards the master, he suddenly found himself standing and walking from the bench. He reached the master, took the bow from his hand… the arrow left the bow, and the master said, ‘Good, fine, you have attained! Now I can give you a certificate.’

And Herrigel says: ‘Yes, that day I attained. I now know the difference. That day something happened by itself – I was not the shooter, I was not there at all. I was just sitting on the bench relaxed. There was no tension, no worry, no thinking about it. I was not concerned.’

Remember this, because you are also near a madman. It is very difficult to fulfill my conditions. It is almost impossible – but it is possible also. And it will happen only when you have done everything that you can do, and you come to the point to say goodbye, when you come to the point where you would like to leave me and go away. It will come to you only when you come to the point where you think, ‘Drop all these meditations and everything. The whole thing is nightmarish.’ Then there is no worry. But don’t forget to come to me and say goodbye; otherwise you may leave without attaining.

Things start happening when you are finished with effort, when the effort has been made totally – of course, Herrigel was total in his effort; that’s why in three years he could finish the whole thing. If you are partial, fragmentary, your effort is not total, then three lives may not be enough. If you are lukewarm in your effort then you will never come to a point when the whole effort becomes useless.

Be total in the effort. Learn the whole technique that is possible to do meditation. Do everything that you can do. Don’t withhold anything. Don’t try to escape from anything; do it wholeheartedly. Then there comes a point, a peak, where no more can be done. When you come to the point where no more can be done and you have done all, and I go on saying, ‘No, this is not enough!’ – my ‘no’ is needed to bring you to the total, to the final, to the peak from where no more doing is possible.

And you don’t know how much you can do. You have tremendous energy which you are not using; you are using only a fragment. And if you are using only a fragment, then you will never come to the point where Herrigel reached – I call that the Herrigel point.

But he did well. He did whatsoever could be done; on his part he was not saving anything. Then the boiling point comes. At that boiling point is the door. The whole effort becomes so useless, so futile: you are not reaching anywhere through it, so you drop it. A sudden relaxation… and the door opens.

Now you can meditate without being a meditator. Now you can meditate without even meditating. Now you can meditate without your ego being there. Now you become the meditation – there is no meditator. The actor becomes the action, the meditator becomes meditation; the archer becomes the bow, the arrow – and the target is not there outside somewhere hanging on a tree. The target is you, inside you – the source.

Osho, And the Flowers Showered, ch 6