Three wise men in a locked room

1001 Tales Discourses

“People are trying different methodologies, practising a thousand and one things, to get out. And in fact they are out.” says Osho. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.

Lock on wooden door

A king wanted to pick the wisest man among his subjects to be his prime minister. When the search finally narrowed down to three men, he decided to put them to the supreme test. Accordingly, he placed them in a room in his palace, and installed a lock which was the last word in mechanical ingenuity. The candidates were informed that whoever was able to open the door first would be appointed to the post of honour.

The three men immediately set themselves to the task. Two of them at once began to work out complicated mathematical formulas to discover the proper lock-combination. The third man, however, just sat in his chair doing nothing. Finally, without bothering to put pen to paper, he got up, walked to the door, turned the knob, and the door opened. It had been unlocked all the time!

This is the situation. Nothing is locked, the door is open. And people are pondering upon ways and means to unlock the lock. People are trying different methodologies, practising a thousand and one things, to get out. And in fact they are out. Unless they stop this thinking business, they will not know the truth of the situation.

Man is not in bondage, only thinks so. Because he thinks so, he is in bondage. There is no difference between a Buddha and an ordinary man. But the ordinary man thinks there is a difference – then there is.

You create your prisons, your locks. And then you try to find out the ways to get out of them.

Buddhism cuts the knot with one stroke. Buddhism says: There is no lock, no knot to cut. That’s what I mean when I say Buddhism cuts the knot with one stroke of the sword. There is nowhere to go, nothing to be done. You are already there, and you are already that: just open your eyes. Think of those two great thinkers – they must have been mathematicians, they must have been engineers – naturally they inferred that the lock must be of great mechanical ingenuity and they had to find the proper combination. They started working.

Now, they can go on working for eternity – do you think they will ever find a solution? There is no possibility of any solution, because the problem does not exist in the first place.

In fact they will get more and more entangled. They will get more and more entangled – not in the problem, because there is no problem, but in the answers that they will invent.

That’s where people are stuck. Somebody is a Hindu, he is stuck with his answer. Somebody is a Christian, he is stuck with his answer. People are stuck in philosophies and no philosophy is needed. Life is enough unto itself. It needs no elaboration, it needs no explanation, it needs no analysis.

But if you become part of an analytic game, then it can go on and on for ever. One thing will lead to another, and that to another, and you are in a chain. And because the problem will never be solved, because there is no problem to be solved, you will have to go on looking for the answers.

Buddhism brings you down to the earth. It says: First look to see whether the lock is locked, whether there is any lock on the door.

How can there be a lock on the door of existence? We are part of it – who is going to lock it? for what? Who is going to create the problem? and for what? We are existence: we are in it, it is in us. Seeing this, one relaxes. In that relaxation, the vision arises.

That’s what happened to the third man. He was not pondering, thinking, analyzing, inventing, inferring. He simply sat there in the chair doing nothing. That’s what meditation is all about.

The English word ‘meditation’ is not a right word, because in English ‘meditation’ also means ‘to think about, to meditate upon’. English has no right word for dhyana to be translated, because dhyana exactly means ‘not to meditate upon’, dhyana exactly means ‘not to think upon’. Dhyana means not to do anything, just relax and be.

When you are just silent and doing nothing, your perspective is infinite, your perception is clear, you can see through and through. Sitting silently in the chair doing nothing, the man could see that there was no lock on the door. He simply went up, turned the knob and went out.

This is my experience too. This parable is not just a parable, not an invented parable. It is the parable of all the Buddhas: this is how it is. This is not just an invented story; it is the condensed experience, the most essential experience of all the Buddhas – that there is no lock on the door. You just sit silently, attain to a state of seeing, of purity, of no thought disturbing, of no cloud of thought moving around your consciousness – just the clean mirror with no dust of thought – and suddenly you will be able to see that there is no lock, no door, no enemy, no death, no birth. And you are not to go anywhere and you are not to become somebody.

You are perfect as you are. You are already in that space called paradise. Start enjoying it, don’t make a problem out of it. The moment you create a problem out of it, you stop enjoying. How can you enjoy unless you solve the problem. And one problem creates ten problems… ad nauseam.

Cut the first problem! Life is not a problem. Buddha says: Life is simple.

Osho, Take It Easy – 13 Discourses based on the doka of the Zen Master Ikkyu, Vol 2, Ch 3 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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