Ikkyu burns a Buddha statue to keep warm

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho says, “If you really understand me only then will you drop your clinging to me.”

Wooden Buddha statue

This Baul says: Strike your Master hard – destroy the duality of the Master and the disciple. Drop the Master completely. Forget about him. Strike your master hard and worship in faith.

This is the paradox.

And you can strike your Master hard only when you have really worshipped him in faith. If you really understand me only then will you drop your clinging to me. If you have really loved me you will not cling. Then whenever I come in your way – strike me hard.

That’s what Zen Masters have been saying to their disciples: If you meet Buddha on the way – kill him immediately! And they loved Buddha tremendously.

It happened…

A Zen Master, Ikkyu, was staying in a temple. The night was very cold and he had no blankets – he was a beggar, and the whole temple was so cold – it was made of stones: stone coldness. In the night he couldn’t sleep, so he went in, into the shrine, found a Buddha, a wooden Buddha; burnt a fire with the Buddha; and enjoyed and delighted in the fire.

The sound of fire, the movement of this Ikkyu – and the priest became awake. Seeing the fire inside the temple he came running and when he saw that one of the Buddhas was missing (there were three Buddhas in the shrine) and he looked at the fire – it was almost burnt – of course he was mad; and he said to Ikkyu: What are you doing? Are you mad? You have burnt my Buddha! You have committed the greatest sin that a man can commit, and we were thinking that you are an enlightened man!

The fire was going down now; Ikkyu started to poke in the ashes.

The priest asked: What are you doing? He said: I am trying to find the bones of the Buddha so that they can be preserved. The priest started laughing, seeing the whole stupidity. He said: This is a wooden Buddha, there are no bones. You are really mad! Ikkyu said: Then bring the other two Buddhas also; the night is long and very cold.

And in the morning – of course he was thrown out in the night, out of the temple, because he would burn the whole temple – in the morning when the priest came out of the temple Ikkyu was sitting just near the milestone on the road, and worshipping it.

The priest could not contain his curiosity. He asked: Now what are you doing, madman? Ikkyu said: I am worshipping the Buddha and every day in the morning that is my first thing to do.

This is the contradiction. But if you can see it is not a contradiction at all, it is a simple fact. A fact, the deepest fact of all mysticism.

Strike your master hard and worship in faith. Love your Master so deeply that there is no clinging – you can kill, you can drop, the other disappears, the other is absorbed, only you in your crystal purity remain. But this is possible only if total faith is possible.

Osho, Tao: The Three Treasures – Talks on fragments from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Vol 4, Ch 2, Q 2 (excerpt)

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

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