A government official meets Rinzai

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Rinzai said, “That which can be heard will not be essential. I have given you the key; silence is the key…”

Monk meditating

Someone came to a Zen mystic, Rinzai, and he asked,

“Tell me only that which is very essential, because I am in a hurry. I am a big official in the government and I have no time. I was just passing by your hermitage and I thought it would be good to go in and inquire. This has been on my mind for a long time. So tell me in essence, what do you think religion is basically, foundationally?”

Rinzai remained silent. The great official felt uneasy. He said, “Have you heard me or not? You seem to be deaf. I am asking you to give me a key word about religion.”

Rinzai said, “I have given it. Now you can go.”

The official said, “But I have not heard.”

Rinzai said, “That which can be heard will not be essential. I have given you the key; silence is the key. Now you go. You are in a hurry.”

But now the officer started to be interested. This man looked interesting. He said, “Please elaborate a little more. It is too short, it is too condensed, it is too seedlike. A little elaboration will be helpful.”

Rinzai said, “But that will be a repetition because all that can be said I have said. Now you are forcing me to repeat.”

The officer said, “Let it be a repetition, but elaborate a little.”

So Rinzai said, “Dhyana – meditation.”

It is again the same because meditation means silence. What else can it mean? Now it is a word. Before it was simple silence – that was more real. Now it is a word – meditation.

The man said, “It is still a little difficult for me. I am a worldly man. Explain it to me; it is still a puzzle.”

Rinzai said, “Now if I elaborate more, it will be false. The truth was given at first; now it is just a repetition in words. Already it has become half false, but now if I elaborate more it will be totally false. So do not force me to commit a sin. Now you can go. You are in a hurry.”

[…] I myself go on using parables, anecdotes, stories. Not that they are essential – they are a sheer wastage of time – but I use them just for you because children can understand stories better than anything else. It is hoped that if nothing is understood, at least the stories will be carried in the mind and just around the story some flavor of the real thing may also be carried unconsciously. But if you will not forget the story, if you can remember the story, then just by association something else may also be carried in remembrance.

Osho, The Supreme Doctrine – Discourses on the Kenopanishad, Ch 7, Q 1 (excerpt)

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

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