All words are only echoes of faraway truths

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A haiku by Basho (audio) and a question to Kyozan by his master.

Osho speaking

Basho wrote:

Dewdrops –
How better wash away
World’s dust?

The experience of truth is just washing away the dust that goes on gathering on your mirrorlike consciousness.

Basho says:

Dewdrops –
How better wash away
World’s dust?

The dewdrops may be small but they can cleanse your inner eye, your mirror, which has gathered so much dust. And that dust has to be cleared. Only then can you see the depth in things, the life in things; a world full of love, a world full of blessings, a world which could be a dancing place but has been turned by stupid politicians into a battlefield.

When more people become buddhas – they are already buddhas – when more people remember their being buddhas, this world will have a totally different aroma, a totally different fragrance, a totally different ecstasy.

Right now, what we have done, we have made the world a tragedy. Each step we are moving further into tragedy, and at the end of the tunnel is death.” […]

Once, Kyozan’s master asked him, “The Nirvana Sutra has about forty chapters of the buddha’s teaching. How many of these are devil teachings?”

A strange question, which can only be asked in the Zen atmosphere. You cannot ask in a Christian monastery, “How many teachings in the Bible are devil teachings?” The idea simply looks awkward. But in Zen you can ask anything because nothing matters. It is not a serious, philosophical system. Asking such a question… The Nirvana Sutra is one of the most respected sutras in the Buddhist world and it contains almost everything essential that Buddha has said. It is called Nirvana Sutra because it concludes at the point where you disappear. Its whole process is how to help you disappear.

First you become silent. And as the silence goes deeper you start feeling that you are not the body, that you are not the mind. You are living in the body but you are not it. You are using the mind but you are not it. As the silence goes to serenity you suddenly become aware that, “I am only a witness, witness of the whole world and witness of my body and mind too.” Just a pure witness, a cool breeze, a fragrant breeze.

The word `nirvana’ means blowing out the candle. Buddha chose a really beautiful word for the ultimate.

When you disappear into the ultimate ocean, the dewdrop disappears.

Or you can say in other words, the dewdrop becomes the ocean. Or, you can even say the ocean disappears in the dewdrop. But something disappears, just as if you have blown a candle flame out and there is absolute silence and darkness.

Isan asked, “The Nirvana Sutra has about forty chapters of the buddha’s teaching. How many of these are devil teachings?”

In no other religion can such a question be asked. But the answer is even greater.

“All of them,” replied Kyozan.

Isan was not expecting that much. Buddha’s words, and Kyozan is saying all of them are devil’s words! And it is perfectly in line with Buddha’s approach to life. It is not through books, it is not through words.

So Isan will go on teaching the Nirvana Sutra, and at the same time will remind his disciples, “Don’t cling to any sutra – Nirvana or Diamond Sutra – don’t cling. These are simply footsteps leading to your ultimate disappearance.”

“If you start thinking that these words of Gautam Buddha’s… You may start loving them, you may become attached to them. Attachment is very easy when you love a book. And the Nirvana Sutra is so full of splendor, with so much of beauty; each word implies so much. It seems impossible for a man to make words dance like this; one is bound to fall in love. And of course the Nirvana Sutra will not say no to you; it is just a dead book, paper and ink and nothing else.”

Kyozan said to his master, “All of them!”

It simply means: all words are only echoes of faraway truths. Don’t cling to the echo; otherwise, who is going to discover the truth? Avoid the echoes.

What are all the buddhas? – just an echo of the ultimate truth, just echoing the eternity of your being. Experience what they say, but don’t cling to the explanations.

There is so much difficulty. First, the man who has come to realize his ultimate consciousness is in a difficulty how to convey it. There are not words which are capable of conveying it. Whatever he says, he immediately looks and finds it is not the same as it was in the experience. Explanation has fallen far away; it has betrayed.

And then the explanation is caught by the disciples, which is another tragedy, because the disciple is going to comment according to his conditioning. That will change the meaning again. And if the disciple also starts teaching people, then the truth has been left far behind. Not even a single ray reaches that far. Hundreds of mystics have remained silent for just this reason.

So when Kyozan says, “All of them,” he is not talking about the Nirvana Sutra only. He is talking about all words. Words are incapable of containing the truth; some other way has to be found. That some other way becomes meditation.

Mind has to be put aside, so it does not start interpreting. And you have to go deep to where your life is arising, as if a rose is going deeper into the roots from where the juice of life is arising, manifesting in great foliage, in flowers. Once you know your original source you know also your ultimate destiny.”

Osho, Kyozan: A True Man of Zen, Ch 2

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