Chapter 8: The Bull Transcended
This is the whole story of the ten bulls. The search is existential. Zen is the most straight way. It goes directly to the target. It never goes here and there, it is never about and about. It is not beating around the bush; it is straight like an arrow.
One of the greatest philosophers of the West, Ludwig Wittgenstein, came very close to the Zen attitude, he knocked almost on the door. He says: It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists. That the world is, is the real mystery. Not how you are here, not how you came here, not the purpose of your being here, but just the fact that you are here is the greatest mystery. Just the fact that you are, that I am, is the greatest mystery. And when the answer cannot be put into words, neither can the question be put into words.
It reminds me:
One man came to Buddha and he said, “Please answer my question without using words, because I have heard it of old that the answer is such that it cannot be put into words.”
Buddha laughed and he said, “Of course, you have heard rightly; but put your question without using words, then I will answer your question without using words.”
Then the man said, “That is impossible.” Then he understood: if the question cannot be formulated, how can the answer be formulated? If the question itself cannot be stated, how can you demand an answer?
Wittgenstein is right. And when the answer cannot be put into words and neither can the question be put into words, the riddle does not exist. Neither the question can be put into words nor the answer, so where is the riddle, so where is the problem?
This is a tremendous insight. The problem does not exist - it is created by the mind; it is a mind-creation. If a question can be framed at all, it is also possible to answer it.
Somebody asked Wittgenstein, “Then why do you go on writing such beautiful books?” His book Tractatus Logico Philosophicus was recently acclaimed one of the great, great books of the whole of human history. “Then why do you go on writing books? If the question cannot be formulated and the answer cannot be given - then why?”
He said, “My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical.” Let me repeat it: “Anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical.” He has used them as steps to climb up beyond them. He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.”