Chapter 8: The Fear of Happiness
The first question:
Will I know when I am ready to face you?
You will face me; knowledge will come later on. Not otherwise - not that knowledge will come first and then you will face me. Knowledge will not precede; reality will precede. Knowledge is a shadow: it follows. Once you start thinking that knowledge precedes you are in a mess.
I will tell you one story:
One evening a monk knocked at the doors of a Zen monastery. He wanted to stay over for the night. He was tired, hungry. The host opened the door, but rather than greeting him with a hello or good evening, he encountered him with a very famous Zen koan. He said: “What is your original face, the face that you had before your father and mother were born?”
The monk took his sandal off from his foot and hit the face of the host hard. The host stepped back, bowed down and said, “Welcome, you are welcome. Your understanding is tremendous.”
Then they had dinner. In the cold night they were sitting by the fireplace chitchatting, and the guest asked, “Have you got the answer yourself or not? The koan that you asked me - have you got the answer to it yourself or not?”
The host said, “I am not that fortunate. No, I have not got the answer. But I recognized it when you gave me the answer, because I have read so much about Zen, and heard so much about Zen, I could recognize the immediacy of your answer. You didn’t hesitate for a single moment. You didn’t think it. It came out of your totality. It was not from the head - that much I could recognize.”
The guest didn’t answer. He continued sipping his tea. But then the host became a little suspicious. He looked again at the face of the guest and he found there was something he didn’t like. So he asked again, “Please, tell me: do you really know the answer? Have you got the answer? “
The guest started laughing, and then he starting rolling on the mat in deep mirth. And he said, “No, sir. I have also read too much about Zen and heard too much about Zen.”
If knowledge becomes too much, that becomes the barrier. You can know without knowing. That is the danger of knowledge. You can know, not knowing at all. Deep inside you remain ignorant, but on the surface you know everything that can be known.