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Chapter 11: Footprints in the Sky

The question is not what you do; the question is whether you do it with awareness or unawareness.

They have shifted the whole question. Every religion thinks, “This is wrong, that is right. Do this, don’t do that.” They are pointing towards certain acts which are wrong, certain acts which are right - which is a very childish thing, because an act can be right in one context and the same act can be wrong in another context.

You cannot stamp a certain act as wrong or right. Then how to decide what is moral, what is immoral, what has to be done and what has not to be done? Zen does not decide. Zen simply says, “Just be aware, whatever you are doing. If your awareness remains unwavering while doing it, it is right. If you have to lose your awareness - only then you can do it - then it is wrong.” The decisive point has gone inward; not to the object, but to your subjectivity.

And the same you have to understand here with me - no act in itself is right or wrong, no person is good or bad. It all depends on awareness.

I am reminded of one great mystic, Nagarjuna. He used to live naked. He had only a begging bowl; that was his only possession. But perhaps he was the greatest genius that has been born on this earth, as far as intelligence is concerned - his sharpness is incomparable. Great kings, queens, great philosophers were his students.

One queen was very much devoted to him, and when he came to her capital she had made a golden begging bowl studded with diamonds. And when he came to the palace to beg, she said, “First you have to give me a promise.” He said, “You are asking a promise from a naked man who has nothing but his begging bowl.” She said, “That will do. I’m just asking for the begging bowl.” He said, “You can take it.” She said, “That is only half. I will replace it, and you will have to take my begging bowl.” He said, “There is no problem, any begging bowl will do.”

He was not at all aware of what she was hiding. It was a golden begging bowl studded with very valuable diamonds.

He took it. As he was going back to the ruins of the monastery where he was staying, one thief saw him and could not believe his eyes. The begging bowl was shining like stars and he is a naked man - of course very beautiful, magnificent; but what is the begging bowl doing with this naked man? And how long can he keep it? Somebody is going to take it away, so why not I?

He followed Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna went inside a room, which was a little shed with just the walls left. The whole monastery was in ruins, and there was a window by the side, and the thief was hiding outside the window knowing that Buddhist monks eat only once a day. Now he will eat, and then he will have a little sleep - just a nap. And that will be the right moment. In this monastery nobody lives. It is thousands of years old.

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