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Chapter 4: Eyes and Legs for the Journey

There was a Zen master, Bokuju. An atheist went to see him and said, “I don’t accept the existence of any God.”

The disciples of Bokuju thought that now he would explain to the man that there is a God, but Bokuju said, “So don’t accept it.”

Then the atheist asked, “Won’t you try to tell me that there is a God?”

Bokuju answered, “If your non-acceptance could create any dent in the truth of God’s existence, then I would try to persuade you of his existence. If you don’t accept God’s existence, it is fine!”

But the atheist was an insistent man. He wanted to pull Bokuju into an argument, so he said, “No, I will not go away when you have only said this much. Either say that God exists and then prove it, or if you don’t want to prove it, then say that God does not exist. Only then will I leave.”

Bokuju said, “There is no problem in it - I say that there is no God.”

This made the atheist uneasy, and he said, “You are saying that there is no God? Bokuju, you are saying that there is no God!!”

Bokuju said, “My statement does not make any difference to the truth of God’s existence. I am so certain about his existence that I can even deny him. I am not even afraid of denying him. He just is - it does not make any difference what Bokuju says about it. My statements are irrelevant. Whether I say yes or no, it makes no difference to his existence. Moreover, I am certain, utterly certain about it. I am not a trembling theist who is afraid that now I have denied God. No. Even if the whole world denied him, even if God himself came and said, ‘I don’t exist,’ I could ignore all this with a smile. God simply is.”

This certainty, this decisiveness does not come through knowledge. Knowledge brings uncertainty. There is certainty in ignorance too, but that is the certainty of darkness - because you don’t know anything, you appear to be certain. But that certainty is of no use; rather, it is dangerous. It is a certainty that arises out of darkness, so it can assume that even a wall is a door. This certainty happens not because you have seen a door, but because you have not seen a door. Hence, no matter which side you believe in, you will have to believe. Belief is a requirement for such a person. Even a blind man will have to walk out, and when one has to walk out, one first needs to believe that a door exists. Even if he hits his head against a wall, the next day he will still imagine that some other wall is a door - and he will remain certain. If not, he will not be able to walk even one single step.

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