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Chapter 4: Zen Is as Simple as the Taste of Tea

Wherever you are, in the East or in the West, inside there are no directions, no indications, but just pure isness. You are, and so strongly that you don’t have to believe in it: you cannot disbelieve. All the religions of the world have been telling people to believe, and I want to make it clear to you that unless you come to a point where you cannot disbelieve, all your beliefs are meaningless. That point where you cannot disbelieve, that indubitable point, is neither East nor West.

And in fact that was the purpose of Bodhidharma going from India to China. In those days in China, when Bodhidharma reached, they were overwhelmed by the thoughts and philosophy of Confucius and Mencius, both great intellectuals. But neither of them had known the peace of no-mind. They knew much - and yet they knew nothing.

Bodhidharma’s master had sent him; it was a long journey. Three years he had to waste to reach China. He himself was a son of a king. His master gave him this order: “It is now absolutely essential that you carry the message of being in to China, because it is being overwhelmed by Confucius, Mencius and other thinkers. They think they have found the truth. Go and make it clear that mind is absolutely impotent. ‘If you want to know the truth, you will have to have the courage to leave the mind aside. Push it aside and enter into your silence.’”

That was the reason why Bodhidharma went to China. Obviously, it became a traditional question for every Zen student.

Ryuge was asked by a monk,
“What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West?”
Ryuge said, “Wait till the stone turtle
speaks words of explanation and I will tell you.”

Ryuge’s temple was famous. He had a great turtle in front of his temple, cut out of a huge stone.

He said:

“Wait till the stone turtle
speaks words of explanation and I will tell you.”

He is saying, “This is not a question to be asked. And if you insist, I give you time. Wait till the stone turtle starts speaking.” Obviously it is absurd: that stone turtle is never going to give any explanations.

But Ryuge has answered in the Zen way, in the Zen language. Wait is the secret word. If you can wait silently, the meaning will shower on you like flowers. Or the meaning will arise in you like a flame. But wait!

Our minds are in such a hurry. We have completely forgotten the beauty of waiting. We want everything to happen faster, with more speed. But nobody considers that waiting has a beauty which you miss in your running after shadows.

Ryuge’s answer was perfectly right, “Wait till eternity. Wait; and you will find the meaning why Bodhidharma has come to China. The meaning will not be said to you by somebody else; it will arise in your own being. Just be silent.”

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