Chapter 9: Means and Ends
The purpose of a fish trap
is to catch fish,
and when the fish are caught
the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of words
is to convey ideas.
When the ideas are grasped
the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man
who has forgotten words?
He is the one
I would like to talk to.
It is difficult to forget words. They cling to the mind. It is difficult to throw away the net because not only are fish caught in it, the fisher is also caught. This is one of the greatest problems. Working with words is playing with fire, because words become so important that the meaning loses meaning. The symbol becomes so heavy that the content is completely lost; the surface hypnotizes you and you forget the center.
This has happened all over the world. Christ is the content, Christianity is just a word; Buddha is the content, the Dhammapada is just a word; Krishna is the content, the Gita is nothing but a trap. But the Gita is remembered and Krishna is forgotten - or if you remember Krishna, you remember him only because of the Gita. If you talk about Christ it is because of the churches, the theology, the Bible, the words. People carry the net for many lives without realizing that it is just a net, a trap, as if one goes on carrying a ladder.
Buddha used to say:
A few men were crossing a river. The river was dangerous, it was in flood - it must have been the rainy season - and the boat saved their lives. Then they thought - they must have been very, very intelligent - they thought, “This boat saved us, how can we leave it now? This is our savior and it will be ungrateful to leave it!” So they carried the boat on their heads into the town.
Somebody asked them, “What are you doing? We have never seen anybody carrying a boat.”
They said, “Now we will have to carry this boat for our whole lives, because this boat saved us, and we cannot be ungrateful.”
Those intelligent-looking people must have been stupid. Thank the boat but leave it there. Don’t carry it. You have been carrying many types of boats in your head - maybe not on your head, but in your head. Look within. Ladders, boats, paths, words - this is the content of your head, of your mind.
The container becomes much too important, the vehicle becomes much too important, the body becomes much too important - and then you are blind. The vehicle was just to give you the message - receive the message and forget the vehicle. The messenger was just to give you the message - receive the message and forget the messenger. Thank him, but don’t carry him in your head.