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Chapter 28: Going Just with His Flute and a Bottle of Wine

This is the ultimate category Buddha manages to talk about: beyond knowledge, beyond discipline, beyond enlightenment. This kind of man will be opposed by all, this kind of man will be condemned by all. This kind of man is bound to stand alone against the whole world, for the simple reason that he has transcended all that they value.

In Japan there is a beautiful series of pictures depicting the whole range of the pilgrimage to the truth. In the beginning - the name of the Zen painter who made it is not known - it had ten pictures. But even the Zen masters suppressed the tenth picture, and for centuries it was known only as having nine pictures. It was only later on that it was discovered in some old scripts that the original had ten pictures, and the description of the tenth is the description Buddha is giving of the last.

It is a series of pictures: A man loses his bull. In one picture, he looks all around and he cannot see it. There are mountains, there are trees, there is a lake and the man is standing there looking all around - and the bull is not anywhere to be seen. In the second picture he finds the foot marks of the bull. He cannot see the bull yet, but foot marks are there and he follows the foot marks.

In the third he sees just the back of the bull, who is standing under a tree. In the fourth he finds the bull. In the fifth he tries hard to catch hold of it; it is a bull - it is difficult, he is really powerful. But in the seventh he manages. In the eighth he rides on the bull. The bull won’t allow it, and tries this way and that to throw him off. In the ninth he reaches home with the bull.

The tenth was repressed even by the people who can be said to be the most meditative, to be the most alert in the whole world. Perhaps they were afraid that the tenth picture may confuse people or may help them to go astray, because in the tenth - he has got the bull, and the bull is in the shed, tied up - in the tenth he takes a bottle of wine and a flute and goes back near the lake. He is going just with his flute and a bottle of wine. Now this picture was repressed, destroyed; it has been recovered now. But this is the picture of the last state. Now there is no discipline: he can drink wine, he can play the flute.

The bull is the self, your inner reality. Finding it represents nirvana. At the ninth, logically it should stop. But existence is not logical, and who will know better then Gautam Buddha that it is not logical? The tenth goes beyond all logic, all comprehension. Even enlightenment is dropped. The man becomes absolutely ordinary, without any discipline - a hobo with a bottle of wine to enjoy under a tree, and playing the flute - utterly ordinary.

But his ordinariness is not the ordinariness we are aware of; his ordinariness is something most extraordinary. But he is going to be misunderstood, he is going to be condemned. Now, who is going to accept him as a master? Who is going to accept him as a buddha?

But Gautam Buddha has put him above himself. He says: It is better to feed one who is above knowledge, one-sidedness, discipline, and enlightenment, than to feed one hundred billions of buddhas of past, present, or future.

This sutra shows the beauty of the man, his grandeur, his greatness.