Chapter 4: Beyond Life-and-death
“The way out of life-and-death is not some special technique; the essential thing is to see through to the root of life-and-death. That root is not something that fell from heaven or sprang up from earth. It is at the center of the functioning of every man, living with his life, dying with his death, becoming a buddha, making a patriarch. These are all in dependence of it, and one who goes into Zen has to pierce and break through to this thing.
“What is called Zen sitting is not some sort of operation to be performed, and to take it so is wrong. In our line, it is simply realizing what one’s own true heart really is, and it is necessary to pledge oneself to the true heart.
Going into Zen is seeing one’s original nature, and the main thing is to make out what one was before even father or mother were born.
For this, one must concentrate one’s feeling and purify it, then, eliminating all that weighs on one’s thought and feeling, one must go to grasp the self.
“We are saying that the self seeks to grasp the self, but in fact it is already the self, so why should it go to grasp the self?
It is because in the mass of knowings and perceivings and judgments, the true self is always so wrapped up in the distinctions and exclusivities that it does not emerge to show itself as it is.”
Maneesha, in the world of Zen, Bukko is something like George Gurdjieff. When George Gurdjieff for the first time said, “You all don’t have souls. Unless you achieve a crystallization of your being, you will live and die just as a signature on the sand; winds will come and you will be forgotten. There will not be left a single trace of you,” it shocked the whole spiritual world, because all the religions and all the spiritual traditions at least agree on one thing, that the soul is immortal. You have it whether you know it or not and it can never die.
Death happens to the body, not to the soul. It is simply a separation from the body and a movement into a new body. But the journey of the soul is eternal: body to body, species to species. Finally it achieves its nature, matures, and it is revealed to it that it is the buddha. That has been a common understanding around the whole world for centuries.
Gurdjieff was alive just fifty years ago. He made a point of it that not everybody has a soul, the soul has to be earned. This was a very new idea, that you have to deserve it. Ordinarily you are just an empty bottle; inside there is nothing. You have to earn, you have to be worthy, you have to gather your consciousness in such a crystallized way that it can pass through death without dying.
So according to George Gurdjieff, only a few people live eternally, most people are just experimental. They are born, they do all kinds of stupid things, and the final stupidity - they die. But they don’t leave even a trace in the world of eternity. Only very few people, like Gautam Buddha, achieve to the eternal. And because of these few people, the fallacy has come into being that everybody has an eternal being: Buddha achieved it, Mahavira achieved it, Bukko achieved it. Gurdjieff’s logic was, because these few have achieved it, people think everybody else has it - just he has not discovered it.