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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
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Chapter 10: Daring, Rebellious, and Existential

Kyogen was a scholar of great learning, and for some time, this stood in the way of his enlightenment.
One day, Isan asked Kyogen, “When you were with our teacher, Hyakujo, you were clever enough to give ten answers to a single question, and hundreds of answers to ten questions.
“Tell me this: What is your real self - the self that existed before you came out of your mother’s womb, before you knew East from West?”
At this question, Kyogen was stupefied and did not know what to say. He racked his brains and offered all sorts of answers, but Isan brushed them aside.
At last Kyogen said, “I beg you, please explain it to me.”
Isan replied, “What I say belongs to my own understanding. How can that benefit your mind’s eye?”
Kyogen went through all his books and the notes he had made on authorities of every school, but could find no words to use as an answer to Isan’s question. Sighing to himself, he said, “You cannot fill an empty stomach with paintings of rice cakes.” He then burned all his books and papers, saying, “I will give up the study of Buddhism. I will remain a rice-gruel monk for the rest of my life and avoid torturing my mind.”
Sadly he left Isan, and took on the self-appointed job of grave-keeper.

One day, when he was sweeping the ground, a stone struck a bamboo.
Kyogen stood speechless, forgetting himself for a while.
Then, suddenly, bursting into loud laughter, he became enlightened.
Returning to his hut, Kyogen performed the ceremony of purification, offered incense, paid homage to his teacher, Isan, and with the deepest sense of gratitude said, “Great master, thank you! Your kindness to me is greater even then that of my parents. If you had explained the profound cause to me when I begged you to give me an answer, I should never have reached where I stand today.”

Kyogen’s verse on this occasion runs:
One stroke and all is gone,
No need of stratagem or cure;
Each and every action
Manifests the ancient way.
My spirit is never downcast,
I leave no tracks behind me,
Enlightenment is beyond speech,
Beyond gesture;
Those who are emancipated
Call it the unsurpassed.

The search called Zen is not for anything other than your own self. It is not a study, hence no scholarship can do any justice to it. It is a very simple experience - great learning can be only a wall and not a bridge

Learning is not needed, what is needed is innocence, and a learned man is never innocent; he knows too much, he knows more than he knows. And he is too proud of all the words, borrowed, that he has accumulated and goes on accumulating.

Zen is freedom from the word, freedom from all the advice and all the wisdom of centuries. It simply brings you back to yourself. It does not allow you to move even a little.

The needle of your consciousness should point to this. Then anything can be a cause of awakening.

This anecdote is simply stating the fact that even a stone striking the bamboos can be the cause of enlightenment. Nobody in the whole history of religion has been so daring as Zen, so rebellious and so existential.

Just listen to the anecdote - not as if you are listening to a story or a fiction. These are facts, people have lived them and if you can understand, the same door is open to you as it was open to Kyogen.

Kyogen was a scholar of great learning, and for some time, this stood in the way of his enlightenment.

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