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Chapter 3: The Owl and the Phoenix

Baal Shem appeared inside Hertz and said, “Look at me. Do the same.” As if in a dream Hertz was seeing Baal Shem go to the top of a hill and drop himself into the abyss. And he said, “Do the same.”

Said Hertz, “I cannot understand.” Really, doubt arose again: “What is this man saying? This will be suicide.”

Baal Shem laughed, and said, “You are still doubting me, not doubting yourself. Then do this.” In his vision Hertz saw a big mountain, all aflame, like a volcano, fire all over, rocks splitting, and the whole mountain breaking into fragments. Said Baal Shem, “Or do like this. Let the mind be thrown into an abyss, let the mind be burnt up completely.”

And the story goes that Hertz said, “I will think it over.”

Whenever you say, “I will think it over,” you have started doubting. Doubt thinks, not you. And when there is no doubt, faith acts, not you. Doubt thinks, faith acts. Through doubt you can become a great philosopher; through faith you will become a Chuang Tzu, a phoenix which never grows old, which is undying. Through doubt you can penetrate the mysteries of time; through faith you will enter the door of eternity.

I have heard.

Two men were once lost in a forest. It was very dangerous, the forest was so dense, it was night, darkness and wild animals all around. One man was a philosopher and the other was a mystic - one a man of doubt, the other a man of faith. Suddenly, there was a storm, a crashing of the clouds, and great lightning.

The philosopher looked at the sky, the mystic looked at the path. In that moment of lightning, the path was before him, illuminated. The philosopher looked at the lightning, and started wondering, “What is happening?” and missed the path.

You are lost in a forest denser than that in the story. The night is darker. Sometimes lightning comes. Look at the path.

A Chuang Tzu is lightning, a Buddha is lightning, I am lightning. Don’t look at me, look at the path. If you look at me, you have already missed, because the lightning will not continue. It lasts only for a moment, and the moment is rare when eternity penetrates time; it is just like lightning.

If you look at the lightning, if you look at a buddha - and a buddha is beautiful, the face fascinates, the eyes are magnetic - if you look at the buddha, you have missed the path.

Look at the path, forget the buddha. Look at the path. But that look happens only when there is no doubt, when there is faith; when there is no thinking, no mind.