Chapter 9: Look!
Then remains the subtlest kind of ego - ego number three. You start thinking that you are a soul, a self. That too is false. Look into that too! And you will be surprised that when you look into yourself, you find vast emptiness and nothing else. Even the self is not found. The guests have disappeared, and suddenly you see that even the host is no more there. The guest and the host were all ghosts; they have all disappeared. Silence remains, utter silence, no sound - neither of the guest nor of the host. All dialogue has stopped, all turmoil disappeared. There is utter emptiness, nothingness.
This is looking into the third, when Ikkyu said, “Look, look, look” - the third ego, the subtlest, the hardest and the most difficult to look into.
There are people, the so-called materialists, who say the gross is the real. They stop there, they don’t go beyond that - the Charvakas, the Marxists, the communists. They stop at the first door, they never go beyond it. There are idealists who go a little deeper. They say the form is not true, but the mind is truth; matter is not true, but mind is true. They believe in mind against matter; they stop at the second. Then there are the spiritualists; they go a little deeper still. They say even the mind is not true. only the self, the soul, the atman, is true.
Zen goes the farthest, the deepest. Nobody has penetrated so deeply into the mystery of human being as Buddha did. Buddha says: Even the self, even the soul, the atman, is not true. It is the last trace of ego, the very, very last, but still it is the last trace of the ego. The very idea that “I am” is a persistence, a shadow of the old ego. When you look into this too, the self also disappears. And when all have gone, what is left? Only a pure look. This is very difficult to understand unless you go into it existentially. Only the pure look - because then it becomes illogical. How can there be pure look if there is nobody to look? But that’s how it is.
It is paradoxical. In language it is difficult to say what remains. Only pure look remains - there is nobody who is looking! There is nobody at whom you are looking. The looked at and the looker, both have disappeared; the subject and object both have disappeared. There is just pure look. A silence, but a very alive silence. No way to define it indefinable. You cannot even say this is the self - just a witnessing. a sakshin.
But to use the word witness can create trouble, because the moment we use the word witness we start thinking somebody is there who is witnessing. So Buddha says: No witness! Only witnessing. No looker! only look. No meditator! only meditation. No one who has attained to samadhi, but only pure samadhi. This is difficult because we have been brought up in a certain structure of language.
When somebody is running we say there are two things: the runner and the running. Buddha says there is only running, there is no runner. The runner is just an inference. Buddha says there is only action, activity; there is no actor. When you say the tree is growing, you believe - tacitly - that the tree is one thing and growing is another. Buddha says there is only growing, there is no tree. When the river is flowing, you say the river is flowing. Buddha says there is only flowing. Where is the river?