Chapter 9: Zazen: Just Being
Words move from one language into another and then certainly take a different shape, a color which was not originally there. So when ch’an reached Japan, it became Zen. This Zen is not translatable, because it is not concentrating on something, it is not contemplating something, it is not even meditating on anything; it is just being - a subjective experience without any object.
We use the word meditation in a very arbitrary way, because there is no other word in English. But you have to understand that we are giving meditation a totally new meaning which it does not have in the English language. It cannot, because the West has never entered into subjectivity, it has been continuously concerned with the objective. “That” has been its concern, not “this”; the faraway has been its concern, but not the obvious; the other has been its concern, but not oneself.
So when the monk, Kutta Sanzo - remember he is an Indian, his name must have got changed into Japanese -immediately asked:
“What is the idea of sitting here by yourself?”
The monk answered, “I’m meditating.”
Sanzo said, “What is this ‘he’ who is meditating?
What are you meditating on?”
The very questions, “What are you meditating on?” “What is this ‘he’ who is meditating?” - in these small questions both the Western attitude and the Indian attitude are expressed together, but not the approach of Gautam Buddha.
The moment they are sitting silently, doing nothing, Hindus think they have found the soul, the self. The West simply has not tried sitting silently. It has found great truths about the objective world, but not even a small shadow of the inner - in fact it denies the inner.
It is extraordinary to accept the outer and to deny the inner; it is illogical and absurd. The outer can be outer only if there is something inner; if there is nobody inside you, do you think anything will be outside you? You are the world because your consciousness is there; it reflects the whole world around you. But the West has been denying consistently the inner self. Their reasons are that the inner self does not fulfill scientific requirements.
It is just like asking a blind man about light, or a deaf person about music. Naturally the blind man can say, “I don’t see any light anywhere; light does not exist, it does not fulfill my requirements.” That’s what science has been doing. It is imposing its requirements, which are inapplicable to the inner. They are perfectly good for the outer. Just because the blind man cannot see the sun, the sun does not disappear, and just because the deaf person cannot hear, it does not mean there is no sound, no music. Just because you are focused on the outside, it does not mean that the inner is non-existential.
The West has committed one mistake: denying subjectivity, denying consciousness. India has committed another mistake by making the inner also just like an object, a self-realization, atma.