Chapter 9: Save the Cat
Nansen called all the monks, all the disciples, caught hold of the cat, and he said, “Say something which can save this cat.”
What did he mean when he said, “Say something which can save this cat?” He meant: Say something Zen-like, say something meditative, say something of the other world, say something of ecstasy, say something which doesn’t belong to the mind. This cat can be saved if you say something which comes from no-mind, which comes from your inner silence. He demanded the impossible. If there had been inner silence these monks would not have been claiming possession; if there had been inner silence it would have been impossible for them to fight.
The monks were at a loss. They knew if they said something it would come from the mind and the cat would be killed, so they remained silent. But that silence was not real silence; otherwise the cat would have been saved. They remained silent not because they were silent; they remained silent because they couldn’t find anything to say which came from no-mind, which came from an inner source, from the very being, from the center. They remained silent as a strategy. It was tactics: it is better to remain silent because the master may be deceived that this silence is our response - this is what they were saying.
But you cannot deceive a master. And if you can deceive a master, then that master is not a master at all. Their silence was false. Inside there was turmoil, inside there was continuous chattering. They were thinking and thinking, in search of one answer so that this cat might be saved. They were very troubled inside; the whole mind was functioning fast. The master must have looked at them. Their minds were not inactive, they were not inactive; there was no meditation, there was no silence. Their silence was just a false façade. You can sit silently without being silent and you can talk and be silent; you can walk and be inactive and you can sit statue-like and be active. Mind is complex. You can run, walk, move, and inside, deep at the center, nothing happens, you are inactive.
I am talking to you and I am silent. You are not talking to me and you are not silent; the mind continues. The inner chattering goes on and on and on. The mind is a monkey, it cannot sit silently. Darwin discovered that man comes from the monkeys, but in the East meditators have always been aware that whether man comes from monkeys or not, the mind definitely comes from monkeys. It is monkeyish - jumping, chattering, doing something or other, never silent.
What Nansen said to his disciples was, “If you don’t behave like monkeys, this cat can be saved.” But they couldn’t help it. You cannot help it: if the mind is there what can you do? If you try to keep it inactive it becomes more active; if you force it to be silent it talks more; if you suppress it, it rebels. You cannot suppress it, you cannot persuade it; you cannot do anything about it, because the moment you do something it is the mind which is doing. This is the problem.