Chapter 7: You Have Forgotten Your Wings
“Let me ask whom you intend to have the money for the straw sandals returned to?”
Zen monks use straw sandals, the same shape as my sandals, but they are made of straw, very beautiful, very aesthetic and very cheap. Nansen is saying, “Who has paid for your straw sandals? They look so new. You don’t deserve these straw sandals; they are specially meant for Zen masters. And as for giving you water, I will not ask anything for it, but it has been wasted on a man who does not even know what samadhi is, what is prajna, and still has the guts and the nerve to give an absolutely irrelevant answer; an answer, too, that is not his own. Such a borrowed state is all of scholars, pundits, rabbis.
Nansen exposed Obaku completely to the very innermost core of his being just by asking a small question. But the question is not small, and it is a question which nobody has explained the way I am telling you, that the experiences are not two. Just, the paths leading to the experiences are very different, contrary paths.
One follows the darkness, goes deeper and deeper into the darkness of the mind and the unconscious, reaches to the very end of the mind and jumps out of it. And another tries every possible way to make the unconscious also conscious. And when everything becomes conscious in him, he also takes a jump.
Perhaps Buddha’s method is more scientific. There is no question of right and wrong. Both lead to the same space, but Buddha’s method of prajna is more scientific in the way that you cannot miss because you are aware. Ramakrishna’s path is groping in the dark. He may reach to the dawn, he may not reach. And once he has gone into unconsciousness, all is darkness, he cannot see where he is going. It is just by chance that he finds the door out of the mind, just by chance.
Science does not believe in chance, it has to be a certainty. That’s why you will not find more Ramakrishnas in the world, because it is just a coincidence that groping in the dark you find the door and get out of the mind. It happened to Ramakrishna but you will not find another parallel in the whole history of mankind.
Thousands of mystics have reached to the same point. But they have all followed the path of prajna, because when you have a light with you, you need not grope. When you have a light with you, a consciousness, like a torch showing the path, your reaching to the goal has more certainty.
And once you have known the path, then it is very easy. Only the first time are you going into the unknown. But the unknown is not dark; you keep a torch in your hand. Ramakrishna is going into the unknown without a torch. Ramakrishna’s samadhi in a way is special. He is alone of that kind. He is a rare specimen who went into his depths without taking a single candle. It is more than probable that you will not find the door.