Chapter 2: Go Beyond Emptiness
The monk was dubious. He said, “Master, why should you lie? You know and everybody knows that you have it.” But this is the problem with language. He says, “You have it.” If he had said, “It has you,” things would be different.
The master replied, “I do not lie. I have simply stated the straightforward fact. You ask me, ‘Do you possess it?’ I don’t. If sometime I happen to possess it, I will tell you. If you say that I am lying, I am not lying. My master Eno lied. And because he lied, I am a master. You should go to Eno.”
On another occasion a monk said to Nansen, “There is a jewel in the sky; how can we get hold of it?”
Nansen said, “Cut down the bamboos and make a ladder; put it in the sky and get hold of it!”
The monk said, “How can the ladder be put up in the sky?”
Nansen said, “How can you doubt your getting hold of the jewel?
The question is not of putting up a ladder; the question is of destroying the doubt. And the jewel is not in the sky; the jewel is in you. In the sky it is reflected, just as the moon reflects in the lake. The jewel is within you, but it is reflected in the sky far away.
“You asked me a stupid question, I have to answer you with a stupid answer. Don’t ask a stupid question and I can tell you the truth. From where did you get the idea that there is a jewel in the sky? Have you ever looked within yourself? If you had looked within yourself, you would have been surprised that all the beauty of existence is a reflection of your inner splendor. What you see outside - the roses and their beauty, and the stars and their majesty - pales down the moment you look within. Right now you don’t have even the criterion to judge which is the reflection and which is the real.”
Look within and you will find the real - just its flavor, its certainty, its grandeur - and everything outside will become pale, just a reflection.
It has to be remembered that before asking a question to the master, you should look into your question as deeply as possible. It should become more intelligent, more meaningful. Only when you are satisfied that the question is ripe, it can be polished no more, it can be made no more intelligent, you can ask. Only an intelligent question can get an intelligent answer. Otherwise you ask a stupid question and the master gives a stupid answer. It is just out of kindliness. He could have simply said, “Don’t ask such stupid questions.” Rather than saying that, he tells him, “Cut down the bamboos and make a ladder; put it in the sky and get hold of it!”