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Chapter 7: To the Source

“You are blind. You could not see when he hits you, with what love, with what care.how much he cares about you! Even though he is getting old, and in hitting you he hurts himself more than he hurts you, but his whole effort is to bring an urgency. He is not going to live long. As a man he is far greater than I am. As a compassionate teacher there is no parallel to him. You just go back. He is the right person as far as you are concerned.”

The disciple could not understand. He had heard that this man is against his master, and he says, “I am in disagreement with your master on many points - but that does not mean that your master’s compassion is less, that your master’s enlightenment is not authentic. I am not so compassionate. I don’t hit you because I don’t see the urgency. Perhaps in another life you may become enlightened. My care about you is less than his care. He wants you to become enlightened in this life, this moment. I am a little careless, I don’t care, and you think it is nice. It is not nice, it is simply my carelessness - whether you become enlightened or not is not my problem. You can enjoy your life and there is eternity available. Sometime, somewhere, you may become enlightened. Why should I bother?”

He came back to his master, touched his feet, and said what had happened. The master said, “Although we are traditionally opponents - our schools are different, our principles, which are nonessential, are different - I have always understood it, that that man is great, greater than people think. His sending you back here is a sign of his greatness. He has shown love towards you by slapping you. He does not slap ordinarily, but he knows perfectly well that a disciple who has been with me for years will not understand anything else than a good slap. Now go into your hut and start meditating on the sound of one hand clapping.”

The disciple had been meditating on this koan for three years. Every day he was getting slaps, beatings, because he would think about it all the time, day and night, sitting. He would hear something in the night - the crickets.all is silent, only crickets - and he would get the idea that perhaps this is the sound. He would run to the master, knock on his door, and even before he had said anything the master would slap him and the disciple would say, “At least let me tell you.!”

The master said, “The moment you open your mouth, you are going to say something wrong. So don’t unnecessarily waste my time. When you have got it, I will know without your saying it.”

A few days passed and the disciple did not come back to report. He used to come every day - sometimes the wind blowing through the pine trees, sometimes the sound of the running water, anything.and he would immediately think, “Perhaps this is the sound that will satisfy the master as the answer to the question.”

But seeing the situation, that he hits you without even listening to your answer.One day the master closed his door as he saw him coming. What kind of master.? He just looked at him and closed the door and said to him through the closed doors, “Go back to your hut and meditate. I am getting old and I cannot hit you every day unnecessarily. I have looked at your face, it is not the sound that you think. Just go.”

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