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Chapter 23: Several More Looking Methods

Lin Chi used to tell how it happened. For six years he was waiting. It was a long waiting, a patient waiting. He was just waiting on the verandah, and every day the master would come. And he would wait for the right moment - when he would become ready, then the master would do something. Just by waiting for six years, you will fall into meditation. What can you do? He might have thought for a few days about old things, but if you do not give new food every day to the mind, by and by it stops. How long can you chew again and again on the same thing?

He might have been thinking about past things, and by and by, because no new stimulus was given, thinking stopped. He was not allowed to read, he was not allowed to talk, he was not allowed to move and meet anyone. He was just allowed to fulfill the basic bodily needs and wait on the verandah.

Silently he waited, day after day - day in, day out, day and night. Summer would come and pass away, and winter would come and pass away, and there would be rain and it would pass away: he must have forgotten time. He must have forgotten for how many days he had been there. And then one day suddenly the master appeared, and he looked deeply into his eyes. Lin Chi’s eyes must have suddenly become static, non-dynamic. This was the moment; six years were wasted for this. There was no movement of the eyes, because a single movement and he may miss. Everything must have become silent - and then suddenly, the uproarious laughter: the master began laughing madly. That laughter must have been heard deep down at the very core; it must have reached.

So when Lin Chi was asked, “What happened to you?” he said, “When my master laughed, suddenly I recognized that the whole world is just a joke. In his laughter, this was the message: The whole world is just a joke, just a drama. An seriousness disappeared. And if the whole world is just a joke, who is in bondage? And who needs to be free?” So Lin Chi said, “There was no bondage at all. I was thinking that I was bound, and that is why I was trying to be free, and then suddenly the master laughed and the bondage fell away.”

Sometimes it has happened with such things; you can never conceive of how it was possible. There are many Zen stories. One Zen master became aware when the gong was beaten. Just while he was hearing the gong being beaten, the sound, something shattered in him. One Zen nun became aware, enlightened, while she was carrying two pails of water. Suddenly the bamboo broke, and the earthen pots fell down. The sound, the breaking of the pots and the water flowing out of them, and she became enlightened.

What happened? You can break many pots, but nothing will happen. A right moment had come. She was coming back. Her master had said, “This night I am going to give you the secret, so go and take a bath, and bring two pails of water for me. I will take a bath and impart to you the secret for which you have been waiting.” She must have felt ecstatic - the moment had come. She took a bath, filled the pots, and carried them back.

It was a full-moon night, and just when she was passing on the footpath from the river to the ashram, suddenly the bamboo broke. When she reached, the master was waiting, and he looked at her and he said, “Now there is no need, it has happened. Now I have nothing to convey. You have already received.”