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Chapter 15: The Vastness of This

The beggar said, “There is no secret. I found this begging bowl on a funeral ground. It is a human skull. I have polished it, made it look like a bowl. I am a poor man, I cannot purchase even a bowl, but because it is a human skull, you go on pouring into it - anything - and it disappears.”

The story is tremendously meaningful. Have you ever thought about your own begging bowl? Everything disappears - power, prestige, respectability, riches - everything disappears and your begging bowl goes on opening its mouth for more and more. And because of this continuous effort for more, you go on missing this. The “more” takes you away from this. The desire, the longing for something else takes you away from this moment.

And there are only two kinds of people in the world: the majority are running after shadows, they will never be fulfilled. Their begging bowls will remain with them till they enter their graves. And a very small minority, one in a million, stops running, just remains standing here and now, drops all desires, asks for nothing and suddenly he finds everything within himself.

This is the door of the kingdom of God.

Tozan said to Ungan, “Master, if someone asks me a hundred years afterwards what I thought was your deepest understanding, what should I say?”

Every disciple has, once in a while, become interested to ask the master, “When you are gone, if somebody asks me, ‘What was his teaching in essence,’ what am I supposed to say?”

Ungan answered, “Tell him I said, ‘It is simply this.’”

This is not a word, but an existential moment. You will not find it in the dictionary, you will find it in existence.

Tozan was silent for a time, and Ungan said, “Tozan, if you have grasped this, you must carry it out in detail!”
Tozan was still silent. Ungan struck him.

Because this cannot be more than it is. There are no details. It is the simplest silent space, nothing can be said about it. Because Tozan did not say anything, his master, Ungan, in appraisal, struck him. By striking disciples Zen masters have been saying to them, “You have understood. Have it as a prize!”

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