Chapter 14: Zen Is for Nobodies
I have told you about one of the greatest dancers of this century, Nijinsky. He was a problem, particularly to physics and other branches of science. When he used to dance, there were moments he would jump so high that it is not possible according to physical calculations; gravity will not allow that much. It was not only that he went beyond gravitation when he danced, when he came back, he did not follow the way things fall back toward the earth. He came like a feather, very slowly, with no hurry.
It seemed as if he was coming back on his own, was not being pulled magnetically by gravitation. He was asked again and again, “How do you do it?”
He said, “Don’t ask me how I do it, because I am puzzled myself. Whenever I have tried it, I have not been able to do it. When I forget myself - when there is no Nijinsky and the dance takes over, the dancer melts into the dance - perhaps gravitation loses its magnetism. But I can only say this much: that whenever it has happened, I was not. And whenever I have tried, it has never happened.”
This is what is meant by transcendental. Your absence is transcendental. Your egolessness is transcendental.
Doyo’s answer was factual: It was his name. But names are just labels, you can change them. You are not born with a name, neither are you going to die with a name. Nameless you come, like a breeze, and nameless you disappear into the unknown. All names are arbitrary - they are good for post offices, they are good for the marketplace. They are a necessity, but the necessity is utilitarian, it is not transcendental.
If you want, you can drop your name and you can say, “I don’t have any name.” There is no problem in dropping the name. It is just a fiction, made of the same stuff as dreams are made of.
Tozan said, “Please tell it transcendentally!”
But to say anything transcendentally is first to understand transcendence as an experience.
Ungo said, “Speaking transcendentally, still my name is Doyo.”
Tozan said, “When I saw my master, my answer was no different. I was as ignorant as you are, as unconscious as you are, as fast asleep as you are.”
After Ungo had realized his own enlightenment and became a master, a monk asked him a question.
Ungo said, “You are a fool!”
The monk must have been a man of great understanding because he replied, “You are also a fool!”
Innocence is not knowledgeability. The fool is closer to the experience of innocence than the man of knowledge. The man of knowledge is full of rubbish, borrowed. The fool at least is free from any borrowed knowledge; he is himself.
This is the uniqueness of Zen, that it would rather like you to be a fool than to be a great scholar, knowledgeable - a rabbi, a pundit. Because these people are ruling the whole humanity and its past, they have destroyed all the innocence of man.