Chapter 5: Freedom: The Ultimate Value
But don’t be mistaken about his walking like a cow. It shows his softness, it shows his motherliness, it shows his feminine receptivity. But he also looked around like a tiger. He was soft for those who could understand softness and he was hard for those who can understand only hardness. He was a master of many just for this reason.
Baso was just a cow. Bodhidharma was just a tiger. Baso had the heart of a cow, so soft that he has written the best poetry that exists in the world. His paintings are of immense beauty. His statements contain the very truth. But if you wanted to be a disciple and you were seeking someone to chop your head, Baso was perfect, the right person. To show his strangeness, the story says: He could touch his nose with his tongue.
It is very difficult. I know only one man - and I have traveled around the world - who can move his earlobes. Have you ever tried? It is absolutely impossible because there is no muscular system that reaches to your own earlobes. You cannot do anything - it is just there. Donkeys can do it, but you cannot.
This man was one of my fellow students in the university. He became famous just for the act - that he could move his ears according to his will. When he was introduced to me, I said, “This is nothing, because I have seen so many donkeys doing it. It is not worth anything. Just stop it.”
He said, “You are the first man. Rather than appreciating, you are calling me a donkey.”
I said, “That is my appreciation. Because donkeys have such big ears and move their ears so easily.”
I have seen a few people who can touch their nose with their tongue; particularly if they belong to some yogic school. There is a stupid idea - that if you can touch your nose with your tongue, you will become immortal! And a few idiots try for years to lengthen their tongue by hanging weights on it. I have even seen people who have cut the tongue inside, where it is joined, so it becomes looser and they can touch their nose.
But by touching your nose, you will not touch eternity. Anybody can touch your nose.
Just coming in, I touched Avirbhava’s nose. Anybody can pinch anybody else’s nose. The nose is not immortality. But Baso, just out of playfulness, used to touch his nose with his tongue, saying, “Don’t take religion seriously. Take it as playfully as possible.”
A monk asked Baso, “What is the Buddha?”
Baso answered, “Mind is the Buddha.”
The monk asked, “What is the way?”
“No-mind is the way,” answered Baso.
What a great and beautiful answer! Because even Buddha is a thought in your mind. Even Buddha has said, “If I come on the path in your meditation, just cut my head off immediately, remove me.” That’s what Baso is saying: Buddha is mind, no-mind is the way.