Chapter 5: The Sky of Realization
This is why I said that stupidity has no limits. When you have become a buddha, when you are enlightened, for what will you be doing zazen? Once you have learned the alphabet of a language, do you go on all your life learning the alphabet again and again in case you forget?
I have never come across a man who has forgotten a letter of the alphabet. It is almost impossible. If you can count up to ten, you can count millions and trillions, because they are all repetitions of ten, and you cannot forget that you have ten fingers.
Zazen means sitting in silence watching the mind. Now a buddha cannot do it. In the first place there is no longer any thought left. That’s why he has become a buddha. Now what is he going to watch? The show is over, the people are gone and Gautam Buddha is sitting in his lotus posture watching the screen? Even the projector has been removed. This is great zazen - a real stupidity, one hundred percent pure stupidity.
Zazen is needed for ignorant people who don’t know who they are. Then sitting silently and watching your mind creates the distinction between the thoughts and yourself. You become aware for the first time that there is something beyond the mind - the watcher. You cannot watch the watcher, that is impossible. You cannot go beyond the watcher, the watcher is the limit of the universe. You cannot say that you can watch the watcher - watcher number one watching watcher number two watching watcher number three - you will end up in a madhouse.
It happened to a centipede..
Early one spring morning a centipede was going for a walk. A little rabbit was very much puzzled looking from his hole. “My God!” he said. “How does this fellow remember which leg to put first?” He has a hundred legs, that’s why he is called a centipede. He has made the century! You are far away - just two legs and bragging so much.
He wondered and worried, and then came out and said, “Uncle, I cannot resist my curiosity. I should not interfere in your morning walk but I have just a small question. How do you manage a hundred legs? Which one first? Which one second?”
The centipede said, “The question is valid but I have never thought about it. Let me try.”
So he started walking and counting, “One, two, three.” And just as I get lost after three, he got lost. By the fourth he had fallen, and the rabbit ran off because the question had been a disaster. The centipede somehow managed to drag himself to his hole and said to the other centipedes, “If somebody asks you how you manage your legs, never answer the question. They manage themselves! It is not our work, it is not our effort, our management.”
Basui is saying that when you are a buddha, self-realized, you should sit doing zazen.