Chapter 2: Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Zen practice is not clarifying conceptual distinctions, but throwing away one’s preconceived views and notions and the sacred texts and all the rest, and piercing through the layers of coverings over the spring of self behind them.
All the holy ones have turned within and sought in the self, and by this, went beyond all doubt.
To turn within means all the twenty-four hours, and in every situation, to pierce, one by one, through the layers covering the self, deeper and deeper, to a place which cannot be described. It is when thinking comes to an end and making distinctions ceases, when wrong views and ideas disappear of themselves without having to be driven forth; when, without being sought, the true action and true impulse appear of themselves. It is when one can know what is the truth of the heart.
The man resolute in the way must, from the beginning, never lose sight of it, whether in a place of calm or in a place of strife, and he must not be clinging to quiet places and shunning those where there is disturbance.
If he tries to take refuge from trouble by running to some quiet place, he will fall into dark regions.
If, when he is trying to throw off delusions and discover truth, everything is a whirl of possibilities, he must cut off the thousand impulses and go straight forward, having no thought at all about good or bad. Not hating the passions, he must simply make his heart pure.
Maneesha, Zen can say things which no other religion is capable of. Zen is a rare flower. All other religions are subservient to the vested interests, to the past, to the society, to the state. Zen is an exception. My love for it is not without reason. It is the only revolutionary approach to the ultimate reality, and a man like Daikaku is a perfectly representative master. You have to listen to his every word as if you are listening to me.
Zen practice is not clarifying conceptual distinctions.
The whole theological world and the whole philosophical world are concerned only with clarifying conceptual distinctions - what is what. They never go beyond the conceptual mind. Looking from the point of view of Zen, what they are doing is not only childish, it is also stupid. A child can grow up, but stupidity only becomes thicker and thicker and thicker.
All the religions have served the politicians, the emperors, the murderers, the criminals. You may not be aware of it, but you have to be aware. The pope in the second world war blessed Mussolini, who was a fascist, to be victorious. He prayed to God to make Benito Mussolini the victor. Now it is strange, the archbishop of England was also praying to the same God - both are Christians - but Italy and England were at war. Even Adolf Hitler was blessed and received the prayers of both the Catholic and Protestant religions. Their high priests prayed to God that he should be made the victor.
Now, God must have been in trouble to decide! All sides were praying to the same God, the same Christian God. They all worshipped the same Christian Bible. But this strange situation shows completely that your religion is nothing but a servant to the state - it can even pray for Adolf Hitler to become the victor over the world. It does not matter for whom the religion is praying; it has always been favorable to those who have power and riches.
Zen is in every way exceptional. Japan was also at war but not a single Zen master blessed the emperor of Japan to be the conqueror.
The emperor of Japan had gone to receive blessings from a Zen master, and wondered how to ask him. First he had tried to persuade the master to come to his court. The master refused. He said, “Even if God calls me to his court, I will refuse. I am perfectly happy where I am. If you want to see me, then you have to come. The thirsty has to come to the well.” A clear-cut answer..
The emperor finally had to concede, reluctantly, and he went with all his court following him. Not finding a word - what to say? - he asked, “I have always wondered: what is hell and what is heaven?”