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Chapter 12: Behind Those Reflecting Eyes

Once a monk made a portrait of Joshu and gave it to him.
Joshu said to the monk, “Tell me, does this look like me or not? If it looks like me, I will beat me to death; if it doesn’t, I will burn you to death!”
The monk had nothing to say.

One of Kinzan’s monks painted a portrait of him and presented it to him.
Kinzan said to the monk, “Is it like me or not?”
The monk made no answer.
Kinzan, answering himself, said, “Let the assembly decide!”

Fuke was the chief disciple of Banzan, and was the most eccentric of all the Zen monks.
When Banzan was about to die, he asked his monks to bring him his portrait, but he was not satisfied with any of them.
At that time, Fuke had one of them, and Banzan said, “Why don’t you show me it then?”
Fuke turned a somersault and went out.
Banzan said, “This lunatic will pervert the true way from now on.”

Maneesha, Zen is more a gesture than an explicit explanation. It is a very subtle fragrance. You need immense sensitivity to feel the breeze and its coolness.

It does not speak loudly, it whispers - but whispers immense music, great poetry. It only hints, without any explanation. If you are centered in yourself, the hint is enough; if you are not centered in yourself, even the whole explanation will be of no use. It will give you more knowledge, more ego, a more sophisticated personality, but it will not make you wise - as wise as an innocent child, those clear eyes which can see without any judgment.

In these anecdotes you will find again and again the indication of the wordless.

The whole process of Zen is that nothing has to be disciplined, nothing has to be achieved. All that has to happen has happened; you just have to be awake to see it. You are already at the point where you want to be, but you have never looked underneath your feet.

Zen is only a warning: “Don’t run, just sit still.” The whole splendor of existence is hidden in your very stillness.

Out of context, these Zen anecdotes will look a little crazy, but in the context of Zen they have immense meaning, although the meaning is not logical - the meaning is existential.

Once a monk made a portrait of Joshu and gave it to him.

Joshu being one of the greatest masters.

Joshu said to the monk, “Tell me, does this look like me or not? If it looks like me, I will beat me to death; if it does not I will burn you to death!”

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