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Chapter 2: Zen Is Your Very Nature

He said, “I used to do the same as I am doing now. I used to carry water from the well for my master and I used to chop wood for my master and for the commune. I continue to do the same: I carry water from the well and I chop wood for my disciples.”

The man said, “But then what is the difference between an enlightened man and an unenlightened man?”

Rinzai said, “The difference is the unenlightened man thinks that this is an ordinary life - chopping wood, carrying water from the well - and the enlightened man knows this is holy, this is sacred, this is divine.”

And the last thing to be remembered is that Zen does not believe in a gradual process. It says: Because your nature is buddha, because your very nature is enlightenment, you can get it right now. There is no need to wait even for a single moment. Zen believes in sudden enlightenment, hence Yoka says it can happen in a moment.

All other religions are postponements. Hindus say you will have to be born many, many times; only then can you get enlightened. Why? - because first you have to undo all the bad karmas that you have done in your past lives. Now, you have lived for millions of lives, how long is it going to take to undo those karmas? And while you are undoing those karmas you will be doing other karmas, so again you will be accumulating bad karma. That means it is impossible to become enlightened or next to impossible.

Zen says: Whatsoever you have done has been done in a dream. Wake up, and it is finished. It is not that when you wake up you first have to undo what you have done in your dream; just by waking up all dreams are finished. Knowing that they were dreams is to end them. You have lived your sleepy life for many lives and whatsoever you have done has been done in your sleep. It is nothing very important: it is of the same stuff as dreams are made of.

Just wake up!

The second question:

Why do all the awakened ones say that man is asleep? I don’t agree. I think I am fully awake. What do you say?

It is impossible to understand what the awakened ones say unless you are also awakened. They speak your language - they have to speak your language out of sheer necessity, because there is no other language - but their meaning is totally different.

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