Chapter 1: Here It Is.
The Jaina, the Hindu, they escape from the world. The Zen master lives in the world and transforms it. There is a great message for the future of humanity - this is going to be the way of a future religiousness. The old idea of renouncing the world has totally failed, entirely failed. It is basically wrong and impractical too. How many people can renounce the world? - only a very minor proportion because they have to depend on the world. The Jaina monk may not do anything; that simply means other people are doing things for him. The Hindu saint may live in a cave far away in the Himalayas but somebody carries food for him from the village, clothes come to him and everything that he needs.
If the whole world lives like monks and nuns, who is going to take care of these people? That will be a global suicide! They will starve and die. That is a very impractical idea for transforming the world into a religious kind of living.
Zen is very pragmatic, practical. It says that is stupid; renouncing is simply unintelligent - transform! Be wherever you are, but be in a new way. And what is that new way? Be non-competitive. To be competitive is to be worldly. Remember the emphasis: it is not a question of living in the world or going to the mountains - to be competitive is to be worldly. You can go in the caves, but there are other saints living in other caves and there will be competition; then you have created another world. Then they will be talking who is achieving new siddhis, new powers, who can fast more, who can torture himself more, who can lie down on a bed of nails, who can live without clothes in the cold winter who can sit in the burning hot sun with fire all around him - who is the topmost saint. There will be a hierarchy.
Once I was invited by a shankaracharya.there must have been some mistake. He was not aware of my way of thinking. He invited me. I was overjoyed. I said, “This is a good opportunity!” So I went there, and of course there was great trouble.
The first trouble started when we were introduced to each other. The shankaracharya was sitting on a golden throne and just by the side of him there was a smaller golden throne on which another Hindu monk was sitting, and there were other monks who were sitting on the floor.
The shankaracharya told me that, “You must be wondering who is this man who is sitting by my side on the smaller throne. He has been chief justice of the high court, but he is such a great spiritual man - he renounced it. He renounced the world, his high salary his post, his power. He became my disciple. And he is so humble that he never sits on the equal platform with me.”
I said, “I can see that he is very humble - he is sitting on a smaller throne than you - but then others are sitting on the floor! If he is really humble he should dig a hole in the floor and he should sit there - if he is really humble! He is only humble towards you and about others he is very arrogant.”
And I could see the anger.. Both the persons became very angry. They were at a loss for a moment what to say, what not to say. I said, “You see your humbleness - you both are angry! And this man is still sitting! If he is humble he should get down. Dig a hole immediately! Don’t cling to the throne. And then there will be a competition, of course. Others will dig bigger holes.Then there is a well outside in the garden - he should jump into the well to be the most humble person!”