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Chapter 5: Is He Dead?

Hence, in Japan, tea ceremonies exist, and every house worth calling a house has a tearoom just like a temple. A very ordinary thing, tea - and they have raised it to a very holy status. When they enter the tearoom, they enter in complete silence, as if it is a temple. They sit silently in the tearoom. Then the kettle starts singing, and everybody listens silently, as you are listening to me: the same silence. And the kettle goes on singing millions of songs, sounds, omkar - the very mantra of life - and they listen silently. And then the tea is poured. They touch their cups and saucers. They feel grateful that this moment is again given to them. Who knows if it will come again or not? Then they smell the tea, the aroma, and they are filled with gratitude. Then they start sipping. And the taste.and the warmth.and the flow.and the merging of their own energy with the energy of the tea.it becomes a meditation.

Everything can become a meditation if you live it totally and intensely. And then your life becomes whole.

Suddenly, listening to the same words again, Zengen came to realize, “I was wrong and my master was right. I was wrong because I thought: He is not answering; he is not paying attention to my question; he is not caring about me at all and my inquiry. My ego was hurt. But I was wrong - he was not hitting my ego. I was not at all in the question. The very nature of death is such..” Suddenly he was awakened.

This is called satori. It is a special enlightenment. In no other language does there exist a word equivalent to satori. It is a specially Zen thing. It is not samadhi; it is samadhi. It is not samadhi because it can happen in very ordinary moments: drinking tea, taking a walk, looking at a flower, listening to the frog jumping in the pond. It can happen in very ordinary moments, so it is not like the samadhi about which Patanjali talks.

Patanjali would simply be surprised that a frog jumps into the pond and at the sound of it somebody becomes enlightened. Patanjali would not be able to believe that a dry leaf drops from the tree, zigzags, moves on the wind a little, then falls to the ground and goes fast asleep - and somebody sitting under the tree attains enlightenment? No, Patanjali would not be able to believe it: “Impossible, because,” he will say, “samadhi is something exceptional; samadhi comes after much effort, millions of lives. And then it happens in a particular posture - siddhasana. It happens in a particular state of body and mind.”

Satori is samadhi and yet not samadhi. It is a glimpse, and a glimpse in the very ordinary of the extraordinary: samadhi happening in ordinary moments. A sudden thing also - it is not gradual, you don’t move in degrees. It is just like water coming to boiling point, to one hundred degrees - and then the jump, and the water becomes vapor, merges into the sky, and you cannot trace where it has gone. Up to ninety-nine degrees it is boiling and boiling and boiling, but not evaporating. From the ninety-ninth degree it can fall back, it was only hot. But if it passes the hundredth degree, then there is a sudden jump.

The situation is the same in the story. With Dogo, Zengen became hot, but couldn’t evaporate. It was not enough, he needed one more situation, or he may have been in need of many more situations. Then with Sekiso - the same situation, and suddenly something is hit. Suddenly the focus changes, the gestalt. Up to this point he had been thinking that it was his question to which Dogo had not replied. He had been egocentric. He had been thinking, “It is I who have been neglected by my master. He was not careful enough about me and my inquiries. He didn’t pay enough attention to me and my inquiry.”