Chapter 3: The Play
Maybe that slap brings you back home. That’s why Zen people have been throwing the disciples, beating them, and it has happened sometimes, it has happened: a master threw a disciple out of the window, and when the disciple fell on the ground with a broken back, he became enlightened. Because in that pain for the first time he was in the present. In that severe pain the future disappeared and the buddhahood and all nonsense. In that severe pain for a single moment there was no thought; he became thoughtless, and he understood the whole point.
The master came running and looked at him, and he was laughing there - with a broken back! He bowed down to the master, touched his feet and said, “I am so thankful to you. Less than that would not have done. You did it in the right time, I deserved it.”
Remember, God has made you perfect. God never makes anything imperfect. God cannot make anything imperfect. People say God is omnipotent, I say no because he cannot make anything imperfect. How can imperfection come out of perfection? - that is impossible, only perfection comes out of perfection. This world is a perfect world and you are a perfect being. Listen to Hakuin: From the very beginning all beings are buddhas. That’s how it should be, that’s how it is. You are trying to become a buddha, you are trying to become perfect; you create your own misery, then you fail, and when you fail you are miserable.
There is no need to fail, just stop trying to succeed. And when I say stop trying to succeed, mind you, I am not saying strive to stop.
A Zen master used to play a small game with his disciples, particularly with new disciples. He would drop his handkerchief and he would say to the disciple, “Try to pick it up. Try to pick it up.” Naturally the disciple would simply pick it up and give it to him. And he would drop it again, and he would say, “Try again! Try to pick it up.” It would happen a few times, then the disciple would get the point - that how can you try to pick it up? Either you pick it up or you don’t. How can you try to pick it up? And that’s what the master was saying - he was saying, “Try to pick it up.” You will fail, because how can you try? Either you pick it up or you don’t pick it up. Trying to pick it up?
The master was indicating that that’s what you are doing in your life. Either be a buddha or don’t be a buddha, but trying to be a buddha? It is just like that: either be a buddha or don’t be a buddha.
Concerned with this, the second question:
While talking to an amazing octogenarian, Mr. Lewis, the other day, I asked him if he was going to take sannyas. He said the idea of changing streams after thirty years of Gurdjieff was a bit much. He felt the emphasis was very much on the heart here, as opposed to the three-centered harmonious development of man.