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Chapter 17: Watchfulness.Your Gift to Yourself

What is true about the body and about your physiology is also true about your psychology - much is happening of which you are not aware. You become aware only when a certain situation arises: you are a peaceful man, but somebody insults you and anger arises in you, of which you were not aware. It has always been there, hiding in the darkness of your unconscious, but if somebody insults you, immediately it is ready to react.

I am reminded of one of the most beautiful stories, historical. A great Japanese emperor wanted to see Nan In, a Zen master. Because he was the ruler over all Japan, he thought that Nan In could be ordered to come to the court.

His prime minister advised him, “Don’t be foolish. You may be the emperor of the whole of Japan, but there are a few people in the country who are beyond your domination - or anybody’s domination. You cannot order Nan In; you can kill him, but you cannot force him to do anything against his will. And he has not left his monastery for thirty years. If you want to see him, you will have to go to the mountains to his monastery.”

The emperor said, “If that is the situation, then I will go. I don’t want to kill him. I have a question, and many people have suggested to me that there is only one man, Nan-In, who can answer the question.”

He went to Nan-In; he was sitting just in front of his house, on the lawn. The emperor bowed down, sat in front of Nan-In, and asked him, “I have come to get an answer: What is hell and what is heaven? I have asked many people, but all that they give as an answer is not their own experience. They are not eyewitnesses, they are only scholars - they have read about it. That I can do myself, but how can I know hell really exists? or heaven?”

At that very moment Nan-In said, “You are such an idiot - who made you the emperor of the country?”

The emperor could not believe it! He had never expected, never dreamt that he would be received with such rudeness. And he has not done anything wrong - just asked a question. He was a warrior. He pulled his sword out of its sheath, and was going to kill Nan-In, then and there. When the sword was just hanging over the head of Nan-In, Nan-In said, “This is hell. You are standing exactly at the door of it.”

Suddenly, a great realization.and all anger settled; a silence descended. He put back his sword, and Nan-In said, “You have turned your back towards hell, and in front of you is the gate of heaven. This is my answer.”

The emperor had never thought that answers can be given through situations too; in fact, real answers can only be given through situations. But he became perfectly aware that anger, violence, rage, jealousy and the whole gang of these kinds of qualities what constitutes hell. And love, silence, blissfulness, compassion, joy.a moment-to-moment living in gratefulness towards existence, is what heaven is constituted of.

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