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Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea

You have to put something against something, then a boundary can be drawn. How do you draw a boundary if there is no neighbor? Where do you place the fence of your house if there is no neighborhood? If there is no one beside you how can you fence in your house? Your house boundary consists of the presence of your neighbor. God is alone, he has no neighbor. Where does he begin? Where does he end? Nowhere. How can you define God? Just to define God, the Devil was created. God is not the Devil - at least this much can be said. You may not be able to say what God is but you can say what he is not: God is not the world.

I was just reading one Christian theologician’s book. He says God is everything except evil. But that too is enough to define. This much will draw a boundary: except evil. He is not aware: if God is everything then from where does this evil come? It must be coming from everything; otherwise there is some other source of existence besides God, and that other source of existence becomes equivalent to God. Then evil can never be destroyed. It has its own source of existence. The evil is not dependent on God so how can God destroy it? And God will not destroy it, because once evil is destroyed God cannot be defined. To define him he needs the Devil to be there always, just around him. Saints need sinners; otherwise they will not be there. How will you know who is a saint? Every saint needs sinners around him; those sinners make the boundary. A simple thing means alone.

The first thing to be understood is that complex things can be understood, simple things cannot. This Joshu story is very simple - so simple it escapes you. You try to grip it, you try to grasp it - it escapes. It is so simple that mind cannot work on it. Try to feel the story. I will not say try to understand because you cannot understand it - try to feel the story. Many things are hidden if you try to feel. If you try to understand it nothing is there - the whole anecdote is absurd.

Joshu sees one monk and asks, “Have I seen you before?”

The man says, “No sir, there is no possibility. I have come for the first time, I am a stranger - you could not have seen me before.”

Joshu says, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.” Then he asks another monk, “Have I seen you before?”

The monk says, “Yes sir, you must have seen me. I have always been here; I am not a stranger.”

The monk must have been a disciple of Joshu’s, and Joshu says, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.”

The manager of the monastery was puzzled: with two different persons responding in different ways - two different answers were needed. But Joshu responds in the same way - to the stranger and to the friend, to one who has come for the first time and to one who has been here always. To the unknown and to the known Joshu responds in the same way. He makes no distinction, none at all. He doesn’t say, “You are a stranger. Welcome! Have a cup of tea.” He doesn’t say to the other, “You have always been here, so there is no need for a cup of tea.” Nor does he say, “You have always been here so there is no need to respond.”

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