Chapter 2: An Assembly of Two Buddhas
On one occasion when a monk asked Kyozan the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West, Kyozan drew a circle in the air and put the character for Buddha inside it. This left the monk without words.
At another time, Kyozan was living in Sekitei Temple in Koshu. A monk came up to him and said, “Master, do you know Chinese characters?”
“As far as befits my position,” responded Kyozan.
The monk then circled Kyozan once in the anti-clockwise direction and asked him, “What character is this?”
Kyozan drew the character for the number ten. Then the monk walked around him in a clockwise direction and asked what character that was.
Kyozan changed the figure ten (which looks like a plus sign) into a swastika.
The monk then drew a circle and pretended to hold it in both his hands and asked Kyozan, “What character is this?” at which Kyozan drew a circle around the swastika.
The monk then pretended to be Rucika, the last of the one thousand buddhas of the present kalpa, at which Kyozan commented, “That is right! That is what all the buddhas have kept - you also, I also. Take care of it!”
Maneesha, I am feeling so light, just by dropping a single word. I feel I can fly like a swan to the eternal snows of the Himalayas. That small word I had chosen as a challenge to this country’s whole past. For thirty years I carried that word.
There are so many Hindu scholars, shankaracharyas, Jaina monks - none of them had the courage to challenge me on the word. Perhaps they were aware that to challenge me on the word would be an exposure of the whole Hindu structure of society, which is the ugliest in the world.
But the man who wrote the Manusmriti five or perhaps seven thousand years ago is still ruling the Indian mind. He was called Bhagwan Manu, because he gave the morality and the character to Hindu society. The Hindu society is one of the most spiritually enslaved societies. Its slavery is in its caste system. The caste system is the ugliest you can conceive. It also labels the woman as an inferior creature, spiritually incapable of being enlightened.
Gautama the Buddha rebelled against the caste system; that was his great crime.
In his presence it was impossible to argue with him. He was not a man of argument but of existential presence. Scholars, pundits, brahmins approached him, but his very climate was enough to silence them. They did not have courage enough to question this man’s single-handed rebellion against the most ancient society in the world. Just because of this, I see Gautam the Buddha as the only man in the whole past of human history who knew what freedom is.
Yesterday you witnessed a historical moment.
I have accepted Gautam Buddha’s soul as a guest, reminding him that I am a non-compromising person, and if any argument arises between us, “I am the host, and you are the guest - you can pack your suitcases!” But lovingly and with great joy he has accepted a strange host - perhaps only a strange man like me could do justice to a guest like Gautam the Buddha. Twenty-five centuries ago he was the most liberated, but in twenty-five centuries so much water has flowed down the Ganges. It is a totally new world of which he knows nothing.
With great respect he will have to depend on me to encounter the contemporary situation.
He understood it immediately. His clarity of vision has remained pure all along these twenty-five centuries. I am blessed to be a host of the greatest man of history. And you are also fortunate to be a witness of a strange phenomenon.