Chapter 4: Even the Himalayas Come and Go
And unless you recognize, there is no point in the master wasting time on non-receptive people. Perhaps next life they may be able to receive; perhaps this is not the right time for them - not ripe, their season has not come. A buddha can influence only a very few chosen people, for the simple reason his influence is not of the mind; it is not an argument that convinces you. He will not even say, “I am a buddha.” He would like you to recognize. From there the journey starts, the right point of departure.
That’s why Nansen did not want anybody to know that he was coming to their place. If they knew already without recognizing his buddhahood, just traditionally because he is well-known - thousands of monks follow him - they would also mechanically, robot-like worship him. This would be unnecessarily wasting Nansen’s time and perpetuating blind, orthodox, traditional ways.
He wanted to enter into a village as a stranger and see whether anybody could recognize him. And people used to recognize him who had not ever seen him. Just seeing him something would go through them like lightning. A heart would start dancing in a new tune. They would know that, “This man although he looks like everybody else is very far away from us.”
His consciousness was overwhelming. It showered on people, if they were receptive, like a rain cloud. But he was not ready to shower blindly, the way the rain cloud showers. It does not care whether it is showering on the stones, on the fields, on the good soil; it has no care. A cloud is blind, it is simply heavy with rain and wants to get rid of it wherever the opportunity arises. When there is enough coolness, its vapor becomes water, it showers. Nansen wanted to shower like a rain cloud, but not like a blind rain cloud. He did not want to shower on stones where nothing would grow. He would shower on the right soil where it was possible for something to happen.
He alone in the whole history of Zen has used this method. Masters ordinarily inform a village that they are coming, so people are prepared. But Nansen has his own unique personality. If people are prepared, there is every danger that they will traditionally pay their respect and will not understand anything about who has visited them. He never allowed anyone to know.
But this time it happened.
The village head replied, “Last night, in a dream, the god of the soil-shrine reported to me that you would come to visit today.”
Nansen replied, “This shows how weak and shallow my spiritual life is that it can be foreseen by visions!”
He was a very honest man. Anyone in his place would have felt tremendous ego, “Even gods declare my coming.” But on the contrary he said, “This shows how weak and shallow my spiritual life is that it can be foreseen by visions, by imaginary gods which are your creation, that you have seen in your dreams that I was coming.” This perception through the vision or dream may have made anyone who was not authentically spiritual rejoice and declare, “Look! Even gods make declarations and predictions for me.” But Nansen said, “This shows how shallow and weak my spirituality is that you can read it even in your dreams.”