Chapter 4: The Sutra Is Long, the Night Is Short
When the novice monk, Gao, first called on Yakusan, Yakusan asked him, “Where do you come from?”
Gao said, “from Nanyue.”
Yakusan asked, “Where are you going?”
Gao replied, “To Jiangling to receive the precepts.”
Yakusan then asked, “What is the aim of receiving precepts?”
Gao answered, “To escape birth and death.”
Yakusan said, “There is someone who doesn’t receive the precepts and has no birth and death to escape - do you know?” Gao asked, “Then what is the use of the Buddha’s precepts?” Yakusan said, “This novice still has lips and teeth.”
At this, the novice bowed and withdrew.
Dogo then came forward and stood by Yakusan, who said to him, “That limping novice who just came, after all has some life in him.” Dogo said, “He’s not to be entirely believed yet - you should test him again first.” When evening came, Yakusan went up into the hall; he called, “Where is the novice who came earlier?” Gao then came forward from the assembly and stood there, and Yakusan said to him, “I hear that Changan is very noisy.”
Gao said, “My province is peaceful.” Yakusan asked, with much joy, “Did you realize this from reading scriptures or from making inquiries?” To which Gao replied, “I did not get it from reading scriptures or from making inquiries.”
Yakusan said, “Many people do not read scriptures or make inquiries - why don’t they get it?”
Gao said, “I don’t say they don’t get it - it is just that they don’t agree to take it up.”
Friends, one sannyasin has asked: he has been to the Dalai Lama, he has been to many Zen masters in Japan, but when he comes here he feels perfectly at home. Why?
Thinking about his problem, I remembered..
A man went to the psychiatrist and said, “I am feeling so happy. Why?”
The psychiatrist was at a loss. He had seen miserable people, sick people, and he could answer the ‘why’ - why they are miserable, why they are in despair, why they are sad - but how to answer a man who asks, “I am feeling very happy. Why?”
Happiness has no cause. It simply arises in your being without any cause. If you feel at home here, this is your home. From where comes the question, “Why?”
But I can understand what you wanted to ask but could not phrase it rightly. You have been to the Dalai Lama.. The Dalai Lama is not enlightened. He still has the great desire to be the political head of Tibet. That desire is preventing his enlightenment. I feel sorry for him - a nice man - but any desire is going to become a tremendous obstacle.
I had sent him the message that, “It is time you dropped the very idea of being the political head of Tibet.” He is in tremendous anguish. In this state he cannot become enlightened. If he drops the desire, the longing to be the political head of a country, perhaps as the desire disappears like smoke, he may see the light for the first time. He has not seen it yet.
And moreover, even if he becomes enlightened, his language, his way of answering you will be out of date. He is too learned in the Buddhist scriptures: he will repeat those scriptures, and they are very ancient, they are no longer contemporary.
The same is the situation in Japan. You have been hearing me speak on Zen masters; that creates a great desire in you to go to Japan. But don’t go to Japan, you will be frustrated.
While I am speaking on Zen masters, I am speaking in a way which is absolutely contemporary; you can understand it. They are still speaking the language of the past.
It is a calamity that the so-called religious people get caught up in a certain moment in history. Then they don’t progress from that place. The Buddhists are caught up with Gautam Buddha, twenty-five centuries back. Everything has changed, but their ideology remains twenty-five centuries old. It does not ring bells in your heart, hence you cannot feel at home.