Chapter 13: A Listening Heart
Breath is of immense importance. That’s how the mother is connected with the child. And sometimes even, the distance may be of a thousand miles between the child and the mother, but the mother’s heart is immediately affected if the child is in danger. Their breathing is so connected - they breathe alike. And there is an obvious reason for it. The child in the mother’s womb was breathing through the mother for nine months. He had no breath of his own. It was his mother’s breath, and he was simply following the mother’s breathing. The mother was breathing for him, on his behalf; for nine months they lived in a deep synchronicity. Even after the child is born it continues. If there is real love, it can continue for the whole of their lives.
Now there have been scientific proofs for it too. In America, in Russia, and in other countries also, many experiments have been done lately with birds, with animals. The child is taken far away and then killed, and they watch the mother with all the sophisticated instruments available. The moment the child is killed - it may be a thousand miles away - immediately the mother’s breath changes - immediately, in the exact moment. Her breath becomes shaken, a trembling arises in her. She feels panic, pain - for no reason, for no apparent reason: something intuitive, something without any medium between the two. They are not visibly connected by anything, but there are some invisible threads too.
The disciple has to learn not what the master is teaching but how the master is being. That’s what Dogo means when he says, “But I have been giving you lessons in Zen ever since you arrived. When you bring me my morning tea, I accept it. Have you not watched it - the way I accept it? Have you not fallen in deep harmony with me when I accept the tea from you? When you serve me a meal, I eat it. When you bow to me, I acknowledge it. How else do you expect to learn Zen?”
The master is saying: Watch my gestures - the way I walk, the way I sit, the way I breathe, the way I simply sit with you, the way I look at you, the way I respond in a thousand and one small ways. Don’t wait for a doctrine; the master’s presence is the only doctrine there is. The real teaching is not a teaching at all, it is a transfer - a transfer beyond words and beyond scriptures. And the transfer happens through the harmony of the breath.
I would also like to say to you that I have also nothing to offer to you as a teaching, as a doctrine, as a philosophy, as a religion. I have nothing to teach at all. I have much to share, but nothing to teach - or, only nothing to teach! But to feel that nothing that I would like to be transferred to you, you will have to fall in rhythm with me. And small things disturb, very small things. And you have to become aware slowly slowly what the disturbances are.