Chapter 5: See Right at Once
Dogo had a disciple called Soshin. When Soshin was taken in as a novice, it was perhaps natural of him to expect lessons in Zen from his teacher the way a schoolboy is taught at school. But Dogo gave him no special lessons on the subject, and this bewildered and disappointed Soshin.
One day he said to the master, “It is some time since I came here, but not a word has been given me regarding the essence of the Zen teaching.”
Dogo replied, “Since your arrival I have ever been giving you lessons on the matter of Zen discipline.”
“What kind of lesson could it have been?”
“When you bring me a cup of tea in the morning, I take it; when you serve me a meal, I accept it; when you bow to me, I return it with a nod.
How else do you expect to be taught in the discipline of Zen?”
Soshin hung his head for a while, pondering the puzzling words of the master.
The master said, “If you want to see, see right at once. When you begin to think, you miss the point.”
Sujata has written to me: how odd of God to choose the Jews! Sujata, God has a tremendous sense of humor! Religion remains something dead without a sense of humor as a foundation to it. God would not have been able to create the world if he had no sense of humor. God is not serious at all. Seriousness is a state of disease; humor is health. Love, laughter, life, they are aspects of the same energy.
But for centuries people have been told that God is very serious. These people were pathological. They created a serious God, they projected a serious God, out of their own pathology. And we have worshipped these people as saints. They were not saints. They needed great awakening; they were fast asleep in their seriousness. They needed laughter - that would have helped them more than all their prayers and fasting; that would have cleansed their souls in a far better way than all their ascetic practices. They did not need more scriptures, more theologies; they needed only the capacity to laugh at the beautiful absurdity of life. It is ecstatically absurd. It is not a rational phenomenon; it is utterly irrational.
Moses went up the mountain. After a long time God appeared. “Hello, Moses. Good to see you. Sorry you had to wait, but I think you will feel it was worth it because I have something very special for you today.”
Moses thought for a second and then said, “Oh, no, Lord, really. Thank you, but I don’t need anything right now. Some other time perhaps.”
“Moses, this is free,” said the Lord.
“Then,” said Moses, “give me ten!”
That’s how the Jews got the Ten Commandments.
Zen has something Jewish in it. It is really very puzzling why Zen did not appear in the Jewish world. But the Chinese also have a tremendous sense of humor. Zen is not Indian, remember. Of course, the origin is in Gautam the Buddha, but it went through a tremendous transformation passing through the Chinese consciousness.
There are a few very wise people who think that Zen is more a rebellion against the Indian seriousness than a continuity of it. And they have a point there; a certain truth is there. Lao Tzu is more Jewish than Hindu - he can laugh. Chuang Tzu has written such beautiful and absurd stories; nobody can conceive of an enlightened person writing such stories, which can only be called, at the best, entertainment. But entertainment can become the door to enlightenment.