Chapter 4: How about You?
Once, to Kyozan, Isan commented: “All the buddhas in the samadhi enter into a speck of dust and turn the great wheel of the law.”
Kyozan said to him, “How about you?”
Isan responded, “There is someone; making him an example, we can get it from him.”
Kyozan pointed to a water-bottle and said, “Please get in it.”
Isan’s response was: “All the buddhas by their occult powers are at present in the mouth of the bottle, turning the great wheel of the law. Can you see them doing it?”
Kyozan then said, “This is the turning of all the buddhas. How will you turn it?”
Isan observed, “It cannot be done if we are separated from the thing itself” - at which Kyozan made his bows.
Maneesha, before I discuss the sutras, something of great importance has to be understood. Zen is neither Buddhism nor Taoism; it is a crossbreed. When the great Bodhidharma met the masters of Taoism in China, the meeting and their dialogues created something new, which has the flavor of Buddhism in it but is not dependent on Buddhist literature. It has also the flavor of Tao in it, but is not dependent on Taoist tradition. It is independent of both the parents.
As all crossbreeds are better than the parents - even philosophical systems, theological ways, meditation function in the same way as fruits, as animals, as human beings - the crossbreed by nature itself takes the best of both the parents and leaves all that is non-essential.
Zen’s greatness and height is because it has left all the non-essentials of Buddhism and all the non-essentials of Taoism, and two great peaks have merged into a higher peak, which has only the flavor from both. But the synthesis of the flavors makes it a totally new phenomenon.
Hence the traditional Buddhist will not give any credit to Zen. He will simply laugh and will say, “It is just crazy.” The traditional Taoist also will say the same thing: “It is crazy. It is not part of our system.” But this became a great opportunity to rebel against all traditions. Zen is pure rebellion.
But unfortunately, the way history moves, even the very rebellious people.Gautam Buddha himself was a great rebellious mind; he rebelled against Hinduism, he rebelled against Jainism, he rebelled against the whole past of India. He had the guts and the genius to do it.
But this is the unfortunate part: that sooner or later Buddha had to die. His words would fall into the hands of the scholars. He could not prevent it - although his last premonition was this: “Don’t make me an institution. Don’t make me a tradition! I have been against the traditional way; I don’t want to become myself a tradition, but I will not be here to prevent you. So my last words are: Don’t make my statues, don’t make my temples, don’t write my scriptures - so that I can disappear just like the birds’ footprints in the blue sky. Don’t be worried that my disappearance will be in any way a disturbance in the evolution of humanity. Better buddhas will be coming, greater revolutionaries will be coming. I don’t want to stand in their way.”