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Chapter 1: The Significance of Zen

Physically, man can be more healthy, spiritually, woman can be more healthy, because their concerns are different. When you are concerned with others you can forget your body, you can be more physically healthy, but religiously you cannot grow so easily. Religious growth needs an inner concern. A woman can grow very, very easily into religion, that path is easy for her, but to grow in politics is difficult. And for a man to grow in religion is difficult. Introversion has its benefits; extroversion has its benefits - and both have their dangers.

India is introvert, a feminine country; it is like a womb, very receptive. But if a child remains in the womb for ever and for ever and for ever, the womb will become the grave. The child has to move out from the mother’s womb, otherwise the mother will kill the child inside. He has to escape, to find the world outside, a greater world. The womb may be very comfortable - it is! Scientists say we have not yet been able to create anything more comfortable than the womb. With so much scientific progress we have not made anything more comfortable. The womb is just a heaven. But even the child has to leave that heaven and come outside the mother. Beyond a certain time the mother can become very dangerous. The womb can kill, because it will then become an imprisonment - good for a time, when the seed is growing, but then the seed has to be transplanted to the outside world.

Bodhidharma looked around, watched the whole world, and found that China had the best soil; it was just a middle ground, not extreme. The climate was not extreme, so the tree could grow easily. And it had very balanced people. Balance is the right soil for something to grow: too cold is bad, too hot is bad. In a balanced climate, neither too cold nor too hot, the tree can grow.

Bodhidharma escaped with the seed, escaped with all that India had produced. Nobody was aware of what he was doing, but it was a great experiment. And he proved right. In China, the tree grew, grew to vast proportions.

But although the tree became vaster and vaster, no flowers grew. Flowers did not come, because flowers need an extrovert country. Just as a seed is introvert, so a flower is extrovert. The seed is moving inwards; the flower is moving outwards. The seed is like male consciousness. The flower opens to the outer world and releases its fragrance to this outside world. Then the fragrance moves on the wings of the wind to the farthest possible corner of the world. To all directions, the flower releases the energy contained in the seed. It is a door. Flowers would like to become butterflies and escape from the tree. In fact, that is what they are doing, in a very subtle way. They are releasing the essence of the tree, the very meaning, the significance of the tree to the world. They are great sharers. A seed is a great miser, confined to himself, and a flower is a great spendthrift.

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