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Chapter 11: Not Mind, Not Buddha, Not Things

A monk asked Nansen: “Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?”
Nansen said: “Yes there is.” “What is it?” asked the monk.
Nansen replied: “It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”

The “teachings” of the awakened ones are not teachings at all because they cannot be taught - so how to call them teachings? A teaching is that which can be taught. But nobody can teach you the truth. It is impossible. You can learn it, but it cannot be taught. It has to be learned. You can absorb it, you can imbibe it, you can live with a master and allow it to happen but it cannot be taught. It is a very indirect process.

Teaching is direct: something is said. Learning is indirect: something is indicated, not said - rather, something is shown. A finger is raised towards the sun, but the finger is not the point; you have to leave the finger and look at the sun, or at the moon. A master teaches but the teaching is just like the finger: you have to leave it and look where it indicates - the dimension, the direction, the beyond.

A teacher teaches, a master lives - you can learn from his life, the way he moves, the way he looks at you, the way he touches you, the way he is. You can imbibe it, you can allow it to happen, you can remain available, you can remain open and vulnerable. There is no way to say it directly, that’s why those who are very intellectual miss it - because they know only one way of learning and that is direct. They ask, What is truth? - and they expect an answer.

This is what happened when Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” and Jesus remained silent - not even a flicker, as if the question had not been asked, as if there was no Pontius Pilate standing before him and asking. Jesus remained the same as he was before the question was raised, nothing changed. Pontius Pilate must have thought this man a little mad, because he had asked a direct question: “What is truth?” and this man remained silent as if he had not heard.

Pontius Pilate was a viceroy, a well-educated, cultured, cultivated man; Jesus was a son of a carpenter, uneducated, uncultivated. It was as if two poles were meeting, two opposite poles. Pontius Pilate knew all philosophy - he had learned it, he knew all the scriptures. This man Jesus was absolutely uneducated, in fact he knew nothing - or, he knew only nothing. Standing before Pontius Pilate, totally silent, he replied - but the reply was indirect: he raised a finger. That total silence was the finger raised towards truth. But Pontius Pilate missed. He thought, This man is crazy. Either he is deaf, cannot hear, or he does not know, is ignorant - that’s why he is silent. But silence can be a finger raised towards truth - that is incomprehensible to the intellectual Pontius Pilate.

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