Chapter 3: To Know the Timeless
Joshu stayed with Nansen for thirty years. After his enlightenment he lived for thirty years more in the Kuan-yin temple. Once, he said:
“Smoke from the chimneys around me I see in vain, no bun or rice cake since last year have I eaten. Now thoughts of them make my mouth water.
“Not mindful of Buddhism, I often sigh deep sighs. None of the people of one hundred houses are good: every visitor only asks me for a cup of tea. If not given enough, he angrily leaves me.”
At another time Joshu was asked: “A hair’s breadth of difference - and what happens?”
The master answered, “Heaven and earth are far away.”
The monk asked, “And when there is not a hair’s breadth of difference?”
“Heaven and earth are far away,” Joshu replied.
Maneesha, before discussing the sutras of Joshu I have to introduce to you something very modern, but relating to the ancient gods. Before I call Avirbhava and Anando to show you, I will say a few things about lightning.
Anything mysterious that man could not understand became a god. Lightning is very mysterious: from where does it come, and where does it go? Suddenly it appears and suddenly it is gone. And it is dangerous too; it kills people, it kills trees, it kills animals - so it must be in the hands of a certain god; a power that he throws against the enemies.
In India, the god Indra has been worshipped for centuries. He is the god of lightning and clouds and rains. Even man has been sacrificed to satisfy him so that he does not destroy their crops, so he does not kill their animals, so he does not send those lightning thunderbolts to their villages. It is out of fear that all gods are born, out of fear and out of ignorance. So first, something about lightning..
In ancient civilizations, thousands of years before Christ, some people believed that thunder and lightning were demonstrations of the power and wrath of the gods. In Greek mythology, lightning was the weapon of Zeus, father of all the gods.
In southern Africa it is widely held that lightning is a bird. In the mythology of the American Indian, both the sun and the moon are made of lightning bolts collected by a turtle as he climbed up to heaven.
In India, Indra was a storm god, wielder of the thunderbolt.
In Australia, aboriginal mythology has it that the lightning man lived at the bottom of a water hole in the dry season and in the wet season he rode on the tops of the thunderclouds. His voice was the thunder and he struck down with his stone axes the trees and the people.
Associated with this is a very ancient concept, the concept of the aura. It is now a scientific fact that man also has his own energy which is electrical. In an accident in Switzerland a few years ago, a woman became so electrified that even her husband would not touch her. Even her children escaped from home, because whomsoever she would touch would get a great electric shock. She was brought to the hospital: just by holding it in her hand, an electric bulb would start to light up. There was no need of any wiring or any electricity.