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Chapter 5: Gutei’s Finger

So Gutei was explaining about Zen: that explanation was secondary, the raised finger was the primary thing. He was saying something and he was also showing it. This is how an enlightened person lives: he says and he shows. His very being, his gestures, his movements, show what religion is.

If you cannot see, if you are blind or if you have lost that dimension of understanding, of looking, then you hear only the words. But if you know how to look, no words are needed. Words are useless, they can be dropped, they are secondary. But the raised finger cannot be dropped; that is primary, that is the only answer. All those who have known, anywhere in the world, they have all raised a finger. They are talking about the one and you are living in the many.

When you live in the many, problems are created, because living in the many, moving in many directions simultaneously, you become split into parts, then you are not together. Then one desire leads to the south, another desire leads to the north. Then one part of the mind loves, and another part of the mind hates. Then one part of the mind wants to accumulate wealth, and another says, “This is useless. Renounce!” Then one of the minds wants to meditate, become deep, become silent, and another mind says, “Why are you wasting your time?”

I have heard: Once it happened a man renounced the world while he was very young and went to the Himalayas. For almost twenty years he meditated there. Now he was forty. He was sitting and meditating, sitting and meditating, not doing anything at all. Even birds, wild animals, by and by lost their fear with him. He was there, and a very peace-loving man, simply sitting. Animals would come and sit, and when they would have to go hunting they would leave their children near him to be taken care of. His hair became very long, and birds would nest in his hair and put their eggs there, and he would have to take care of them.

After twenty years he got fed up with the whole thing. He said, “If I am to take care of others’ children - animals, birds - why shouldn’t I go and marry a woman and take care of my own children? This is absurd, and I am reaching nowhere. These twenty years are lost. Now there is no more time to lose because I am forty, and soon life will have ebbed!”

What was the problem? He was really meditating. What was the problem? Twenty years is a long time but the mind was continuously fragmented. One part was meditating, another was continuously saying, “Useless! Why are you wasting your time? Others are enjoying. Go back down to the plains. People are happy there - dancing, drinking, eating, lovemaking. The world is in ecstasy and you are sitting here like a fool.” Continuously hearing this other fragment for twenty years, the first fragment by and by became weak.

On the surface he was repeating mantras: Ram, Ram, Ram. But deep down this was the mantra: the other part of the mind continuously saying, “Useless! Sitting like a fool and everybody is enjoying life and now life is ebbing. Soon you will not be able to enjoy anything. You are becoming old.” This was the real mantra. On the surface, “Ram, Ram, Ram” - but deep down this was the real mantra.

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