Chapter 1: The Search for the Bull and Discovering the Footprints
When one moves on an inner journey one leaves the world, renounces all that hinders the path, renounces all that is nonessential so that the essential can be searched, sought. One tries to become unburdened so the journey can become easier, because the journey, this journey, is towards the height, the greatest height there is - the very pinnacle of human possibilities, the very climax. One leaves the world, one renounces the world; not only the world - one renounces the mind, because the mind is the cause of the whole world. The world of desires, the world of possessions, is just the outer part. The inner part is the mind: the desiring mind, the lustful mind, the jealous, competitive mind, the mind full of thoughts; that is the seed.
One renounces the outer, one renounces the inner, one becomes empty - that’s what meditation is all about. One becomes totally empty. But is this the end? The Taoist pictures ended with nothingness. Kakuan says this is not the end - one comes back to the world, one comes back to the marketplace; only then is the circle complete. Of course, one comes totally new. One never comes with the old; the old is gone, gone forever. One comes totally renewed, resurrected, reborn - as if this man had never gone; as if this man is coming totally fresh and virgin. One comes back to the world and again one lives in the world yet lives beyond it. Again one becomes ordinary - chopping wood, carrying water from the well, walking, sitting, sleeping - one becomes absolutely ordinary. Deep inside, the emptiness remains uncorrupted. One lives in the world but the world is not in your mind, the world is not within you. One lives untouched, like a lotus flower.
These two pictures bring the seeker back to the world, and Kakuan has done a tremendously beautiful thing. One comes to the marketplace; not only that, one comes with a bottle of wine, drunk - drunk with the divine - to help others also to be drunk, because there are many who are thirsty, there are many who are seeking, there are many who are stumbling on their path, there are many who are in deep darkness. One comes back to the world because of compassion. One helps other travelers to arrive. One has arrived, now one helps others to arrive. One has become enlightened, now one helps others towards the same goal. And each and everyone is searching for the same goal.
The Taoist eight bulls are good but not enough; beautiful, but something is missing in them. Emptiness is perfect, but there is a perfection still to be attained. Emptiness is perfect, let me repeat it, but still there is a perfection yet to be attained. Emptiness is perfect in a negative way. You have renounced, it is negative, but you have not loved yet. The positive is missing. Unhappiness is gone, misery disappears, but you are not yet ecstatic. You have attained to silence and silence is beautiful, but your silence is not yet a fulfillment, it is not an overflowing; it is not a blissful dance of your inner being.
Here Kakuan goes beyond Taoism and beyond Buddhism - because both ended on emptiness, as if the journey was complete. You have reached Everest, cool, collected, calm. Now what is the point of going back to the marketplace? But if your meditation does not become compassion, then your meditation is still somehow hiding your ego, then your meditation is still selfish.