Chapter 10: Ninakawa Smiles
But if you are ready to jump there is no anguish. If you accept and welcome it, and there is no complaint - rather, you are happy and celebrating that the moment has come, and now I can jump out of this body which is a limitation, can jump out of this body which is a confinement, can jump out of this ego which has always been a suffering - if you can welcome, then there is no need to become unconscious. If you can become accepting, welcoming - what Buddhists call tathata, to accept it, and not only to accept, because the word accept is not very good, deep down some non-acceptance is hidden in it - no, if you welcome, if it is such a celebration, an ecstasy, if it is a benediction, then you need not become unconscious.
If it is a benediction, you will become perfectly conscious in that moment. Remember these two things: if you reject, if you say no, you will become totally unconscious; if you accept, welcome, and say yes with your full heart, you will become perfectly conscious. Yes to death makes you perfectly conscious; no to death makes you perfectly unconscious - and these are the two ways of dying.
A Buddha dies totally accepting. There is no resistance, no fight between him and death. Death is divine; you die fighting.
If a man has been preparing, getting ready, at the moment of death the master can be miraculously helpful. Just a word at the right moment and the flame inside suddenly explodes, you become enlightened - because the moment is such, so intense, you are so concentrated at one point.
This is happening in this story. Ikkyu is one of the greatest masters, a very rare, revolutionary, nonconformist. Once he stayed in a temple. The night was very cold and there were three wooden Buddhas in the temple, so he burned one Buddha to warm himself. The priest became aware - he was fast asleep, it was in the middle of the night and the night was very cold - he became aware that something was going on, so he looked.
Buddha was burning! - and this man Ikkyu was sitting, happy, warming his hands. The priest became mad; he said, “What are you doing? Are you a madman? - and I thought you to be a Buddhist monk, that’s why I allowed you to stay in the temple. And you have done the most sacrilegious act.”
Ikkyu looked at the priest and said, “But the buddha within me was feeling very cold. So it was a question whether to sacrifice the living Buddha to the wooden one, or to sacrifice the wooden one to the living one. And I decided for life.”
But the priest was so mad with anger, he couldn’t listen to what Ikkyu was saying. He said, “You are a madman. You simply get out of here! You have burned Buddha.”
So Ikkyu started to poke the burned Buddha - ashes were there, the statue was almost completely finished. He started to poke with a stick. The priest asked, “What are you doing?”
He said, “I am trying to find the bones of Buddha.”
So the priest laughed, he said, “You are either a fool or a madman. And you are absolutely mad! You cannot find bones there, because it is just a wooden Buddha.”
Ikkyu laughed, he said, “Then bring the other two. The night is still very cold and the morning is still far away.”