Chapter 9: Scratching the Shoe
A master got up to address a group seeking enlightenment and had only this to say: “Ha! ha! ha! What’s all this? Go to the back of the hall and have some tea.”
He then got down and departed.
The only thing that can be said about the ultimate, categorically, is that nothing can be said about it. Even that is too much to say; even that is too much for language to express. That’s why all the great scriptures are negative - they don’t say what God is, they only say what God is not. By saying what God is not, they are not saying anything about God. They are simply saying something about that which is not God. And if you understand that, by and by your eyes will turn towards God. If you know the false as the false, then sooner or later you will stumble upon the real. To know the false as the false, is to know the real.
Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna, Christ - nobody says anything about the truth. They say what is not truth - they indicate the untrue, they acquaint you with the untrue. If that acquaintance goes deep in your heart, sooner or later you will be able to see the truth. Darkness can be expressed through language, light cannot be expressed. Hate can be expressed through language, love cannot be expressed.
Have you not observed it in your own life? If you are full of hatred, language is very potent. If you are full of hatred, suddenly language has a flow. People talk very animatedly when they are angry, in a rage - everybody becomes an orator when he is angry. Then he never gropes for words, then they simply come. Then all shyness disappears. But when you are in love, language looks almost impotent. Even to say “I love you” looks so flat, pale, dead.
The wrong can be expressed by language, but the right cannot be expressed by language. That’s why Lao Tzu says: That which can be said is already untruth. Because it can be said, or it has been said, it has become untrue. Truth cannot be said. Truth can be showed, but cannot be said. Fingers pointing to the moon - fingers don’t say what the moon is, but they can show; they can direct your vision towards the moon.
Don’t get caught by the fingers - that’s what happens. And that is one of the revolutions Zen brings to the world. Zen burns scriptures - that is helping you to uncling from the fingers.
If I show you the moon, and indicate the moon with my finger, don’t get attached to my finger - my finger is not the moon. And if you become too much obsessed with the finger you will miss the moon. To see the moon you will have to forget the finger; to see the moon you will have to completely drop the finger. You will have to take the indication and follow the indication - in that very following, the finger is forgotten. The finger does not matter. It may be a beautiful finger, the hand may be that of a great artist. It may be an ugly finger, it may be ill, it may be healthy, it may be black and white, it may be male, female - that doesn’t matter.