Chapter 9: Scratching the Shoe
Western painting is different; man covers the whole canvas. Zen people laugh about it. They say, “This is egoistic - you don’t cover the whole canvas of life. This is out of proportion, you are making yourself too big. Where is the sky? Where is the vastness?” Western paintings are not representative of existence. Zen paintings are - that empty sky covers ninety percent, or even more. There are a few paintings in which it covers almost ninety-nine percent - just in a small comer below.. The painting seems to be more interested in the empty sky - as if the painting is there to show you the empty sky. And then clouds and then mountains and then rivers - and all in proportion - and then a tiny man.
This is the right picture. But we have tricks, so we go on magnifying ourselves, we go on painting ourselves big.
This happens every day. When you stand before your mirror in the bathroom, have you watched it? When you stand before your mirror, you cover the whole mirror; in a small frame, you are all there is. Looking in the mirror, you will be getting a wrong impression about yourself. Mirrors are great structures to create the ego - you feel as if you are the whole and all. In the mirror there is nothing else; only you are there. People love to stand before a mirror. The more egoistic a person, the more he loves to stand before a mirror. Mirrors are great flatterers, they flatter you. They make you look big - they help the mania of bigness.
That is not right. You should look at these trees standing there - before these trees we are very small. And then there are clouds, and before those clouds we are even more small. And then there is the empty sky and the stars, and infinity. Before that infinity we are simple dots.
Our language cannot express the whole. But our silence can - because when we are silent we fall in tune with existence. Hence, all religions preach for silence. When you are silent you are not a human being - you are as much a rock as a human being, as much a tree as a human being, as much an animal as a human being, as much a cloud. When you are silent you are in tune with existence. When you are not speaking you are no more part of the human province, the small locality of human beings. You become a member of the vast existence.
Silence is tremendous. Truth is known through silence. And when truth is known through silence, it can be expressed only through silence. If it is known through silence, how can it be expressed through noise? Language is noise. If it is known through silence, it has to be indicated in silence.
Language simply misses it. First, truth is so big, and language is so small. And then - it will look very paradoxical - truth is so subtle, and language is so gross. From both sides, language misses it. On one side, truth is so big and language is so small. On another plane, from another side, truth is so subtle and language is so gross. It is as if you throw a net in the river to catch fish. The fish is caught, but the water is not caught. When you withdraw the net you may get a few fish, but you don’t get water - water escapes. Water is more subtle. Your net cannot catch water, it catches fish; the bigger the better - smaller fish will escape out of it. And water is very liquid and elusive - it escapes.
So, paradoxically, truth is infinite on one hand. On another hand, truth is subtlest, the smallest - the indivisible, the atomic. Again, language misses it. Language is a human invention. And truth is not a human invention. Language is man-made; language is just convenience. It is all make-believe.