Chapter 9: Dang Dang Doko Dang
Ho-shan used to give the following sermon: “To discipline ourselves in learning, is called hearing; to reach a point where any more learning no more avails, is called approaching. When one goes beyond these two stages he is said to have truly transcended.”
Once a monk asked: “What then is truly transcending?”
Without uttering a word Ho-shan motioned as if beating a drum, saying: “Dang, dang, doko dang, doko dang.”
To all such questions Ho-shan’s answer was always the same: “Dang, dang, doko dang, doko dang.”
What is truth?
This is the question every man has to answer on his own. And unless a man answers this question he is not truly a man.
This question has haunted humanity down the centuries. It is as old as man himself - because man became man only when he asked this question. Unless we know what truth is, our whole effort to live, our whole to make a meaning out of life is futile.
It is ultimate, but urgent also, to know from where life has arisen - and to want to know the source and the goal, to know the inner running current that holds everything, to know the thread which is the ultimate law of existence. When we ask the question, “What is truth?” we are entering into the world of man for the first time. If you have not asked the question yet then you live below human beings. Ask the question, and you become part of humanity. And when the question is dissolved you go beyond humanity, you become a god.
Below the questioning you remain part of the animal kingdom. With the question you enter on the path; and again, being without the question, you have come to realize that you have come home. The question is very difficult because, just by asking, it cannot be solved. One has to put one’s whole life at the stake.
This is the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus. At the last moment, when Jesus was going to be crucified, Pontius Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” And Jesus did not answer him. Christian mystics have pondered over it. Why did Jesus not answer it? Why did he remain silent?
There are three possibilities. One, that the question was not sincere. A man like Jesus answers only when the question is sincere. When is a question sincere? A question is sincere when a questioner is ready to do something about it. If it is just curiosity, then it is not worth answering. If it has an intense passion, a deep desire, so deep that the questioner is ready to put his whole life at the stake - nothing less will do - then only is the question sincere. A man like Jesus will answer only when the question has been asked from the very core of one’s being. So the first possibility is that Pilate’s question was not sincere. Seeing the insincerity, Jesus remained silent.