Chapter 26: Memory Is Not Understanding
The whole philosophy of meditation first reached China from India, but China already had its own ideas. Confucius was a very mundane philosopher, and he was the dominant figure in China, the most respected person - because he was the most moralistic, puritan. He created all kinds of disciplines for the development of the personality. And meditation is a demolishing of the personality.
There was a great clash between meditation and Confucian philosophy, which was predominant in China. It was a long struggle. There was a small stream of Tao - Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu - but it was a very small stream. It had no national impact because the people who were impressed by Confucius remained in their heads, and Tao was the philosophy of the heart.
So when Buddhist monks reached China from India, there was immediately a deep communion between them and the small Taoist stream. Just looking into each other’s eyes they understood, language was not a barrier.
But with Confucius there was a continuous argument for centuries. And it is a strange fact that Confucius has won, finally, because the communism that now prevails over China is an extension of Confucius. Mao is a Confucian, and they have destroyed all the Taoist monasteries; their scriptures; they have forced the Taoist meditators to go to the fields and work there.
China has gone against Lao Tzu, who was its greatest son. It has gone with Confucius, who is just as ordinary as Manu in India - just a social thinker, creating ways for having a better culture, better civilization, without thinking at all about consciousness. The West has many philosophers of the same quality.
Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu are rare flowers, exotic.but they were the people who understood Bodhidharma without a single word being said to them. They were the people who simply accepted Gautam Buddha and his immense contribution of meditation. But China has slipped out of the Taoist world of non-verbal, non-linguistic silence.
But in Japan things were different. When the philosophy of meditation reached Japan, it already had a religion, Shinto - very primitive, without any great philosophy or any great arguments. People were only formally related to it; their hearts were not dancing with it. It was out of date, there was a vacuum. They needed something to fill the vacuum, and then came the philosophy of meditation. And by now it was even richer than it was when it had reached China, because Gautam Buddha’s approach to life was tremendously enhanced and enriched by the Taoist approach.
They melted into each other, they made each other brighter, lovelier, deeper, higher. In fact it was a miracle. Meditation has never reached to such heights as when Gautam Buddha and Lao Tzu’s philosophies met in an eternal communion.
What reached Japan was Gautam Buddha and Lao Tzu both together. China had made Gautam Buddha’s approach more refined, had given it new dimensions, made it more pure. Japan was fortunate that it was in a state of vacuum. It simply absorbed this new philosophy without any resistance. Hence dhyan, or meditation, came to the highest flowering in Japan.