Chapter 5: Throwing You Back to Yourself
And Tosu says: “A buddha.”
Now this is a tautology; you are not saying anything. The man is asking “What is a buddha?” And you say, “A buddha is a buddha.” You have not added anything, you have simply repeated.
Language is to add something, to define something, to propound something, to make something more clear, to help in some way. You have not helped! You have thrown the questioner towards himself.
He asks, “What is buddha?” and you say, “Buddha.” What are you doing? You have shocked the whole mind process. For a moment the questioner will be at a loss - what to do? If you had said something meaningful.then thinking starts. Then he can think about it. A meaningful assertion leads to much thinking. He can think about what you have said. If you had kept silent.he can guess. Thinking starts again. He will guess, “What do you mean by your silence?” In fact, there is more possibility of guesswork when you are silent than when you say something. When you say something, at least you give him a direction. When you don’t say anything, all directions are kept open. He can run around every place and think whatsoever he wants to think - you give him freedom. Either way, you help him to think; either way, his mind starts weaving and spinning.
What does Tosu mean when he says, “Buddha”? He simply shocks you. It is a full point. He does not help you to think any more, in any way. He does not give you any opportunity to go into thinking. The very shock.for a moment everything stops. In that stop the vision is possible. And that stop is of great significance.
If you ask the philosophers they will say, “This is a tautology, this is not an answer.” It is not. It is a tautology, but it can’t be helped.
But the technique has to be understood. What is Tosu doing? Tosu is creating a great technique. And after Tosu, Zen masters have used it tremendously; they even made much improvement on it.
Another master is asked: “What is a buddha?”
And he says, “Look! The cypress in the courtyard.”
Now that is far better even. When you say, “A buddha is a buddha,” there is a possibility that the man may go on thinking in the same way as he was thinking before. Or he may think you don’t know; or he may think, “Yes, a buddha is a buddha.” He may not be shocked.