Chapter 12: The Buddha Is in the Paper Bag
One day Ungan was ill and Dogo asked him a question:
“When you are separated from your bag-of-bones,
where can I meet you again?”
Ungan replied, “Where there is no birth, no dying.”
Dogo said, “Don’t say that!”
Now this is something to be understood. We ordinarily understand two things, the positive and the negative. Mind moves between the positive and the negative, for and against. Mind has no approach, no way to go beyond this polarity, this duality, this dialectic. And the whole experience of the buddhas emphasizes only the one thing that is beyond duality, dialectics, beyond yes and beyond no. If you understand this transcendental experience then this statement of Dogo will be immediately understood.
Why did he say, “Don’t say that”? - because Ungan has used the negative as an expression for the ultimate. That is not only Ungan’s fallacy, it is the fallacy of the whole of humanity. Somebody believes in a positive God, in a positive philosophy; somebody negates God, heaven, the creation. But the truth is neither Catholic nor Communist, neither in the yes nor in the no - but beyond both, in the silence.
When Ungan replied, “I am going where there is no birth, no dying,” Dogo was absolutely right to be angry with Ungan when he said:
“Don’t say that.
Say, ‘Where there is not any no-birth and no-dying,
and we don’t desire to meet each other again.’“
Dogo is very clear, but only for those who have some experience of that which you cannot confine to the words life or death; which you cannot confine to yes or no, theism or atheism, but which you can simply say through your silence - not through words. You indicate by your presence but not by language; if you try language, you are going to become entangled in difficulties.
Dogo is trying to say that which cannot be said. Where there is not any no-birth - now it is negation of negation. “No-birth” is negation, and “there is not any no-birth” is negation of negation.
There have been philosophers whose whole philosophy is based on negating everything, negation included. Just deny everything and when nothing is left behind, that silence, that space is your authentic being.
And obviously he is right that “We don’t have any desire. So how we can have the desire of meeting each other again? We have met enough. I am satisfied, you are satisfied, what is the point of meeting again? You are fulfilled, I am fulfilled. Why bother about - why even inquire - where we are going to meet?”