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Chapter 7: Nothingness Is Your Original Face

Zen has never made any theology or any philosophy. It is an existential approach, not intellectual; you have to experience it, no belief is needed. Once you know it, no argument can destroy it. Knowing is very simple, getting from mind to no-mind is within your reach. Becoming a witness of your thoughts is the simplest thing in the world, even without knowing you are witnessing them. When you say, “I am feeling anger,” what do you mean? If you don’t witness anger, then how can you say, “I am feeling anger,” or “I am feeling a headache?” Who is feeling the headache? There must be a witness beyond the head. There must be a witness beyond all your feelings - love, anger, hate - beyond all your thoughts, beyond all your beliefs. This witness is simply the miracle of Zen.

Zen has pointed to the very central fact that transforms man and brings him into a totally new world of eternity where death does not exist, where misery has never been heard of, where suffering is unknown. On the contrary there are only blessings; there is only blissfulness, only benediction, and a tremendous gratitude as a prayer to the whole existence in thankfulness.

Isn’t this enlightened no-mind, with its inconceivable qualities of clear awareness, something to be grateful for?
Because people don’t know that everyone has such wonderful qualities and powers, they get confused by one thing and another. That confusion ultimately arises from self-importance.

All your confusions are arising out of your desire to be important. You try to show that which you are not. You say things which you don’t know. You advise people although you don’t follow the advice yourself.

Kahlil Gibran has a story: In a big city there were many dogs, and one dog was a philosopher. Rarely does such a disease happen to dogs, but once in a while, for a change, there are exceptions. He continuously preached from morning till night to every dog, “Because of your barking our whole doghood loses its dignity; otherwise we are the highest animals in the world. Just stop barking unnecessarily.”

The dogs were always very thankful for his advice, but said, “What to do? A strange urge arises - seeing a postman, or a sannyasin, or a policeman, anybody in uniform.” Dogs are very much against uniforms. They seem to be very free thinkers. They don’t want people to be in a crowd, they want everybody to be individual, themselves.

Everybody respected the philosopher dog. He was thought to be the wisest ever born of their species. He never barked. But one night, a dark night, the other dogs decided, “He has been preaching for years and nobody listens; it makes us so ashamed. At least to give him peace, one night we should try to stop barking - just for one night. It is going to be difficult, but we will hide in dark corners of streets, in dark groves and keep control. It is only a question of a few hours and in the morning we will be free to bark.”

The philosopher went around and he could not meet any dog. He could not believe: “Where have all the dogs disappeared to?” And there was such a silence and nobody for him to teach, and suddenly a great urge to bark arose in him. Now he knew why he was not barking - because from morning to night, all his energy was involved in teaching; there was no time nor energy to bark. And in front of everybody else how could he bark - against his own philosophy?

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