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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   Nansen: The Point of Departure
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Chapter 9: Just a Morning Walk

Nansen once went into the garden and, seeing a monk there, threw a piece of broken tile at him and hit him. When the monk turned his head, Nansen lifted up one leg. The monk made no response. Nansen returned to the temple and the monk followed him and asked to be taught, saying “The master just threw a piece of tile at me and hit me. Did he not do this as a means of arousing me?”
Nansen said, “How about raising the leg?”
The monk was silent.

On another occasion, a monk came and stood before Nansen with folded hands. Nansen said, “A great layman!”
The monk clasped his hands.
Nansen said, “A great monk!”

Maneesha, there exists in world literature nothing comparable to Zen anecdotes. They are so pregnant with meaning that even a child can understand them, although even the oldest person may not understand them. To understand these anecdotes you have to learn the whole language of Zen. It has a world of its own.

It speaks of course in your languages but it gives a totally new color, a totally new meaning to the same old words or gestures. Most often it speaks in gestures. People who are outside the stream of Zen will find it a little eccentric, crazy, but it is utterly sane; just its meaning has to be explained to you. The people who have been studying and meditating in Zen don’t need any explanation; they immediately pick up the gesture. But that is not true about the people outside the Zen circle. This anecdote is a beautiful illustration.

Nansen once went into the garden and, seeing a monk there, threw a piece of broken tile at him and hit him. When the monk turned his head, Nansen lifted up one leg.

Now there is something Nansen wants to convey through the gesture, but the monk missed.

The monk made no response. Nansen returned to the temple and the monk followed him and asked to be taught, saying “The master just threw a piece of tile at me and hit me. Did he not do this as a means of arousing me?”
Nansen said, “How about raising the leg?”
The monk was silent.

The gesture is ancient. The monk turned only halfway when he was hit, he turned halfway and looked at the master. That’s why the master raised one leg. He is saying, “Turn totally; halfway will not do. Halfhearted you cannot enter into yourself. Have a complete about-turn.” That was the meaning of raising one leg: “You are doing it, but very halfheartedly.”

There are things which can be done halfheartedly. In the whole world whatever we are doing, nothing requires your total being to be involved in it. But as far as the inner pilgrimage is concerned your total being is needed. Nothing has to be left behind. You have to gather your whole consciousness. In that very gathering you are coming closer to the center.

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