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Chapter 16: Have You Had Your Dinner?

First asking him, “Have you had your dinner?”

If you met Tanka - and Tanka is one of the rare Zen masters - what will you answer to him? You will not even understand what he means by dinner. Zen has developed a special language of its own: “Have you had your dinner?”

The monk remained silent. Perhaps he could not understand: “What does he mean? - is he asking me, inviting me for dinner?” What kind of inquiry, when you meet someone - suddenly, the first question, “Have you had your dinner?”

Seeing the monk, Tanka had asked, “Where are you from?” It is an effort of Tanka to provoke the man to understand the language.

“Where are you from?”
The monk replied, “From the foot of the mountain.”

He missed. He is not asking about the place from where you are coming, he is asking the ultimate question: “From where is your consciousness coming? Do you understand that you are endless, that you are not coming from anywhere, you simply are?”

Tanka said, “Have you had your dinner?”

Tanka is asking the monk another question to give him an opportunity to understand. Dinner does not mean dinner, it simply means, “Are you fulfilled? Are you complete in yourself? Have you found your center? Are you nourished by existence? Have you found your home?”

The monk said, “I have had it.”

The poor fellow is still thinking about dinners, but out of his great compassion, for which he is known..

Tanka said, “Is he open-eyed who brings food to a fellow like you and lets you eat it?”

Encountering a Zen master means encountering a lion. He will hit you from this side and that side, from this point and that point.

[Suddenly everyone is thrown into darkness as the power fails. Some timeless moments of silence with Osho before he continues with the discourse.]

Now, asking the monk, “Is he open-eyed - is he an awakened person, is he enlightened - who brings food to you? Have you got a master who nourishes you?” But strange language. And strange were those days and strange were those people. “Is he open-eyed who brings food to a fellow like you and lets you eat it?”

The monk could make no reply.

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