The other day you said it was easier for one to meditate when one was elevated from the earth, such as on a tree. In Aikido, one of the fundamental principles is to feel the body connected with the gravity of the earth. Is there any contradiction in it?
Aikido also teaches one to be always aware of the point a few centimeters below the navel. What is the relation between this point and our being?
It raises a very historical question. Zen was born in India in the absurd laughter of Mahakashyapa, a close disciple of Gautam Buddha. He had many disciples even closer than Mahakashyapa. Mahakashyapa is mentioned only once and that mention is of when he had laughed.
Mahakashyapa’s laughter was the beginning of Zen. So first you have to understand why Mahakashyapa laughed. Why had he laughed?
One such beautiful morning as this, and with such beautiful, silent people as these, Gautam Buddha was expected to come and give his morning talk. Unexpectedly, he came with a beautiful roseflower in his hand. Everybody wondered – he had never before come with anything in his hand. And more mysterious was the situation, because he sat on the podium, looking at the roseflower. Seconds passed, minutes passed and people became fidgety. “Is he not going to talk today? And what is the meaning of Gautam Buddha just watching a roseflower?”
After half an hour it became almost a tension: something had to be done – he did not look at people, he was looking at the roseflower. At that moment, Mahakashyapa laughed. Gautam Buddha raised his eyes and called Mahakashyapa close to him and gave the flower to Mahakashyapa. And he told the people, ten thousand sannyasins, “Whatever could be said through words I have said to you, and whatever could not be said through words I have transferred to Mahakashyapa.”
This is the only mention of Mahakashyapa in the whole Buddhist canon. It is a vast literature, and for centuries, twenty-five centuries, inquirers have been asking the question, “Why did Mahakashyapa laugh? And why was his laughter accepted? Not only accepted, but raised to the highest point of communication.” Something transpired in that silent giving of the roseflower to Mahakashyapa.
Since then Zen has been mysterious. It is the most pure mysticism that has existed on the earth.
In India, it was called “Zan.” Buddha used – it was a revolutionary step – the people’s language. Pali was the people’s language. In the people’s language words become simple, rounded, easy. In Sanskrit the word is dhyan. But for the people, dhyan seems to be a little difficult. Buddha never used Sanskrit.