So I don’t know about Jesus’ fingers. And how can I say anything about Jesus or Buddha or Zarathustra and their fingers? I can say only about my finger. Only about that am I absolutely certain, and I want to talk only about absolute certainties.
My finger is pointing to the moon.
And why should I bother about Jesus’ finger? In the first place nobody knows whether this man ever existed or not, or even if he existed, whether he had a finger or not. And I suspect very much – he may have existed, he may have had fingers, but I doubt very much that he had ever heard the expression “fingers pointing to the moon.” No, there is not a single possibility of it, because that is a Zen expression that comes from Japan. Jesus was born before it.
The expression is only fourteen hundred years old – Jesus was born six hundred years before the expression. And that expression can come only through that kind of mind which Zen possesses.
Jesus never says that words are inadequate. In fact the Christian Bible says, “In the beginning was the word.” Now, Zen people will simply laugh. This first statement cancels the whole book. It is all nonsense, because if the first statement is wrong, the very base is wrong; then, as a corollary, everything else which is going to follow is going to be wrong.
The first statement, “In the beginning….” Try to figure out each single word: “In the beginning….” For those who know, there has never been any beginning, cannot be; it is impossible. Can you imagine any beginning of existence? It is so simple to see that even to begin you will need something before it. How can you begin something with nothing preceding it? If God created the world, at least he would have needed raw Materials, or did he create out of nothing?
There has never been any beginning, because to begin you always need something. So whenever you begin you will need something; it cannot be just out of nothing. Even if you insist that there was nothing, then nothing becomes the something that preceded the beginning: At least nothing was there – and that’s enough to cancel the idea that this is the beginning. You have to go again a little farther back, before nothing began.
So those who have a little intelligence can understand: there is no beginning, no end. They are not in the very nature of things, they are impossibilities. Existence has always been there – or better, has always been here.
The statement is, “In the beginning there was the word…” That is even more absurd, because you can simply make a distinction between a word and a sound. A word is a sound which has meaning. Now, how can there be a word in the beginning when there is no one to give it meaning? Perhaps there was sound, but not word.
A waterfall in the hills makes much sound, the ocean makes much sound, the waves crashing on the seashore make much sound – perhaps there was sound, but not word. The wind passing through the pine trees does not speak, does not even whisper; sound it creates, but not word.