When one talks to someone it is with the assumption that the other person can hear. One would not speak to a deaf person. But you are only talking to us until we begin to hear you. Aren’t you?
Maneesha, it is the unfortunate destiny of every master to speak to those who cannot hear. To show this symbolically, Bodhidharma, the most famous name in the world of Zen, remained speaking for nine years facing the wall. The audience used to sit behind him, not in front of him. In front of him was just a wall. For nine years he was again and again asked, “What kind of man are you? We have heard many masters, many teachers, many preachers; they always face their audience.”
With tears in his eyes Bodhidharma said, “It makes no difference. On both sides are deaf walls. This wall, at least, does not disappoint me. I know it is a wall, so there is no question of disappointment. But if I turn toward you and find you just like a wall, it will be very disappointing. I will wait for those who are open like doors and not closed like walls.”
His first disciple stood behind him for twelve hours, skin deep in snow. Without saying a single word he cut off his hand, threw it before Bodhidharma and said, “If you don’t turn toward me, I am going to cut off my head!”
Bodhidharma said, “Wait! You have done enough.”
This one-handed man became his first disciple. It is obvious that his desire to know was keener than even to live, that his inquiry was an intense fire in which he was ready to burn himself. But that’s why I say again and again: those beautiful days were golden moments when such people as Bodhidharma existed. Not alone – hundreds of Bodhidharmas have existed, but slowly, slowly they have disappeared. Even in the Buddhist countries where these phenomenal beings appeared, Zen is now only an academic study.
I want it to be declared to the world that this is the only place where Zen is not an academic study. We are trying to live it. We are trying to our utmost, to bring a great experience back to life.
Maneesha’s second question is:
I remember you speaking some time ago about Zen in comparison with J. Krishnamurti and Gurdjieff’s work, saying – if I understood correctly – that where J. Krishnamurti and Gurdjieff worked with the active mind, Zen worked with the inactive mind. Your work, I heard you say, was to help us to go beyond both active and inactive minds, to find the transcendental, that is: consciousness.