The best disciple receives the light without words – just by opening himself, holding nothing back.
If you take it up directly at this, then there is no difference from “The cypress in the garden,” “Three pounds of hemp,” “Swallow the water of the West River in one gulp.”
These are traditional answers given by different masters when they were asked, “What is the buddha?” And it is absolutely impossible for people who are not acquainted with the Zen tradition to understand it. If you ask a master, “What is the buddha?” he points you to the cypress tree in the garden and says, “That is the buddha.” Now it is so illogical, apparently irrational…or he says, “Three pounds of hemp – that is the buddha.”
In this category, any kind of answer is possible, because in this category it is understood that the whole cosmos is the buddha. So anything belonging to the cosmos – whether it is a cypress tree, or a rosebush, or a lotus flower, it does not matter. Every stone on the path is nothing else but a buddha, because the buddha becomes now the very fabric of the whole existence.
The second category needs techniques. This second category needs methods and devices for the simple reason that the disciple is not able to open on his own. The master has to make artificial, arbitrary arrangements. And because it is helpful, Buddha has defined it: “Whatever is helpful on the path is right. It does not matter whether it is a lie or a truth, the consequence matters.”
A house is on fire, small children are inside playing. A great crowd gathers around shouting to the children, “Come out, the house is on fire!”
But they don’t listen. They are so involved in their game, and they don’t bother – they don’t know. What does it mean? The house is on fire, so let it be. They don’t see the implication that they will be burned.
Then their father comes from his shop. He sees the crowd which gathers around him shouting, “Somehow save the children! They don’t listen at all, they don’t look at all. They are so involved in their games and the fire has almost reached to every nook and corner of the house. Soon they will be burned.”
The father shouted from a small window which was not yet touched by the fire, “What are you doing? I have brought you all the toys you had asked for” – and they all came to the window.
The father said, “Jump out! All the toys are in my bag!” They jumped out and then he said, “You have to forgive me, I had to lie to bring you out. I forgot to bring your toys, but tomorrow, certainly I will bring you all those toys.” And then they could see. He said, “This fire is burning the house – it would have burned you also. I had to lie!”