The Zen master may slap you, may throw you out of the door, may jump upon you and beat you, but it works only in the hands of a Zen master. If you do it you will find yourself beaten, that’s all, or in jail. A Zen master has a totally different vision of life, and slowly, slowly he creates a certain energy field around himself where the device starts functioning. It cannot function anywhere else.
The Sufi master uses his own devices, they were great device-makers. The most important Sufi tradition is called Naqshband; Naqshband means the designers, the devisors. And strange devices they have invented. For example, Jalaluddin Rumi’s Sufi dance, whirling, a very strange device. In his hands it worked tremendously, because when you really whirl you become disidentified with the body. That’s why children enjoy whirling very much; they feel a great upliftment.
But for that, certain preparations are needed; certain food, certain patterns of sleep, certain exercises have to precede it. Otherwise, if you start whirling suddenly, you will simply feel nausea and nothing else; you may fall sick. No enlightenment is going to happen through it. Everybody cannot do it. A preparation is needed for the device to work, because the device is arbitrary, it is a hothouse plant.
When the master is alive he gives his life to his devices. The moment he is gone, only dead formulas are left. And people go on repeating those formulas for centuries. All those formulas appear stupid later on. In the hands of the master they had a golden touch; without the master, without the awakened one, they are just empty exercises.
Remember it: that the great masters cannot be imitated. They are unique and they should not be imitated.
A diplomatic dinner was being held at the embassy in Paris. Among the guests was an elderly dowager. She had overindulged in food, as was her wont, and as a result belched loudly. In the embarrassed silence that followed, an Englishman, seeing a countryman in difficulty, gallantly pretended that he was the offender and apologized for the faux pas profusely.
The difficult moment passed, but not for long. Once again a hearty belch rose through the murmur of polite conversation. This time a Frenchman, not to be outdone by the suave Englishman, apologized for the offensive interruption and received admiring glances for his quick thinking.
An American observing all this determined not to be outdone and placed himself in the vicinity of the dowager so that he could do honor to his country. Inevitably, the poor lady belched again and the American cried out, “That’s alright, lady, this one is on me!”
Avoid imitation! That’s what has happened to all the great devices invented by the masters. People go on imitating literally, not understanding the spirit – and the spirit is the real thing to understand, not the letter.