I have quoted the great Zen poet Basho many times to you: “Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” As far as upanishadic methodology is concerned, even doing nothing is not needed. And what are you going to do even if the grass grows by itself? Whether you sit silently or not, it will grow. Whether you sit silently or not, the spring will come. You are unnecessarily taking the credit for the grass growing by itself – because you have been sitting silently, doing nothing! Even when you were not, the grass used to grow; when you will not be here the grass will continue to grow. It has nothing to do with you. The upanishad does not even ask you to sit silently doing nothing. Even doing nothing is a doing.
The whole approach of the upanishad is so totally different. The disciple is available, the master is overflowing, and something transpires. Nobody is doing it. Nobody can take the credit for it. Hence I say the way of the upanishad is the most mysterious way in the whole human consciousness and its evolution.
Zen is mysterious, but yet it can be understood. Upanishad is simply mysterious; there is no way of understanding it. You can have it, you can dissolve into it, but there is no question of explanation – only experience.
All over the world there have been mystery schools. In Greece, Pythagoras founded mystery schools. In the religion of the Jews, Baal Shem founded a mystery school called Hasidism. In China there is the mystery school of Tao, and when Buddhism reached China a new mystery school, a chain of new mystery schools opened, ch’an. The same mystery school, ch’an, reached Japan with the name zen. But the word zen or ch’an, or the Buddhist word jhan are all different forms of the Sanskrit word dhyan.
In India dhyan has been known for centuries – that mystery school was there before Gautam Buddha ever meditated.
There was the mystery school of Tantra. There were the mystery schools of different types of Yoga.
I have gone through all these schools not as a scholar – that is not my approach – but as an experiencer. I can say to you: nothing rises higher than the mystery school of upanishads – because it is the shortest. Nobody is expected to do anything, and yet the miracle happens.
What is the difference between religious scriptures like the Gita, the Koran, the Bible, etc., and the Upanishads?
First, the Upanishads are not religious scriptures. They are poetic expressions of those who have known.
They are not Hindu, they are not Buddhist, they are not Jaina; they don’t belong to any religion. They are the experiences of individuals sitting at the feet of their master – and when the experience overwhelmed them they danced, they sang, they uttered strange statements. And these were not made by their minds; it was almost as if they were just hollow bamboos. Existence has made them flutes; it was existence itself singing a song. That’s why no upanishad carries the name of its writer.
The Koran belongs to Mohammed, the New Testament belongs to Jesus Christ, the Gita belongs to Krishna, the Dhammapada belongs to Gautam Buddha; Ishavasya Upanishad belongs to no one.