One day the king of Yen visited the master Chao Chou, who did not even get up when he saw him coming.
The king asked, “Which is higher, a worldly king, or the ‘King of Dharma’?”
Chao Chou replied, “Among human kings I am higher; among the Kings of Dharma I am also higher.”
Hearing this surprising answer, the king was very pleased.
The next day a general came to visit Chao Chou, who not only got up from his seat when he saw the general coming, but also showed him more hospitality in every way than he had shown to the king.
After the general had left, Chao Chou’s attendant monks asked him, “Why did you get up from your seat when a person of lower rank came to see you, yet did not do so for one of the highest rank?”
Chao Chou replied, “You don’t understand. When people of the highest quality come to see me, I do not get up from my seat; when they are of middle quality, I do; but when they are of the lowest quality, I go outside of the gate to receive them.”
Man lives in a very upside-down state. Hence, whenever there is an enlightened master, his actions, his words, his behavior, all appear to the ordinary man absurd. Jesus is misunderstood for the simple reason that a man of eyes is talking to the men who are blind. Socrates is not understood for the same reason, because he is talking to people who are utterly deaf. And so has been the case with all the buddhas of all the countries, of all the races. And, unfortunately, this is going to remain the case forever. It is something in the very nature of things.
Man is unconscious; he understands the language of unconsciousness. And whenever somebody talks from the peaks of consciousness it becomes utterly un-understandable, unintelligible. He is so far away! By the time his words reach the dark valleys of our unconscious, we have distorted them to such an extent that they have no reference at all to their origin any more.
The master looks sometimes mad, sometimes irrational, sometimes stubborn. But the only reason that he cannot behave like you, that he cannot be part of the crowd mind, is that he has become awakened and the crowd is fast asleep.
To understand a master you have to learn great sympathy – only that will create a bridge. That’s what the relationship of a disciple to the master is. You can listen to a master without being a disciple. You will hear the words but you will miss the meaning. You will hear the song but you will miss the music. You will hear the argument but you will miss the conclusion. You will know what he is saying but you will not be able to see where he is indicating.
To understand the significance – which is wordless – to understand the meaning, a totally different kind of relationship is needed. It is not that of a speaker and the audience: it is that of two lovers. It has to be a love affair; then only is there sympathy enough to have a bridge, to have communication.
And once the sympathy is there, it is not very far away from empathy. Sympathy can be transformed into empathy very easily; in fact, it changes into empathy of its own accord. Just as you sow seeds and in the right time they sprout and the spring comes and there are many flowers, sow the seeds of sympathy – that is, initiation into disciplehood – then soon there will be flowers of empathy.
In sympathy there is still a little distance. You can hear – you can hear a little better than before, you can understand more clearly than before – but still things are in a state of vagueness: more clear than before but not absolutely clear yet; in a state of twilight. The night is no more but the sun has not risen yet and it is very misty. You can see but can’t decipher things accurately.