The nun Chiyono studied for years, but was unable to find enlightenment. One night she was carrying an old pail filled with water. As she was walking along, she was watching the full moon reflected in the pail of water. Suddenly, the bamboo strips that held the pail together broke and the pail fell apart. The water rushed out, the moon’s reflection disappeared, and Chiyono became enlightened.
She wrote this verse:
This way and that way
I tried to keep the pail together,
Hoping the weak bamboo would never break.
Suddenly the bottom fell out….
No more water,
No more moon in the water,
Emptiness in my hand.
Enlightenment happens when it happens: you cannot order it, you cannot cause it to happen. Still, you can do much for it to happen, but whatsoever you do is not going to function as a cause. Whatsoever you do is not going to bring enlightenment to you, but it prepares you to receive it. It comes when it comes. Whatsoever you do simply prepares you to receive it – to see it when it comes, to recognize it when it comes.
It happens…but if you are not ready you go on missing it. It is happening every moment. Every breath that goes in and comes out brings enlightenment to you, because enlightenment is the very stuff the existence is made of. But to recognize it is the problem, to see that it is there is the problem.
God is. There is no question of God’s being. The question is: we cannot see him, we don’t have eyes. All the meditations and the prayers and the purifications only help you, make you capable of seeing. Once you can see, you will be surprised – it has always been there. Day in, day out, year in, year out, it was showering on you, but you were not sensitive enough to catch hold of it, you were not empty enough to be filled by it. You were too much full of your own ego.
If one comes to fundamentals then this is the most fundamental thing: the moment you are not, enlightenment is. With emptiness, the matter is settled.
If you continue you will remain ignorant and full of darkness. You are darkness, your presence is the “dark night of the soul.” When you are, you are separate from existence. That’s what darkness consists of – the idea of separation – that “There is a gap between me and the whole. Then I am left alone, then there is misery because fear surrounds me: I am so alone, and I am so tiny, and sooner or later death will come and destroy me, and I have no way to protect myself against death.” Hence one lives in trembling and fear. But we create the trembling and the fear, we cause it – by the very idea of being separate from existence.