It is a very significant statement. He is saying that perhaps you can learn the secret of existence through species other than man; they are still in tune with existence, they are still part of existence, they have never separated.
Man in his egoistic effort has separated from existence. Even a man like Bertrand Russell could write a book calling it, The Conquest Of Nature. The very idea of conquering nature separates you, makes nature and you enemies. And one thing is certain, that nature is so vast….
Secondly, you are also part of nature; if nature stops cooperating with you, you will simply be dead. Nature is supplying you every moment: breathing, food, all that you need. How can you think in terms of conquest? But nobody has objected to Bertrand Russell’s book, because it is representative of the whole modern mind: conquer. Conquer the moon, conquer Mars, conquer this, conquer that.
But nobody thinks that we are part of nature: why not relax with it, why not be at ease with it, what is the need of creating a conflict? Every conflict is going to defeat you because you are too small and nature is so vast. How many years are you going to live – seventy years, eighty years? And you think of conquering existence which has been here since eternity and is going to be here until eternity? Millions of people like you have come and gone, not even footprints are left, not even their shadows.
Once I asked my father, “I know your father’s name and your grandfather’s name, how many more do you know?”
He said, “Only one more, beyond that we don’t know who were the people whose blood is running in our veins.”
At the most we remember four or five generations, and then there is a vast silence. All those people who were here with so much concern and anxiety and trouble and fight have simply disappeared as if they had never been.
Zen does not take your life very seriously, it takes it playfully as if we were children playing by the sea beach, collecting seashells, colored stones, making houses of sand. Our life is not more than that; it is nothing to be serious about.