Keichu the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era was the head of Tofuku a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.
His attendant presented the card of the governor which read: Kitagaki Governor of Kyoto.
“I have no business with such a fellow” said Keichu to his attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.”
The attendant carried the card back with apologies. “That was my error” said the governor and with a pencil he scratched out the words: Governor of Kyoto. “Ask your teacher again.”
“Oh is that Kitagaki?” exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. “I want to see that fellow.”
Existence is in continuous celebration, except man. Existence is a carnival, an orgy of joy, except man. Man has fallen out of this tremendous celebration that goes on and on. Man is no more a part of it, man stands aloof, alienated – it is as if man has lost the roots he should have in existence. Man is a tree which is dying, drying, no longer alive. Birds don’t come to it, clouds don’t sing to it, winds don’t dance around it.
What has happened to man and how? Why is man in such a hell? Why is man always in such a mess? There must be something very fundamentally wrong.
The Zen analysis, the Zen diagnosis, is that it is because man thinks that he is. The trees don’t think – they don’t have a self. The rocks don’t think – they don’t have a self. The sky has no self, the earth has no self. Without the self there is no possibility of getting into misery. The self is the door to misery. Buddha called it atta, the ego, the self.
We are miserable because we are too much in the self. What does it mean when I say we are too much in the self? And what exactly happens when we are too much in the self? Either you can be in existence or you can be in the self – both are not possible together. To be in the self means to be apart, to be separate. To be in the self means to become an island. To be in the self means to draw a boundary line around you. To be in the self means to make a distinction between “this I am” and “that I am not.” The definition, the boundary, between “I” and “not I” is what the self is – the self isolates.
And it makes you frozen – you are no-longer flowing. If you are flowing the self cannot exist, hence people have become almost like ice-cubes. They don’t have any warmth, they don’t have any love – love is warmth and they are afraid of love. If warmth comes to them they will start melting and the boundaries will disappear. In love the boundaries disappear; in joy also the boundaries disappear, because joy is not cold. Except death, nothing is cold.