It is the inactive mind that can give you a home to rest in, and a shelter, and a beautiful feeling that nothing has to be done; that you are good as you are, that you are at the goal already, so you do not even have to move.
To change the focus from the active mind to the inactive mind, Zen had to use very strange methods, because the mind has been focused on action for centuries. It has forgotten completely how to move, how to be loose enough so that the focus can move to the other part of the mind.
So they will give koans – which are absurdities – to think about, just to tire your thinking; because thinking cannot come to any conclusion: there is no way. They are not puzzles – puzzles can be figured out by the mind – and they are not problems. There is no way to translate the word koan because nothing like the koan has existed anywhere else.
A koan is a puzzle which cannot be solved; there is no way to solve it. It is a strategy to tire your active mind – so much so that out of tiredness it falls flat; it recognizes its failure. In those moments the focus can be moved very easily. Because mind has failed, you can move towards no-mind.
Their whole teaching is no-mind, no-action – and you are at ease, you feel immensely contented. You feel all the tensions gone. And nothing has happened; only your focus has been changed. All the tensions are waiting on the active side, all your desires are waiting on the active side. All your ego and motivations of the ego are waiting on the active side. It is just that you are no longer focused on that part. You have moved to the opposite part.
I like what Zen has done to humanity. It has looked absurd, it has looked insane to many people. Illogical certainly it is – but it is not insane, it is not absurd. It may look mad, but in its madness there is a method: they are trying to loosen your focusing.
My effort is not to be bothered much about active mind or inactive mind, because basically they are mind. The active mind can give you misery, and the inactive mind can give you what the Japanese call satori – a peaceful, silent, relaxed, contented feeling. But it still remains part of the mind. You have not moved from the mind to consciousness. You have changed the focus, but you have not become the focus.
So if the focus can be changed to inactive mind, it can be again changed to active mind. There is no problem – it has just to become loose.
That’s why Zen people come to the philosophy of “action in inaction,” because now they are moving their focus: they can do things, and they can move the focus to the inactive mind. So action continues, but they go on changing continuously. It is just as in the day you work, and you make effort; and in the night you rest, and you go to sleep.