When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The way is perfect, like vast space
when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene without striving for activity in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know oneness.
Those who do not live in the single way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
A few things before we enter this sutra of Sosan. In the West, just a few years back, there was a French hypnotist, Emile Coué; he happened to rediscover one of the basic laws of the human mind. He called it “the law of reverse effect” – that is one of the oldest sutras in Taoist and Zen thinking. Sosan is talking about this law. Try to understand this law, then his sayings will be simple to understand.
For example, if you don’t feel sleepy what will you do? You will try to get to sleep – you will make efforts, you will do this and that, but whatsoever you do will bring just the reverse; just that which you need will not come. Just the opposite will happen because any activity, any effort, is against sleep.
Sleep is a relaxation. You cannot bring it, you cannot do anything for it to happen. You cannot force it, you cannot will it – it is not a part of your will at all. It is moving into the unconscious, and your will is just a fragment of the conscious.
When you move into the unconscious, towards the depth, that fragment which is consciousness, that fragment which is will, is left on the surface. You cannot take your surface to the depth, you cannot take your circumference to the center. So when you make efforts to go to sleep, it is a self-destructive thing. You are doing something which will become just the opposite – you will become more awake. The only way to enter into sleep is not to do anything. If it is not coming, it is not coming. Wait, don’t do anything! Otherwise you will push it further away and a distance will be created. Just wait on the pillow, put off the light, close your eyes, relax and wait. Whenever it comes, it comes. You cannot bring it by any act of your will – will is against the unconscious.
And this happens in many things in life: just the opposite comes out of it. If you want to be silent, what will you do? – because silence is just like sleep, you cannot force it. You can allow it to happen, it is a let-go, but there is no way to work it out. What will you do if you want to be silent? If you do anything you will be less silent than ever.