Everybody in the family knows about it, but nobody says anything about it. Everybody in the family has experienced it, but remains absolutely silent about it, because knowing the ultimate is also to know simultaneously that it is inexpressible. Those who try to express it are those who don’t know.
This is the marvel: Those who know don’t try to express it, and those who don’t know try to express it.
The ignorant are very articulate; they say things about God, about heaven and about hell, and the ones who know are utterly silent about the mysteries of life. You can know whether a man has experienced something or not by his being silent about the ultimate matters. He may indicate, he may give a few hints, he may create devices in which you can also awaken to the experience – but he will not say a single word.
Because of this fact, Zen has strange ways of transmitting. The truth has always been transmitted; it has never been said. It is more like a gesture of the hand, more like a smile on the lips, more like a twinkle in the eyes…but it is never a word.
In our family there is indeed a subtle marvel not transmitted. It would not help even if the sky became my mouth, and grass, trees, pebbles, and stones all emitted light to help me expound the truth. Thus we believe that this thing cannot be transmitted and cannot be studied: it requires one’s own realization and enlightenment.
This has to be understood as the very fundamental: if you are ready, open, receptive, alert, you will get it. And you will get it in strange ways which have no logical relationship, no causal relationship.
Many intellectuals in the world who have become aware of Zen in the past century were, in the beginning, simply laughing at the craziness of these people, because it does not make sense to their reasoning minds. Somebody hits you and you become enlightened…the mind cannot believe it. There seems to be no reason why a certain hit will destroy all your ignorance.
Even today, Zen is being studied in the West on a vast scale; it has become one of the universal phenomena. But the very idea of studying it goes against it: you cannot study Zen. You can have it, but you cannot get it from someone else. And the simple reason is that you have already got it. It is just a question of forgetfulness.