When Tosu was in Tojo province, Joshu asked him, “Aren’t you the master of Tosu hermitage?”
Tosu said, “Give me some tea, salt, and cash!”
Joshu went back to the hermitage, and that evening saw Tosu coming back with some oil. Joshu said to him, “I heard much of Tosu, but all I find is an old man selling oil.”
Tosu said, “You see the old oil-seller, but you don’t know Tosu.”
Joshu said, “Well, how about Tosu?”
Tosu held up the bottle and said, “Oil! Oil!”
At the funeral of one of his monks, Joshu joined in the procession and commented, “What a long procession of dead bodies follows in the wake of a single living person!”
Maneesha, Zen believes in a life which you are not acquainted with, a love that you have not even dreamt of. It lives in a totally different dimension, a dimension where everything is a dance, a celebration.
Zen is the only religion of life. Others are worshippers of the dead. Life contains millions of things, from the very small trivia to the greatest sacred peaks of consciousness. Zen does not renounce anything but transforms it as a stepping stone towards the higher.
It is the only life-affirmative religion that has arisen during the past centuries. Its affirmation is total. All other religions are religions of denial. Anything that seems to be a hindrance, they escape from it. Zen tries to turn it from a hindrance into a help – and it has succeeded. Its success is of profound interest for the coming new man.
The new man will not think of Christianity as a religion, or Hinduism or Mohammedanism or any other religion, because they are all carrying a dead past. Life has escaped from them long before. They have not laughed for centuries; they have not been in tune with the universal music. They have forgotten the language of dance.
Zen alone seems a possibility for the future man. It will survive – when all other religions are gone, Zen will be the only religion around the earth. In fact, all other religions are already dead. Just because of old habit, old conditioning, we go on carrying them, but they have not contributed anything to human consciousness. Rather than contributing they have destroyed much. They have enslaved man, they have oppressed man, they have put man against man; they have created immense violence, war, massacre.
Zen is a religion of flowers, is a religion of songs, is a religion of ecstasy. It has nothing in it which in any way tries to avoid life in any form. It lives life in its totality – and the miracle is that by living totally, each moment becomes so precious…there is no way to measure the beauty of the moment when a person is total, herenow.
These two anecdotes are very small, but great is their significance. The first will look very strange unless you understand that in each activity, a Zen master almost disappears in the action itself. His totality is so great that you can almost say that only the dance remains; the dancer disappears.
Once the great dancer Nijinsky was asked, “What are the greatest moments in your life?”
Nijinsky said, “The greatest moments in my life are those moments when only the dance remains and the dancer disappears.”