The master said, “You idiot!” I don’t think any emperor has ever received such a welcome. A poor monk who has no possessions, nothing except himself…but having himself gives him such authority that he can say to the emperor, “You are an idiot!” The emperor became furious. This was too much. He pulled out his sword and was going to cut off the head of the master.
The master said, “Wait a little…this is the door of hell.”
The emperor thought for a moment. He had been given the answer: anger, violence, destructiveness. He pulled back his sword and the master said, “This is the door of heaven. Do you want to ask any more questions?”
The emperor said, “I am satisfied.” He could not manage to ask, “Bless me, that I should be the victor in the great world war.” Just being in the master’s presence, the very idea looked stupid.
Zen has never been in any way what Karl Marx calls the opium of the people. It is unfortunate that a genius like Karl Marx had no idea of Zen. He knew, in the name of religion, only Christianity which is the worst religion in the world. He did not know the flights of Gautam Buddha, of Mahakashyap, of Nansen, of Tozan. He was absolutely unaware of the East, and religion is an Eastern contribution to the world. In the Far East, in Japan, it has come to flower in its totality.
Daikaku is one of those masters who have come to their fullness, to their fulfillment. Just listen to what he says:
Zen practice is not clarifying conceptual distinctions, but throwing away one’s preconceived views and notions and the sacred texts and all the rest, and piercing through the layers of coverings over the spring of self behind them.
Daikaku is famous for burning all the scriptures that belonged to the monastery of which he had become the head, the successor. He burned all the scriptures and he stopped one thousand disciples in the monastery from reading them, saying, “This is not a university, you are not here to study something. You are here to transform yourself, to seek yourself; and that is not possible through scriptures. Throw out all these scriptures, holy and unholy, both together.”
It was very shocking when Daikaku did it. It shocked almost the whole Buddhist world. But Daikaku was a man of the same strength and the same power as Bodhidharma or Mahakashyap. He did not care what the world said, he knew what he was doing. The only way to reach yourself is to throw away all your preconceived ideas, all your prejudices, all your scriptures, all your religious notions. Anything concerned with the self that has been conceived through the mind has to be thrown away, cleaned out completely.