The monk Zuigan used to start every day by saying out loud to himself, “Master, are you there?” And he would answer, “Yes sir, I am.”
Then he would say, “Better sober up.”
And he would reply, “Yes sir, I’ll do that.”
Then he would say, “Look out now, don’t let them fool you.”
And he would answer, “Oh no sir, I won’t, I won’t.”
Meditation cannot be a fragmented thing, it should be a continuous effort. Every moment one has to be alert, aware and meditative. But the mind has played a trick: you meditate in the morning and then you put it aside, or you pray in the temple and then forget it. Then you come back to this world completely unmeditative, unconscious, as if walking in a hypnotic sleep. This fragmentary effort won’t do much. How can you be meditative for one hour when you have been nonmeditative for twenty-three hours of the day? It is impossible. Suddenly to become meditative for one hour is not possible. You can simply deceive yourself.
Consciousness is a continuum; it is like a river, flowing constantly. If you are meditative you have to be meditative the whole day, every moment of it…and only when you are meditative the whole day, the flowering will come to you. Nothing will come before.
This Zen anecdote looks absurd but it is very meaningful. The master, the monk, used to call himself – this is what meditation means, calling yourself – he used to call his own name. He would say, “Are you there?” And he himself would reply, “Yes sir, I am here.” This is an effort, a peak effort, to be alert. You can use this, it will be very helpful. Suddenly, walking on the street, you call yourself, “Are you there?” Suddenly thinking stops, and you have to answer, “Yes sir, I am here.” It brings you to a focus when thinking stops and you are meditative, alert.
This calling to oneself is a technique. Going to sleep, putting off the light in the night, suddenly you call, “Are you there?” And in that dark-ness alertness comes. You become a flame and inside you answer, “Yes, I am here.”
And then the monk used to say, “Sober up!” Be sincere, be authentic; don’t play the game. He used to call to himself, “Sober up!” And he would reply, “Yes, I will make every effort that I can.”
Our whole life is a fooling around. You can do it because you are not aware of how you waste time, how you waste energy – how finally life is wasted you are not aware. It is going down the drain. Everything is going down the drain. Only when death comes to you, you may become aware, alert: What have I been doing? What have I done with life? A great opportunity has been lost. What was I doing fooling around? You were not sober. You never reflected upon what you were doing.