When we are meeting here – and not just meeting in the ordinary sense but actually meeting, heart to heart, being to being – this overwhelming experience goes around the earth, to all the sannyasins wherever they may be. They may not understand what is happening, why suddenly they have become silent, why suddenly they have started singing or playing on the flute, why suddenly a deep urge has arisen in them to dance. They may not be aware of what is happening. So this gathering is not only the gathering of those few who are actually present here, it is a gathering of all those who have loved me and who have received my love. Wherever they may be, dead or alive, they are part of this gathering, and they will rejoice and sing and dance, and feel grateful to existence.
A great Zen master was getting on in years. Finally, one day a few of his disciples gathered around him, and with long faces asked, “Master, your death is approaching – you have told us that. Now we must ask, where would you like us to bury you?”
The old man looked up, and with a twinkle in his eye said, “Surprise me!”
These are the real people, the real magicians. Even death cannot make them sad. They can make fun even of death. What a beautiful man this old Zen master must have been, who could say, “Surprise me. Let me see what you do when I die. I am not leaving any instructions, I will wait and see. Do something that has never been done. Surprise me – just don’t be repetitive.”
I don’t know what happened later on, because I cannot think myself how to surprise. Whatever you do must have been done thousands of times. The old man has left his disciples in a state of koan – that was his whole life’s teaching.
These people are so strange that even when they are dying they cannot forget their teaching. That was his teaching: giving koans to the disciples. Koans are puzzles which cannot be solved, whatever you do; it doesn’t matter. It is not a question of intelligence, it simply is not possible to solve them. The moment you realize it, that all your efforts have failed and now you cannot see anything else that is possible, a great silence descends on you. In that silence you are no more. The puzzle remains, but you are solved.
And that’s the whole purpose of a koan. The puzzle will always remain – that’s why the same koan goes on being used for thousands of years, because no koan can ever be solved. But it solves the person. All his problems and doubts and questions and everything disappear. In that utter failure of his mind to solve a small puzzle, the mind stops. It has tried every way; there is no way out. And the moment the mind fails, you encounter yourself…beyond mind, beyond words.
That old man has again given them a koan. He will be gone and they will be sitting there trying to solve the puzzle. How to surprise the old man? Whatever you can think of must have been done before. Millions of people have died and thousands of masters have died. Everything must have been tried; surprise is almost impossible. That was the meaning of the twinkle in his eye – he knows that he is putting you in trouble.
Perhaps you will not be able to surprise him, but in the very effort to find a way out, you may find a way in, you may come to know yourself. His death may become a resurrection for you. In his death you may come to know the eternal, the immortal.