When Sekito received the precepts, his master, Seigen, asked him, “Now you have received the precepts, you want to learn the Vinaya, don’t you?”
Sekito replied, “There’s no need to learn the Vinaya.”
Seigen asked, “Then, you want to read The Book of Sheela?”
Sekito replied, “There’s no need to read The Book of Sheela.”
Seigen asked, “Can you deliver a letter to Nangaku Osho?”
Sekito said, “Certainly.”
Seigen said, “Go now, and come back quickly. If you come back even a little late, you will miss me. If you miss me, you cannot get the big hatchet under my chair.”
Soon Sekito reached Nangaku. Before handing over the letter, Sekito made a bow and asked, “Osho, when one neither follows the old saints nor expresses one’s innermost soul, what will one do?”
Nangaku said, “Your question is too arrogant. Why don’t you ask modestly?” To which Sekito replied, “Then it would be better to sink into hell eternally and not ever hope for the liberation that the old saints know.”
Sekito, finding that he and Nangaku were not attuned to each other, soon left for Seigen without giving Nangaku the letter. On his arrival, Seigen asked, “Did they entrust something to you?”
Sekito said, “They didn’t entrust anything to me.”
Seigen said, “But there must have been a reply.”
Sekito said, “If they don’t entrust anything, there is no reply.” Then he said, “When I was leaving here, you added that I should come back soon to receive the big hatchet under the chair. Now I have come back, please give me the big hatchet.”
Seigen was silent. Sekito bowed down and retired.
Friends, before I answer your questions, I have to answer two letters from very knowledgeable idiots. This distinction has to be remembered: there is a certain ignorance that knows, and there is a certain knowledgeability that knows nothing.
One is a Buddhist scholar, and he writes that “an enlightened man cannot be concerned with the trivia of the ordinary world and its concerns.”
It means, according to him, that I am an ignorant man. It is a compliment to me because every enlightened man finally becomes as ignorant as a child, or as innocent as a child. Socrates’ last words were: “I don’t know anything.”
This man is a scholar but blind. Does he think that a Third World War, which is going to erase the whole of humanity, is a trivia? Does he think that the explosion of the population in this country, which is going to kill almost five hundred million people in the coming ten years, is trivia?
And if these are trivia then I have to take him back to Gautam Buddha. He was concerned that no sannyasin of his should have more than three pieces of clothes – that was trivia. He was concerned that no sannyasin of his should wear shoes – that is trivia. He was concerned that no sannyasin should eat more than one time in a day – that was trivia. And still he is enlightened and I am ignorant. This is what I call “knowledgeable idiots.”
Buddha has made thirty-three thousand rules for his disciples – all trivia. Where can you find thirty-three thousand truths? Truth is one and inexpressible. But he was concerned with absolute trivia.
One sannyasin was going to spread his message. He has come for Buddha’s last word, because he may not be coming back to him for two or three years. And what is his message? “Don’t look at a woman.” Now, unless you look, you cannot decide whether the person is a woman or a man.
I don’t understand the kind of nonsense Buddha is talking. How are you going to know that the person coming towards you is a woman? You have to see first. Then you can close your eyes. But you have seen, and once you have seen a beautiful woman and you close your eyes, she becomes more beautiful. Is it not trivia?
And Buddha told him, “You have to keep your eyes just four feet ahead of you. Just look only four feet ahead and keep your eyes down, so even if you come across a woman you only see her feet.”
This is great spiritual stuff.
The man was a little puzzled and he said, “I will try my best, but if by chance I happen to see a woman accidentally – suddenly a woman comes from out of the forest or on a crossroad – what should I do?”