Hindus say that their God has three faces, three heads on one body. Now nobody has seen…Perhaps in a circus you may see a distorted child, a freak who has three heads or four hands. But why should God have three heads? The reason given by the Hindu theologians is so that he can see in three directions. If man can manage with one head…perhaps God’s neck is fixed, he cannot move this way or that way. Obviously he will need three pairs of glasses. And the weight of three heads on a body which looks exactly like a man’s-it will be too much. He will not be able to stand up, and lying down also will be very difficult. Just think, how will he manage his three heads on one pillow?-unless those three heads are only attached and you can unscrew them, and put them off for the night and go to sleep.
But I don’t think that such surgery has developed even today. And God has been there for eternity, and no scripture describes any surgeon who takes care of God’s heads. The screws must have got rusted. And from where can he get a screwdriver? And you can be sure that three heads may not agree on any point, they will all have their opinions. I don’t think that God can move even a single inch because the other two heads will not be ready. So he will remain fixed in one position.
But strange ideas…Hindus also have the idea that God has one thousand hands. Now, three heads and one thousand hands, who are you kidding? Even if you just visualize him, you will become afraid. He will look like an octopus, or something like it.
Buddhism and Jainism, seeing the difficulty of how to visualize God, simply dropped the idea; they don’t have any God and they are perfectly living religions.
Ma Tzu is saying that he is not interested in anything that is not existential. That is Zen’s special contribution to human consciousness. Don’t be bothered about imaginary conceptual philosophical things, just pin down everything to existence.
One day, Impo was pushing a cart, and Ma Tzu had his legs stretched out across the path. Impo said, “Please, master, pull in your legs!”
“What has been stretched out,” said Ma Tzu, “cannot be retracted!”
“What goes forward cannot go backwards!” said Impo and pushed the cart on.
Ma Tzu’s legs were cut and bruised. When they went back, Ma Tzu entered the hall, and said, lifting up an axe, “Come here, the monk who hurt my legs a while ago!” Impo came out and stood before Ma Tzu and bent his neck to receive the strike.
Ma Tzu put down the axe.
Reading such anecdotes, one feels it is a very strange religion. It is not. Everything that is happening in these anecdotes has something essential, so that you can become aware of it.
First, Ma Tzu said, “What has been stretched out, cannot be retracted!”
A father was telling to his son, “Everything is possible in the world”-he was quoting Alexander the Great.
The child said, “I don’t accept the idea, and I will show you why.” He went into the bathroom and brought the toothpaste and said, “I will bring the toothpaste out of the tube, and you put it back. You say nothing is impossible. This is impossible. I have tried.”