Zen is the culmination of the Buddhist search. Zen is the uttermost flowering of the path of meditation. The word zen comes from dhyana. Dhyana became ch’an in China, then ch’an became zen in Japan. Remember this: Zen originated in India with Gautam Buddha. When Gautam Buddha attained to his ultimate enlightenment, the state of no-mind, the world came to know the path of analysis, the path of right thinking, the path of right remembering, and the path of how to dissolve all thinking by becoming more and more aware of thoughts. Just by watching thoughts, slowly, slowly, they fade out – you become simply a watcher, you are not identified with your thinking, you stand aside and you go on watching, just as if you are standing by the side of the road and watching the traffic. The mind is like traffic, very circular, goes on moving in a circle, very repetitive, almost a mechanism. You go on doing the same thing again and again and again. Your whole life is nothing but a prolonged repetition, very circular. The mind is a mandala, a circle, and it moves. If you watch, by and by you become aware of the circle, of the vicious circle of the mind. Again and again it brings the same emotions: the same anger, the same hatred, the same greed, the same ego…. And you go on. You are just a victim.
Once you become aware of the mind and you start watching it, the bridge is broken, you are no more identified with the mind. Once you are not identified with the mind, the mind disappears because it needs your cooperation to be there.
These coming ten days we will be talking about Zen. But to understand it rightly, you have to understand the opposite also – the opposite becomes a contrast, a background.
The path of prayer does not analyze; it does not try to be aware or alert. On the contrary, the path of prayer dissolves itself completely into prayerfulness. You should not witness, you should not be a watcher; you should be drunk like a drunkard and lost, completely lost.
On the path of prayer, love is the goal. You should be loving; you should be so full of love that your ego dissolves into your love, melts into your love. On the path of prayer, “God” is a necessary hypothesis. I call it a hypothesis because it is a need on the path of prayer but it is not a need on the path of meditation.
On the path of meditation no God is needed, hence the influence and the appeal of Zen in the West. God has become almost incomprehensible. The very word God looks dirty. The moment you say “God” you put people off. Hence the appeal of Zen in the West. Christianity is dying because that hypothesis has been used too much, has been exploited too much. The other, just the opposite, is needed.
On the path of prayer you are to be drunk; on the path of meditation you have to be alert. In both the ways the ego disappears. If you are fully alert there is no ego because in full awareness you become so transparent that you don’t create any shadow. If you are fully drunk, in deep love with God, again you disappear – because in love you cannot be. The ultimate is the same: the ego disappears. And when the ego is not there you come to know what truth is.
Nobody has ever been able to say what it is; nobody will ever be able to say what it is. The experience is so ultimate, so vast, that it is indefinable. It is so unlimited it cannot be put into words – words are very narrow and the experience is tremendously vast. But from both the paths, people reach to the same goal.
Truth is one. Vedas say, “Truth is one but it has been seen in different ways by the seers.”
So remember that. All religions are basically, intrinsically, leading to the same goal. Even when they appear very opposite, even when they appear diametrically opposite, they are leading to the same goal.