What I am trying to say is: Effort is always on the periphery. You cannot touch the center through effort. You can do something on the periphery – you can change your behavior, you can change your so-called character. On the periphery, with effort, you can become a good man from being bad, you can become virtuous from being a sinner; you can even become a saint – but on the periphery, with effort.
The center can never be touched and penetrated through effort – because no action can lead to you. You are already there! There is no need to do anything. You have simply to be silent, spontaneous, and then the center arises. It comes out of the clouds. There is a break, a gap. You suddenly realize your spontaneous awareness. You are awareness. It is nothing you do, it is nothing which has to be done – your very nature is awareness.
Hindus have called it sat-chit-anand. They have used three words – sat, chit, anand. Sat means the existential, that which can never go into nonexistence. Sat means the true, which can never become untrue. Sat means the eternal – which was, which is, which will be. Chit means awareness, consciousness. That is your nature. You have always been conscious, you are conscious, you will be conscious. That consciousness cannot be taken from you, it exists at the very core of your being, not on the periphery. It is you, but you are not in contact with yourself. And anand means bliss, ecstasy. It is not that you have to achieve bliss – it is you. You have always been blissful, you cannot be otherwise; there is no possibility. You cannot change it.
You will say this seems absolutely absurd – because we are in misery. You are in misery because you have become so much obsessed with the periphery. You have forgotten the center completely. You have become so much engaged with others, so much occupied with others, that the whole attention is focused on the other, and you have fallen into the shade, into the darkness.
You are sat-chit-anand.
The Zen master Nan-in is asking the disciple: “Have you now become alert to who you are? Are you now rooted in your nature?”
If the disciple was really rooted in his nature, what would have been the case?
The story is very difficult to understand. It is not a question of leaving the shoes on the left or on the right; that is not the point of the story. That seems to be the point, but it is not. The real point is that when Nan-in asked this the disciple hesitated – that is the real point. And in that moment of hesitation he was not aware that he was hesitating. If he had been aware that there was hesitation, he would have been accepted. At that very moment he lost awareness.
You cannot deceive Nan-in. If you go to see Nan-in you can remember very well where you have left your shoes, it is not difficult. If Nan-in asks you: “Where have you left your shoes, on the left or on the right?” – And you can only give the answer: “on the right” – still you will lose. That is not the point, that is just a deception. Nan-in is diverting the mind just to see right now what is happening.