What has happened to Gerta Ital, is not necessarily an introduction to Zen. She has been in the company of old and traditional Zen masters. I understand Zen to be a very simple, innocent, joyful method. There is nothing ascetic in it, nothing life-negative – no need to renounce the world, no need to become a monk, no need to enter a monastery. You have to enter into yourself. That can be done anywhere.
We are doing it in the simplest way possible. And only if Zen becomes as simple as I am trying to make it, can the contemporary man be interested in it. Otherwise he has so much to do – so many things to do, so many paths to explore, so many things to distract him.
Zen has to become such a small playful thing, that while you are going to sleep – just before that – within five minutes you can enter into yourself, and you can remain at the very center of your being the whole night. Your whole night can become a peaceful, silent awareness. Sleep will be in the body, but underneath it there will be a current of light from the evening till the morning.
And once you know that even in sleep a certain awareness can be present inside you, then the whole day, doing all kinds of things, you can remain alert, conscious. Buddhahood has to be a very normal, ordinary, simple and human affair.
The second question:
I cannot put it into words how much I am always touched by the beauty of your expressions – in your words, your gestures and now especially in your paintings.
What exactly happens, when you are sitting in front of an empty paper?
Is there still an urge for artistic creativity when one is enlightened?
Could you please tell us about Zen and art and creativity?
Zen prevents you from nothing. It opens everything that is potential in you. If you have a potentiality of being a painter, Zen will open it – you may not have been aware of it. If there is a potentiality for poetry, Zen will open that potentiality, and for the first time you will start thinking in poetry, not in prose.
The same is true about music or dance, or scientific exploration. Any kind of original experiences, Zen allows you. It is not preventive of anything. It is affirmative, the most affirmative experience in life. It simply makes you aware of all that is hidden in you, of all that you have never looked at. It not only makes you aware, it helps you to explore that potentiality.
Zen is not a dry, desertlike experience, it is very juicy, a beautiful garden – a spring in your life where flowers suddenly start opening up. One never knows what is going to happen to him when he becomes aware. It is not a decision on your part, it is not a choice. It is a choiceless, simple experience – you start moving into a certain direction. Suddenly that direction becomes so full of life, so attractive that you can devote everything to it.