Have you ever asked what happened to the dream when you have been dreaming the whole night? Strange, so much time is devoted to dreaming. If you sleep eight hours, then six hours are devoted to dreaming, only two hours for dreamless sleep. But in the morning, the moment you wake up, suddenly you realize you were asleep and you were dreaming. And that cuts you off from a world you have been in for six hours.
Zen is religion in the sense that it helps you to drop the false, the sleepy, the fake, that which up to now you believed was your personality.
A great king, Prasenjita, came to Buddha. He brought a beautiful lotus flower. It was out of season, and it has its own story.
A shoemaker had a pond behind his house. And suddenly they were puzzled – out of season a beautiful blue lotus. It had never happened before. So the shoemaker thought, “Somebody who goes every day to worship Buddha and listen to Buddha may purchase it. Perhaps one rupee?” The poor man could not think it could be more.
As he came out of his house the richest man of the town was going to pay his respects to Buddha. He suddenly stopped his chariot and he asked Sudas – that was the name of the shoemaker – “How much will you take for this flower?”
Sudas said, “I have never sold flowers, never purchased them. It is better you give your offer. It is out of season.”
The richest man, according to his dignity, said, “I will give you one hundred rupees” – beyond the conception of Sudas.
But just then another chariot stopped. The king was going to Buddha, and the king said to Sudas, “I have purchased that flower. I will pay ten times more than the rich man is offering you.”
This was even more surprising – one thousand rupees for one flower! So that flower was a revelation to Sudas. He thought, “I am so poor I cannot afford to refuse, but my whole being says, ‘Refuse this offer. Go yourself to Buddha and offer the flower directly.’ But my poverty is so much I cannot afford it.”
The king thought, “Perhaps he considers the price is not yet right.” He said to Sudas, “Don’t think. Whatever you want to ask will be given. I have offered one thousand rupees. Do you want ten thousand rupees, one hundred thousand rupees?”
Sudas was going mad. One hundred thousand rupees he cannot even count!
Prasenjita ordered his people to deliver one hundred thousand rupees to Sudas.
Of course, the rich man did not contest it, it was futile. The king would not accept defeat in any way. It could even lead to bloodshed.
And when Prasenjita offered the flower to Buddha, all that Buddha said was, “Drop it.” He dropped the flower. What else can you do before a buddha if he says, “Drop the flower”?
Now he was standing with empty hands and Buddha again said, “Drop it too!” This was beyond the mind and its comprehension.
Sariputra said to Prasenjita, “Buddha does not mean the flower; Buddha means the ego. You are so full of ego; even offering, touching the feet of Buddha, your ego has not changed even a little bit. And to be with Buddha, the only way is to drop your ego, your personality.”