Once, Nansen decided to visit a village, but was very surprised to find that preparations had been made to welcome him.
Nansen said to the village head, “It has been my custom never to let anyone know beforehand about where I am journeying to. How could you know that I was coming to visit your village today?”
The village head replied, “Last night, in a dream, the god of the soil-shrine reported to me that you would come to visit today.”
Nansen replied, “This shows how weak and shallow my spiritual life is that it can be foreseen by visions!”
Maneesha, before discussing your sutras I have to discuss something about Nansen’s way of tackling things, his methodology. Sometimes he looked very puzzling, would make contradictory statements on purpose. Unless you understand that, it will be difficult to find any rationality in the sutras you have brought to me. And reason is the only thread by which, for the present, you can grasp something of the beyond.
On one occasion, the governor, Lu Hsuan, said to Nansen, “What if I told you that a man had raised a goose in a bottle, watching it grow until one day he realized that it had grown too large to pass through the bottle’s neck? Since he did not want to break the bottle or kill the goose, how would he get it out?”
A strange puzzle which cannot be solved rationally. Whatever you do – either you will have to destroy the bottle or the goose – you cannot save both. But the goose and the bottle are only metaphors of your witnessing self and your body.
Your body is the bottle and your consciousness is the goose. And nobody ever wonders how the consciousness entered the body and how the consciousness can come out of it. The consciousness is universal, vast, infinite in all dimensions. And the body is so small, just like a small bottle. How is this being managed by existence? It is a miracle that the physical, the material contains within it the non-material, the spiritual.
The governor was asking the question in the Zen tradition. This is an old story; perhaps every master has to work on it.
Nansen shouted, “Governor!.” For a moment the governor completely forgot that he was a governor and Nansen just a beggar as far as possessions are concerned. And nobody should shout at the governor the way he was shouting. The question he has asked does not require…He forgot all. The shout was so sharp like a sword.
In a single blow, as he shouted, “Governor!,” and the governor said, “Yes, master,” Nansen said, “The goose is out!”
A very strange way of solving the problem. The governor showed his consciousness, expressed his consciousness. This consciousness is not hindered by the body; it can come out, it can go in. The body is not a barrier; the body is a barrier only to material things. But the non-material exists in a different dimension. It can enter the body without stirring anything in the body, without even touching the body. Nowhere in your life does your consciousness ever touch your body, whatever you do. Your consciousness simply remains a witness, far away on the hills as if….