In the world of education a student is examined, but only his memory is examined, never he himself. Always his memory is examined – never he. Nan-in is not examining the memory of the disciple. He is not asking: “Where have you left your shoes, on the right or on the left?” He is not asking for a perfect memory, because where he left the shoes is now past. He is trying to see into the being of the disciple right now. He is not examining the memory but trying to look into the consciousness of this very moment. The past is not the question. The present, the presentness is the question.
Just imagine that disciple sitting before Nan-in. Nan-in asks, and the disciple is lost in the past. He tries to think where he has left the shoes. He tries to think whether he can remember or not. He tries to think whether he has missed awareness or not. Right now he has become a confusion. His whole consciousness has become cloudy. He is no longer here. He is not in the presence of Nan-in, he has gone into the past, he has gone into thinking – he is not meditative. The hesitation, the thinking, the effort to try….
You cannot escape Nan-in. He will see through you; he will see all the clouds, he will see you are not here, now. Then you cannot be allowed to teach. Then you cannot be sent out, because what will you teach? You cannot teach that which you have not got. You can pretend but that pretension will be dangerous, because if you pretend that you are aware and you are not, that pretension will become infectious. A pseudo-master creates pseudo-disciples, and then like ripples that pseudo-ness goes on spreading.
The most dangerous sin that a man can commit is to pretend awareness. Even if you murder a man it is not such a great sin, because you cannot really murder. You can only destroy the body; the soul moves into another. You only destroy one game, another starts immediately. A murderer is not such a great sinner. But if you pretend that you are aware and you are not, if you pretend that you are a master and you are not, you are doing such harm, such infinite harm, that no sin can be compared to it – because others will get the pretension. They will start pretending, and then it will go on and on – just like when you throw a stone into a silent lake, ripples arise and they go on and on. One ripple creates another, pushes another, and it goes on and on to the very boundaries of the lake.
This lake of consciousness has no boundaries. Once a ripple is created it will go on forever; it will continue forever. You will not be here, but your pretensions, your falsity, will continue and many will be deluded by it.
A false master is the greatest sinner in the world. That’s why Nan-in won’t allow anybody to go and teach unless he has become enlightened himself. Then the very light that burns within you helps others to be alight. The very fire that burns within you makes others warm. The very life that has happened to you helps others to come out of their deadness.
But remember: alertness, awareness or consciousness can be continuous only when it has become effortless. In the beginning effort is bound to be there because otherwise how are you going to start? You will make an effort, you will try to be mindful, you will try in every way to be conscious, but the effort will create a tension. And the more you make the effort, the more tense you will be. There will be tiny glimpses, but because of the tension the ecstasy will be missed. You have to pass through this state also, of making effort.