There is only one thing I want to say to Ross: in Zen there are not three pillars, not even a single pillar. Zen has no pillars. It is not a temple, it is pure no-thing-ness. It needs no pillars at all. If she publishes the book again she should change the title. Three Pillars of Zen looks good, but it is not true to the spirit of Zen. But the book is written in a very scientific way. Those who want to understand Zen intellectually cannot find a better book.
Sixth: My choice for the sixth is a strange man’s book. He calls himself “M.” I know his real name, but he never allowed anyone to know it. His name is Mahendranath. He was a Bengali, a disciple of Ramakrishna.
Mahendranath sat at Ramakrishna’s feet for many many years, and went on writing down whatsoever was happening around his master. The book is known as The Gospel of Ramakrishna, but written by M. He never wanted to disclose his name, he wanted to remain anonymous. That is the way of a true disciple. He effaced himself utterly.
The day Ramakrishna died, you will be surprised, M died too. There was nothing more for him to live for. I can understand…after Ramakrishna it would have been far more difficult to live than to die. Death was more blissful than to live without his master.
There have been many masters, but there has never been such a disciple as M to report about the master. He does not come into it anywhere. He was just reporting – not about himself and Ramakrishna, but only about Ramakrishna. He no longer exists in front of the master. I love this man and his book, and his tremendous effort to efface himself. It is rare to find a disciple like M. Ramakrishna was far more fortunate in this than Jesus. I know his real name because I have traveled in Bengal, and Ramakrishna was alive at the end of the last century, so I could find out the name of this man Mahendranath.
Seventh. There was an Indian mystic just at the beginning of this century. I don’t think he was an enlightened man, because he committed three mistakes; otherwise his collected works are beautiful, pure poetry…but those three mistakes have to be remembered. Even a man like Ramateertha can also commit such stupid mistakes.
He was in America. He was a man with charisma and he was worshipped. When he went back to India he thought he should first go to Varanasi, the citadel of the Hindu religion, the Jerusalem of the Hindus – their Mecca. He was certain that if the Americans have respected him so much, then certainly the brahmins of Varanasi are going to worship him like a god. He was wrong. When he spoke in Varanasi one brahmin stood up and said, “Before you proceed further, please answer my question. Do you know Sanskrit?”
Ramateertha had been talking about the ultimate reality, and this brahmin had asked him, “Do you know Sanskrit? If you don’t then you have no right to speak about ultimate reality. First go and study Sanskrit.”