The monk was not a man of great understanding. He may have been a good painter, but he had no perception of the reality which is faceless, egoless, which is not a personality. Joshu is trying to remind him: “Don’t waste your time in making portraits of illusions.”
Why do you go on painting the moon reflected in the water? When the moon is available, why don’t you look up? But you are too attached to the reflection in the water, even though it brings only misery. A reflection cannot give you nourishment; a reflection is continuously changing, it is in the hands of the winds. You cannot hold the reflection of the moon in the water.
And that’s what everybody is trying to do. Somebody is trying to hold power – a reflection of the moon in the water. Somebody else is holding on to prestige, respectability, to richness. Anything that is outside you is only a reflection in your eyes.
Your eyes are functioning like a silent lake of water. Rather than bothering about what is reflected, go in and see who is hidden behind those reflecting eyes.
But the monk was not able to say anything. He failed.
One of Kinzan’s monks painted a portrait of him and presented it to him.
Kinzan said to the monk, “Is it like me or not?”
The monk made no answer.
Kinzan, answering himself, said, “Let the assembly decide!”
His saying, “Let the assembly decide!” means that whatever personality you have, is given to you by people, by the assembly of people. Somebody has said, “You are beautiful, very beautiful,” and suddenly your personality…you start feeling beautiful. And if so many people go on repeating it, you start believing it. In fact, you wanted to believe in it, and now people are giving you every opportunity to believe in it.
But, beautiful or ugly, personality is false. And when things are false, whether they are ugly or beautiful does not matter. What matters is reality. Whatever you think you are, that is your portrait. When you stand before a mirror, you are standing before your portrait. Just look in the mirror and see: is this portrait you?
All personality is given by society. You come into the world without any personality, without any name, without any fame. You come simply as roses bloom, as birds are born.
[A long silence.]
Listen to the cuckoo.
This song that the cuckoo is making is coming from its very center; it is not a personality. The cuckoo has not rehearsed it, the cuckoo is not an actor. What is coming out is natural.
You can find that which is natural only in deep silence. Your words, your mind, are continuously distracting you, taking you away from yourself.