The people of those days were certainly more subjective, of more clarity that the real evolution of man is not in developing machines, technology; the real evolution has to happen in the consciousness of man. His consciousness has to become a pinnacle, an Everest, a peak that rises high above the clouds. If even a single man succeeds, it is not only his success, it is also the success of all men – past, present, future – because it gives a clear-cut indication that we are not trying; otherwise we could also be buddhas. Those who have tried, have become. It is our intrinsic nature.
The society supported the monks, supported the monasteries. There were thousands of monasteries with thousands of monks who were not doing anything. Society allowed them – “We are engaged in production. We will provide you with food and clothes. You go totally into your effort of reaching the highest peak of consciousness. Your success is not going to be only your success. If thousands of people become buddhas, the whole humanity, without any effort, will find a certain rise in consciousness.”
This was a great insight. And society took over the burden of thousands of monks, of thousands of monasteries; all their needs were fulfilled by the society. Today, that society has disappeared because today even the concept that you are a hidden buddha has disappeared. A strange idea has caught humanity, that every man is an island. And that is sheer nonsense. Even the islands are not islands. Just go down a little deeper and they are joined with the continent.
Everybody is joined, it is just a question of going a little deeper. Our roots are entangled with each other, our source of life is the same.
It was a tremendous insight of those days that they decided – particularly, for example, in Tibet: every family had to contribute one child to the monastery, and in the monastery he had to do only zazen. He had no other work to distract him.
But now that possibility does not exist. Hence, I have managed different devices in which you can remain in the world – no need to go to a monastery, because there is nobody to support you. You can be in the world and yet manage an undercurrent of fire that slowly slowly becomes like your breathing. You don’t have to remember it.
Maneesha has asked:
On one occasion, Joshu said to his monks:
I have single-heartedly practiced Zazen in the southern province for thirty years.
He is referring to those thirty years with his master, Nansen. He is saying, “I have single-heartedly practiced Zazen for thirty years continuously, without ever bothering about how far away enlightenment is.” Is it going to happen or not? Is it a truth or just a mirage? Is it something real or only a fiction created by dreamers? Without any doubt, how can one sustain for thirty years the same routine around the clock – walking, sitting, sleeping?