Shunyo was asking me one day, “When you speak do you see the people to whom you are speaking?” I don’t want to offend you but the truth is, when I am speaking who is there to see? And if I start seeing someone, my speaking becomes polluted. You are here, I feel your presence, I feel your silence, I feel your heartbeat – but my eyes remain absolutely vacant.
Many sannyasins have told me that I look as if I am not looking. It is not “as if,” it is exactly so. I am not looking. I am not blind either.
Facing backward on the ox,
He rides into the Buddha Hall.
That reference concerns the Ten Bulls of Zen. That is one of the most beautiful stories man has ever created. It is a collection of ten paintings….
In the first painting, the bull is lost, the owner is looking here and there, and there are trees all around, but there is no sign of the bull.
In the second picture, he recognizes deep in the forest just the tail of the bull. It indicates that perhaps the bull is hiding there behind the trees.
In the third picture he sees the footprints of the bull, going toward the same direction where he can see the tail of the bull.
In the fourth he has seen the whole bull.
In the fifth he has caught hold of the bull.
In the sixth he has managed to ride on it.
In the seventh he is coming back toward home, sitting on the bull. In the eighth he has put the bull in the stall from where he has escaped.
In the ninth he is sitting by the side of the bull, playing on the flute. These nine paintings are existent in Zen as it exists in Japan, but the original collection was Chinese….
The last painting is missing in these paintings, and the last painting is the most important. It is not just by accident that this painting is missing. It has been dropped deliberately, considering the implications of it. It is a dangerous painting because in the tenth the man is going toward the marketplace with a bottle of alcohol.
What are you going to do after you become enlightened? That’s what I was saying to you…after a few minutes one starts feeling thirsty, it is time….
The tenth was of immense importance; it says that even when you have found the bull – which is symbolic of finding yourself – it does not mean that you become superior to other human beings. When you have found yourself, rather than becoming superior to others, for the first time you understand humbleness and you start moving toward the marketplace: to the lowliest, humblest, toward the pub where people are drunk. Your buddhahood does not make the drunkards condemned, but you yourself start moving toward the pub to make friends with the condemned, to help them come out of their drunkenness. And that is the only way to help them, to be with them.