I said to him, “This is the situation of the whole humanity: nobody wants to go in. The fear of going in is that you are going into the unknown, in the darkness. And the same fear has taken over you in regard to sleep. You are a spiritual man, it is just that you have not understood the reason you are afraid of going to sleep.”
He was very happy to hear that he was a spiritual man! Everybody was thinking he was insane. I said, “You are so spiritual that death cannot do anything, any harm to you. You can sleep perfectly well.”
He said, “You are certain?”
I said, “I am certain.”
He said, “Then it is okay, I will sleep. And if you say that I am a spiritual man, then certainly I should not be afraid of death.”
The whole phenomenon of spirituality is not to be afraid of death, because death is a fiction; it does not happen. Your innermost life principle is eternal. I said, “By the way, you have found something very essential in the search of every man. Your fear is absolutely right, because you don’t know that you are deathless, that you are beyond death. Just go home, go to sleep, and I will come in the morning to see you.”
In the morning I went – the whole family was puzzled about how I had managed. That man had slept, after many days. In the morning he was very fresh and he said, “You are right. Sleep has nothing to take away; not even death has anything to take away. Death, after all, is a longer sleep.”
Zen, particularly in the hands of Joshu, becomes a lion’s roar that resounds in faraway mountains and valleys. Only a man who knows life as an experience, not as an explanation, is capable to give a lion’s roar to wake up other lions.
I have told you the story, a very ancient story, about a lioness giving birth to a cub while she was jumping from one hillock to another hillock. The cub fell into a crowd of sheep and grew up amongst the sheep. There was no way for him to know that he was not a sheep – perhaps that was the only vegetarian lion in the whole history of animalhood! Absolutely vegetarian, just eating grass.
Even eating grass he started becoming bigger than the sheep, longer, a beautiful specimen. But the sheep were not afraid, they never thought that he was dangerous. He had grown amongst them, they had relations with him, friends. Somebody mothered him, somebody was taking care of him; there was no question of being afraid. They were just concerned…what a strange kind of sheep! – looks like a lion, but must be a natural mistake. And they were very happy to have him amongst them. While they moved in thousands in a crowd, he stood aloof in the middle of them.
One day an old lion saw this phenomenon and could not believe it. He had never seen any lion walking in a crowd of sheep. The moment sheep see a lion they start escaping – it was a miracle.