One Christian missionary, Stanley Jones, used to stay with me. He was a world-famous man. Six months he used to travel in the West to teach about Christianity, its theology, in the universities and six months he used to come to India. Whenever he was in my town, he used to stay with me. I asked him one day, “You have been a Christian for almost sixty years, but I don’t see even a faint echo of a Jesus in you. You know much, but knowledge is not the thing. Your heart has not blossomed, your head is heavy. When are you going to grow roses?”
He looked at me a little shocked, because this is not the way of talking in any reference other than Zen. In every other religious context things are theoretical, philosophical, they are doctrines. Zen is not a doctrine. It is a very direct approach to the existential problem of why man has not blossomed, why millions of people have not grown roses in their gardens, why they are just weeds, laughingstocks.
Setcho comments on this small conversation. For the first time he is a little sensible. He is still a schoolmaster, but perhaps living in the company of the mystics, of the masters, he has learned something. I still suspect that it is only knowledge, but this time he comes very close to the truth. But remember, to be very close to the truth is still to be very far. Unless you are the truth there is no point in knowing how far you are from it. One mile, or one million miles, even a single inch, just a single word, and you have lost the truth.
Anyway, he has come very close. For the first time he shows the possibility; perhaps in the end he may turn into a roseflower himself.
Old Buddha had his way of teaching.
The monk’s answer won no praise.
Strangers to each other, hen and chick,
Who can peck when the tapping comes?
Outside, the tap was given;
Inside, the chick remained.
Once again the tap was given;
Monks throughout the world attempt the trick in vain.
Just tapping from the outside is not going to help, unless the inner energy has become a tremendous longing to come out. Then, even without any tapping from outside the bird is going to break the eggshell by itself.
There have been many masters who had no masters. Their own longing for the truth was so tremendous they needed no help. Their own overflowing energy gave them the freedom to fly into the sky. The eggshell is very thin; it is not a China wall. You are not imprisoned in something made of steel; you are imprisoned in something made of thoughts. Such a thin rice paper, a Japanese curtain, that you can come out any moment you want. You don’t have to wait for somebody to knock from the outside. And if you don’t have energy, even if someone knocks it is not going to help.
There is a very beautiful poem of Rabindranath Tagore, “The King of the Night”: