The emperor said, “But that takes all the joy out of it. Somebody will come and remove my name.”
The gatekeeper said, “That, of course, is going to happen. It is up to you.”
This is the failure of success. Ultimate success brings ultimate failure. And this story may be not a fact – the Sumeru Mountain range does not exist anywhere – but all three religions have accepted, it for the simple reason to show you: Don’t run after the ego. Your ego can take you at the most to the Sumeru Mountains; and then you will see you have wasted your whole life, just to remove somebody’s name. What is the joy of being the greatest celebrity in the world?
One great philosopher, Rousseau, wrote in his autobiography, “When I was not known to anybody, I was hankering to be known to the whole world. That was the only desire and the only dream, to be known by the whole world. I never thought of what I was going to do then. And now that I have become world famous, it is such a failure. I am so ashamed that now I want to hide from people, because they gather everywhere, wherever I go. I am not left without a crowd even for a single moment. I have to hide in my own house. In this house I used to dream about becoming famous, a celebrity, and now I have become famous and my eyes are filled with tears at my stupidity. I wasted my whole life in becoming famous and now I am trying to hide from the same people I wanted to be known to.”
Ummon’s reply simply means that if thinking ceases and you are still asking for something, then you are only asking for a dream, a golden dream, a paradise, a Sumeru Mountain. The fact is, the moment thought ceases, you disappear too.
And in that disappearance you can hear the solitary cuckoo, the birds chirping, the great silence raining on you with great blessings.
You don’t need any Sumeru Mountain.
Listen to the cuckoo, particularly because this series is dedicated to a solitary bird, a cuckoo in the forest.
Another monk asked Ummon, “When all mental activity is at an end, how is it?”
…The same question, asked by millions of people down the centuries. Rather than entering into yourself and finding the silent space, people have been intellectualizing, philosophizing. It is certain that this monk who is asking Ummon…
“When all mental activity is at an end, how is it?”
…is a stupid intellectual – as all intellectuals are stupid. When all mental activity has ceased, there is just pure space, a peace that passeth understanding.