Some years later, when Tozan was holding a service in memory of Ungan’s deepest understanding, a monk said to him, “The dead teacher said, ‘It is simply this!’” The monk then added: “Is this the yes-saying spirit?”
“It is,” replied Tozan.
The monk asked, “What does this mean?”
Tozan said, “At the time Ungan said that, my idea was almost entirely a mistaken one, though I understood what he meant all right.”
This is not a word, hence it cannot have any meaning. You can live it, but you cannot mean anything by it.
It is simply a roseflower, unobserved, unrecognized, unpraised, unknown, opening its petals and sharing its fragrance to the winds for no other reason than this is its nature.
“The dead teacher,” said the monk, “did he know it, or not?”
Because it is very possible that you can repeat words which are dead on your lips. They may have been alive on somebody else’s.
Tozan said something tremendously beautiful. He said:
“If he didn’t, how could he say such a thing?
He was such an honest, integrated being, he would not have said anything that he did not know.
“And if he did, how could he avoid saying it?”
This is the eternal problem Zen has faced, encountered: if you know, you cannot say it; and if you know you cannot avoid saying it. The experience is such that intrinsically, it wants to be shared. If you don’t know, of course you cannot say it. But if you know, then too you cannot say it; at the same time you cannot avoid saying it.
Lao Tzu did not say a single word to his disciples – and he had thousands of disciples. Those were the golden days: a thousand disciples sitting with Lao Tzu in utter silence, day by day, year by year – nothing is asked, nothing is answered. Everybody knows this is, and there is no need to give it an expression – because the moment you express it, it is no more the real, it has become unreal, just a shadow, a false reflection in a mirror. Howsoever real it looks it is only appearance.
Have you seen your face in the mirror? It is there, in every detail; but you know perfectly well it is not there, it is only a shadow. But to small children sometimes it happens, to very small children, as yet uncorrupted. If you bring a mirror in front of them, they look at the child on the other side, they try to grab hold of the child with their tiny hands. They go on slipping on the mirror. They cannot resist the temptation to find who is behind. They try to go back, behind the mirror to find the child. Of course there is nobody. It was their own reflection.