All of the religions are concerned with the outer: a god somewhere above the clouds. Zen laughs at such gods. Man has created them out of fear: man needs a protection, he feels alone, he feels afraid of death, he needs a protector god. All the gods are fictions; but they have a certain utility: they console. Zen does not believe in consolation, it believes in realization.
And if you want to know what life is…from the outside you can only know the surface. Only digging deep into your own being will you be able to know life from within and the moment you know life from within your whole existence becomes a dance, a joy, a bliss, a gratitude to existence. Zen has a totally different approach to any other religion. As far as I’m concerned, Zen is the only religion, others are pseudo substitutes.
Nansen has thousands of disciples. One of the disciples, Sekiso, wrote a small poem:
A violent storm beats against it
but it never moves at all.
Wild and solitary,
sharp and full of power,
it soars like a bird’s feather.
I give my assent only to one
who has climbed to the summit.
Walking, sitting, lying down,
he does everything as though
he were out for a stroll.
A beautiful piece, describing exactly the state of a man who has reached to the sunlit peaks of consciousness. Everything for him is just playfulness, as if he has gone for a walk in the morning, as the sun is rising; just a morning walk: no goal, he can turn anywhere, he’s not going anywhere, no purpose, just the sheer joy of the morning and the cool breeze, and the rising sun, and the singing birds, and the opening flowers, and the fragrant air. But no purpose of his own, no goal of his own, just a sheer joy.
Unfortunate are the people who never look to the sunrise, to the sunset, to a starry night. These are all non-utilitarian things, and such people are so much concerned with money, power. Their whole concern is with small and mediocre things.
In Zen, nature in all its forms: whether it is raining, or there is a thundercloud, or lightning, whether it is morning, or evening, or a deep night when everything becomes silent…Zen goes on watching all this, witnessing all this. For the man who has found the witness, this whole existence becomes an immense wonder.
Sekiso said, A violent storm beats against it, against the witness, but it never moves at all; the witness has never moved. It is the only immovable part in the world. Everything moves and changes; only one thing never changes, that which is hidden inside you at the center.
Heraclitus said, “You cannot step twice in the same river.” But unfortunately in the West, philosophers, theologians, the so-called religious people have never inquired about the witness. If I meet Heraclitus somewhere – and one never knows, in this vast universe I may meet him – I would like to tell him, “It is true you cannot step twice in the same river because the river is continuously moving. But you have forgotten one thing, you have forgotten yourself.”