At a later time, Isan asked Kyozan – both great masters – “In the case of these two venerable ones, was either the winner or loser?” Kyozan said, “When one wins, one wins unconditionally. When one loses, one loses unconditionally.”
This is such a profound statement; it means the question of being a winner or loser is meaningless. The point is, whatever happens it should be unconditional, it should be spontaneous. To be a failure spontaneously is as valuable as to be victorious. The real value is in spontaneity, in unconditionality.
If you fail, you accept your failure unconditionally, with joy. That’s a gift of nature. One never knows, even a dark night may turn into a beautiful dawn. You should not start having opinions about who has won and who has lost. Both the participants in a Zen encounter should remain spontaneous whatever happens. The value is in the spontaneity; it has been taken away from victory completely.
Victory is part of a struggling world, a world with conditions, a world with desires. Zen pays no attention to victory or defeat; they are both meaningless. What is meaningful is spontaneity. It is possible that the spontaneous one may be defeated and the victorious may not be unconditional. In the eyes of Zen, the defeated one is at a higher state.
It happened once, a Zen samurai, a Zen warrior, had come home early from the front, and he found the servant making love to his wife.
Being a man of Zen, he said to the servant, “Don’t be worried, just finish your job. I am waiting outside. You will have to take a sword in your hand and fight with me. It is perfectly okay whatever is happening. I am waiting outside.”
This poor servant started trembling. He does not even know how to hold a sword, and his master is a famous warrior; he will chop off his head in a single blow.
So he ran from the back door to the Zen master who was also the master of the warrior. He said to the master, “I have got into trouble. It is all my fault, but it has happened.”
The master listened to his story and he said, “There is no need to be worried. I will teach you how to hold the sword, and I will also tell you that it does not matter that your master is a great warrior. All that matters is spontaneity. And in spontaneity you will be the better, because he seems to be confident: there is no question of this servant surviving; it will be almost like a cat playing with a rat.
“So don’t be worried. Be total, and hit him hard, because this is your only chance of living, survival. So don’t be half-hearted, don’t be conditional, thinking that perhaps he may forgive you. He will never forgive you. You will have to fight with him. You have provoked and challenged him. But there is no problem: as far as I can see, you will end up the winner.”