I cannot understand the philosophy of Zen. What should I do to understand it?
Zen is not a philosophy at all. To approach Zen as if it is a philosophy is to begin in a wrong way from the very beginning. A philosophy is something of the mind; Zen is totally beyond the mind. Zen is the process of going above the mind, far away from the mind; it is the process of transcendence, of surpassing the mind. You cannot understand it by the mind, mind has no function in it.
Zen is a state of no-mind, that has to be remembered. It is not Vedanta. Vedanta is a philosophy; you can understand it perfectly well. Zen is not even Buddhism; Buddhism is also a philosophy.
Zen is a very rare flowering – it is one of the strangest things that has happened in the history of consciousness – it is the meeting of Buddha’s experience and Lao Tzu’s experience. Buddha, after all, was part of the Indian heritage: he spoke the language of philosophy; he is perfectly clear, you can understand him. In fact, he avoided all metaphysical questions; he was very simple, clear, logical. But his experience was not of the mind. He was trying to destroy your philosophy by providing you with a negative philosophy. Just as you can take out a thorn from your foot with another thorn, Buddha’s effort was to take out the philosophy from your mind with another philosophy. Once the first thorn has been taken out, both thorns can be thrown away and you will be beyond mind.
But when Buddha’s teachings reached China a tremendously beautiful thing happened: a crossbreeding happened. In China, Lao Tzu has given his experience of Tao in a totally non-philosophical way, in a very absurd way, in a very illogical way. But when the Buddhist meditators, Buddhist mystics, met the Taoist mystics they immediately could understand each other heart to heart, not mind to mind. They could feel the same vibe, they could see that the same inner world had opened, they could smell the same fragrance. And they came closer, and by their coming closer, by their meetings and merging with each other, something new started growing up; that is Zen. It has both the beauty of Buddha and the beauty of Lao Tzu; it is the child of both. Such a meeting has never happened before or since.
Zen is neither Taoist nor Buddhist. It is both and neither. Hence the traditional Buddhists reject Zen and the traditional Taoists also reject Zen. For the traditional Buddhist it is absurd, for the traditional Taoist it is too philosophical, but to those who are really interested in meditation, Zen is an experience. It is neither absurd nor philosophical because both are terms of the mind. It is something transcendental.
Osho, Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Talk #16
To understand Zen you need not make a philosophical effort; you have to go deep into meditation. And what is meditation all about? Meditation is a jump from the mind into no-mind, from thoughts to no-thought. Mind means thinking, no-mind means pure awareness. One simply is aware. Only then will you be able to understand Zen – through experience, not through any intellectual effort.
Osho, Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Talk #16
Zen is severe. It is a very arduous path. It is not a game to play with, it is playing with fire. You will never be the same again once you enter into the world of Zen. You will be totally transformed, so much so that you will not be able to recognize yourself. The person who enters into the world of Zen and the person who comes out are two totally different entities. There is no continuity, you become discontinuous with your past. All continuity is of the mind; all identity is of the mind; all name, all form, is of the mind. When the mind is dropped you suddenly become discontinuous with the past – not only with the past, you become unconnected with time.
And that is the whole secret of Zen: to become unconnected with time. Then you become connected with eternity. And eternity is here-now; eternity knows no past and no future; eternity is pure present. Time knows no present – time is past and future. Ordinarily we think that time is divided into three categories: past, present and future. That is absolutely wrong. Time is divided only into two categories: past and future. The present is not part of time at all. Just watch, just see. When is the present? The moment you recognize that this is the present, it is already past. The moment you say, “Yes, this is the present,” it is already gone, it is past. Or if you say, “This is going to be the present,” it is still future. You cannot recognize present, you cannot point at present, you cannot indicate present. In the world of time there is no present.
Osho, Dang Dang Doko Dang, Talk #1
Zen says: Buddhahood is not somewhere far away. You are just sitting on top of it. You are it! So there is no need to go anywhere; you just have to become a little alert about who you are. It has already happened! Nothing has to be achieved, nothing has to be practiced! Only one thing: you have to become a little more alert about who you are.
Zen teaches, therefore, not by words. Zen teaches, therefore, not by goals. Zen teaches by direct pointing. It hits you directly. It creates a situation, it creates a device.
A man came to a Zen master and asked, “I would like to become a Buddha.” And the master hit him hard.
The man was puzzled. He went out and asked some old disciple, “What kind of man is this? I asked such a simple question and he got so angry. He hit me hard! My cheek is still burning. Is it wrong to ask how to become a Buddha? This man seems to be very cruel and violent!”
And the disciple laughed. He said, “You don’t understand his compassion. It is out of his compassion that he has hit you hard. And he is old, ninety years old; just think of his hand – it will be burning more than your cheek! You are young. Think of his compassion, you fool! Go back!”
But the man asked, “But what is the message in it?”
And the disciple said. “The message is simple. If a Buddha comes and asks how to become a Buddha, what else is there to do? You can hit him and make him aware that you are it. What nonsense you are talking about!”
If a rosebush starts trying to become a rosebush, it will go mad. It is already the rosebush. You may have forgotten. Zen says you are in a state of slumber, you have forgotten who you are, that’s all. Nothing has to be done, just a remembrance. That’s what Nanak calls surati, Kabir calls surati – just a remembrance. You have only to remember who you are!
So Zen teaches not by words, not by scriptures, not by theories, but by direct pointing, by engaging us in a game in which the only answer is a new level of consciousness.
Listen to this story and you will understand how Zen creates situations. Zen is very psychological. The problem is psychological – you have simply forgotten; it is not that you have gone anywhere. You have fallen asleep. Zen functions as an alarm. It hits you, hits at the heart, makes you awake.
Osho, Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 3, Talk #1