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FIRST THINGS FIRST: HAVE A CUP OF TEA!

A Zen Story:
Joshu, the Zen master, asked a new monk in the monastery, 'Have I seen you before?'
The new monk replied, 'No sir.'
Joshu said, 'Then have a cup of tea.'
Joshu then turned to another monk, 'Have I seen you here before?
The second monk said, 'Yes sir, of course you have.'
Joshu said, 'Then have a cup of tea.'
Later the managing monk of the monastery asked Joshu, 'How is it you make the same offer of tea to any reply?'
At this Joshu shouted, 'Manager, are you still here?'
The manager replied, 'Of course, Master.'
Joshu said, 'Then have a cup of tea.'

The story is simple, but difficult to understand. It is always so. The more simple a thing the more difficult it is to understand. To understand, something complex is needed; to understand, you have to divide and analyze. A simple thing cannot be divided and analyzed-there is nothing to divide and analyze; the thing is so simple. The simplest always escapes understanding; that is why god cannot be understood. God is the simplest thing, absolutely the simplest thing possible. The world can be understood; it is very complex. The more complex a thing is, the more the mind can work on it. When it is simple there is nothing to grind against, the mind cannot work.

Logicians say simple qualities are indefinable. For example, somebody asks you what yellow is. It is such a simple quality, the color yellow, how will you define it? You will say, 'Yellow is yellow.' The man will say, 'That I know, but what is the definition of yellow?' If you say yellow is yellow you are not defining, you are simply repeating the same thing again. It is a tautology.

G.E. Moore, one of the most penetrating minds of this century, has written a book, Principia Ethica. The whole book consists of a very persistent effort to define what is good. Making efforts from all directions, in two or three hundred pages-and two, three hundred pages of G.E. Moore is worth three thousand pages of anybody else-he came to the conclusion that good is indefinable. Good cannot be defined-it is such a simple quality. When something is complex there are many things in it; you can define one thing by another that is present there. If you and I are in a room and you ask me, 'Who are you?' I can at least say I am not you. This will become the definition, the indication. But if I am alone in a room and I ask myself the question, 'Who am I?' the question resounds but there is no answer. How to define it?

That is why God has been missed. Intellect denies it, reason says no. God is the simplest denominator in existence-the simplest and the most basic. When the mind stops there is nothing other than God-so how to define God? He is alone in the room. That is why religions try to divide, then definition is possible. They say, 'This world is not that; God is not the world, God is not matter, God is not body, God is not desire.' These are ways to define.

You have to put something against something, then a boundary can be drawn. How do you draw a boundary if there is no neighbor? Where do you place the fence of your house if there is no neighborhood? If there is no one beside you, how can you fence in your house? Your house boundary consists of the presence of your neighbor. God is alone; he has no neighbor. Where does he begin? Where does he end? Nowhere. How can you define God? Just to define God, the Devil was created. God is not the Devil-at least this much can be said. You may not be able to say what God is but you can say what he is not: God is not the world.

I was just reading one Christian theologian's book. He says God is everything except evil. This, too, is enough to define. He says, 'All except evil'-this much will draw a boundary. He is not aware: if God is 'everything' then from where does this evil come? It must be coming from 'everything.' Otherwise there is some other source of existence besides God, and that other source of existence becomes equivalent to God. Then evil can never be destroyed, then it has its own source of existence; then evil is not dependent on God, so how can God destroy it? God will not destroy it. Once evil is destroyed God cannot be defined. To define him he needs the Devil to be there always, just around him. Saints need sinners; otherwise they would not be there. How will you know who is a saint? Every saint needs sinners around him; those sinners make the boundary.

The first thing to be understood is that complex things can be understood, simple things cannot. A simple thing is alone. This Zen story about Joshu is very simple. It is so simple it escapes you: you try to grip it; you try to grab it-it escapes. It is so simple that your mind cannot work on it. Try to feel the story. I will not say try to understand because you cannot understand it-try to feel the story. Many things are hidden within it if you try to feel them; if you try to understand it nothing is there-the whole anecdote is absurd.

 

Osho, A Bird on the Wing, Talk #4

 

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