Suigan, thinking he had attained something of Zen,
left Jimyo’s monastery, when he was still a young monk,
to travel all over China.
Years later, when Suigan returned to visit the monastery,
his old teacher asked,
“Tell me the summary of Buddhism.”
“If a cloud does not hang over the mountain,
the moonlight will penetrate the waves of the lake.”
Jimyo looked at his former pupil in anger.
He said, “You are getting old!
Your hair has turned white,
and your teeth are sparse,
yet you still have such an idea of Zen.
How can you escape birth and death?”
Tears washed Suigan’s face as he bent his head.
After a few minutes he asked,
“Please tell me the summary of Buddhism.”
“If a cloud does not hang over the mountain,”
the teacher replied,
“the moonlight will penetrate the waves of the lake.”
Before the teacher had finished speaking,
Suigan was enlightened.
Maneesha, enlightenment is an instantaneous awareness, understanding; it has nothing to do with the rational, philosophical or theological mind. It is just a gesture, not a word. It is here, this very moment, the very essence of Zen.
This is a beautiful anecdote, particularly for this evening, when there is so much silence and the birds are singing and the bamboos are listening silently. Such moments cannot be reduced to language. The moment you reduce them, you destroy them. They are always virgin; that is their very essence.
Suigan, thinking he had attained something of Zen…
Remember, it is very easy to think that you have attained something of Zen. But thinking has nothing to do with Zen. It is the barrier. If you think you have attained something of Zen, you have missed. Zen is a non-thinking, silent rejoicing within yourself, a dance of consciousness without any boundaries of words, thoughts.
Suigan was wrong from the very beginning when he thought that he had attained something of Zen. Secondly, it is not possible to attain Zen in installments. It is absolutely un-American. Either you have it in its wholeness or you don’t have it. But in parts, it is not available. Nothing can be done about it; this is the very nature of things. So on both counts he was wrong.
First, he thought – and Zen is beyond thinking. Second, he thought that he had got something of Zen. You cannot get “something of Zen”; it never comes in parts and pieces, it is not a retail shop. It is wholesale: when it comes, it comes so totally that it leaves no space for any thought.
But Suigan, thinking he had attained something of Zen, left Jimyo’s monastery – his master.
These anecdotes are being lived here again. We are not reading them, we are living them; there is no other way to understand them. There are many sannyasins who have left, thinking they have attained something. Suigan is only symbolic. Somendra thinks he has attained something, Rajen thinks he has attained something. And there are many Somendras and many Rajens.
Don’t belong to that category, any of you, because it is very easy for the mind to persuade you that you have attained it. It asks: “What are you doing here?” Remember this when your mind says, “My God, in what unknown space did I enter? I cannot figure it out, what it is – a taste, a sweetness, a fragrance, a joy, a song without words, a music without any instruments.”