Zen is originally connected with Buddha, but the color and the flavor that came to it came through Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu and the Chinese consciousness. And then it blossomed in Japan; it came to its ultimate peak in Japan. Japan also has a great quality: of taking life playfully. The consciousness of Japan is very colorful.
Zen could have happened in the Jewish world too. Something like it really did happen – that is Hassidism. This story must have come from Jewish sources, although it is about Jesus. But Christians have no sense of humor. And Jesus was never a Christian, remember. He was born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, he died as a Jew.
Jesus is hanging on the cross singing, “Da-di-li-da-dum-dein….”
Suddenly Peter hisses from underneath, “Hey, Jesus!”
Jesus goes on, “Da-di-dum-da-dum-da-dei….”
Peter, now more urgently, “Hey, Jesus, stop it!”
Jesus continues happily with “Di-duah-duah….”
Finally Peter yells, “For God’s sake, Jesus, cut it out! Tourists are coming!”
Try to understand Zen through laughter, not through prayer. Try to understand Zen through flowers, butterflies, sun, moon, children, people in all their absurdities. Watch this whole panorama of life, all these colors, the whole spectrum.
Zen is not a doctrine, it is not a dogma. It is growing into an insight. It is a vision – very light-hearted, not serious at all.
Be light-hearted, light-footed. Be of light step. Don’t carry religion like a burden. And don’t expect religion to be a teaching; it is not. It is certainly a discipline, but not a teaching at all. Teaching has to be imposed upon you from the outside and teaching can only reach to your mind, never to your heart, and never, never to the very center of your being. Teaching remains intellectual. It is an answer to human curiosity, and curiosity is not a true search.
The student remains outside the temple of Zen because he remains curious. He wants to know answers and there are none. He has some stupid questions to be answered: “Who made the world? Why did he make the world?” And so on and so forth. “How many heavens are there and how many hells? And how many angels can dance on the point of a needle? And is the world infinite or finite? Are there many lives or only one?” These are all curiosities – good for a student of philosophy but not good for a disciple.
A disciple has to drop curiosity. Curiosity is something very superficial. Even if those questions are answered, nothing will have happened to your being; you will remain the same. Yes, you will have more information, and out of that information you will create new questions. Each question answered brings ten more new questions; the answer creates ten more new questions.