The enlightened man enjoys perfect freedom in active life. He is like a dragon supported by deep waters, or like a tiger that commands its mountain retreat. The man who is not enlightened drifts about in the affairs of the world. He is like a ram that gets its horns caught in a fence, or like a man who waits for a hare to run against a tree stump and stun itself.
The enlightened man’s words are sometimes like a lion crouched to spring, sometimes like the diamond king’s treasure sword. Sometimes their effect is to shut the mouths of the world-famed ones, sometimes it is as if they simply follow the waves coming one after another.
When the enlightened man meets others who are enlightened, then friend meets friend. He values them, and they encourage each other. When he meets those who are adrift in the world, then master meets disciple. His way of dealing with such people is farsighted. He stands firm before them, like a thousand-fathom cliff.
Therefore it is said that the way of the absolute is manifest everywhere: it has no fixed rules and regulations. The master sometimes makes a blade of grass stand for the golden-faced buddha, sixteen feet high, and sometimes makes the golden-faced buddha, sixteen feet high, stand for a blade of grass.
On another occasion, Engo said:
The universe is not veiled; all its activities lie open. Whichever way he may go, the enlightened man meets no obstruction. At all times he behaves independently. His every word is devoid of egocentricity, yet still has the power to kill others.
Once the delusive way of thinking is cut off, a thousand eyes are suddenly opened. One word blocking the stream of thought, and all non-actions are controlled. Is there anyone who would undergo the experience of dying the same death and living the same life as the buddha? Truth is manifest everywhere.
Maneesha, this is the last talk of the series called The Buddha: The Emptiness of the Heart.
It is very appropriate – exactly the right time – that you have brought the great master Engo’s statement about the enlightened man.
For centuries man has been thinking about the definition of enlightenment. A long succession of efforts have been made, but nobody has been able to bring a perfect definition of enlightenment, or of enlightened men. Engo comes very close, almost to the point; hence he has to be heard with absolute silence. He is saying something which is difficult to say. His effort is tremendously valuable.
He says about the enlightened man:
The enlightened man enjoys perfect freedom in active life.
That is the foundation of his following statements; it has to be understood, with all its implications.
The unconscious man lives according to others – either following them or denying them, but the focus is always the other. So there are followers and there are anti-followers; there are theists and there are atheists. But at the very foundation they are no different. One is positively in favor of some doctrine and one is negative, reactive, against the same doctrine, but both are hanging on to something other than themselves. They are other-oriented.
I am always reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre, and his statement that “the other is hell.” He may have made it in a different context, but in itself the statement is valuable. I want you to know: the other is hell because the other takes away your freedom. It may be done very lovingly, without any bad intention. It may be done with all good intentions but that does not matter: the ancient saying is that “the path to hell is paved with good intentions.”
The parents, the teachers, the neighbors, the friends – all are continuously giving a shape to your life, a style to your life. If you look into your mind you will find many voices together: your father is speaking, your grandfather is speaking, your mother, your brother, your teachers, your professors. But one thing you will not find there is your voice. Your voice has been completely repressed by other voices.
Layer upon layer, you have lost track even of your own voice, of your own self, of your own face. So many masks…