And so, all these powers are projected upon the Zen Master. He is a Buddha, he is a master of life. And if he is, the reason why is this, that he has discovered the unreality of the whole problem. There is not life on the one hand, and you on the other. It’s all the same. But you see you can’t tell people that. And just by telling get them to see it.
Just in in exactly this way you are people who know that the earth is flat. Can’t be reasoned with. People who believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, absolutely impossible to reason with them at all because they know it is. So in the same way, we tend to know that we are all separate poor little me, and that we are in need of salvation or something. And we know this is so and so somebody says well you’re not really that you know that that feeling of separateness is an illusion. Well that all very nice in theory but I don’t feel it. So what will you do? What will you do with a person who is convinced that the earth is flat? No way of reasoning with him. If it’s for some reason important that he discovered that the earth is round, you got to play a game with him, you want to play a trick on him you tell him great the earth is flat, let’s go and look over the edge when that be fun. Because, if we’re going to look over the edge of the earth we must be very very careful that we don’t go around in circles or we’ll never get to the edge. So we’ve got to go along consistently along a certain line of latitude westwards. And then we’re going to come to the edge of the earth, just so long as we’re consistent. In other words, in order to convince a flat surface that the world is round, you’ve got to make him act consistently on his own proposition, and go consistently westwards to find the edge of the world. Now, at last when he by going consistently westwards he comes back to the place where he started, he’s been convinced that the Earth is at least cylindrical, and he may believe you. Then take it on faith that if he goes along the line of longitude, the same thing will happen. But you see what you did was to make him persist in his folly.
Now that’s the whole method of Zen. To make people become perfect egotists. And so explode the illusion of the separate ego. So what happens? In effect then, in the, in the discipline of Zen ou finally, when you convince the master that you are stupid enough to be accepted as a student. Because you persisted and because you’ve defined yourself as someone having the proper. He is want you well in advance that he has nothing to teach. But he says now I will ask you a question. There are many ways of asking this question, but they all boil down to one common theme, and that is Who are you? You say you have a problem. You say you’d like to get out of the sufferings of life, you say you would like to get one up on the universe. I want to know who’s asking this question, show me you. And only they put it in such ways as. Before your father and mother conceived you, what was your original nature? Questions like that. And they’ll say now, look I want I want to be shown I don’t want a lot of ideas about who you are I don’t want to know who you are in terms of a social role. You know, that you have such degrees or you have such professional qualifications and such a name and such a family, all that’s the past, I want to see you genuinely now. It’s like saying to a person, ‘now don’t be self-conscious, see I want you right this minute to be completely sincere. C’mon now.’
Well nothing is better calculated to make a person incapable of sincerity. As when relatives come and uncles and the little child and they want to review this child and see it and the parents say to the child, ‘darling come on down play for us.’ And the poor child is completely nonplussed. Doesn’t know what to do. Because you cannot play on demand. Now what is the Zen teacher doing in saying to a person. You must answer this question by coming before me in in fact a rather formal situation where you use the kind of context in which is and master interviews his students is very formal. And there he sits, sort of enthroned tiger, he is definitely in this culture a sense a a of parity figure. And so he is the last kind of person you can respond with. Because you feel that he knows you through and through. And that you know ever read that story of one Clive about a man another fight with a bear, and the bear is a mind reader and always knows what movie is going to make. It so that the man can never conquer the bear unless he makes a move which he doesn’t think about first. How would you do that? And then you get the same feeling with relationship to a Zen master. You feel that he is absolutely aware of everything phony about you. That he reads you like a book, but that you can’t find a way of being not phony. Think about this a little.
You see it’s, we can arrange a group session and this is a little game that’s being played by lots of people it’s a kind of psychotherapy we can arrange a group session, in which the gimmick is this. That when anybody says anything or does anything. The group or some section of the troop of the group challenges its sincerity. And says ‘Why you coming on so strong? Are you trying to dominate us?’ And you see anything that you do can be interpreted in that way. Because the moment a group of people becomes, starts making comments on its own behavior, it is setting up a situation in the group which is analogous, say in a T.V. studio, to turning the camera on the monitor.
So, when we start, thinking about thinking. Being aware of being aware, this is what is called in the Japanese, the observing self. I watch myself all the time, you see, a hopeless mess. But this is the price that human beings pay for having become self-conscious. Anxiety and killed. Anxiety because, am I sure that I thought this out sufficiently carefully. When I left the house did I turn off the gas stove? And incidentally I remember turning it off but can I trust my memory. Don’t think about memory now I wonder if I can trust it maybe I better go back and look I went back and I looked at it I really see and thinking about my sight, and whether whether this is quite authentic, did I did I look properly, because you know how the unconscious can alter your senses so I better go look again see as soon now I’ve got into a sort of vicious circle where I’ll never get away from the house. Yes. And this you all this sort of getting mixed up is the penalty we pay for the advantageous gift of being able to know that we know. ‘There was a young man who said though it seems that I know, that I know what I would like to see is the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know.’
And so this is the Zen trick. It’s to put you into this situation in a very crucial way. To think about thinking about thinking about thinking about, or just the same thing. To make a very strong effort not to think. That’s Zazen. Sit, let your senses operate and be responsive to whatever that may be around but don’t think about it. But now this is already thinking, I’m thinking about not thinking. How will I stop thinking about not thinking? So there you are! See, you’re all caught up it’s like somebody came to you and they put tar on one hand, molasses feathers in the other that the to dance to gether rub them around said, ‘Now pick up the feathers.’
So you see what happens the teacher is well aware that he’s played this trick on you. And he’s going to see what will happen if you act and he’s got to help you to act consistently on this foolishness. Now, you see what he’s done, is he simply made a special case of what society does to us all any how. And this is true of most cultures, the high cultures of the world, whether they’re of the East or whether they’re of the West, play a game on every new member they don’t know they’re playing this game because their forefathers played it on them and they’re still it’s hopeless victim.
The game is called the double-bind. And the formula under which, under whose auspices, everybody comes into this world is as follows. You are required to do something which will be acceptable only if you do it voluntarily. You must love me. You must go to sleep. You must be natural. You must be. Listened to that you must be free. Now what happens you see, society, the community into which every child enters, defines the child. We know who we are, as other people react to us. So the other people say to us, you’re an independent agent. Your responsible. You’re a freely acting individual. But this is a commandment. And we obey it because we can’t help it. Child has no way of criticizing us. Or of seeing the something phony about it. So the child, has to be free because he is commanded to be so by the community. Now then, the community sets itself a problem. Having defined the child as an independent agent, and how they got the child to believe that he is an independent depended agent because he isn’t. In other words, he wouldn’t believe this if he were independent. It then has trouble getting him to behave as the community wants him to behave.
So they feel that the something ornery about all children they’re born in Original Sin, they’re a fractious and so on of course they are because they’ve been defined in a self-contradictory way. So when the community says to a person you must be free. Or when we are in a family relationship in which the members of the family are saying to each other you must love me it’s your duty to love me. What a bunch of rot. Supposing your one day you get up and you say to your wife, ‘Darling, do you really love me?’ And she replies ‘Well I’m trying my very best to do so.’ Is that the answer you wanted? No! You wanted out of say darling I can’t help loving you I love you so much I could reach you. You don’t want to try to love you but yet that is what you put on people. In almost any marriage ceremony, that you shall laugh that’s both shout above the law by God shout love thy neighbor as thyself. This is a double bind. And anybody who lives under the dominance of a double bind, lives in a state of chronic frustration. Because he is devoting his whole life to solving a meaningless, nonsensical problem. Let’s take the double bind that is the deepest of all, you must go on living. Now living is a spontaneous process. And to say to it, you must happen, is exactly the same thing as saying to any kind of creative artist. You must come through with the goods. Tonight you must give the super performance and above all you must be unselfconscious.
Well, this is being done to us all the time, and the object of the Zen discipline is that instead of doing this to people and consciously as parents do it and as teachers do it to children and as the children’s peers do it to their own peer members. In Zen, the double bind is put on you deliberately knowing how stupid it is. The teacher is well aware of everything he is doing, and the tricks he’s playing on you, because he has behind it all the compassionate intent of getting you into such a fierce double bind that you will see how stupid it is.
So then, what happens is this. He gives you the double bind. Be genuine. I want to see you do something that is the real you. I had a friend who was studying Zen and he was given some koan like this to work on. And when he was one day going for his interview, he walked through the garden that connected the Soto, or the monks study quarters with the master’s place, and there was a big bull frog, bull frogs in this country are rather tame, people don’t eat them. And so he swept up the bull frog and dropped it into the sleeve of his kimono. And when he got in front of the teacher to answer the koan, that is to say to do spontaneously produce his genuine self he produced the bull frog. And the teacher looked at it and shook his head and said ‘Too intellectual.’ Or, as you might say, too contrived, too studied. That’s not yet YOU. Now do you see the bind in this? It’s like being told that everything is all right at this moment so long as you don’t think of a green elephant. So try not to think of a green elephant. Now as he works at this, as he tries to produce the genuine you the teacher really strings him out on this and makes him work and work and work over a period of many months, until he comes to the point of seeing this. There is nothing you can do to be genuine. The more you do the phonier you know you are. But at the opposite extreme there is nothing you can not do. That is to say you cannot give up trying to be again. You can’t relax you know and be completely passive. And say well let’s forget about it. Let’s think about practical. Matters and forget all these spiritual concerns the moment you do that your abandonment of trying is itself an insidious form of trying. For example or there’s a very interesting Hindu teacher by the name of Krishnamurti that many of you may know about. And he tells people you know that all their religious inquiry or their yoga practices their reading religious books and so on is nothing but a form of perpetuating one’s egocentricity but on a very refined and highbrow level. So he gets a kind of disciple who studiously avoids reading any kind of philosophical edifying book they’re reduced to reading mystery stories. And they become devoted non-disciples. See what a clever bind that is it’s the same as theirs in technique. You can’t, in other words, let go, of you we’ve seen is a My point was at the beginning we saw that. The way of Buddhism is to let go of yourself. To see that you live in a universe in which in which nothing can be grasped. Therefore stop grasping.
So here’s the problem. I come and say to the teacher teach me not to grasp. You say ‘Why do you want to know?’ And he’s rich shows you that the reason why you want to stop grasping is that it’s a new form of grasping you feel that you will beat the game by being unattached. It’s horrible to grieve when somebody you love dies and the reviving on attached to that I can avoid grief. Pretty cold isn’t it? Maybe you see, by not having an ego. When life comes and bangs on me. If there’s nobody there, it’ll be all right. So that’s why I want non-ego state. That’s phony. All this is a new way of safeguarding and protecting the ego. So this is the way in which Buddhism is a dialogue. So you see, if you go back to fundamental primitive Buddhims, people say to the Buddha, I want to escape from suffering. Perfectly honest statement. All right. I realise that suffering is caused by desire. Trying not to desire. So the student goes away and tries to eliminate desires by controlling his mind and practicing yoga. Comes back to the teacher and says a pretty difficult but I have managed at least to get rid of some desire. Teacher says to him, but you’re still desiring to get rid of desire. What about that one? And then the student sees. That if he tries to stop desiring, but then he’s got to stop desiring to get rid of not desiring to desire. And suddenly he finds himself once more with molasses in one hand, and feathers in another. Absolutely tied up in a vicious circle.
So he realizes, there is nothing I can do about it, and there’s nothing I can not do about it. And this predicament in Zen is called in mosquito trying to bite an iron bull. A position of such psychic extremity, that nothing can be done about it. Now the point here is, what does this situation mean? When you find yourself in that kind of a trap, what’s the meaning of the trap? Why that’s very simple. If there’s nothing you can do, and also nothing you cannot do about a given situation. It means that you are phony. And in other words, what we call a separate ego. Isn’t there. Cos it can’t do anything because it is not an agent and by virtue of the fact that it can’t do anything equally It can’t not do anything. It’s completely phony. So what has happened is to expose the fiction of there being a separate ego, either to force its actions upon the world, or to have the actions of the world forced upon it as a puppet this thing just doesn’t exist. Except as a figment of the imagination. Or except as a game rule. Let’s pretend everybody is responsible, is independent is separate. Sure, that’s a great game. But it’s a game. And so, the whole object of this is then dialogue between the teacher and the student is to carry that game of being the separate ego to its logical conclusion, to its reductio ad absurdum. So that as Blake said ‘the fool who persists in his folly will become wise.’