This morning, I simply tried to give you a general survey of what Zen is about, by way of being an introduction. And I was discussing the peculiar reasons for the interest in Zen in the West, stressing the extraordinary way in which the sort of, now you see it, now you don’t, implication of zen literature has fired people’s imagination, curiosity. That the feeling, there is a new vision of the world in it the aspect of its unity as distinct from our ordinary vision of the world in the aspect of its multiplicity, and broken-upness, fallen-apartness. And that this is something that you might somehow suddenly catch at any minute. It isn’t that then is an easy thing or that it’s a difficult thing. It might be either. And, but it exercises this peculiar fascination, by saying that the vision of the world and its unity is terribly obvious. It’s right under your nose only, you’re looking too hard in the wrong place, so you don’t see it. And so this is always the same puzzle as if I said to you. If you came here you know, and said well we want some philosophical enlightenment or whatever, and I looked at you in a funny way and said ‘But you’ve forgotten something.’ You know as if you hadn’t got your pants on or something. What have you forgotten? You know. Who do you think you are, any how? I’m I’m just me. Oh now come on don’t give me that line. What do you mean I’m just poor little me, ahhh nuts. Don’t put on that act. And they’re essentially you see it’s that kind of Upaya. Which is in teacher use, is a Sanskrit word meaning pedagogical techniques. In spiritual disciplines. In politics it means cunning but in the vocabulary of but ism or endures and it means. The expert cunning used by a teacher to surprise and trick is students out of their egocentricity. And Zen, therefore in all these koans, dialogues, rough czars and practices and so on it’s all. It’s a colossal hoax, but a very beneficence one.
So now, true Zen, came to birth in China as a result of a sort of interplay between Buddhism and Taoism. Now Taoism, is a kind of, exists in a sort of contrapuntal relationship to Confucianism. Confucianism is the philosophy of social order. And it is a very literary kind of attitude to life. Confucianism centers around the idea that sanity is grounded in words, numbers and ritual. You might say Confucianism is a social ritual, rather than a religion. It’s based on the idea that you’ve got to find the right names for things, and it’s terribly important to name things properly. Exactness of languages is critical. And so also music has to be just right. So Confucianism makes for a very high order of civilised conventional living. Not I might say, in passing, without a certain humor. Their humor is all through the Chinese nature. Confucius was a profoundly humorous man, but in a very cool way. He didn’t have Chuang Tzu’s belly laugh.
But you see they stick to Confucianism is the idea of what is called Jen. This is Romanized J E N But it’s this character and shanks. And it means. Human heartedness. To be a reasonable person is the highest of all virtues and that really it means, the it involves, for example, the ability to come off it. To avoid fanaticism, to accept the fact that all human beings are good-bad. That we all have in ourselves an element of the rascal. And that you should simply get along by recognizing that so that if somebody picks a fight with you, you work out a compromise you realize that he picked a fight center because he had emotions and he was human and he was greedy or whatever it is and so are you. And so you work out a compromise. And the Confucian would say that the human being as he is, both bad and good, is more trustworthy and reliable then a person who pretends that he’s not like that. A person who pretends that he is good and moral and in all things model of integrity is a very dangerous man. Confucius said the goody-goodies are the thieves of virtue. So jen is the Confucian norm.
But then they like to, live a very artificial style of life, with a great deal of formality and good manners and propriety and Confucians are rather much Puritans when it comes to sex. On the other hand the Taoists represent the opposite pole. They make fun of all attempts to pin things down in words, because they say with what words would you define the right words, and with what words will you define those. They know that a dictionary is circular. Have you ever played a game called Vish? Short for vicious circle. What you do is this: You have a number of people sitting around a table each one with the standard college dictionary. And there’s a referee. And at the word go a certain word is given. And everybody looks up that word. Then they look up the key word in the definition of that word. And then they look up the key word in the definition of that word and so on, when they get round to the Start world again they call up Vish the person who calls out this first is the winner of the game. But the referee is to decide whether you played fair, you know, whether you really look up a significant word in each clause. And you have to keep both you have a pad to keep a record of your steps the words you look up.
So that anyone challenges you the referee can judge. So Taoism is the force in Chinese culture which represents disillusion with the social game. You see Lao Tzu himself, by legend, who was supposed to have lived around six hundred B.C. to be a contemporary of Confucius but probably lived rather later than that. He was supposed to be the court librarian. And who became absolutely sick of the intrigue and the flattery and the insincerity of court life, and decided to quit. Just go off by himself and I can the mountains. But he was stopped at the gate by the captain of the guard who said, ‘We can’t let you go unless you first leave behind. A compendium of your wisdom.’ So he’s supposed to have sat down in the court in the gate house, and written the stanzas of the Tao Te Ching, translated over seventy times into English alone. And then the guard let him go. And he disappeared into the mountains.
So the idea of, to put it very baldly, the idea of Confucianism is that all details of living should be done in a state of highly controlled consciousness. And should be just so exactly right according to the rules. The counter idea of Taoism is that it’s better to let everything happen by itself. Trust your impulses, trust your instincts, trust your natural urges, let go of it all. Now, these two ways of describing Confucianism and Taoism are exaggerated. I’m caricaturing them for the sake of contrast. For example, a Taoist is not really a person who believes in pure laissez faire. What he is trying to say, the principle in Taoism called Wu-Wei which means non-interference, non-aggression, non-assertion. He’s saying don’t act against the grain of things act with it. Wu-wei is applied in Judo.
Now judo isn’t as you know a highly effective form of interfering with things. But it does it on the principle of going with the grain. In other words, if, in Judo. There is a form of Judo. Which is called JunoKata And it’s slow motion judo, to demonstrate the principles. And in one of these Juno Kata exercises… There is the always the attacker and the defender, and the attacker begins. By going at you like this. And this is the lead. Now what does the defender do? Instead of hitting back at that lead, he does this. He takes the hand of the attacker and pulls it off like this. Then he catches the other hand. And bends the fellow across and caught. In another one the attacker, does this, going to the jaw. The defender catches this upswinging hand, like this carries it right on twelve the fellow around and locks thus. The attacker is now bending backwards like this, but he is facing this way, and his right arm is thus caught. So these are the formal exercises which demonstrate the principles, the principle of Judo is. Overcoming nature. By cooperating. Same way as a sail tacks against the wind.
So you see it isn’t quite not doing anything. It’s as we say striking while the iron is hot taking time by the forelock etc etc. There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at its flood leads on to fortune. And that’s Taoism. But Taoism does tend, to be the attitude of skepticism towards the social and commercial rat race. And says really, do we have to play that game? Wouldn’t you actually be better off living in a kind of dignified poverty. And so easy in a way, Taoism is a philosophy for old people. After you’ve sowed your wild oats, and you made something in life and had children and so on and you become an old gent and others had enough of that. And so, you asked the question now, behind this facade I put on this role I’ve been playing and pretending that I’m someone who am I really? And what is all this thing about.
So the Taoist is a kind of a mountain man. He goes to the mountains. And you know that lovely Chinese poem. It’s called Seeking the hermit. ‘I asked the boy beneath the pines and he says the master’s gone alone, herb-gathering somewhere on the mount, cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.’ And so, you know, there’s this notion you know the old man mysterious old man somewhere up there on Mount Tamalpais. And there’s trails it and by that missed all that ours really dig that and that’s the landscape paintings of the China of the old masters. Sitting. On craggy canyons drinking sack a of whatever plum wine or whatever. That’s their idea of a good life.
Now, both the Confucians and the Taoists. Are not. Although there’s a certain Puritanism in Confucian ethics. They all believe in the physical world. As a good thing. The Taoist loves nature the Confucian is particular about parents and family and all that. The Buddhists of India on the other hand, tended, very often to be anti-physical. I mean in other words, to be celibate to be interested in getting out of this state of consciousness, in which the world appears to us in its multiplicity. The Chinese never could get on with that. They didn’t see any sense in that Indian attitude. So when Buddhism came to China, the Chinese did a flip with it. And they wanted a kind of Buddhism which although it was sort of monastic in the Indian tradition, was not monastic in the way that it is in India. Or in Burma, Solon.
Buddhism, for the Chinese is to some extent a thing which you go into for a time. And you’ll attain enlightenment. And then you can come back as it were, and do anything you want. You can have family you can be a tramp, you can just play it anyway. But they feel with it in into the whole tone of the Mahayana type of Buddhism even in India, is that once enlightened you want to come back. So the situation of a Buddhist monk in the Far East is generally speaking, that he’s not quite like a monk as we understand monks in the West. Monks in the West take a life of ours. They vow poverty chastity and obedience until they die. But in the Far East, a Buddhist monk may go into the discipline for a number of years. And then return to lay a life with no bad feelings in fact he may be considered a considerable success in having done so.
So, that kind of trend in the Confucian and the Taoist attitudes, when it coalesces with Indian Buddhism, produces something very different from anything you’ll find in India. And Zen., uniquely and outstandingly represents this sort of attitude. So, too, when these Indian monks, worked with their Chinese opposites the scholars to translate the Buddhist Sanskrit texts into Chinese. It was obvious that they would find equivalent words from the vocabulary of Taoism and so, for example, when any Chinese master is addressing. His students, the phrase which he is liable to use, in saying students he says W.. Tao you’ll means. We translated Oh you’ll followers of the way. Of the doubt. The way of nature. But the Buddhist Marga, the path, the Noble Eightfold Path. The road, the path, finds the Chinese equivalent in Tao. But Tao means far more than Marga. Tao has overtones which the word Marga doesn’t have in Sanskrit. Marga is simply something like a message. A course of discipline a set of stages but without. Means. The fundamental way of the world. What is innate, so that if you can find out what is innate in you to do or to be, and follow that, you are following the Tao. You’re not following any laid down set of rules but Marga, in Sanskrit, means a set of rules.
So you see what happens now Furthermore say Dalia is to say little character Lou. Which. This follower actually means. Slow. So you get Fung Yu which means the flow of the wind. And thus has come to mean elegance of a certain kind. Supposing somebody is sitting by the stream. Like here on a misty evening and a bird is crawling in the distance and he’s sitting there fishing. But he’s not fishing just to catch fish. He’s not just a peasant who needs fish. He’s a poet, who . doesn’t care whether he catches a fish or not it just loves to be there and dig that scene that’s feng yu. It’s a it’s a word that means everything of the Feng which means ordinarily wind also means atmosphere in the sense that when you say a place or a room has a certain atmosphere. That restaurant has atmosphere feng. There’s also… The Chinese word.. Japanese would say. Fooshu, the atmosphere of our school. In other words, the Zen school, has a certain flavor to it which you recognise in the way a man walks or a style.
So it’s enlightened experience, it’s satori, has a certain style to it that is different from other people’s in life and although they’re all. Fully enlightened. Soul you know the funnel you is the flow So, when you translate from Sanskrit. ‘Follower of the path’ and you come out with a goal you’ll a Tao Yu Japanese say Do Yul. You get an entirely different meaning. Somebody who flows with the Tao. So is then monkeys called in Chinese. Yung Swe. Cloud water man. Union cloud sway water. Because he rests like a cloud he has no attachments or sea and he flows like water. He may be called in Sanskrit, ‘One who has entered the stream.’ That’s the technical meaning for somebody who’s started on the way of Buddhism. He has entered the street. But this doesn’t have the same quality of meaning as yung swe. He has entered the stream in the sense that he is crossing the stream, from the shore to the other shore. But yung swe means he is going with the stream. If you have read that marvelous book of Herman Hesse called Siddharta, where he ends up with the enlightenment of his hero by watching a river. And get and learning from the river you know exactly what the Taoist means by flowing with the Tao. Because he sees across the river a simultaneously at its source and at its goal, and that all the forms in it are forms of the whole river, and at the same time there’s nothing individual about them well I mean the form is individual but at the same time it isn’t a lump of water you know a wave isn’t a lump of water, it’s water passing constantly, flowing through, the way of the wave stays there but the water flows through it, so that’s what he learned from the stream. So you see, how the Chinese language. When you turn Sanskrit words into it the Chinese language with the background of meaning that these words have acquired from Taoist philosophy made a complete change in the nature of Buddhism.
Also, there’s another thing to it. The Chinese call the bluff on a lot of Indian nonsense. I have to explain this by telling a sort of a modern anecdote. Joseph Campbell, who is as you know the editor of all the works of Heinrich Zimmer, and actually wrote them him self out of Zimmer’s notes. Went to India. And he went to the greatest living guru in India today, who is an ex policeman. And, said to him, ‘The Sutras say that all things are Brahman. Isn’t this also true of the illusion, of the of the Maya?’ Isn’t that the for the way you know we feel every day and just ordinary kind of human beings isn’t that the Brahman too? And this man said You know it’s interesting that was the first question I asked my teacher. He said, Of course they are. Well, Joe said, Nobody in India teaches that anymore. So, the guru took Joseph downstairs to all his students and said I want you to meet a great rishi sage, from America and he really has found it and you should. He will get now give you a lecture or something and it was….
In other words, the Hindu tends to say, ‘Yes In fact all this well that you see now before your eyes is the divine ultimate Nandu all reality.’ But of course. You have to find out that it is. And when you do it will disappear. You will go into what they call Nirvikalpa samadhi. That means., technically it means being in a state of Samadhi without having concepts, but they mean something else by it, they mean, as if all the shapes that you saw before you were suddenly dim out. And instead there is nothing but light as any. Maybe this is the light is slightly Violet but I don’t know any way that every kind of sense you are in a sensual experience disappears. Now then, the way in which you have to argue this with the Hindu Swami and take this line is to say but your position is still dualistic. Because you moved from the vision of form, to the formless vision. This isn’t and this is just changing places, this is not liberation, it’s somewhere else on the wheel. And you know, they have to admit it. And I once had an argument with a swami in which I brought up a point we were discussing this morning. He was referring to the Brahman the ultimate reality, as the One, as one is as distinct from multiplicity I said I’m one as has an opposite. And the Brahman has no opposite. What you think you said is if you argue just like a Hindu.. Well he knew very well and he was using loose language and, as we all do.
So, this this was the thing you see historically in the development of Indian philosophy that took place between about one hundred and four hundred A.D.. That they face the fact that looking for a state of consciousness that’s radically different from this state now is just an escape. It hasn’t really come to terms with the problem. The problem is, you see that the state of consciousness you’re in now however last up it may be is in Hindu language the player Vishnu. You are all Vishnu playing that you’re in this mess which is the part of the cosmic dance.
So, if that’s the case they get to say I mean get with it, be that. So, the Chinese caught on to this. An when you could say, this very moment, this very world, this very body is the point. Now. and it, but if you see a you’re seeking something beyond all the time you never get with it you never here. So they say they saw that very clearly. So this man son son who I was talking about at the end of this morning session who is one of the first I would say really articulate people about zen. Who wrote the Shin Shin Ming. He starts out by saying the Great Tao, or the perfect Tao, is without difficulty. Except that it avoids picking and choosing. Only when you neither love nor hate does it appear in all clarity. A hair’s breadth of deviation from it and a deep Gulf is set between heaven and earth. If you want to get hold of what it looks like, don’t not be anti or pro anything. The conflict of longing and loathing, this is the disease of the mind.
OK, Now if you take that quite literally, if you try to avoid picking and choosing, that’s another kind of choice, isn’t it? If you say, I ought not to love anything, I ought not to hate anything, I ought not to take any extreme attitudes, you’re still choosing. If I say, in psychological jargon, for psychiatric health, you ought to accept yourself. You know. Accept everything that happens well among the things that happen is the very concrete fact that there are things you don’t accept. And that you can’t accept, so you have to accept that. Now do you see what this does? It’s a very interesting technique. It’s saying that you are, each one a Buddha, enlightened, even before you’ve accepted yourself. Now you don’t have to do anything about it. But it’s terribly difficult for human beings to resist the temptation to do something about it. So it says, OK do that. If you want to practice yoga, meditation, go ahead, if you feel that would make you better do it. But the point is that doesn’t it is really nothing to do with there’s nothing not to do either. You won’t get this by sort of acting spontaneous in a funny way but you can do that if you wanted to. But you are it right where you stand, without making a single move. And that’s what’s meant you see you profoundly, by avoiding picking and choosing. Actually, there’s nothing in it there’s nothing you can do about it. You may get the illusion that you are picking and choosing makes a real difference, that your choices really do change the nature of things, but they don’t.
And so, so long as you want to hang onto that illusion and play it, there you are, but actually, you are as you live and all sit around this room at the moment in the various stages of what you may consider subjectively to be goodness and badness sickness and health, sanity and insanity. Every one of you, is as much of a splendid accomplishment as the shape of the clouds. And just as natural. You know, with all the funny hairdos and artificially and everything, we are all like the birds. Only we have a complicated way of pretending that we aren’t so that we figure out with something special and that’s it too, you see But, it is a tough job getting anybody to see that. So what do they do? They have all these techniques, and they put you through the mill. Because people won’t accept this vision, until they feel they’ve paid for it. Until they feel they if they finally discover after enormous effort, like the student I told you about this morning, there isn’t anything to realize. It really is fantastic. See so all this is very direct and simple so not picking and choosing doesn’t mean that you have to cultivate being detached. You can try that sure. But then you find you’re terribly attached to your non-attachment. Like you’re proud of your humility or something like that. It just goes round and round and round, so you know come unstuck. Well you always were unstuck, because you’re in the flow, and nothing is stuck it all is changing, changing journey one is nothing but a flow of change there isn’t anything to hang on to and nobody to hang on to it. You know, here is decaying hand grasping at smoke. It’s all falling apart, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it because what anybody is who perhaps could do something about it that is falling apart too. That’s what’s meant by the doctrine of Anatman, there is no. The Buddhist idea that there is no permanent self because it’s all falling apart.
So cheer up you know it’s great [laughs]. So, not knowing the profound meaning of things, we disturb our original peace of mind to no purpose. Original peace of mind is what I was referring to as the child’s in the infants the baby’s fundamental knowledge of, the unity of the world. The oceanic feeling Freud calls it. Perfect like great space the Tao lacks nothing, and has nothing in excess. Truly, because of our accepting and rejecting we don’t get the suchness of things. You see, I explained suchness this morning, how it’s the way everything is just like that, and that we pick out some things as significant and other things as not significant. And this prevents us from seeing tat all the insignificant things are in a way significant, and all the significant things are in a way insignificant. See,that I go on living is for me, significant. Until I don’t anymore. But that means I’m going to run around as it is it is it talk a lot and work and eat and entertain and do this that and the other and it is it’s a great dance. Actually, it has no more ultimate meaning than somebody sitting down to be able to be a little bit in the little of the little ones and master said ‘From the bathtub to the bathtub I have uttered stuff and nonsense.’ That was his death verse and the bath tub in which the baby is washed at birth the bath tub in which the corpses washed before burial all the time he’s been talking nonsense. And so all these birds are going around. I don’t want to always go and beings are going making this great hullabaloo and building houses and all that kind of thing and it’s all, well it’s just suchness, that’s the point.
So neither follow after, nor dwell with the doctrine of the void. I mean, don’t get hooked on the idea that things are empty, and therefore that this is a way of saying that the world is a ghastly sham and something you ought to avoid. That’s what this means. So don’t try to catch hold of this doctrine as if it would do you some good. And on the other hand don’t. Dwell with it, don’t get attached to it. For if the mind is at peace, these wrong views disappear of themselves. The mind at peace is not quite what we ordinarily mean by peace of mind. Oh, he quotes a thing here, on the comment neither follow after nor dwell with the doctrine of the void, this verse. From another early Chinese Zen master: ‘Getting rid of things and clinging to emptiness is an illness of the same kind. It is just like throwing oneself into a fire to avoid being drowned.’ When activity is stopped, there is passivity. Now when activity is stopped and there is passivity this passivity again is a state of activity. You see, if you practice detachment and being calm in mind and free from all worldly passions this in its own turn is a worldly passion, since you are attached to this new status. See that’s the Chinese criticism of the Hindu viewpoint. Stay where you are. If you try to be spiritual. This is putting legs on a snake. And the snake doesn’t need any legs and is only confused by them when it gets them. But you may have to try to be spiritual or whatever the equivalent of this is psychoanalyzed, integrated, clear, all the words that are used. You may have to try to do that to find this out. But that everything you add in this way by clinging to some idea of detachment, spiritual freedom, Nirvana, whatever. All that in the end is an artificiality that will be sloughed off. So you might say to you Spiegelberg’s phrase Zen is the religion of no religion. That the the highest perfection of religion. Is just not to have any noticeable religion. See the gulls don’t have a religion, they don’t preach, they don’t pray, they don’t recite sutras. But the human beings have to do this thing and have Buddhas and all that and. When you really get the point, none of that’s necessary. But then you can have it just for kicks.