In this morning’s seminar, I was talking about the religion of no religion. From a social point of view, I said that this afternoon I would talk about it from an individual or personal point of view. And I was suggesting that society as a cohesive force needs a religion what we call today religions, act simply as divisive forces around which we play all kinds of one-upmanship games. And therefore, if there would be a religion which was socially univ instead of divisive.
It would have to be one without doctrines and without organization. In other words, one of the real problems of organized religion today is its commitment to real estate.
You may have read an article by Bishop Pike in Playboy. About taxing the churches. And I’m highly in favor of taxing the churches, even though I run a nonprofit organization.
Point is that our nonprofit organization is educational and if we don’t own enormous blocks of real estate out of which we derive income by virtue of being a nonprofit organization or we own is what we need to operate with. So nobody wants to tax the church building, but they want to tax the hotels, the apartments, the stores, the enormous real estate, including 51 percent of the Stock of United Fruit owned by the Catholic Church and other organizations of a similar nature, which they can own tax free. And have this as a separate income as distinct from that which is given by their regular contributors.
So as I as I said in this previous session, I’ve always wanted to preach a sermon at the laying of the foundation stone of a church, where I would take the text from the Bible if a man’s son asked him bread, will he give him a stone?
The answer is yes. That’s what you’ve got. It’s no joke that when Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Christ. He said thou art Peter, which in Greek means stone. Petrus, Petrified. Now, Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church. As I’ve explained, Jesus was a great utter of koans.
And this was one of the best cavos us in Hebrew, Peter means same thing. Rock. And the good disciple. Is always the rock upon which the church founders. The church, one foundation of. You know, it’s always the good disciple who ruins the teaching. Because he is a follower. Because he doesn’t have it in himself. He therefore follows somebody else.
And anyone, therefore, who is a really effective guru always separates his students from himself. And sets them free, so that you don’t have to say, oh, I am a follower of this man and that man, and the other thing. No, go free. Don’t founder upon the rock.
And therefore, this is the case of the religion of no-religion. There is a saying in Latin about religion. Christianity, of course, revolves around the symbolism of the cross. And in Latin, it is said Crooks Medi Chino Mundi, the cross, the medicine of the world. Now, never make your medicine a diet.
One shot is enough. And that’s goes not only for religion but for LSD, for all these things, don’t make it a diet.
Once you’ve I don’t say literally one time, but enough of it to see, and that’s it. If after that you keep coming back, it means you never got the point. So in Zen, there is the saying, To know your original mind, to understand your essential nature, that is the great disease of our school.
In other words, to have some thing, that is religion and that is special and that it is over and above everyday experience, and to insist on that, is a disease. It means you’re playing games.
[You’re] wanting to one up yourself and everybody else by saying, well, we have an in on something here that you don’t have. We know what it’s really all about. And you outsiders. Well, you may be all right. You may be Muslims, you may be Hasidic Jews, you may be philosophers or Christian scientists, and therefore, as a result of that, you have a partial glimpse of the truth.
But we, of course, is the real insiders have the whole thing.
Or put down that is. And everybody does it.
So what are we to do? What are what what a predicament? Supposing we say now our school here says that you don’t have to do all that. You don’t have to play one-upmanship. You don’t have to have anything special.
Last time almost I met Suzuki. Not San Francisco’s Suzuki, but Japan’s Suzuki He signed his name Bujimin, which means a man who is nothing special. Now, what was Suzuki doing? Was he making a special case as himself, as a man who was nothing special? This phrase buji in Japanese or Wu Shu in Chinese means no business, no fuss, no special claim, no nothing important.
And this is used as a characteristic flavor of a person who is experienced in Zen.
But then all the Zen people who have learned to be nothing special, to be natural, to constitute themselves a particular class of one upping everybody else. Well, they do that.
Now, what if they didn’t do it? Nobody would know they were around. I think the best psychotherapist I know is a man who teaches photography. Nobody knows he’s a psychotherapist, and he has saved the sanity in the lives of seriously disturbed people that I’ve known just by teaching them how to take pictures.
No claim, to be anything special. Marvelous. But I’m not going to give his name out because that would spoil the whole show.
Now, here is the predicament of what is called in Buddhism, the Bodhisattva. They make a distinction in Buddhist philosophy between a body staffer and a project, a Buddha. Pratyekabuddha means a private Buddha. That is to say, somebody who gets enlightenment, who sees through all the markers of life, all the illusions, who attains the final awakening. And then he sits down and enjoys it. The bodhisattva feels, however, that he can’t sit down and enjoy it unless everybody else is in on it. And so he comes back into the world looking like an ordinary, everyday person. And through doing this helps everybody else to become enlightened. But how is he to get it across? Without making a little difference, and saying, well, listen to it this way in the form of a Zen story.
A man came to become a monk at a Zen monastery and the master said to him. Where do you come from?
And he said gave the name of his hometown a village. He said, what did you then do?
He said, I was a cowherd. How did you take care of the cows? He said in the morning I took them out into the fields and in the night I restored them to the pen. And the master said, splendid is your ignorance. In other words, here is the perfectly ordinary human being doing his stuff.
Now in a certain way, the highest enlightened human being is exactly like that, but there is some funny kind of a difference. And the whole quality of this difference is that it mustn’t look too different. [Here’s] another Zen poem says it is like the salt and water and the glue in ink.
Chinese ink as glue in it to hold this stick together. But the salt and water and the glue in ink, they’re invisible. Yet you can taste the salt and water. And the transparent glue holds the ink stick together. So there’s some kind of a difference between ordinary, everyday life with its anxieties, attachments and problems, and something that looks exactly like ordinary, everyday life. But doesn’t have the anxieties.
Let me press that just one step further, if you will allow me. You are still anxious if you’re anxious about being anxious. See? You say, well, I feel a guilty every time I’m anxious, as I really ought to be spiritually evolved enough not to have any further anxieties. And so at last I find myself with a neurotic problem. So if you find with the great masters that I’ve known in Zen. They don’t have that hang up at all. They’re not afraid to admit that they have toothaches and I have to go to the dentist. No. It’s a nuisance that. Sometimes get hot and bothered and lose their tempers and are just human like everybody else.
And so you could very well say. You might almost be justified in saying to these masters, you’re putting over a big hoax on us all
You are just like everybody else and you know it. And yet in another way, you’re claiming to be special. Did you have some special inside information so that you’re not a man of no special at all?
Bujimin. You’re just a human beings, can’t everybody else, although. In fact, you are a confidence man, that trickster. And the funny thing about this is that the word that is used in Buddhist philosophy for the method of enlightening people. Which is called Upaya. It means trickery.
When that word is used in politics in the political context empire, which means the skill of the teacher in Buddhism means trickery in politics, and the Buddhists laugh back at themselves and say, we are just tricksters, we are people who… Rinzai, the great Chinese master of Zen said My teaching is like using a yellow leaf to stop a child crying for gold, for an empty fist.
The empty fist trick. See, is you suddenly say to a child, what have I got here?
See, see, see? But it behind your back. And the more excited the child gets to find out what is in that fist. And after a long wrestle.
There’s nothing in. Or when a child says, I want some gold.
You give it a yellow leaf.
So in the same way. The Zen teacher is saying, there is really nothing in Zen to be understood. The secret is the secret of life is that there is no secret.
Only you think there has to be a secret, and since you’ve insisted on the idea that I as a teacher have some secret.
OK, let’s try the closed fist technique with you in every conceivable way. When you penetrate this closed fist and you find out there’s nothing in it, then the teacher will bring on you another closed fist in a different form.
There is always a new koan following every other koan.
And you think, oh, maybe something that I ought to get through to. There’s some special thing and when you suddenly find out that.
The whole trick is that there isn’t anything to cling to. That is to say life is falling apart. It is a totally insecure situation. We’ll accept it, for heaven’s sakes, accept it and get with it. See, that’s only the beginning of Zen study. Then they come up with something else. And you think, well, if I really honestly accepted my insecurity and had no hang ups at all, I would be capable of all sorts of miraculous performances.
Somebody leads you on to the idea that then you would acquire these psychic powers and be able to do these all super normal things. And you’re intrigued. Maybe if I really understood. I would be as God. And so you hang around the master, who keeps fooling you.
Until in the end, you discover you don’t need any miraculous powers. You don’t need to be able to change water into wine. You don’t need to be able to change lead into gold, because what you have is what you really want. Always. And if you want to put up an objection and say, I don’t want it that way. That’s because you want to object. You know, get with yourself. This is always the teaching and all these things that seem to hang out, some goal. Something you should pursue. Something you should be. Over and above what you are here and now at this moment. They’re all tricks.
And the object of the tricks is to get you to see that here and now as you are. This moment is fine. Only, if you make that an objective. And they say, well, we here accept ourselves as we are here and now at this moment and all you common followers who don’t really understand that you’re kind of on the out. So you still haven’t got it.
So then this is this is why always in the history of religion, there is the theme of the religion of being natural the religion of no religion. You don’t need an idol. Because there is the living God.
It’s only one step from that to say, as the Quakers say to the Catholics, ‘Why do you have a sacrament?’
Why should the sacrament of the altar in this special service that you have in the mass? Be anything special? If you really understood Christianity, every meal would be the mass.
The Catholics turned back for the Quakers and say, yeah, that may be true, but when everybody is somebody that no one’s anybody.
If you don’t have a special meal that is the special mass, then everybody will forget that there was anything at all. In other words, they will come to a view of life where nothing is sacred.
There’s that line in one of Bob Dylan’s songs. It’s pretty obvious that nothing around here is particularly sacred, and so the people who want to say no, no, no, no, no. Now, wait a minute. There must be something special, must be something sacred. We must set off a certain part of life. Hey, come off it now. We can’t make everything common property. I am. Must be something special. Here. See? Specially guarded. You keep out. Well, what are you doing? Why? Obviously, by saying there’s something special, something sacred. You keep out of this. That’s your identity. That’s your ego.
Then there are other people who come along and say, to hell with everything sacred. Oh, you’re all just a bunch of crooks. That’s another false technique. This is the Democratic parody of mysticism. Everybody is equally inferior. You’re all a bunch of bastards fundamentally, you haven’t got anything you want to know. You do. You don’t need any privacy. That’s the life you live when you’re in jail, when you’re in a mental hospital or in the army. Where everybody is equally a shit.
But you see, that misses the point just as much in that direction as holding something sacred misses it in the other direction.
How can you be natural? See either, either of those two ways are unnatural. So the challenge which the teacher of Zen gives you is he’s saying to you, OK. Be natural.
Now, so long as you feel that you have to prove that you’re natural, he can defeat you. Because he can catch you off guard all the time. It’s only when you feel that you don’t have to prove that you’re natural. That you can get by his tricks. Only. He’s got this one underlying you. That you can say well I don’t have to prove anything. And he says, well, what are you doing around here anyway? I mean, why? Why are you coming to see me? And then you’re embarrassed you see. You’re still out after something as if there was something to be. Something to awry that more than what you are. At this moment and what you are at this moment is, of course, the perfect expression of the universe in exactly the same way that the tree is or a fish’s or a mountain or a star or anything else. Only it’s because people don’t believe this, that they do all their excessive things, that they have to have extra power, extra possessions, extra this, that and the other, they want to be loved more than anybody else because they don’t know, don’t realize that as you are at this moment, you’re the complete works. And they don’t want to know it, because the whole game is pretending you’re not.
Hide and seek. So you’re all right. Even when you’re not all right. You see, you can think this in circles. You can go round and round with this with this game indefinitely and hang yourself up and hang everybody else up.
The meaning then is, that so long as we’re dealing with ideas and with words and with everything we can say in words about realizing buddhahood and liberation. We never get there. Because there’s always games within games, within games within games. So it’s only as you get beyond words that the thing is clear. But so long as I say that in words, I’m designating a special class of people who get beyond words, when you’re beyond words, you’re not in a special class of people. You are only so long as we’re talking about it.
So then here’s the problem that, for example, when people go and practice yoga or Zen or whatever, and they define themselves as such and such a group meeting at such and such a place, and they do this, that’s the verbal side of the thing. And so long as that is going on, it must always seem that they are one upping other people were not in this in group. But on the other hand, the moment they are actually doing the yoga or the Zen meditation, they are not one-upping anyone. Because they’re not they’re not verbalizing. It is through verbalizing, through measuring, and so on, that you see that you dissect life and break it down into its separate parts and say this part is better than that. But when you’re not doing that, it isn’t happening. If somebody says, look, it’s like supposing I say to you, everything in this world is relative.
You only know to be, in relation to not to be. You only know what it means to move in relation to stillness. You only know time, the measure of change in relation to a constant. So on. Then somebody comes and says to me, well, if you say everything is relative, then you are an absolute relativist.
I say, because so long as you think about it, you always go around in circles. Cos you can’t conceive the idea of the relative without the idea of the absolute. But when you actually do the thing. And you don’t verbalize it. That’s a different situation.
And the people who are not verbalizing, who do indeed realize the suchness, the Buddha nature in all things. All those people. Can be talked about by others. And they can say, well, are you a special class? Are you a special in group, aren’t you really making claims to something and they can’t answer and say, no, we are not? Because if they say no, we are not. They say, well, then you’re putting your class in the people who are on the class of non hypocrites and you are one upping everybody else who is a hypocrite by saying you’re not a hypocrite.
So long as you talk, say this. This game goes on and on and on and on.
But if you genuinely are in the state where you don’t think. And I must qualify this for anybody who came in on this discussion late. When I say you don’t think, I don’t mean that I’m an anti-intellectual. That there is a way of living your life all the time without ever thinking. It says the point is, rather, that it too get out of the game business of thinking.
Thinking you have to spend some of your time not thinking just in the same way as you have to spend some of your time not talking if you’re going to listen to what other people have to say.
To have something to think about, you must sometimes not think. That is to say, you experience directly without symbolizing the experiences with words. In other words, to pick this up and not say to yourself, it’s a beer can or it has beer in it. But with your hands and your eyes.
See? You know this directly. Whatever that is. And you don’t make any comment about it. You can make a comment later. But if you’re commenting all the time, you never in relation to it.
So then. I’m trying to say what you cannot say. Because so long as you talk about the class of people who know how to suspend thinking, how to relate to the world directly, how therefore to transcend the division between I and thou. Ego and universe. So long as you’re talking about it, you always make those people a special class.
And as it were. Project upon them that they are playing the special game. I am holier than you are.
And that’s religion.
The religion, we call it in the West, we say, oh, he yes, he has a religion, but it’s a Sunday only religion.
He does this special activity goes and makes weird noises in a church on Sunday and listens to all sorts of sermons and loves his neighbor in the church, but when he gets back to work. His irreligious. It’s just in a watertight compartment. So we know, don’t we, that what his religion is supposed to be identical with everyday life. But we don’t get this across because we think of religion in a very narrow way as morality.
We say, all right. If this businessman is so religious that he never makes dirty deals, he never cheats anyone. He is always on the level with say he is truly practicing his religion. He is a genuine Christian. But this is only a fragment of it. It isn’t a question of how you deal with the morals of business. What is the religious way of brushing your teeth? With 10 strokes on each position, you might say this is the devoted, determined way of brushing your teeth. But then I say this is still in the realm of moralism. Let’s get beyond that. We’ve got to get beyond this point. All right.
There’s a saying whatsoever thy hand find us to do do it with all my might. I went to a school in England, the motto of which was I gave them I use, which means in Latin, when you do it, do it. And this is either an awful platitude. Whatever worth doing is worth doing well. That’s a terrible polarity. All the Protestant ethic is in that. But there’s another sense to it.
Now, we can’t say what it is. There’s this other sense to argem arges. Which is not the moralistic sense, not the preacher’s sense, not what you would say as a father to a boy or a mother to a daughter. You know, do your bit. A good scout. There is another sense to it and I cannot tell you what that other sense is. Until I stopped off. And then you can see the act that has done.
Without somebody commenting on it and saying this is the right way to do it, this is the wrong way to do it. This is really doing it. This is not really doing it. Because when you don’t, you get into the nonverbal world. There is no difference between the act and the doer. There is no difference between the good and the bad.
There’s no difference between, in other words, the secular and the sacred, the religious and non-religious. Once you step over the border. And that’s why the entrance to this is, in Zen parlance, called the no-gate barrier, or the gate. This gate. Because it looks like a gate, a barrier. Something to be attained. Some entrance to a special in group, so long as you’re standing outside it. But the moment you cross the border, the gate vanishes. So does the wall. And you see everybody at all. Everybody in the world as manifestations of the Buddha nature, or we’d say in western terms of the divine power. And you see they’re all just behaving marvelously in their ignorance. Splendid is your ignorance. So like Kabir, when he was an old man, he was a great Hindu, Buddhist, Mohammed and Mystic all rolled into one poet. He would look around and say, to whom shall I preach? Because he saw the beloved the divine face wherever he looked. He had no recommendations to make.
And so in the same way you see everyone as doing it in the same way as the pattern of the flag flapping in the wind out there is doing it. The waves are doing. Fronds of the trees are doing it.
What’s so special about us that we aren’t? Only, of course, if you want to make a difference.