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Osho - Zen Master Kyogen Enlightenment

Osho : Kyogen was a scholar of great learning, and for some time, this stood in the way of his enlightenment. one day, Isan asked Kyogen, ”when you were with our teacher, Hyakujo, you were clever enough to give ten answers to a single question, and hundreds of answers to ten questions.

”tell me this: what is your real self – the self that existed before you came out of your mother’s womb, before you knew east from west?” at this question, Kyogen was stupefied and did not know what to say. he racked his brains and offered all sorts of answers, but Isan brushed them aside.

at last Kyogen said, ”i beg you, please explain it to me.”
Isan replied, ”what i say belongs to my own understanding. how can that benefit your mind’s eye?”

Kyogen went through all his books and the notes he had made on authorities of every school, but could find no words to use as an answer to Isan’s question. sighing to himself, he said, ”you cannot fill an empty stomach with paintings of rice cakes.” he then burned all his books and papers, saying, ”i will give up the study of buddhism. I will remain a rice-gruel monk for the rest of my life and avoid torturing my mind.”

sadly he left Isan, and took on the self-appointed job of grave-keeper. one day, when he was sweeping the ground, a stone struck a bamboo. Kyogen stood speechless, forgetting himself for a while. then, suddenly, bursting into loud laughter,
he became enlightened.

returning to his hut, Kyogen performed the ceremony of purification, offered incense, paid homage to his teacher, Isan, and with the deepest sense of gratitude said, ”great master, thank you! your kindness to me is greater even then that of my parents. if you had explained the profound cause to me when i begged you to give me an answer, I should never have reached where I stand today.” Kyogen’s verse on this occasion runs:

one stroke and all is gone,
no need of stratagem or cure;
each and every action
manifests the ancient way.
my spirit is never downcast,
i leave no tracks behind me,
enlightenment is beyond speech,
beyond gesture;
those who are emancipated
call it the unsurpassed.

Kyogen was a great scholar; although he was searching for truth, scholarship is not the way to find it. His very learning was functioning as a barrier to relax into himself. He was clinging to words, scriptures, sutras, past Buddhas. It is a hilarious situation, because the buddha is within and people are keeping stone statues in their temples. The essential experience is within and people are reciting sutras of others. It is the most hilarious situation.

Kyogen must have been a very honest and sincere inquirer, otherwise thousands of books are available with all kinds of answers. But there is not a single book in the world which can give you the answer that breathes, that has a heart, that can laugh, that can dance. That answer is not going to be from any source other than your own.

Kyogen tried all the great scriptures, and notes he had taken while listening to great masters like Hyakujo, but he could not find the answer to the question Isan had raised: ”Who are you? What is inside you? What is your center of being? What is the flame that keeps you alive?”

Isan was questioning the very life source. Of course you cannot find it in any book, unless you are a stupid scholar. And there are thousands of stupid scholars around the world. The universities are full of them. They are talking about and about: about truth, about love, about being. You ask and they have answers for all your questions. I was expelled from one college because I insisted to the professor of philosophy, ”First you answer whether you know yourself or not! ”

He tried all kinds of answers; he was a great scholar, an old man, but I was insistent that ”All these answers you are giving are borrowed. What is your answer?”

He became so troubled, he threatened the college authorities: ”I will leave, retire – either I can be in this college or this student. He is making me so troubled, I cannot sleep at night. And he is so strange that even early in the morning, at three o’clock, he knocks on my door and asks, ‘Have you found the answer?’”

Such questions are neither asked nor answered. The principal called me and said, ”Why are you torturing that old man?”

I said, ”I am torturing nobody. If a man cannot answer the simplest question, then all else that he is saying is nonsense.”

A truth is never borrowed. The moment it is borrowed it becomes untrue. A truth cannot be read in a scripture, a truth has to be lived only in the innermost temple of your being. Naturally Kyogen could not find the answer.

Source: "This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen" - Osho


Related Zen Enlightenment Stories of Osho :
                 Osho on Tokusan Enlightenment
                 Osho on Sudhana Enlightenment
                 Zen Master Hui-Hai Enlightenment
                 Enlightenment of Shen Tsan's Teacher

                     Osho on Zen disciple Zengen Awakening

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