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Osho on Tokusan Enlightenment


Osho : Before he had realized his own enlightenment, Tokusan planned to visit the famous zen master, Soshin, who lived on a mountain in Ryotan. when he arrived at the foot of the mountain, Tokusan found a tea house by the roadside, and thought that he might have a snack before climbing the mountain.

He ordered it from an old woman at the tea house. ”snack” in the Chinese Language is Tenjin – which means literally ”to light up the mind.” The old woman asked Tokusan, ”what do you have in the box on your shoulders?”

”I have a most valuable sutra called the diamond sutra in it,” Tokusan said.

”Is that so!” she said. ”then I have a question to ask you. if you can answer my question, I will provide you with a snack. if, however, you should fail to give me a satisfactory answer, I am sorry, but you will have to go without a snack.”

Tokusan was a proud and confident scholar. he replied, ”all right. you may ask me any question.”

at this the Woman said, ”in the diamond sutra it is written that past mind is unattainable; present mind is unattainable; and future mind is unattainable.” the oldwoman continued, ”you say you are going to light up your mind. which mind, now, are you going to light up?”

Tokusan was not able to answer the old woman’s question. he had to admit his inability to give the answer, and at the suggestion of the old woman of the tea house, he was determined to study Zen under master Ryotan.

Some time later master Ryotan and Tokusan were spending the evening together. Ryotan said, ”it is getting dark. you had better return to your place.”

Tokusan said, ”good night” to the master, and stepped outside. a few moments later, he returned to the master saying, ”it is so dark outside!”

The master lit a candle to give to Tokusan, but just as Tokusan held out his hand and was about to get hold of the candle, Ryotan vehemently blew out the flame.

At this very moment Tokusan was awakened and made a bow to the master.
There are many important things to be noted as deeply in you as possible. One is that light does not come from outside. Nobody can give it to you. Ryotan was very kind to make it clear by blowing out the candle. Outside is darkness and inside – where light is – you are not. The only way to have light is to enter into your innermost being. Hence it is called enlightenment.

You have become the candle
which nobody can blow out.
You have found the fire
that is eternal,
the very flame of existence.

You are all flames. It is just a question of seeing within yourselves. And the whole Buddha Hall is full of flames. Just a jungle of flames. Otherwise, outside is darkness. This prompts me to make a marginal note: the West has been searching for the light outside, where it is not. The East has been searching the light inside, where it is. But unfortunately, even the East has fallen into the hands of the West. Its whole educational system, its whole mind is no longer of the East.

Now in the world, there exists only the Western mind: looking outside. It does not matter where you are; it is not a question of geography, it is a question of spirituality. Are you looking in? Then you are at the very source of light. And other than that no light can help you to dispel the darkness that is surrounding you.

Ryotan, without saying a word, made his statement and it was understood by Tokusan immediately. The blowing out of the flame was enough for Tokusan to understand that you can have light only of your own, nobody can hand it over to you. Either you have it or you don’t have it. But nobody can do anything about it – only give hints.

This story is also important just to understand that an ordinary old woman has as much inner light as the greatest master that may have ever lived. An old woman running a tea house at the foothills defeats the great scholar. Tokusan’s speciality was The Diamond Sutra. The old woman asked exactly what The Diamond Sutra is based upon. The Diamond Sutra says, ”There is no mind. Neither past, nor present, nor future.” Mind is only a dream in a sleeping consciousness. Wake up and the mind disappears.

The old woman, an ordinary, anonymous woman, put the scholar to a great task. She said, ”You say you are going to light up your mind” – because a ‘snack’ in Chinese also means lighting up your mind.

The woman, apparently ordinary, must have been extraordinary. She is asking, ”Which mind? Past? It is no longer there. Future? It is not yet. And if past and future disappear, how can you have the bridge, the present?” Both the banks have disappeared, do you think the bridge can remain? With the past and future being both absent, it becomes absolutely clear: there is no present mind either. You are, but you are not the mind. Tokusan was not able to answer, although he was a great, proud scholar.

As far as existence is concerned your intellectuality, your scholarship have nothing to do with it. It can only make you proud, and to be proud is to lose contact with yourself. To be proud means to be an ego. And you are just a silence. Why pollute it, why not leave it spacious, in tune with existence? Because he could not answer the old woman, he missed his snack. And the old woman said, ”Rather than giving the snack you asked for, I advise you to go to the Zen master Ryotan and study with him.

Don’t carry this Diamond Sutra on your back unnecessarily. You don’t understand it.” The intellectual is most prone not to understand. His intellectuality prevents him because it gives him a sense as if he knows. But ‘as if’ is not the point. You have to experience, not as if, but this! And he understood this when master Ryotan blew out the flame. A sudden transformation. At this moment, Tokusan was awakened and made a bow to the master.

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

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

                     Osho on Zen disciple Zengen Awakening

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