Osho on Tokusan Enlightenment
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
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,
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
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
Zen Enlightenment Stories of Osho :
Osho on Sudhana
Zen Master Hui-Hai
Zen Master Kyogen
Enlightenment of Shen Tsan's Teacher
Zen disciple Zengen Awakening