Grace Is Bring Herenow

When it really happens, there is no claimant left. One simply is it. Not that you become a buddha – suddenly you understand you are not, only Buddha is. It brings great humbleness. There is no assertion.

The fourth question:

What do you think of ethics – lying, cheating, stealing, idle gossip, begging, trying to bum off others who do work? Most religions have a code of ethics for the benefit of all. Does righteous conduct have nothing to do with enlightenment?
I think “If you don’t work, you don’t eat” is a very good motto.
Please enlighten me.

The first thing: Righteous conduct has nothing to do with enlightenment. Of course, enlightenment has much to do with righteous conduct.

You don’t go to enlightenment through righteous conduct; you come to righteous conduct through enlightenment. Righteous conduct first and then enlightenment is putting things upside down. It is putting the cart before the bullocks. The inner must happen first! then the outer follows it like a shadow. Consciousness must happen first, then conscience arises out of it naturally.

If you do it the other way round, you will miss. You will become a righteous person but you will not be a right person. You will become very, very righteous, moralistic, puritanical, this and that – but all this will be nothing but decorations for your ego, new medals for the ego, new certificates for the ego. You can become a saint by righteous conduct, but you cannot become a buddha. You can become a saint, but you cannot become a Christ – and the difference is tremendous. Try to understand it.

Character is imposed from the outside; it is a conditioning. It is a kind of enforced slavery. You are not really free in it. You have to do certain things because if you do them you are paid well. It brings a good payoff. If you don’t do those things, you suffer, you lose respect, you lose respectability. You become a criminal.

A cunning person, a clever person, would not like to lose respect in the society; so all those who are clever and cunning, they will become righteous. Naturally, they will have double-binds in their minds; they will not be one piece. on the surface they will show that they are righteous, and from the backdoor they will go on doing all that they always wanted to. They will have two faces, at least. One face, the public face, to show to others; another, the private face, to live with. They will be hypocrites.

Excerpted From Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 3 CH: 6


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