During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai for six years and then studied Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years more.

When he returned to Japan many desired to interview him and asked obscure questions. But when Shinkan received visitors, which was infrequently, he seldom answered their questions.

One day a fifty-year-old student of enlightenment said to Shinkan: “I have studied the Tendai school of thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened. To me this seems very strange.”

“Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?” asked Shinkan. “The question is how you yourself can become so. Did you even consider that?”

“I never thought of it that way,” marveled the old man.

“Then go home and think it over,” finished Shinkan.

Be Selfish

From this small story we can learn many things.

1. We take all the knowledge literally.

2. We never think on our own.

3. We want to be followers.

4. When Shinkan asked the old man to go home. He is not saying anything regarding his residence. He is saying move in, be with yourself.

If you again read the story something will open up in you. We all have missed life because we take the words literally. We never think on our own. Life is all about how we can grow in consciousness.

Why in Tendai school they said that – the grass and trees will become enlightened. Master was trying to teach the students that grass and trees are not followers. They are happy as they are. They don’t want to change themselves. They accept themselves.

We human beings don’t accept ourselves as we are. We are trying to become somebody else. That’s why Shinkan told the old man to go home. He was not talking about his physical resistance. He was talking about his inner being. Go inside you and you are at home. That is your real home. Your real treasure.

The first step towards discovery is to accept yourself, rejoice in being yourself. You are not to be a Jesus, no, you are not to be a Buddha. You are not to be me or anybody else.

You have to be just yourself. God does not want carbon copies; he loves your uniqueness.

And you can offer yourself to God only as a unique phenomenon.

You can be accepted as an offering but only as a unique phenomenon. An imitation Jesus, Krishna, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed – these won’t do. Imitators are bound to be rejected.

Be yourself, authentically yourself. Respect yourself. If God has given you life he respects you. And do you have higher standards than God himself?

Love yourself. God loves you. And then start watching all kinds of energies in you – you are a vast universe!

And slowly slowly, as you become more conscious, you will be able to put things right, into right places. You are topsy-turvy, that is true, but nothing is wrong with you. You are not a sinner – just a little rearrangement and you will become a beautiful phenomenon.

To rearrange yourself you need to become selfish.

Learning from Story Go Home: Be Selfish

Experience Learning

Be selfish. Let me repeat it, because the word “selfishness” has been condemned so much that there is every possibility you will misunderstand me. But the word is really beautiful. To be selfish simply means to be yourself. I say to you: don’t consider anybody else in the world, just consider yourself; and in that very consideration you will have considered the whole world. In being selfish you will find all the altruism that you have been seeking and seeking and were not finding, because the whole thing was upside down. 

You are told to love your neighbour – but you have never loved yourself. And a person who has not loved himself, how can he love the neighbour? From where can he get love? First you have to have it. You are loving the neighbour – you who knows nothing of love because you have never loved yourself. The neighbour is loving you – he has never loved himself. Such insanity is happening in the world: people who know nothing of love are loving each other.

It is like beggars begging from each other, each thinking the other is the emperor. Both are thinking in the same way: the other is the emperor. Both are beggars. Sooner or later the reality manifests itself; then there is misery, suffering. Then you think you have been cheated, this beggar has been trying to prove himself an emperor. Now this is absolutely absurd – it is you who were thinking him an emperor. And the same is the situation from the other side: the other person thinks you have been cheating him, pretending to be an emperor and you are just a beggar. When both beggars find that they are beggars, what else can they do other than be angry, enraged, violent to each other, hating each other as deeply as possible? And the love …? It was nothing; they don’t know what love is.

To know anything, you have to begin with yourself.

You have been told to sacrifice yourself for some idiotic ideal. I want you just to be simply selfish. And you will be surprised that if you are selfish you discover so many treasures within yourself that soon you start sharing them – because finding a treasure is a lesser joy than sharing it. And the treasures that are within you don’t follow the ordinary economics and its laws. They are just the very opposite, diametrically opposite to the ordinary economic structure.

In the ordinary economics if you give something, you will have less. If you go on giving, soon you will be a beggar. In the ordinary economic world you have to snatch as much from everybody as possible then you have more and more and more. The treasures I am talking about to you, follow a different law: if you cling to them they shrink, if you cling too much you can even kill them. If you want to destroy them, then close all the windows and doors, become a grave so nothing can escape outside you – but you will be a dead man, with all your treasures also dead with you; your truth, your freedom, your love, your joy. Everything will be dead with you – securely dead, well-insured.

But if you want to grow your treasures, share them, share to all and sundry – don’t bother whether this is a friend or a foe. When you are sharing, the question is of sharing, it is not with whom. Whomsoever it may concern, you simply give. Don’t be concerned about the address, you simply go on sending love letters. Somebody will receive them somewhere.

And the more you go on sharing, the more goes on entering you from unknown sources. A man is just like a well.

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