Zen master Tetsuo was so famous for his brush painting that many people came to him just to study art.

He always used to tell prospective students, “You must remember the saying, ‘If you want to avoid depending on society, don’t let criticism and praise disturb your heart.’ When you can cultivate your art without leaving any mundanity at all in your chest, then the mind and technique will naturally mature, and you will eventually be able to arrive at the subtleties. This is the way out of darkness into light.”

Once a distinguished Confucian scholar and statesman came to visit Tetsuo. Observing the Zen master executing a painting, the scholar noted that every move of the master’s arm and brush was in conformity with classical principles of calligraphy.

When he remarked upon this, the Zen master explained, “In terms of correctness of mind, calligraphy and painting are one. When I make a painting. If as much as one cane of bamboo or one leaf on a tree is even slightly off from the way the stroke should be, I tear the whole thing up and throw it away, then put aside my brush, sit quietly and clarify my mind.”

Meditative Awareness

First let’s understand what Confucianism is and what is Zen.

Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, many argue that its values are secular and that it is, therefore, less a religion than a secular morality. Proponents argue, however, that despite the secular nature of Confucianism’s teachings, it is based on a worldview that is religious. Confucianism discusses elements of the afterlife and views concerning Heaven, but it is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of souls.

Zen is special in many ways from other traditions of the mystics. But one thing that stands out, very unique, is these strange, small dialogues: just reading them you cannot see how those small dialogues can bring enlightenment to someone.

Secondly, Zen itself gives no explanations. That is one of the reasons a living tradition of enlightenment has not overtaken the whole world. I would like you to understand these small dialogues which apparently mean nothing, but in a certain circumstance, produced by other Zen methods, can bring awakening. The dialogues are remembered down the centuries; and the people on the path of Zen enjoy them immensely. But for outsiders they remain an anathema, because the context is never told; in what reference the awakening happened is never discussed.

Behind these small dialogues there is a long discipline of meditation, understanding – maybe years and years of work. But only the dialogue is known to the outside world. You don’t know the men who are discussing with each other; they are not ordinary people. The awakening is possible only if they have a background which can make the small piece of dialogue – which in itself is nothing – of tremendous importance.

But when you read them, you cannot believe how these dialogues can make somebody enlightened – because you are reading them and you are not becoming enlightened! Something is missing in your perspective.

Now that Zen has become fashionable all around the world there is so much written about it. But nobody I have come across up to now…and I have seen almost everything that has been written about Zen by people who don’t have any enlightenment, but who are impressed by the beauty of the people who have been following Zen. They have picked up things which make no sense, are almost nonsense, and they don’t have the capacity to give you the background.

Remember, everything depends on the background: long years of preparation are there, long years of waiting, longing, long years of silent patience, meditating. This dialogue comes at the apex, at the very end. If you can understand the whole process, then it will be explained to you how the dialogue can bring enlightenment to someone.

Without knowing the whole process, Zen will remain just entertainment to the world. What is – enlightenment to Zen people falls down to a state of entertainment. These dialogues are not the whole process. It is just like an iceberg: a small piece is showing above the sea – one-tenth of the whole iceberg – and nine-tenths is underneath. Unless you understand that nine tenths, this one tenth will not give you any insight….

Zen believes in the very essentials. It has no nonsense around it, no rituals, in which all other religions have got lost, no chanting, no mantras, no scriptures – just small anecdotes. If you have the right awareness, they will hit you directly in the heart. It is a very condensed and crystallized teaching, but it needs the person to be prepared for it. And the only preparation is meditative awareness.

Learning from the story Principles Of Calligraphy: Meditative Awareness

Experience Learning

I call Zen the only living religion because it is not a religion, but only, a religiousness. It has no dogma, it does not depend on any founder. It has no past; in fact it has nothing to teach you. It is the strangest thing that has happened in the whole history of mankind – strangest because it enjoys, in emptiness, it blossoms in nothingness. It is fulfilled in innocence, in not knowing. It does not discriminate between the mundane and the sacred. For it, all that is, is sacred.

Life is sacred whatever form, whatever shape.

Wherever there is something living and alive it is sacred.

Zen comes closer to science than any other religion for the simple reason that it does not require any faith. It requires, of you only an intense inquiry into yourself, a deepening of consciousness, not concentration – a settling, a relaxing of consciousness, so that you can find your own source. That very source is the source of the whole existence.

Zen is the very principle of existence. Whether there is anyone who teaches it or not, whether there is anyone who learns it or not, it is there. Zen is the very heartbeat of existence. It is not dependent on any teaching, not dependent on any masters, not dependent on disciples. Masters come and go, disciples come and disappear; Zen remains. Just as it is. It is always just as it is.

Zen is absolutely existential. The master is there not only to teach you certain doctrines; he has to release you from the prison that you yourself have made. Whatever arbitrary, expedient methods are needed, he is not going to be worried about what people will think of them; he will use them.

Zen is severe. It is a very arduous path. It is not a game to play with, it is playing with fire. You will never be the same again once you enter into the world of Zen. You will be totally transformed, so much so that you will not be able to recognize yourself. The person who enters into the world of Zen and the person who comes out are two totally different entities. There is no continuity, you become discontinuous with your past. All continuity is of the mind; all identity is of the mind; all name, all form, is of the mind. When the mind is dropped you suddenly become discontinuous with the past – not only with the past, you become unconnected with time.

And that is the whole secret of Zen: to become unconnected with time. Then you become connected with eternity. And eternity is here-now; eternity knows no past and no future; eternity is pure present. Time knows no present – time is past and future. Ordinarily we think that time is divided into three categories: past, present and future. That is absolutely wrong. Time is divided only into two categories: past and future. The present is not part of time at all. Just watch, just see. When is the present? The moment you recognize that this is the present, it is already past. The moment you say, “Yes, this is the present,” it is already gone, it is past. Or if you say, “This is going to be the present,” it is still the future. You cannot recognize the present, you cannot point at the present, you cannot indicate the present. In the world of time there is no present.


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