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Zen Stories - 6 - Buddhahood is not far away

One day a monk visited Zen Master Gasan and asked “Have you read the Bible?”

To this Gasan replied “No I haven’t. Can you read it out for me?”

The monk read from the Gospel of St. Matthew “Why do you worry about food and clothing? Look at the lily flowers in the fields. They don’t work hard, don’t weave clothing, however, look at their beauty. Look how happy they are. I am telling you not even King Solomon has attained this state. So, don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Gason said, "The person who uttered these words must be a Jnani”.

Monk continued reading “You ask you will get it. You search you will find it. You knock at the door it will open”.

Gason remarked “Nice. The person who said this is not far from Buddhahood”.

Swami Vivekananda said that if Vedanta can be understood, it is easy to understand any other spiritual ideology in the world. In his speech in America he declared boldly that only a Hindu can understand the Bible properly. Zen is the apex of Vedas. Even though it is Buddhist tradition it has close similarities to Advaita. Also, Sankaracharya was known as "Prachanna Bouddha (hidden Buddha)" by his critics.

Zen is the knowledge of Advaita. The two points mentioned in the above story are said by Jesus on two different occasions and based on the level of the listener.

Zen asks us to live happily in the present without worrying about tomorrow. Only a Jnani can do this. In the example of lily flower, Jesus described a Jnani’s state. The world looks good if you vanish. Advaita is the end of your ‘I’. This is Nirvana. This is Zen. Jesus described this state of Advaita with the example of lily flower. That’s why Gason called him a Jnani.

In the second teaching, Jesus talked about human effort. 'Nothing can be attained without doing Sadhana.’ So, 'do your Sadhana’, is the message it carries. This is the state of a sadhaka and the journey is going in the right direction. But there is a state of duality. There is still a inquirer and a responder. There is still a seeker and the object to be found. This is Dvaita (duality). So Gason said that whoever uttered these words was not far from Buddhahood.

One cannot understand the depth of these words so easily. So, the monk left thinking that Gason’s words are foolish. This is because there is huge difference between mere bookish knowledge and experience. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that there is a big difference between pointing Kasi on a map and seeing it personally by going there.

Both the teachings were done by Jesus but only a person like Zen master can see its depth. These are used by many just for mere talk. It is similar to the state of the scholars who talk without experience. We listen to the verses of Bhaja Govindam every day but we do not follow what they teach. We are in a awful state that we read the knowledge of treatise - Bhagavad Gita only when we are told that we can derive some benefit by reading so and so chapter.

First, we should reach the destination by doing sadhana. Afterwards, we can read books and correlate our experiences. Lord Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi did the same. But the world is topsy turvy. Everyone tries to teach others thinking the teachings of the great masters to be their own. It is useless to claim the ownership of the knowledge by just reading the scriptures. It is like claiming the amount in bank account of other person as one’s own.

There is no use if the slokas are just recited. It is a foolish thing to repeat the teachings to others to promote the religious conversions without understanding the teachings of the scriptures. We can find such ignorant people everywhere.

Sri Ramakrishna said that a parrot speaks “Radha Krishna, Radha Krishna” as taught by its master. But it will scream when caught by a cat. We cannot consider the by hearted slokas, bookish knowledge as one’s own knowledge. They won’t help us during the time of death. Only our own experience will come out at that time.

In the spiritual world, experience is important but not borrowed knowledge. We have to clearly understand this.

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Suresh P, which was originally posted in on March 23, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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