It is believed generally in India that when a person sets out on the way of liberation, his first problem, is to become free from his past karma. The popular theory of Karma, of the word that literally means action or doing in Sanskrit, so that when we say that something that happens to you is your karma It’s like saying in English it’s your own doing. But in popular Indian belief, karma is a sort of built in moral law or a law of retribution. Such that all the bad things you do and all the good things you do have consequences which you have to inherit and so long as karmic energy remains stored up you have to work it out. And what the sage endeavors to do is a kind of action which in Sanskrit is called Nish comma Karma. Nish comma means without passion or without attachment karma, action. And so, in whatever action he does he renounces the fruits of the action so that he acts in a way that doesn’t generate future karma because future karma continues you in the wheel of becoming, Samsara, the round, and keeps you being reincarnated. Now then, in that case, when the time comes that you start to get out of the chain of Karma. All the creditors that you have start presenting themselves for payment, in other words, does a person who begins say to study yoga this felt that he will suddenly get sick or that his children will die he loses money all sorts of catastrophes will occur because. The karmic debt is being cleared up. And it is in no hurry to be cleared up if you’re just living along like anybody but if you embark on the spiritual life a certain hurry occurs and therefore since this is known. It’s rather discouraging to start these things. The Christian way of saying the same thing is that if you plan to bet, o change your life, shall we say to turn over a new leaf, you mustn’t let the devil know, because he will oppose you with all his might if he suddenly discovers that you’re going to escape from his power. So for example, if you have a bad habit say you drink too much and you make a New Year’s resolution that during this coming year you’ll stop drinking that’s a very very dangerous thing to do because the devil will immediately know about it. And what will happen will be this. See he will confront you with the prospect of three hundred sixty five drinkless days, and that will be awful, you know, just overwhelming and you won’t be able to make much more than three days on the wagon.
So in that case you compromise with the devil and say just today I’m not going to drink you see but tomorrow maybe you know we’ll go back. Then when tomorrow comes you say Oh just another day and it’s trial that’s all and the next day you say one more day won’t make much difference so you only do it for the moment and you don’t let the devil know that you have a secret intention of going on day after day after day after day.
But of course there’s something still better than that. And that is not to let the devil know anything. And that means of course not to let yourself know. One of the many meanings of that saying Let not your left hand though watch or write and do it is just this. And that was why in the Zen discipline, the great deal of it centers around. Acting without premeditation, as those of you know who read Harry Gold’s book, Zen in the art of archery it was necessary to release the bowstring without first saying now. There’s a wonderful story it may also have read by a German writer Von Kleist, about a boxing match with a bear. The man can never defeat this bear because the bear always knows his plans in advance. And is ready to deal with any situation. The only way to get through to the bear would be to hit the bear without having first intended to do so. That would catch him. And so this is one of the great great problems in the spiritual life or whatever you want to call it, is to be able to have intention and act simultaneous. By this means you escape karma and you escape the devil. So you might say that the Taoist is exemplary in this respect. That this is getting free from karma without making any previous announcement of simply; supposing we have a train and we want to unload the train of its freight cars. You can go to the back end and you can unload them one by one and shunt them into the siding, but the simplest of all ways of unloading is to uncouple between the engine in the first car and that gets rid of the whole bunch at once. And it is in that sort of way you see that the Taoist gets rid of karma without challenging it. And so it has the reputation, you see, of being the easy way. There are all kinds of yogas and ways for people who want to be difficult. And one of the great gambits of a man like Gurdjieff, was to make it all seem as difficult as possible, because that challenged the vanity of his students. If some teacher Some guru says really this isn’t difficult at all it’s perfectly easy. Some people will say oh he’s not really that the real thing. We want something tough and difficult when when we see somebody starts out giving you a discipline they’re a very weird and rigid people think there is a thing that that man means business, see and so they flatter themselves by going to such a guy that they are serious students, whereas the other people are only dabblers and so on. All right if you have to do that way that’s the way you have to do it, but the Taoist is the kind of person who shows you the shortcut, and shows you how to do it by intelligence rather than effort, because that’s what it is. Taoism is in that sense what everybody is looking for. The easy way in the shortcut. Using cleverness instead of muscle. So the question naturally arises isn’t it cheating. When in any game, somebody really starts using his intelligence he will very likely be accused of cheating. And to draw the line between skill and cheating is a very difficult thing to do. You see the the inferior intelligence will always accuse a superior intelligence of cheating. That’s its way of saving face. You beat me by means that weren’t fair. We were originally having a contest to find out who had the strongest muscles and you know we were pushing against it like this does this that this. And this would prove who have the strongest muscles, but then you introduce some gimmick into it, some judo trick or something like that we see and you’re not playing fair. So in the whole domain of ways of liberation. There are roots for the stupid people and roots for the intelligent people. And the latter are faster. This with perfectly clearly explained by Wua Nung, the six patriarch of Zen in China. And it’s sutra where he says the difference between the gradual school and the Sudden School is they both arrive at the same point but the gradual is for slow-witted people and the suddenness for fast witted people, can you in other words find a way that sees into your own nature but sees into the doll. Immediately, and at the end of this morning’s talk I pointed out to you the immediate way, the way through now. When you know that, this moment is that all. And this moment is by it’s considered by itself. That without past and without future eternal. Neither coming into being or going out of being. There is nirvana. And there is a whole Chinese Philosophy of time based on this. It hasn’t, to my knowledge been very much discussed by Taoist writers. It’s been much discussed by zen writers, but it’s all based on the same thing. Dogan the great thirteenth century Japanese Zen Buddhist started in China, and he wrote a book called Shobo Genzo. A roshi recently said to me in Japan, that’s a terrible book. Because it tells you everything. It gives the whole secret away. But in the course of this book he says, you don’t there is no such thing as a progression in time. The spring does not become the summer. There is first spring and then there is summer. So in the same way, you now do not become you later. This is T.S. Eliot’s idea, in Four Quartets, where he says that the person who has settled down in the train to read the newspaper, is not the same person who stepped onto the train from the platform. And therefore, also you who sit here and not the same people who came in at the door. These states are separate, each in its own place. There was the coming in the door person. That there is actually only the here and now sitting person. And the person sitting here and now is not the person who will die. Because we are all a constant flux, and the continuity of the person from past through present to future is as illusory, in its own way, as the upward movement of the red lines on a revolving barber pole. You know, it goes round and round and round and the whole thing seems to be going up or going dominate over the case maybe. But actually nothing is going up or down. So when you throw a pebble into the pond and you make a con centric rings of waves, there is an illusion that the water is flowing upwards, and no water is flowing outwards at all. Water is only going up and down what appears to move outward is the wave not the water. So this kind of philosophical argument says that our seeming to go along in a course of time. It doesn’t really happen. The Buddhists say suffering exists but no one who suffers. Deeds exist but no doers are found. A path there is, but no one who follows it and Nirvana is but no one who attains it. So, in this way they look upon the continuity of life, as the same sort of illusion that is produced when you take a cigarette and in the dark wallet, it and the illusion of a circle is created whereas there is only the one point of fire.
The argument then is, so long as you’re in the present, there aren’t any problems. The problems exist only when you allow presence to amalgamate. There’s a way of putting this in Chinese, it is rather interesting they have a very interesting sign. This. It’s pronounced nyin. And Japanes, nin. And the top part of the character means now, and the bottom part means the mind-heart machine. And so, this is as it were an instant of thought. In Sanskrit they use it they use this character as the equivalent for the Sanskrit word Shannah. Then if you put if you double this character but it twice, or three times, and I write the Chinese word for ditto.. Nan Nan Nan. Means thought after thought after thought. Now the Zen master JoShu was once asked “What is the mind of a child?” And he said a ball in a mountain stream. What do you mean by a ball in the mountain stream? He said, thought after thought after thought, with no block. So, he was using of course, the mind of the child as the innocent mind. The mind of a person who was enlightened. One thought follows another without hesitation. The thought arises it doesn’t wait to arise, as when you clap your hands, the sound issues without hesitation. When you strike Flint, the spark comes out, it doesn’t wait to come out. And that means that there’s no block. So I thought Sod thought nin nin nin and describes what we call in our world the stream of consciousness. Blocking consists in letting the stream. Become connected chained together in such a way that when the present thought arises it seems to be dragging its past or resisting its future. Saying I don’t want to go.
When then the connection, the dragging, it’s better to call it, of these thoughts, drops. You’ve broken the chain of karma. If you think of this, in comparison with certain problems in music it’s very interesting. Because when we listen to music we hear melody only because we remember the sequence. We hear the intervals between the tones but more than that. We remember. The tones that led up to the one we are now hearing and we are trained musically to anticipate certain consequences. And to the extent that we get the consequences we anticipate we feel that we understand the music, but to the extent that the composer does not adhere to the rules and gives us unexpected consequences, we feel that we don’t understand the music. And if he gives us harmonic relationships which we are not trained to accept, that is to say to expect. We say well this man is just writing garbage. But of course, it becomes apparent that the perception of music, the ability to hear a melody, will depend upon a relationship between past present and future sounds. And you might say well you’re talking about a way of living that would be equivalent to listening to music with a tone deafmind. So that you would reduce and you would eliminate the melody and have only noise and so in your Taoist way of life. You would eliminate. All meaning and have only senseless present moments. Up to a point that’s true. That is in a way what Buddhists and also mean by seeing things in there suchness.
What is so bad about dying for example. It’s really no problem. When you die,you just drop dead, there that’s all there is to it. But what makes it a problem is that you’re dragging a past. And all those things you’ve done all those achievements you’ve made, all these relationships and people that you’ve accumulated as your friends all that has to go see it isn’t there now. Meath a few friends might be around you but all that past that identifies you as who you are, which is simply memory, all that has to go. And we feel just terrible about that. But if we didn’t if we were just dying that’s all death wouldn’t be a problem.
And so likewise the chores of everyday life they become intolerable when everything ties together all the past in the future you feel it dragging at you in every way. Supposing you wake up in the morning and it’s a lovely morning let’s take today right here and now here we are in this paradise of the place. Big Sur. And some of us have got to go to work on Monday. Is that a problem? For many people it is. It spoils the taste of what’s going on now. When we wake up in bed on Monday morning and think of the various hurdles we’ve got to jump that day. Immediately we feel sad bored, and bothered. Whereas actually we’re just lying in bed. And so the Taoist trick says. Simply live now and there will be no problems. That’s the meaning of the Zen saying. When you are hungry, eat, when you are tired, sleep when you walk,walk, when you sit, sit. Rinzai the great Tang Dynasty master said, in the practice of Buddhism there is no place for using effort. Sleep when you’re tired, move your bowels, eat when you’re hungry. That’s all. The ignorant will laugh at me but the wise will understand. And so also the meaning of this wonderful Zen saying. They have the character of the sun. That is good day. Every day is a good day. On condition and see that day-day is like nyin nyin. They come one after another and yet there’s only this one you don’t link them.
This as I said into intimated just a moment ago seems to be an atomization of life. Things just do what they do. The flour goes poof, and people go this way go that way and so on and that’s that’s where that’s what’s happening. It has no meaning it has no destination, it has no value, it’s just like that. And when you see that, you see, it’s a great relief that’s all it is. But then when you are firmly established in suchness, in that it’s just this moment. You can begin again to play with the connections. Only you’ve seen through them, but now you see that they don’t haunt you. Because you know that there isn’t any continuous You running on from moment to moment who originated at some time in the past and will die at some time in the future. All that’s disappeared. So you can have enormous fun, anticipating the future, remembering the past, and playing all kinds of continuities. This is the meaning of that famous Zen saying about mountains are mountains. To the naive man mountains are mountains, waters are waters. To the intermediate student mountains are no longer mountains waters in the longer waters now the words they’ve all dissolved into the point instant to the Shana. But for the perfected student, mountains are again mountains and waters are again waters.