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Everything Is Empty – A Zen Story

Everything Is Empty – A Zen Story

“Enlightenment is not an attainment; it is a homecoming. It is extraordinary in the sense that you become utterly ordinary.”

—Sadhguru

Zen Story: Yamaoka Tesshu, a samurai and student of Zen, traveled around Japan studying from various Zen masters. One day, he wandered into the Shokoku Temple and happened upon the monk Dokuon. 

In a desire to show his comprehension of Zen, Tesshu stated to the Master, “The mind, the Buddha and all beings are empty. The true nature of all things is emptiness. There is no enlightenment, no delusion; no sages, no commoners; no toil, no reward.” 

Master Dokuon remained quiet for some time and then banged him on the head. 

Tesshu fumed in anger and asked, “What did you do that for?” 

Master Dokuon replied, “If everything is empty, where did the temper come from?” 

Sadhguru: Enlightenment is not an attainment; it is a homecoming. It is extraordinary in the sense that you become utterly ordinary. Emptiness means that you are no longer filled with any of your own stuff, there is nothing of yours. If you become like this that everything is yours or nothing is yours, in that kind of state there is no compulsiveness.
 

This samurai is claiming – he is empty and everything is empty – from whatever he has heard and read somewhere, he is claiming that he is that. After one knock on the head he gets angry. If everything is empty, if nothing is compulsive within you, where would anger come from? You did not choose to become angry to serve a certain purpose; it is just that you burst into anger because someone hit you on the head. 

It is irresponsible for people to speak as to what is enlightenment because all kinds of fools will pick up these words and either they will try to deceive someone or more importantly, they will delude themselves with such ideas which are happening all over the place. 

There are unscrupulous elements in society today who if you pay 25,000 rupees, they will declare you enlightened. If you want that kind of enlightenment, I am telling you do not waste your money, you declare yourself enlightened, because nothing is going to change anyway. 

Editor's Note: Read this article, where Sadhguru explains what Zen is and how it came to be such an effective means towards the Ultimate.

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