Life is so short, I really want to catch hold of it, seek it out, so I can make something of my myself. It seems the only way to succeed is to stand out from the others, to be extraordinary in some way. But trying to be special and extraordinary is really exhausting. Is this the only way?
“Life is not a thing, it is a process. And so infinite and so vast – how can you seek it? It is impossible.
“You can live, you can drop into this infinite ocean of godliness. And that door opens right now. There is no need to wait.
“The whole Zen attitude is to bring to your notice the fact that there is no effort to be made. The Zen attitude is that of effortlessness.
That is where it differs from Yoga. Yoga is effort – Zen is effortlessness.
“And of course effort can lead somewhere, but it cannot lead to the ultimate. Effort can give you a better ego, more polished, more crystallized. But it cannot give you nirvana, it cannot give you godliness. That is beyond effort. When all efforts cease, in that silence, in this beautiful emptiness, in that void, whatsoever is found is godliness.
“Then what is to be done? The question naturally arises – then what to do? Understanding, more awareness, more witnessing. Watch yourself moving, living, being. Try to understand each moment that passes by you. Become a witness.
“Remember, witnessing does not mean judgment. You are not to judge that this is good and this is bad. The moment you judge, you lose the witness. If you say this is bad, you are already identified. If you say this is good, you have already slipped out of witnessing – you have become a judge.
“A witness is a simple witness. Just watch as you watch the traffic on the road, or someday you lie down on the ground and you watch the clouds in the sky. You don’t say this is good, that is bad; you simply don’t make any judgments. You watch. You are unconcerned with what is good, what is bad. You are not trying to be moral. You are not trying any concepts – a pure witnessing. Out of that, more and more understanding arises and by and by you start feeling that the ordinary life is the only life; there is no other life. To be ordinary is the only way to be religious. All other extraordinary things are ego trips.
Just to be ordinary is the most extraordinary thing in the world because everybody wants to be extraordinary.
“Nobody wants to be ordinary. To be ordinary is the only extraordinary thing. Very rarely does somebody relax and becomes ordinary. If you ask Zen masters, ‘What do you do?’ they will say, ‘We fetch wood from the forest, we carry water from the well. We eat when we feel hungry, we drink when we feel thirsty, we go to sleep when we feel tired. This is all.’
“It does not look very appealing – fetching wood, carrying water, sleeping, sitting, eating. You will say, ‘These are ordinary things. Everybody is doing them.’ These are not ordinary things, and nobody is doing them. When you are fetching wood, you are condemning it – you would like to be the president of some country. You don’t want to be a woodcutter. You go on condemning the present for some imaginary future.
Carrying water from the well, you feel you are wasting your life. You are angry. You were not made for such ordinary things.
“You had come with a great destiny – to lead the whole world toward a paradise, some utopia. These are all ego trips. These are all ill states of consciousness.
“Just to be ordinary – and then suddenly what you call trivia is no longer trivia, what you call profane is no longer profane. Everything becomes sacred. Carrying wood becomes sacred. Fetching water from the well becomes sacred.
“When every act becomes sacred, when every act becomes meditative and prayerful, only then are you moving deeper into life – and then life opens all the mysteries to you. Then you are becoming capable. Then you are becoming receptive.
The more receptive you become, the more life becomes available.
“This is my whole teaching: to be ordinary, to be so ordinary that the very desire to be extraordinary disappears. Only then can you be in the present; otherwise you cannot be in the present.”