I was listening to Osho talking about Zen* the other day, a lovely story about how Tokusan visited Isan’s temple, went inside, went from east to west and from west to east, said “mu, mu” and then went out again, only to remind himself he must not be hasty. Then he dressed formally, went inside again and approached Isan, who reached down to pick up his staff. Tokusan then said, “kwatz”, and left. Later Isan asked his attendant what happened to the new fellow, and was told he had gone up into the hills. At which Isan said, that fellow will establish a hermitage and will one day assail the heavens and harrangue the patriarchs.
Osho’s first comment on the story was that the world of today was no longer the same as it was in the days when these stories were just new. That they no longer speak to us in the same way as they did to people then, and that modern man would be lucky if he just caught a glimpse of the path that those Zen monks walked.
It seems to me that today our minds have a different relationship with story than the people in the old times did. Since the advent of TV we have as many stories as we wish, and our minds are steeped in story. We are used to taking up a story like a coat, wearing it for a few hours and then putting it off again. Something like the Zen story of Tokusan and Isan is no longer puzzled over, left to settle within the mind.
What do you think? Are we still the same, and is the world still the same?
(*: the story is from Zen The Diamond Thunderbolt, discourse no. 2)