Zen does not want anybody to be a believer. Either experience or just go home. Except experience, no belief is going to help. So those who have followed Zen masters were not followers, they were fellow travelers. They were rejoicing in the master’s enlightenment. They were drinking as much of his wisdom as possible, and they were finding the path so that they could also experience the same lightning experience which dissolves all questions, all answers, and leaves you simply innocent, centered — eternity in your hands. But they were not followers, and this is very difficult for the ordinary masses to understand.
When a Zen master makes a pot, a teapot or a cup, he pours his meditation into it, he pours his nothingness into it; he has nothing else. He pours his joy, his silence, his prayer into it. Then it has a different quality, it has a different vibe.
Zen has no idea of judgment. It never judges that somebody is a sinner or somebody is a saint. These are only waves; there is no need to waste your time on waves. If you know the ocean, you will not bother about the waves. One wave turns in one way, the other in another way, but they all belong to the same ocean and they all dissolve finally into the same ocean.
In comparison to Zen, all the religions look like entertainment. Formal rituals, social conditionings — Zen goes through them like a sword cutting all the ropes that bind you. It has no ritual, it has no mantra, it has no way of sacrificing anything to anyone. The very basis of sacrifice, God himself, is missing in Zen.
Zen cuts all this rubbish like a sharp sword in one single blow. It has nothing to do with anything that takes you away from you; it may be God, it may be hell, it may be heaven — all kinds of rewards and all kinds of fears about punishment. All the religions are living on the exploitation of your senses because they open outwards.
Zen does not talk about great principles, that has to be noted. It simply creates the device and leaves you to find the way out. Obviously it has been immensely successful.
Zen has only created devices, leaving you completely free to find the truth. And it is strange, more people have become enlightened through Zen than through any other religion of the world. The other religions are very big, and Zen is a very small stream. You can see these small things, and a master uses them in such a way that they start pointing to the moon.
In the world of Zen, mind is the only thing that has to be thrown out, and then you have the whole universe available. You are welcomed by the whole universe.
In Zen, when the master hits you, it means he is showing his love, he is showing his acceptance. By hitting you he is giving you an indication of his approval. That is a kind of certificate. Disciples long for years to be hit by the master. It is a very different world that Zen has created.
Zen has a very flexible methodology. It does not give commandments to be followed for generations; it does not give general principles which are applicable in every situation to every person. It is more intimate and more personal.
Much has to be done before you can come to a point where relaxation is possible. And that relaxation is not from you, it happens: because the whole energy has moved, nothing remains behind to be restless; a rest comes. And Zen is right, because only in that rest is the ultimate revealed. And Jesus is right, because that rest comes only when you have put all your energies into effort. Jesus is the first part and Zen is the last part of the same process; Zen is the conclusion, Jesus is the beginning.
Zen wants you to approach life unconditionally. That means without any prejudice, without any precondition, without any expectation. You can be total only if you are standing at your very center.