Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Whenever anyone asked him about Zen,
the great master Gutei would quietly raise one finger into the air.
A boy in the village began to imitate this behaviour.
Whenever he heard people talking about Gutei’s teachings,
he would interrupt the discussion and raise his finger.
Gutei heard about boy’s mischief.
When he saw him in the street, he seized him and cut off his finger.
The boy cried and began to run off,
but Gutei called out to him.
When the boy turned to look,
Gutei raised his finger into the air.
At that moment the boy became enlightened.
Acharya Prashant (AP): Very fond of saying cute things when asked questions about Zen. Raising his finger and stuff. What does the master do? He cuts off the raised finger. And he screams and runs away, the master calls him back and when he comes back, what does the master do?
Listeners: Raise his finger in air.
AP: And in that instant, the boy is immediately…?
AP: What’s this about?
A couple of things first: Gurus, monks, teachers, have been conventionally known to be very compassionate people. So it shocks us a little that a teacher cuts off a boy’s finger. Right? The anecdote just illustrates that for the teacher, it is not your body that counts. The teacher would not be shaken even a little if you tell him that you are tired or that there is pain in your stomach. The teacher will say, “So what? Your body doesn’t matter, come over! Its about something far bigger than the body.”
Even if you have to compromise on your health, still come over. The teacher will not allow you to escape! For the teacher, cutting off the boy’s finger was a very obvious thing, if cutting off the finger would lead to the boy gaining some wisdom. The teacher says, “Its such a beautiful deed. It is not at all bad for the boy if he can give a finger, sacrifice a finger and be wise in return. It’s okay.”…