The nun Chiyono studied for years, but was unable to find enlightenment. One night, she was carrying an old pail filled with water. As she was walking along, she was watching the full moon reflected in the pail of water. Suddenly, the bamboo strips that held the pail together broke, and the pail fell apart. The water rushed out; the moon’s reflection disappeared – and Chiyono became enlightened. She wrote this verse:
THIS WAY AND THAT WAY
I TRIED TO KEEP THE PAIL TOGETHER,
HOPING THE WEAK BAMBOO
WOULD NEVER BREAK.
SUDDENLY THE BOTTOM FELL OUT.
NO MORE WATER;
NO MORE MOON IN THE WATER –
EMPTINESS IN MY HAND.
Enlightenment is always sudden. There is no gradual progress towards it, because all gradualness belongs to the mind and enlightenment is not of the mind. All degrees belong to the mind and enlightenment is beyond it. So you cannot grow into enlightenment, you simply jump into it. You cannot move step by step; there are no steps.
Enlightenment is just like an abyss, either you jump or you don’t jump. You cannot have enlightenment in parts, in fragments. It is a totality – either you are in it or out of it, but there is no gradual progression. Remember this thing as one of the most basic: it happens unfragmented, complete, total. It happens as a whole, and that is the reason why mind is always incapable of understanding. Mind can understand anything which can be divided. Mind can understand anything which can be reached through installments, because mind is analysis, division, fragmentation. Mind can understand parts; the whole always eludes it. So if you listen to the mind you will never attain.
That’s what happened: this nun, Chiyono, studied for years and years and nothing happened. Mind can study about God, about enlightenment, about the ultimate. It can even pretend that everything has been understood. But God is not something you have to understand. Even if you know everything about God, you don’t know him; knowledge is not ’about’. Whenever you say ’about’, you belong to the outside. You may be moving round and round, but you have not entered the circle.
When someone says, ”I know about God,” he says he doesn’t know anything at all, because how can you know anything about God? God is the center, not the periphery. You can know about matter – because matter has no center in it, it is just the periphery. You cannot know about consciousness: there is no self, there is no one inside. Matter is only the outside; you can know about it. Science is knowledge. The very word science means knowledge – knowledge of the periphery, knowledge about something where the center doesn’t exist. Whenever the center is approached through the periphery, you miss it. You have to become it; that is the only way to know it. Nothing can be known about God. You have to be; only being is knowledge there. With the ultimate, ’about and about’ means missing and missing again. You have to enter and become one.
That’s why Jesus says, ”God is like love” – not loving, but just like love. You cannot know anything about love, or can you? You can study and study, you can become a great scholar, but you have not touched, you have not penetrated. Love can be known only when you become a lover. Not only that: love can be known only when you become love. Even the lover disappears, because that too belongs to the outside. Two persons in love become absent. They are not there. Only love exists, the rhythm of love. There may be two poles of the rhythm but they are not there. Something of the beyond has come into being. They have disappeared.
Love exists when you are empty. Knowledge exists when you are filled. Knowledge belongs to the ego, and the ego can never penetrate to the center; it is the periphery. The periphery can know only the periphery. You cannot know something which is of the center through the ego. The ego can study, the ego can make you a great scholar, maybe a religious scholar, a great pundit. You
may know all the Vedas, all the Upanishads, all the Bibles and Korans, and still you know nothing – because it is not knowledge from the outside, it is something which happens when you have entered and you have become one.
Extract from No Water, No Moon – Talks on Zen Stories by Osho