The Path to Nirvana – A Zen Story
Many spiritual aspirants looking for the path to Nirvana or ultimate freedom end up going around in circles. But the path to Nirvana lies under one’s very feet.
He went to many people and asked them, "What is the path to nirvana?"
Everybody who heard this question told him, "All roads lead to the land of the Buddha, but there is one road which leads directly to the gates of nirvana. Only that particular Zen master knows about that road. Go to him, he will guide you." They told him the name of a very famous Zen master and asked him to go to his monastery.
The young man reached the monastery and fell at the master's feet.
He asked with great humility, "Oh, Master! I have surrendered at your feet. Please show me the way."
The master said, "It is just outside the compound wall."
The disciple wondered if the master did not understand his question properly.
He said, "Master, I am not asking about the road outside the compound wall. I seek the ultimate road."
"Oh, that one? It is the same road that goes to the capital city. Don't you know that?"
"Not that one, Master. Wherever I asked, people told me that all roads lead to the land of the Buddha, but there is one road that leads directly to the gates of nirvana. And they said that you know this path very well. I want to know where that path is."
"Oh, that path? It is right here," said the master, pointing to the place where the disciple was standing.
Whether you want to attain nirvana or reach Mumbai, where can the journey begin? You can start only from where you are right now. Instead, if you imagine that the path to liberation starts elsewhere, you will get lost in that illusion. Whatever kind of journey, it can start only from where we are right now.
The only reason human beings have not evolved within themselves, in spite of living on this planet for thousands of years, is because they have not gotten this point. Today we are getting angry in the same way the caveman got angry. The external situations and weapons have become more complex, but the fundamentals are exactly the same.
Despite witnessing how much suffering, ugliness and sorrow is caused by anger, we have not understood how to go beyond this petty emotion. Why are we in such a state? Simply because we are not ready to move from the place we are in right now. If you ask for liberation without moving an inch from the place you are in, how will you ever get it? Without seeing where we are standing now, if we plan to start from the next street, a journey will not happen. You will keep going in circles in your imaginary world.
Only if we take the next step from where we are right now, and the next step and the next step, can a journey happen.
The Zen master was indicating just this to the young man.
Editor’s Note : Read this article, where Sadhguru explains what Zen is and how it came to be such an effective means towards the Ultimate.