OSHO, IS THE GOOSE REALLY OUT?
Anand Bhavo, the
goose has never been in, the goose has always been out. It is a Zen
koan. First you have to understand the meaning of Zen and the
meaning of a koan.
Zen is not a
religion, not a dogma, not a creed, Zen is not even a quest, an
inquiry; it is non-philosophical. The fundamental of the Zen
approach is that all is as it should be, nothing is missing. This
very moment everything is perfect. The goal is not somewhere else,
it is here, it is now. Tomorrows don't exist. This very moment is
the only reality. Hence in Zen there is no distinction between
methods and goals, means and goals.
philosophies of the world and all the religions of the world create
duality; howsoever they may go on talking about non-duality, they
create a split personality in man. That has been the greatest
calamity that has befallen humanity: all the do-gooders have created
a schizophrenic man. When you divide reality into means and goals
you divide man himself, because for man, man is the closest reality
to man. His consciousness becomes split. He lives here but not
really; he is always there, somewhere else. He is always searching,
always inquiring; never living, never being, always doing; getting
richer, getting powerful, getting spiritual, getting holier, saintly
- always more and more. And this constant hankering for more creates
his tense, anguished state, and meanwhile he is missing all that is
made available by existence. He is interested in the far away and
God is close by. His eyes are focused on the stars and God is within
him. Hence the most fundamental thing to understand about Zen is:
the goose has NEVER been in. Let me tell you the story how this koan
philosophical official, Riko, once asked the strange Zen Master
Nansen, to explain to him the old koan of the goose in the bottle.
"If a man puts a gosling into a bottle," said Riko,
"and feeds him until he is full-grown, how can the man get the
goose out without killing it or breaking the bottle?"
Nansen gave a great clap with his hands and shouted: "Riko!"
"Yes, Master," said the official with a start.
"See," said Nansen, "the goose is out!"
It is only a
question of seeing, it is only a question of becoming alert, awake,
it is only a question of waking up. The goose is in the bottle if
you are in a dream; the goose has never been in the bottle if you
are awake. And in the dream there is no way to take the goose out of
the bottle. Either the goose will die or the bottle will have to be
broken, and both alternatives are not allowed: neither has the
bottle to be broken nor has the goose to be killed. Now, a
fully-grown goose in a small bottle... how can you take it out? This
is called a koan.
A koan is not an
ordinary puzzle; it is not a puzzle because it cannot be solved. A
puzzle is that which has a possibility of being solved; you just
have to look for the right answer. You will find it - it only needs
intelligence to find the answer to the puzzle; but a puzzle is not
A koan is
insoluble; you cannot solve it, you can only DISSOLVE it. And the
way to dissolve it is to change the very plane of your being from
dreaming to wakefulness. In the dream the goose is in the bottle and
there is no way to bring it out of the bottle without breaking the
bottle or killing the goose - in the dream. Hence, as far as the
dream is concerned, the puzzle is impossible; nothing can be done
But there is a way
out - which has nothing to do with the puzzle, remember. You have to
wake up. That has nothing to do with the bottle and nothing to do
with the goose either. You have to wake up. It has something to do
with YOU. That's why Nansen did not answer the question.
"If a man puts a gosling into a bottle and feeds him until he
is full-grown, how can the man get the goose out without killing it
or breaking the bottle?"
Nansen didn't answer. On the other hand, he gave a great clap with
his hands and shouted: "Riko!"
Now, this is not an answer to the question - this has nothing to do
with the question at all - it is irrelevant, inconsistent. But it
solves it; in fact, it dissolves it. The moment he shouted: "Riko!"
the official with a start said: "Yes, Master." The whole
plane of his being is transformed by a simple strategy.
A Master is not a
teacher; he does not teach you, he simply devises methods to wake
you up. That clap is a method, that clap simply brought Riko into
the present. And it was so unexpected... When you are asking such a
spiritual koan you don't expect the Master to answer you with a loud
clap and then shout: "Riko!"
Suddenly he is
brought from the past, from the future. Suddenly for a moment he
forgets the whole problem. Where is the bottle and where is the
goose? There is only the Master, in a strange posture, clapping and
shouting for Riko. Suddenly the whole problem is dropped. He has
slipped out of the problem without even knowing that he slipped out
of it. He has slipped out of the problem as a snake slips out of its
old skin. For a moment time has stopped. For a moment the clock has
stopped. For a moment the mind has stopped. For a moment there is
nothing. The Master, the sound of the clap, and a sudden awakening.
In that very moment the Master says: "See! See, the goose is
out!" It is dissolved.
A koan can only be
dissolved but can never be solved. A puzzle can never be dissolved
but can be solved. So remember, a koan is not a puzzle.
But when people who
are accustomed to continuous thinking, logical reasoning, start
studying Zen, they take a false step from the very beginning. Zen
cannot be studied; it has to be lived, it has to be imbibed -
imbibed from a living Master. It is a transmission beyond words, a
transmission of the lamp. The lamp is invisible.
Now, anybody watching this whole situation - Riko asking a question,
the Master clapping and shouting - would not have found anything
very spiritual in it, would not have found any great philosophy, may
have come back very frustrated. But something transpired - something
which is not visible and can never be visible.
It happens only
when the silence of the Master penetrates the silence of the
disciple, when two silences meet and merge; then immediately there
is seeing. The Master has eyes, the disciple has eyes, but the
disciple's eyes are closed. A device is needed, some method, so that
the disciple can open his eyes without any effort of his own. If he
makes an effort he will miss the point, because who will make the
one of the great lovers of Zen in the West, the founder of the
Buddhist Society of England and the man who made Zen Buddhism very
famous in the Western world, writes about this koan, and you will
see the difference. He says:
"There is a method of taking the problem in flank, as it were.
It will be nonsense to the rational-minded, but such will read no
further. Those who read on will expect increasing nonsense, for
sense, the suburban villas of rational thought, will soon be left
behind, and the mind will be free on the illimitable hills of its
own inherent joy. Here, then, is the real solution to the problem of
"Shall I tell it you? Consider a live goose in a bottle. How to
get it out without hurting the goose or breaking the bottle? The
answer is simple - 'There, it's out!"'