If you love, Love Openly

Written by Super User on . Posted in Zen Koans

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

  Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now."


If you want to ‘get’ your beloved then there is no love.  If you want to ‘give’ yourself completely then only that is love.

What is important is whether you have loved.  It is not important whether you get your beloved or not.  Love itself fulfills love.  Love does not need the object of love to fulfill.  When in love your neither become beggar nor master.  You just find yourself as home; at peace with your love. 

One cannot love a person.  One can just be love.  Love cannot be selective.  The person whom you started loving is just the excuse.  You would start loving everyone if that love is real.  If you do not start loving everyone then know that the person has not yet ignited the love in you. 

People are always searching for love, everywhere.  They have not found love and so they are searching, there will never find it even; because they are searching for it.  Simply dropping the search is also not enough; that would lead to hypocrisy.  The search automatically drops away when you are in love; not only in love, of love and by love. 

Love is throbbing right now.  In the name of love you become desirous and kill this love.  The flower is blossoming.  Its fragrance is pulling you.  In the name of your love, you become desirous of it and pluck it.  Love has killed love.  It is strange because love never kills; never takes away anything, it just gives.  But the false has overpowered the true.  Lust has come in the garb of love.

There is no ‘your’ love.  You are love.

Life is one like Ehsun.  Love it.  Do not become desirous of it, ambitious of it.  It is already yours.  First life ensnares into petty love.  There is no one who does not like life.  Even after death one wants life in next birth or in heaven.  The one committing suicide wants better life than this.  Everyone seems tired in this life.  Yet no one is tired of life. 

The monks are chasing Ehsun; they get tired; still they want her.  People want things of life.  For that they sacrifice life!  Monks wants to own body and beauty of Ehsun; in the process they miss Ehsun. 

Life let’s this play go on.  But if you show some daring, if you walk two steps to express love towards Ehsun, if you really try to get near, if you do not satisfy yourself with distant pleasures of chasing and owning petty things, if you are not satisfied with mere glances and few pearls of laughter with Ehsun then you would take some daring steps.  Then when and what happens no one can tell.  But the reply of life can come suddenly, you have to be prepared for it, you should be wanting that and only that, then you will never miss the call or else the call would be definitely be shattering you. 

So beware before expressing your love towards life.  First life ensnares in petty love and they to few somewhat prepared one’s life itself shows the real love.

Your effort for love is filling you with filth.  Let you be empty.  Then wait.  Love tests.  She will test you.  Then she will herself call you and openly embrace you; for she was always yours. 

You have left your wife and has gone to a prostitute.  If you really want to return to your wife, then she will test you.  She will test if you are totally out of the snare of the prostitute.  If you really love her, want her and knowing it is you who had been infidel then you would not mind the tests and waiting for love to again blossom in her heart.  If you are ready to wait you will find she was always in love of you, she was always yours.

The monk is still attached to the body; to his personality.  He wants to make love with that body.  Ehsun is telling him to rise above body consciousness; to give up false personality then love is shining, ready to embrace. 

The monk’s love is the love of the ego.  Ego can only love itself.  Ego is a shadow, not a reality.  This shadow seems a reality because we have not seen the real.  We are used to deal through the shadow.  The shadow’s love will also be a shadow and shallow.  But the shadow survives on considering itself to be real.  So the love of shadow, though unreal, is considered as real by the shadow. 

But this shadow love is also very useful.  It can be used to draw a little understanding about the real love.  Even the shadow love gives one’s personality a jerk.  But the real jerk comes when one realizes that this love which he considered the ultimate is really just the shadow of real love.    If the shadow love can give this much madness then one wonders what the real love would make one.  If one has like the madness of the shadow love then one would readily move forward to this even greater madness.  That opens the door to understand one’s own shadow, poor existence.  Love and only love liberates.  It is not a matter of dry philosophy.  Through intellectual understanding one can never find love. 

It is very important that people find love in this world.  Even though this love is not ultimate then also it is fine.  Those who have not found love in this world would find it very difficult to understand the madness of love for Supreme.  From earthly love to divine love.  From muladhar to sahasraar.  That’s the call of Ehsun and all the saints.

Twenty monks and one nun…..

Truth is always one.  She is one amongst the many. 

The ego with its various forms is the monks here.  Ehsun is the life.  Mind is forever in search of life.  Through all the tribulations of the mind the search is only for life.  Life is love and lovely. 

If the pitch of the mind becomes feverish to find love then love may give a call.  In that call mind has to see whether it really wants love.  If it really wants it then it would have no problem in embracing life.  Life the way it is. 

When mind merges with life, then its purpose is fulfilled, all its tribulations are over, and its existence has met its purpose, now it is no longer required.  It completely merges like a river merging in the ocean.  The river which has gone through all the tribulations to reach river; going through several hooks and corners, piercing the mountains, finally sees herself in front of ocean.  Will river be able to stop now? 

If the love is real it will not be able to stop, it is natural, no further thinking required, no need to even go towards ocean now.  It is ocean that will pull now. 

One has to be just one’s true self, that is, the lover of ocean of love, then that ocean will pull.  When one merges with life, one realizes one is life.  Whatever one was behind was a fraction of the part of life, and here one realizes one was always the life itself. 

were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master…..

But their object of meditation was now onto something else. 

In some city there was a monastery and on the opposite side of the monastery was a brothel.  One day a young boy was brought to the monastery.  The same day a young girl was brought to a brothel.  After few years their path never met.  The boy was groomed as a very holy saint.  The girl was groomed as a prostitute.  

Several years later co-incidentally they both died on the same day.  After these many years these two neighbors of contrasting life met at the gates of heaven and hell.  Chitragupta – the official was ordaining the people to either heaven or hell according to their deeds on earth.  At the turn of the saint quick came the verdict, 

“Send him to hell.”  

This surprised him and others no end.  He stood there perplexed.  Next to him came his neighbor, the prostitute.  The saint thought 

“She would definitely be sent to hell.  I have to stay with a prostitute in hell. What would people think?” 

But to his further surprise and extreme agony came the verdict for her, 

“Take her graciously to heaven.” 

Now such contradictory verdicts surprised even the prostitute. The saint protested.  So Chitragupta explained him,

“When you were staying in the monastery, you were several times brooding of  what pleasant life would be going on in the brothel just the opposite side. At the same time this lady was thinking of what holy life would be lead by people on the opposite side. So now I am sending you both to proper places because that is what you passionately asked for by your thinking.”  

It is not just the external deeds that we do, but the mental state, the intension and attention while doing those deeds matters even more.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain…..

Truth even without any decoration looks beautiful.  Simplicity has its own beauty.  Eshun is beautiful.  Life is beautiful.  She is not the most beautiful.  That would be comparative. She is the only beautiful, no comparison; because other’s fulfill momentarily, but she fulfills completely.  The monk does not consider her to be the only thing that he wants.  He wants her. But he also wants to keep his garb of monk, which means, he wants other things also.  This is not love, this is trying to fulfill in one more way and such attempts has always left one even more high and dry. 

She  is so beautiful that people feel like telling:

Kiska chehra

Kiska chehra ab main dekhoon

Tera chehra dekhkar

Meri aankhon ne chuna hai tujhko duniya dekhkar

Having seen your face

No other face looks attractive

My eyes have chosen you 

After seeing the world

Several monks secretly fell in love with her…..

Attraction towards beauty, that is, towards truth is natural.  When it is natural why to be secretive?  When you love anything of the world, you actually love Truth.  So why is this guilt?

An ordinary man’s problem is that his mind is filled with too many desires.  A spiritual aspirant’s problem is he cannot express his desire.  It’s not that his mind is completely free from desires. But along with these desires now he also has guilt.

One of them wrote her a love letter….

This monk had the daring to at least write this letter.  Others were even more coward. 

Words are not needed to express love.  One cannot express love, love expresses itself.  One may write the letter with blood but it is still words only.  In love one does not remain confined to one’s body.  To a person in love everything seems to be in love; everything one’s own.  And not just blood or body but the whole existence starts to express the love.

Sufi saints and many poets call this state as being in drunken state.  One pleads the God to fill one’s cup with wine; make one so intoxicated that one does not remember world.  After getting drunk whether you know it or not, those people who are not drunk would know it.  You may be oblivious to their surprise or may not be but you will be so different from them that you cannot keep it a secret. 

Insisting upon a private meeting…

Why private meeting?  It is not possible.  Love is so fulfilling that it leaves no part of your existence untouched.  It makes you see oneness.  It cannot let you be divided into private and public self. 

The monk has converted Eshun into two.  Publicly she is a fellow monk.  Privately she is a love object.  Whether one publicly accepts or not, one is privately, in reality, forever going towards God.  Public face is a mask.  Private thing is a reality. 

Do not hide behind your personality, your veil.  Kabir says:

Lift the veil

and you will find

what you are

looking for

Eshun is telling the monk to come out of veil.  If he dares to come out then she is ready to embrace.

She will not meet secretly behind the temple.  You will not find her there.  Lift the veil and you will find her in your embrace.  She is the breath of your breath.  She is not different from you.  Only find out if you really love her

The love that can be hidden is not love. If it is true love, then such love cannot be hidden by any means.  What can be hidden is not love.  No secret meetings here.

Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya.  If you love then there cannot be any fear, inhibitions.  The issue arises as one is not certain whether one has loved or it is just lust to fulfill one’s loneliness.

Ehsun is also a monk.  But she is able to speak openly and also embrace openly. 

Eshun did not reply….

Our love is also such.  And when God does not reply we feel offended, cheated.  We feel the saints have cheated us.

In Katha Upanishad it is said that only if life chooses one, embraces one, then only one will get real happiness.  It also states that a weak person cannot be chosen by life.  If you are strong, you will wait.  If you are weak you would not be able to accept invitation even when chosen.  You should be a mahavir – a person of real inner strength. 

The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose….

Those who say Zen masters do not use words are misguided.  It is attachment towards words that is abhorred in Zen.  Wordly enlightenment is worst than worldly attachments.

Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now."…

It’s a direct address, direct invitation; always and for all.

“Really love me so much”. Ehsun knows the monk does not even know what true love is.  But she is not lying; if the monk is ready then she is really ready.  She has said it like this to awaken the monk; to awaken the monk to real love.  At this moment if the monk is spiritually mature then he would have been enlightened. 

This love is not anti-hate.  This love is beyond the normal love and hatred.  When Ehsun says if you ‘really’ love me….that does not mean she is saying if you do not hate me…in normal love there is only passion, lust….the real love comes from dispassion

In true love even poison becomes nectar.  If the love is not real then even nectar ultimately feels like poison.

In true love one is singing, dancing.  The entire existence feels like celebrating; because one has drunk at the fountain of love.

In true love there is no feeling of body.  You are not some-body, you are every-body.  You cannot remain only some one’s buddy; you become every one’s buddy. 

You cannot love with mind.  Only when one goes beyond mind, one can feel the extreme joy of love.

If you really love me then I would really like to embrace you.  All would like to embrace the one in love; because one is one with One.

Don't put another cup of wine in my hand, 

pour it in my mouth,

for I have lost the way to my mouth.

If you are really in love then O drop! Merge yourself in ocean, embrace the ocean of love.  O drop of ocean of sansar, merge in the ocean of love.

If you are really in love then leave all inhibitions.  Otherwise your inhibitions will betray your love.

If you have felt the real love even slightly then let us embrace; embrace in such a way that we can never be separated again.

If you really are in love then you would not be able to reject my invitation.  In fact you would not be able to think also.  You will simply rush to me as love makes you powerless, love makes you empty and yet so full that you give up all inhibitions.

You will be shameless in front of your friends, but you cannot help because you are drunk.  The one who is bitten by scorpion cannot control himself.  Similarly the one bitten by the arrow of love is out of control. 

There is no shame in the present; love has broken all boundaries.  The past personality, the veil is also broken by the love.  There cannot be any worries about future.  Because love is all fulfilling; it fulfills our past, present and future and takes us much beyond.

“Then feel my embrace now”.  No waiting. Embrace. Become one with me. Forget your existence. When you have forgotten your existence, where would you remember the beloved one’s existence? Become so much one that even oneness is transcended.  That is when embrace has happened.

Now. Do not wait thinking about pros and cons.  You would be fortunate to get the call.  And when the call comes let that call be your guide.

Ehsun and other saints are giving this call you to.  Are you going to wait?  Are you thinking something?

One has been searching for God eternally in everything.  One is getting good respect, name, and fame for that.  Life is following a quite certain, straight line.  People before you have walked the same way, you are following their footsteps.  Whether they reached anywhere or not is not the point, there is certainty in normal path.  And the society also feels secure when you tread the known path searching for God. 

The only thing that can disturb this apple cart is if God really gets pleased with your search and come calling upon you.  One is searching for God to be with God, forever.  But this hypocritical search itself has given so much in this hypocritical world.  Now one cannot give up those things and lead an uncertain life with God.  With God there are no sureties.  Search is the effort, being with God is the fruit.  But one feels here detached from the fruits of action!  As if doing those actions is its fruit!  Search is fine, let me call you God but you should not listen.  The only way to do this is not to put your heart into your loud prayers.  If the call is from heart then there is no need for prayers.  But we are with prayers and do not present heart, because the way of heart is uncertain.  Only for God intoxicated person it is possible to be so detached from the fruits of actions; so much so that actions itself become the fruits. 

But why would these monks want real God when they themselves are worshiped as God?  It would be as if God is taking away their coveted position earned after several years of efforts at hypocrisy. 

A businessman cannot do business if he does not lie.  The businessman of religion is no different.  A businessman would welcome you in his restaurant and serve you delicacies.  As they say customer is the king.  But these western management concepts are pretty petty, cheap.  They do not work in spirituality and spirituality is the reality.  The customer is fine, as long as he comes and goes away; in between making profit for you.  Externally the businessman is showing something, internally the motive is known to all. 

It is pure give and take business; more take than give.  It is not simply give and take.  If you give as much as you take then there is no profit.  Without profit there is no business. Love is beyond give and take.  Love does not depend upon taking anything.  Love is.  If you are aware of this IS-ness then that is love.  Ehsun is asking the monk whether you are businessman of religion or really a spiritual aspirant.  The search for love ends with the end of search.

To love is to go towards death.  If you are not prepared for death then do not try to see any love in love, just lead a loveless normal life.  But if the flame of love has been ignited inconsolably that cannot do anything, then let youself perish in that flame.  If the god of love has really pierced you then accept fully.  This is a matter of celebration so no need to be secretive about it.  To be secretive is to consider this love as something forced upon you.

In true love there is complete embrace without any embracement.

When you want to keep a distance from people, which means you want to have privacy of yours.  All these talks about privacy, the need for privacy has come about in this age.  It is because our relationships have gone down the drain. It is because we have not found our true love.  It is because our relationships are based on need rather than true love. 

In privacy there is separateness.  In privacy you feel like having something within yourself which you cannot show it to others.  You are afraid that if reality will come out the relationship will break.  You are afraid that your reality is shallow.  And from that shallowness whatever relationships are built are shallow.  So these shallow relationships based on need will crumble if reality will come out.  And people do not want reality to come out.  Deep within themselves they know that these relationships are empty.  But still there is need to keep them.  And that is why they don’t want the reality to come out. 

It is not a matter of being physically one.  It is not necessary that we should be always near to our beloved one.   The nearness does not imply physical nearness only.  It is not nearness based on common interest, the common personality types or may be as some people say the contrasting personality types.  None of them is essential in a real merged, embraced relationship – a real love relationship. 

The nearness is the feeling of heart.  From heart you should really feel not only this nearness but a kind of oneness which cannot be separated, in fact even if you want it you cannot be separated – that kind of nearness.  So it is not physically nearness.  Do not go about embracing each and everyone.  It does not mean you should not embrace physically anybody.   But the embracing itself does not signify real love.  And it is not that physical embracing that has been talked about here.  Let your heart touch the heart of your beloved.  Let your bosom filled with love merge with the bosom of beloved which is also filled with love. 

Love cannot be conditional.  Love is from freedom and takes one to freedom.  When there is no love then only conditions can creep in. Real love comes out of freedom.  Without freedom one would not like to be in heaven also.  You cannot compel one to be in heaven. 

In reality you are love.  And you have come on this earth and has become earthy, worldly.  Almost like a beggar, begging for love.  But that is also acceptable and fine with you.  You still love life.  This so-called degraded state is also out of your freedom.  There are no strings attached, no conditions.  And once you realize that to get bound is also your freedom, is your love; then you again get connected to that love which is your basic nature. 

If you love life, it starts slowly sucking you within itself.  And you would be really fortunate to be so sucked.  No pleasures of world have that capacity to suck you.  They momentarily take you and then throw you back into your normal world.  When you come back to your normal world from you worldly pleasures, you repent going to those pleasures. 

But in real love when the life starts sucking you do not repent loving life.  Initially loving life may not look as pleasurable as other toys but slowly its charms.  Whereas in the pleasures of the world the charm that was there initially starts to fade away.  But you cannot run away from the pleasures because now you would have become addicted.  In the love of life there is no addiction.  There is freedom.  And with full freedom you still want to be with your love.  You cannot but be faithful to this real love. 

This real love is the wire that is connecting you to the Truth.  And also the truth itself is this love.  And you cannot be hypocrite or disloyal to it. 

Two monks were passing by a forest.  Suddenly they heard the voice of a young lady who had fallen into a water pit.  One of the monk went towards the noise and lifted the lady out.  After this the monks started walking on their path.  None of them talked till they reached the monastery.  As they were going to reach the monastery another monk who had not helped the lady told the other, “we are not allowed to touch ladies, and you did not only touch her but also carried her, why?”  

The monk who helped the lady just told him “are you still carrying her”.  This is very important to see.  The monk who had not carried the woman was still carrying her in her head.  Whereas the monk who had really helped the lady had nothing in his head, no trace of it.  So is you love of the mind, has your love captured your mind or has this love penetrated your heart.  That is what all matters.

When in love only the beloved looks beautiful.  Everything else is beautiful; but none of them really pull or attracts as much as beloved.  Everything else pales in comparison to this beloved.  Something which looked highly attractive some days back has suddenly lost its pull or gravitation; because a greater beauty has been found.  It’s not that one starts hating other things, other things looks more beautiful, without being lustily attractive.  One is just happy. 

And in that love the concept of remaining conscious also vanishes. Love is the result of remaining conscious.  When one starts remaining conscious one can transcended beyond mind.  And when the mind has been transcended the real love, the real happiness just shines forth.  In that there is no attempt of remaining conscious. Consciousness is natural by-product of love.  But that does not mean one will always been aware of all one’s actions like where the shoes or keys has been kept.  Even without that kind of consciousness one is simply happy in love. 

A priest performing religious ritual may not be in Zen, may not be in that state.  And a cobbler stitching shoes may be in Zen.  Love what you do and do what you love.  And if you really love what you are doing, if it is coming out of your natural inclination, out of your interest, you will become one with it.  You will be embraced with it.  There will be no separation between you and the work being done.  You yourself would have merged.  The work is happening, you are doing it but you are not there.  Only love is there.