‘Put your hands on the top of your heads’

I have come across a very beautiful Zen story. Listen to it attentively; it is your story.

Behind a temple there was a field where a lot of squashes (vegetables of the gourd family) were ripening. One day a fight started. Now, you know, squashes are squashes… a great fight.

The squashes split into two groups and made a big racket, shouting at each other. And, of course, they used to live in a temple; they were growing in a temple, so those two groups must have been religious: Christian and Jew, Buddhist and Jaina, Hindu and Mohammedan – something like that.

A great theological debate arose. The head priest heard the uproar. He yelled and scolded them saying, “Hey, you squashes! The idea of fighting among yourselves! And in a Zen temple?! Everyone do zazen! Sit silently doing nothing.”

The priest taught them how to do zazen: “Fold your legs like this; sit up and straighten your back and neck.”

While the squashes were sitting zazen, their anger subsided and they settled down. 

Then the priest said, “Everyone put your hands on the top of your heads.” 

When the squashes felt the top of their own heads with their hands, they found some weird thing on their heads. It turned out to be the vine that connected them together. 

They started laughing. They said, “This is really ridiculous! We are one, and we were fighting unnecessarily.”

Osho – “The Path of Love”

Zazen, which literally means ‘sitting meditation,’  is the primary form of Zen meditation, conducted seated in the lotus position.

Image: Descending scene of the Buddha from the thirty three celestial realm to the human world at the end of the three months rainy retreat which took place near the city gate of Sankassa, an ancient city of India. Postage stamp issued by Nepal to commemorate the 2550th anniversary of the Buddha (2006), courtesy https://www.buddhiststamp.com/

Acharya Rajneesh (1931-1990), known later as Osho, was an Indian godman, philosopher, mystic and founder of the Rajneesh movement. He was viewed as a controversial religious leader during his life. He rejected institutional religions, insisting that spiritual experience could not be organised into any one system of religious dogma. He advocated meditation and taught a unique form called dynamic meditation. Rejecting traditional ascetic practices, he asked his followers to live fully in the world but without attachment to it. Pic courtesy: https://www.sannyas.wiki/