He Who Would Not Deny, He Who Would Not Accept

Cover. Sanzen-in Temple, Kyoto, Japan. Photographer: Brian Brake.


This text is replicated from No Water, No Moon: Reflections on Zen [1975] by Indian philosopher and mystic Rajneesh [1931-1990], also known as Acharya Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and later as Osho.



In this volume, the author brings readers a fresh understanding of Zen and the nature of true enlightenment. Through these Zen teaching stories, he explores the essence of Zen in al its beauty and mystery. Woven throughout are Zen shocks, Zen knocks and great laughter, which can shake readers from the sameness of everyday life into an awareness of the essence of existence and their true selves. Osho [1931-1990] was a contemporary mystic whose life and teachings have influenced millions of people of all ages, and from all walks of life. He has been described by the Sunday Times in London as one of the '1000 Makers of the 20th century' and by Sunday Mid-Day [India] as one of the ten people - along with Gandhi, Nehru and Buddha - who have changed the destiny of India. He is also known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, with an approach to mediation that acknowledges the accelerated pace of contemporary life. His unique 'Active Meditations' are designed to first release the accumulated stresses of body and mind, so that it is easier to experience the thought-free and relaxed state of meditation.


'Oh, is that so?'

A Master reflects, mirrors. A Master simply gives you back again and again. A master does not improve upon you. He does not give you a should, because all shoulds create guilt. A Master does not give you any ideal, because all ideals create tension, anguish. A Master never says, 'This is bad and that is good.' He never creates values, because all values create splits. A Master never teaches judgement, he teaches you to live without judging, without condemning, without saying good or bad. Let life flow as it is. Listen to this beautiful parable and you will understand the mirror-like quality of a Master. This is one of the most famous Zen stories about the great Zen Master Hakuin, when he was at Shoinji temple.

A girl among the congregation became pregnant.

Her severe father bullied her for the name of the lover and in the end, thinking that if she said so, she might escape punishment, she told him: 'It is that Zen Master Hakuin.'

The father said no more, but when the time came and the child was born, he at once took it to him and threw the baby down.

'It seems that this is your child.'

And he piled on every insult and sneer at the disgrace of the affair.

The Zen Master only said: 'Oh, is that so?' and took the baby up into his arms.

Thereafter, during rainy days and stormy nights, he would go out to beg milk from the neighbouring houses. Wherever he went he took the baby, wrapped in the sleeve of his ragged robe.

Now he, who had been regarded as a living Buddha, worshipped as a Shakyamuni, had fallen indeed. Many of the disciples, who had flocked to him, turned against him and left him. The Master still said not a word.

Meantime, the mother found she could not bear the agony of separation from her child and, further, began to be afraid of the consequences in the next life of what she had done. She confessed the name of the real father of the child.

Her own father, rigid in his conception of virtue, became almost mad with fear. He rushed to Hakuin and prostrated himself, begging over and over again for forgiveness. The Zen Master this time too said only: 'Oh, is that so?' and gave him the child back.


The Zen Master Hakuin was honoured by his neighbours as one who led a pure life.

What is pure life? What do you call purity? Because whatsoever you call purity is not the real purity. Your purity is a calculation, a moral calculation. Your purity is not the purity of a saint - his purity is innocence. Your purity is a sort of cunningness, a shrewdness. 

This has to be understood first. If you understand it deeply, only then you can understand what a wise man is, what a saint is, what a man of knowledge is. Because if your measurement is wrong, if your very base of judgment is wrong, everything will go wrong with it. 

Real purity is just like a child - innocent; innocent about what is good, what is bad; innocent about any distinction. Real purity does not know what is God and what is the Devil. But your purity is a choice - a choice of God against the Devil, a choice of the good against the bad. You have already made a distinction, you have already divided existence. And a divided existence cannot lead to innocence.

Innocence flowers only when existence is undivided. You accept it as it is. You don't choose, you don't divide, you don't make any distinctions. You don't know, really, what is good and what is bad. If you know, then you will calculate, then purity will be manufactured. It will not be a flowering.


The Zen Master Hakuin was honoured by his neighbours as one who led a pure life. 

They didn't know, they were not aware that the purity of their conceptions cannot be applied to this man. They were not aware. They thought, 'He is a moral man,' and he was not a moral man. He was a pure man, an innocent one - but not a moral one. He was a religious man - and remember the difference - he belonged to the eternal innocence, he was childlike. 

But the people honored him because they were not aware yet of the distinction between morality and amoral purity. They thought that he is a saint, but he was not the saint of their conceptions. He was a saint, but he was not a saint who can be measured by you. Your standards won't apply there. You will have to throw out your measurements and look. You will have to throw out your judgments and look; only then the saint, the real saint, is revealed to you.


'Innocence flowers only when existence is undivided. You accept it as it is. You don't choose, you don't divide, you don't make any distinctions. You don't know, really, what is good and what is bad. If you know, then you will calculate, then purity will be manufactured. It will not be a flowering.' 


One day it was discovered that a beautiful girl who lived near Hakuin was pregnant. The parents were very angry. At first the girl would not say who the father was, but after much harassment, she named Hakuin. In great anger, the parents went to Hakuin, but all he would say was 'Is that so?'

He would not deny, he would not accept. He didn't make any commitment. He didn't say, 'I am not responsible.' He didn't say, 'I am responsible.' He simply said a very noncommittal thing; he said, 'Is that so?' as if he was not related - so detached, so absolutely out of it. He simply asked, 'Is that so, that I am the father of the child?' 

What does this mean? It means such a total acceptance that even acceptance is not needed. Because when you say, 'I accept,' deep down you have denied. When you say yes, then no is implied. He would not even say yes. Who was he to say yes or no? If it had happened, if this was a fact, then he would just be a witness to it. If people had come to think that he was the father, then why unnecessarily disturb them and say something this way or that way? He would not choose. This is what choicelessness is. He would not be this or that, he would not defend himself. 

Purity is never on the defense. Morality is always defensive, that's why morality always takes offense very easily. Just look at a moralist, at a puritan, and he feels offended. If you say something, he feels offended; he will immediately deny and defend himself. But this is one of the basic psychological insights of all seekers: that whenever you defend something, it means you are afraid. 

If this Hakuin was an ordinary saint he would have defended himself - and he would also have been true in his defense, there was no problem about it: it was proved later on that the child never belonged to him, he was not the father. An ordinary saint, a so-called saint, a man of morality, even if he was the father, would have defended himself. And this Hakuin - he was not the father, but he did not defend himself. 

Innocence is insecurity, that's why it is innocence. If you defend it and make it secure, it is not innocence - calculation has entered. 

What must have happened inside Hakuin? Nothing! He simply listened to the fact that people had come to believe that he was the father, so he asked, 'Is that so?' That was all, that is all! He didn't react in any way - this way or that. He would not say yes, he would not say no. He was not defensive, he was open and vulnerable. Innocence is vulnerable; it is absolute vulnerability, openness.
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