There is a very famous zen story about a disciple who had come to see his master. The master lives on a hilltop in a dense forest. It is evening, the sun is setting, and the disciple thinks many times to leave the master and go back because he has to pass through miles of forest and hilly track to reach his village.
But the presence of the master is so enchanting that he cannot gather courage to leave him, so he lingers on. And when it is almost midnight, the master says, ‘Now it is time — you should go.’ He looks outside — it is dark, there is no moon, so he hesitates. To pass through the woods on such a dark night is dangerous.
Seeing that the disciple is apprehensive, the master asks, ‘What is the problem? Why are you afraid?’ The disciple says, ‘Master, it is so dark outside and there is no moon in the sky. I feel afraid.’ So the master takes a candle, lights it and gives it to him, and says, ‘You can take this candle with you.’
When the disciple is about to go out of the door, the master blows the candle out. Suddenly there is darkness, darker than before, and silence.
The disciple says, ‘Master, I don’t understand.’ And the master says, ‘There is no need to understand. Be a light unto yourself. My light is not going to help you. A borrowed light is not going to help you. You will have to find your own light. The night is dark, life is dark and there is danger and risk at every step.’
Suddenly something dawned on the disciple at that moment— his first satori. The disciple said, ‘Master, now I don’t understand at all. First it was possible for me to make some effort to understand, but now I don’t understand at all!’
The master laughs, and in the dark night the laughter spreads all over the hilly track and the master says, ‘Now there is absolutely no need. I see that something has happened. I understand what has happened, but I cannot say it to you. I know you cannot understand it but when it happens next time, you will understand.
‘But remember, once you understand it, it will be a dead thing; then throw it away. When you understand a thing, it becomes knowledge. When you don’t understand, it remains learning; in learning, there is an opening..’
The Great Nothing: A Darshan Diary
With gratitude to Osho