The religious people always go on showing humbleness: “I am nothing, I am nobody.” And if you look into their eyes, their eyes are saying just the opposite. If you watch their behaviour, it is always a projection of holier-than-thou. They go on saying, “We are nothing,” and they go on in a subtle way, in a diplomatic way, proclaiming, “We are saints.”
The King asked, “Which is higher, a worldly King, or the ′King of Dharma′?” Chao Chou replied, “Among human Kings I am higher; among the Kings of Dharma I am also higher.” The real man of Zen is not humble in the ordinary sense of the word. He simply says whatsoever is the case. This is the case! Chao Chou is simply stating a truth. He is not saying anything about himself, remember. He is simply stating a fact: “THIS state – this state of no-mind in which I am – is higher, higher among human kings and higher among Kings of Dharma also – because it is the highest state.”
Once Ramakrishna was given a painting by a great painter – a painting of Ramakrishna himself, a portrait. Ramakrishna took the painting, bowed down to the painting, touched the feet – his own feet, it was his own portrait! The painter was puzzled: “Is that man really mad?” The disciples were puzzled.
One disciple asked, “Paramahansadeva, what are you doing, touching your own feet?” Ramakrishna said, “Right! You should have reminded me before. I should not do such a thing. What will people think? They will think I am mad! But the truth is, I completely forgot that this is my picture – I could only see the ultimate state of consciousness. This is a portrait of Samadhi, not of Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna is irrelevant! It could have been Buddha′s picture, it could have been Krishna′s picture, it could have been Jesus′ picture. It is just an accident that it is mine. It doesn′t matter. “But the painter has been able to catch hold of something very subtle; he has been able to depict something which is indescribable. And I could not resist myself – I had to bow down, I had to touch the feet.”
Remember, when Chao Chou says: “Among human Kings I am higher; among the Kings of Dharma, I am also higher”. He is not talking about himself, not at all. He is talking about the ultimate state. He is no more, so who is there to be humble? See the point: there is nobody to be proud, there is nobody to be humble. Those are all games of the ego – to be humble or to be proud. The real man is neither proud nor humble; he simply is not.