A Zen master had been put into jail several times…. Now, it is one thing to forgive a thief, it is one thing not to think that he is bad, it is another thing to go to jail oneself. And not once, many times – for stealing small things from his neighbors. And the neighbors knew, and they were puzzled: Why does this man steal? and such small things. But the moment he would be out of prison he would steal again, and he would go back. Even the judges were worried. But they had to send him to jail, because he would confess.

He would never say, ’I have not stolen.’

Finally the neighbors gathered together, and they said, ’Sir, don’t steal any more. You are getting old, and we are ready to provide you with all that you need – all your necessities, whatsoever it is. You stop this! We are very much worried, and we are very sad. Why do you go on doing this?

And the old man laughed. And he said, ’I steal in order to get in with the prisoners, and bring them the inner message. Who will help them? Outside, for you prisoners, there are many masters. But inside the jail there is no master. Who will help them, you tell me?

This is my way to get in and help those people. So when my punishment is over and I am thrown out, I have to steal something and go back again. I am going to continue this. And I have found there in jail such beautiful souls, such innocent souls – sometimes far MORE innocent….’

Once it happened, one of my friends became a governor of a state in India, and he allowed me to go into jails all over his state. And I went for years, and I was surprised. The people who are in jails are far more innocent than the politicians in New Delhi, than the rich people, than the so-called saints. I know almost all the saints of this country.

They are more cunning. I have found in the criminals such innocent souls…. I can understand this old Zen master’s idea – of stealing, of getting caught, and bringing the message to them. ’I steal in order to get in with the prisoners and bring them the inner message.’

Source: ” Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 2 ” – Osho


 The Tiger above was made in the craft shop at the penitentiary where I work and I purchased it, had it made into a jewelry box for my wife for Christmas last year. There are some very talented individuals incarcerated in prisons throughout the nation, where as their crimes are unspeakable. When I look into a room full of inmates who are sitting, being quiet and relaxed, I remember this picture and know they are a room full of tigers sitting lazily.


How much Zen would a Zen master master
if Zen master could master all the Zen?
A Zen master would master all the Zen he could master
if a Zen master should master all the Zen


we are all prisoners of our own restraints, that is why only a few soar!