The Driver and the Drunken Peasant

by Øyvind Olsholt


Discuss / diskuter

The Bodhisattva

We started out naming Oscar “the French-Algerian Bodhisattva.” What we meant by that should now begin to dawn on us, at least on those who know what a Bodhisattva is. The Bodhisattva—particularly in the tradition of the Mahayana-Buddhism—is an enlightened person that uses his wisdom to help others become enlightened and liberated. The Bodhisattva employs his skills and methods to lead others towards wisdom and truth. The following teaching story casts light on the character of this sage:

Three people are walking through a desert. Parched and thirsty, they spy a high wall ahead. They approach and circumnavigate it, but it has no entrance or doorway. One climbs upon the shoulders of the others, looks inside, yells “Eureka” and jumps inside. The second then climbs up and repeats the actions of the first. The third laboriously climbs the wall without assistance and sees a lush garden inside the wall. It has cooling water, trees, fruit, etc. But, instead of jumping into the garden, the third person jumps back out into the desert and seeks out desert wanderers to tell them about the garden and how to find it. The third person is the Bodhisattva. [1]

So, the Bodhisattva must have ceased to exist too. How else can he be able to stride back into the desert to look for other lost wanderers when bliss is so nigh? His choice entails endless suffering, so in a way he is a martyr too, but that does not bother him because he does not exist any more. Individual ego-existence seems the opposite of spiritual awareness and illumination.

Oscar himself is very fond of Buddhism, particularly the Zen-variant, and frequently makes references—both in his seminars and in his writing—to religious masters who apply the most unconventional methods in order to confuse and “bewilder” their pupils. In his article Nasruddin Hodja—a master of the negative way he puts it like this:

Just like in eastern practices such as Zen, what is needed is to short circuit the usual paths of thoughts, seize them through some shock effect, by mean of some conceptual paradox, critical analysis or some strange behavior, which should hopefully produce some illumination. And when the mind will wake up to itself, it will know where to go, since mind is naturally inclined to think, unless it is hindered in its proper activity. [2]

In his seminars Oscar sometimes draws attention to the 2nd Century Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna known for his “Middle Way.” He demonstrates the fallacy of clinging to any view or standpoint, true or not. Standpoints and opinions are obstacles to enlightenment and must therefore be torn apart and dispensed with. This approach could aptly be termed “anti-philosophy” since the fallacy also applies to philosophical theories, however strong and well-founded. “Anti-philosophy” is also the title of the chapter whence the above quote belongs.


1 Pollock, Neal (2005). Practices Supporting Dzogchen: The Great Perfection of Tibetan Buddhism. Source: (accessed: January 8, 2008).

2 Oscar Brenifier: Nasruddin Hodja—a master of the negative way.


Page created: 11.03.09. Page last modified: 12.03.09 13:53.