Chapter 10: The Master of Silence



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To all teachings, not only for a Buddha but for all masters -- Jesus, Mahavira, Lao Tzu -- the key cannot be given through verbal communication, the key cannot be delivered through the mind. Nothing can be said about it. The more you say the more difficult it becomes to deliver, because a buddha and you live in such different dimensions -- not only different but diametrically opposite -- that whatsoever a buddha says will be misunderstood.

I have heard that one evening three slightly deaf women met on the road. The day was very windy, so one woman said, "Windy, isn't it?"

The other said, "Wednesday? No, it's Thursday."

And the third said, "Thirsty? I am also, so let's go to the restaurant and have a cup of tea."

This is what happens when a buddha says something to you. He says, "Windy?You say, "Wednesday? No, it's Thursday."

The physical ear is okay, the spiritual ear is missing. A buddha can talk only to another buddha, this is the problem, and with another buddha there is no need to talk. Buddha has to talk with those who are not enlightened. With them exists the need to talk and communicate, but then communication is impossible.

It is reported of one Mohammedan saint, Farid, that he was passing near Benares where Kabir lived. Followers of Farid said, "It would be just wonderful if you and Kabir met. For us it would be a blessing."

The same thing happened to Kabir and his followers. They heard that Farid was passing, so they said to Kabir that it would be good if he would ask Farid to stay a few days in the ashram.

Farid's disciples said, "You both talking would be a great opportunity for us, we would like to hear what two enlightened persons say to each other."

Farid laughed when they said this and replied, "There will be a meeting, but I don't think there is going to be any talking. But let us see."

Kabir said, "Ask Farid. Let him come and stay -- but whosoever speaks first will prove that he is not enlightened."

Farid came; Kabir received him. They laughed and embraced each other. Then they sat in silence. Two days Farid was there, and for many hours they sat together, with the disciples restless, waiting for them to say something, utter something. But not a single word was communicated.

The third day Farid left and Kabir came to see him off. They again laughed, embraced each other, parted.

The moment they parted Farid's disciples gathered around him and said, "What nonsense! What wastage of time. We were hoping that something was going to happen. Nothing happened. Why did you suddenly become so dumb? You talk so much to us."

Farid replied, "All that I know, he knows also. Nothing is to be said. I looked into his eyes, and he is there, where I am. Whatsoever he has seen I have seen; whatsoever he has realized I have realized. There is nothing to be said."

Two ignorant persons can talk. They talk much; they do nothing except talk. Two enlightened persons cannot talk -- it would be absurd. Two ignorant persons talking is meaningless because there is nothing to convey. They don't know anything that can be said, that should be said, but they go on talking. They are chattering. They cannot help it; it's just a mad catharsis, a release.

Two enlightened persons cannot talk because they know the same. Nothing is to be said. Only one enlightened person and one unenlightened person can have a meaningful communication, because one knows and the other is yet in ignorance. A meaningful communication, I said. I don't say that the truth can be conveyed, but some hints, some indications, some gestures can, so that the other becomes ready to take the jump. The truth cannot be conveyed, but the thirst can be given. No teaching worth the name can give the key through words.

Buddha talked -- it's difficult to find another person who talked so much. Scholars have been studying all the scriptures in existence that are in the name of Buddha, and it seems an impossible accomplishment because after his enlightenment he lived only forty years, walking from one village to another. He walked all over Bihar, and the name Bihar comes because Buddha walked there. Bihar means the walking paths of Buddha. The whole province is called Bihar because this is the boundary where Buddha walked -- his Bihar, his wanderings.

He continually walked; only in the rainy season did he rest. So much time was wasted in walking, and then also he had to sleep. So scholars have been calculating; they say, "This seems impossible. Sleeping, walking, doing other daily routines -- there are so many scriptures, how could he have talked so much? If he was continuously talking for forty years, without a gap of a single moment, only then could this much have been talked. He must have talked so much -- continuously -- yet still he says the key cannot be conveyed through words.

This story is one of the most significant ones, because from this was passed the tradition of Zen. Buddha was the source, and Mahakashyap was the first, the original master of Zen. Buddha was the source, Mahakashyap was the first master, and this story is the source from where the whole tradition -- one of the most beautiful and alive that exists on earth, the tradition of Zen -- started.

Try to understand this story. Buddha came one morning, and as usual a crowd had gathered, many people were waiting to listen to him. But one thing was unusual -- he was carrying a flower in his hand. Never before had he carried anything in his hand. People thought that someone must have presented it to him. Buddha came, he sat under the tree. The crowd waited and waited and he would not speak. He wouldn't even look at them, he just went on looking at the flower. Minutes passed, then hours, and the people became very much restless.

It is said that Mahakashyap couldn't contain himself. He laughed loudly. Buddha called him, gave him the flower and said to the gathered crowd, "Whatsoever can be said through words I have said to you, and that which cannot be said through words I give to Mahakashyap. The key cannot be communicated verbally. I hand over the key to Mahakashyap."

This is what Zen masters call transference of the key without scripture -- beyond scripture, beyond words, beyond mind. He gave the flower to Mahakashyap, and nobody could understand what happened. Neither Mahakashyap nor Buddha ever commented upon it again. The whole chapter was closed. Since then, in China, in Tibet, in Thailand, in Burma, in Japan, in Ceylon -- everywhere Buddhists have been asking for these twenty-five centuries, "What was given to Mahakashyap? What was the key?"

The whole story seems to be very esoteric. Buddha was not secretive; this was the only incident.... Buddha was a very rational being. He talked rationally, he was not a mad ecstatic, he argued rationally, and his logic was perfect -- you could not find a loophole in it. This was the only incident where he behaved illogically, where he did something which was mysterious. He was not a mysterious man at all. You cannot find another master who was less mysterious.

Jesus was very mysterious, Lao Tzu was absolutely mysterious. Buddha was plain, transparent; no mystery surrounds him, no smoke is allowed. His flame burns clear and bright, absolutely transparent, smokeless. This was the only thing that seemed mysterious; hence many Buddhist scriptures never relate this anecdote, they have simply dropped it. It seemed as if someone had invented it. It didn't make any sense with Buddha's life and teaching.

But for Zen this is the origin. Mahakashyap became the first holder of the key. Then six holders in succession existed in India, up to Bodhidharma; he was the sixth holder of the key, and then he searched and searched all over India but he couldn't find a man of the capability of Mahakashyap -- a man who could understand silence. He had to leave India just in search of a man to whom the key could be given; otherwise the key would be lost.

Buddhism entered China with Bodhidharma in search of a man to whom the key could be given, a man who could understand silence, who could talk heart to heart without being obsessed in the mind, who had no head. A man with no head was difficult to find in India, because India is a country of pundits and scholars and they have the biggest heads possible. A pundit by and large forgets everything about the heart and he becomes the head. His whole personality becomes lopsided as if only the head exists, and the whole body shrinks and disappears.

This communication beyond words is possible only from heart to heart. So for nine years Bodhidharma searched in China, and then he could find only one man. For nine years Bodhidharma was sitting in China, not facing people; he would always sit facing the wall. If you had gone to hear him he would have been facing the wall, his back towards you. People used to ask him, "We have come to listen to you, why do you sit in such a peculiar way?" and Bodhidharma would reply, "I am waiting for the man who can listen to me. I will not look at you, I will not waste my time; I will look only at the person who can listen to me."

Then came a man; he stood behind Bodhidharma, cut off his right hand, threw it at Bodhidharma and said, "Turn towards this side, otherwise I am going to cut off my head.

Bodhidharma immediately turned and said, "Right -- so you have come. Take this key and relieve me of the work." The key that was passed from Buddha to Mahakashyap Bodhidharma delivered to this man; a Chinese became the seventh master. And up to now it has been traveling. The key is still there, somebody is still holding it; the river has not dried.

To me, if all the scriptures of Buddha disappear nothing is lost. Only this anecdote should not disappear. This is the most precious, and scholars have dropped it from Buddha's biography. They say, "This is irrelevant; it doesn't fit with Buddha." But I say to you, "All that Buddha did was just ordinary -- anybody could do that -- but this is extraordinary, this is exceptional. Only a buddha can do this."

What happened that morning? Let us start to penetrate into it. Buddha came, sat, and started looking at the flower. He would not look at the people; the flower became the wall. That's what Bodhidharma did. He would look at the wall, he would not look at the people -- he would not waste his look. The flower became the wall and the crowd disappeared. Buddha looked and looked at the flower. What was he doing? When Buddha looks at anything, the quality of his consciousness is transferred. And a flower is one of the most receptive things in the world. Hence, Hindus and Buddhists go with flowers to put at their master's feet or in the temple, because a flower can carry something of your consciousness.

A flower is a very receptive thing, and if you are aware of the new research in the West, you will understand it. Now they say plants are more sensitive than you, than man. A flower is the heart of the plant; the whole being comes into it. Much research is going on in Soviet Russia, in the USA, in England, about the sensitivity of plants, and something wonderful has been discovered.

One man, a scientist, was working on plants -- how they feel, whether they feel anything or not, whether they have emotions or not. He was sitting with a plant with electrodes fixed to it to detect any movement in its inner being, any sensation, any emotions. He thought, "If I cut this plant, if I tear down a branch or cut it from the earth, what will happen?" Suddenly, the needle making the graph jumped. He had not done anything, he had just had a thought: "If I cut this plant...." The plant became afraid of death and the needle jumped, recording that the plant was trembling. Even the scientist became scared because he had not done anything -- just a thought and the plant received it. Plants are telepathic.

Then he worked much -- he worked on long distances. The plant was removed one thousand miles. His plant, the plant he had helped to grow, had watered, loved, was removed one thousand miles away. Here he thought against the plant and there, one thousand miles away, the plant became disturbed. So now, scientifically, it could be seen that the plant's emotions were disturbed.

Not only this, but if you think of cutting one plant all the other plants surrounding the area become emotionally disturbed. Also, if someone has cut a plant and he comes into the garden, all the plants become disturbed because this man is not good and they carry the memory. Whenever this man enters the garden the whole garden feels that an evil person is coming in.

Now a few scientists think that plants can be used for telepathic communication, because they are more sensitive than the human mind. and a few scientists think that plants can be used to receive communications from other planets, because our instruments are not so refined.

In the East it has always been known that a flower is the most receptive thing. When Buddha looked at the flower and continued to look at the flower, something of him was transferred to that flower. Buddha entered the flower. The quality of his being, the alertness, the awareness, the peace, the ecstasy, the inner dance, touched the flower. With Buddha looking at the flower, so at ease, at home, without any desire, it must have danced in its inner being. He looked, to transfer something to the flower. One thing to be understood is that only the flower and he existed for a long period of time. The whole world dropped. Only Buddha and the flower were there. The flower entered Buddha's being, and Buddha entered the flower's being.

Then the flower was given to Mahakashyap. It was not just a flower now, it carried buddhahood. It carried the inner quality of Buddha's being. And why to Mahakashyap? There were other great scholars, ten great disciples; Mahakashyap was only one, and he was included in the ten only because of this story, otherwise he would never have been included.

Nothing much is known about Mahakashyap. There were great scholars like Sariputta there -- you could not find a more keen intellect -- and Moggalayan was also there, a very great scholar. He had all the Vedas in his memory, and nothing that had ever been written was unknown to him. A great logician in his own right, he had thousands of disciples. And there were others -- Ananda was there, Buddha's cousin-brother, who for forty years was continuously moving with him.... But no. Someone who was unknown before, Mahakashyap, suddenly became most important. The whole gestalt changed. Whenever Buddha was speaking, Sariputta was the significant man because he could understand words more than anybody else; and when Buddha was arguing, Moggalayan was the significant man. Nobody thought about Mahakashyap very much. He remained in the crowd, was part of the crowd.

But when Buddha became silent, the whole gestalt changed. Now Moggalayan and Sariputta were not significant; they simply dropped out of existence, as if they were not there. They just became a part of the crowd. A new man, Mahakashyap, became the most important. A new dimension opened. Everybody was restless, thinking, "Why is Buddha not speaking? Why is he keeping silent? What is going to happen? When will it end?" They became uncomfortable, restless.

But Mahakashyap was not uncomfortable or restless. Really, for the first time he was at ease with Buddha; for the first time he was at home with Buddha. When Buddha was talking he may have been restless. He may have thought, "Why this nonsense? Why go on talking? Nothing is conveyed, nothing is understood; why go on knocking your head against the wall? People are deaf. They cannot understand...." He must have been restless when Buddha was talking, and now for the first time he was at home. He could understand what silence was.

Thousands were there and everybody was restless. He couldn't contain himself, looking at the foolishness of the crowd. They were at ease when Buddha was talking; now they were restless when he was silent. When something could be delivered they were not open; when nothing could be delivered they were waiting. Now through silence Buddha could give something which is immortal, but they could not understand. So he couldn't contain himself and laughed loudly -- he laughed at the whole situation, the whole absurdity.

We require even a buddha to talk, because that's all we understand. This is foolish. You should learn to be silent with a buddha, because only then can he enter you. Through words he can knock at your door but can never enter; through silence he can enter you, and unless he enters nothing will happen to you. His entry will bring a new element to your world; his entry into the heart will give you a new beat and a new pulse, a new release of life -- but only his entry.

Mahakashyap laughed at the foolishness of man. They were restless and thinking, "When will Buddha stand up and drop this whole silence so that we can go home?" He laughed. Laughter started with Mahakashyap and has been going on and on in the Zen tradition. There is no other tradition which can laugh. Laughter looks so irreligious, profane, that you cannot think of Jesus laughing, you cannot think of Mahavira laughing. It's difficult even to conceive of Mahavira having a belly laugh, or of Jesus laughing uproariously. No, laughter has been denied. Sadness, somehow, has become religious.

One of the famous German thinkers, Count Keyserling, has written that health is irreligious. Illness has a religiousness about it because an ill person is sad, desireless -- not because he has become desireless but because he is weak. A healthy person will laugh, would like to enjoy, will be merry -- he cannot be sad. So religious persons have tried in many ways to make you ill: go on a fast, suppress your body, torture yourself. You will become sad, suicidal, crucified on your own. How can you laugh? Laughter comes out of health. It's an overflowing energy. That's why children can laugh and their laughter is total. Their whole body is involved in it -- when they laugh you can see their toes laughing. The whole body, every cell, every fiber of the body, is laughing and vibrating. They are so full of health, so vital; everything is flowing.

A sad child means an ill child, and a laughing old man means he is still young. Even death cannot make him old, nothing can make him old. His energy is still flowing and overflowing, he is always flooded. Laughter is a flooding of energy.

In Zen monasteries they have been laughing and laughing and laughing. Laughter becomes prayer only in Zen, because Mahakashyap started it. Twenty-five centuries ago, on a morning just like this, Mahakashyap started a new trend, absolutely new, unknown to the religious mind before -- he laughed. He laughed at the whole foolishness, the whole stupidity. And Buddha didn't condemn; rather, on the contrary, he called him near, gave him the flower and spoke to the crowd. And when the crowd heard the laughter they must have thought, "This man has gone mad. This man is disrespectful to Buddha, because how can you laugh before a Buddha? When a Buddha is sitting silently, how can you laugh? This man is not paying respect."

The mind will say that this is disrespect. The mind has its own rules, but the heart does not know them; the heart has its own rules, but the mind has never heard about them. The heart can laugh and be respectful; the mind cannot laugh, it can only be sad and then be respectful. But what kind of respect is this which cannot laugh? A very new trend entered with Mahakashyap's laughter, and down the centuries the laughter has continued. Only Zen masters, Zen disciples, laugh.

All over the world, all religions have become ill because sadness has become so prominent. And temples and churches look like graveyards; they don't look festive, they don't give a sense of celebration. If you enter a church what do you see there? Not life, but death -- Jesus crucified on the cross completes the whole sadness there. Can you laugh in a church, dance in a church, sing in a church? Yes, singing is there, but that is sad, and people sit with long faces. No wonder nobody wants to go to church -- it's just a social duty to be fulfilled; no wonder nobody is attracted to the church -- it is a formality. Religion has become a Sunday thing. For one hour you can tolerate being sad. Mahakashyap laughed before Buddha, and since then, saints, monks, sannyasins, masters, have been doing such things which religious minds -- so-called religious minds -- cannot even conceive of. If you have seen any Zen book you may have seen Zen masters depicted, painted. No painting is true. If you look at Bodhidharma's painting or Mahakashyap's painting, they are not true to their faces, but just looking at them you will have a feeling of laughter. They are hilarious, they are ridiculous.

Look at Bodhidharma's painting. He must have been one of the most beautiful men; that he was otherwise is not possible, because whenever a man becomes enlightened a beauty descends, a beauty which comes from the beyond. A blessing comes to his whole being. But look at Bodhidharma's painting. He looks ferocious and dangerous. He looks so dangerous that you will become scared if he comes to visit you in the night -- never again in your life will you be able to sleep. He looks so dangerous, as if he is going to kill you. It was just disciples laughing at the master, creating a ridiculous portrait. It looks like a cartoon.

All Zen masters are depicted in a ridiculous way. Disciples enjoy it. But those portraits carry a quality that Bodhidharma is dangerous, that if you go to him he will kill you, that you cannot escape him, that he will follow you and haunt you, that wherever you go he will be there, that unless he kills you he cannot leave you. That is the thing depicted with all Zen masters, even Buddha.

If you look at Japanese and Chinese paintings of Buddha, they don't look like the Indian Buddha. They have changed him totally. If you look at Indian paintings of Buddha, his body is proportionate, as it should be. He was a prince, then a buddha, a beautiful man, perfect, proportionate. A big-bellied Buddha? -- he never had a big belly. But in Japan, in his paintings, his scriptures, he is painted with a big belly, because a man who laughs must have a big belly. Belly laughter -- how can you do it with a small belly? You cannot do it. They are joking with Buddha, and they have said such things about Buddha -- only very deep love can do that, otherwise it looks insulting.

Bankei always insisted on having a painting of Buddha just behind him, and talking to his disciples he would say, "Look at this fellow. Whenever you meet him kill him immediately, don't give him a chance. While meditating he will come to disturb you. Whenever you see his face in meditation, just kill him then and there; otherwise he will follow you." And he used to say, "Look at this fellow! if you repeat his name" -- because Buddhists go on repeating, NAMO BUDDHAYA, NAMO BUDDHAYA -- "if you repeat his name, then go and wash your mouth." It looks insulting. It is Buddha's name and this man says, "If you repeat it, the first thing to do is wash your mouth. Your mouth has become dirty."

And he is right -- because words are words; whether it is the name of Buddha or not makes no difference. Whenever a word crosses your mind, your mind has become dirty. Wash out even Buddha's name. And this man, keeping the portrait of Buddha always behind him, would bow down to it every morning. So his disciples asked, "What are you doing? You go on telling us: Kill this man, don't allow him to stand in the way. And you say: Don't take his name, don't repeat it; if it comes wash your mouth. And now we see you bowing down."

So Bankei said, "All this has been taught to me by this man, this fellow, so I have to pay respect."

Mahakashyap laughed, and this laughter carried many dimensions in it. One dimension was at the foolishness of the whole situation, at a buddha silent and nobody understanding him, everybody expecting him to speak. His whole life Buddha had been saying that the truth cannot be spoken, and still everybody expected him to speak. The second dimension -- he laughed at Buddha also, at the whole dramatic situation he had created, sitting there with a flower in his hand, looking at the flower, creating so much uneasiness, restlessness in everybody. At this dramatic gesture of buddha he laughed and he laughed.

The third dimension -- he laughed at his own self. Why couldn't he understand up to now? The whole thing was easy and simple. And the day you understand, you will laugh, because there is nothing to be understood. There is no difficulty to be solved. Everything has always been simple and clear. How could you miss it?

With Buddha sitting silent, the birds singing in the trees, the breeze passing through the trees, and everybody restless, Mahakashyap understood. What did he understand? He understood that there is nothing to be understood, there is nothing to be said, there is nothing to be explained. The whole situation is simple and transparent. Nothing is hidden in it. There is no need to search, because all that is, is here and now, within you. He laughed at his own self also, at the whole absurd effort of many lives just to understand this silence -- at so much thinking.

Buddha called him, gave him the flower and said, "Hereby, I give you the key." What is the key? Silence and laughter is the key -- silence within, laughter without. And when laughter comes out of silence, it is not of this world, it is divine.

When laughter comes out of thinking it is ugly; it belongs to this ordinary, mundane world, it is not cosmic. Then you are laughing at somebody else, at somebody else's cost, and it's ugly and violent.

When laughter comes out of silence you are not laughing at anybody's cost, you are simply laughing at the whole cosmic joke. And it really is  a joke! That's why I go on telling jokes to you... because jokes carry more than any scriptures. It is a joke because inside you you have everything, and you are searching everywhere. What else should a joke be? You are a king and acting like a beggar in the streets; not only acting, not only deceiving others, but deceiving yourself that you are a beggar. You have the source of all knowledge and are asking questions; you have the knowing self and think that you are ignorant; you have the deathless within you and are afraid and fearful of death and disease. This really is a joke, and if Mahakashyap laughed, he did well.

But except for Buddha, nobody understood. He accepted the laughter and immediately realized that Mahakashyap had attained. The quality of that laugh was cosmic. He understood the whole joke of the situation. There was nothing else to it. The whole thing is as if the divine is playing hide-and-seek with you. Others thought Mahakashyap was a fool, laughing in front of Buddha. But Buddha thought this man had become wise. Fools always have a subtle wisdom in them, and the wise always act like fools.

In the old days all great emperors always had one fool in their court. They had many wise men, counsellors, ministers and prime ministers, but always one fool. Although intelligent and wise, emperors all over the world, in the East and the West, had a court joker, a fool. Why? -- because there are things so-called wise men will not be able to understand, that only a foolish man can understand, because the so-called wise are so foolish that their cunningness and cleverness closes their minds.

A fool is simple and was needed, because many times the so-called wise would not say something because they were afraid of the emperor. A fool is not afraid of anybody else. He will speak whatsoever the consequences. A fool is a man who will not think of the consequences.

That's what Krishna was saying to Arjuna: "Be a fool. Don't think of the consequences, the result. Act!" This is how fools act -- simply, without thinking what is going to happen, what the result will be. A clever man always thinks first of the result, then he acts. Thought comes first, then action. A foolish man acts; thought never comes first.

Whenever someone realizes the ultimate, he is not like your wise men. He cannot be. He may be like your fools, but he cannot be like your wise men. When Saint Francis became enlightened he used to call himself God's fool. The pope was a wise man, and when Saint Francis came to see him even he thought this man had gone mad. He was intelligent, calculating, clever; otherwise how could he be a pope?

To become a pope one has to pass through much politics. To become a pope saintliness is not needed, diplomacy is needed, a competitive aggression is needed to put others aside, to force your way, to use others as ladders and then throw them. It is politics... because a pope is a political head. Religion is secondary or nothing at all. He may be a theologian, but he is not religious, because how can a religious man compete? How can a religious man fight and be aggressive for a post? They are only politicians.

Saint Francis came to see the pope, and the pope thought this man a fool. But trees and birds and fishes thought in a different way. When Saint Francis went to the river the fishes would jump in celebration that Francis had come. Thousands witnessed this phenomenon. Millions of fishes would jump simultaneously; the whole river would be lost in jumping fishes. Saint Francis had come and the fishes were happy. And wherever he would go birds would follow; they would come and sit on his leg, on his body, in his lap. They understood this fool better than the pope. Even trees which had become dry and were going to die would become green and blossom again if Saint Francis came near. These trees understood well that this fool was no ordinary fool -- he was God's fool.

When Mahakashyap laughed he was a God's fool, and Buddha understood him because Buddha was not a pope. Later on, Buddhist priests didn't understand him, so they dropped the whole anecdote.

I was talking in a Buddhist community once, the neo-Buddhists, so I told them this anecdote. The priest came to me later on and said, "From where have you got this? -- because this is not written in the scriptures, it is false. A man like you shouldn't say things which are not written in the scriptures, because people believe you."

So I told him, "You bring your scripture; I will add this anecdote and sign it on my own account." I said, "This happened -- I was a witness there." The priest looked at me. He must have thought: This man is mad the way he is talking.

I told that priest, "I have no power but I have authority...." Power belongs to the politicians; authority to the religious man. Power depends on others -- they give it to you -- but authority comes from within.

So I told him, "I was a witness. I can give you in writing with my signgnature that I was a witness. This happened. You have somehow missed it in the scriptures, but I am not at fault for that. I am not responsible if you have missed in your scriptures.

The man, the priest, used to come to me before. Now he stopped coming; he never came again. A dead scripture is more important to a priest than a live person. Even if I say I am a witness, I cannot be believed. This anecdote has been dropped from Buddhist scriptures because it is sacrilegious to laugh before Buddha. to make it the original source of a great religion is not good. This is not a good precedent that a man laughed before Buddha, and also not a good thing that Buddha gave the key to this man, not to Sariputta, Ananda, Moggalayan, and others who were important, significant. And finally, it was they, Sariputta, Ananda and Moggalayan, who recorded the scriptures.

Mahakashyap was never asked. Even if they had asked he would not have answered. Mahakashyap was never consulted if he had something to say to be recorded. When Buddha died all the monks gathered and started recording what happened and what not. Nobody asked Mahakashyap. This man must have been discarded by the sangha, by the community. The whole community must have felt jealous. They key had been given to this man who was not known at all, who was not a great scholar or pundit. Nobody knew him before, and suddenly that morning he became the most significant man, because of the laughter, because of the silence.

And in a way they were right, because how can you record silence? You can record words, you can record what happened in the visible; how can you record what has not happened in the visible? They knew the flower had been given to Mahakashyap, nothing else.

But the flower was just a container. It had something in it -- buddhahood, the touch of Buddha's inner being, the fragrance that cannot be seen, that cannot be recorded. The whole thing seems as if it never happened, or as if it happened in a dream.

Those who were the recorders were the men of words, proficient in verbal communication, in talking, discussing, arguing. But Mahakashyap is never heard of again. This is the only thing known about him, such a small thing that the scriptures must have missed it. Mahakashyap has remained silent, and silently the inner river has been flowing. To others the key has been given, and the key is still alive, still opens the door.

These two are the parts. The inner silence -- the silence so deep that there is no vibration in your being; you are, but there are no waves; you are just a pool without waves, not a single wave arises; the whole being silent, still; inside, at the center, silence -- and on the periphery, celebration and laughter. And only silence can laugh, because only silence can understand the cosmic joke.

So your life becomes a vital celebration, your relationship becomes a festive thing; whatsoever you do, every moment is a festival. You eat, and eating becomes a celebration; you take a bath, and bathing becomes a celebration; you talk, and talking becomes a celebration; relationship becomes a celebration. Your outer life becomes festive, there is no sadness in it. How can sadness exist with silence? But ordinarily you think otherwise: you think if you are silent you will be sad. Ordinarily you think how you can avoid sadness if you are silent. I tell you, the silence that exists with sadness cannot be true. Something has gone wrong. You have missed the path, you are off the track. Only celebration can give proof that the real silence has happened.

What is the difference between a real silence and a false silence? A false silence is always forced; through effort it is achieved. It is not spontaneous, it has not happened to you. You have made it happen. You are sitting silently and there is much inner turmoil. You suppress it and then you cannot laugh. You will become sad because laughter will be dangerous -- if you laugh you will lose silence, because in laughter you cannot suppress. Laughter is against suppression. If you want to suppress you should not laugh; if you laugh everything will come out. The real will come out in laughter, and the unreal will be lost.

So whenever you see a saint sad, know well the silence is false. He cannot laugh, he cannot enjoy, because he is afraid. If he laughs everything will be broken, the suppression will come out, and then he will not be able to suppress. Look at small children. Guests come to your home and you tell the children, "Don't laugh!" -- what do they do? They close their mouths and suppress their breath, because if they don't suppress their breath then laughter will come out. It will be difficult. They don't look anywhere, because if they look at something they forget. So they close their eyes, or almost close their eyes, and they suppress their breath.

If you suppress, your breath cannot be deep. Laughter needs a deep breath; if you laugh, a deep breath will be released. That's why nobody is breathing deeply, just shallow breathing, because much has been suppressed in your childhood and after it you cannot breathe deeply. If you go deeper you will become afraid. Sex has been suppressed through breath, laughter has been suppressed through breath, anger has been suppressed through breath. Breath is a mechanism to suppress or release -- hence my insistence on chaotic breathing, because if you breathe chaotically, then laughter, screaming, everything will come up and all your suppressions will be thrown out. They cannot be thrown out in another way, because breathing, breath, is the way you have suppressed them.

Try to suppress anything: what will you do? You will not breathe deeply; you will breathe shallowly, you will breathe just from the upper part of the lungs. You will not go deeper because deeper it is suppressed. In the belly, everything is suppressed. So when you really laugh the belly vibrates; hence, Buddha's big-bellied portraits. The belly is relaxed, and then the stomach is not a suppressed reservoir. If you see a saint sad, sadness is there, but the saint is not there. He has stilled himself somehow and is every moment afraid. Anything can disturb him.

Nothing can disturb if real silence has happened. Then everything helps it to grow. If you are really silent you can sit in a market, and even the market cannot disturb it. Rather, you feed on the noise of the market and that noise becomes more silence in you. Really, to feel silence a market is needed -- because if you have real silence, then the market becomes the background and the silence becomes perfect in contrast. You can feel the inner silence bubbling against the market.

There is no need to go to the Himalayas. And if you go, what will you see? Against the silence of the Himalayas your mind will be chattering. Then you will feel more chattering, because the background is in silence. The background is the silence, and you will feel more chattering.

If the real happens to you and you are unafraid, it cannot be taken away. Nothing can disturb it. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing -- nothing  can disturb it. And if something does, it is forced, it is cultivated; somehow you have managed it. But a managed silence is not silence, it is just like a managed love.

The world is so mad. The parents, the teachers and the moralists are so mad and insane that they teach children to love. Mothers say to their children, "I am your mother, love me," -- as if the child can do something to love. What can the child do? The husband goes on saying to the wife, "I am your husband, love me," as if love is a duty, as if love is something which can be done. Nothing can be done. Only one thing can be done -- you can pretend. And once you learn how to pretend love, you have missed. Your whole life will go wrong. Then you will go on pretending that you love. Then you will smile and pretend; then you will laugh and pretend. Then everything is false. Then you will sit silently and pretend; then you will meditate and pretend. Pretension becomes the style of your life.

Don't pretend. Let the real come out. If you can wait and be patient enough, when the pretensions have dropped the real will be waiting there to explode. Catharsis is to drop the pretenses. Don't look at what the other is saying because that is how you have pretended, how you have been pretending.

You cannot love -- either it is there or not -- but the mother says, "Because I am your mother..." and the father says, "I am your father..."and the teacher says, "I am your teacher, therefore love me," -- as if love is a logical thing.

"I am your mother, therefore love me." What will the child do? You are creating such problems for the child that he cannot conceive of what to do. He can pretend. he can say, "Yes, I love you." And once the child loves his mother as a duty, he will become incapable of loving any woman. Then the wife will come and it will be a duty; then the children will come and it will be a duty; then the whole life will become a duty. It cannot be a celebration, you cannot laugh, you cannot enjoy. It is a burden to be carried. This is what has happened to you. It is a misfortune, but if you understand it you can drop it.

This is the key -- the inner part of it is silence, and the outer part of the key is celebration, laughter. Be festive and silent. Create more and more possibility around you -- don't force  the inner to be silent, just create more and more possibility around you so that the inner silence can flower in it. That's all we can do. We can put the seed in the soil, but we cannot force the plant to come out. We can create the situation, we can protect, we can give fertilizer to the soil, we can water, we can see whether the sunrays reach or not, or how much sunrays are needed, whether more or less. We can avoid dangers, and wait in a prayerful mood. We cannot do anything else. Only the situation can be created.

That's what I mean when I tell you to meditate. Meditation is just a situation; silence is not going to be the consequence of it. No, meditation is just creating the soil, the surrounding, preparing the ground. The seed is there, it is always there; you need not put in the seed, the seed has always been with you. That seed is Brahma; that seed is atma. --  that seed is you.  Just create the situation and the seed will become alive. It will sprout and a plant will be born, and you will start growing.

Meditation doesn't lead you to silence; meditation only creates the situation in which the silence happens. And this should be the criterion -- that whenever silence happens laughter will come into your life. A vital celebration will happen all around. You will not become sad, you will not become depressed, you will not escape from the world. You will be here in this world, but taking the whole thing as a game, enjoying the whole thing as a beautiful game, a big drama, no longer serious about it.

Seriousness is a disease.

Buddha must have known Mahakashyap. He must have known when he was looking at the flower silently and everybody was restless, he must have known only one being was there, Mahakashyap, who was not restless. Buddha must have felt the silence coming from Mahakashyap, but he would not call. When he laughed, then he called him and gave him the flower. Why? Silence is only the half of it. Mahakashyap would have missed if he had been innocently silent and didn't laugh. Then the key would not have been given to him. He was only half grown, not yet a fully grown tree, not blossoming. The tree was there, but flowers had not yet come. Buddha waited.

Now, I will tell you why Buddha waited for so many minutes, why for one or two or three hours he waited. Mahakashyap was silent but he was trying to contain laughter, he was trying to control laughter. He was trying not to laugh because it would be so unmannerly: What would Buddha think? What would the others think? But then, the story says, he couldn't contain himself any more. It had to come out as a laugh. The flood became too much, and he couldn't contain it any more. When silence is too much it becomes laughter; it becomes so overflooded that it starts overflowing in all directions. He laughed. It must have been a mad laughter, and in that laughter there was no Mahakashyap. Silence was laughing, silence had come to a blossoming.

Then immediately Buddha called Mahakashyap: "Take this flower -- this is the key. I have given to all others what can be given in words, but to you I give that which cannot be given in words. The message beyond words, the most essential, I give to you." Buddha waited for those hours so that Mahakashyap's silence became overflooded, it became laughter.

Your enlightenment is perfect only when silence has come to be a celebration. Hence my insistence that after you meditate you must celebrate. After you have been silent you must enjoy it, you must have a thanksgiving. A deep gratitude must be shown towards the whole just for the opportunity that you are, that you can meditate, that you can be silent, that you can laugh.

Anything more?


Next: Chapter 10: The Master of Silence , Question 1


Energy Enhancement                Enlightened Texts                Zen                 A Bird on the Wing



Chapter 10


  • Talks on Zen, A Bird on the Wing Chapter 10: The Master of Silence

  • Talks on Zen, A Bird on the Wing Chapter 10: The Master of Silence, Question 1





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