Chapter 12: Only Knowing Remains
Nobody was allowed to assert the name, because how can the finite assert the infinite? And whatsoever you say will be wrong because you are wrong. Whatsoever you say belongs to you, it comes through you, you are present in it. So unless you had become so empty that you were no more you were not allowed to assert the name. The highest priest was the man who had become just an emptiness, and to assert the name, for the whole year he would remain silent. He would prepare, he would become totally empty, no thought was allowed in the mind. For one year he would wait, prepare, become empty, become a nonentity, a nobody. When the right moment came he would stand just like an emptiness. The man was not there, there was nobody. The mind was not there. And then he would assert, Yahweh.
This tradition stopped because it became more and more difficult to find persons who could become nonentities, who could become nothingness, who could become anatta, nonbeing - who could destroy themselves so completely that God could assert through them, who could become just like a passage, just like a flute, empty, so that God could sing through it.
Buddha went to the very extreme. If you asked him about God he would remain totally silent. Once it happened: Ananda, his chief disciple, was sitting with Buddha, and a man came, a very cultured, refined philosopher, a great brahmin, and he asked, “Bhante, tell me something about the ultimate.”
Buddha looked at him, remained silent, then closed his eyes. Ananda became disturbed, because this man was very useful. This brahmin had a great following, thousands followed him; if he was converted then thousands would become Buddhists. And Buddha remained silent, he didn’t answer him. The man, the brahmin, bowed down, thanked Buddha and went away.
The moment he left Ananda asked, “What are you doing? You have missed a great opportunity. This man is no ordinary man. Thousands follow him, he is a great scholar. Thousands worship him, his word is significant. If he becomes a Buddhist, if he follows you, many will follow automatically - and you didn’t answer him!”
Buddha said, “For a good horse even the shadow of a whip is enough. The shadow of the whip is enough, you need not beat him. He is converted.”
Ananda was not convinced, but next day he saw the man coming with all his followers, his disciples; thousands followed, great scholars. He had a big ashram and they were all coming. Ananda couldn’t believe his eyes. What was happening? - and Buddha had not answered the man. So again in the night he asked, “What has happened? You have done a miracle. I was there. You remained completely silent; not only silent, you closed your eyes. I thought this was insulting. The man had come with so much inquiry and you were rejecting him.”
Buddha said, “This is the subtlest answer. He knows that nothing can be said about the ultimate. Had I said anything the man would have gone, because the very saying would have shown that my ultimate is not ultimate - it could be defined, something could be said about it. Nothing can be said. And that’s why I even closed my eyes - because, who knows, he may have thought that I was saying something through my eyes. So I became completely silent, closed my eyes - this was my answer. And for a good horse even the shadow of the whip is enough. You need not beat him.”
The Upanishads are negative about the Brahman. That’s why they say “the nondual,” that which is not two. Now we will enter the sutra: