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Chapter 10: The Master of Silence

But Mahakashyapa was not uncomfortable, he was not 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 is.

Thousands were there and everybody was restless. He couldn’t contain himself, looking at the foolishness of the crowd. They are at ease when Buddha is talking; now they are restless when he is silent. When something could be delivered they were not open; when nothing could be delivered they were waiting. Now through silence Buddha can give something which is immortal, but they cannot 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.

Mahakashyapa laughed at the foolishness of man. They are restless and thinking, “When will Buddha stand up and drop this whole silence so that we can go home?” He laughed.

Laughter started with Mahakashyapa and has been going on and on in the Zen tradition. There is no other tradition which can laugh, because laughter looks so irreligious, profane. 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.

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