Chapter 80: All and Nothing Mean the Same
But for us it is difficult because nothing comes to us in that way. We have to think about it. If someone asks a question, you have to think about it. And even then you can never be certain that whatsoever you are saying is the answer. A buddha answers; he doesn’t think. You question him, and the emptiness simply responds. That response is not a thought-over thing. It is a total response. His being behaves that way. That’s why you cannot ask for consistency from a buddha. You cannot. Thought can be consistent, a thinker is bound to be consistent - but an enlightened person cannot be consistent, because each moment the situation changes. And each moment things come out of his emptiness. He cannot force. He cannot think. He does not really remember what he said yesterday. Every question creates a new answer. And every question creates a new response. It depends on the questioner.
Buddha enters a village. One man asks, “Is there God?” Buddha says, “No.” In the afternoon, another man asks, “Is there God?” Buddha says, “Yes.” Then in the evening, a third one asks, “Is there God?” Buddha remains silent. In just one day: in the morning, no; in the afternoon, yes; in the evening, silence - neither yes nor no.
Buddha’s disciple, Anand, became puzzled. He had heard all three answers. In the night when everyone had retired, he asked Buddha, “Can I ask you a question? Just in one day you have answered one question in three ways, not only differently, contradictorily. My mind is puzzled. I cannot sleep if you don’t answer. What do you mean? In the morning you say yes, in the afternoon no, in the evening you remain silent. And the question was the same.” Buddha said, “But the questioners were different. And how can different questioners ask the same question?” This is really beautiful, very deep. He said, “How can different questioners ask the same question? A question comes out of a being, it is a growth. If the being is different, how can the question be the same? In the morning when I said yes, the man who was asking was an atheist. He had come to get my confirmation that there is no God. And I could not confirm his atheism, because he was suffering because of it. And because I could not be a part in his suffering, and I wanted to help him, I said, ‘Yes, God exists.’ That’s how I tried to destroy his so-called atheism. In the afternoon, when the other person was there, he was a theist and he was suffering through his theism. I couldn’t say yes to him because that would have been a confirmation - which he had come for. Then he would go and say, ‘Yes, whatsoever I was saying is right. Even Buddha says so.’ And the man was wrong. I could not help a wrong man in his wrongness so I had to say no to destroy whatsoever he is, to shatter his mind. And the man who came in the evening was neither. He was a simple, innocent man and he was not asking for any confirmation. He had no ideology; he was really a religious person. So I had to be silent. I said to him, ‘Be silent about this question. Don’t think about it.’ If I had said yes, it would have been wrong because he was not there to find a theology. If I had said no, it would have been wrong, because he was not to be confirmed in any atheism. He was not interested in thoughts, in ideas, in theories, doctrines, no; he was a real religious man. How can I utter any word before him? I had to be silent. He understood my silence. When he went away, his religiousness had deepened.”
Buddha said, “Three persons cannot ask the same question. They can formulate it in a similar way - that is another thing. The questions were all “Does God exist?” Their formulation was the same, but the being from where the question was coming was totally different. They meant different things by it; their values were different; their associations with words were different.”