Chapter 4: How about You?
But nobody listens. The moment he died, the next thing his disciples did was to collect all that he had said in forty-two years’ continually speaking, morning, evening. And he had not allowed anybody to take notes, for the simple reason that these notes would become scriptures. But the words were so profound that the first gathering - just the second day after Buddha’s death - decided that all the enlightened disciples should gather together. There were five hundred enlightened disciples - this was called the first great meeting - and they decided that everybody should relate his experience, “so we can collect somehow the great treasure that is going to disappear if we don’t collect it now.”
One can understand their concern for the future generations, that Buddha should not be lost. But one can also understand that although they were enlightened, they could not agree about Buddha’s last statement, his last words, and they did not even feel that they were disagreeing. So each person who had heard whatever Buddha had said related whatever he remembered. There were great troubles, because somebody said something and somebody else contradicted it saying that Buddha had said something else.
Soon it was clear that they were not all agreeing. Thirty-two schools arose; thirty-two different schools and traditions - each claiming to be the right tradition - and they started to make Buddha’s statues, scriptures. In the whole world nobody else’s statues exist more than Buddha’s.
When the Arabians and Persians came into contact in Mongolia with the statue of Buddha, they had never seen anybody’s statue, so Buddha’s statue became to them exactly the word that symbolizes statue: but. “But” is a form of “buddha”; they did not make any distinction because there were no other statues - only Buddha’s statues - so buddha became synonymous with but. Even today in Urdu, in Persian, in Arabic, “but” means statue. It is derived from Buddha, the man who has forbidden to make his statues.
Buddhism became a tradition and again somebody of the same genius and greatness had to revolt against the tradition. It was not a revolt against Buddha; it was a revolt against the traditionalism, ritualism. The priests with whom he had been fighting his whole life have come back; the scholars have become again important.
Bodhidharma rebelled against the Buddhist tradition, and part of his rebellion was meeting with the Tao and bringing all the flowers of Tao and creating a new experience. But he was as unaware of the fact as Buddha was. Buddha was saying, “Don’t make a tradition of me,” but the tradition was made. Bodhidharma rebelled against the tradition, but was not aware that he also would fall into the same trap of human mind. He became a tradition himself.
Soon it was realized by Ma Tzu that this is a sad story, that Bodhidharma, a man of fire, burning all scriptures, destroying all beliefs.Ma Tzu was also of the same caliber. To revolt is not easy. You need to have tremendous resources within you; otherwise you become futile, your words don’t have the traditional depth. Tradition gives a certain depth, a certain richness, a certain refinement. A single individual, if he stands against all tradition, needs to be of a great genius, of great creativity.