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Chapter 36: Compassion

There have been two types of mystics in the world. One Gautam Buddha has called the arhatas. They have chosen to remain silent. They are absolutely committed to the truth and they are not going to compromise on any account. They will not say something which is not absolutely right, they will not say something which is only approximately true, because the approximately true is nothing but a lie. They will not give an example because there is no parallel to their experience, there is no possibility of any comparison. Seeing the situation, one can understand why they have chosen to remain silent.

But there has been another category of awakened people, enlightened ones, who have tried, although their efforts have not been very successful. By their very nature, they cannot be. But even if one person in a million has become awakened by the efforts of a bodhisattva, the second category of enlightened people, the effort was worth making.

The arhatas also have an answer for this. They say that if one man in a million becomes awakened by listening to a bodhisattva, that man was destined to become enlightened whether the bodhisattva had spoken or not.

I have been in a dilemma. You cannot deny what the arhatas are saying. They are saying the man has not become awakened from listening to you, because whatever you are saying is just a hint, far away; it cannot make anyone enlightened. And they have a certain reason for saying it, because people have become enlightened sitting by their side in silence, too. Nothing has been said, nothing has been indicated, but just the presence of the arhata, his silence, his peace, have proved contagious. Anyone who is receptive, available, open, has felt something which was not said, and has moved on the path. Not only has he moved.many have reached to the ultimate.

Hence the arhata has also a reason for saying that there is no need to say anything. Those who can understand will understand even your silence, and those who cannot understand are not going to understand; you may go on for years and years speaking to them, and they will remain deaf. You may talk about light, but they will not open their eyes. You may try to excite them about the beauties of the ultimate, but they will go on postponing the journey.

But the bodhisattva has his own reasoning - and perhaps both are right. The bodhisattva says that there are people who are just on the verge: just a little push and they may be transformed; just a little indication - a finger pointing to the moon - and they may be able to see. And anyway, even if nobody understands, it is still worthwhile to make the effort; at least it shows your compassion, at least it shows you are not unconcerned with the vast humanity which is groping in darkness. You have done whatever is humanly possible to do. If nobody hears it, if nobody listens to it, it is up to them - but they cannot blame you. They cannot complain that you knew and yet you remained silent, that you should have made some effort to wake them up.

These two categories have been in conflict for centuries, and both have been so clear about their approach that not even a single arhata has been converted by the bodhisattvas, or vice-versa: not a single bodhisattva has been converted by the arhatas.

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