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Chapter 11: Truly Right

They both said to their disciples, “It was unnecessary, it would have been a waste of breath. What I know, the other knows. Neither I am anymore nor he is anymore. We are both part of one reality. We taste the same flavor, we experience the same joy. And we know it is inexpressible any way. Hence, we sat in silence. Silence was our communion.”

And then the third possibility is: a buddha talking to one who is asleep or someone who is asleep talking to a buddha. Someone who is asleep can only ask questions. That is what is happening in this beautiful dialogue between a disciple and Bodhidharma. Someone who is not awake can only ask questions. He has no inkling of any answer. His whole life is full of questions. Just as leaves grow on trees, questions grow in your sleepiness, in your unconsciousness.

And the buddha can answer, he cannot question. He knows nothing of questions. He is the answer. He has arrived home.

The first is meaningless, the second is impossible. The third is possible but very puzzling: puzzling because the buddha speaks from his peaks and the sleeper listens in his sleep, in his dreams, desires. Lost in the darkness of the valley, he knows nothing of the sunlit peaks, he has no idea of the purity of those altitudes. He lives in the polluted world.

He knows words. He is unaware of the real, true meaning of the words. Yes, he knows the word love, but he knows nothing of love. He knows the word prayer, but he has never experienced it, and without experiencing it you cannot know it. He knows the word god - empty, hollow, just a husk with nothing inside it - but he knows nothing of god. The word he goes on repeating.

And the problem is when the buddha says love he means something totally different than what you mean when you use the word love. Those meanings don’t meet, they don’t crisscross anywhere. They go on running like parallel lines, meeting nowhere. And yet you can think you have understood, because the word is the same. Yet you can go on believing that you have come to a great understanding, that understanding is only intellectual. To understand a buddha intellectually is not to understand him at all. He has to be understood existentially.

The disciple has not to be only a questioner, he has to move closer to the master. The question is a wall. He has to drop all questioning. He has to start merging, melting into the being of the master, so that he can see through his eyes, can feel through his heart, can have a little experience of the beyond, of the transcendental.

This is the last dialogue between the disciple, the unknown disciple, and Bodhidharma.

The first question:

What is right and what is wrong?

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