Chapter 20: Base Your Rule on the Rule
Buddha is not neutral like Jesus; he has attained to indifference, which is much different from neutrality. He has come to know that everything in life, as we know it, is meaningless, so nothing now is going to disturb his peace. Every alternative, every choice in life is the same for him. So his stillness, his peace, his calm is total.
Jesus is only neutral; every choice, every alternative is not the same for him. Jesus will say this is right and that is wrong; although he is non-aligned with the opposites, he is not that choiceless. Buddha has attained to absolute choicelessness. For him nothing is good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. For him summer and winter, day and night, pleasure and pain, laughter and tears are the same. For him, choosing is wrong and only choicelessness is right.
Jesus, in spite of his neutrality, his holy indifference, takes a whip in his hand and drives away the money-changers from the temple of Jerusalem. He overturns their boards and whips them. In the great synagogue of the Jews, the priests indulge in usury when people come from all Over the country for the annual festival. Their rates of interest are exorbitant, and so it is a way of exploiting the poor and the helpless. It is a way of draining the wealth and labor of the people, while it makes the temple of Jerusalem the richest establishment in the country. So Jesus upturns their tables and beats them.
Jesus is indifferent, yet he chooses. He advocates neutrality in worldly matters, but if there is something wrong he immediately stands up against it. He is not choiceless.
We cannot imagine Buddha with a whip in his hands; he is utterly choiceless. And because of his choicelessness he has attained to a silence that is profound and immense. So silence has become central to Buddha’s life and teaching.
Look at a statue of Buddha, silence surrounds it, peace permeates it, serenity emanates from it. Silence has become embodied in Buddha; peace has come home with him. Nothing can disturb his peace, his silence. Even the pond is disturbed by the passing breeze, by the rays of the sun which turn it into vapor and carry it to the sea. Buddha is so still that he has no desire whatsoever to move to the ocean of eternity; he says the ocean will have to come to him if it wants. Even to think of the ocean is now a strain for him.
For this reason Buddha refuses to answer questions about the transcendental. Is there God? What is liberation? What happens after death? Questions like these Buddha never entertains; he gently laughs them aside saying, “Don’t ask such questions that have to do with the distant future; they will distract you from the immediate present, which is of the highest. The thought of the distant future will give rise to the desire to travel to it, and to reach it. And this desire will create restlessness. I am utterly contented with what I am, where I am. I have nowhere to go; I have nothing to choose and find.”
So Buddha is not only indifferent to this world, he is also indifferent to the other world of God and nirvana. Jesus is indifferent to this world, but he is not indifferent to the other, to God. He has for sure chosen God against the world.