Chapter 5: The “Master of Silence”
There was a monk who called himself “The Master of Silence.”
Actually he was a fraud and had no genuine understanding.
To sell his humbug Zen he had two eloquent attendant monks
to answer questions for him,
but, as if to show his inscrutable silent Zen,
he himself never uttered a word.
One day, during the absence of his two attendants,
a pilgrim came to him and asked:
Master, what is the Buddha?
Not knowing what to do, or how to answer,
he looked desperately around in all directions
for his missing mouthpieces.
The pilgrim, apparently pleased and satisfied,
thanked the master, and set out again on his journey.
On the road the pilgrim met the two attendant monks
on their way home.
He began telling them enthusiastically
what an enlightened being this Master of Silence is.
He said: I asked him what Buddha is
and he immediately turned his face to the east and to the west
implying that human beings are always looking for Buddha
here and there, but actually,
Buddha is not to be found in any such directions.
Oh what an enlightened master he is, and how profound his teachings!
When the attendant monks returned,
the Master of Silence scolded them thus:
Where have you been all this time?
A while ago I was embarrassed to death and almost ruined
by an inquisitive pilgrim.
Life is a mystery. The more you understand it, the more mysterious it becomes. The more you know, the less you feel that you know. The more you become aware of the depth, the infinite depth, the more it becomes almost impossible to say anything about it. Hence silence.
A man who knows remains in such awe, such infinite wonderment, that even breathing stops. Standing before the mystery of life, one is lost completely.
But there are problems, and the first problem with the mystery of life is that there is always the possibility of frauds, people who can deceive others, people who can cheat. In the world of science that is not possible. Science moves on a plain ground with infinite caution; logical, rational. If you utter something nonsensical, immediately you will be caught, because whatsoever you say can be verified. Science is objective, and any assertion, any statement, can be verified in experiments in the laboratories.