Chapter 10: The Master of Silence
Buddha was to give a special talk one day,
and thousands of followers had come from miles around.
When Buddha appeared he was holding a flower.
Time passed, but Buddha said nothing.
He just looked at the flower.
The crowd grew restless, but Mahakashyapa, who could restrain himself no longer, laughed.
Buddha beckoned him over, handed him
the flower, and said to the crowd,
“I have the eye of the true teaching. All that can be given with words I have given to you; but with this flower, I give to Mahakashyapa the key to this teaching.”
The key to all teachings, not only of a Buddha but of all masters - Jesus, Mahavira, Lao Tzu - cannot be given through verbal communication, the key cannot be delivered through the mind. Nothing can be said about it. The more you say the more difficult it becomes to deliver, because a buddha and you live in such different dimensions - not only different but diametrically opposite - that whatsoever a buddha says will be misunderstood.
I have heard that one evening three slightly deaf women met on the road. The day was very windy, so one woman said, “Windy, isn’t it?”
The other said, “Wednesday? No, it’s Thursday.”
And the third said, “Thirsty? I am also, so let’s go to the restaurant and have a cup of tea.”
This is what happens when a buddha says something to you. He says, “Windy?” You say, “Wednesday? No, it’s Thursday.” The physical ear is okay, but the spiritual ear is missing. A buddha can talk only to another buddha, this is the problem, and with another buddha there is no need to talk. Buddha has to talk with those who are not enlightened. With them exists the need to talk and communicate, but then communication is impossible.
It is reported of one Mohammedan saint, Farid, that he was passing near Benares where Kabir lived. Followers of Farid said, “It would be just wonderful if you and Kabir met - for us it would be a blessing.”
The same thing happened to Kabir and his followers. They heard that Farid was passing, so they said to Kabir that it would be good if he would request Farid to stay a few days in the ashram.
Farid’s disciples said, “You both talking would be a great opportunity for us; we would like to hear what two enlightened persons say to each other.”
Farid laughed when the disciples said this and replied, “There will be a meeting, but I don’t think there is going to be any talking. But let us see.”
Kabir said, “Ask Farid. Let him come and stay - but whosoever speaks first will prove that he is not enlightened.”
Farid came; Kabir received him. They laughed and embraced each other, then they sat in silence. Two days Farid was there, and for many hours they sat together, and the disciples were restless, waiting for them to say something, utter something. But not a single word was communicated.
The third day Farid left and Kabir came to see him off. They again laughed, embraced each other, parted.