He cannot say, “I have not known,” and he cannot say, “I have known.” He can say, “In a way I know, in a way I do not know. In a sense I have entered into him and he has entered into me, but I am just a drop and he is the ocean. I know him, but still the total remains a mystery.” Because of this, those who have known through their ignorance, through dropping themselves, they also are in a difficulty over what to say about it. They cannot deny the knowledge, they cannot declare the knowledge. This has to be so. Because of this many have remained silent.
Buddha would never answer any question about the Brahman. Wheresoever he would move, his disciples would spread the word: “Do not ask anything about the ultimate because Buddha is not going to answer anything about it.”
Someone asked Buddha, “Why don’t you answer?”
Buddha said, “If I answer, it is going to be false in some way or other. If I say, ‘I know,’ it is wrong – because how can a drop know the ocean? If I say, ‘I do not know,’ it is wrong, because the drop knows the ocean. The drop is just an atomic part of the ocean. The whole ocean is in the drop also. Really, knowing a drop of water totally, you know the ocean, because nothing else is there. The drop contains everything, but still it is a drop. So if I say, ‘I know,’ it will be wrong, because I am only a drop. If I say, ‘I do not know,’ it will be wrong, because I know. I am also an ocean – a minute ocean. So it is better to keep silent.”
But even silence can be misunderstood, and it was misunderstood. People who were against Buddha started saying, “He is not saying because doesn’t know. He is silent because he has not yet entered the Brahman; otherwise he must say.” Look at the difficulty: if he says, “I know,” then there will be difficulty; if he says, “I do not know,” then there will be difficulty. If he keeps quiet, then people will misunderstand.
The ultimate cannot be conveyed in any way; whether you are silent or saying something, it remains unconveyed. It cannot be transferred; it remains untransferred. It cannot be communicated, it is beyond communication.
A third difficulty comes and makes it a problem again and that is: Brahman means the ground, the source of everything. The source must remain a mystery; it cannot be decoded. Who will decode it? No one can stand beside it. For decoding you need someone who can be an observer – separate, neutral, looking at a thing from a distance. We cannot be at a distance from the ultimate. We are in it just like fishes swimming in a pool. Those fishes cannot stand aside, cannot observe the pool.
Kabir used to say that once a fish heard two scholars talking on the bank of a river, talking about what the ocean is. The fish became very much mystified; she started inquiring. It became an obsession for her – what the ocean was. She inquired from elders, and they said that they had also heard about it, but they didn’t know what it was. They had never seen it – and they all lived in the ocean. But how can you see a thing if you live in it? They were born in it, but how can you know a thing if you are born in it? You are so much a part of it and it is so much a part of you that there is no distance, so you cannot know. Then the inquiring fish went on inquiring, moved on inquiring. No one could answer her, but everyone said that they had heard that there was an ocean.