This was the first time that this silent man laughed – so loudly that he would have defeated Sardar Gurudayal Singh!
[From the back of the hall, a tremendous belly laugh from Sardar.]
Only here we have Sardar Gurudayal Singh. Perhaps Gurudayal Singh may have defeated Mahakashyapa, because being a sardar, he cannot accept any defeat – Mahakashyapa or no Mahakashyapa – but unfortunately he was not present in that assembly. He is our joy.
But this laughter of Mahakashyapa is the beginning of Zen – because nobody else understood. Buddha said nothing and simply gestured toward Mahakashyapa to come close for the first time in twenty years! – and gave the roseflower to him. This giving of the roseflower to Mahakashyapa is the beginning of Zen.
Now, language is no longer relevant; now, communication has to find some other way. Buddha’s giving the rose to Mahakashyapa is called the Seal of Zen. Buddha confirmed Mahakashyapa’s understanding that in that vast assembly of monks only Mahakashyapa had understood the silent watchfulness of Gautam Buddha, that only he could hear the unsaid, that only he could feel when others had simply wondered what was the matter.
And even now it is being asked in Zen monasteries, “Why did Gautam Buddha give the roseflower to Mahakashyapa?”
It is just an indication, that “you have understood.”
Here begins a new language – mysterious, irrational, absurd, but tremendously meaningful.
There is a great need to see Zen not as a religion, but as a language, a method of communion which is totally different from any other communication method.
Zen began in laughter. It will be good to have a few laughters…
Paddy and Sean are sitting in the pub having a discussion about their wives.
“What do you mean,” asks Sean, “when you say you have to think twice before you leave your wife alone at night?”
“First,” replies Paddy, “I have to think up a reason for going out. And second, I have to think up a reason why she can’t go with me!”
Mrs. Zambini goes to visit a medium. “Can you talk with the dead?” she asks.
“I can do everything!” replies the medium, “card reading, fortune telling, astrology, crystal ball, seances, pendulum…what do you want?”
“I want to speak with my grandmother who died in Budapest,” explains Mrs. Zambini.
The medium sits her down and turns out the lights. There is silence and then the sound of the wind and the medium goes into a trance. Suddenly there is a voice: “This is your grandmother, darling!”
“Oh, Granny,” cries Mrs. Zambini, “How is everything with you?”