Buddha said, “It is because you never asked about it. You in fact even dropped the desire for it. You were coming closer to it, you even became afraid that it might happen, so you were hiding in corners, you would never ask a question. And I knew that it was going to happen to you first – before anyone else – because these are the qualities that are needed. Unknowingly you fulfill all the conditions. And don’t be angry with me; I have nothing to do with it. You are solely responsible for what has happened.”
Mahakashyap said, “I have only one desire: though I have become enlightened – and it is a tremendous experience – please allow me, while you are alive, not to be sent anywhere else. Let me remain in your commune wherever you move.”
It was a moving, wandering commune – a few days here, a few days in another place. Buddha said, “I cannot say no to you; you have never asked anything.”
Mahakashyap remained his whole life with Gautam Buddha. When Gautam Buddha died, then he started speaking. Asked why, he said, “Now I have to create the same atmosphere for those who don’t have any taste of disciplehood. I had no intention of becoming a master, but destiny would not allow me not to. I wanted to die before Gautam Buddha so I wouldn’t have to carry this burden.” He proved to be one of the great masters – of the same caliber as Gautam Buddha – and he created a lineage of great disciples and great masters.
I have talked about Zen: Mahakashyap was the first – not Gautam Buddha – to initiate the process which culminated in Zen, because it was his disciple, Bodhidharma, who took the message to China. And perhaps Gautam Buddha would not agree with everything Zen consists of, because the real master of Zen and its origin is Mahakashyap, who has a totally different personality from Gautam Buddha – less serious, with a sense of humor, with no idea of holier-than-thou.
The man who was finally the decisive factor was Bodhidharma; he comes in the fifth generation of disciples of Mahakashyap. He was very decisive in giving a certain character to Zen, which it still carries.
Bodhidharma is farther away still from Mahakashyap. He has a great sense of humor, is very straightforward, knows no etiquette, no manners, is very simple and innocent, has no philosophical background, speaks in an ordinary way. But ordinary words from the mouth of a man like Bodhidharma start having such freshness, such authority – more than any philosophical jargon can ever have.
Philosophical words are vague, wishy-washy, big – much ado about nothing. Bodhidharma speaks exactly telegraphically; if ten words will do, he will not use eleven words.
But nobody would have conceived that this small stream arising in a silent man like Mahakashyap would become the world’s most purified and essential religiousness. But Mahakashyap has the quality of humbleness – so humble that he drops even the idea of enlightenment, of truth. Certainly, he has experienced something in the presence of his master: he is ready to forsake everything – truth included. If Gautam Buddha is going to hell, he would like to go to hell; he is not interested in going to heaven.