You were saying the other night how Mahakashyap brought his own uniqueness to Buddha’s religion. When did the patriarchs of Buddha stop being unique and become Buddhists?
Gautam the Buddha is one of the most unique expressions of human consciousness. It is difficult to conceive of someone going beyond him, but Mahakashyap, his disciple, really did go beyond him.
Gautam Buddha’s whole life was a fight against the whole tradition, the orthodoxy. He could not express himself; his energy was more involved in destroying the false so that the truth could be seen clearly.
Mahakashyap had a unique position. He had nothing to destroy – Gautam Buddha had already done that. His whole energy moved into creativity. That is where he transcends Buddha.
Mahakashyap lived mostly in silence with Gautam Buddha; hence he was not a great master. When he became enlightened, he was not articulate. Only those who were ready to understand silence could become his disciples, and certainly such people are very rare.
Mahakashyap could not create a great movement like Gautam Buddha, but in a different way he created a very solid movement of the selected few. Gautam Buddha’s work is widespread, but because it is widespread everybody gets a very small quantity of it. Mahakashyap has only a few disciples, who can be named on ten fingers. As far as numbers are concerned, nobody would consider him comparable to Buddha, but because he was a silent master the people who came to him were of a different quality, very receptive.
Buddha’s story will make you understand it. He used to say, “There are horses which, unless you whip them, will not move. There are horses to which you simply have to make the noise of a whip – you need not touch their bodies – and they will move. And there are horses which will move simply with the shadow of the whip – and they are the best quality horses.” And he used to say that disciples are also of those three kinds.
Mahakashyap got the third kind of disciple, who could see the shadow of the whip and move. Because it was a silent transfer of energy, not through words, there is no scripture. It was person to person, heart to heart, so there is no record.
In this lineage a few names stand out. Bodhidharma is the greatest…in a few ways reaching higher than Mahakashyap. In other words it can be said that Gautam Buddha created a revolution which culminated in Bodhidharma. If Gautam Buddha is the source, then Bodhidharma is the ultimate flowering. He had all the qualities of Gautam Buddha, all the qualities of Mahakashyap, and a few qualities of his own.