One of Gautam Buddha’s disciples, Manjushree, became enlightened. He had been meditating for almost twenty years, and those who had already become enlightened immediately recognized him. Sariputra told him, “Why don’t you go and tell the master?”
Manjushree laughed. He said, “Do I have to go to the master for recognition? I know that whenever he comes across me, he will see it. I don’t have to say it.” And that’s how it happened.
The next morning, when Gautam Buddha was going for a morning walk, he came by the side of the tree where Manjushree used to meditate. He stopped, he looked around, and he said, “Manjushree, you should have come and announced your enlightenment. Do you think you can hide fire? All around you there are flames declaring your enlightenment. All around you flowers have blossomed, which may not be visible to the ignorant, but anybody who is enlightened will recognize you whether you say it or not.”
Manjushree touched Gautam Buddha’s feet and he said, “This was the reason that I did not come to you. If it is authentic, if I am not in a hallucination, if I am not imagining that I have become enlightened, then it is better that Gautam Buddha himself recognizes it, rather than my going to him. He knows hundreds of people who have become enlightened under him. If he passes by me without recognizing it, that simply means my time has not come yet, I am simply imagining.”
And that was not the only incident – because under Gautam Buddha more people became enlightened than under any man in history. Ten thousand monks continuously followed him, and all they were doing the whole day was simply meditating, just witnessing their minds. In time, in season, the right climate, the right moment…one by one they started exploding.
My experience is that it is very much a triggering process. If one person becomes enlightened and you are sitting close by him, something may trigger in you. Just his changed energy can give a push to your own energy.
Our enlightenment is not something of a kind that has to be achieved; it is already there, it is our very nature. It is the simplest thing in the world, and that has made it the most difficult.
Going within yourself just needs a small push, and that push need not be physical. It is not physical; it is more something like magnetic energy, or something more like electricity. You don’t see it, but it can travel from one person to another person, if the other person is ready enough. He will be surprised by the explosion.
Gautam Buddha allowed ten thousand people to be always with him simply to create an energy field. Somebody is a step ahead of you, somebody is two steps ahead of you, somebody is very close to the explosion. If he explodes, he can create a chain reaction and those who are just behind him may catch the fire. Hence in Zen it is called the transmission of the lamp, or transmission of the light.