Love is your inner experience, so deep that you cannot even define what it is. All the poets, all the philosophers have been trying to define what love is. And thousands of years of search and inquiry have resulted only in the simple statement that love is indefinable. You can sing it, you can dance it, but you cannot define it. Exactly the same, on a higher level, is enlightenment.
According to me love is the lowest rung of the ladder and enlightenment is the highest. They have a similarity on many points. They both happen suddenly – you fall in love and if somebody asks you why, you simply shrug your shoulders. You cannot answer why. Love is not something to be questioned. You don’t know yourself, it just happens.
Enlightenment is the same kind of phenomenon on a higher peak. It just happens. It happens when you are silent, looking inwards. Just like lightning, you suddenly become aware, full of light, luminous. It is not an answer to any question. All questions and all answers dissolve into the luminous splendor of your own inner being.
I differ from Bankei in saying that nobody else can give it to you. If somebody has found it, perhaps he can inspire you – not by his words, but by his very being, by his every gesture, by his every look. You can see that a different kind of presence surrounds the man, a different kind of silence radiates from him. You can have a taste from somebody else, but nobody can give it to you.
It used to happen that seekers would come to Gautam Buddha. A great philosopher of those times, Maulingaputta, came with his five hundred disciples. He himself was a well-known teacher, and he had come to challenge Gautam Buddha to a debate; that’s why he had brought all his disciples.
In India it was a common phenomenon that has now disappeared…it was so beautiful – but now to challenge somebody seems to be a way to create enemies. For centuries it was not considered that way in India; challenging was simply a matter of coming face to face, with inquiring, penetrating questions, and finding out who has gone deeper. The one who went deeper was victorious. It was a very loving phenomenon, very friendly.
Maulingaputta said to Gautam Buddha, “I have come here to pay my respects to you and also to challenge you.”
Buddha said, “I love your challenge. But you will have to fulfill a condition which I have been keeping my whole life. I cannot make any exception.”
At that time there were ten thousand monks, disciples of Buddha. Maulingaputta said, “Any condition, and I am ready to accept it.”
So Buddha said, “The condition is that you have to sit by my side for two years, silently – no question, no answer. After two years I will tell you, now you can question.”