If a man of enlightenment cannot answer a simple question, what is the point of Bodhidharma traveling from faraway India to China? The journey took three years – what is the point if it cannot be explained, if it cannot be taught? Why did Bodhidharma take such trouble?
Bokushu said, “Are we not teacher and learner? Why don’t you come nearer?”
To be nearer to a master simply means: drop your defenses. We all have defenses, we are all afraid of being vulnerable. Rather than answering his question, he again made a different approach possible for him: “We are learners; teacher and learner. We both belong to the same dimension. I may be a little ahead of you… I am ready to share. But why don’t you come a little nearer?”
Gautam Buddha used to say to newcomers, to new inquirers, “Just sit down by my side. When the right time comes, I will ask you. You can ask anything, but let the right time come.” And sometimes it took years…a man would be sitting there in silence, every day from morning till evening. In those days, Buddha’s grace was falling from the master as a shower on the silent disciple…. The master becomes almost a breeze, continuously blowing all the dust that has gathered on the mirror of the disciple.
The day when all thoughts have ceased, when the disciple is just a silence and nothing else, when there are no ripples on the lake of his consciousness, the right time, the ripe time, has come. Only now something can be transferred, which is not visible. In these silent moments, without saying anything, a flame passes to another flame. Have you ever thought about it? One candle is aflame, you bring another candle, unlit, close to the one which is aflame. There comes a moment when suddenly the flame jumps to the unlit candle.
Asking the learner to come closer is asking to bring the unlit candle, which has every capacity – just the master’s flame has to trigger the hidden splendor of the disciple. A certain closeness, a certain trust, a certain love, a certain intimacy…. The student can remain far away from the teacher, but this is the difference between a student and a disciple. The student does not drop his barriers; he has come to collect some knowledge, to accumulate a few more concepts. He is a scholar, he is trying through his mind to know; but the mind can only borrow knowledge, it cannot know on its own. And any knowledge that is borrowed is no longer knowledge.