The qualities of the finger do not matter; any finger can point towards the moon. But people have got too much attached to the fingers. Jainas are holding the finger of Mahavira – they worship that finger, they have forgotten the moon. And Buddhists are worshipping the finger of Buddha.
Exactly, there is a temple in Japan where Buddha’s statue is not in the shrine but a finger, a marble finger, pointing somewhere into the unknown. Those who made that temple must have been very perceptive; but you don’t know people – people are worshipping that finger. They go and put their flowers there and bow down. Nobody is bothered where the finger is pointing at.
Christians are holding another finger. And they go on arguing with each other – “Whose finger is more beautiful? Is Jesus the greatest man? Or is Buddha the greatest man? Or is Krishna or Mohammed the greatest man?” What are you talking about? All nonsense! You are talking about the fingers, but fingers are not at all relevant. Any finger can point to the moon. And all fingers that point to the moon are alike – in pointing to the moon they are similar; all other attributes are meaningless.
Buddha speaks one language, Jesus speaks another, Mohammed still another. That doesn’t matter. For a man who is perceptive the indication is enough. The man of perception will move towards the moon and forget all fingers. And the moment you move towards the moon, suddenly you realize all the fingers are pointing to the same goal.
So Zen is a finger raised in silence towards the moon. That’s the way of all basic essential religion. Why is language so impotent? Why can’t the truth be said? A few things have to be understood before we enter into this small anecdote.
Language simply misses it – for certain reasons in the very structure of language itself. First, language is utilitarian. It is good, as far as the world of utility is concerned. You go to the market to purchase something, language is needed – it makes things easier. Language is a lubricant, it helps communication – but only in the utilitarian world.
The moment you start moving towards existence…existence has no utility, it is not something that you can buy or sell. Existence is non-utilitarian, existence is purposeless. Existence has to be observed with a deep silence in your eyes.
If you go to the marketplace and remain silent there, it will be very embarrassing to you and to others too. If you go to the police station and they ask, “What is your name” and you behave in a Zen way, you will be thought mad, crazy, cunning. Silence won’t be understood in a police-station. And if you go and just stand in front of a shop without saying anything, the shopkeeper will not be able to understand your silence either.