The gods in heaven… Buddhism does not believe in a God because that is too much a fascist idea. Buddhism believes in gods, a more democratic approach – and each human being ultimately has to become a god; that is the flowering of your potential. Those who have flowered before have become gods; there is no qualitative difference between you and them. They have not created the world. Once they were the same as you are, in the same way ignorant, the same way blind, but they have found their way and they have blossomed, their spring has come.
So in Buddhism the word god is simply an evolutionary term. Man evolves into a god – not that God makes man; man is not a creation of God. Godliness is the ultimate opening of the lotus of your being. Each being in the world is destined to become a god one day, sooner or later.
So the gods in heaven were waiting for seven days. They were the only ones in the whole of existence who knew that Gautam had come home, and they all wanted him to speak – because rare is the chance, unique is the opportunity when somebody comes to such a glory, such a blessedness. The flower should not disappear without leaving its fragrance all around. Gautam should speak.
But seven days had passed, and he was going deeper and deeper and sinking within himself. Afraid, because it has happened to many – those who have known have never said a word…not to be hard on them, it is really difficult – a few gods representing the whole galaxy of gods came down to Gautam Buddha.
I was sitting under the same tree thirty years ago, thinking about the story…a poor place, a small river, the Niranjana. The place must have seen its golden time when Buddha became enlightened on Niranjana’s riverbank. And on the seventh day the gods came and prayed to him, “Please, remember your teachings about compassion. This is the moment to show compassion. Speak! Whatever you have experienced, give words to it, give wings to it, let it reach to those who are thirsty.”
Gautam Buddha said to them, “These seven days I have been struggling without coming to any conclusion. The problem is, even if I say it, I know it has not been said. It is so vast – language is so poor, and it is so rich. Now it is not my fault; even if something goes into the words it will not reach people. Their minds are so full of rubbish they will interpret it. Who is there to listen? For listening, innocence is needed.
“Here unfortunately, in this country, everybody is so knowledgeable that you cannot find a single person in the whole country who can say, ‘I don’t know.’ He is willing to give a discourse on God, on heaven and hell…ten thousand years’ knowledge has been gathering and being transferred from one generation to another generation, layer upon layer. Every mind has become so full of knowledge that nobody is ready to listen.”
So Buddha said, “It is better just to be silent.”
The gods went into a nearby bamboo grove to discuss what to do. “What he is saying is right, but somehow he has to be convinced to speak because one never knows when another person is going to become enlightened again. We can understand his difficulty, but we cannot allow him to remain silent. It is very, very difficult to find such a cultured, articulate individual who becomes enlightened. He will find some way.”