Buddha is indifferent to everything; his indifference is complete. If you ask him how it is that there is nothing to find – neither the world, nor God, nor soul, he will say, “What we see before our eyes is not real, it is only a collage, an assemblage, something put together. It is something like a chariot which is nothing but a collection of four wheels and back seats, rods and ropes, and a horse that carries it. If you remove all the parts one by one and put them aside, the chariot will simply disappear.”
“Like the chariot you are a collage, the whole world is a collage, a collection, a composition of things, sights and sounds. And when the collage falls apart, then all that remains in its place is nothingness, emptiness. This nothingness, this emptiness is the reality, the truth which is worth attaining.” Buddha calls it nirvana – the ultimate state of extinction, nothingness, which cannot be put into words. So Buddha does not say it in words, he says it with his being, his interiority, his silence.
For this reason only men and women of deep intelligence and understanding can walk with Buddha. Those who are greedy and goal-oriented, who are out to achieve something – either gold or God – will simply run away from him. They will say, “This man Buddha is no good, he has nothing to give but peace. And what use is peace? We want heaven, we seek God, we yearn for moksha.” And Buddha will simply laugh at them, because he knows that what they call God or soul or moksha is attained only in the immensity of peace, of silence.
So one cannot make God into a goal. That is why Buddha consistently denies God, because if he accepts, you will immediately turn this into a goal, into an object of desire. And one who runs after a goal cannot be peaceful, he cannot be silent. So you can understand why Buddha insists on indifference, it is only indifference that can lead you into peace, into the silence where all journeying ends.
Mahavira’s transcendence of attachment ac. cords with Buddha’s indifference to some extent, because he too stands for indifference toward the world. In the same way Mahavira agrees with Jesus to an extent because he, like Jesus, stands for liberation. Mahavira is not choiceless in regard to the goal of freedom. Mahavira will argue that without liberation, peace is irrelevant; without freedom there is no difference between peace and lack of peace. Then restlessness is as good as peace and silence.
Mahavira says that someone gives up a thing so he can gain something else in its place. If there is nothing to be gained the question of renunciation does not arise. So Mahavira is not indifferent to moksha, or freedom. His transcendence of attachment is a means to help you go beyond the contradictions and conflicts of the world; so it is only an instrument of achievement.
Buddha’s indifference is total. It has no goals to achieve, it is not goal oriented. Or you can say Buddha’s indifference is a means to non-achievement, where you lose and go on losing till there is nothing but utter emptiness before you. And this emptiness is what reality or truth is in the eyes of Buddha. So in a sense Buddha’s sannyas, his renunciation is complete, because it seeks nothing, not even God or nirvana.