Avoid facts as much as possible when you are trying to understand Buddha, Jesus, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu – avoid factuality. They are not concerned with facts, and that does not mean that what is being said is fiction either; it is neither fact nor fiction. It is a poetic way of expressing things which are inexpressible – essentially, intrinsically inexpressible. There are things which can be only hinted at; these parables are ways to hint. Don’t take them too seriously, take them light-heartedly. Enjoy them and try to discover the significance of them. And don’t bother at all whether such an incident ever happened or not.
It will be good for you to remember that East has never been interested in history at all; it has never written history. It is only when it started coming in contact with the West that East became interested in history. Otherwise East has never written history – for the simple reason because history is rubbish. What is the point of writing ordinary, factual things? We have been writing the essential things, and there is a difference between the incidental and the essential.
Go to a Jaina temple and you will see there twenty-four statues of Jaina tirthankaras – the people who are like Jesus, Buddha, Zarathustra – and you will be surprised, they all look exactly the same. It is not possible; you cannot find twenty-four persons exactly the same. Even Jainas cannot make the distinction who is who. They cannot tell you who is Mahavira and who is Neminatha and who is Parshvanatha and who is the first and who is the last, because they look absolutely alike – the same faces, the same noses, the same eyes, the same bodies, the same posture. To distinguish that they are different people, Jainas have discovered symbols. Each statue has a small symbol; the symbol shows a lion or something that shows whose statue it is.
Why they have made them alike? Certainly they are not historical. They are alike because the Jaina sculptors were not concerned with history, they were concerned with inner phenomena. They had attained to the same experience – how to represent it? and how to represent it in marble? They have attained to same stillness, same centering, same groundedness, same crystallization. Hence the same statues – the same posture, the same body represents something of the inner – the same spiritual state, the same samadhi.
You will be surprised watching those twenty-four tirthankaras and their statues, about many things. You will see their ears are very big, their earlobes are touching their shoulders. You cannot find such long ears. It represents something. It says these people attained to their ultimate state of consciousness by absolute listening: listening to the songs of the birds, listening to the wind passing through the pine trees listening to the sound of water, listening silently to all that goes on happening around.
Listening was their method. Just as the Buddhist method is watching the breath, the Jaina method is listening to the sounds. Right listening is enough. If one can listen without the mind chattering inside, if the mind becomes completely calm…this dog barking far away or the birds chirping. If you can just listen without thinking even that this is a dog barking, that these are birds chirping, just listening with no thought, with no interpretation, you will attain to deeper and deeper realms of silence; you will reach to the ultimate consciousness.