One of the most beautiful mystics of India, Kabir, was asked the same question. He laughed and he said, “I cannot exactly give you an explanation, but I can give you some indication. It is like the experience of sweetness to a dumb man. He knows it, but he cannot speak it. The dumb man has no incapacity to experience the sweetness of something, but if you ask him what is his experience, he cannot express it.” This inexpressibility has misguided many people. They think that a thing which cannot be expressed cannot exist. They think expressibility and existence are bound to be synonymous. It is not so.
What can you say about love? Whatever you say will be wrong. In fact, when you are in love you don’t even say “I love you,” because that seems so small in comparison to your experience. My own understanding is that people start saying to each other, “I love you” when love has disappeared.
The American philosopher Dale Carnegie – and a man like Dale Carnegie can be called a philosopher only in America – suggests in his book, which has sold second only to the Holy Bible: “Whenever you come home, kiss your wife and say, ‘I love you.’ Whenever you go out of your home, kiss your wife and say, ‘I love you.’” And there are millions of idiots who are doing it! The wife knows that this is only bluffing; the man knows it is all bluffing….
When you love, love is so tremendous and so vast that you simply sit hand in hand, not uttering a single word.
The actual experience of love has never been expressed by any poet and will never be expressed. And love is part of our ordinary reality, just as sweetness or bitterness is. These inner spaces of meditation are not our usual experiences, so when somebody stumbles upon them he is at a loss to say what he has found.
There was a man in Japan whose name people have forgotten – they only remember the “Laughing Buddha” because he never said anything. Ask him anything, his answer would be the same: he would laugh. I think he was a very sincere man, utterly authentic. He did not compromise with any language, with any mind, with any expression. He simply laughed. And if you can understand through his laughter, his smile, it is up to you. Most of the people thought he was mad.
When Bodhidharma became the state of meditation, the first thing that happened to him was to laugh loudly. But Bodhidharma was a learned scholar, not like a simple, Japanese laughing buddha. He did not laugh. He was asked later on by his disciples, “Please fulfill our curiosity: when you became enlightened, what was the first thing that you wanted to do?”
He said, “The first thing? I was no longer there – a tremendous laughter – but I had not to go on laughing. Otherwise people would think me just a madman. And my master’s advice was, ‘Even a very wise master rarely finds authentic disciples. If people start thinking you are mad, then the possibility of transforming anybody is almost negligible.’ So I reminded myself: laugh within yourself as much as you can, but don’t show it!”