Buddha said, “He was neither a theist, nor an atheist, so neither was yes needed nor was no needed. He was really an innocent soul, a very pure heart. His question was not out of his a priori knowledge; his question was really innocent. His question was a quest, an inquiry. I had to remain silent – because that was my answer to him. And he understood it.
“Did you not watch: when I remained silent and closed my eyes, he also closed his eyes, and a great silence descended on him. And did you not observe? – when he went his eyes were shining, his eyes were like lit candles. And did you not observe? – when he left, he touched my feet, bowed down, thanked me, saying ‘You answered rightly,’ although I had not answered him at all. That man tasted something of my silence, imbibed something of my being. That man was the true seeker.”
A true seeker does not need a verbal answer. A true seeker needs something existential – a penetration of the heart into the heart, a penetration of the soul into the soul. The real seeker wants the master to overlap him. The real seeker wants the master to go into his innermost core and stir the sleeping soul.
Your question is significant.
You say: “I once read somewhere that when Buddha was asked by a disciple to describe life briefly, the Buddha replied ‘Misery.’”
It is true. Many times he said to many people that life is misery; and many times he said to many people that life is bliss – sat-chit-anand, it is truth, it is consciousness, it is bliss.
But people have gathered more the answer that life is misery, because it fits with their own experience. When the Buddha says, “Life is joy,” it doesn’t fit with your experience. It falls on flat ears. You hear it, but you cannot understand it. It does not ring any bells in your heart.
So the answers that he gave to those who had come to know something of bliss, something of joy, something of song, have not become so important. And it was only rarely that he would say that, because it is only a rare person who will require that answer. Millions and millions need to be told, “Your life is misery.” It is so.
But why does Buddha say your life is misery, why? He says it so that you can come out of it. You can have another kind of life – this is not the only kind. This is only one of the ways, and the worst way possible. You have created a hell out of your life, and if it can be a hell, it can also be a heaven; if it can be misery, it can be bliss. It is the same energy used wrongly that becomes misery, and used rightly becomes bliss.
What is misery? Misery is feeling separate from existence, feeling isolated from existence, feeling alienated from existence – that is misery. And what is bliss? Feeling one with existence, orgasmically one with existence, organically one with existence. Having an ego is misery, and becoming egolessness is bliss. Both alternatives are open. The choice is yours.