Before leaving he called four of his disciples and told them, “I am leaving, my time has come. This body cannot contain me anymore. Soon my consciousness will open its wings and will be gone. Before it happens, I want to reach to the Himalayas. I have called you four; one of you is going to be my successor. So this is a great test. I am asking the same question to all four. Who is my successor will depend on your answers.”
Bodhidharma asked, “What is the essence of my coming from India to China?”
The first man said, “You have come to spread the great experience of Gautam Buddha.”
Bodhidharma said, “You are right, but barely. You are just my skin. Sit down.”
He looked to the next disciple, who said, “Your coming to China means bringing the very revolution in the innermost being from unconsciousness to consciousness.”
Bodhidharma said, “A little better, but still not satisfactory. Sit down.”
He looked at the third disciple, and the third disciple said, “You have come to spread that which cannot be said.”
Bodhidharma said, “You are far better than the other two. But even saying this much, that nothing can be said about it, you have said something. Just sit down. The first one has my skin, the second one has my bones, you have my flesh.”
He looked at the fourth one who had only tears of gratitude and joy and just collapsed at the feet of Bodhidharma without saying a word.
Bodhidharma told him, “You have my very marrow, you are my chosen disciple. What others could not say with their words you have said with your tears. What others could not say with great significant statements, you have stated by your gratitude.”
Rinzai comes after a few more patriarchs. And just as Bodhidharma was sent by his master, Rinzai’s master sent him to Japan. It was again the same difficult task, but just as Mahakashyapa succeeded and Bodhidharma succeeded, Rinzai also succeeded in creating silence, in turning people inwards.
The message is not linguistic.
The message is existential.
The master can only create a certain situation, a certain device in which, if you allow, if you are receptive, you can be transformed. This transformation is almost a death and a resurrection. Your old personality will fade away; your original face will show.
The face that you are carrying right now is given to you by the society, by the culture, by the education, by the parents. Your personality is not your originality; your originality has been covered with all kinds of lies, convenient to the society and the vested interests.
Being with a master your personality is going to drop just as dead leaves drop. You will remain utterly naked, as you were born. All knowledge that you have borrowed will disappear. You will be as innocent as a child. In this innocence there is no need to say anything.