Even Buddha did not say anything to Mahakashyapa. Mahakashyapa simply lived with Buddha for many years sitting silently under his tree. He never asked a question, he simply waited and waited and waited. The longer he waited the more silent he became. The longer and deeper his patience, the greater became his trust and his love and his gratitude. Just by waiting he was going through a metamorphosis. He was changing into a new man. Nobody would have known it if by chance this incident had not happened.
A great philosopher of those days, Maulingaputta, came to Buddha. In India in those days it was a very common tradition that teachers would go to other teachers to discuss matters. With great respect they would fight tooth and nail, and whoever was defeated would become the disciple of the victorious one.
Maulingaputta had defeated hundreds of teachers and he had come to Gautam Buddha now with five hundred followers to challenge him. This challenge was not antagonistic; this challenge was absolutely in search for truth.
Maulingaputta said with deep respectfulness, “I want to challenge you to have a debate with me.”
Buddha said, “There is no problem…but that will not decide anything. You have been discussing with hundreds of teachers and you have been victorious, not because you have the truth but because you are more logical, more argumentative, more sophisticated than the others. It does not mean that you have the truth; it simply means you are better educated – you have done your homework better than the others, you are clever, more intelligent and have a sharper logical capacity. But that does not mean you have the truth.
“Do you want to inquire about the truth or just to have a debate? – because with these hundreds of debates, what has happened? You have gathered hundreds of followers and you don’t have the truth yourself. Now you have taken responsibility for hundreds of followers. Do you understand what you are doing?”
Those days were of tremendous honesty. Maulingaputta said, “You are right. I don’t know as an experience what truth is, but I can argue about anything. I have been trained in argumentation.” He was a sophist. Sophists can argue either for or against, it doesn’t matter.
In Greece, before Socrates, there was no philosophy, but only sophistry. Teachers were roaming around teaching people how to argue. It does not matter for what, and whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether you have a weightier argument than the other.
Socrates changed the whole history of philosophy in the West. He said that this is absolutely stupid. Just being logically more proficient does not mean you have the truth. Somebody may have the truth…and it is more probable that the man who has the truth may not be able even to say it. The question of arguing about it, for it, does not arise. He may not even find words to convey it.
Buddha said to Maulingaputta, “If you are really a man in search of truth, then sit down by my side for two years as if you are not – no questions, no communications – and after two years I will remind you that the day has come; now you can challenge me.”