There have been arihantas and arhatas, but although they had found the answer they were not able to proclaim it, and unless you are able to proclaim it, proclaim it from the housetops, your answer is not of much value – it is only one person’s answer in a crowd where everybody is full of questions. Soon the arihanta dies, and with him his silence; it disappears as if one has been writing on water. You can write, you can sign on water, but by the time you have finished writing your signature it is no longer there.
The real master not only knows, but helps millions to know. His knowledge is not private, it is open to all those who are ready to receive. I have known the answer. The question I have carried for thousands of years, in one body, in another body, through one body to another body, but the answer has happened for the first time. It has happened only because I questioned persistently without any fear of the consequences.
I am recalling these incidents to make you aware that unless one asks, and asks everyone totally, it is difficult to ask oneself. When one is thrown out from every door, when all the doors are locked or slammed in your face, then at last one turns withinward – and there is the answer. It is not written; you will not find a Bible, a Torah, or a Koran, a Gita, a Tao te Ching or a Dhammapada…. No, you won’t find anything written there.
Nor will you find anyone there either – no God, no father figure, smiling and patting you on your back saying, “So, good, my son, you have come home. I forgive all your sins.” No, you will not find anyone there. What you will find is a tremendous, overwhelming silence, so dense that one feels one can touch it…like a beautiful woman. One can feel it like a beautiful woman, and it is only silence, but very tangible.
When the monk had disappeared from that village we laughed continuously for days, particularly my Nani and I. I cannot believe how childlike she was! At that time she must have been nearly fifty, but her spirit was as if she had never grown older than a child. She laughed with me and said, “You did well.”
Even now I can still see the back of the escaping monk. Jaina monks are not beautiful people. They cannot be, their whole approach is ugly, just ugly. Even his back was ugly. I have always loved the beautiful wherever it is found – in the stars, in a human body, in flowers, or in the flight of a bird…wherever. I am an unashamed worshipper of the beautiful, because I cannot see how one can know truth if one cannot love beauty. Beauty is the way to truth; and the way and the goal are not different: the way itself ultimately turns into the goal. The first step is also the last.
That encounter – yes, that’s the right word…that encounter with the Jaina mystic began thousands of other encounters, Jaina, Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, and I was ready to do anything just to have a good argument.
You will not believe me, but I went through circumcision at the age of twenty-seven, after I was already enlightened, just to enter a Mohammedan Sufi order where they would not allow anybody in who had not been circumcised. I said, “Okay, then do it! This body is going to be destroyed anyway, and you are only cutting off just a little piece of skin. Cut it, but I want to enter the school.”