I have heard you say that Gautam Buddha’s work came to an end when he became enlightened, and you started your work after your enlightenment. Could you say something about this?
One of the most important things to be remembered by all is the way you have started your question. The question is, “I have heard you say.” Usually, people drop the first part. They simply say, “You have said this.” And there is such a great difference between the two, such an immense difference that it is unbridgeable, and needs a great understanding.
Whatever you hear is not necessarily the thing said; what is said is not necessarily what you hear. The obvious reason is that I am speaking from a different space of being, and you are hearing from a totally different space. In the transmission, many things change.
It is always a sign of understanding to remember that whatever I have said may be totally different than what you have heard. Your question should be about what you have heard, because how can you ask a question about something which you have not heard?
Gautam Buddha, in his whole life, never allowed people to write down what he was saying. His reason was that if you are writing it down, your attention becomes divided. You are no longer total. You have to hear and you have to write, and what he is saying is so subtle that unless you are total, you are going to miss it. So rather than writing it down, try with your totality and intensity to approach your heart, to let it sink within you.
He spoke for forty-two years continuously. After his death, the first question was to write down whatever the disciples remembered; otherwise it would have been lost to humanity. They did a great service, and also a great disservice. They wrote down…but they came to see a strange phenomenon – that everybody had heard something different. Their memory, their remembrance, was not the same.
Thirty-two schools sprang up, proclaiming, “This is what Buddha has said.” Only one man – a man to be remembered forever, his closest disciple, Ananda – who was not even enlightened before Buddha died…. Just out of his humbleness, knowing, “I was unenlightened, how can I hear exactly what comes from an enlightened consciousness? I am going to interpret it, I am going to mix it with my own thoughts, I am going to give it my own color, my own nuance. It cannot carry within me the same meaning it has brought, because I don’t have yet those eyes that can see and those ears that can hear.” Out of this humbleness, the memories that he remembered and wrote down became the basic scriptures of Buddhism. They all start with “I have heard Gautam Buddha say.”