The first question:
When an enlightened being dissolves into the cosmos, does his uniqueness dissolve also?
The enlightened man, even while he is alive in the body, is already dissolved. He knows that he is no more, he knows that he is a nothingness. The dissolution has already happened. In fact, nothing has dissolved, because nothing had been separate from the very beginning. Separation was an illusion.
The feeling that “I am separate from existence” is just illusory, it is not a reality. The enlightened man comes to realize only that he never existed before, that he does not exist now, and that he will not exist in the future. The whole exists, not the parts.
You may think that you are separate, but that is just a dream. Only the dream dissolves – nothing else; only the ignorance is lost – nothing else; sleep dissolves – nothing else.
But the question is relevant. What happens to the uniqueness of a Buddha, a Lao Tzu, a Jesus? Where does it go? The universe becomes unique through it. Every buddha enriches the universe – just as every sleepy man impoverishes it. Every sleepy man is making part of the universe sleepy, dull, dead, and when millions of ignorant people exist the whole existence is sad, serious, ill.
A single buddha helps the world to flower again to its very peak; to sing again to its utmost; to dance again to its utter possibility; to bring its whole potentiality to a manifestation, to a celebration. So when a buddha dissolves – as there is no other way to say it in language – when a buddha dissolves the uniqueness becomes the uniqueness of the whole. Then the whole is enriched. Then the whole will never be the same again. It has never been.
That is the meaning of Christians deciding on Jesus’ birth as a dividing factor in history. The whole calendar, of Christians or of non-Christians, is based on Jesus’ birthday. It is very symbolic. It means that history will now never be the same again because Jesus was born and because Jesus was crucified, and because Jesus has overcome death, is resurrected. Now the whole world is totally different – you may know it or you may not know it. If you were born before Jesus you would have been born in a totally different world. Jesus has given his quality to the world. It is a historic moment.
Mahavira, Buddha, Lao Tzu, are all historic moments. Through them the universe is reaching higher and higher, the universe is reaching to a crescendo.