The greatest art of being silent
I HAVE BEEN IN POONA FOR TWO WEEKS, AND EVERY DAY I FEEL MORE AND MORE STUPID AND HELPLESS. YOU SAY THAT ONLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND CAN BE WITH YOU. LISTENING TO YOU, ENJOYING EVERY WORD YOU SAY, I WONDER: DO I REALLY UNDERSTAND, OR AM I JUST HAPPY TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE?
THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME LAST TIME I WAS WITH YOU. IS THERE A WAY OUT OF FEELING STUPID?
Anand Yuti, the madman never realizes that he is mad. The same is the case with the stupid - the stupid person never realizes that he is stupid. To realize that you are mad is the beginning of sanity; to realize that you are stupid is the beginning of intelligence.
There is nothing wrong in being stupid. But to be stubborn and to insist that your stupidity is wisdom, that is a problem. I am happy that is not your problem. You are relaxed, sensitive, understanding.
This is one of the greatest understandings, to feel one's stupidity. There is no need to go out of this circle.
I have told you about Socrates. He used to say, in his old age, that when he was young he thought he knew all. As he became a little more mature, he started feeling that he did not know all, he only knew a little; there was much more which was unknown to him. A few years later, he started realizing that even the little he used to think he knew, he really did not know. It was only information; it was not his own knowing.
Finally, his ultimate statement came in a certain situation. The oracle of Delphi had declared Socrates to be the wisest man of the world. Obviously the people who loved Socrates were very happy. They ran to Socrates to inform him, "The oracle of Delphi has declared you the wisest man."
Socrates said, "I used to think that the oracle never commits mistakes, but this time the oracle has committed a mistake. Go back and tell the oracle that Socrates denies it. He says, 'I know nothing.
How can I be the wisest man?'"
The people were very much shocked, but out of curiosity they went back to find out what answer would come from the oracle. And they said, "We are very unhappy. We delivered your great message to Socrates but his response was very strange. He says he knows nothing, how can he be the wisest man in the world?"
There was laughter and the oracle said, "That's why. Because he has come to the point of realizing that he knows nothing, that makes him the wisest man in the world."
What do we know? Life remains a mystery. Our not knowing simply indicates the mysteriousness of life. Our knowing is so superficial; it is not worth calling knowing. So if every day you feel that you are more and more stupid, it is a good sign. You are moving towards the state of Socrates. One day the miracle will happen when you will be able to say you know nothing.
Just try to experience the feeling of the freshness and the innocence of not knowing anything. The mind is unburdened. You are light, so light that it seems if you want you can fly into the sky. And while experiencing this great not knowing you have entered the temple of the mysterious universe.
What we are doing here is not trying to make you more knowledgeable. We are trying to make you more innocent, utterly not knowing anything. When it happens to you spontaneously, from your heart, that you know nothing, all the doors of existence suddenly start opening for you - not that you will become knowledgeable, but you will become mysterious.
That's why I call this path the path of the mystic. The mystic is not a learned man, the mystic is an innocent man, who can dance in the rain, who can love beautiful rainbows, who can fall in tune with the universe, whose life becomes a constant rejoicing.
So whatever is happening to you, Anand Yuti, is perfectly right. Rejoice and be grateful to existence.
IF ZEN IS THE PATH AND YOU ARE THE GATE, THEN WHO LIVES IN THE HOUSE?
Prem Michael, Zen is the path and I am the gate and you live in the house. You have completely forgotten - that's what makes the possibility of making a path, to remind you. The path is only a reminder. You have completely forgotten that you are in the house. You think you are out of the house; hence a gate is needed to bring you in.
I have told you the beautiful story of Chuang Tzu... One early morning he is sitting in his bed, covered with his blanket, very sad. His disciples have never seen him looking sad. They are worried - is he sick, ill or something? They enquire.
Chuang Tzu said, "It is much more difficult than you think. Last night I dreamt that I had become a butterfly." The students, the disciples started laughing. They said, "That is not much of a problem.
Everybody thinks many things in his dreams."
Chuang Tzu said, "I don't know about everybody, I know only this much: it has created in me a very existential question. If Chuang Tzu can dream that he has become a butterfly, why can a butterfly not go to sleep and dream that she has become a Chuang Tzu? Now the problem is whether I am the butterfly who is dreaming she is Chuang Tzu or I am really Chuang Tzu."
The disciples were at a loss how to figure out the problem. And then came Lieh Tzu, who had gone to another village for some work. He heard the situation: "Chuang Tzu is still sitting in his bed. He does not want to get up until the problem is solved. And we are all trying to solve it but there seems to be no solution. It seems to be perfectly right, that if Chuang Tzu can dream he is a butterfly then why can the butterfly not dream she is Chuang Tzu? Now we are also puzzled."
Lieh Tzu said, "Wait, I will solve the problem." He went to the water well, pulled up a bucket of ice-cold water, went in and poured it over the head of Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu laughed, and he said, "You came at the right time; otherwise, the whole day I would have been sitting here, sad. You solved the problem."
Lieh Tzu said, "Do you need another bucket?" He said, "No! The water is so cold. I am Chuang Tzu, because if I was a butterfly your bucket of ice-cold water would have killed me."
Your question is beautiful. "If Zen is the path and you are the gate, then who lives in the house?" You live in the house, but you have forgotten. And to remind you, a path has to be created; to remind you, a gate has to be created. To remind you, you have to be taken on the path and given help to enter the house, which in fact you have never left.
Just an imaginary game - getting out on the path, doing great disciplines, meditations, the master...
Finally the gate comes and you say, "Aha! I have arrived." And this is the house which you have never left.
I DON'T KNOW.
CAN YOU TELL ME A JOKE?
Sanjiva, your question is very beautiful. To be in the state of not knowing... what is left? Then to have a good laughter or sit in absolute silence and listen to the birds and their sounds... Not knowing is the ultimate knowing.
You have asked for a joke....
Hymie Goldberg has been told by the doctor that he is dying. Becky is sitting by the bedside.
"Listen Becky," says Hymie. "Soon I will be dead and I don't want you to be living alone. I want you to get married again."
"Darling," weeps Becky, "don't talk like that. I will never find another man like you."
Holding her hand, Hymie continues, "Look sweetheart, in a few weeks you will see things differently.
I leave everything to you - the house, the cars, the money in the bank. You will have no worries in your next marriage."
"No, Hymie," wails Becky, "I will never look at another man."
"And you know," says Hymie, "those expensive hand-tailored suits I had made? I want your future man to wear them."
"What!" cries Becky. "Your suits? But Sollie is at least two inches taller than you."
You have asked for one joke, but it would be very miserly of me. I will have to tell you at least two jokes more.
The Goldbergs are touring India and one day Hymie finds that he has left his watch in the hotel. He has been photographing an elephant with his trainer, so he asks the trainer what the time is.
The man slowly reaches out, takes hold of the elephant's balls, shifts them slightly and says, "It is five to one."
"My God!" gasps Hymie. "That's incredible. Wait, I want to fetch my wife." A few minutes later, Hymie comes racing back with Becky and again he asks the time. The man reaches out, cups the elephant's balls as though weighing them, then moves them to one side and declares, "It is three minutes past one."
"Fantastic!" cries Becky checking her watch. Hymie digs a hundred dollar bill out of his pocket and offers it to the Indian if he will show them how he tells the time. The man shrugs and folds the money in his dhoti. He motions to the Goldbergs to kneel beside him. They hold their breath as the man once again cups the elephant's balls in his hands. Moving them to one side, he says, "Now, do you see that clock over there?"
For five years in a row the Annual International Joke Contest, held in New York, has been won by Rabbi Finkelstein. But amazingly enough, this year his joke only comes second. And the organizers are forced to phone him to break the bad news.
"My God!" says Rabbi Fink. "I refuse to accept the verdict until I hear the joke that beats me."
"Well," says the man, "the winning joke this year was submitted by Shree Rajneesh and I am afraid that it may be a bit much for your ears. But I'll tell you what I can do. I will read you the joke, and when I come to a part that is too much for you I will substitute it with 'la-di-da-di-da.'"
"Okay," says the rabbi, "fire away."
The man clears his throat and then begins to read: "La-di-da. La-da-di-da. La-di-da. Fuck."
THIS IS THE VERY FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I HAVE THE FEELING OF BEING "AT HOME." MY HEART IS STRONGLY BEATING AND I FEEL A DEEP GRATITUDE.
WHY, BELOVED MASTER, DO I LOSE THIS FEELING OF BEING AT HOME WHEN I AM NOT PHYSICALLY WITH YOU, OR EVEN WHEN YOU STOP TALKING?
Ageha, to feel at home is one of the most spiritual experiences. Ordinarily, nobody feels at home anywhere. People go around the world in search of a place where they can feel at home, but wherever they go, they are the same person - they carry all their worries, their tensions, their anguishes. And because of their anguish and anxiety, they continue to feel a certain unease; otherwise, you can feel at home anywhere.
This whole existence is our home. It is the anxiety, worry, tension, anguish, misery, suffering, desires... they create many, many curtains around you, and you cannot feel at ease because of them.
Here you feel at ease, at home, but your problem is... You say, "My heart is strongly beating and I feel a deep gratitude. Why, beloved master, do I lose this feeling of being at home when I am not physically with you, or even when you stop talking?" There is nothing mysterious in it - a very simple thing. When I am talking you have to stop chattering within yourself. That's the whole purpose of my talking, so that you stop, at least for a few moments, the inner chatter.
The moment there is no inner chatter in you, you are at home. That chattering disturbs the peace, the joy, the blissfulness. So when you are away from me, your mind goes on like crazy and you miss the feeling of being at home. And even here when I am not talking, the same happens. So you can understand. It is not a question of space, it is not a question of whether you are here or somewhere else. When I stop talking, you start chattering.
What is your chatter? - rubbish, crap. Naturally you start feeling not at home. But when you are silent - and you are silent only when I am speaking... Slowly you have to learn to be silent even when I am not speaking, even when I am not present, even when you are not physically close to me.
Can't you feel the sunrise and the birds and the trees? Everything is at ease.
Except man, nobody commits suicide - no tree, no bird. Except man, nobody needs a psychiatrist.
Except man, everything is exactly where it should be - perfectly happy. In these sounds of the birds, do you hear anywhere any sadness? - just overflowing joy. Not that they are talking about great philosophical ideologies, not that they are praying in their churches, not that they are specifically saying something - just the joy of overflowing energy makes them feel at home.
And they don't have anything - no money, no power, no prestige. They don't suffer from any inferiority complex, nor from a superiority complex. They never become schizophrenic. One has to learn much from the trees, from the birds, from the animals. And your problem is absolutely clear.
These meetings with you, these talks with you are not sermons in a church, where a certain belief system is being delivered to you. These are a special device, never used before by anyone. I speak so that you can be silent. I do your chattering, you do my silence - a simple bargain! The whole day I am sitting in silence; I also get tired. So twice a day I take revenge. You are chattering the whole day. Twice a day, take revenge - be silent.
And you will be at home anywhere, Ageha.
Hymie Goldberg has a little trouble with the police and he goes to see his lawyer. "If I win the case,"
says Hymie, "I will give you five hundred dollars."
"Okay," says the lawyer, "get some witnesses."
Hymie rounds up a few witnesses and wins his case.
"Now," says the lawyer, "you won your case. What about my five hundred dollars?"
"Okay," says Hymie, "get some witnesses."
Just a simple arithmetic... It is not a difficult job to be silent; it is immensely blissful. Suddenly you find yourself in tune with the heartbeat of the universe. And that is the greatest ecstasy that can happen to anyone. This very moment can become a momentous revolution in your life if you can taste the silence of it.
It was the usual practice of Gautam Buddha that whenever somebody came to him - and every day great philosophers, thinkers, theologians were coming to him to ask questions... Maulingaputta, one of the great philosophers of Gautam Buddha's time, had debated with many other great saints and defeated them. Now his only desire was to defeat Gautam Buddha.
He came to Gautam Buddha with his five hundred great scholars and he asked, with humbleness, "I want an open discussion with you, with the condition that if I win you and your disciples will have to become my disciples, or if you win I and my disciples will all become your disciples."
Gautam Buddha said, "Settled. But there is one thing you have to remember. You will not start your discussion right now. My routine is: for two years you and your disciples have to sit silently amongst my ten thousand disciples. You are not to ask a single question in these two years, you have just to listen. And after two years I will remind you that the time has come, you can start the discussion."
The condition was accepted. Maulingaputta was not just an egoistic scholar, he was a sincere enquirer. He was debating with all these saints for the simple reason that perhaps somebody can defeat him - defeat his mind, defeat his inner chattering. Somebody may question everything that he believes, take away all his thoughts, destroy them completely by his arguments. Because of this reason, he agreed with Gautam Buddha, "I will wait for two years." And he sat by the side of Gautam Buddha.
As he was agreeing, laughter was heard from a faraway corner. Under a tree, a strange fellow was sitting - a follower of Gautam Buddha, but very strange. He rarely spoke; except for this laughter, nothing is mentioned about that man in all the great scriptures of Buddhism. And it has a tremendously vast literature; it is a whole world of literature on its own. No religion's literature can even be compared to it - they are very poor. This man's name was Mahakashyapa and his laughter became the beginning of Zen.
He had not spoken anything, but Maulingaputta was shocked: "Why should this person laugh?"
Gautam Buddha said, "You can ask him. He ordinarily never speaks, never laughs. He is not a man who belongs to ordinary humanity. He is a very silent fellow. You can ask him."
Maulingaputta asked Mahakashyapa, "Why have you laughed?" He replied, "There is not much in it.
Just beware of the strategy of this guy Gautam Buddha. He deceived me, and in the same way he is going to deceive you too. I laughed because again he is at his game. Two years ago I had come, and he made me sit under this tree silently for two years. I even forgot the calendar.
"Two years of silence is such a long time. For a few days I remembered that one day has passed, two days have passed, one week has passed... Then slowly, slowly I forgot all about it. One day he suddenly said, 'Mahakashyapa, this is the day you had come for, two years ago - to have a discussion with me. Now stand up and start your discussion. What do you want to say?'"
Mahakashyapa said, "You have destroyed everything that I could have said two years ago. This silence has been such a cleansing. It has taken away all the nonsense that I have carried, thinking that it is scholarship, it is knowledge. This silence has transformed me. I don't have anything to ask, just please allow me to touch your feet in deep gratitude. Your compassion is infinite, that you did not allow me to discuss with you. Rather than that you made a condition of two years' silence.
"At first I was angry - this is strange. But then I thought, it is a beautiful place: a mango grove; beautiful faces, so silent, as if they are statues; Gautam Buddha so beautiful, so graceful. There is no harm just to sit silently and watch what is going on here, what this man is continuously saying to his people. And just listening to you, you have taken everything away."
He said to Maulingaputta, "The same is going to happen to you. If you really want a discussion, don't accept the condition, have the discussion today. We have never been entertained by Gautam Buddha in all these years; it will be a great joy." But Maulingaputta had agreed. And he could understand the point that unless you are utterly silent you cannot absorb the presence, the grace, the beauty of the master.
He sat by his side for two years, and after two years when Buddha said, "Now two years are over.
You can start your discussion," he said, "Mahakashyapa was right. I have nothing to say, everything has dropped. Just allow me first to touch the feet of Mahakashyapa and then I will touch your feet.
He had provoked me and I had felt humiliated by his laughter. I have to ask his forgiveness." He went to Mahakashyapa and touched his feet.
This is the only incident related about Mahakashyapa. But this is the source from which the river of Zen started. Mahakashyapa laughing was the beginning of a tremendous force, and it has been continuously improved by each Zen master.
Bodhidharma was the sixth Zen master who improved much upon Mahakashyapa's laughter. And in these twenty-five centuries much has been improved, much has been added, many new dimensions have opened. But when I think about it, I look at it, I find that Mahakashyapa's laughter is still the greatest contribution. Everything else that has been added is good, but Mahakashyapa's laughter was complete in itself. He has said everything worth saying in his laughter.
It happened in the past that many masters slowly, slowly became deaf, because their only function was to talk to the disciples. The disciple's sensitivity in listening became more and more clear, but the master had nothing to listen to. There was nobody to say anything to him. Masters have many times become deaf, because their ears are not used at all.
Ageha, the experience of being at home has to be spread slowly so that for twenty-four hours you are at home - waking, sleeping. But this is possible only if you learn the greatest art of being silent.
Then you are settled in yourself. Then your whole energy is turned into a silent pool without any ripples.
If you can attain this state... existence does not want you to fulfill any other condition. This is enough.
You will be accepted, welcomed by all the mysteries and all the splendor of existence. Right now, it is a small taste. But I have made it clear to you why it is happening.
You have to try it on your own. Just go into the forest and sit silently, or by the side of the river, just sit silently. Or just here in the ashram, anywhere, sit silently - just being alert of whatever is happening all around, not thinking about it, what this bird is saying. They are not saying anything, they are just feeling so joyous in the early morning with the new life that the sun has brought again - one day more to dance, to sing, to enjoy the whole expanse of the sky.
Just listen to them, the way you listen to me, and you will feel at home. And slowly, slowly you have to learn that it is not a question of listening, it is a question of the inner chatter stopping. Then whenever you find the inner chattering is starting, simply say, "Shut up!" and you will suddenly be at home.
Once the mind understands that you have found something greater, something better, something higher, slowly it recedes into the darkness. Its function is fulfilled; it is no longer needed; it is an unwelcome guest.
Yes, Beloved Master.