VBT – Meditation 111.4

Own Orientation

Buddha’s disciple, Anand, became puzzled. He had heard all three answers. In the night when everyone had retired, he asked Buddha, “Can I ask you a question? Just in one day you have answered one question in three ways, not only differently, contradictorily. My mind is puzzled. I cannot sleep if you don’t answer. What do you mean? In the morning you say yes, in the afternoon no, in the evening you remain silent. And the question was the same.” Buddha said, “But the questionnaires were different. And how can different questionnaires ask the same question?” This is really beautiful, very deep. He said, “How can different questionnaires ask the same question? A question comes out of a being, it is a growth. If the being is different, how can the question be the same? In the morning when I said yes, the man who was asking was an atheist. He had come to get my confirmation that there is no God. And I could not confirm his atheism, because he was suffering because of it. And because I could not be a part of his suffering, and I wanted to help him, I said, ‘Yes, God exists.’ That’s how I tried to destroy his so-called atheism. In the afternoon, when the other person was there, he was a theist and he was suffering through his theism. I couldn’t say yes to him because that would have been a confirmation – which he had come for. Then he would go and say, ‘Yes, whatsoever I was saying is right. Even Buddha says so.’ And the man was wrong.

I could not help a wrong man in his wrongness so I had to say no to destroy whatsoever he is, to shatter his mind. And the man who came in the evening was neither. He was a simple, innocent man and he was not asking for any confirmation. He had no ideology; he was really a religious person.

So I had to be silent. I said to him, ‘Be silent about this question. Don’t think about it.’ If I had said yes, it would have been wrong because he was not there to find a theology. If I had said no, it would have been wrong, because he was not to be confirmed in any atheism. He was not interested in thoughts, in ideas, in theories, doctrines, no; he was a real religious man. How can I utter any word before him? I had to be silent. He understood my silence. When he went away, his religiousness had deepened.”

Buddha said, “Three persons cannot ask the same question. They can formulate it in a similar way – that is another thing. The questions were all ‘Does God exist?’ Their formulation was the same, but the being from where the question was coming was totally different. They meant different things by it; their values were different; their associations with words were different.”

I remember, once it happened that Mulla Nasruddin came back to his house one evening. The whole day he had been involved in a football match. He was a fan. In the evening when he entered the house, his wife was reading a newspaper, and she said, “Look, Nasruddin, there is something for you. It is reported here that a man has given his wife in return for a season ticket for the football matches. You are also a fan, a mad fan, but I cannot conceive that you would do the same. Or would you? Could you exchange me just to get a season ticket for the football matches?”

Nasruddin thought hard, and then he said, “Of course I would not – because it is ridiculous and criminal. The season is half over.”

Every mind has its own orientation. You may use the same words but because you are different, those same words cannot be the same.

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