THE BUDDHA SAID: To be free from the passions and to be calm, this is the most excellent way. Those who leave their parents, go out of the home, understand the mind, reach the source, and comprehend the immaterial, are called shramanas. Those who observe the precepts of morality, who are pure and spotless in their behavior, and who exert themselves for the attainment of the fruits of saintship are called arhats. Next is the anagamin. At the end of his life, the spirit of the anagamin ascends to the heaven and obtains arhatship. Next is the skridagamin. The skridagamin ascends to the heaven (after his death), comes back to the earth once more, and then attains arhatship. Next is the srotapanna. The srotapanna dies seven times and is born seven times, when he finally attains arhatship. By the severance of passions is meant that like the limbs severed they are never again made use of.

Gautama Buddha is like Gourishankar, the highest peak of the Himalayas. He is one of the purest beings, one of the most virgin souls, a rare phenomenon on this earth. The rarity is that Buddha is a scientist of the inner world – a scientist of the spirit. That is a rare combination. To be religious is simple, to be a scientist is simple – but to combine, to synthesize these two polarities is incredible. It is unbelievable, but it has happened. Buddha is the richest human being that has ever lived; rich in the sense that all the dimensions of life are fulfilled in him. He is not onedimensional. There are three approaches towards truth. One is the approach of power, another the approach of beauty, and the third the approach of grandeur. The scientific approach is the search for power; that’s why Lord Bacon said “knowledge is power”. Science has made man very powerful, so much so that man can destroy the whole planet earth. For the first time in the history of consciousness man is capable of committing a global suicide, a collective suicide. Science has released tremendous power. Science is continuously searching for more and more power. This too is an approach towards truth, but a partial approach. Then there are poets, mystics, people with an aesthetic sense. They look at truth as beauty – Jalaluddin Rumi and Rabindranath Tagore and others, who think that beauty is truth. They create art, they create new sources of beauty in the world.

The painter, the poet, the dancer, the musician, they are also approaching truth but from a totally different dimension than power. The poet is not like the scientist. The scientist works with analysis, reason, observation. The poet functions through the heart, trust, love – through the irrational. He has nothing to do with mind and reason. The greater part of religious people belong to the second dimension. The Sufis, the Bauls – they all belong to the aesthetic approach. Hence so many beautiful mosques, churches, cathedrals, temples like Ajanta and Ellora – they were created by religious people. Whenever religious activity predominates, art is created, music is created, great painting is created; the world becomes a little more beautiful. It doesn’t become more powerful, but it becomes more beautiful, more lovely, more worth living. The third approach is that of grandeur. The old Bible prophets – Moses, Abraham; Islam’s prophet Mohammed; Krishna and Ram in Hinduism – their approach is through the dimension of grandeur, through the awe that one feels looking at this vastness of the universe. The Upanishads, the Vedas, they all approach the world of truth through grandeur. They are full of wonder. The universe is unbelievably there, with such grandeur, that you can only bow down before it – nothing else is possible. One simply feels humble, reduced to nothing. These are the three dimensions ordinarily available to approach truth. The first dimension creates the scientist, the second the artist, and the third the prophets. The rarity of Buddha consists of this – that his approach is a synthesis of all the three, and not only a synthesis but it goes beyond the three. Buddha is a rationalist. He’s not like Jesus and he is not like Krishna – he’s absolutely a rationalist. Einstein, Newton or Edison would not find any flaw in his reasoning. Any scientist will be immediately convinced of his truth. His approach is purely logical, he convinces the mind. You cannot find a loophole in him.

Somebody has sent me a beautiful anecdote about a famous actor and atheist, W. C. Fields. He was doing a tour of the United States. One day his manager came into his hotel room and was shocked to see him reading a copy of the Gideon Bible. “Bill!” he said, “What the hell are you doing? I thought you were an atheist.” Fields replied, “Just looking for loopholes, just looking for loopholes.” But you cannot look for a loophole in the Buddha. Yes, you can look for loopholes in Jesus, there are many – because Jesus believes, trusts, he has faith. He is simple like a child. There is no argument within him. The proof exists, but there is no argument for it. His whole being is his proof. But it is not so with Buddha. You may not be at all in harmony with his heart, you may not believe him at all, you may not look at the proof he is, but you will have to listen to his argument. He has both the proof and the argument. He himself is the proof of what he is saying, but that is not all. If you are not ready to look at him he can force you, he can convince you; he is a rationalist. Even a man like Bertrand Russell, who was an atheist, purely logical, has said, “Jesus I can fight – with Buddha I start feeling hesitant.” He has written a book, Why I am not a Christian – a great and argumentative book. Christians have not yet replied to it; his argument still holds. But faced with Buddha he suddenly feels hesitant, he is not so certain of his ground – because Buddha can convince him on his own ground. Buddha is as analytical as Bertrand Russell. You need not be a religious person to be convinced by Buddha, that’s his rarity. You need not believe at all. You need not believe in God, you need not believe in the soul, you need not believe in anything – still you can be with Buddha, and by and by you will come to know about the soul and about godliness also, but those will not be hypotheses. No belief is required to travel with Buddha. You can come to him with all your skepticism – he accepts and welcomes you, and he says, “Come with me.” First he convinces your mind, and once your mind is convinced and you start traveling with him, by and by you start feeling that he has a message which is beyond mind, he has a message which no reason can confine. But first he convinces your reason.

Buddha’s approach is suprarational, but not against reason. This has to be understood in the very beginning. It has something to do with the beyond, suprarational, but that suprarational is not against the rational, it is in tune with it. The rational and the suprarational are a continuity; this is the rarity of Buddha. Krishna says to Arjuna, “Surrender to me.” Buddha never says that, he convinces you to surrender. Krishna says, “Surrender to me, then you will be convinced.” Buddha says, “Be convinced first, then surrender comes like a shadow. You need not worry about it, don’t talk about it at all.” Because of this rational approach he never brings in any concept that cannot be proved. He never talks about God. H. G. Wells has said about Buddha, “He is the most godly and the most godless man in the whole history of man.” Yes, it is so – the most godly and most godless. You cannot find a more godly person than Buddha. Every other personality simply fades before him. His luminosity is superb, his being has no comparison, but he does not talk about God. Because he has never talked about God, many think that Buddha is an atheist – he is not. He has not talked about God because there is no way to talk about God. All talk about God is nonsense. Whatsoever you can say about God is going to be false. It is something that cannot be said. Other seers also say that nothing can be said about God, but they do say this much, that nothing can be said about God. Buddha is really logical, he will not say even this, because he says, “Even to say that nothing can be said about God, you have said something. If you say, ‘God cannot be defined,’ you have defined him in a negative way – that he cannot be defined. If you say, ‘Nothing can be said,’ that too you are saying.” Buddha is strictly logical. He will not utter a single word. Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the greatest thinkers of this age, one of the greatest of all the ages also, has said, “That which cannot be said must not be said. That which cannot be said, one must be silent thereof.” Because to talk something about something that is unutterable is a sacrilege.

Buddha is not an atheist but he never talks about God. That’s why I say he is a rarity. He brings many people to godliness – he brought more people than anybody else has. Millions of people were brought to become godly in his presence, but he never uttered the word. Not only God but even the soul, the self – he has no theory about it. He simply says, “I can show you the way to go in. You go in and look.” He says, “Buddhas can only indicate the path, they cannot provide you with a philosophy. You are there, go in and see.” One man came to Buddha. He was a great scholar, a sort of professor, had written many books, was known all over the country. Maulingaputta was his name. He said to Buddha, “I have come with a dozen questions and you have to answer them.” Buddha said, “I will answer, but you will have to fulfill a requirement. For one year you will have to be with me in total silence, then I will answer – not before. Right now I can answer, but you will not receive the answers because you are not ready. Whatever I say you will misinterpret because you have too many interpretations crowding your mind. Whatever I say will have to pass through your mind. For one year you just be silent so that you can drop the knowledge. When you are empty, whatsoever you want to ask I will answer, I promise you.” As Buddha was saying this, another of his disciples, Sariputta, started laughing – a mad laughter. Maulingaputta must have felt embarrassed. He said, “What is the matter? Why are you laughing?” Sariputta said, “I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at myself. This man deceived me also. I had come with many questions and he said, ‘Wait for one year,’ and I waited. One year has passed. I am laughing because now those questions have disappeared. He goes on asking, ‘Now, bring me those questions!’ But I cannot bring those questions, they have disappeared. So, Maulingaputta, if you really want your questions to be answered, ask now! Don’t wait for one year. This man is deceptive.” Buddha introduced many people, millions of people, to the inner world, but in a very rational way. This is simple – that first you have to become a receiver, first you have to attain to silence; then communion is possible, not before that.

Buddha never used to answer any metaphysical questions. He was always ready to answer any question about method, but he was never ready to answer any question about metaphysics. This is his scientific approach. Science believes in method. Science never answers the “why”, it always answers the “how”. If you ask a scientist, “Why does the world exist?” he will say, “I don’t know – but I can answer how the world exists.” If you ask him, “Why is there water?” he cannot answer; he will just shrug his shoulders. But he can say how the water is there; how much oxygen, how much hydrogen makes the water happen. He can give you the method, the “how”, the mechanism. He can show you how to make water, but he cannot show you why. Buddha never asks any “why” questions, but that doesn’t mean that he is an atheist. His approach is very different from other atheists Theists require you to believe, to have faith, to trust. Buddha says, “How can one believe? You are asking the impossible.” Listen to his argument. He says if somebody is doubtful, how can he believe? If the doubt has arisen already, how can he believe? He may repress the doubt, he may enforce the belief, but deep down like a worm the doubt will go on lurking and eating his heart. Sooner or later the belief is bound to collapse, because it is unfounded; there is no foundation to it. In the foundation there is doubt, and on the foundation of doubt you have raised the whole structure of your belief. Have you watched it? Whenever you believe, deep down there is doubt. What type of belief is this? Buddha says if there is no doubt then there is no question of belief. Then one simply knows. There is no need for any Krishna to say, “Surrender, then you will believe” – there is no point. If Arjuna has faith, he has it; if he has not, then there is no way to create it. Then at the most Arjuna can play a game of showing, pretending that he believes. But belief cannot be enforced. For those whose faith is natural, spontaneous, there is no question of faith – they simply believe. They don’t know even what belief is. Small children, they simply believe. But once doubt enters, belief becomes impossible. And doubt has to enter; it is part of growth. Doubt makes one mature. You remain childish unless doubt has penetrated your soul. Unless the fire of doubt starts burning you, you remain immature; you don’t know what life is. You start knowing life only by doubting, by being skeptical, by raising questions. Buddha says faith comes, but not against doubt, not as belief. Faith comes by destroying doubt with argument, by destroying doubt with more doubt, by eliminating doubt through doubt itself. A poison can be destroyed only by a poison – that is Buddha’s method. He does not say believe. He says go deep into your doubt, go to the very end, unafraid; don’t repress it.

Travel the whole path of doubt to the very end, and that very journey will take you beyond it. Because a moment comes when doubt starts doubting itself. That’s the ultimate doubt – when doubt doubts doubt itself. That point has to come if you go to the very end. You first doubt belief, you doubt this and that. One day, when everything has been doubted, suddenly a new and ultimate doubt arises – you start doubting doubt. This is tremendously new in the world of religiousness. Then doubt kills doubt, doubt destroys doubt, and faith is gained. This faith is not against doubt, this faith is beyond doubt. This faith is not opposite to doubt, this faith is the absence of doubt. Buddha says you will have to become children again, but the path has to go through the world, through many jungles of doubts, arguments, reasonings. And when a person comes back home, attains his original faith, it is totally different. He is not just a child, he is an old man . . . mature, experienced, and yet childlike. This sutra, “The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters”, has never existed in India. It never existed in Sanskrit or in Pali, but only in Chinese. A certain Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty, AD 67, invited a few Buddhist masters to China to bring the message of Buddha there. Nobody knows the names of those Buddhist masters, but a group went to China. And the emperor wanted a small anthology of Buddhist sayings to be compiled as a first introduction to the Chinese people. Buddhist scriptures are so extensive, the Buddhist literature is a world in itself – thousands of scriptures exist. And they go into very great detail, because Buddha believes in logical analysis. He goes to the very root of everything. His analysis is profound and perfect, so he goes very deeply into details. It was difficult. What to translate in a totally new country where nothing like Buddha has ever existed? So these Buddhist masters composed a small anthology of forty-two chapters. They collected sayings from here and there, from this scripture and that, from this sermon and that. This book was compiled in the style of Confucian analects because it was going to be introduced to a Confucian country – people who had become very well acquainted with the way Confucius talks, with the way Confucian scriptures were made and compiled. People were familiar with Confucius, so the Buddhist masters composed this sutra exactly along the same lines. The analects of Confucius start every sentence, every paragraph with the phrase “The master said . . .” This sutra starts in a similar way – every saying starts with “The Buddha said . . .” In the beginning of the 20th century scholars used to think that the original must have existed in Sanskrit or Pali; then it disappeared or was lost, and this sutra in Chinese was a translation. That is wrong. This sutra never existed in India. As it is, it never existed. Of course, each saying comes from Buddha, but the whole work is a new work, a new anthology. So that should be remembered. And that’s what makes it such a good basic introduction to the Buddha’s world. It is very simple; it contains everything in a very simple way. It is very direct. It is, in essence, the whole of Buddha’s message but very succinct, not long and wordy as other Buddhist scriptures are.