He also tries as if there is an answer and he knows it, but whatever he says is not the answer and the question remains untouched. What he says is exactly what is written in the scriptures of the Buddhists. Here he is no longer responding to the question immediately, out of his own awareness; otherwise he would have simply laughed and recognized that there is no answer for it.
I could have simply said, “I don’t know.” But to say, “I don’t know” needs the greatest courage in the world. Even Bodhidharma does not have that ultimate courage. But I have got it! I will not in any way try to camouflage – through philosophical jargon, or theological hypotheses – to hide the fact that there is no answer and create an illusion of an answer.
Whatever Bodhidharma says here is only an illusion. He is trying his best to rationalize it, to support it from the scriptures. Perhaps he may have been able to pacify the disciples, but he cannot pacify me!
First I will read the disciples’ question. Their question is more important than the answer of Bodhidharma. Their question at least has a sincerity, an authenticity. Bodhidharma’s answer is just to hide the fact that ultimate questions remain questions. This is the whole reason why we call the essential religion “mysticism.” If everything can be answered, then there is no question of any mystery.
Existence is a mystery because you can go on answering, but finally you cannot answer the ultimate question. And it is not far away; it soon comes up. You can answer all superficial things, but as you go deeper the ultimate question is coming closer. And the moment the ultimate question comes, I have not yet come across a single man in the whole history of mankind who has had the courage to say, “I don’t know.”
You say that our true buddha-nature and all virtues have awareness for their roots. But what is the root of ignorance?
From where does the ignorance come in? In other words, in other symbols which will be more easily understood….
The religions that believe in God can go on answering questions up to the point where it is asked, “Who created existence?” They have a ready-made answer: God created it. Now comes the ultimate question: “Who created God?” Because if everything needs a creator, then God must need a creator. And if God needs no creator, then why bother about God? Then why can’t you accept existence itself – without a creator? If you have to accept somewhere or other, then it is better to stop with existence as the ultimate, because at least we know it – we are part of it.
God is just a hypothesis. Existence is reality. But all the religions have moved from reality to the hypothesis, and then they are faced with a problem which nobody has been able to answer. And nobody will ever be able to answer it, because any answer is going to lead into an infinite regress.