Al-Hillaj Mansoor has not written any book; just a few of his declarations have been collected by his lovers and friends. I will not even say followers, because men like al-Hillaj don’t even accept followers, imitators – they only accept lovers, friends.
I am sorry, I forgot about him completely. That is not good of me. But, al-Hillaj, you should understand my difficulty. I have read more books than you may have heard of. I have read more than one hundred thousand books. Now, to find only fifty out of them all is really a difficult job. I have chosen only a few, and naturally I have had to leave out many, with tears in my eyes. I would have liked to choose them too…but I put you on record in the postscript.
Fifth: This man is known only to very few people, for the simple reason that he never wrote and he never spoke. Mahakashyapa. All that is known of him is this anecdote.
One day, Buddha came to his morning discourse with a lotus flower in his hand. He sat silently looking at the flower, not saying a single word. The assembly of ten thousand sannyasins was bewildered. This was unheard of. In the first place Buddha, who had never before come with anything, comes with a lotus flower; secondly, he used to speak immediately, but today minutes and hours have passed, and he is just looking at the flower. Many must have thought he must have gone mad. Only one man did not agree. He laughed. That man was Mahakashyapa.
Buddha raised his eyes, laughed and called Mahakashyapa to him, gave him the flower and told the assembly that the sermon was over, saying, “I have given to you what you are entitled to, and I have given to Mahakashyapa what he deserves, and rightly so. I have talked to you for years in words, and you never understood. Today I have spoken in silence, and the laughter of Mahakashyapa has shown that he has understood.” In this mysterious way the successor was found. Mahakashyapa became Buddha’s successor. A strange way….
The disciples of Mahakashyapa have written a few things about him which can be called his book. But really he has not written them, nor have his disciples signed them. They are anonymous. But whatsoever was written is of immense beauty. A few fragments, just like pieces of the full moon: if you can put them together there will be the full moon again. The secret to put them together is meditation.
The tradition that followed Mahakashyapa is Zen. He is the first patriarch of Zen, of dhyana. Strange…not even Buddha, but Mahakashyapa is the first.…Because Buddha spoke for forty years, Mahakashyapa never spoke; the only noise that he ever made was that of laughter. If you can call it speaking, that’s another matter. In a way it is speaking – it is saying that the whole existence is a joke. It is saying to Buddha, “What a joke!”
The moment you understand that the whole existence is a joke, you have understood. There is no other understanding, no other enlightenment. Everything else is pseudo.