The wrong can be expressed by language, but the right cannot be expressed by language

That’s why Lao Tzu says: That which can be said is already untruth. Because it can be said, or it has been said, it has become untrue. Truth cannot be said. Truth can be showed, but cannot be said. Fingers pointing to the moon — fingers don’t say what the moon is, but they can show; they can direct your vision towards the moon.

Don’t get caught by the fingers — that’s what happens. And that is one of the revolutions Zen brings to the world. Zen burns scriptures — that is helping you to uncling from the fingers.

If I show you the moon, and indicate the moon with my finger, don’t get attached to my finger — my finger is not the moon. And if you become too much obsessed with the finger you will miss the moon. To see the moon you will have to forget the finger; to see the moon you will have to completely drop the finger. You will have to take the indication and follow the indication — in that very following, the finger is forgotten. The finger does not matter. It may be a beautiful finger, the hand may be that of a great artist. It may be an ugly finger, it may be ill, it may be healthy, it may be black and white, it may be male, female — that doesn’t matter.

The qualities of the finger do not matter; any finger can point towards the moon. But people have got too much attached to the fingers. Jainas are holding the finger of Mahavir — they worship that finger, they have forgotten the moon. And Buddhists are worshipping the finger of Buddha.

Exactly, there is a temple in Japan where Buddha’s statue is not in the shrine but a finger, a marble finger, pointing somewhere into the unknown. Those who made that temple must have been very perceptive; but you don’t know people — people are worshipping that finger. They go and put their flowers there and bow down. Nobody is bothered where the finger is pointing at.

Christians are holding another finger. And they go on arguing with each other — ‘Whose finger is more beautiful? Is Jesus the greatest man? Or is Buddha the greatest man? Or is Krishna or Mohammed the greatest man?’ What are you talking about? All nonsense! You are talking about the fingers, but fingers are not at all relevant. Any finger can point to the moon. And all fingers that point to the moon are alike — in pointing to the moon they are similar; all other attributes are meaningless.

Buddha speaks one language, Jesus speaks another, Mohammed still another. That doesn’t matter. For a man who is perceptive the indication is enough. The man of perception will move towards the moon and forget all fingers. And the moment you move towards the moon, suddenly you realize all the fingers are pointing to the same goal.

So Zen is a finger raised in silence towards the moon. That’s the way of all basic essential religion. Why is language so impotent? Why can’t the truth be said? A few things have to be understood before we enter into this small anecdote.

Language simply misses it — for certain reasons in the very structure of language itself. First, language is utilitarian. It is good, as far as the world of utility is concerned. You go to the market to purchase something, language is needed — it makes things easier. Language is a lubricant, it helps communication — but only in the utilitarian world.

The moment you start moving towards existence… Existence has no utility, it is not something that you can buy or sell. Existence is non-utilitarian, existence is purposeless. Existence has to be observed with a deep silence in your eyes.

If you go to the marketplace and remain silent there, it will be very embarrassing to you and to others too. If you go to the police-station and they ask, ‘What is your name 1’ and you behave in a Zen way, you will be thought mad, crazy, cunning. Silence won’t be understood in a police-station. And if you go and just stand in front of a shop without saying anything, the shopkeeper will not be able to understand your silence either.

In the ordinary world, language is needed — language has been invented for this ordinary world, this day-to-day world. But language is not for the eternal. There you don’t purchase anything. There you are not talking to anybody in particular, you are simply in communion with existence itself. There is no need to talk; words are not needed at all. This is the first thing to be understood: language has certain utilities, and because of those utilities has certain limitations.

Existence does not understand your language. Language is human, existence is FAR wider — it is not confined to the human.

Just the other night, I was reading a book of a Russian existentialist, Nikolai Berdyaev. He is an existentialist, he comes very close to the Zen standpoint — but just close; he does not penetrate it totally. He says that in the old days mystics used to think that knowledge is divine. He feels that is inadequate, because knowledge, to be knowledge of the ultimate and the total, must be human too. Otherwise the human should be excluded from it. So how can knowledge be only divine? It should be human-divine — man should be included in it.

That’s true — but there he stops. Why not include animals too? Why not include trees too? Why not include minerals too? They also exist; they cannot be excluded. Berdyaev says that knowledge, to be total, should be human-divine. I will say it should be mineral, vegetable, animal, human, divine — PLUS. If something is left, that has to be included in it too.

But language is human. No animal understands your language, trees don’t bother about your language, rocks won’t listen to your language — won’t understand either. Even all human beings don’t understand one language; there are thousands of languages on this small planet. So language is a human invention, very local. Existence is very big, huge; we are just small particles in it. This, our earth, is a very very small planet. Very small. Even our sun is a very small mediocre star. Bigger suns exist. Infinity surrounds us; we should not be very provincial.

That’s what Zen means when it says language cannot express the truth. Language is a very provincial thing, local — an invention of humanity. If humanity disappears, all languages will disappear. Existence will continue. Existence was there before man entered, existence will be there if a third world war happens and man disappears and commits suicide. Trees will go on blooming, spring will come, flowers will bloom, birds will sing. The moon will be in the night, the sun will be in the morning. Nobody is going to miss you, remember; things will all be as they are. Man is so small….

But because we live in a human world, we live with people, we start thinking as if man is all. So language becomes very important. This you can watch. Have you ever seen Zen pictures? — you will see it in Zen pictures too. When people look at a Zen painting they are always surprised, and a little restless, because they cannot see the point of it. If you see a Zen painting, the whole painting is not painted; the canvas is left empty — almost ninety percent empty. Just in a small corner below, there is a small painting. In that painting also, there are huge mountains, big trees, rivers — and man is very tiny like an ant. A small boat, and just a dot-like man is sitting there.

Our language cannot express the whole. But our silence can — because when we are silent we fall in tune with existence. Hence, all religions preach for silence. When you are silent you are not a human being — you are as much a rock as a human being, as much a tree as a human being, as much an animal as a human being, as much a cloud. When you are silent you are in tune with existence. When you are not speaking you are no more part of the human province, the small locality of human beings. You become a member of the vast existence.

Silence is tremendous. Truth is known through silence. And when truth is known through silence, it can be expressed only through silence. If it is known through silence, how can it be expressed through noise? Language is noise. If it is known through silence, it has to be indicated in silence.

Language simply misses it. First, truth is so big, and language is so small. And then — it will look very paradoxical — truth is so subtle, and language is so gross. From both sides, language misses it. On one side, truth is so big and language is so small. On another plane, from another side, truth is so subtle and language is so gross. It is as if you throw a net in the river to catch fish. The fish is caught, but the water is not caught. When you withdraw the net you may get a few fish, but you don’t get water — water escapes. Water is more subtle. Your net cannot catch water, it catches fish; the bigger the better — smaller fish will escape out of it. And water is very very liquid and elusive — it escapes.

So, paradoxically, truth is infinite on one hand. On another hand, truth is subtlest, the smallest — the indivisible, the atomic. Again, language misses it. Language is a human invention. And truth is not a human invention. Language is man-made; language is just convenience. It is all make-believe.

You call a flower ‘rose’, in India we call it ‘GULAB’. It does not matter. In six thousand languages, there are six thousand names for the rose. And the rose has no name; all names are inventions. You believe, it becomes a rose. You believe in another word, it becomes GULAB. But all words are just conveniences.

Truth is not a convenience. Convenience adjusts with you; with truth you have to adjust. Remember that difference. Con-venience is for your use; truth you cannot use. If you want to move with truth, you have to move with truth — truth cannot move with you.

There are two kinds of people in the world. One, who wants truth to follow him. This man will never attain to truth. He thinks that truth should follow him, truth should become his shadow. This man is more interested in his own ego than truth. When this man fights and says, ‘This is true,’ he is not interested in truth. He is really saying, ‘This is my truth — how DARE YOU say it is wrong! ‘

Watch it. If I say something against your truth you get angry. Not that you are getting angry because I am saying something against truth, no. It is YOUR truth; it hurts your ego. If something is said against YOUR truth, the hurt is in the ego — you don’t bother about truth. Who cares about truth? ‘My Christianity, my Hinduism, my Jainism, my Islam. My Koran, my Veda, my Gita, my Bible’ — they hurt. The ‘my’ has to be looked into. You may not say it, but when you say, ‘The Bible is true,’ one thing is understood — that ‘The Bible is my holy book.’ That is not said so clearly, there is no need. Ego moves in very very cunning ways — it never comes on the surface, it remains hiding behind.

When people argue, they are not arguing for truth. Truth needs no argument — because truth cannot be decided by any argument or any discussion. No debate can be decisive; it is meaningless. When you argue, you argue for egos — your truth and somebody else’s truth. Two egos are in conflict, you have to prove that you are right. Even if sometimes you have a glimpse that the other is saying the right thing, you cannot accept it. Many times it happens. You have a consciousness — many times a glimpse comes to you that maybe the other is right. But you cannot allow this, you cannot conceive of this — that will be very very bad for your ego. You have to fight for it.

I used to live in a town for a few years, and I had a neighbour — a very interesting man he was. He was a very very fanatic Hindu, and he would come and argue with me for hours. And I could see that he could see what I was saying, I could see that he had understood what I was saying — but still he would argue. Then one day I was surprised. He was talking to somebody else, and he was saying the things that I had been saying to him just that morning.

So I went into his house and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He became very embarrassed. ‘Just this morning, you were against the thing that you are saying now.’ He was caught red-handed, he confessed. He said, ‘This happens every day. When I listen to you I want to agree, but my ego resists. I cannot say yes to you in front of you. But when I come home and I think over it, I find you are right. And you may be surprised, ‘ he said to me, ‘that I have been arguing for you with many people. But I cannot say that to you. But today you have caught me red-handed — now it will be difficult to argue with you.’

And really, since that day, the argument ceased. He still used to come — now he would silently listen. A great realization happened to him, and the man changed since that day. Since that day, he became REALLY a seeker of truth. Then he was no more bothered by his ego — ‘my belief’ was no more the concern.

What is true? What is truth? Wherever it is, the real seeker is ready to go with it. These are the two kinds of man — one wants truth to follow him, and another is courageous and is ready to go with truth, wherever it leads. He has no conditions, he simply goes wholeheartedly with it. And unless you are so wholeheartedly with truth, so straight with truth, you will not be able to attain it.

Language is a human invention. Truth is not an invention, truth is a discovery — a rediscovery. Truth is already there. The word ‘truth’ is not there, just like the word ‘rose’ is not there. The rose is there, the word ‘rose’ is not there. Fire is there, the word ‘fire’ is not there. God is there, the word ‘god’ is not there — but people go on fighting whether to call him God or Allah or Ram. He has no name; truth is nameless. No linguistic label is needed, or, any label will do. If you need a label, then any will do — Allah will do as much as Ram will do, as God will do. Any name will do. If you know it, that God has no name, truth has no name — if that understanding persists in you — then any name is okay. Fire is fire. By whatsoever name it is called makes no difference.

Truth is there; language we have made. Silence you have not made — that is the beauty of silence. Silence is God-given, language is man-made. If you want to know God you will have to go through the God-given, you will have to follow him through his gift. His gift has something in it — a bridge. Through that bridge you can become reconnected with the divine.

Silence is golden, silence is precious. A single moment of silence is far more valuable than hours of thinking, studying.

Because language is a human invention, it is naturally dualistic. The human mind cannot see both the aspects of reality together; the human mind can see only one aspect at one time. Even about a very small thing: if I give you a small pebble, a very small pebble, you can keep it in your palm but you cannot see the whole pebble at one glance. You will be seeing only one aspect. When you turn it you will see the other aspect, but the first aspect will disappear. You cannot see even a small pebble in its totality. Its totality is an inference — first you see one part, then you see another part, and then you imagine its totality.

Just now you are facing me. You are seeing my face, but you are not seeing my back. When you see my back you will not be seeing my face. You can see a coin, you see one aspect at one time. Something is always missing.

Existence is multi-dimensional, paradoxical. But language cannot be paradoxical. If language is paradoxical it will lose its utility. If somebody asks something and you say, ‘Yes-no,’ then it is meaningless to say anything. Either you say yes, then it is meaningful, or you say no, then it is meaningful. But existence says yes-no together. There, yes and no are not separate; yes and no are two aspects of the same energy. That’s why language is dualistic — it creates a kind of schizophrenia in human consciousness, it creates a split.

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