Nov 05 2010

The Buddha on God

Published by under Quotations

Recently, I came across the following story, which I shared with the group on 5 November. I assume that it is not in any of the Buddhist scriptures, but is a free composition probably from Osho himself.


One morning, it must have been such a beautiful morning, a man comes to Gautama Buddha and asks him, “Does God exist?” Everybody is curious to know what Buddha answers.

Buddha said to the man, “There is no God – not only now, there has never been. It is simply a fiction to exploit the fools.” The man was very much shocked.

In the afternoon, another man came and he asked, “What do you think about the existence of God?” Again the same question….

Buddha looked at the man and said, “Yes, there is a God and there has always been.”

And in the evening, another man came and said, “I don’t know anything about God. I am absolutely ignorant. Knowing that you are here, I have come to be enlightened about the subject.”

Buddha looked at him and then closed his eyes. No answer – and strangely, the disciples saw that the other man also closed his eyes. One hour must have passed when the man opened his eyes, touched Gautama Buddha’s feet and said, “You have answered it, and I am immensely grateful.”

Ananda, who used to be the attendant of Gautama Buddha twenty-four hours a day, became very much confused. Anybody could have become confused – in the morning he says one thing, in the afternoon he says just the opposite, and in the evening he says nothing and the man gets the answer, touches his feet with tears of joy and leaves! When everybody was gone, Ananda said, “I cannot sleep tonight until you tell me which one is the true answer.”

Gautama Buddha said, “The first thing you have to remember – none of the questions were yours. Why should you be worried about the answers? You have been with me for forty years. If you had any question, you could have asked. Those were questions of three different people.”

Ananda said, “I am sorry, it is true. None of them was my question, but I have ears and I heard. And all three questions and the three answers are so contradictory that it has become a turmoil in me.”

Buddha said, “You don’t understand another thing. The first man who had come to see me was a believer in God. He was a theist, and all he wanted was not an answer but a support to his belief. I cannot support anybody’s belief. My function is to destroy all beliefs, so that you yourself can see what is the truth. That’s why I denied absolutely that there is any God and said there has never been any God.

“The man who came in the afternoon was just the opposite; he was an atheist. He did not believe in God and he had also come to be supported so that he could tell people that ‘not only I am an atheist – Gautama Buddha himself is an atheist.’ But this was also a belief, not an experience, because the experience never asks questions. It is always the belief that goes on creating questions.”

Your mind is full of beliefs, with no experience at all. That’s why Gautama Buddha said, “I had to be very strict with the fellow, and I told him there is a God and there has always been a God.”

These are arbitrary methods to destroy different kinds of beliefs. But the basic purpose is to destroy belief so that you can find your own heart, your own trust.

“And the third man was a very innocent man because he accepted his ignorance, and he did not propose any belief. He had not come to be supported, he had come to be really helped. And there is a difference in being supported and being helped.

“Because he had no question, there was no need to answer. I closed my eyes, and he understood that he had also to close his eyes: perhaps this is the way Gautama Buddha is going to answer him. And he was right – innocence is always right. In that one hour, my silence infiltrated his being. My presence surrounded his being. He was immensely fulfilled, contented.

“God is nobody’s concern – certainly it was not the concern of that man. All he wanted was a certain communion with existence, whatever name is given to existence. I gave him the taste, I gave him the experience; I shared myself with him – that’s why he was so grateful. You are puzzled that the man said, ‘I have received the answer’ although I had not answered in words. And in gratitude, he touched my feet, with tears of joy. But in each case I had to use a different, arbitrary method because those three persons had three different minds.”

From Osho, Om Mani Padme Hum: The Sound of Silence, the Diamond in the Lotus, Chapter 16  ( quoted in Eugen Drewermann’s multi-volume series Glauben in Freiheit (Believing in Freedom).

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