The Inner Silence

When laughter comes out of thinking it is ugly; it belongs to this ordinary, mundane world, it is not cosmic. Then you are laughing at somebody else, at somebody else’s cost, and it’s ugly and violent. When laughter comes out of silence you are not laughing at anybody’s cost, you are simply laughing at the whole cosmic joke. And it really is  a joke! That’s why I go on telling jokes to you… because jokes carry more than any scriptures. It is a joke because inside you, you have everything, and you are searching everywhere. What else should a joke be? You are a king and acting like a beggar in the streets; not only acting, not only deceiving others, but deceiving yourself that you are a beggar. You have the source of all knowledge and are asking questions; you have the knowing self and think that you are ignorant; you have the deathless within you and are afraid and fearful of death and disease. This really is a joke, and if Mahakashyap laughed, he did well.

But except for Buddha, nobody understood. He accepted the laughter and immediately realized that Mahakashyap had attained. The quality of that laugh was cosmic. He understood the whole joke of the situation. There was nothing else to it. The whole thing is as if the divine is playing hide-and-seek with you. Others thought Mahakashyap was a fool, laughing in front of Buddha. But Buddha thought this man had become wise. Fools always have a subtle wisdom in them, and the wise always act like fools…

Whenever someone realizes the ultimate, he is not like your wise men. He cannot be. He may be like your fools, but he cannot be like your wise men. When Saint Francis became enlightened he used to call himself God’s fool. The pope was a wise man, and when Saint Francis came to see him even he thought this man had gone mad. He was intelligent, calculating, clever; otherwise how could he be a pope? To become a pope one has to pass through much politics. To become a pope saintliness is not needed, diplomacy is needed, a competitive aggression is needed to put others aside, to force your way, to use others as ladders and then throw them. It is politics… because a pope is a political head. Religion is secondary or nothing at all. He may be a theologian, but he is not religious, because how can a religious man compete? How can a religious man fight and be aggressive for a post? They are only politicians.

Saint Francis came to see the pope, and the pope thought this man a fool. But trees and birds and fishes thought in a different way. When Saint Francis went to the river the fishes would jump in celebration that Francis had come. Thousands witnessed this phenomenon. Millions of fishes would jump simultaneously; the whole river would be lost in jumping fishes. Saint Francis had come and the fishes were happy. And wherever he would go birds would follow; they would come and sit on his leg, on his body, in his lap. They understood this fool better than the pope. Even trees which had become dry and were going to die would become green and blossom again if Saint Francis came near. These trees understood well that this fool was no ordinary fool — he was God’s fool.

When Mahakashyap laughed he was a God’s fool, and Buddha understood him because Buddha was not a pope. Later on, Buddhist priests didn’t understand him, so they dropped the whole anecdote…This anecdote has been dropped from Buddhist scriptures because it is sacrilegious to laugh before Buddha. to make it the original source of a great religion is not good. This is not a good precedent that a man laughed before Buddha, and also not a good thing that Buddha gave the key to this man, not to Sariputta, Ananda, Moggalayan, and others who were important, significant. And finally, it was they, Sariputta, Ananda and Moggalayan, who recorded the scriptures.

Mahakashyap was never asked. Even if they had asked he would not have answered. Mahakashyap was never consulted if he had something to say to be recorded. When Buddha died all the monks gathered and started recording what happened and what not. Nobody asked Mahakashyap. This man must have been discarded by the sangha, by the community. The whole community must have felt jealous. They key had been given to this man who was not known at all, who was not a great scholar or pundit. Nobody knew him before, and suddenly that morning he became the most significant man, because of the laughter, because of the silence. And in a way they were right, because how can you record silence? You can record words, you can record what happened in the visible; how can you record what has not happened in the visible? They knew the flower had been given to Mahakashyap, nothing else.

But the flower was just a container. It had something in it — buddhahood, the touch of Buddha’s inner being, the fragrance that cannot be seen, that cannot be recorded. The whole thing seems as if it never happened, or as if it happened in a dream.

Those who were the recorders were the men of words, proficient in verbal communication, in talking, discussing, arguing. But Mahakashyap is never heard of again. This is the only thing known about him, such a small thing that the scriptures must have missed it. Mahakashyap has remained silent, and silently the inner river has been flowing. To others the key has been given, and the key is still alive, still opens the door. These two are the parts.

The inner silence is so deep that there is no vibration in your being. But there are no waves; you are just a pool without waves, not a single wave arises; the whole being silent, still; inside, at the center, silence and on the periphery, celebration and laughter. And only silence can laugh, because only silence can understand the cosmic joke. So your life becomes a vital celebration, your relationship becomes a festive thing; whatsoever you do, every moment is a festival. You eat, and eating becomes a celebration; you take a bath, and bathing becomes a celebration; you talk, and talking becomes a celebration; relationship becomes a celebration. Your outer life becomes festive; there is no sadness in it.

How can sadness exist with silence? But ordinarily you think otherwise: you think if you are silent you will be sad. Ordinarily you think how you can avoid sadness if you are silent. I tell you, the silence that exists with sadness cannot be true. Something has gone wrong. You have missed the path, you are off the track. Only celebration can give proof that the real silence has happened. What is the difference between a real silence and a false silence? A false silence is always forced; through effort it is achieved. It is not spontaneous, it has not happened to you. You have made it happen. You are sitting silently and there is much inner turmoil. You suppress it and then you cannot laugh. You will become sad because laughter will be dangerous if you laugh you will lose silence, because in laughter you cannot suppress. Laughter is against suppression. If you want to suppress you should not laugh; if you laugh everything will come out. The real will come out in laughter, and the unreal will be lost.

So whenever you see a saint sad, know well the silence is false. He cannot laugh, he cannot enjoy, because he is afraid. If he laughs everything will be broken, the suppression will come out, and then he will not be able to suppress. Look at small children. Guests come to your home and you tell the children, “Don’t laugh!” what do they do? They close their mouths and suppress their breath, because if they don’t suppress their breath then laughter will come out. It will be difficult. They don’t look anywhere, because if they look at something they forget. So they close their eyes, or almost close their eyes, and they suppress their breath. If you suppress, your breath cannot be deep. Laughter needs a deep breath; if you laugh, a deep breath will be released. That’s why nobody is breathing deeply, just shallow breathing, because much has been suppressed in your childhood and after it you cannot breathe deeply. If you go deeper you will become afraid. Sex has been suppressed through breath, laughter has been suppressed through breath and anger has been suppressed through breath. Breath is a mechanism to suppress or release hence my insistence on chaotic breathing, because if you breathe chaotically, then laughter, screaming, everything will come up and all your suppressions will be thrown out. They cannot be thrown out in another way, because breathing, breath, is the way you have suppressed them.

Try to suppress anything: what will you do? You will not breathe deeply; you will breathe shallowly, you will breathe just from the upper part of the lungs. You will not go deeper because deeper it is suppressed. In the belly, everything is suppressed. So when you really laugh the belly vibrates; hence, Buddha’s big-bellied portraits. The belly is relaxed, and then the stomach is not a suppressed reservoir. If you see a saint sad, sadness is there, but the saint is not there. He has stilled himself somehow and is every moment afraid. Anything can disturb him.

Nothing can disturb if real silence has happened. Then everything helps it to grow. If you are really silent you can sit in a market, and even the market cannot disturb it. Rather, you feed on the noise of the market and that noise becomes more silence in you. Really, to feel silence a market is needed because if you have real silence, then the market becomes the background and the silence becomes perfect in contrast. You can feel the inner silence bubbling against the market. There is no need to go to the Himalayas. And if you go, what will you see? Against the silence of the Himalayas your mind will be chattering. Then you will feel more chattering, because the background is in silence. The background is the silence, and you will feel more chattering.

If the real happens to you and you are unafraid, it cannot be taken away. Nothing can disturb it. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing, nothing can disturb it. And if something does, it is forced, it is cultivated; somehow you have managed it. But a managed silence is not silence; it is just like a managed love. The world is so mad. The parents, the teachers and the moralists are so mad and insane that they teach children to love. Mothers say to their children, “I am your mother love me as if the child can do something to love. What can the child do? The husband goes on saying to the wife, “I am your husband, love me,” as if love is a duty, as if love is something which can be done. Nothing can be done. Only one thing can be done you can pretend. And once you learn how to pretend love, you have missed. Your whole life will go wrong. Then you will go on pretending that you love. Then you will smile and pretend; then you will laugh and pretend. Then everything is false. Then you will sit silently and pretend; then you will meditate and pretend. Pretension becomes the style of your life.

Don’t pretend. Let the real come out. If you can wait and be patient enough, when the pretensions have dropped the real will be waiting there to explode. Catharsis is to drop the pretenses. Don’t look at what the other is saying because that is how you have pretended, how you have been pretending. You cannot love either it is there or not but the mother says, “Because I am your mother…” and the father says, “I am your father” and the teacher says, “I am your teacher, therefore love me” as if love is a logical thing. “I am your mother, therefore love me.” What will the child do? You are creating such problems for the child that he cannot conceive of what to do. He can pretend. He can say, “Yes, I love you.” And once the child loves his mother as a duty, he will become incapable of loving any woman. Then the wife will come and it will be a duty; then the children will come and it will be a duty; then the whole life will become a duty. It cannot be a celebration, you cannot laugh, you cannot enjoy. It is a burden to be carried. This is what has happened to you. It is a misfortune, but if you understand it you can drop it.

This is the key the inner part of it is silence, and the outer part of the key is celebration, laughter. Be festive and silent. Create more and more possibility around you, don’t force the inner to be silent, just create more and more possibility around you so that the inner silence can flower in it. That’s all we can do. We can put the seed in the soil, but we cannot force the plant to come out. We can create the situation, we can protect, we can give fertilizer to the soil, we can water, we can see whether the sunrays reach or not, or how much sunrays are needed, whether more or less. We can avoid dangers, and wait in a prayerful mood. We cannot do anything else. Only the situation can be created. That’s what I mean when I tell you to meditate. Meditation is just a situation; silence is not going to be the consequence of it. No, meditation is just creating the soil, the surrounding, preparing the ground. The seed is there, it is always there; you need not put in the seed, the seed has always been with you. That seed is Brahma; that seed is atma. That seed is you.  Just create the situation and the seed will become alive. It will sprout and a plant will be born, and you will start growing.

Meditation doesn’t lead you to silence; meditation only creates the situation in which the silence happens. And this should be the criterion that whenever silence happen laughter will come into your life. A vital celebration will happen all around. You will not become sad, you will not become depressed and you will not escape from the world. You will be here in this world, but taking the whole thing as a game, enjoying the whole thing as a beautiful game, a big drama, no longer serious about it. Seriousness is a disease.

Buddha must have known Mahakashyap. He must have known when he was looking at the flower silently and everybody was restless, he must have known only one being was there, Mahakashyap, who was not restless. Buddha must have felt the silence coming from Mahakashyap, but he would not call. When he laughed, then he called him and gave him the flower. Why? Silence is only the half of it. Mahakashyap would have missed if he had been innocently silent and didn’t laugh. Then the key would not have been given to him. He was only half grown, not yet a fully grown tree, not blossoming. The tree was there, but flowers had not yet come. Buddha waited.

Now, I will tell you why Buddha waited for so many minutes, why for one or two or three hours he waited. Mahakashyap was silent but he was trying to contain laughter, he was trying to control laughter. He was trying not to laugh because it would be so unmannerly: What would Buddha think? What would the others think? But then, the story says, he couldn’t contain himself any more. It had to come out as a laugh. The flood became too much, and he couldn’t contain it any more. When silence is too much it becomes laughter; it becomes so overflowed that it starts overflowing in all directions. He laughed. It must have been a mad laughter, and in that laughter there was no Mahakashyap. Silence was laughing; silence had come to a blossoming. Then immediately Buddha called Mahakashyap: “Take this flower this is the key. I have given to all others what can be given in words, but to you I give that which cannot be given in words. The message beyond words, the most essential, I give to you.” Buddha waited for those hours so that Mahakashyap’s silence became over flooded, it became laughter.

Your enlightenment is perfect only when silence has come to be a celebration. Hence my insistence that after you meditate you must celebrate. After you have been silent you must enjoy it, you must have a thanksgiving. A deep gratitude must be shown towards the whole just for the opportunity that you are, that you can meditate, that you can be silent, that you can laugh.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: A Bird on the Wing Chapter #10 Chapter title: The Master of Silence


Osho has spoken on ‘silence, celebration, meditation, enlightenment’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Beyond Psychology
  2. Beyond Enlightenment
  3. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  4. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  5. The Golden Future
  6. The Invitation
  7. The Rebellious Spirit
  8. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  9. Zen: The Path of Paradox
  10. Tao: The Pathless Path

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1 Comment

  • Nikhil
    Posted December 5, 2023 7:41 am 0Likes

    Thankyou for adding the share button.

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