Buddha says, “That which I have said is only like the few leaves in my hand. And that which I have not said is like the dry leaves in this forest.” Osho explains, “The Master will say something only when he feels it is going to help your enlightenment.” From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
This man, Buddha, must have loved trees tremendously. He was always sitting under a tree. He became enlightened under a tree – although it is not such a big thing to become enlightened under a tree; many people have. But you will be surprised to know that Buddha was also born under a tree. And he died under a tree as well.
Although Buddha was a king’s son, he was not born in a palace. His mother was travelling and they came to a garden and suddenly she felt the pain arising. There was no other place so she got down, stood under a tree and Buddha was born. Later he became enlightened under a tree and then, when he was dying, he again lay down under a tree and died under it.
He must have loved trees very much. For five hundred years after him the tree remained his symbol. For five hundred years no statue of him was made – just trees were painted. Trees were placed in temples and people worshipped the trees. In a way it was very beautiful.
I would like to remind you again – the tree is symbolic of religion, because it grows. And it grows out of the innermost core.
Buddha was sitting under a tree and this great philosopher said, ’Have you said everything that you know?’
Buddha had become very old – almost eighty years old – and within a few months he would be gone. The great philosopher had come from a long way to enquire if he had said all that he knew.
And Buddha took a few dry leaves in his hand and asked the philosopher, ’What do you think, sir? How many leaves have I got in my hand? Are they more than the number of dry leaves in this forest?’
The paths, the whole forest, was full of dry leaves; the wind was blowing here and there and the dry leaves were making much noise and much music.
The philosopher looked and he said, ’What type of question are you asking? How can you have more leaves in your hand? You have only a few, a dozen at the most, and there are millions of leaves in this forest.’
And Buddha said, ’So remember. That which I have said is only like the few leaves in my hand. And that which I have not said is like the dry leaves in this forest.’
The philosopher said, ’Then one question more. Why have you not said that?’
Buddha said, ’Because it will not help you to attain nirvana, it will not help you to meditate – that’s why I have not said it. And moreover, it cannot be said. Even if I wanted to say it, it cannot be said. You will have to experience and know it. It is experiential, it is existential.’
The Master will say something only when he feels it is going to help your enlightenment. The Master will say something only when he feels you are ready to receive. The Master will say something only when he sees that clarity is there and the mind is open; that transparency is there and you are ready, with great humbleness and gratitude, to receive it. You are not quarrelsome, you are not ready to discuss and debate. Only in great sympathy, in great love, when the disciple is in rapport with the Master, can these things be transferred. These are delicate things.
Osho, Tao: The Pathless Path – Talks on extracts from ‘The Book of Lieh Tzu’, Vol 2, Ch 7