Often, in our daily lives, we talk more than we listen. There’s more words in the air than silences. We often feel awkward when a silence surrounds the table. But often than not, these empty periods communicate more than our words ever can or ever will. Here’s a story about the same, from our very own spiritual leader, OSHO. 

A monk once declared himself to be the ‘Master Of Silence’. He was actually an imposter and had no genuine understanding of Zen. To sell his teachings, he had two eloquent attendants who answered all the questions addressed to him. But he himself never uttered a word.

One day, during the absence of these two attendants, an inquisitive pilgrim monk showed up. He had heard about the famous ‘Master Of Silence’ and wanted to see if all those sayings were true about the man. “Master, what is the Buddha?”, the pilgrim asked. In utter confusion, the monk looked in east and and then west, searching for his attendants.

Surprisingly satisfied, the pilgrim asked another question, “What is the Dharma?” Not knowing how to answer that question either, the monk first looked up and then down, calling help from both heaven and hell.

Now the pilgrim asked: “What is Zen?” And the monk could do nothing but close his eyes.

Finally the pilgrim asked: “What is blessing?” In desperation, the monk helplessly spread his hands as a sign of surrender.

The pilgrim was very satisfied with his interaction with the monk. After that last question, he thanked the ‘Master Of Silence’ and went back on his way. 

While walking, the pilgrim met the two attendants and told them what an enlightened being the ‘Master Of Silence’ was. And how lucky they were to be by his side!

He said, “I asked him what the Buddha is. He looked to the east and the west, implying that we keep searching for the Buddha here or there but actually Buddha is not to be found in either the east or the west.

I asked him what the Dharma is. In response he looked up and down, implying that Dharma is about complete equality, about no discrimination between the hugh and the low.

Next I asked him what Zen is. He simply closed his eyes and said nothing. That was a clue to the famous saying:

‘If one can close his eyes and sleep soundly

in the deep recesses of the cloudy mountains

he is a great monk indeed.’

Finally, in answering my last question about what blessing is, he showed both of his hands to me.This implied that he was stretching out his helping hands to guide sentient beings with his blessings. Oh, what an enlightened Zen Master!”

When these two attendants returned, the ‘Master Of Silence’ scolded them for not being around and getting the monk to make a fool out of himself!

This famous story shows that people can not only be fooled by words but also by silences.