And when the son meets the father!! Buddha’s three greatest challenges.

We all know the story of the Buddha that he went in search of knowing himself. He went in search of enlightenment. And in the process he left everything behind - his own family, his father, and his kingdom. In the past there was this tradition of renunciation. One has to give-up everything in order to attain to enlightenment. One has to give-up oneself in order to become a Siddha. Siddhartha was a prince. He was the son of a king Śuddhodana. Siddhartha had all the comforts and luxuries that one can imagine. And since childhood he has seen only one-side of life, the life of all comforts and luxuries. And he had no idea about the other side of the life of poverty and deprivation. And when he had grown-up, the side which was absent and suppressed started attracting him in the form of renunciation. This is a common psychology of life that a thing which has been absent in life, shall soon start dominating its presence. The one that we suppress will try to surface with a greater force. If we see only one side of the coin the other side of the coin will gather all the energy and momentum to show-up at some other time in life. And every coin is made of two sides. And I think it is always better to see all the perspectives possible to know the whole thing.

On the path of discovering himself, Siddhartha went through all the austerities possible. He had gone through all the troubles and tribulations of life. He did Yoga. He starved himself. He begged. And he did everything that was expected of him on the path of renunciation. He did everything that was told to him by his Gurus as a good and sincere disciple. He saw the utility and futility of the other side of life, that is, the other side of the life of poverty and deprivation. And he could have the right perspective of life because he has already seen the side of all comforts and luxuries. He could now stand in the middle of life and see things as they are. Life taught him the art of mindfulness. Life taught him the art of suchness (Tathata). And he could see the reality of life as it is. And this is how Buddha’s path has been known as a “Middle Path or Middle Way”.

I think this is similar to the way of a tightrope walker. Just observe the game of the tightrope walker. Initially, while learning and practicing the game, the tightrope walker falls off the rope. He is not able to walk on the rope. He is not able to balance. He slowly, by and by learns the art. In order to bring in balance he takes the help of a big bamboo. He holds the bamboo in the middle. While he is leaning to the left he takes the bamboo to the right, and while he is leaning to the right he takes the bamboo to the left. This way he slowly and steadily attains to balance. He then throws the bamboo and tries to walk on the rope without the help of the bamboo. He is able to do it quite well now. He then further practices the game without the bamboo and brings in perfection to his game. He then becomes an excellent tightrope walker. He attains to balance and Samyama in his life.

I think the same is true when it comes to our lives and experiences. The mystery of the whole existence is that it is a perfect balance. Life is like a wave with equal crests and troughs. And the whole existence is like a circle. The whole reality is like a perfect wave embedded in a perfect circle. And the whole life is like the art of a tightrope walker. To me, this is the true “Art of Living” and not the “Art of Leaving”. And Siddhartha was able to perfect this art. And on mastering this art of balance he was called the Buddha.

On following the journey of his heart Siddhartha is awakened one day. His following grows into millions and millions. A Sangha (an organization) comes into existence around him and his teaching. And Siddhartha is finally known as the Buddha. He now wanted to meet his father, wife and son. Buddha’s father was still angry. He was angry because his son was not ready to walk on his path. He was not ready to become a successor to his throne. He watered on all the succession plans of his father. The father was still angry. The vision of the father was different from the vision of the Buddha. There was a clash of the values. Buddha wanted to follow his own heart. He wanted to pursue his own dreams. He wanted to be his own person. He could have served the people of his kingdom as a good king. He could have served the people of his kingdom as an empathetic and compassionate king. He could have served the people as an enlightened king. He was very well aware of this value. And it was too late. He had already discovered his own path by then. He had been into the hearts of millions. He had millions of followers by now. And he did not want to deceive the aspirations of all his followers. He wanted to be with them. He wanted to be in their hearts. He wanted to eat, sleep, and stay with them.

Siddhartha looks at his father. The father was still very angry. The king Śuddhodana says, “Siddharth, the deal is still open. You can still decide. I am still ready to pardon you for all that you have done. You can still look into your future as a king like me. My son, the whole kingdom is yours. The only condition is that you leave everything on your path and come back home”.

Siddhartha says, “Pa, please look into my eyes. I am no more the same person. I am not the same person who had left the palace. I am totally a different person now. I am totally transformed into a different human being. Please pa, look at my whole being. It is vibrating with a different energy. Please look at my whole being, which is now totally filled with a consciousness of love and compassion. I want to serve the people with a different vision”.

Siddhartha could convince his father that he wanted to follow his own heart and own dreams. They both cried for each other. They both hugged each other while they are still crying and weeping. The tears wiped out all their earlier differences. The so called bloody generation gap has come to an end. Remember, tears heal our woulds. And laughter follows the tears. The whole existence is really a bloody mysterious place. We are all lucky to be part of the whole existence. We are fortunate that our parents have created a gateway to come into the existence. There is no point in being sorry. There is no point in brooding over the past. “I should have”, is the worst nightmare. Never delay on bridging the strained relationships. Say sorry as soon as possible. We all are here for a short time. This is our journey to the unknown. And when it comes to your parents and elders, say sorry even if you feel you are right. Have a heart-to-heart connection. All parents wish for the welfare of their beloved ones and without any exception.

Siddhartha is now free from one emotional hurdle. He is now free from one emotional bondage. Now comes the second hurdle. Now comes the second bottleneck. He had to speak to his beloved wife. He had been away from her for years. His wife Yasodharā was a brilliant and a beautiful woman. Siddhartha was very well aware that he was at fault. And it was too heavy to handle the situation. Yasodharā asks Siddhartha a simple question. She says, “You left the palace and went into the woods in search of Nirvana. Hubby, please tell me honestly, is your Nirvana not here in the palace? Can’t it be found here in the palace? Can’t Nirvana be found in the thick of the market place? What is the value of that Nirvana which can be found only in the woods? What is the value of the Nirvana which is not of this world? What is the value of Nirvana which is only a part of the other world?”

Siddhartha was very silent. He did not utter a single word. He wholeheartedly listened to the feelings and emotions of his wife. She was struggling with these emotions for years now. And she was absolutely right in asking all the above pertinent questions.

Siddhartha says to Yasodharā, “Honey, I am really very sorry for all the pains that you have gone through. It was all my mistake that I am away from you for all these years. You are very right in your anger and frustration at me. You are absolutely right at your disdain towards me. Your question is also very right and pertinent. Nirvana has nothing to do with a physical place. It is independent of a physical place. Yes, it has something to do with a mental state. And honey, frankly speaking, please believe me, I was not aware of this then. I was not aware of myself. I was searching for my own being. And all this could have been done and achieved in the palace itself. There was no need for me to leave the palace. Honey, my sweet heart, please forgive me for all this. Every situation and every indication was hinting at the other side of life that I have avoided since childhood. I was living in the world of comfort and luxury. The other side of of life of poverty, hunger, and deprivation was not shown to me. It was kept away from me. I am a very sensitive person. The other side of life had slowly started surfacing. It started attracting and created a craving in me. And moreover, there was this wrong tradition of renunciation. And all these have somehow contributed towards my leaving you all. It appears to me that everything has somehow conspired to make me a better human being. I think it is only the life which knows her ways. I think we are all just like pawns in her hands. And today I am a different person. Now I have experienced what is true love. Now I came to know of a real responsibility. Now I have come to know of true love. I can today understand what is a true relationship. Please honey, forgive me for all this”.

They both talked out their hearts. It was a heart to heart talk. They cried for each other. And all the anger and frustration of Yasodharā is then dissolved in the new being of Siddhartha.

There was this third emotional hurdle to come over. The second emotional hurdle somehow had come to an end. The third was between Buddha and his son Rāhula. This is how life is a big mystery. As I said above, it is a perfect circle. The first emotional hurdle was between Buddha and his father. And now it is between Buddha and his son. We come to the same point again. We can not skip or ignore. We have to resolve. There is no other way. The wife of Buddha was very much concerned for the future of Rāhula. He was a growing young boy. Everybody was concerned for his future.

Rāhula was very happy to see his father. He simply wanted to see his father. He was very young. He had no idea of asking anything except the love of his father. He was more than happy when Buddha pulled him towards his heart. Yasodharā was very concerned. She asks Buddha, “What do you have for your son in inheritance? What should be his path? What should he do in his life? What should be his life’s goal”. Life seems to be a mystery. It moves in circles, it seems. The same situation again comes back in a different form. Earlier it was in the form of the meeting of the son Siddhartha with his father Śuddhodana. The whole issue of the meeting was relating to the career and the future of their son. Now again the same circle repeats in a different form. Now the situation is in the form of the son Rāhula meeting his father Siddhartha. I think the thing called career is a fucking thing really. It really sucks you completely. Buddha does not even think for a while. He simply hands over his begging bowl to his son Rāhula.

I think the begging bowl is only a metaphor. It is symbolic for something higher and deeper. It is not a begging bowl in a literal sense. It is a metaphor for seeking knowledge and wisdom. There are two kinds of capitals. One is money as a capital and the second is knowledge as a capital. And both of them are related. They both are conjoined. They can’t be separated. They are not isolated compartments. Knowledge is needed to earn money. And knowledge is also needed to safeguard that money. Knowledge is also needed for that money to grow. And money can be used to know more knowledge. And knowledge is also not a static thing. It is a dynamic thing. It keeps on changing. And again the knowledge is objective and subjective. The knowing is objective and subjective. How much do we know really? Big Bang, String Theory, etc. And all these are just concepts and ideas. What is known is very little when compared to what can be known. It is just like a drop in the ocean. And what can be known is just nothing when it is compared with that which can not be known. It is again like a very small drop in a big ocean. There is something that can only be felt. There is something that can only be realized. There is something that can only be witnessed. There is something that can only be experienced. It is like the fragrance of a flower. It is very delicate and subtle. It requires inner sensitivities and sensibilities of a human being. I can reduce and deduce the flower in a lab scientifically in all its aspects. And still I can not catch hold of the fragrance of the flower in a lab. To hold the fragrance of the flower in a test tube is meaningless. I have to smell it to know it. I have to feel it to know it. It is also like the fruition of the fruit. I can reduce and deduce the fruit in the lab scientifically in all its aspects. And still I can not catch hold of the delicious taste of the fruit in a lab. To hold the delicious taste of the fruit in a test tube is meaningless. I have to taste it to know it. I have to eat it know it. There is no other way. You have to delve deep in your own being. You have to immerse yourself in your own being. You have to jump in the ocean of your own consciousness. Just check if you can come back really!!

I think Buddha’s begging bowl is only a metaphor for this knowing. I think it is a metaphor for this seeking. I think it is a metaphor for this experiencing. Shuddha Chetana or Supreme Consciousness is that ever flowered state of the divine. Let us move with our begging bowls towards that goal. And Dhammapada is the only way.


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