Can you explain the fine line between our trust in you and the saying, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”?
There is no fine line. Unless you trust, you don’t have a Buddha, you don’t have a master.
Buddha has made the statement: “If you meet me on the way, kill me.” It is not said to those who don’t trust him, who don’t love him, who have not merged their identity with his being. Once you are in deep trust with a master, there is a danger that you may become so blissful with the merger of your identity with the master that you may not like to become enlightened on your own; hence, the statement.
The statement is saying that you are feeling so blissful, just being in tune with an awakened being, you don’t know how much more bliss is possible if you yourself become awakened. But to become awakened you will have to drop this identity. You will have to forget even the master. It is something about the inner journey. When a person is moving in meditation on the inner journey, the last thing is the master. It is easy to drop other ideas, other feelings; it is easy to drop greed, anger. But finally you come to a point when you have to drop the master too. That is the last barrier.
It is just in your mind. You have loved the man so much, your love has made it so difficult, that you would prefer to remain unenlightened than to drop the master. And a real master will say, “Drop me, so that you can also become a master in your own right.”
It happened in Ramakrishna’s life – and Ramakrishna was alive just in the last part of the preceding century, so he is not very far away, he is very close to us. He was a great devotee of the mother goddess, Kali. And it was not a formality, it was not just like going every Sunday to the church. He was the priest of the temple of Kali, but his behavior was strange. Sometimes he would worship, sometimes he would not open the doors of the temple at all. Sometimes he would worship the whole day, from morning to evening, till he fell down unconscious from dancing.
Rani Rasmani had made the temple near the Ganges in Calcutta – a beautiful temple and a very scenic place. But Rani Rasmani, although she was a queen of a small kingdom, belonged to the fourth caste of the Hindus, the untouchables. So no brahmin was ready to become a priest in the temple of an untouchable. For years there was no priest. Rasmani was very much in trouble. She looked all over Bengal; she was ready to give any salary the priest wanted, but no brahmin was ready to worship in a temple of a sudra, an untouchable.
But when Ramakrishna was approached, he said, “I will come.” Even Rasmani was a little puzzled: the man seems to be a little mad, because no brahmin was ready to come. Ramakrishna said, “Whether the temple is made by an untouchable or by a brahmin, the highest caste, the mother Kali is the same; it doesn’t matter. I am coming, and whatever salary you feel is right, must be right. I don’t know much about money – you are a queen; your decision will be far better.” When she heard that sometimes he dances, sings songs the whole day, and sometimes he does not even open the door, Rani Rasmani called him and said, “This is not right.”
He said, “Nobody can say to me what is right and what is wrong: it is a love affair. Only I know and my mother Kali knows. Sometimes I get angry at her when she does not behave. I have been for three days dancing, and she has not even given a little vision to me? Now let her be punished! I am not going to open the doors, and I am not going to offer the food.”
Rasmani said, “You are strange! You are supposed to be a priest – you have to do the ritual.” He said, “I am not a priest, and I am not supposed to do any ritual. I love! I love the Kali in my village. I will continue; if you are worried you can stop my salary… because when I prepare food for Kali, first I taste it, then I offer it to her. So that’s enough, I don’t need much – I can just taste a little more!”
This was unimaginable. In India you cannot taste anything and then offer it to God, or to a goddess. Rasmani said, “This is too much!”
He said, “No. My mother used to do the same. She would taste everything before she gave it to me. Was it worth giving or not? Has the taste come out right or not? I cannot offer anything to my mother without tasting it.”
This man, Ramakrishna, was really in love with that statue. Nobody was there, but his love was real. The goddess was unreal, but his love was not unreal.
One wandering mystic came to the temple and said to Ramakrishna, “You have not yet attained to the ultimate consciousness, and I can see you are capable of it. You are very close to it. Only one thing is blocking the way: this mother goddess, Kali. You love her too much. She does not exist, but your love certainly exists. And you have created a great image of her. You have dropped everything else from your mind, you are ready to reach to ultimate samadhi, ultimate ecstasy, but you will have to cut off the head of Kali.”
Ramakrishna said, “That is a little hard. Killing one’s own mother? – what are you saying? I would rather remain unenlightened. And anyway, the moment I close my eyes I see her; she is so beautiful and so alive, I cannot do this.”
But the mystic insisted. He said, “I have never come across a man who is so close – just one step!”
Ramakrishna was a simple man. He said, “Then you will have to help me, because when I close my eyes, I will not remember you. And Kali is standing before me, so gorgeous, so beautiful! And it is such an immense bliss to see her, I completely forget.”
Many times, he tried. He would close his eyes, and soon he was swaying, as if from an inner dance. And the mystic would say, “Wake up! Don’t forget what I have said.” Ramakrishna would open his eyes and say, “But this seems to be impossible.” Then the mystic found a way. He brought a piece of glass, really sharp, like a knife, and he said, “I will do one thing: I will just cut your forehead with this piece of glass. It will be painful, but it will remind you. The same way, you cut the mother Kali.”
Ramakrishna said, “Let us try.”
The mystic cut Ramakrishna’s forehead and the mark remained all his life. Blood started flowing, the pain was intense, and he remembered: with great courage, he cut the image of Kali in two parts – it was just in his imagination – and Kali fell in two parts. And he went into transcendental ecstasy. It took six days to wake him up, he was so deep in ecstasy. And the mystic said, “Don’t disturb him.”
After six days he was awakened, and his first words were, “The last barrier has fallen! I am grateful to you,” he said to the mystic. “If you had not insisted, I would have remained happy, but now I know what bliss is. It is a millionfold more.”
That is the meaning of Gautam Buddha’s saying. It is not for all, because you don’t have that love.
When you go inside you will not find Gautam Buddha. You may find all kinds of idiots there: the attorney general of Oregon, Governor Atiyeh, Ronald Reagan – anybody.
The statement is not for you. The statement is for those who had loved Buddha so much that Buddha knew that they could drop everything else, but they could not drop him. So he had to say, “When you meet me on the way” – that way is the inner way – “just chop my head off, so that you can become an enlightened person on your own.” And that is the joy of a master, to see his disciple also becoming a master.
This is the meaning when I say that this commune is a mystery school. The effort is to have everyone become a master; just disciplehood won’t do. I want you all to be masters. The world needs masters. Only a great energy of masters around the world can prevent the catastrophe of a third world war, which is looming on the horizon.
So it is not only a question of your enlightenment. It is also a question of the life or death of this whole planet.
From From Bondage to Freedom, Discourse #26
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