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Chapter 10: The Lure of the Infinite

The only condition to attain him is that the I must drop. What difference does it make whether you are running a shop or offering prayers? In both cases the ego is involved; it is you working or worshipping. They are both the shop because you remain at the shop as long as the ego exists; there is a vocation, a job - that is the everyday working world of sansara. When the ego drops God begins; as you fall away and disappear he appears. You are out, he is in. Both cannot exist together; duality has no place here. There is room for only one- either you or he.

At last Buddha tired of it all. He had done all that was humanly possible - all to no avail. The hands were as empty as ever. He stepped into the river Niranjana to bathe. He had become so weak that he couldn’t even wade out of the river. The current began to drag him away and he hadn’t the strength to swim. He caught hold of a tree branch that was bent over the river; and there, while hanging onto the branch, he realized the fruitlessness of all his efforts. He had done everything that could be done, but gained nothing. In the bargain he had lost all bodily strength, and was so weak that he couldn’t cross even a river as small as the Niranjana. Then how was he going to cross the ocean of existence? “All my efforts have brought me only to this. The world has become useless to me - the palace, all the wealth of the kingdom is like dust to my eyes. Now I am so terribly tired and disheartened that the spiritual search has become meaningless; even liberation is useless.” At this point Buddha came to the realization that there is nothing worth achieving either in the mundane or in the spiritual world. All is a sham; all the running about is meaningless.

Somehow he got himself out of the river and went and sat under a tree. At that very moment he gave up all trying, all endeavor, because there was nothing to attain. All lesser attainments had led to frustration and hopelessness. His frustration became total; there was not an iota of hope. As long as there had been hope, ego persisted. Buddha slept under a tree that night. After endless births this was the first night when there was nothing to look forward to, nothing to attain, nowhere to go; nothing was left. If death had approached Buddha this moment, he would not have requested it to wait a while, because there was no need; all hopes were dashed to the ground.

In total tiredness all hues of the rainbow of hope have been rubbed away, all dreams are broken. That night Buddha slept soundly; no dream disturbed him. Dreams stop when there is nothing left to be attained, for dreams follow on the heels of desires. Desires walk ahead, dreams follow like shadows, because they are the slaves of desires. No desires, no dreams.

Buddha awakened when the last star was about to fade. But today was different - there was nothing to be done. Everything had become meaningless. Until the previous day there had been all that feverish activity - to find his soul, attain religion, God, so many things. And today, nothing! He just lay there. What else was he to do? He was looking at the fading star and, the story goes, at that moment he attained realization.

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