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Chapter 5: Existence Does Not Like Carbon Copies

Zorba represents to me, every man’s, every woman’s natural state. It represents to me a perfect human animal, rejoicing in each moment in small things, not being worried about any spiritual growth. His whole philosophy is eat, drink and be merry.

I love him, because that is the foundation from where a buddha can arise. For twenty-nine years of his life Buddha was nothing but a Zorba.

You will need a little clarification. When Gautam Buddha was born, the astrologers said that either he would become an emperor of the whole world, or he would renounce the world and become the greatest awakened being ever. He was the only son of the father; the father was a king. He was old, he was worried. He asked the astrologers, “Help me. Advise me how to prevent him from going away from the world. I want to see my son as the greatest emperor in the world.”

And they suggested a few things. They suggested, “Make three palaces for him, for different seasons, in three beautiful, scenic places. Have all the beautiful girls in the kingdom to attend him. Don’t allow any old men, old women to be seen by him. Don’t allow even a dying leaf, a dead leaf, in his garden. In the night everything should be cleaned so he never comes to know that one day he has to become old, and one day he has to die.and he is surrounded with all the luxuries and all the beautiful girls, dancers, musicians. Let him live in total luxury. He will never think of renouncing the world.”

But their advice backfired. For twenty-nine years he lived in such a state, but those astrologers had no understanding of human psychology.

If a person is given all the luxuries possible, continuously, without any effort on his part, he becomes bored. Those beautiful women were no longer beautiful for him; he started taking them for granted. The music, the dance and all that was going on - a merry-go-round, twenty-four hours a day - he soon became fed up with it.

At the age of twenty-nine he was invited to open a youth festival of the whole kingdom, to inaugurate it. The roads were cleaned, old people were told not to come out; but it was one thing to manage in the palace, and it was another thing to manage in the capital. Somebody died. Some old man was deaf, did not hear the announcement, and the old man passed Buddha’s chariot - and Buddha was shocked.

He asked his charioteer, “What has happened to this man?”

And the charioteer, who had loved Gautam Buddha from his very childhood as his own child, could not speak an untruth. He said, “I am sorry to say, but your father has been preventing you from knowing the reality. This happens to everybody. Old age is bound to come.”

And Buddha asked, “To me too?”

The charioteer said, “Nobody is an exception.”

Just then the corpse of an old man passed by, and he asked, “What has happened now? Why are they carrying a man who looks to be asleep on a stretcher?”

The charioteer said, “He is not asleep; he is dead. This happens after old age. This is the next step.”

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