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Chapter 20: Less Than an Eye Blink Away

A monk is not supposed to say what he wants to eat. Whatever is made by the family for itself, he should take only that. He should not say to which family he is going to beg tomorrow, because his information may make the family feel that then they have to make some delicious food, some costly food because the monk is coming to their home. This may be an unnecessary burden and the monk may become a parasite.

To avoid all this, Buddha had to talk about such small things that people ordinarily don’t like, and in those days very few people had their own bathhouses. Even today after twenty-five centuries, except in a few big cities, ninety percent of the Indian population has no bathroom in their house. They go outside the village, either to the bank of a river, or to the bank of a lake. That is their bathroom, that is their toilet.

It is thought to be a great luxury to have a bathroom attached to your bedroom; only a very few people in India can afford it, the country is so poor. And not only poverty has prevented it; even people who had enough money in the days of Buddha had no idea of having a bathroom attached to their bedroom.

You will be surprised to know that just a hundred years ago there was a case in the Supreme Court of America, because a man attached a bathroom to his bedroom. It was thought to be against Christianity; it was thought to be such a dirty thing. The man had learned about it from Europe and he thought he was bringing a gift to America. It certainly is a gift!

But the Christian associations filed a case against him in the Supreme Court saying that he was trying to corrupt people’s minds. “This is an idea implanted in his mind by the devil,” they said. “Who has ever heard of a bathroom attached to your bedroom?” And you will be surprised that the Supreme Court ordered the man to move the bathroom to the back of the house where it belonged. They were called outhouses. They were not attached to the main house - just in the backyard, far away. Dirty places!

But in Buddha’s time, there were rich people who had attached bathrooms and the most surprising, almost unbelievable thing is that in Harappa and Mohenjodaro, two most ancient cities discovered in Pakistan.. They are seven thousand years old. Some natural calamity, or perhaps some man-made calamity, destroyed those beautiful cities not only once, but seven times, because seven times those cities were built. People have been excavating for almost half a century. They could not believe what kind of calamity had continuously happened: one layer of the city is covered with mud, then another layer of the city is again covered with mud.

As they went on digging, first they thought the first layer, the superficial layer was the city, but somebody tried to dig a little deeper to see what is underneath that. They were surprised to find that after a few feet of layers of mud, there was another city. Then they tried again and again and finally they have found seven layers of great cities - cities which had streets as broad as San Francisco or New York. And certainly cities don’t have those broad streets if they don’t have big vehicles to move on them.

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