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Chapter 10: Not Spiritual Guidance but Spiritual Presence

Even his disciples, the closest disciples.Ananda was with him, he was shocked. Buddha had never said so certainly, without any ifs and buts, a simple yes - to God! He had, his whole life been fighting against the idea of God. But there was a settlement between Buddha and Ananda.. Ananda was Buddha’s elder cousin-brother. When he was taking sannyas, Ananda had asked beforehand, “You have to promise me a few things. Right now I am your elder brother. After taking sannyas I will be your disciple: then whatsoever you say I will have to do, but right now I can demand something and you will have to do it.”

Buddha said, “I know you. You cannot ask anything which will put your younger brother in any difficulty. You can ask.”

Ananda said, “They are not big things, just simple things. One is that every night before going to sleep, if I want to ask something, you will have to answer, you can’t say, ‘I am tired, and the whole day’s journey, and so many people and so many meetings..’ You will have to answer. Yes, I will never ask in the day, I will not disturb you the whole day, but I am a human being and I am not enlightened: certain questions may arise.”

Buddha said, “That is accepted.”

In the same way Ananda asked two more things: “One is that you will never tell me to go anywhere else; I will always be with you, to serve you till my last breath. You will not tell me, ‘Now you go and spread my message,’ just the way you send others. You cannot send me.”

Buddha said, “Okay, that’s not a problem.”

And third, Ananda said, “If I ask you to give some time to somebody, at any hour - it may be a very odd hour, in the middle of the night - you will have to meet the person. That much privilege you have to give me.”

Buddha said, “That too is okay because I know you.”

Ananda was very much puzzled by Buddha’s answer that yes, God exists, but he could not ask in the day, he had to wait for the night. In the afternoon, another man came and asked the same question: “Is there a God?” And Buddha said, “No, not at all.”

Now, things became more complicated - Ananda was almost in a state of falling apart. But this was nothing. By the evening, a third man came; and he sat by the side and he asked Buddha, “Will you say something about God?”

Buddha looked at him, closed his eyes and remained silent. The man also closed his eyes. They sat in silence for half an hour; then the man touched Buddha’s feet and said, “Thank you for your answer,” and went away.

Now, it was too much. Everybody gone - the time was passing so slowly and Ananda was boiling; and when everybody was gone, he simply jumped up. He said, “This is too much! You should take care, at least, of us poor people too. Those three persons don’t know all the three answers, they only know one answer. But we are with you, we have heard all the three answers. You should think of us too, we have been going crazy. If this is going to go on, what will happen to us?”

Buddha said, “You should remember one thing. First, those questions were not your questions, those answers were not given to you. Why should you jump into it? It is none of your business. It was something between me and those three people.”

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