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Chapter 17: The Death of the Mind Is the Birth of You

Buddha’s father made three palaces, one for each season. For summer, a palace in the hill station: cool, beautiful, green. Every care was taken that Buddha would never become disappointed with the world. For winter, a warm and cozy atmosphere was made in the palace.

The astrologers told the king, “From the very beginning let him be surrounded with beautiful girls, so by the time he becomes a young man he has all the beautiful girls of the land.”

They even went into details: that he should not see any old man, because in his seeing an old man the question could arise in him, “Is this the destiny for everyone?” Never allow him to see a dead body. Keep him absolutely unaware of the realities of life, keep him in a dreamland. Their argument was, when he has everything, why should he renounce?

The greatest physician of the country was looking after him. Even the gardeners in the king’s garden were told that Buddha should not see a flower withering away or a leaf turning pale. In the night everything that indicates death had to be removed. He should see only beautiful flowers which are always young. He should see only green leaves which are always green.

And this the king could manage. He managed it - and his management backfired. Those idiotic astrologers had no idea of a simple fact: that if you give a man everything and keep him unaware of all that is ugly around, soon he is going to be fed up with it. Soon he will start thinking, “Is this all? Then tomorrow is going to be the same, and the day after tomorrow is going to be the same. What is the point?” He will become bored.

And that’s what happened. Buddha became bored with unchanging beautiful women, unchanging beautiful flowers. How long can your mind keep silent? The astrologers were the reason why Buddha renounced the kingdom. If he had been allowed to live just the ordinary life of every man, perhaps there would have been no Buddha. In a way, the idiotic astrologers unknowingly did a great service to humanity.

The story is beautiful. There used to be an annual festival in the capital, and the prince who was going to be king used to inaugurate it, declare it open. It lasted for a few weeks - all kinds of things, all kinds of athletic games, shows. Buddha was going to inaugurate this youth festival in his twenty-ninth year.

On the way every care was taken - but existence has a way to reach you. You cannot remain completely closed in a grave, unless you are dead. If you are alive, there are bound to be loopholes from where existence will enter and make you aware of the reality. The astrologers and the kings could not be more intelligent than existence itself.

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