Chapter 17: Take the Risk Wholesale
There was dissension, there was conflict, there was contradiction, and the whole gathering divided into thirty-two groups and they separated from each other. And all thirty-two groups have their own scriptures, their own reports of what Buddha said. Mahayana is only one school, the biggest, which has the greatest following. And certainly the reason why it has the biggest following is that it says that Buddha, once awakened, remains on this shore to liberate people.
In fact, they have even invented a story: When Buddha reached the doors of moksha, the ultimate resting place for liberated beings, the doors were opened and there was great music and celebration because it rarely, very rarely happens that a man comes to such great enlightenment. Thousands of years pass and the door remains closed. Naturally there was great jubilation among the other buddhas who had entered moksha during the millions of years that had passed. They were welcoming a new guest.
But Buddha refused to enter the gate. He turned his back towards the gate and told the gatekeeper, “Please close the gate. I will stand outside the gate until the last human being has become enlightened. It may take millions and millions of years - it does not matter. I’m at peace. I’m in absolute ecstasy. I can wait. But this will be a little selfish to enter the gate and forget all about those who are still groping in the darkness.”
Every effort was made to persuade him that this is not the way.nobody has done this before. He said, “That simply means nobody has entered moksha with a compassionate heart. For compassion towards my human brothers and sisters, I can renounce moksha itself. It does not matter to me. It cannot give me more than I have already got. I will stand here before the door and when the last human being has passed in, then I will pass through.”
This is a fictitious story of the Mahayana school. Because of this idea of compassion for other human beings, naturally Mahayana attracted more people who are not able to become awakened on their own. They need help. They need a compassionate, awakened person. And the Mahayana school preaches that every enlightened person in Mahayana will be doing every possible thing that he can do to make more and more people liberated. Because he has now a dual duty: people have to be liberated and secondly, if people are not liberated, Gautam Buddha has to stand at the gate for millions of years. So compassion for the people - they have to make every effort to liberate them, and gratitude to Gautam Buddha and his strange stand, that he is boycotting moksha, the ultimate state of silence and peace and rest just to make sure that nobody is left behind.
The other school is Hinayana; it has not attracted so many people. The very word means the small boat. Mahayana means the big ship.an ocean liner, so thousands of people can go to the other shore together. But in a small boat, only one man can go. And the people who created Hinayana are the arhatas. They are enlightened and their standpoint is that even to make an effort to liberate people is interfering with their individual freedom. It is not compassion, it is not love: love gives freedom.