Chapter 19: The Promise of Paradise
He has come to a completion as far as he is concerned. But what about others? - they are millions, and they are suffering in the same way he has suffered. Their misery is great, their blindness has remained with them for centuries; but now he knows it is curable, now he knows he can give them a helping hand to find the way out, to open their eyes, to look at themselves.
His presence may trigger the same experience in others, it is contagious. The question is just that it is very difficult for him to linger on because the captain of his boat goes on calling, “Your time is up, and I have to go to the further shore - you enter into the boat.”
Gautam Buddha used to say, “Don’t die as an arhat - it is a perfect death, you have come home. Die as a bodhisattva - not only have you come home, but you have put thousands of others afire.” His own story, when he died, is tremendously beautiful. It is just a story, but it carries his essential teaching: that when you have, share. When you have, then see that it is not possessed only by you - keep alert that it does not become a possession to you. Let it become the possession of all.
When he himself died, after forty-two years of lingering on this shore keeping his boat waiting, the story is that he reached the doors of paradise. Those doors rarely open, only once in a while, in centuries - visitors don’t come every day. And whenever someone comes to those doors, the whole of paradise celebrates it; one more consciousness has attained to flowering, and existence is far more rich than it has ever been before.
The doors were opened, and the other enlightened people who had entered into paradise before.because in Buddhism, there is no God, but only these enlightened people are godly, so there are as many gods as enlightened people. They had all gathered at the door with music, with song and with dance. They wanted to welcome Gautam Buddha, but to their amazement he was standing with his back towards the gate, and his face still looking to the further shore that he had left behind.
They said, “This is strange. For whom are you waiting?”
He’s reported to have said that, “My heart is not so small. I’m waiting for all those I have left behind who are struggling on the way. They are my fellow travelers. You can keep the doors closed. You will have to wait a little for the celebration of my entering into paradise, because I have decided to enter this door as the last man. When everybody else has become enlightened and entered the door, when there is nobody left outside, then my time will have come to enter in.”
And it seems to be absolutely logical that the first man should be the last man. And the story in the Buddhist lands still continues that Buddha is standing at the door waiting, inviting, hoping; his compassion is so vast that he cannot contain it in himself. This story is a story - it cannot be an actual fact. It is not within your hands; once you have become enlightened, you will have to enter into the universal source of life. It is not a question of your choice or decision.