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Chapter 2: Only a Remembrance

said, “Wait, let him come here. I know him just as I know you. You have not come here to save somebody’s virtue, you have come here out of jealousy. You have always been jealous of that young man because he is so beautiful, so attractive, so articulate, and wherever he goes he gets more respect, more love, more dignity.”

And then the prince returned, because he had told Amrapali, “I accept your invitation because it is against my master to refuse anything; it is cruel. But I have one condition: I have to ask the permission of my master. From my side there is no objection, but if my master objects I’m helpless. I have surrendered myself totally to my master. If he says yes, it is yes; if he says no, it is no. So please forgive me if I don’t return. But most probably I will return because I know my master.”

There was great uproar, gossiping, and the prince returned to ask the permission of Buddha. Kneeling down before him, he said, “I’m asking permission for a very strange thing: a prostitute has asked me, with so much love and so much prayer, to stay with her during this monsoon season while you are here. I have given her my agreement with the condition that “if my master agrees, I will stay with you, but if my master says no, that is absolute - then no question arises at all.”

The whole assembly of monks was utterly silent, listening to what Buddha would say.

Buddha said, “You should go and stay with the woman because I know that a man who has entered into his own center cannot be influenced by the non-essentials of life. Moreover I know that when after four months you come back, you will not be alone - Amrapali will be coming with you to become a sannyasin. I trust you - you can go with my absolute agreement.”

It was such a shock to the thousands of monks. They started saying to Buddha, “What are you doing? You are destroying a young man; the woman is too beautiful - you don’t know, you never go to the city. The woman is so beautiful that kings from other kingdoms come and stand in a queue for their turn, just to have one night’s stay with the woman. And she’s not only beautiful, she is a great singer and a musician. You are sending our young monk into the lion’s den, unnecessarily putting him in trouble.”

Buddha said, “You wait, the four months will soon pass.”

Amrapali did everything to make the prince comfortable. She played on musical instruments, she danced, she had delicious dishes made for him. She closed her door for four months to any other visitor, even if he were a king or an emperor. She hoped, deep down, “This young monk will melt, will fall in love with me. I have been searching and searching, but I have not found a man with whom I can live my whole life. This is the man.”

But the prince sat in the lotus posture. While she was dancing, he was meditating. While she was making all kinds of loving gestures, he was simply watching.

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