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Chapter 5: The Strength You Feel Is the Strength of Truth

“Do you think me so uncultured that I will prevent my own husband who is going on a pilgrimage in search of truth? That’s the only thing I cannot forgive and cannot forget. These twelve years that wound has been there, that you did not trust me. And I was worried that Ananda, your constant companion, would be with you, and I may not be able to say this - because he is not only your elder brother, he is also my elder brother because of your relationship. I could not have said it. It is very compassionate of you that you have come alone.”

The day Buddha left, his son was only one day old. He was born just twenty-four hours before. The wife brought the son - now he was twelve years old - and said, “He consistently insists on seeing his father, how he looks, why the whole world is mad about him - either for or against - and why he does not come home. Now, this is your son, and I want you to give him an inheritance. What inheritance have you to give to your son?”

Buddha had only his begging bowl. And he gave it to his son, whose name was Rahul, and initiated him into sannyas.

His wife finally burst into tears, fell at his feet, and she said, “Only you can do it. What strength you have! You left me without saying a word, you left me with a child who was only twenty-four hours old. And now as an inheritance you are giving your begging bowl to the child! No father has done this ever. You are making him a beggar! But it makes me happy to have such a strong man.

“Please initiate me also, and initiate your father also - he is old and for twelve years he has been waiting for you. He is very angry. You are his only son. Who is going to take over the throne after him? So please don’t take any note of what he says - he loves you. But he will be angry, he will shout at you.”

Buddha said, “Don’t be worried about that. I know him.” And his father shouted and was very angry, and he said, “You betrayed us!”

And Buddha listened silently. When his father was finished, Buddha said only one thing: “Please just look into my eyes, into my face. Do you think I am the same man who left this palace? You are angry with somebody else! And you are unnecessarily throwing all your anger on me. I am not the same man - that man is dead long ago.”

The father looked at his face, in his eyes. There was great silence for a moment. Then the father said, “Certainly you are right. You have changed. You are a new man, you are completely transformed. I am on the point of death; is it possible for me also to have the same eyes you have, the same strength you have? Help me, an old man who is just going to the grave any moment.” The father was also initiated into sannyas.

All the people who lived near Buddha knew his strength and at the same time they were all very protective of him. For an outsider it becomes very difficult to understand.

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