Chapter 9: The Means Is the End
Buddha tried for six years continuously, and no man has tried as totally as Buddha did. He made every effort possible, he went to every master available. There was not a single master Buddha did not go to. He surrendered to every master, and whatsoever was said he did so perfectly that even the master started feeling jealous. And every master finally had to say to Buddha, “This is all I can teach. And if nothing is happening I cannot blame you, because you are doing everything so perfectly. I am helpless. You will have to move to some other teacher.”
This rarely happens because disciples never do everything so perfectly, so the master can always say, “Because you are not doing well, that’s why nothing is happening.” But Buddha was doing so well, so absolutely well, that no master could say to him, “You are not doing well.” So they had to accept defeat. They had to say, “This is all we can teach, and you have done it and nothing is happening, so it is better you move to some other master. You don’t belong to me.”
Buddha moved for six years, and he followed even absurd techniques when they were taught to him. Somebody said “Fast,” so for months he fasted. For six months he was continuously fasting, just taking a very small quantity of food every fifteen days, only twice a month. He became so weak that he was simply a skeleton. All flesh disappeared, he looked like a dead man. He became so weak that he couldn’t even walk. He finally became so weak that he would close his eyes to meditate and he would fall down in a fit.
One day he was taking a bath in the river Niranjana, just near Bodhgaya, and he was so weak that he couldn’t cross the river. He fell down in the river and he thought that he was going to be drowned; it was the last moment, death had come. He was so weak he couldn’t swim. Then suddenly he caught hold of a branch of a tree and remained there. And there for the first time the thought came to his mind, “If I have become so weak that I cannot cross this ordinary small river in summertime when the water has gone completely, when there is no more water and it is very small, just a little stream - if I cannot cross this little stream, how can I cross this big ocean of the world, bhavasagar? How can I transcend this world? It seems impossible. I am doing something stupid. What to do?”
He came out of the river in the evening and sat under a tree, which became the bodhi tree, and that evening when the moon was coming up - it was a full moon night - he realized that every effort is useless. He realized that nothing can be achieved, the very idea of achievement is nonsense. He had done everything. He was finished with the world, with the world of desires. He was a king and he had known every desire, he had lived every desire. He was finished with them, there was nothing to be achieved, there was nothing worthwhile. And then for six years he had been trying all austerities, all efforts, all meditations, yoga, everything, and nothing was happening. So he said, “Now there is nothing more except to die. There is nothing to be achieved, and every concept of achievement is nonsense; human desire is but futile.”