Chapter 17: The Point of No Return
Sri Aurobindo was a great intellectual, a very convincing, rational philosophical genius. He convinced many people, and those many people convinced him that he was enlightened. He knows nothing of enlightenment. It is true that there is something more in existence than the enlightenment Gautam the Buddha achieved. But it is Gautam the Buddha himself who, for the first time in the world, indicated the possibility of the beyond. Naturally, nobody else can say that there is something beyond - unless they reach that boundary. So when Sri Aurobindo says there is something more than the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha, he is hiding the fact that it was Gautam Buddha himself who was the first man in the whole of history to say that “This is not all; there is something beyond.”
Buddha says - and you can see the sincerity of the man - “A man who has entered the path, srotapanna, who has entered the stream that leads to the ocean, is millions of times more respectable than anybody else, just because he has entered the path in search of the truth. He has not found, but just the urge, just the effort, the first step, and he has become millions of times more honorable than all your respectable generals, kings, emperors and world conquerors. “The person who has reached the point from which he will not turn back, anagamin, is millions of times more honorable than the srotapanna, than the one who has entered the stream. And the man who has become enlightened, who has become a buddha, is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return.”
The point of no return is something worth understanding. Many people start the search and then drop out. It is arduous, it is moving into the unknown; nobody knows whether there is anything like enlightenment or if it is just a fiction created by a few people like Gautam Buddha. Perhaps they are not lying, perhaps they themselves are deceived - who knows? There is no guarantee.
So many start, but very few remain. Most of them return to the world sooner or later, finding that they are going into an unknown territory without a map, without any guide. They start feeling crazy because the whole world is going in a totally different direction, and they are left alone. Their whole strength was in the crowd. Alone, a thousand and one doubts arise. Alone, one starts feeling that millions of people cannot be wrong, “And I am alone, thinking that I am right - I must be getting crazy.”
Anagamin is one who has come to a point from where he cannot return. He is not enlightened but he has seen, from far away, the possibility. He has not reached the peak; he is still in the dark valley. But he can see the sunlit peak; it is a reality, it is not a fiction. Now there is no force in the world, which can make him go back.
Buddha says, “But the one who has become enlightened is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return.” And here is the sincerity of the man - he says: “The man who has transcended buddhahood, who has gone beyond enlightenment, is millions of times more honorable than anyone who is enlightened.” He is not claiming that he has gone beyond; he is simply saying “I can see from my place that faraway star.”
And he was the first to see that faraway star: beyond enlightenment.