Chapter 15: The Art of Remembering
Gautam Buddha was born as a prince, and he was the only son of his father. Just before he was going to be enthroned, he escaped. The father was old and he wanted to retire, and he had a beautiful, young, intelligent, well-educated man in Gautama. He was mature enough - he was twenty-nine - and the father wanted him to take charge of the kingdom.
In fact that was one of the reasons why he escaped from the kingdom, because he had seen his father’s empty life - riches all around and poverty inside. He had everything that was available in those days and he had no peace, he had no love, he had no compassion. He had never understood what is beauty, what is poetry, what is music; there was no time for such things. He was constantly fighting against other kingdoms. His whole life had been the life of a warrior - and what had he gained? He had simply lost his whole life in futile wars.
He had never enjoyed a blissful night with the stars. He had a beautiful garden, but nobody had seen him in the garden. The roses blossomed but not for him; he had no eye for it.
Gautama had seen the emptiness of a great emperor, and he was intelligent enough not to repeat the same stupid circle again. He escaped out of the kingdom.
His father searched all over the kingdom; Gautama knew that he would search ferociously. His father’s whole army was all over the kingdom - that’s why he left the kingdom to go to another kingdom. But the people had seen his chariot moving on the road in that direction, crossing the boundary line, the checkpost. So the father informed the emperor of the neighboring kingdom, who was his friend, “My son has escaped into your kingdom. Try to find him.” And the neighboring king was overjoyed because he was hoping that Gautama could be persuaded to marry his daughter. He had only one daughter, no son, and he wanted a capable man who could manage two kingdoms together. Both kingdoms were big kingdoms.
He found Gautama in the forest in a cave. He knew Gautama, Gautama knew him. And he said, “What kind of madness is this? My palace is there; if you don’t want to live with your father you could have come to me. This kingdom is as much yours as your own kingdom - and this is bigger than your kingdom. And you are just as much a son to me as to your father. We are great friends, you know it. Don’t be foolish; just come with me and sit in the chariot. If you don’t want to go back home, you will not be forced.”
Gautama said, “I have not left one kingdom to get another kingdom. I have not left the palace to get a bigger palace - because I know, if in that small kingdom and small palace there was so much emptiness, in your bigger kingdom and bigger palace there must be a much bigger emptiness, futileness.
“I can see it in your eyes. Watching my own father’s eyes, I have become almost an expert; I can see a person’s eyes and can say whether he has anything inside, or is just a poor man. He may be an emperor.to me you are just a beggar, just like my father. You certainly are friends. And don’t disturb me. I am in search of something which cannot be taken away from me, which even death cannot destroy. I am in search of something which can bring a kingdom into my heart.