Chapter 5: The Bondage of Hope
Don’t laugh. This is the weakness of man. Don’t laugh, but think over it, because the gravitation of earth is so strong! Don’t think this story is just a story - this is the whole agony of the mind of man. And don’t think that this alternative was only before that ascetic, that it was only he who had to choose between the young woman and heaven. You also have the same alternatives. In fact, everyone has the same alternatives: either you choose the pleasures which are transient, or you choose the eternal. Either you lose the eternal for the transient or you dedicate the transient to the eternal. And of course most of the people will choose what that ascetic chose.
Don’t think that you have done anything different. Whether Lord Indra has stood in front of you or not, whether someone has given you the alternative of heaven and earth or not, the fact is that the alternative is always there for you, and when you choose the one you miss the other. One whose eyes are filled with the intoxication of the earth remains deprived of the heavenly awareness. The heavenly gold cannot shower into hands that are full of earthly dust; heaven can shower only if the hands are empty. The divine can descend only if you are empty within.
If you are filled with some infatuation the throne of your soul is already occupied. Then don’t say that the divine has been unfair to you - this was your choice. Don’t blame the divine if you don’t find him - it means that you have not chosen him yet, because whenever someone chooses him, he finds him immediately. It doesn’t take even one second. But if you yourself don’t want him, then the divine will not force himself on you.
Truth doesn’t force itself upon you. You have the freedom to refuse the truth birth after birth, life after life. This is the glory of man, but it is the misfortune of man as well. The glory is because of the freedom - the freedom to choose. The misfortune is that we make the wrong choice. But the choice of choosing wrongly is included in that freedom. A freedom which can choose only the right and not the wrong cannot be called freedom; then that is not freedom. The meaning of freedom is that you have the right to go astray, to go on the wrong path. The meaning of freedom is that you have the freedom to sin. The meaning of freedom is also that you have the freedom to refuse godliness.
Buddha was born, and the fifth day after his birth, according to the custom, the best of the pundits got together and gave him the name Siddhartha. The meaning of Siddhartha is: fulfillment of desire, fulfillment of hope, attainment of wealth, attainment of destination. After waiting his whole life, after hoping and dreaming and going through many disappointments, at last a son was born to Shuddhodana in his old age - certainly he was a “Siddhartha”! The pundits had given him the correct name.
There were eight great pundits. The king asked them to tell him the future of the newborn baby. Seven pundits raised their hands and pointed two fingers. The king did not understand, he said, “I don’t understand these gestures so please tell me clearly.”