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Chapter 6: Receiving Your Soul

When you bring the cup to your lips, the cup that I am giving you and asking you to drink from, then the matter is almost completed. How great is the distance between your lips and your throat? If the cup touches your lips, its contents will reach to your throat. But if it doesn’t touch your lips, if you don’t even hold it, how can the contents reach your throat?

You ask: “Is your blessing only for sannyasins?” My blessing is for everyone, but only sannyasins are able to receive it. Understand this rightly: it is going over your head.

An emperor came to meet Buddha. He asked some questions. Buddha replied, “Come back in a year or two. Now, I will give you a meditation technique. Do this first.”

The emperor felt a little unhappy. He said, “I have come such a long way, and I am no ordinary man. I have asked you some questions, and I have thought about these things for a long time. I have asked many others these same questions and they have all answered me. You have not even bothered to answer me. And now you want me to go away and meditate. Your attitude is very offensive. Do you mean to insult me?”

Buddha said, “No.” He told the emperor to understand it in the following way. If a pitcher is placed upside down in the rain, not even a single drop can fall into it. If another pitcher is placed the right way up but is full of holes, it will fill up with rain, but then it will empty itself again. As soon as the rain stops, the pitcher will be empty. It may seem full, but it can never be full because it has so many holes and everything will flow out of it again. And think of a third pitcher with no holes, which is placed the right way up, but is full of rubbish. When it rains, the pure water will be sullied and become poisonous. You shouldn’t drink it. If you do, even by mistake, you will not find life - rather you will die.

“You are all these three pitchers in one,” said Buddha. “Who knows how much poisonous, impure rubbish from your many previous lives is inside you! And you are also the upside-down pitcher and you are the pitcher filled with holes. I have asked you to meditate for a year or two so that you can clean out your pitcher a little before you come back to me; so that you can fill the holes and put your pitcher upright. I am ready to shower upon you, but right now it will serve no purpose. It is not necessary that answers should be given just because you have asked questions. The first thing is whether you have the capacity to receive my answers or not.”

You may think that what Buddha said is harsh. But he said it out of the utmost compassion - that you can come after a little preparation. Sannyas is that preparation.

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