Chapter 6: No Going Back
Hence I have been silent, waiting for the day when you would ask the question. Today you have asked the question. Now I can speak, I can share my understanding with you, but still the decision remains always with you. You can go on crying and weeping over spilled milk, or you can gather yourself and take a plunge into the new world that I have made available to you.
Don’t waste time. Time is really precious, far more precious than money, far more precious than anything in the world, because it is through time that you can contact eternity. And these moments are rare: if you miss them once, you never know when they will come back again. Maybe after lives you will come across a buddha again, but then there is every possibility you will repeat the same mistakes, because mind wants to repeat. Mind is repetition, and even after lives it repeats the same mistakes.
It happened once.
A young prince asked Buddha to initiate him as a bhikkhu, as a sannyasin. Buddha was a little reluctant. This was very rare as buddhas are never reluctant, or very rarely; they are always happy if somebody is asking for initiation.
Ananda, Buddha’s chief disciple, immediately became aware that Buddha was a little hesitant. He asked, “Bhagwan, why are you hesitating? I have never seen you hesitate. You persuade people, you help people, you do everything possible to bring them to the way, and this man himself is asking. And not an ordinary man, a great prince, with great potential. If he becomes a disciple, many more will follow. Why are you hesitating?”
Buddha said to Ananda, “Because this young man has been initiated in the past at least seven times by other buddhas, and he has committed the same mistake again and again. And mind is repetitive. I know I can give him initiation, but he is bound to repeat the same mistake. But if you say so, I will initiate him. Now watch what happens.”
The young man was initiated, and of course since this whole dialogue with Ananda had happened in front of him, he was very conscious not to repeat anything. But he did not remember anything of his past lives, and when you don’t remember, how can you avoid repetition? If you remember, you can avoid it.
He asked Buddha many times, “Please tell me what the mistake is that I have been repeating again and again. And you say I have lived with seven other buddhas? I don’t want to miss this opportunity.”
Buddha said, “That won’t help very much, because you have asked the sixth buddha the same question and the fifth also, and they answered. I am not going to do it. I will tell you only when the time arrives.”
And the time arrived within a few days. They had traveled to another city and were staying in a small caravanserai - ten thousand sannyasins - there was no space. It must have been as overcrowded as it is here! Now when I look at you, I completely forget whether you are sannyasins or sardines. I have to go on reminding myself, “No, these are my sannyasins.”