Chapter 8: Zorba the Buddha - Man of the Future
They created a great synthesis; they agreed that the blind man would carry the lame man on his shoulders, and they would function as one man - the lame man could see, and the blind man could run. They saved their lives. And because they saved each other’s lives they became friends; for the first time they dropped their antagonism.
Zorba is blind - he cannot see, but he can dance, he can sing, he can rejoice. The buddha can see, but he can only see. He is pure eyes, just clarity and perception, but he cannot dance; he is crippled, he cannot sing, he cannot rejoice.
It is time. The world is a wildfire; everybody’s life is in danger. The meeting of Zorba and buddha can save the whole humanity. Their meeting is the only hope.
Buddha can contribute consciousness, clarity, eyes to see beyond, eyes to see that which is almost invisible. Zorba can give his whole being to buddha’s vision - and let it not remain just a dry vision, but make it a dancing, rejoicing, ecstatic way of life.
The ambassador of Sri Lanka wrote a letter to me saying that I should stop using the words “Zorba the Buddha”.because Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, and he said, “It hurts our religious feelings that you are mixing strange people, Zorba and Buddha.”
I wrote to him, “Perhaps you don’t understand that Buddha is nobody’s personal property, and Buddha is not necessarily the Gautam Buddha who you have been worshipping for thousands of years in your temples. Buddha simply means “the awakened one.” It is an adjective; it is not a personal name. Jesus can be called the buddha; Mahavira was called, in Jaina scriptures, the buddha; Lao Tzu can be called a buddha - anybody who is enlightened is a buddha. The word buddha simply means “the awakened one.”
“Now, awakening is nobody’s property; everybody who can sleep can also awaken. It is just a natural, logical, corollary - if you are capable of sleeping, you are capable of waking up. Zorba is asleep; hence he has the capacity to be awake. So please don’t get unnecessarily enraged, angry. I am not talking about your Gautam Buddha; I am talking about the pure quality of awakening. I am using it only as a symbol.
“Zorba the Buddha simply means a new name for a new human being, a new name for a new age, a new name for a new beginning.”
He has not replied. Even people who are holding posts of ambassadors are so utterly ignorant, so stupid. He thought that he was writing a very significant letter to me, without even understanding the meaning of the Buddha. Buddha was not the name of Gautama. His name was Gautam Siddhartha. Buddha was not his name - the name given by his parents was Gautam Siddhartha. Siddhartha was his name, Gautama was his family name. He is called Buddha because he became awakened; otherwise he was also a Zorba. Anybody who is not awakened is a Zorba.