Sariputta said, “Because for me, my master can never die. Death cannot make us apart. He has only left the body, but he is here; my heart is still feeling – in fact, feeling more than ever – his presence.”
And the same was the answer of the other enlightened disciples…not a single tear in their eyes. They were not hard, they were not cold. They had simply crossed the barrier between the master and the disciple. Either you can say they had entered into the master’s consciousness, or you can say they had allowed the master’s consciousness to enter into them. It means the same thing: the two had disappeared; now there was only one.
People’s understanding was absolutely wrong that Ananda, who had burst into tears, must have loved the master more. Asked, he said, “I am crying because he was alive, and for forty-two years I have been his most intimate disciple – intimate in the sense that I was always with him. In these forty-two years not even for a single day was I separate; even in the night I used to sleep in his room, just to be present in case he needed something. I am not crying because I was the most intimate, I am crying because even with such a long physical intimacy I have remained separate from him. Something has remained like a barrier.”
Gautam Buddha was not dead yet. He had closed his eyes, and he was relaxing into the eternal. He came back, opened his eyes, and said to Ananda, “Don’t be worried. It was my presence and your love towards me that was the barrier, because your love was motivated. You wanted to become enlightened before anybody else, and you were always deep down jealous when other people were coming to their potential, coming to their source.
“Deep down you felt hurt that you were so close and yet others were becoming enlightened who had come after you. You could not rejoice in their enlightenment. You could have rejoiced, you could have celebrated, but your mind was focused on your own enlightenment – you were too much. And your unconscious continued from the very first day, holding on to the idea that you are a cousin-brother to me, and my elder brother.
“Although, after the first day you never mentioned it, still the psychological memory was there. Consciously, deliberately you became a disciple, but unconsciously you always knew that you were the elder brother; you could not dissolve with me. But don’t cry, because the moment I am dead, within twenty-four hours you will become enlightened. Without my death, you cannot become enlightened.”
Ananda still could not console himself. He said, “After twenty-four hours you will not be here. To whom am I to say whether I have become enlightened or not? And I don’t know when in the eternity of time I will meet a man like you – a consciousness so great and so vast.”
Buddha said, “Don’t be worried; it is going to happen. I was watching continuously. I was myself puzzled why it was not happening to you. You want it too much.”