His disciples said, “Bhagwan, you don’t know what you are doing! Haven’t you heard about that madman, Angulimal? It is better to go the long, roundabout way, rather than to take the shortcut.”
But people like Gautam Buddha never turn back. He said, “I cannot turn back, now even more than before. If I had not known about Angulimal, perhaps I might have taken the other road. That poor fellow is waiting for only one head! My work is done; I have known all that can be known, I have experienced all that can be experienced. Now there is no reason for me…. If I can be of some service to that poor man, it will be good.”
He went. Angulimal saw him. Buddha’s disciples, who were always clambering around him, by and by started creating a distance between him and themselves. If he was caught, at least they could escape. Angulimal saw Gautam Buddha coming. Even that dangerous man, who had murdered nine hundred and ninety-nine people already, felt for the first time that he also had a heart. Gautam Buddha was looking so innocent, so childlike and so beautiful in the early morning sun.
Angulimal shouted, “You please turn back, because only one head is missing! Perhaps you are a stranger…but looking at you, something in me says ‘Let this man go – there are many idiots, I can cut off their heads.’ Even if my mother comes here, I will cut off her head! But you please go back. Don’t come close to me – I am dangerous! Do you see my sword? It is waiting for the last head.”
Gautam Buddha continued. He stepped off the road and started moving into the mountains, closer to Angulimal.
Angulimal said, “It seems you are more mad than me. Why are you going on and on and on?”
Buddha said, “Angulimal, I stopped going anywhere a long time ago. I am not going anywhere, it is you who are.” Angulimal was standing there – Buddha was walking!
Angulimal said, “Certainly you are mad. You are walking, moving, and you say you have stopped a long time ago. I am standing, and you say, ‘You are moving.’”
Buddha said, “Just try to understand. Your mind is moving, thinking. My mind is silent, there is no movement. And you will not get a better head. It is really a joy to fulfill your vow. Prepare your sword.”
Angulimal could not understand what kind of man he was. He was in a great shock; he had never come across such a man! He was ashamed of himself for the first time in his life. He could not look at Buddha eye to eye, because those eyes were radiating compassion, love, grace, joy, blissfulness, ecstasy – things that he had never known, but the fragrance was reaching him.
He said again to Buddha, “You please go, sir. I don’t want to kill you. You are unnecessarily insisting that I do something that I don’t want to do.” But Buddha went on coming closer and closer. And finally he was standing before Angulimal.