Before enlightenment happens…if you are ready to be compassionate, only then will you stay on the shore to help others who are suffering, who are groping in the dark. You were also part of the same people; they are your brothers and your sisters. Wouldn’t you like to share your experience of the ultimate and the explosion of light? Now you are capable of giving eyes to those who are blind. You are capable of dispelling the darkness in which they have been living for lives.
And there is no hurry, your boat can stay. It will have to stay till you are ready to go. There is no compulsion to leave immediately – although the temptation is there, because you have worked for enlightenment only to get to the other shore. And now that the moment has come, to delay it feels difficult. To resist the temptation you need a tremendous compassion for those who are still blind, who are still in tremendous suffering and misery.
Forty-two years, in spite of his fragile body, he continued to move from village to village, in search of those who were ready to receive the gift that he had brought for them. It is a natural conclusion that even after his body’s death, his consciousness must be still ready to help those who need the help and who are courageous enough to open their hearts.
This story symbolizes Gautam Buddha’s compassion. This story is the story of every great master. All mystics are not masters, although all masters are mystics. A mystic experiences the ultimate blossoming of his being and disappears into the eternal without thinking once about others who are left behind. The master is one who attains the same experience but prevents himself from disappearing into the eternal, into the infinite.
In different ways compassion is also a kind of attachment. It is the purest form of love, but in the ultimate analysis of things it is also an attachment. Through this thin thread of attachment he keeps himself from disappearing completely into the universe. You can disappear only when all attachments, all desires are dissolved. Compassion is also a desire; to help is also a desire. And the masters have always been finding ways, according to their own personalities, their own uniqueness….
I have told you the story of Ramakrishna. His disciples were very much embarrassed because he would be talking about meditation, ecstasy, the ultimate truth…and suddenly in the middle of his discourse he would say, “Wait a minute – I’m coming back because I smell something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.”
And he would go into the kitchen and would ask Sharda, his wife, “What are you preparing? The smell was so attractive that I had to stop my discourse because I could not resist the temptation to know first what is being prepared. And as far as ecstasy and God and other things are concerned – they are eternal matters. They can wait a little.”