Alexander said, “I can understand your logic, and I am not able to answer it. But now that I have started my journey of conquering, I will have to go and fulfill my desire.”
Diogenes said, “It is up to you, but remember the day you die that I have told you life is very short and the world is very big. Most probably you will die before you have conquered the world.”
And Diogenes was right, Alexander died at the age of only thirty-three, and the last memory in his mind was of Diogenes: “That wise man told it right. Even his dog agreed by waving his tail, ‘You are right. If he wants to rest he should begin now.’”
Diogenes is not historically very much in the line of the great Greek philosophers: Socrates, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus. Nobody mentions Diogenes much for the simple reason that he was not a man who took the world seriously.
Somewhere he found a lamp, an old lamp, which somebody may have thrown away. So he lit the lamp and, still with his dog, carried it day and night always lighted even in full daylight and people would say, “It is strange, Diogenes; why are you carrying this lamp in the full sunlight?”
And he would say, “I am in search of an authentic man. Just to see into his eyes, I keep this lamp. Up to now I have failed.”
The day he died in Athens, the dog was sitting by his side and the lamp was there, and somebody asked, “Diogenes, you are dying; can you say something about what happened to the authentic man? Did you find any authentic man?”
And his last words were, “Unfortunately I did not find an authentic man, but fortunately nobody has stolen my lamp; that much I can say in favor of humanity. I am a naked man, I sleep and anybody could have stolen it.” He never took life seriously but lived with as much joy and glory as any buddha.
This man Nansen is saying that
“Old Master O is going to sell himself. Will anyone buy him?”
A monk came out and said, “I will!”
Nansen said, “Don’t make me dear; don’t make me cheap. How will you buy me?”
He’s posing a question which is very central to Gautam Buddha’s whole experience: being exactly in the middle. To be exactly in the middle is to transcend the extremes, right and wrong, dark and light, day and night, life and death, good and bad. Just be in the middle, exactly in the middle and you have flown to the beyond. The beyond begins from the middle, never from the extreme. That’s the point he is trying to make. He is saying, “Good, if you want to purchase me, Don’t make me dear and don’t make me cheap. how will you buy me?”