There was a moment of silence. Chuang Tzu thought, “It is strange. I have come to become enlightened, that is the very purpose of becoming a disciple. And this old fellow, so beautiful and so graceful, is asking such an absurd thing: if you want to be my disciple, promise me that you will never ask about how to become enlightened.”
But it was already too late. He had fallen in love with the old man. He touched his feet and he said, “I promise I will never ask how to become enlightened, but accept me as your disciple.”
Immediately came a hard slap, “You idiot! If you are not going to become enlightened, then for what purpose are you becoming a disciple? I was asking this promise because I could see in you such beautiful intelligence that you might have immediately realized the point of my asking. You are enlightened; there is no way to become enlightened. There is no need. In fact even if you want to become unenlightened, there is no way.”
Then why has this whole humanity become unenlightened? How have they managed? Just by forgetting, just by being too involved in other things. The world is vast, and the mind goes on taking you into new desires, new longings, new achievements, new greed. Slowly, slowly a curtain falls between you and your mind, and the mind completely forgets your being. It forgets completely that there is an inner world also, not only an outer existence.
The outer is very poor in comparison to the inner. But once you get involved with the outer, it is so vast that there is a possibility you may wander around in the universe for millions of lives. And you may not realize that you are wasting your time, that it is time to look in.
Maneesha, promise me to never ask again, “I am not enlightened, how to become enlightened?” I have my own ways of slapping, far more sophisticated. I don’t use my hand because I am a lazy man; moreover I don’t want to hurt my hand. But I have my own ways, and I go on slapping people – and you know it well!
And the last part of your question is, “How is it that I can recognize that which I have not realized?” If you can recognize it, that is an absolute guarantee that you must have realized it in some unconscious way. Perhaps you have forgotten your realization. Each child is born with the realization.
I have condemned Gautam Buddha’s story many times, but this time I am going to appreciate it, just to put things in balance. The story is: Gautam Buddha is born while his mother is standing under a saal tree, and he is born standing. And the first thing he does is to take seven steps in front of his mother and declare to the universe, “I am the most enlightened person ever.” I have condemned it for different reasons; now I want to appreciate it for different reasons.
In fact, every newborn child, if he could, would say the same thing, “I am enlightened.” If every newborn child could walk, he would take seven steps and declare to the whole world, “I am the most enlightened person, unique.” Perhaps the story is simply a symbolic way of recognizing each child’s innocence as his enlightenment, as his ultimate experience.