There are thirty million people dying of starvation, and exactly thirty million people are dying of overeating – and man thinks he is a conscious being, intelligent, alert…Now this is a simple thing. Those thirty million people should not overeat because they are killing themselves. And whatever is saved from them will save the thirty million people who are dying because they have nothing to eat. Sixty million people can be saved without doing anything, just a little understanding.
The enlightened person never goes to the extreme in any way. Neither does he fast and torture his body, nor does he overeat and torture his body in another way. Both are ways of torturing your body. You can torture it by not eating; you can torture it by overeating.
The enlightened person follows the golden mean: he is always in the middle, never at the extreme.
In Gautam Buddha’s life there is a beautiful story….
He was passing through Shravasti – a very rich and famous city of those days – and the king of Shravasti was one of the most egoistic persons in every way. He was an extremist about everything. He lived in extreme luxury. The whole day he was sleeping, and the whole night was a night of dining and wining and dancing and gambling – his whole life was upside down.
He had a beautiful palace. Even on the steps he had not made a railing. On each step there were naked young women standing to function as a railing so he could go on putting his hand from one naked young woman to another.
This man heard of Buddha because so many people told him, “At least once you should listen to this man. There is some beauty, there is some truth, and there is some magnetic force in the man. What he says is not theoretical, what he says seems to be coming from the very innermost being, his own experience. He does not quote authorities, he is not a scholar. He says what he has known, and he says it with such authority that it is impossible not to be touched by it.”
So many said this to him, that finally he managed one day to get up early in the morning and go to listen to Gautam Buddha. Whatever the people had said was no exaggeration. In fact, the man was much more than the people had said about him. He had a certain gravitation that pulled you towards him.
Shron stood up – that was the name of the king of Shravasti – touched Buddha’s feet and said, “Please initiate me, I want to become a monk.”
It was a surprise. Nobody had ever thought that this man would become a monk. Even Gautam Buddha told him, “You have heard me only once, you should take some time to think it over; there is no hurry.”
But that was not the type of Shron’s personality. He said, “When I said, ‘I want to be a monk,’ I want to be a monk – and right now!”
He was an extremist. He became a monk. He renounced the kingdom.
Buddhist monks don’t live naked, but Shron started living naked. People reported to Buddha that he seemed to be really a great ascetic. Buddha said, “You have not understood the man. He is simply an extremist.”