Compassion does not force a certain way of life on people, and liberation is a certain way of life. Although it is for their good, still you are forcing them, insisting on it, that they follow the path, that they don’t waste time. You are not allowing them total freedom to be themselves. When they feel like moving on the path, they will move. And if they don’t feel to, it is nobody’s concern. It is their absolute right to remain in the world and not to go to moksha.
The arhatas interpret compassion in a very refined way, with a very total, different perspective. It is very difficult to choose who is right. Both seem to be right….
But Hinayana naturally could not gather as many disciples. Who would be interested in the people in the Hinayana school, who are not even interested in your liberation? They will not speak, they will not support, they will not give you a hand to pull you out of the ditch. They will simply wait. If you are capable of falling in the ditch you are certainly capable of getting out of it. If you are capable of falling into wrong paths, you are perfectly capable of feeling the misery, the suffering of the wrong path; you can change your path. Nobody else can do it for you.
So this is the Mahayana interpretation, that Buddha took millions of ages to become enlightened. For the arhatas the situation is totally different. They say it is not a question of millions of years and arduous effort. It was all a dream. Whether you dream for three million years, or three days, or three minutes, it makes no difference. The moment you wake up, all the dreams will be found to be simply hot air. There is no such tension then.
Even your disciplines – what you are practicing to obtain liberation – are really a kind of greed. And greed cannot destroy greed. It is ambition, and ambition cannot destroy the ego. Perhaps it is the greatest ambition – to be liberated, to be enlightened.
But wherever there is desire and ambition, you are in bondage. And all your practices and all your disciplines are but practicing in a dream. It is almost as if you are weak, but in your dream you do great gymnastics and you feel that you have become a world champion. But in the morning when you wake up, the same mouse is sleeping in the bed. What happened to all your gymnastics that you have been dreaming about?
You can dream about being a great sage, you can dream of being a great thief, you can dream of murdering many people, you can dream of serving many people but in the morning you will feel there is no distinction between all those dreams. They are all dreams made of the same stuff. They are all fictions. The good is as much a fiction as bad. The spiritual discipline is as much a fiction as murdering somebody. So those who don’t believe in the Mahayana doctrine say you can become enlightened, here and now. That was really the position of Bodhidharma. And that is creating the problem now. He cannot say Buddha is wrong; that is impossible. He loves Gautam Buddha, he is a disciple of Gautam Buddha, so he cannot say Gautam Buddha is wrong. He has to say the words of the Buddha are true.