A youth was once brought to me. He wanted to know how he could live only on water. He didn’t want to take anything else, because all else is an indulgence. How to live only on water? He had wasted away. He had come to India from America in search of someone to tell him the secret of surviving only on water. I said, “If I tell you the secret of how to live on water, will you be satisfied? Close your eyes and think.”
He was a thoughtful youth. He kept on sitting with closed eyes for about half an hour. Then he said, “No, then I would ask how can one live on just air, only on air. Why have even this nuisance of drinking water?”
Such is the desire of the mind, the race of the ego – for more. What direction you run in makes no difference. The ego lives in extremes – whether it is the extreme of money or of renunciation, the extreme of indulgence or of discipline. If you stop in the middle the ego will die. This is why Buddha calls his path the middle path; exactly in the middle.
Buddha initiated a youth, the Emperor Shrona. The people in the capital could not believe it; no one had ever imagined that Shrona would become a monk. Buddha’s monks could not believe it either, their eyes were popping out when Shrona came and fell at Buddha’s feet and said, “Initiate me, make me a monk.”
Shrona was an emperor, and a famous emperor. He was famous for his indulgence. In his royal palace he had the most beautiful women of that time living there. His palace had the finest wines that had been gathered from every corner of the world. Celebration went on all night long, and he slept all day. He was so drowned in indulgence that no one had ever thought that he could think of becoming a sannyasin. When he climbed his steps…he didn’t have hand railings, instead he had naked women standing there. He would climb the steps supporting himself by putting his hand on their shoulders. He had made his house into a paradise. His palace was such that the gods in heaven would be jealous.
The monks asked Buddha, “We can’t believe it. Shrona is being initiated?”
Buddha said, “Whether you believe it or not, I knew he was going to take sannyas. To tell you the truth, it is for him that I came to the capital today. What goes to one extreme will go to the other extreme also. Indulgence is one extreme; he did that completely. Now there is no way to move, no way to satisfy the ego any further in that direction. He has whatever is possible in that world. Now a wall has appeared in front of the ego – now where can the ego go? The ego always demands more, and now there isn’t any more, so the ego must return, must go back in the opposite direction. When the pendulum of a clock goes all the way to the right it must return towards the left. Then it goes all the way to the left and has to return again to the right. When the pendulum of a clock is going to the left, remember that it is gathering momentum to go to the right. And when it is going to the right, it is gathering momentum to go to the left. Someone who has a subtle vision will be able to see that a person who goes into extreme indulgence will one day go into extreme austerity.
Buddha said, “Wait a few days and you will see the truth of what I am saying.”