In India they have the idea that on the feet of a buddha, on the underneath of the feet, there are two rings. They are the signs, when a child is born, that the person will become a buddha. It is not necessary for every buddha to have those two rings, but any child that is born with those two rings is inevitably going to become a buddha.
It is not inevitable for everybody. You may become or you may not become, it is your choice. But it is not a choice for a man like Ma Tzu. He had earned enough from his meditation in his past life, and was so close to buddhahood when he died that it was absolutely certain he would become a buddha.
Perhaps Eno had seen those two rings on his feet when he said to Nangaku, “This young man is going to become a buddha. I am old, and he is asking for initiation, but you are going to be my successor, so it is better that you take care of him from the very beginning. Give him initiation, and remember, be respectful to him. He is already a buddha – just a little push and he will be on the other shore.”
The story Maneesha has brought:
Ma Tzu had three outstanding disciples who enjoyed a special intimacy with him. They were Nan-chu’an, Chih-tsang, and Hui-hai (otherwise known as Hyakujo).
It is almost inevitable from the way ancient masters worked that there will be a certain intimacy between them and a few disciples. They may have thousands of disciples, but a few disciples will be intimate. From these intimate disciples will be chosen their successor.
It is no more applicable as far as I am concerned because nobody is going to be a successor to me. The very idea of succeeding was an idea borrowed from the royal families. Just as kings were succeeded by their eldest sons, it reflected on the tradition of masters also that somebody would become their successor.
I want to make a complete break. As far as I am concerned, you are all intimate to me. I can afford the intimacy of all of you, because there is no question of any succeeding. Nobody is going to be my successor. I want everybody to be a master unto himself.
To be a successor is a little humiliating. It is against the dignity of an enlightened man. Neither has he anybody before him as his predecessor nor has he anybody after him who is his successor. He is alone, standing like an Everest; no one precedes him, no one succeeds him.
His aloneness is a message to all who fall in love with him, that they also have to be alone. In your aloneness you are beautiful, pure. It does not mean that you have to renounce the world. It simply means that you don’t have to belong to the world. You can remain in the marketplace, but just be a mirror, a witness, watching whatever is going on.