I said, “Yes. Certainly you are not going to become a buddha, but you are going to become a bhikku, a sannyasin.” That is the name of a Buddhist sannyasin.
He laughed and said, “Impossible!”
I said, “You can bet on it.”
He asked me, “Okay, how much?”
I said, “It does not matter. You can bet any amount you want, because if I win, I win; if I lose, I lose nothing, because I don’t have anything. You are gambling with a child of seven. Can’t you see it? I don’t have anything.”
You will be surprised to know that I was standing there naked. In that poor village it was not prohibited, at least for seven year-old children, to run around naked. It was not an English village!
I can still see myself standing there naked, before the astrologer. The whole village had gathered around, and they were all listening to what was conspiring between me and him.
The old man said, “Okay, if I become a sannyasin, a bhikku” – and he showed his gold pocket watch, studded with diamonds – “I will give this to you. And what about you, if you lose?”
I said, “I will simply lose. I don’t have anything; no gold wristwatch to give to you. I will just thank you.”
He laughed and departed.
I don’t believe in astrology; ninety-nine point nine percent of it is nonsense, but point one percent is pure truth. A man of insight, intuition and purity can certainly look into the future, because the future is not nonexistential, it is just hidden from our eyes. Maybe just a thin curtain of thoughts is all that divides the present and the future.
In India, the bride covers her face with a ghoonghat. Now it is difficult to translate this word; it is just a mask. She pulls her sari over her face. That’s the way the future is hidden from us, just by a ghoonghat, a thin veil. I don’t believe in astrology, I mean the ninety-nine point nine percent of it. The remaining point one percent I need not believe in, it is true. I have seen it function.
That old man was the first proof. But it is strange: he could see my future, of course vaguely, with all kinds of possibilities, but he could not see his own. Not only that, he was ready to bet against me when I said that he would become a bhikku.
I was fourteen, and again traveling around Varanasi with my father’s father. He had gone on business, and I had stubbornly insisted on going with him. I stopped an old bhikku on the road between Varanasi and Sarnath and said, “Old man, do you remember me?”
He said, “I have never seen you before – why should I remember you?”