The priest could not believe it. “He is really mad. Last night he burned a buddha, so costly” – it was made of sandalwood – “and now that madman is worshipping a milestone as a buddha.” The priest came close to him and said, “What are you doing?”
The master said, “My morning prayer.” The priest said, “But you look a strange type. Last night you destroyed my buddha and now you are worshipping a milestone.”
He said, “You don’t understand. It is only our visualization. If you visualize that this is a buddha, this is a buddha. You visualized a buddha in the wooden statue – it became a buddha. It is all a mind game. I don’t believe in prayers. It was just for you that I waited and was worshipping the milestone – just to show you that whatever you worship, you are worshipping something wrong, because you are the buddha. The worshiper is the buddha, not the worshipped. Can I come in the temple again tonight?”
The priest said, “No, although you appear to be right and perhaps I am wrong, I cannot follow your great understanding – it is dangerous. It will be good if you leave this place and do your act in some other temple. I am a poor priest; you have already destroyed one of my most beautiful buddhas; now I cannot – even though you convinced me – I cannot allow you inside the temple.”
The master said, “It is not a question…but I can see that you have understood rightly, and one day you will come searching for me. I can see in your eyes the light of understanding, a ray of understanding. Don’t let me in…but I am already within you.”
And after two years the priest had to come to the master to give an apology, and he brought the remaining three statues, saying, “You can burn them whenever you need. I have understood. Since that night, I have not been able for a single moment to forget you – your beauty, your grace, your peace, your silence and your great effort to make me understand that what I had been doing was stupid. And I misbehaved with you; I threw you out in the dark night, on a cold night. Still you waited for me next morning, to give me another opportunity to understand. And I was so foolish that I missed that opportunity too.
“But two years are enough. You have been haunting me. Now I have come, knowing perfectly well that the buddha is within; he is not in the statues of the temples, and the statues of the temples and the milestones are not different.”
That reminds me: when for the first time in India, the British government created the roads and put the milestones, they painted those milestones red, because red is a very brilliant color and you can see it from far away. Particularly in contrast to the greenery of the fields and the forest, it looks separate. Any other color may get mixed, but red stands absolutely separate.