In these twenty-five centuries, millions have followed him with a wrong understanding. Their very first step is wrong. The Buddhist monk has not been able to understand what Buddha is really pointing at. He has completely forgotten the moon which the finger of Buddha is pointing at. He is clinging to the finger, he is worshipping the finger, he has become obsessed with the finger. He has completely forgotten that the finger is only a means to point at the moon. Forget the finger and look at the moon. You cannot look at the moon if you cannot forget the finger.
Thousands and thousands of commentaries have been written on these beautiful sutras. But if the first step is wrong then everything goes wrong. The first wrong step all the commentaries have taken is saying that Buddha renounced the world. It is not true. The world simply fell away; it ceased to have any meaning for him.
The night Buddha moved away from his palace to the mountains, when he was crossing the boundary of his kingdom, his charioteer tried to persuade him, tried to convince him to go back to the palace.
The charioteer was an old man, he had known Buddha from his very childhood; he was almost of the same age as Buddha’s father. He said, “What are you doing? This is sheer madness. Have you gone insane or what? Look back!”
It was a full-moon night and his marble palace was looking so beautiful. In the full moon the white marble of his palace was a joy to see. People used to come from faraway places just to have a glimpse of Buddha’s palace in the full moon, just as people go to see the Taj Mahal. White marble has a tremendous beauty when the moon is full. There is some synchronicity between the full moon and white marble, a certain harmony, a rhythm, a communion.
The charioteer said, “Look back at least once at your beautiful palace. Nobody has such a beautiful palace.”
Buddha looked back and told the old man, “I don’t see any palace there but only great fire. The palace is on fire, only flames. Simply leave me and go back; if you see the palace, go back to the palace. I don’t see any palace there because death is arriving every moment. And I don’t see any palace there because all palaces disappear sooner or later. In this world everything is momentary and I am in search of the eternal. Seeing the momentariness of this world I can no longer befool myself.”
These are his exact words, “I cannot befool myself anymore.” Not that he is renouncing the world! What can he do? If you see something as rubbish, if you see that the stones that you have carried all along are not real diamonds, what are you going to do with them? It will not need great courage to drop them, to throw them away; it will not need great intelligence to get rid of them. They will immediately fall from your hands. You were not clinging to those stones but to the idea that they were diamonds. You were clinging to your fallacy, your illusion.