“We have heard from the ancient days, that whenever an enlightened man dies, as he leaves his body, his consciousness spreads all over the universe. We want to be close to you just to have a taste of your consciousness.”
And at that moment Buddha said, “Okay, then I say good-bye to you. I will die in four steps. First I will leave my body; then I will leave my mind; then I will leave my heart; and in the fourth, the turiya, I will dissolve into the ocean of existence.”
He closed his eyes, and just that very moment a man came running and he said, “I have to ask something. For thirty years I have been postponing it. Buddha has been coming to my town many times in these thirty years, and I have always thought that this time I am going to see him and ask my question. But something or other…and I went on postponing. Just human stupidity – a guest has come, I was engaged with customers, there was a marriage ceremony I had to participate in. So I went on postponing, thinking that there is no hurry, that when he comes next time, then I will ask. But sometimes my wife was sick, sometimes I was sick…and these thirty years have passed. Just now I heard that Buddha is dying. Now I cannot postpone. No reason can prevent me.”
But Ananda said, “You have come a little late. He has begun his inner journey; he has already moved two steps: we can see his body has become utterly silent, and as far as dropping the mind…it is just an empty mind, he must have dropped it. It may take a little while for him to drop the heart, because it was the heart that he was using continuously to radiate his love, his joy, his silence. It is not right to disturb him at this moment. Forty-two years he has been speaking; now it is your fault if in thirty years you could not find the time – it is your question.”
But Buddha returned. His breathing, which had disappeared, came back again, his heart started beating again. He opened his eyes and he said, “Ananda, do you want it to be remembered by the coming generations that Buddha’s love was so small that he could not come two steps back when a thirsty man had come? And I am still alive – I would be blamed forever. Don’t prevent him, let him ask his question.”
The man was seeing Buddha for the first time, and in a very strange situation: thousands of people were sitting silently, their eyes full of tears. And Buddha was almost half dead: he had taken two steps inwards; just two steps more and he would become part of the oceanic consciousness.
But a man who is love even in such a situation will radiate love. Ananda and all the disciples could not believe that for an ordinary man, who is not even a disciple, who has postponed for thirty years…. But Buddha’s love and his compassion are infinite – he asked the man…but the man was so overwhelmed by the situation, he forgot his question.