When Buddha disappeared one night from his palace, he wanted to say to his wife, “I am going.” He wanted to touch the child who was born just a day before because he would not be back again. He went to the very door of the room. He looked at his wife – she was so fast asleep, must have been dreaming. Her face was beautiful, smiling with the child in her arms. He waited for a few seconds at the door, then he turned. He wanted to speak, but then he became afraid. If he said something, then the wife was bound to cry and weep and create a scene.
And he was afraid of himself also, because if she weeps and cries, then he may become aware of his own promises: “I will love you forever and ever, and I will be with you forever and ever.” And what about this child who is only one day old? And she will of course bring the child before him and she will say, “Look what you have done to me. Then why did we give birth to this child? And now who will be his father? Am I alone responsible for him? – and you are escaping like a coward.” All these thoughts came to him because in sleep everybody promises. Everybody goes on giving promises, not knowing how he can fulfill them. But it happens in sleep because nobody is conscious what is happening.
Suddenly he became aware that these things will be brought up and that then the family will gather – the father and everybody else – and he is the only son of the father and the father is looking at him, and in his sleep he has promised him also. Then he simply escaped: he simply escaped like a thief.
When he came back after twelve years, the wife asked him about the first thing that had come to his mind that night when he was leaving. The wife asked, “Why didn’t you tell me? The first thing I would like to ask – for these twelve years I have been waiting for you – why didn’t you tell me? What type of love is this? You simply left me. You are a coward.”
And Buddha listened silently. And the wife was silent and he said, “All these thoughts had come to me. I had come just to the door, I had even opened the door, I looked at you…. In sleep I had promised many things. But if I am going to be awake, if I am getting out of sleep, then I cannot keep the promises given in sleep, and if I try to keep the promises then I cannot awake.
“So you are right. You may think I am a coward. You may think that I escaped from the palace like a thief, not like a warrior, not like a man of courage. But I tell you, the exact opposite is the case. Because when I was escaping, to me at that moment, that was the moment of greatest bravery because my whole being was saying, ‘This is not good. Don’t be a coward,’ And if I had stopped, if I had listened to my sleepy being, then there was no possibility for me to awake.
“And now I come to you; now I can fulfill something because only a man who is enlightened can fulfill. A man who is ignorant, how can he fulfill anything? Now I come to you. If I had stopped that moment I couldn’t give you anything, but now I bring a great treasure with me, and now I can give it to you. Don’t weep, don’t cry; open your eyes and look at me. I am not the same man who left that night. A totally different being has come to your door. I am not your husband. You may be my wife, because that is your attitude. Look at me – I am a totally different person. Now I bring treasures for you. I can make you also aware and enlightened.”