Compassion is not to live passionately, but to live calmly, quietly, silently. Compassion can be without ups and downs – a deep serenity. Whatever happens on the outside does not matter, but the center of your being remains still, undisturbed.
So Buddha says: It is better to feed one who observes the five precepts of Buddha than to feed one thousand good men.
It is better to feed one srotapanna than to feed ten thousand of those who observe the five precepts of Buddha.
Srotapanna is a very beautiful word. It means who has stepped into the stream. Literally, srot means the source; srotapanna means who has stepped into the stream which leads to the source. He is no longer standing on the bank. The man who follows the five precepts may still be standing on the bank.
Before a srotapanna, Buddha says: ten thousand of those who follow the five precepts of Buddha…. One srotapanna is weightier, more valuable. He has risked the journey. He has moved from the bank into the river; he is ready to go to the source. He has taken the most courageous step a man has to take, ever in his life.
The bank seems to be so safe, and you can make it so cozy. And stepping into an unknown stream – no one knows where it is going; it is certainly going into the unknown, and perhaps ultimately into the unknowable…. It is better to feed the man who has the courage to step in, that srotapanna – just one srotapanna – than to feed ten thousand of those who observe the five precepts of Buddha.
It is better to feed one skridagamin than to feed one million of srotapannas. One million of srotapannas are nothing in comparison with one skridagamin: one who has reached the source. One million srotapannas may have stepped – but they may remain stuck there. Their first step may be their last step, because the journey is going to become more and more mysterious, more and more unknowable, more and more beyond their minds and beyond their control.
So many will step, but only a few will go to the very end. One who reaches to the end, the skridagamin, he is equal to one million of srotapannas.
It is better to feed one anagamin than to feed ten millions of skridagamins. Those who have reached the source are not necessarily going to stay there. They may come back. Anagamin means who is not going to look back – coming back is out of the question.
The skridagamin may have gone for strange reasons – maybe his ego: he is a strong person; when the weaker ones are stepping down or stopping, he will go to the very end, but he has all the desires in him – which can be fulfilled, or at least you can hope for them to be fulfilled, only on the bank. He will come back. He cannot remain there at the source.