Zorba the Greek Becomes Gautama the Buddha

Letter from New Delhi

To mark Buddha Jayanti on 30 April, the full moon night when Buddha was born, got enlightened and left his body, Kul Bhushan, recalls Buddha’s search and wonders if we can follow him.

The brilliant young astrologer, Kau Danna, raised just one finger while the group of wise old fortunetellers raised two. Kau Danna indicated that the new born prince had only one possibility to become a great spiritual guru while the others played safe by suggesting that he could either become a great spiritual guru or a great emperor.

The newborn’s father did not want to take any chances, so he organised the environment around prince Siddhartha to exclude all indications of decay and death. The prince frolicked with his mother and nannies; later played, laughed, danced and cavorted with other children in his palace, shielded from the real world.

Stepping into his teens, he rode horses, learnt sword fighting and archery, enjoyed wrestling, relished delicious meals, adored music and dancing, gamboled with the most beautiful maidens, thus savouring ‘the good life’. In his late twenties, he was married to a ravishing princess and fathered a son.

Siddhartha lived his first 29 years like Zorba The Greek described by author Nikos Kazantzakis in his novel of the same title, later made into a hit Hollywood movie. Zorba lived life to the fullest by loving, laughing, dancing, playing music and celebrating everything.

One day Siddhartha was travelling to inaugurate a youth festival in his royal chariot when he saw a sick old man, a sight he had never seen. Intrigued, he asked his faithful charioteer to know what had happened to this man. The answer shook him up as he realised that one day, he too, would become sick and old. Further on, a funeral was crossing the road. Again, he asked his driver and the answer devastated him when he found out that this was the grim finale of all life.

Ordering the charioteer to turn around, he became very pensive when he returned to his palace. That night, he could not sleep as the two images kept haunting him. In the middle of the night, he got up to leave the palace and search for the meaning of life, the truth of it all. Yearning for peace, he went to the forest to look for a master. For many years with many masters, he searched but he did not achieve what he aspired for.

Weakened by penance and hunger, he was crossing a stream when its current almost drowned him, had he not grabbed a hanging branch. That was it. Deciding to give up punishing his body and all desire, even that of realizing himself, he sat under a tree and meditated.

Then it happened. The truth enveloped him in a glorious light. Silence, peace, bliss… all showered upon him. Siddhartha was transformed into Buddha, the enlightened one.

Buddha exudes just one dimension of great peace, stillness and harmony with the universe. To be like him, we sit cross-legged, close our eyes and try to become still. However, our mind races on, fantasising all we have missed in our lives. For a man, these are gorgeous women, magnificent homes, sleek sports cars, grand banquets and so on. For women, it is glittering diamonds, designer dresses, red carpets, handsome men, celebrity friends and on and on. The mind races on with unfulfilled desires while Buddha is not even on the horizon.

Do we want to live it up like a Zorba or become silent like the Buddha? The enlightened master Osho shows us the way by showing us to meditate with vigorous physical activity followed by catharsis and lapsing into silence to experience our no-mind going beyond happiness and tasting bliss for a few moments which become eternity.

Osho’s genius has devised the original concept of Zorba The Buddha as he points out that Zorba is incomplete without mediation and Buddha without celebration. Osho says, “Zorba is the foundation and Buddha is the palace. Buddha is the peak, but the foundation stones are laid by Zorba. It will be foolish to choose to be a Buddha without having the foundation stones.

“Zorba should be there and the stronger a Zorba is there, the better a Buddha is possible. So, I can become Buddha any moment, Zorba is absolutely needed as the basic energy out of which the Buddha is going to be carved. Zorba is the marble rock out of which the Buddha statue has to be carved. I choose the rock… and Buddha is easy.

“It is just a question of opening your eyes. I don’t bother about Buddha; I am worried about people who are not Zorbas. How will they become Buddhas? They don’t have the basic material out of which a Buddha is made.

“And this poverty has been given to people by our religious leaders. They have been told not to be materialists. They have been told to be celibate. They have been told to live in poverty. They have been told that life is out of sin. All these things have destroyed their Zorbas. Otherwise, every man is a born Zorba the Greek.

“And if everything goes according to me, every man will die as Zorba the Buddha. Between the Greek and the Buddha there is not much distance, but first you must be the Greek.” — Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 2, Talk #19.

Become Zorba the Buddha; your only option as signaled by Kau Danna.

 

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi

 


* Published in print edition on 4 May 2018

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