Even the Wisest Don’t Know

Gautama Buddha was surely one of the wisest person who walked upon this earth.

But one night he left his home in search of enlightenment and was at it with the greatest perseverance for the next twelve years. However, after attaining Nirvana he decided to come back home to meet his wife, son and his father.

The dialog that ensued between his wife and him is enlightening by itself. Here goes the story..

And the first thing his wife said to him was, “I can see that you are transformed. These twelve years were a great suffering, but not because you had gone; I suffered because you did not tell me. If you had simply told me that you were going to seek the truth, do you think I would have prevented you? You have insulted me very badly. This is the wound that I have been carrying for twelve years. I also belong to the warrior caste–do you think I am that weak that I would have cried and screamed and stopped you?

“All these twelve years my only suffering was that you did not trust me. I would have allowed you, I would have given you a send-off, I would have come up to the chariot. First I want to ask the only question that has been in my mind for all these twelve years, which is that whatever you have attained… and it certainly seems you have attained something.

“You are no longer the same person who left this palace; you radiate a different light, your presence is totally new and fresh, your eyes are as pure and clear as a cloudless sky. You have become so beautiful… you were always beautiful, but this beauty seems to be not of this world. Some grace from the beyond has descended on you. My question is that whatever you have attained was it not possible to attain it here in this palace? Can the palace prevent the truth?”

It is a tremendously intelligent question, and Gautam Buddha had to agree: “I could have attained it here but I had no idea at that moment. Now I can say that I could have attained it here in this palace; there was no need to go to the mountains, there was no need to go anywhere. I had to go inside, and that could have happened anywhere. This palace was as good as any other place, but now I can say that. At that moment I had no idea.

“So you have to forgive me, because it is not that I did not trust you or your courage. In fact, I was doubtful of myself: if I had seen you wake up and if I had seen the child, I may have started wondering, ‘What am I doing, leaving my beautiful wife, whose total love, whose total devotion is for me. And leaving my one-day-old child… if I am to leave him then why did I give birth to him? I am escaping from my responsibilities.’

“If my old father had awakened, it would have become impossible for me. It was not that I did not trust you; it was really that I did not trust myself. I knew that there was a wavering; I was not total in renouncing. A part of me was saying, ‘What are you doing?’–and a part of me was saying, ‘This is the time to do it. If you don’t do it now it will become more and more difficult. Your father is preparing to crown you. Once you are crowned as king, it will be more difficult.'”


Moral of the Story

1. Even the wisest amongst us do not know in advance what would work and what wouldn’t. And it is indeed foolish to predict the future with any degree of certainty, more so, if such predictions are done by projecting the past.

2. Even the wisest amongst us are plagued or gripped by doubts, uncertainties, fear and loss of face, inability to be arrogant and fear of failure.

3. We learn better by doing and through direct experience

4. The fundamental truths in life are always available in whatever we choose to do and wherever we might choose to do that. No special circumstances or professions ae needed to realize the truth. So such truths are available to all and are a part of the ‘collective wisdom’.


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