Generally wise men of religion have long hairs and flowing beard; attired in loose robes they are impressive with prayer beads in hand evoking a sense of deference in lesser mortals. Lamas on the other hand are exceptions; they have their heads and faces fully shaved. Of all the religions I least dislike Buddhism for encouraging debate. The self realization is achieved through intense debate and questioning. Even though they don’t say it but God is completely irrelevant in their scheme of things therefore no handed down wisdom as ‘word of God’; there is no intermediate space between death and rebirth therefore no ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ concept and Nirvana is complete dissipation of existence. Buddha must have been a hell of a persuasive communicator to have convinced masses to convert without performing any miracle.
Two lamas lived in a cave near Mansarover lake in Himalaya. They had mastered their body to respond to extreme climate and to cope with hunger for long duration as such physical pain was no longer an issue with them. They did not talk and went about their business of seeking Nirvana in their usual way of meditation and arguing with self. One exception was the full moon night when they opened up and talked.
Years went by, while lamas kept improving their control of body but hit an invisible threshold in their spiritual quest. They were not making any progress……Once Shakyamuni passed by the lake, made a brief stay at the cave. The two lamas did everything to make Buddha comfortable and hoped the enlightened one would resolve their dilemma. One full moon night when there was no wind and everything was deathly quiet, sitting at the edge of the lake the lamas started discussing utter futility of their effort while Buddha looked at them bemusedly. Suddenly he said,
‘Look at the reflection on the lake you look like hunters.’
The lamas were surprised, immediately looked at their reflection in the lake. In that bright moon night they were astonished to see their reflections resembling those of tribal hunters. They uttered in unison,
‘How is this possible?’
‘But you are hunters seeking deer of knowledge’, said Buddha, ‘but always hitting a mirage.’
‘Quite so Enlightened One, why is that?
What do you desire most?
Lamas thought for a long time then one of them said, ‘Nirvana!’
‘Yes but lesser than that what you covet?’
They scratched their head but couldn't come to any definite conclusion. Buddha said ‘
‘You see a hunter is an intense person. He has a focused vision. And his focus is his prey. If he wavers from his focus he will not catch the prey. You also have focus but it is not intense focus. What you covet most other than attaining Nirvana is this very night when you are able to converse. You spend time of the month trying to unravel knowledge but all the time eagerly wait for this night. This distraction in our focus is the invisible threshold you hit.’
‘What should we do Buddha?’
“Never confuse objective with means to achieve it. Rigid rules are the bane of your undoing. Remain quiet if it helps you in your objective not because you have imposed a restriction ….”
After giving this advice Buddha left them …….