11 Intriguing Buddha Stories by Sadhguru

Here is a collection of Buddha stories that Sadhguru has told over the years to elucidate certain aspects of the spiritual path and to offer inspiration from Gautama’s own life and journey.
Sadhguru Wisdom Article | 11 Intriguing Buddha Stories by Sadhguru
 
Table of Content
1. Early Life of Gautama the Buddha
   1-1. Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment
   1-2. How Gautama Became a Buddha
2. Buddha and the Astrologer
3. When Buddha Sent a Man’s Father to Heaven
4. Buddha and Angulimala
5. The Story of Buddha and Ananda
6. Does God Exist?
7. How Buddha Started Zen
8. Buddha Says "Drop It"
9. Why Buddha Sent a Monk to a Prostitute
10. A Mother Asks Buddha to Revive Her Dead Son
11. How Buddha Died

Sadhguru: If I say “Buddha,” today most people think of Gautama the Buddha. Gautama was not the only Buddha. There were many before him, many at that time and many more after him. Buddha is not his name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha. He became a Buddha. The word "Bu" means buddhi or the intellect. One who is above his intellect is a Buddha.

There is probably no one in the world who has not heard of Gautama's name. Though there have been many Buddhas, his name has lived on. He has been one of the greatest spiritual waves and probably the most successful spiritual teacher on the planet. In his own lifetime, he had forty thousand monks and this army of monks went out to bring a spiritual wave. He did not do anything very new as such, but he offered spirituality to the society in the way that it works. Till then, spiritual process was offered only in Sanskrit language in that part of the world and Sanskrit was available only to a certain community of people. Others were barred from learning it because this language was seen as the key to the Divine. For the first time, Gautama spoke in Pali, which was the common language of the day. He opened up the floodgates of spirituality for all kinds of people.

#1. Early Life of Gautama the Buddha

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Gautama was a prince of a small princely state. When he was born, some Yogi predicted that he will either become a great emperor or a great sage. When he made this prediction, Gautama’s father got a little excited. He did not want him to become a great sage. He wanted him to become a great emperor. He thought that by being exposed to some suffering or misery, he may turn into a sage. So he kept him in utter pleasure – the best of food, clothes and pleasures. When he was nineteen years of age, his father got him married to a very pretty young woman, kept him in a palace which was secluded from the rest of the society, where he lived in pleasure and was never exposed to any kind of suffering. One day, Gautama thought that he will just take a drive through the town, so he asked his charioteer to take him across.

...he could not hold it anymore – in the middle of the night, without telling anyone, he slipped out of the palace like a thief and left for good.

As he was going, he saw a man who was old. He had never seen an old man in his life. His father had protected him from all this. He said, "What happened to him?" The charioteer said, "Oh, he is just an old man." "How does it happen?" he asked. He said, "Everyone gets old someday." He looked at himself; he was a nice youth. "What, me also?" He said, "Yes, everyone gets old. If they live long enough, they get old." This was a realization for him that "I will become like this."

Then he saw a man lying on the street who was ill with something, not able to get up and in great suffering. He said, "Stop! What is this guy? What's he doing?" He said, "Oh, he is sick, unfortunately." "What does that mean?" He said, "The body, sometimes it gets sick. It can happen to just anyone." "Me, a prince? It can happen to me?" "It can happen to anyone." Then he saw, "Oh, I can become like this." He was completely disturbed by this. Then they went further and he saw a funeral. They were carrying the dead body of a man. "What happened to that guy?" "Oh, he just died, that’s all." "What does that mean?" "That happens to everyone without exception." Then he said, "What am I doing? Just eating, pleasures and nonsense! What am I doing with myself?" He went into turmoil within himself. Suddenly, being a prince and the pleasures of this palace broke apart for him.

He started looking, "What is the point of all this? This body is going to get old, this may get sick and this will be dead for sure. Why am I investing my entire life in this?" But by then he had an infant boy. He could not leave this loving wife and this lovely little baby. He struggled and struggled.

By then, a little over one-and-a-quarter year had passed. When the little boy was one-and-a-half years of age, he could not hold it anymore – in the middle of the night, without telling anyone, he slipped out of the palace like a thief and left for good. He went in search, "I want to know the truth about this life."

Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment

These are times when different schools were established in India. At one point they were over 1800 different ways of doing things, 1800 different varieties of Yoga. It is like how the medical science is becoming today. Twenty-five years ago, if you wanted a medical checkup, all you needed was your family doctor. Today, there is a doctor for every part of your body.

He sat there with this determination, "Either I must see the ultimate nature of my existence now, or I will sit here and die. I will not open my eyes till I know this."

Similarly, this happened to the Yogic system. People started specializing in a variety of small things. When specialization crosses a certain point, it becomes ridiculous. This happened to Yoga. It crossed that point where 1800 different specializations of Yoga happened. That is when Patanjali came and kind of assimilated everything into Yoga Sutras to minimize this expanse that was growing endlessly.

When Gautama came, it was post Patanjali, but still there were many things. He went from school to school and he pursued eight different forms of samadhi. He saw all of them were wonderful experiences, but it still did not liberate him. In this condition, he started walking as a samana, which is a certain system where their fundamental practice is that they will never ask for food. They do not go in pursuit of food because they want to beat the fundamental instinct of survival.

Samanas used to just walk, never asking for food. But the culture was sensitive. If they saw a spiritual person walking, people would cook at home and run behind him and serve him wherever he was because they knew that he will not ask for food. If you become a samana today, you will walk yourself to death! Those days, people were sensitive to his sadhana and responded, so there were thousands of samanas walking the country. Gautama became a samana. Even if you are not asking for food, you may walk near a town so that food will come. But Gautama took it too seriously and just walked. He became just bones and a bag of skin.

Then he came to a place where there was a river called Niranjana. It was just about eighteen to twenty inches of water and he stepped into it. Halfway down into the river, he did not have the energy to cross. There was a dead branch and he just held onto it. He did not have the strength to take the next step but he is not the kind of man to let go. He held on. We do not know for how long. Maybe it was two minutes. When you are feeling so weak, those two minutes might have looked like many years. Then, as he hung on, he just realized, "What is it that I am striving for? What is it I am wandering the entire country for? Going from school to school, learning this, learning that, what is it that I am looking for?" Then he realized, "There is really nothing. This life is on. All I have to do is just take away the barriers which are not allowing me to experience this."

How Gautama Became a Buddha

When he realized that everything is within him and there is nowhere to search, he suddenly had the energy to take the next step and the next step. He crossed the river and sat down under that now very famous Bodhi tree. It was a full moon night. He sat there with this determination, "Either I must see the ultimate nature of my existence now, or I will sit here and die. I will not open my eyes till I know this."

Once he made that resolve, to know what is within you, can happen in a moment. When he saw that you do not have to do anything in particular for realization, he was fully enlightened. And the moon was shining. He had not eaten properly for many years. He was a samana for four years and he had gathered five disciples. These guys thought, "He is real. Because he does not eat, he is really rigid," and now they saw that he is in some exuberant state and they could see the light on his face. Then they were waiting for him to open his eyes and give the teaching. He opened his eyes, looked at them, smiled and said, "Cook something, let's eat." They were totally disappointed. They thought, "He has lost it." They walked with him for four years when he had nothing but torture, but when he got enlightened, they left him because they wanted to hear something severe. But he said, "Cook something, let's eat. We have been wasting our time."

#2. Buddha and the Astrologer

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One day, after he had become a Buddha, Gautama went and sat down under a tree. Not because a tree is the best place to sit under, but because that was the only real estate of those times. There were not so many buildings everywhere. A tree was a pleasant place to sit under rather than sitting in harsh sun.

"I own nothing, and I am a nobody. That is why everything is mine."

An astrologer of great proficiency in his trade came for a bath in the river and saw a footprint on the riverbank. There are observations through which by looking at the way one’s feet are, someone can predict exactly what he will do.

He saw that this is the footprint of an emperor, someone who should rule the world. Then he wondered, why would such a person be in this remote place near a jungle? And he followed the footprint, thinking he will meet an emperor. Then he saw this monk, Gautama, sitting under a tree. He looked at this and thought, "Either my astrology has gone all wrong, or I am being fooled, or I am in some kind of hallucination. What's happening here?" He went to Gautama and asked, "Who are you?" Gautama said, "I am nobody, I am just a nobody." "But you have the feet of an emperor, you should conquer the world!" Gautama said, "That I will, but not by conquest."

There are two ways you can have the world – either by conquest or by inclusion. Both ways something or someone becomes yours. But if you go by conquest, it will always be a pain in your neck. If you include, this will become a great enhancement of life. He said, "I am the emperor of the world." The astrologer said, "You are a monk, you own nothing." "I own nothing, and I am a nobody. That is why everything is mine."

Becoming a no-thing does not mean that you are no use, when you are a no-thing, it means that you have become all inclusive. If you are something, it means that you can only be that. If you are a no-thing, you can be any way you want. This astrologer sat down and said, "You are a monk, you have nothing, on top of it you say 'I am a nobody and everything is mine.’ What is this?" Gautama said, "You come, I have a way for you. You are busy making predictions of life, I have a plan.” You make predictions of life because you are incapable of making a plan. That is why you fall back on predictions. If you are capable of making a plan and executing it, you would not fall back on predictions. Gautama said, "You are busy making predictions. I am here, I have a plan. Come, become a part of my plan, we will make something else happen!" 

#3. When Buddha Sent a Man’s Father to Heaven

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In India, when your parent or grandparent dies, there is an elaborate system as to what to do. It happened that a man died and his son wanted to ensure his father goes to heaven. In the town, there are many travel agents who book tickets to heaven[1]. He went from travel agent to travel agent and everyone was willing to take the booking but no one had a confirmed ticket. But he wanted a confirmed ticket for his father. Then he found out that Gautama the Buddha himself was in town on that day.

An enlightened being means that he has a hotline with God. If he himself recommends your father, your father goes straight into heaven without being stopped at the gates. So he went looking for him.

Gautama said, "If you break it in one single stroke, the stones will come and float on the surface, the butter will sink. Then your father has made it."

Gautama was sitting under a tree in front of a huge lake outside the town. He went and fell at his feet and held onto his feet like an alligator and said, "My father was a good man and he passed away. I want you to make sure that he goes to heaven. He must go up, not down." Before Gautama could open his mouth, he said, "You should not say no." There is a tradition in India that if someone comes to you and requests, "I am going to ask you something, you should not say no." That means you cannot say no because he is that desperate about it. You have no choice. So Gautama said, "Now what can I do, you have already put this stricture on me, I cannot say no. All right, you do one thing, go back home, have a dip in the river at four o’clock in the morning, take an earthen pot and fill it half with rocks and half with butter, tie it with a cloth, bring it here and we will see what we can do for your father."

Our man went. If your father is going to heaven, can you take a small pot? He bought the biggest pot available in the town, filled it half with rock, another half with butter and tied it up. He carried this very heavy pot with great difficulty and came and stood in front of Gautama. Gautama looked at him and said, "Go around the lake three times and come." This is called as circumambulation. There is a science behind it, but now people take it to ridiculous lengths of going around everything three times. Gautama said, "Go around the lake three times and come." The man walked around the lake three times carrying this heavy pot. He was half finished when he came and stood in front of Gautama. Gautama looked at his condition and his determination. He told him, "Just walk into the water till the water comes to your chest." He went in.

Then Gautama said, "Gently let the pot in." The pot went in and sank. Gautama picked up a thick stick, threw it to him and said, "Take the stick and now with a single stroke, you must break the pot." The pot was under the water and the man was tired. Breaking this with a single stroke is a difficult task. But your father is going to heaven, can you give up? He stood there and got ready. The man thought of all the gods that he knew and held his breath. Then Gautama said, "If you break it in one single stroke, the stones will come and float on the surface, the butter will sink. Then your father has made it." In one hefty stroke, the pot broke and the butter came up. He looked at this sacrilege, "Butter came up, now what to do?" He looked at Gautama. Gautama said, "He did not make it." Butter came up when stones were supposed to come up and the man felt totally disappointed and dejected. Then he turned around and started walking back.

As he started coming out of the water, his brain started to work. He came to Gautama and asked, "You said that butter will sink and stones will float. How is that possible? The very laws of nature are such that stones can only sink, butter can only float. Did you deceive me?" Gautama said, "Oh, now that you know so much about the laws of nature, what is the problem? If your father is like butter, he will go up; if he is like a stone, he will go down. What can I do about it? And what can you do about it? You look very tired. Go home and sleep."

#4. Buddha and Angulimala

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There was a man. The name that people gave to him was Angulimala. Something happened to him, he felt the society has been unfair to him, and he became an angry man. When you are young, you think everything is unfair to you. So he became very angry with the society and he took a vow. In this town which had been unfair to him, he was going to kill 101 people and cut off one of their fingers and wear it as a rosary around his neck.

Gautama said, “My going stopped a long time ago. I have arrived. You are the one who are trying to go somewhere.”

He went about doing this. He was housed in a jungle, but this was the pathway to go to many other places. People were terrified to go this way. Over a few years, he killed one hundred people. He just wanted one more to satisfy his lust. One day, Gautama the Buddha came to this town. By now, because he was wearing a garland of these fingers, they called him Angulimala – that means one who wears fingers as his garland. He needed just one more finger to complete his vow. Gautama came and he was to go that way. People said, “Do not go this way. This is not a man. This is an animal. This is not someone you can go and give a teaching to or make meditative. Do not go, because he wants just one more life. We do not want yours to be that one.” Then Gautama said, “If I do not go, who will go? And he will remain unfulfilled. He just needs one more finger. Let me go.” So he went. Angulimala was sitting on a rock and he saw this monk coming quietly.

By now, he was enjoying his reputation. People were terrified of him and he liked it. People tremble at just the mention of his name. So sitting there on the rock, he roared just to make this monk know that, “I am here, and this is your end coming.” Gautama looked at him and kept walking quietly with a smile on his face. He did not like this. Usually when they saw him or heard him, people ran helter-skelter, wanting to save their lives. He liked that. This man was just walking. He jumped off the rock, came and stood in front of him and said, “Who the hell are you? And do you know who I am?” He showed his mala, all fingers. “Do you know about me?” Gautama said, “Well, I have heard a lot about you, what about it?” and he kept walking. “Where do you think you are going? You are still going when I am talking to you?” Gautama said, “My going stopped a long time ago. I have arrived. You are the one who are trying to go somewhere.”

Then Angulimala laughed. He said, “Rubbish. You are definitely an insane man. I am standing still, and you say that I am going. You are walking, and you say you are not going. What’s wrong with you?” Gautama said, “I have arrived a long time ago. I am not going anywhere. You are the one who is trying to go somewhere. But you do not know how to go there. You want my finger or you want my neck? You have already got fingers, you can hang my head and it will be a good pendant for the necklace. Because I am done, I have arrived. It does not matter whether I am physically here or not. You can do what you want.”

The pleasure of killing is only when they are terrified and do not want to die. When someone wants to die and they do not care, what is the use of killing this guy? And it looks like even if he kills this guy, his lust for 101 lives will not be fulfilled because this guy does not give him the pleasure. Then he said, “Wait, you tell me what is this about? You are moving, and you are saying that you have arrived and you are not moving. I am not moving and you say I am moving.” “You are looking for fulfillment in your own way – 101. I am fulfilled. This is the big difference. And you can take my life. If you think you are going to be fulfilled, do it, because my work is to fulfill people. If it is going to happen so easily that you are going to be fulfilled without a teaching, just by slashing my throat, just do it, what is the problem?”

Then Angulimala became his disciple. Gautama said, “You must go into the town from which you have killed a hundred people.” Gautama’s monks were called Bikkus. Bikku literally means beggar. He gave him a yellow cloth and a begging bowl. He said, “Go look for some food in the town.” In a small town, a hundred dead people means that almost every family had lost someone to this man. Angulimala came into the town as a monk. People saw this and they were terrified. They did not know why he had come. They all went and stood on their terraces because they were afraid of what he would do. Then when they saw that he had become tamed, he was not the same fierce man, they started throwing stones at him because each family had lost someone to him. So he continued, stones hit him and he was bleeding all over. Then when the stone throwing became a little excessive, Gautama came and asked the people to stop and said, “This is not the same man. This man is an extension of me. You are throwing stones at me. Just stop. There is no point in killing this man because this man has come to realization in a very hard way. You cannot waste this man now by killing him.” Angulimala became a star disciple and went all over the country spreading Buddha’s way of living and knowing. But they continued to call him Angulimala because he wore those fingers around his neck.

#5. The Story of Buddha and Ananda

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Ananda’s actual relationship to Gautama was his cousin brother. When Gautama started initiating people into monkhood, Ananda came and said, “I will also become a monk. But if I become your disciple, I am going to put one condition and you must listen because I am your elder brother. I am going to become your disciple but I am always going to be with you. You will never send me on any errands. I am always going to be your shadow.” Gautama looked up and said, “It is up to you, I have no problem.” If you want to become a disciple and you want to put a condition, you will never get the taste of being a disciple. The moment you put a condition, you have just destroyed all possibilities to life. Gautama laughed and said, “Okay.” When he had this condition, he fulfilled the condition. He has no problem.

Gautama, he said, “How can a spoon taste the soup?” If you want to taste the soup, you need that awareness of the tongue.

Once, Gautama decided to visit his wife whom he had not seen for more than eight years. He had left in the middle of the night when his child was a very small infant. Yashodha was a very proud woman. She was very hurt that he left in the middle of the night without a word. He left the kingdom, his son, his wife and walked away without saying anything. Eight years later, he went to see her because he wanted this possibility that he had experienced to become possible for her. Gautama said to Ananda, “Now, I am going to meet my wife. Please stay away, you are not needed. She is already very offended and angry that I left in the middle of the night. Now if I take you as a companion and go there to meet my wife, she won’t take it properly. You please stay here for this.” Ananda said, “Keep your word.”

It was a very uncomfortable situation. Gautama is not the type to break his word. He said “alright” and he took Ananda along to meet his wife. She was furious, she threw tantrums, she yelled at him, she called him a coward. He listened quietly. Then he told her, “That man who married you is no more, that man is gone. But I am here, now I am Buddha, I am a realized being. Whatever was possible for that man was maybe a few more children. But now something tremendous is possible. This man is totally different. Please look at me, I am not the same person.”

She said, “Nothing doing, you are my husband.” These are all conditions on relationships like Ananda’s. “You are a coward, and you left this little son. He does not even know who his father is. You ran away.” She had many things to say. She said everything that she wanted to say. Gautama said, “That is fine.” Then Yashodha played the usual trick, she said, “What is it that you are going to give your son?” She brought her son and said, “Ask your father what he is going to give you.” Gautama had come prepared. He called Ananda and said, “Please bring my begging bowl.” He brought the begging bowl. He called his son and said, “I do not want you to suffer as a king, so I am giving you the ultimate freedom. My legacy is my begging bowl.” He handed his begging bowl to his eight-year-old son and he became a sanyasi.

Ananda destroyed his possibility by just one condition. He missed it all. When Gautama was on his deathbed, only the enlightened disciples went inside. All the others were left outside. Ananda cried and said, “I was so close to him but I am left out of his circle, why? Why did it not happen to me?” When people asked the same question to Gautama, he said, “How can a spoon taste the soup?” If you want to taste the soup, you need that awareness of the tongue. The moment you set conditions in life, you become inanimate. You get reduced to a thing and you try to reduce the other thing. But that other thing is away from you. That was the unfortunate thing with Ananda.

#6. Does God Exist?

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A very wonderful incident occurred in Gautama the Buddha's life. On a certain morning, he was sitting in a congregation of his disciples and one person came. He was a devotee of Rama. He has been doing only “Rama, Rama, Rama” all his life and he has not only been to the temple, he has built many temples himself. He was a great devotee. Age was passing away now and a little doubt came. “All my life I have been doing only 'Rama, Rama, Rama.' There are so many people here who do not believe in God and they are still enjoying themselves in the world. I have missed everything just to utter the name of God. Suppose there is no God as others are saying, I will miss my whole life.” He knows that there is God, but he had just a little doubt.

What is Gautama playing at? What is the game anyway? Is he just trying to create confusion?

“Anyway, there is an enlightened being here, he is supposed to know.” He went to Gautama. Early morning, before the Sun came up, he stood in the shadows and asked, “Is there God?” Gautama looked at the man and said “No.” For the first time, he said a clear “No.” For all the disciples there, this was a struggle within them all the time – whether there is God or no God. This is a tremendous struggle, which has been on for thousands of years. Ever since man started existing on this planet, this struggle has been on within him. The struggle is on for both believers and non-believers. For the first time, Gautama said an emphatic “No” and there was a big sigh of relief. You do not have to struggle any more. There is no God. No one is snooping on you, you can do whatever you want with your life. The joy of it! There was a big relief.

In the evening, another man came. This man was a Charvaka. These are out and out materialists who do not believe in anything other than what they see. Those times in the country, there used to be professional Charvakas. They would come to your town and throw a challenge, “I will prove to you that there is no God. If you prove to me that there is God, I will give you so much money, but if I prove to you that there is no God, you must give me so much money.” This is their profession. He was an expert Charvaka. You may have been believing in God for fifty years, but if you speak to him for fifteen minutes, he will prove to you that there is no God. He has proven that there is no God to thousands of people. His age was passing away and a little doubt came. “Suppose there is God. After proving 'No God' for so long, when I go there, will he leave me alone? Already these believers say that God is very vengeful – will he leave me alone?” A little fear came. He knew that definitely there is no God but just a little doubt came.

He came to Gautama in the evening after the Sun had set, and standing in the shadows, he asked the same question, “Is there God?” Gautama looked at the man and said, “Yes.” There was turmoil in the disciples again. In the morning, they were very happy that there is no God. In the evening, he says that there is God. What is Gautama playing at? What is the game anyway? Is he just trying to create confusion? Now the whole game is to take off all the belief so that you really search. With belief you have only destroyed the search.

#7. How Buddha Started Zen

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On a particular day, Gautama came and sat on the dais. Hundreds of disciples were waiting for him to speak. There was one person in this group who was known as Mahakashyap. The rest of the community there had decided that he was crazy because he never comes and listens to Gautama Buddha's talks, he never meditates or does anything. He simply sits under a tree like a fool. He is not a smart spiritual man, he simply sits there. Everyone had just given him up as a fool to whom you cannot teach anything. On this day, Gautama came and sat. He had a flower in his hand. He just went on looking at the flower. People were waiting for him to speak, but he was so engrossed in the flower that he never said a word. Minutes went into hours but he was simply looking at the flower. He never bothered to speak. Suddenly Mahakashyap broke into laughter. He laughed uproariously. Then Gautama looked at Mahakashyap and the rest of the crowd and said, "What I can give in words, I have given you; what I cannot give in words, I have given it to Mahakashyap." That was the beginning of Zen. There is no science, teaching, scripture, method or practice. You simply sit and wait. When it happens, it happens to you.

Gautama looked at Mahakashyap and the rest of the crowd and said, "What I can give in words, I have given you; what I cannot give in words, I have given it to Mahakashyap."

Zen is a crazy way, but a very wonderful way because there is absolutely no bondage anywhere. But if Zen has to happen, there has to be a Mahakashyap, there has to be someone who is in that level of perception; otherwise it does not happen.

What happened between Buddha and Mahakashyap is the first recorded moment of Zen in the world. It could have happened so many times before but it did not become a spiritual path as such. 

#8. Buddha Says "Drop It"

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On a certain day, a man came to see Gautama the Buddha. Gautama was sitting alone in a small enclosure, and the man came with two handfuls of flowers because in India, that is a normal way to greet your Guru. As the man came towards him, Gautama looked at him and said, “Drop it.” When he said this, the man thought that because he had brought these flowers as an offering, Gautama was telling him to drop it. Then he thought, “Maybe it is inauspicious because I am carrying it in my left hand.” This is also a part of the culture that if you give something to someone with your left hand, it is considered inauspicious. So he dropped the flowers in his left hand and then went on in an appropriate way. Gautama looked at him once again and said, “Drop it.” Now he did not know what to do. What was wrong with the flowers? He dropped the rest of the flowers. Then Gautama said, “I said drop it, not the flowers.” The one who brought the flowers, you have to drop that, otherwise you will not know the Buddha. You will come, you will bow down, you will listen and you will go, but you will not know what it means to be with an enlightened one. You will completely miss the possibility.

Right now, what you call as “myself” is just a bundle of thoughts, emotions, ideas, opinions, and belief systems. If you do not drop that, where is a new possibility?

If you want to add a completely new dimension to your life, you have to drop that, not something else. Dropping your work, family, or this and that does not mean anything. Right now, what you call as “myself” is just a bundle of thoughts, emotions, ideas, opinions, and belief systems. If you do not drop that, where is a new possibility? Are you just trying to decorate the old stuff with some extras? That is not going to help; that is going to make things more difficult. But if you just say “drop it,” it does not drop off, so there are methods and procedures to be brought in so that this dropping happens.

#9. Why Buddha Sent a Monk to a Prostitute

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Gautama and his disciples were constantly moving from village to village and from town to town. Wherever he went, he had at least 2000 to 3000 monks with him. These were all people who beg for their food and eat. India is a culture where if a spiritual person comes to your door and asks for food, even if your own children have not eaten, you must first give it to him. When people were like this, every time he entered a town with 2000-3000 monks, suddenly there would be a pressure on the villagers. So he made a rule that they should never stay in any place for more than three days so as to not burden the people.

Only during the monsoons, it would be very difficult to travel by foot through the jungles because the northern and eastern part of the Indian subcontinent receives heavy rains. Walking through the jungles would have been treacherous, and many would have lost their lives. Therefore, this was a time when they stayed in a larger town and spread across many homes.

During the day, the monks went out for alms. Ananda Tirtha encountered a courtesan. She gave him alms, looked at him, a tall and handsome young man, and said, “I heard that monks are looking for shelter. Why don’t you come and stay in my house?” Ananda Tirtha said, “I must ask the Buddha as to where I should stay.” She became really taunting, “Oh, you want to ask your Guru? Go and ask him. Let’s see what he says.” Ananda went back to Gautama and put what he had collected at his feet. Everyone was supposed to find food and shelter wherever they go. So Ananda asked, “This lady is inviting me. Can I stay there?” Gautama said, “If she is inviting you, you must go and stay there.” Upon hearing that, the townspeople who were around were up in arms. They said, “What? A monk is going to stay at a prostitute’s home? This is it! This spiritual process has become corrupt.” Gautama looked at them and said, “Why are you so worried? The lady is inviting him. Let him stay there. What is the problem?”

People started to get up. He said, “Wait. I am on this path because I see that this is the most precious and powerful way to live. Now you are telling me that her ways are more powerful than mine? If that was the truth, I should go and join her. As a true seeker, that is how it should be – if you find something much higher, you should go for that.” People were in high dudgeon, and of course, many left. Ananda went and stayed with her. Because of the rains, it got cold. He was only wearing a thin robe, so she gave him a nice silk wrap. He covered himself with it. When people saw this, they took it as evidence that he was going astray. She cooked nice food for him. He ate. In the evening, she danced for him. He sat watching with utmost attention. When people heard the music, they thought he had fallen. Time passed. When the rains stopped and it was time to move on, Ananda came to Gautama with a female monk. This is the power of being on the path of truth.

#10. A Mother Asks Buddha to Revive Her Dead Son

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On a certain day, a woman who was the mother of three young boys lost her husband and was grief-stricken. Naturally, after this she clung on to the three children as her life. But the eldest boy also died after a year, and soon after, the second one also passed away. Now she clung on to her only child for dear life, but this boy also died soon after. Unable to bear this, she took the little boy’s body and went to Gautama the Buddha. She said, “You and all your spirituality. Whatever you are talking does not mean anything unless you bring this boy to life. My husband died, and I somehow bore that. My first boy died and then the second one, too; I still held on. Now the last one is also gone. If you are real, prove it now by bringing this boy to life.”

She said, “You and all your spirituality. Whatever you are talking does not mean anything unless you bring this boy to life.

Gautama looked at the woman and knew that in this state of inflamed emotion, whatever he could say or do would not get across. So he said, “I will bring your boy back to life. Go and get me a few sesame seeds from a house that has never known death.” Carrying the boy’s body, the woman went from house to house, looking for one that had never known death. After going through the entire town, she realized there wasn’t a single home like this. Then she stopped, did what she had to do with the body, came back and sat in front of Gautama. She remained with him right through her life.

#11. How Buddha Died

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Gautama the Buddha died of poisoning. His food was poisoned and after eating it he realized this and he knew that he cannot take it. The host first fed Buddha and they prepared the meal for all the monks who were with him. So he said, "You have given me wonderful food, I have eaten it, but I do not think my disciples can digest this food. You must be satisfied with your hospitality that I have eaten. Do not feed it to my people." So he went down. He was not dead yet, but lying there ill. The disciples gathered, so he had to speak to them and give them some guidance on how to take this ahead because he came to an unexpected end. He would have lived for a few more years. He was unable to sit up. He could not speak lying down so he just supported his head and spoke. That pose became the pose of Gautama's Mahaparinirvana, as it is called. That pose became very sacred for the Buddhists. There are many images of Buddha lying down because the last message, the basic direction he gave as to how this movement should go on was at that time. Many Buddhists started lying down like this. It is a culture. You can imitate the pose but you cannot become a Buddha.

Questioner: Sadhguru, does that mean that I cannot become a Buddha?

Sadhguru: If Gautama can become a Buddha, why can’t you become a Buddha? Buddha means one who is above his intellect. The very effort of Inner Engineering is to make you into a Buddha. For moments, we have made you into Buddha because you were above your intellect for some moments. Now the whole trick is how to stay there; just gathering the necessary awareness to stay there.

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Editor's Note: Watch this video to find out what Sadhguru has to say about the difference between Buddha’s way and Shiva’s way. 

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[1] Referring to those who conduct death rituals to assist the deceased person’s transition.