The Enlightenment of Babu - The Pumpkin Man - and many others!

The Enlightenment of Babu

Early one morning, young Babu went running to his master in the ashram.

“Master, master come quickly, Govindamurti has finally become enlightened.” Babu paused to catch his breath. “I’ve just come from the river, Govindamurti was on the other side. I beckoned him to me. He simply walked across the surface of the water to me. Govindamurti can now walk on water!”

Babu’s master remained seated and unmoved. His eyes glared at Babu with mocking joviality.

“Master, it is true,” protested Babu. “Govindamurti is enlightened. I saw him with my own eyes walk on water.”

The Master beckoned with his finger for Babu to sit before him. Silence followed.

An hour went by. In the presence and aura of the Master, Babu’s thoughts settled. He lapsed into deep meditation. Another hour elapsed. The silence was eventually shattered by a mosquito buzzing around Babu’s face.

The Master finally spoke. “Babu, is the mosquito enlightened?”

“Of course not, master.”

“Yet even a mosquito can walk on water, can it not?”

“Yes, but…”

“So you think that enlightenment is raising yourself to the talents of a mosquito do you?”

Babu was humbled. “No, master.”

“Enlightenment is dropping all notion of body consciousness and becoming the mosquito. Not imitating the mosquito, is it not?”

Babu nodded “Yes, master.”

“When you beckoned Govindamurti to come to you, how do you know it was not your power that prompted him to walk across the surface of the water?”

Babu looked perplexed and did not answer.

“Babu, the path to enlightenment is fraught with dangers. You will develop various powers and view many visions. All these powers and visions are impermanent, hence illusory. Know that enlightenment is even beyond sidhi powers.”

At that instant, the mosquito suddenly bit Babu on the face. Impulsively Babu slapped and killed the mosquito. The Master vanished and Babu was instantly enlightened.

Question – Why did the Master vanish?

Here is another pregnant Zen parable as it was once told to me. The story is often told to children so they can learn to distinguish between their real self and their ego. On a higher level, it also relates to distinguishing between the immortal soul consciousness and the temporary physical body.

The Pumpkin Man

The child was only small when the parents tied a small pumpkin to his back. The child felt uncomfortable and encumbered at first, but in time slowly became used to wearing the pumpkin. The young boy played, ate, and slept with the pumpkin attached.

As the boy grew, the pumpkin also increased in size in proportion to his growth-rate. Others in the village began to wonder why the poor boy hadn’t simply removed the pumpkin from his back. He was certainly now old enough to do so, and the weight and the hindrance seemed too much to bear.

The boy remained steadfast. The pumpkin had now become an integral part of his psyche. He began to believe he was the pumpkin. If anyone dared advise him differently, he would become defensive and angry.

As the boy became a man, he was known far and wide as “the pumpkin man”.

Years went by. The pumpkin grew until the weight forced the now elderly man to stoop as he trudged through the village. The children would often run after him laughing at the foolishness. He would become angry and bitter, and wave a stick at them to frighten them off.

One night the children decided to play a trick on the pumpkin man. They entered his hut while he was asleep and cut the pumpkin from his back.

The children hid until dawn to see the results. The pumpkin man eventually awoke and realizing the pumpkin had gone, clambered out of bed and immediately began ranting and raving. “I am dead. I am dead. I do not exist anymore!”

Your ego and your physical body are your pumpkins. Your attachments and possessions are your pumpkins. Do not be like the pumpkin man and think that these pumpkins you are burdened down with, are you.

The story of the frog

A frog lived in a well. As the frog was born in the well and had never ventured from the well, the frog naturally thought that the universe consisted only of his well. One day the frog heard a voice coming from the top of the well. The frog thought that the voice must be God calling! The voice was the frog’s wake-up call. For the first time the frog was motivated to climb up the side of the well to the ledge near the top. When he reached the ledge he could see another frog sitting upon the top of the well.

“Are you God?” the frog respectfully asked.

“No, not at all. I am merely a traveling seeker after truth,” came the reply.

“Then, where are you traveling to and what are you seeking?” asked the inquisitive frog.

“I am traveling to the coast to experience the ocean!”

The frog was bewildered by the visitor’s answer. “What do you mean by the word, ocean?”

“The ocean is a huge body of water.”

The frog thought for a while and then replied, “Ah, the ocean is like a big well.”

“Yes, I suppose you could describe the ocean like that, but the ocean is, of course, very much larger.”

“I see. The ocean is much larger than my well. Is it ten times bigger than my well?”

“No much larger!” explained the amused visitor.

“Is it a hundred times larger?”

“No, even much larger than a hundred times bigger than your well.”

The frog was now even more bewildered by the strange visitor’s remarks. “This is all beyond my understanding. What you are saying is that this ocean you talk of, is maybe, even a thousand times bigger than my well, possibly even ten thousand times. A well that big must be dangerous! I don’t think I want to hear anymore. I could get lost in such a big well.”

“Well, I’ll be on my way then as I have a long and arduous journey ahead of me. Good day to you.”

“Good bye,” answered the frog as he scrambled back down to the safety of his well.
The frog summed up his little adventure this way. “I’ve been blessed to meet an enlightened Master who has explained to me that the ocean is a large and dangerous well of a size at least ten thousand times bigger than my well!”

The mind cannot cope with such immensity.

The frog mind can only consist of the known. It rehashes past experiences and conditioning, and simply by it’s own conglomeration of recycled memories, creates the ego.

The Story of the Two Friars

The world is often a mirror reflecting our painful insecurities, repressions, fears and prejudices. The following story shows us how the mind projects those negatives onto others.

The sudden storm had passed. With the run-off from the mountains, what had been a gentle stream only a day before, had now become a torrid river that threatened to burst its banks.
Streams, like people’s minds are subject to change – especially when sudden storms arise that unearth repressed desires.

Friar Umberto was walking down-stream with the talkative and jovial Friar Vincenzo, his younger colleague, seeking a safe place to cross the turbulent waters.

They came to a bend in the river where the waters narrowed. A most attractive young girl was standing upon the banks with the obvious intention of wading waist deep into the waters, in an attempt to make the dangerous crossing unaided.

Friar Umberto instinctively handed his staff and backpack to Friar Vincenzo, ran to the girl and lifted her into his strong arms.

“Hold on tight, my dear,” he commanded. “I will carry you across these raging waters.”

The girl did, indeed, hold on tight. Friar Vincenzo observed how the girl’s firm breasts pressed against the chest of the older friar as they carefully made their way across the river. Friar Vincenzo became troubled as well as perplexed.

Once on the other side, the two friars bid farewell to their grateful companion and continued their journey back to the abbey.

Umberto noticed that Friar Vincenzo was unusually quiet and sullen on the return journey. The sullenness continued even after the evening meal was served.

“Obviously, something is bothering you,” stated Umberto. “Since the river crossing today, you have hardly spoken a word. What is the problem?”

The young friar was more than hesitant in his reply. “It was the manner in which you assisted that young girl across the river today…. We have taken vows of chastity…. We are taught to avoid contact with the opposite sex because of the dangers of temptation of the flesh. Your actions did not sit right with me.”

The older friar felt compassion for Vincenzo. His reply was gentle. “Can’t you see that your problem springs from within yourself? I left the girl upon the opposite bank. Whereas, you my dear Vincenzo are still choosing to carry her!”

The Sadhu and the Prostitute

I wrote this (with guidance from beyond) at 4am one spring morning loosely based on a story I heard in my travels. It still brings tears to my eyes.

Chandra, as a young man, had renounced the world of possessions and became a wandering ascetic. He practiced faithfully, both brahmacharya (celibacy) and vegetarianism. He worshipped the Divine Mother aspect of God and was constantly moved to tears of ecstasy when his heart chakra centered on her image in meditation.

He wandered from village to village, preaching the gospel of love, right conduct, service and right action to all those who would care to listen.

Chandra was sure that after such a life devoted to God, he would soon become enlightened. After all, he thought, many others already considered him an enlightened saint. Attainment must now only be months away, if not sooner. The cycle of births and deaths for him will surely end. He has earnt his Buddha-hood.

In India, to be able to provide food and lodgings for an ascetic is a great blessing and a privilege. A village dignitary persuaded Chandra that he should retire from his wandering days and take up permanent residence in a small cottage that was, until then, unoccupied. Old age had been creeping up on Chandra. The thought of a little comfort in his final years would help make the pain of his arthritis a little more bearable.

From the front window of the cottage, Chandra could see the goings on in the busy street and more importantly, could observe the entrance to the cottage immediately opposite. His curiosity was aroused (if not inflamed) when he came to realize that his neighbor across the way was obviously a prostitute. He observed that men would be clandestinely visiting her at all hours of the day and night. He also came to learn that the woman had four children.

The situation both infuriated and disgusted Chandra. After such a life of purity in honor of the Divine Mother, to be faced with such blatant defiance of God’s laws, was an affront to Chandra’s senses.

As the days went by, his obsession with the “sinner” across the street, increased. He moved his prayer mat in front of the window, so that whilst practicing his long hours of meditation, he could continue to observe and keep count of how sinful his neighbor really was.

Each time the woman would have a male visitor Chandra would place a rupee in a large jar that he had placed next to his prayer mat. Each rupee would represent, or symbolize, a sin that he was certain, would have to someday be atoned for.

As the months went by, Chandra’s obsession did not wane. The months turned into years. The jar now contained thousands of rupees. Exaggerated rumors spread around the village. Whispers abounded. “The old sadhu keeps a fortune in his front meditation room. What need has a sadhu for money?” “He is obsessed with the prostitute across the street. He is out of his mind.”

As fate and the karmic law of relationships would have it, the prostitute fell gravely ill. There were those in the village who had contemplated robbing the sadhu. When they heard that the local prostitute was dying, they panicked. “Once she is dead, the old swami will more than likely give the money away. We must act quickly or risk missing out. It is time for action!”

The same night the prostitute died, the robbers entered the sadhu’s front room. The plan was to sneak up behind the meditating holy man and render him unconscious by knocking him over the head.

The blow was heavier than intended. That night, Swami Chandra also died.

The keeper of the gate met Chandra at the ethereal gates of heaven.

“I am truly sorry, Chandra I cannot let you through these gates as you have not yet earnt entry to this holy realm. You must now return to earth, reincarnate and try again.”

“But …., I have lived a life of austerity. My life has been entirely devoted to God. I have loved the Divine Mother all my life,” stuttered the sadhu. “There must surely be some mistake.”

The gatekeeper’s reply was compassionate, yet irrevocable. “We do not make mistakes here. Your name is definitely not on our list of new entrants. Now please go from this place. We are expecting an important guest at any moment. ”

Chandra felt shattered. He had noticed the excitement and preparations being made on the other side of the gates and naturally thought the festivities were for him. He was about to turn, when the trumpets sounded their fanfare. A harmonic choir of angels began singing a most beautiful bhajan or spiritual hymn. The gates suddenly opened.

Her face was transfigured. Glowing with radiance. A golden healing aura streamed out of her body into the ethers and into other dimensions. Yet, there was no mistake. Chandra recognized her immediately. She was the prostitute.

“How can this be?” he cried. “This woman has been a prostitute for most of her adult life and is welcomed into heaven as a saint and I have led a life of austerity and are refused admittance. I don’t understand. My Divine Mother has let me down badly. Her love has failed me.”

The keeper of the gate ceremoniously closed the gates before answering Chandra.

“Yes, Chandra. She was, indeed, a prostitute. She chose to prostitute herself, not as you thought for the sake of her children, but for one other exemplary cause. However, each time she engaged in the sexual act her mind was centered totally upon God. She constantly begged the Lord’s forgiveness. Upon each of those thousands of occasions, she felt wretched and un-lovable. Each sexual act was a torturous sacrifice. On the other hand, whilst her mind was on God, your mind was centered upon her performing the sexual act. Can you not see the difference?”

The truth of the keeper of the gate’s words found fertile soil in Chandra’s heart. “You are right. I am not deserving to enter this sacred place. I will re-incarnate a thousand more times to earn forgiveness for my self-righteousness, vanity and egoism. How could I have thought that I was so close to attaining enlightenment? I have been such a complete and utter judgmental fool.”

Chandra, head bowed, turned and began to walk away. “Thank you for your help. At least I have the Divine Mother to love for a thousand more lifetimes. From this day on I will trust only in her purity and love. I will give up all notions of enlightenment and attainment.”

“Chandra!” The voice was angelic and the voice of the Divine. ”Chandra, come back!”

Chandra turned his head back to face the gates. The gates slowly opened. Through the golden brilliance he could make out a figure of a beautiful woman beckoning him to return.

Hesitantly, though as much in trepidation as in reverence, he edged back to the gates.

As he approached, the prostitute’s face changed into the image of the Divine Mother. “Come on in, Chandra,” she said gently. “My undying love cannot fail you.”

And her words made Chandra suddenly realize that he was the “one other exemplary cause” for the Divine Mother’s earthly sacrifice. At that split second, Chandra attained enlightenment.




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