Papaji—Where is the Buddha?

Published on Mar 26, 2013 By: KosiFreedom

It is deeply held by many of Papaji's students that this question was his final and one of his most profound teachings. This video takes a very deep look at where Papaji is eternally pointing. The music is Heart of Perfect Wisdom by Robert Gass.

Papaji Biography

In Love With Buddha

My next major spiritual adventure occurred when I was about thirteen. It started when I saw a picture of the Buddha in a history book at school. This picture illustrated the period of his life when he tried to live on only one grain of rice a day. The face was very beautiful but the body was skeleton-like, all skin and bone. I immediately felt a great attraction to him, even though I didn’t then know anything about his teachings. I simply fell in love with his beautiful face and decided that I should try to emulate him. In the picture he was meditating under a tree.
I didn’t know that at the time, in fact I didn’t even know what meditation was. Undeterred, I thought, ‘I can do that. I can sit cross­legged under a tree. I can be like him.’
So I began to sit in a cross-legged position in our garden under some rose bushes that grew there, happy and content that I was harmonising my lifestyle with this person I had fallen in love with.

Then, to increase the similarity even more, I decided that I should try to make my body resemble his skeleton-­like frame. At that time in our house we would collect our food from our mother before going off to eat it separately. This made it easy for me to throw my meals away. When no one was looking I would go outside and give all my food to the dogs in the street. After some time I managed to stop eating completely.I became so weak and thin, eventu­ally my bones began to stick out, just like the Buddha’s. That made me very happy and I became very proud of my new state. My classmates at school made my day by nick­naming me ‘the Buddha’ because they could see how thin I was getting.

My father worked for the railways. At this particular period of his life he was working in Baluchistan as a stationmaster. Because his job was a long way away, we only ever saw him when he came home on leave. About a month after my fasting began he came home on one of his regular visits and was shocked at how thin I had got dur­ing his absence. He took me off to see various doctors and had them examine me in order to find out what was wrong. None of them suspected that I was deliberately fasting. One of them told my father, ‘He is growing tall very quickly, that is why he is getting so thin. Give him good food, lots of milk and dry fruits.’ 

My mother followed the advice, adding a bit of her own: every day she would say, ‘Eat more butter, eat more butter’. The dogs on the street got very fat and happy be­cause the new diet went the same way as the old one. 

The school history book which contained Buddha’s picture was a simple guide for children. The main bio­graphical facts were there, but the concepts of meditation and enlightenment were not adequately explained. Pre­sumably the author did not think that these very essential points would be of interest to children. So, I remained ig­norant of what he was really doing under that tree and why his final accomplishment was so great. Nevertheless, I still felt attracted to him and still felt an urge to imitate him as closely as possible. 

I learnt from this book that the Buddha wore orange robes and that he begged for his food, going from house to house with a begging bowl. This was something I could, with a little ingenuity, copy. 

My mother had a white sari which seemed to me to be the ideal raw material for a robe. I took it when she wasn’t looking and dyed it ochre, the colour of the Buddha’s robes. I wraped it around myself in what I took to be the correct way and began to play at being a mendicant monk. I got hold of a bowl to beg with and walked up and down the streets of Faisalabad, asking for alms. Before I went home I would change into my ordinary clothes and wrap up the orange sari in a paper parcel. I kept the parcel among my school books, a place I thought no one would bother to look. 

One of my friends found out what I was doing and told me, ‘You can’t get away with this. Somebody will recognise you and tell your family what you are doing.’ 

Feeling very confident about my ability to do it se­cretly, I told him, ‘Your parents know me. I will come to your house in my robes and ask for food. If I can fool them I can fool anybody.’

I put on my sari, smeared ashes all over my face to fur­ther my disguise, put a cap on my head and went off to their house with my begging bowl. It was about 8 p.m. so the darkness also helped my disguise. I called out ‘Bhiksha! Bhiksha!’ [Alms! Alms!] because I had seen sadhus beg for food by calling in this way. Since it did not occur to me that anyone might recognise my voice, I made no attempt to disguise it. My friend’s mother came to the door, showed no sign of recognition, and invited me in to eat. 

‘Swamiji, Babaji, come in and eat something,’ she said, taking me in and offering me food. 

I went with her, acting out the role I had assigned my­self. ‘My child,’ I said to her, even though she must have been about thirty years older than I, ‘you will have chil­dren and get lots of money.’ I had heard swamis bless women like this. Since most women wanted to get rich and have several sons, itinerant swamis would give these fanta­sies their blessings in the hope of getting a better reception and something good to eat. 

Then, laughing, she removed my cap and told me that she had always known who I really was. ‘Your appearance is quite good,’ she said, ‘but I recognised you from your voice.’ Then her husband came and she explained to him what was going on. 

Scornfully he said, ‘Who will not recognise you if you go out begging like that? You will soon be detected.’ 

Now it was my turn to laugh because earlier that day I had begged at his shop and got a one paisa copper coin from him. I showed him the coin. 

He had to revise his opinion a little. ‘I must have been busy with my customers,’ he said. ‘I must have given it to you without looking.’ 

‘No, that’s not true,’ I responded truthfully. ‘You saw me very clearly. I walked past your shop, begging. You saw me, called me back and handed me this coin. My dis­guise is good enough and I can get away with it so long as I don’t talk to people who might recognise my voice.’ 

These people were amused by my antics, not knowing that I was doing this sort of thing regularly in a stolen dyed sari. They didn’t tell my mother, so I was able to carry on with my impersonation.
My mother only had three saris. One day, fairly soon after I had taken the white one, she washed the other two and started looking for the third because she needed to wear it.  Of course, she couldn’t find it anywhere. She never asked me about it because, since I was not a girl, it did not occur to her that I might have had any possible use for it. She eventually decided that she must have given it to the dhobi,and that he had lost it or forgotten to return it.
The final phase of my Buddha impersonations came when I discovered that he used to preach sermons in pub­lic places. This excited me because it was a new facet of his life that I could copy. I knew absolutely nothing about Buddhism, but the thought that this might be a handicap when I stood up to preach never occurred to me.

There was a clock-tower in the middle of our town and near it was a raised platform where all the local politicians used to give their speeches. It was very much the centre of Faisalabad because all the routes to other towns radiated out from it. I put on my usual disguise, strode confidently up the steps, and began to give my first public speech. I cannot recollect anything that I said—it couldn’t have been anything about Buddhism because I knew absolutely noth­ing about it—but I do remember that I delivered my speech with great flair and panache. I harangued the passers-by with great gusto, occasionally raising my arm and wagging my finger to emphasise the points I was making. I had seen the politicians gesture like that when they made their speeches. 

I felt I had made a successful start to my oratorical ca­reer and taken a step further towards my goal of imitating the Buddha in everything he did. I went back to the clock-­tower on several occasions and preached many sermons there. Unfortunately, Faisalabad was not a big city and it was inevitable that sooner or later someone who knew me would recognise me. It was not surprising, therefore, that one day one of my neighbours spotted me and reported my antics to my mother. 

At first she was very sceptical. ‘How can it be he?’ she asked. ‘Where would he get an orange robe from?’ Then, remembering her missing sari, she went to the cupboard where I kept my books and found the paper parcel. The game was over, for that discovery effectively ended my brief career as an imitation Buddha. 

It was an absurd but very entertaining episode in my life which, in retrospect, I can see as reflecting my state of mind at the time. I had this intense yearning for God but I had nothing to channel it into except the external forms of the deities. Something in me recognised the Buddha as di­vine and my childish and ignorant attempts to follow in his footsteps were merely a manifestation of that burning in­ner desire to find God. I wasn’t being mischievous. I never regarded it as some kind of childhood prank. Some power was compelling me to do it. Some old samskaras were com­ing up and compelling me towards reality, towards the truth of the Self. It was a serious attempt on my part to find my way back to the state of happiness and peace that I had once experienced and known as my own inner reality. 

My mother did not get very angry with me. We had al­ways had a good relationship and she could see the humour of the situation. Because she had been so young when I was born, we behaved with each other as if we were brother and sister, rather than mother and son. We played, sang and danced together, and quite often we even slept in the same bed.



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