Since my childhood, I have seen you as a buddha; even before your enlightenment I saw you as a buddha – the same serenity, the same natural glow, the same spontaneity, the same love, the same compassion, the same carefree-ness, the same blissfulness as today.
I have seen many of your phases, and I say again and again that you were a buddha before your enlightenment.
The story of your enlightenment is a device for us, is a beautiful assurance for us.
I am immensely grateful. I feel fortunate that you showered your love and compassion on me from the beginning. You have helped me at each step, at each turning point of my life. You changed my life, you filled my life with love and joy, you gave me immense clarity, you made me free.
I bow down to you. Buddham sharanam gachchhami, buddham sharanam gachchhami, buddham sharanam gachchhami.
Narendra, you are almost right. But remember my emphasis on the word almost.
And this is true not only about me, this is true about everybody else too: Everybody is by nature a divine being, an awakened soul, a Gautam Buddha, who has just fallen asleep for a while, has just forgotten himself for a moment and is lost in dreams, beautiful dreams of ambition, desire, success, to be someone special in the world, to leave footprints behind.
The moment your dream is broken, your sleep has gone, suddenly you are in for a great surprise, perhaps the greatest surprise: that the treasure you have been looking for is within you, that the paradise you have been searching for is within you, that there is no God who can drive you out of the Garden of Eden because the Garden of Eden is your very being. At the most you can forget it but you cannot lose it. And once you recognize it, then life becomes really hilarious; you can laugh at your own efforts and endeavors, at your whole past that you have spent in searching for it.
And the goal of your search was not away from you, not even close to you. You were the goal; the seeker was the sought.
And everything that you have done before you became enlightened, everything that you have been before you became aware of your tremendous beauty, of your eternal life, will take a different meaning after your enlightenment. To you and to those who are close to you, the enlightenment will make such a great difference.
Narendra has known me since he was a child. But if I had not become enlightened he would not have asked me this question or raised this question to himself. Even the very idea of buddhahood might not have happened to him; he would have known me as a friend, he would have known me as a loving companion.
It is the enlightenment that changes the meaning of all his experiences, gives them a new color, a new light, a new luminosity. The same incidents start having a totally new meaning. I can understand your question. Now you look backwards, but because now you know my enlightenment you can easily conclude that I was always enlightened, that I was born enlightened; otherwise those incidents of love, care, understanding would not have taken such a colorful and meaningful significance. That’s why I say you are almost right.
I myself can look retrospectively, then everything starts taking on a new meaning. It would not have had the same meaning. It is the alchemy of enlightenment that everything has become pure gold, that small and meaningless things have taken wings and have become great.
I will give you a few examples which could not have been understood in the same way they have been understood; there was no possibility, no hope.