First, the teachings of Gautam Buddha have created two kinds of seekers: one is called arhata and the other is called bodhisattva.
The arhata is someone who makes every effort to become enlightened and once he is enlightened he completely forgets about those who are still groping in the dark. He has no concern with others. It is enough for him to become enlightened. In fact, according to the arhatas, even the great idea of compassion is nothing but again another kind of attachment – and it has some significance to be understood.
Compassion is also a relationship; howsoever beautiful and great, it is also a concern with others. It is also a desire. Although it is a good desire it makes no difference. According to the arhatas, desire is a bondage whether it is good or bad. The chains can be made of gold or of steel, it doesn’t matter; chains are chains. Compassion is a golden chain.
The arhata insists that nobody can help anybody else at all. The very idea of helping others is based on wrong foundations. You can help only yourself.
It may occur to the ordinary mind that the arhata is very selfish. But if you look without any prejudice, perhaps he also has something immensely important to declare to the world: Even helping the other is an interference in his life, in his lifestyle, in his destiny, in his future. Hence, arhatas don’t believe in any compassion. Compassion to them is another beautiful desire to keep you tethered to the world of attachments. It is another name – beautiful, but still just a name for a desiring mind.
Why should you be interested that somebody else becomes enlightened? It is none of your business. Everybody has absolute freedom to be himself. The arhata insists on individuality and its absolute freedom. Even for the sake of good, nobody can be allowed to interfere in anybody else’s life.
Hence the moment he becomes enlightened, the arhata does not accept disciples, he never preaches, he never helps in any way. He simply lives in his ecstasy. If somebody on his own can drink out of his well he will not prevent him, but he will not send an invitation to you. If you come to him on your own accord and sit by his side and drink his presence, and get on the path, that is your business. If you go astray, he will not stop you.
In a certain way this is the greatest respect ever paid to individual freedom – to the very logical extreme. Even if you are falling into deep darkness, the arhata will silently wait. If his presence can help, it is okay, but he is not going to move his hands to help you, to give you a hand, to pull you out of a ditch. You are free to fall in a ditch and if you can fall in a ditch, you are absolutely capable of getting out of it. The very idea of compassion is foreign to the philosophy of the arhatas.