Siddhartha was very silent. He did not utter a single word. He wholeheartedly listened to the feelings and emotions of his wife. She was struggling with these emotions for years now. And she was absolutely right in asking all the above questions.
Siddhartha says to Yasodharā, “Honey, I am really very sorry for all the pains that you have gone through. It was all my mistake that I am away from you for all these years. You are very right in your anger and frustration at me. You are absolutely right at your disdain towards me. Your question is also very right and pertinent. Nirvana has nothing to do with a physical place. It is independent of a physical place. Yes, it has something to do with a mental state. And honey, frankly speaking, please believe me, I was not aware of this then. I was not aware of myself. I was searching for my own being. And all this could have been done and achieved in the palace itself. There was no need for me to leave the palace. Honey, my sweet heart, please forgive me for all this. Every situation and every indication was hinting at the other side of life that I have avoided since childhood. I was living in the world of comfort and luxury. The other side of of life of poverty, hunger and deprivation was not shown to me. It was kept away from me. I am a very sensitive person. The other side of life had slowly started surfacing. It started attracting and created a craving in me. And moreover, there was this wrong tradition of renunciation. And all these have somehow contributed towards my leaving you all. It appears to me that everything has somehow conspired to make me a better human being. I think it is only the life which knows her ways. I think we are all just like pawns in her hands. And today I am a different person. Now I have experienced what is true love. Now I came to know of a real responsibility. I can today understand what is a true relationship. Please honey, forgive me for all this”.
They both talked out their hearts. It was a heart to heart talk. They cried for each other. And all the anger and frustration of Yasodharā is then dissolved in the new being of Siddhartha.
There was this third emotional hurdle to come over. The second emotional hurdle somehow had come to an end. The third was between Buddha and his son Rāhula. The wife of Buddha was very much concerned for the future of Rāhula. He was a growing young boy. Everybody was concerned for his future.
Rāhula was very happy to see his father. He simply wanted to see his father. He was very young. He had no idea of asking anything except the love of his father. He was more than happy when Buddha pulled him towards his heart. Yasodharā was very concerned. She asks Buddha, “What do you have for your son in inheritance? What should be his path? What should he do in his life? What should be his life’s goal”. Life seems to be a mystery. It moves in circles, it seems. The same situation again comes back in a different form. Earlier it was in the form of the meeting of the son Siddhartha with his father Śuddhodana. The whole issue of the meeting was relating to the career and future of the son. Now again the same circle repeats in a different form. Now the situation is in the form of a son Rāhula meeting his father Siddhartha. Buddha does not even think for a while. He simply hands over his begging bowl to his son Rāhula.
I think the begging bowl is only a metaphor. It is symbolic for something higher and deeper. It is not a begging bowl in a literal sense. It is a metaphor for seeking knowledge and wisdom. There are two kinds of capitals. One is money as a capital and the second is knowledge as a capital. And both of them are related. They both are conjoined. They can’t be separated. They are not isolated compartments. Knowledge is needed to earn money. And knowledge is also needed to safeguard that money. Knowledge is also needed for that money to grow. Money can be used to know more knowledge. And knowledge is also not a static thing. It is a dynamic thing. It keeps on changing. And again the knowledge is objective and subjective. The knowing is objective and subjective. How much do we know really? Big Bang, String Theory, etc. are all just concepts and ideas. What is known is very little when compared to what can be known. It is just like a drop in the ocean. And what can be known is just nothing when it is compared with that which can not be known. It is again like a very small drop in a big ocean. There is something that can only be felt. There is something that can only be realized. There is something that can only be experienced. It is like the fragrance of a flower. It is very delicate and subtle. It requires inner sensitivities of a human being. I can reduce and deduce the flower in a lab scientifically in all its aspects. And still I can not catch hold of the fragrance of the flower in a lab. To hold the fragrance of the flower in a test tube is meaningless. I have to smell it to know it. I have to feel it to know it. It is also like the fruition of the fruit. I can reduce and deduce the fruit in the lab scientifically in all its aspects. And still I can not catch hold of the delicious taste of the fruit in a lab. To hold the delicious taste of the fruit in a test tube is meaningless. I have to taste it to know it. I have to eat it know it. There is no other way.
I think Buddha’s begging bowl is only a metaphor for this knowing. I think it is a metaphor for this seeking. I think it is a metaphor for this experiencing. Shudhha Chetana or Supreme Consciousness is that ever flowered state of the divine. Let us move with our begging bowls towards that goal.