Tension5 mins 226 5 mins 226
A great prince became initiated, became a disciple of Buddha. He had lived in great luxury his whole life, he had been a great sitar player, his name was known all over the country as that of a great musician. But he became impressed by Buddha’s inner music – maybe his insight into music had helped him tounderstand Buddha. When Buddha was visiting his capital he heard him for the first time, fell in love at first sight, renounced his kingdom.
Even Buddha wanted him not to do such a great act so impulsively.
He told him, “Wait. Think. I will be here for four months” – because during the whole rainy season Buddha never used to move, in the rainy season he would remain in one place. “So I am going to be here; there is no hurry. You think over it. Four months’ time and then you can take sannyas, you can become an initiate.”
But the young man said, “The decision has happened; there is nothing more to think about. It is now or never! And who knows about tomorrow? And you have been always saying, ‘Live in the present,’ so why are you telling me to wait for four months? I may die, you may die, something may happen. Who knows about the future? I don’t want to wait even a single day!”
His insistence was such that Buddha had to concede; he was initiated. Buddha was a little uncertain about him, whether he would be able to live this life of a beggar. Buddha had known it from his own experience; he himself was a great prince once. He knew what it was to be in luxury, what it was to live in comfort, and what it was to be a beggar on the street. It was a great, arduous phenomenon, but Buddha had taken time. It took him six years to become enlightened, and slowly, slowly, he had become accustomed to being without shelter, sometimes without food, without friends, enemies all over for no reason at all, because he was not hurting anybody. But people are so stupid, they live in such lies, that whenever they see a man of truth they are wounded of their own accord – they feel hurt, insulted. Buddha knew the whole thing was going to be too much for this young man. He felt sorry for him, but he initiated him.
And he was surprised and all the other sannyasins were surprised, because the man simply moved to the other extreme. All Buddhist monks used to eat only once a day; that new monk, the ex-prince, started eating only once in two days. All Buddhist monks used to sleep under trees; he would sleep under the open sky. The monks used to walk on the roads; he would walk not on the roads but always on the sides where there were thorns, stones. He was a beautiful man; within months his body became black. He was very healthy; he became ill, he became lean and thin. His feet became wounded.
Many sannyasins came to Buddha and said, “Something has to be done. That man has gone to the opposite extreme: he is torturing himself! He has become self-destructive.”
Buddha went to him one night and asked him, “Shrona” – Shrona was his name – “can I ask you a question?”
He said, “Of course, my Lord. You can ask any question. I am your disciple. I am here to tell you whatsoever you want to know about me.”
Buddha said, “I have heard that when you were a prince you were a great musician, you used to play the sitar.”
He said, “Yes, but that is finished. I have completely forgotten about it. But that is true, I used to play the sitar. That was my hobby, my only hobby. I used to practice at least eight hours per day and I had become famous all over the country for that.”
Buddha said, “I have to ask one question. If the strings of your sitar are too tight, what will happen?”
He said, “What will happen? It is simple! You cannot play upon it – they will be broken.”
Buddha said, “Another question: if they are too loose, what will happen?”
Shrona said, “That too is simple. If they are too loose no music will be produced on them because there will be no tension.”
Buddha said, “You are an intelligent person – I need not say anything more to you.
Remember, life is also a musical instrument. It needs a certain tension but only a certain tension. Less than that and your life is too loose and there is no music. If the tension is too much you start breaking down, you start going mad. Remember it. First you lived a very loose life and you missed the inner music; now you are living a very tight, uptight life – you are still missing the music. Isthere not a way to adjust the strings of the sitar in such a way that they are exactly in the middle, neither loose nor tight, with just the right amount of tension, so that music can arise?”
He said, “Yes, there is a way.”
Buddha said, “That is what my teaching is: be exactly in the middle between the two poles. The tension has not to disappear completely, otherwise you will be dead; the tension has not to become too much, otherwise you will go mad.”
And that’s what has happened in the whole world. The East has become too loose, hence there is death, starvation. And the West has become too tight, hence there is madness, neurosis. The West is breaking down under its weight. The East has become so lazy and lousy out of its looseness. A certain tension is needed, but there is a state of tension which is also a state of equilibrium. And that is the whole art of Tao.