We are excellent in leaping to conclusions. We collect information through our five senses – the sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. But when we interpret the data, it is through our past experience and knowledge. Our knowledge and experience are not all-encompassing. Hence our conclusions are not always right. Generally, when we leap to conclusions, we also break our leg. And this is a painful condition. It takes time to heal and we have to suffer through the period of recovery.
We use our knowledge in our day-to-day life to understand, judge, forecast. This knowledge and experience which we use are for similar fields where it is easier to understand and forecast. A criminal investigator can understand and judge the actions of a criminal as per the criminal’s past deeds and patterns. A stock broker can judge the stock market trends as per past conditions and current patterns. In our personal lives, we tend to judge situations and people about whom we do not have much information or knowledge and generally get incorrect conclusions. Though we have plenty of experiences from sprains of jumping to conclusions, we are unable to stop ourselves from doing so. General observations can be made correctly but to make particular and specific observations, we need to have the same level of knowledge and wisdom as the object about which we are making observations. This story of Buddha and the Old Sage tells us this truth:
Once, Buddha was travelling with his disciples to attend a meeting in a far off town. They had to cross a river to get to the other side and continue their journey on foot. They reached the river and found several boats tied up near the banks but no ferry men. So they waited patiently for someone to arrive and ferry them across the river. As they were waiting, an old sage came there. He too looked for someone to ferry him across. Buddha informed him that they too were waiting and invited him to join them. The old sage replied that he needed to travel urgently and declined the invitation. He took his leave and walked over the waters of the river briskly and reached the other side safely.
The disciples of Buddha were wonder struck How could the old sage walk across the river like that? Indeed the old sage was a powerful man if he could walk on the water without drowning. He surely had many other siddhis too! Oh, what of their master? Buddha was enlightened. He was powerful. He had many siddhis. They had heard stories of how Buddha had stopped a rutting elephant charging at him by just a loving look. Were those stories true? Or were they circulated by Buddha himself or his close disciples to attract people? If Buddha was all powerful, why did he not walk across the river? Oh yes, he did not as he was sure he would drown when he walked on the water. But then, the peace and power on his face was genuine. Oh, what was the truth about Buddha?
Buddha heard the murmured discussions and smiled. In the meantime, a boat man came and they all got into his boat. The discussions amongst the disciples increased. Finally one of the disciples picked up courage to ask Buddha: O Master, the old sage walked across the waters easily. If you are enlightened, how is it that you did not walk across the water?
Buddha replied with a loving smile: If I had walked across the water, what would you all have done? I have the power and ability to walk on the water of the river and cross it safely. But how would that be beneficial to you?
The disciples were crestfallen. The Master lived and waited like an ordinary man for their sake. They were not enlightened. They needed all the material comforts and help which Buddha could forsake easily. Yet they judged him and found him lacking as they thought only from their level of growth. The input received from their sight was right but the interpretation of the input was incorrect due to lack of knowledge and wisdom.
Only when we do the SitaRam japa daily, meditate and follow the teachings of the Guru, can we clear our minds understand the happenings of life as they are. Then our interpretations will be correct and true. Let us do our spiritual practices sincerely and be calm and peaceful.