It has many implications.
It was twenty-five centuries ago that Gautam Buddha said as a departing message to his disciples before he died: "I will come back after twenty-five centuries. My name will be Maitreya."
Maitreya means the friend. And why should it be the name of Buddha? - because the spiritual evolution of man has passed through many stages. Its ultimate stage is where the master and the disciple should be just friends... because the whole idea of the master and the disciple is based on a subtle spiritual slavery. The disciple surrenders. The master provides all kinds of devices so that the disciple disappears as an ego. But there are dangers.
The danger is - and it is not only theoretical; the danger is very practical, and it has happened almost all over the world throughout the centuries - that instead of the ego disappearing, the individual disappears and the ego remains. Instead of disappearing, it becomes very subtle; it becomes holy, it becomes religious, it becomes spiritual.
The individual disappears in surrender - and that was not the purpose. The individual has to become more individual, more independent, more himself. The ego has to disappear - it is a false entity deceiving everybody as your true self. And unless the false is discredited, the true cannot appear.
In the death of the false is the beginning of the true. Surrender is simply a device so that the ego can be dropped and you can become yourself. But this is the trouble, that with humanity you cannot be very predictable. There is almost a possibility that everything will fail, so deep is the ignorance of man, so deceptive is his own mind. And he is so caught up with his own chains that he thinks they are ornaments; he does not want to throw them. They have been with him so long that he has become identified with them.
Man has forgotten who he truly is. He has almost become autohypnotized with a certain idea about himself, and he carries that idea his whole life without knowing that it is not he but only his shadow.
And you cannot fulfill your shadow. A shadow is nonexistential - you cannot make anything out of it.
Your effort will simply destroy your whole life; hence the device of surrender.
But again man's ignorance is there: he surrenders, but he surrenders the wrong thing. He saves the ego, which was to be surrendered, and he surrenders the individuality, which was to be saved.
And he starts feeling himself to be a spiritual being just by becoming a disciple, an initiate. And if by chance he has come across a great master, he starts projecting himself as a great disciple of a great master.
Gautam Buddha's whole life's experience was that finally the device of surrender has to be dropped, because in the majority of cases it has not been of any help, it has been a hindrance. This was his whole life's experience - seeing people changing the color of their ego. From a worldly ego it becomes an otherworldly ego; from a materialistic ego it becomes a spiritualistic ego - which is far more dangerous. The first one was very gross; it was easy to see it and to catch hold of it. The second is more difficult because it is more subtle, it will elude you.
Hence Buddha's last message was: "When I come back again, I will come not as a master to you, and you will not be a disciple to me; I will come as a friend. And you have to rise to the standard of being a friend of a buddha." A great challenge to the whole tradition of initiation, to the whole relationship of master and disciplehood. He could see that it has helped once in a while but in most cases it has blocked people's growth.
And we can see that he was right. There are millions of people in the world who think they are religious, they are spiritual, they are saints, they are great spiritual beings. All that is nothing but feeding the ego. They have gone far away from their real being.
One thing is to be remembered: Gautam Buddha cannot come back. He has said, "I will be coming back." That's purely symbolic - he cannot come back. A man of that stature, a being who has reached to the ultimate experience of existence cannot come back; it is just not possible in the very nature of things. He cannot take another form, another body. He cannot be born again in the womb of a mother; he cannot become again flesh and bones. Once you have reached the state of being where you realize yourself as pure consciousness, it is no longer possible for you to be born again.
So when Buddha says, "Next time when I come back..." it has to be understood only symbolically.
All the Buddhists of the world have been waiting - they are waiting unnecessarily. They will never find Gautam Buddha back in the body again. And if they can find him back in the body again, then he was not a real buddha in the first place. This is the dilemma: he can be born again only if he was not a buddha, if he was not yet awakened.
Once you are awakened, you cannot dream again; you can dream only in sleep. You cannot dream again - and all our lives are just dreams and we are fast asleep.
The Buddhists have missed the symbolic meaning. When Gautam Buddha said, "When I will be coming back," he simply meant the next time when there is an awakened man - and the quality of two awakened men doesn't differ. There is not even a bit of difference. So he is perfectly right in saying , "I will come back."
In fact, each time a man is awakened, Buddha will be coming back in this sense - that it is the same consciousness again. Again the same flower has blossomed, and the same fragrance and the same message! He sees it, that within twenty-five centuries man will be capable of taking the buddha as a friend.
It is a great challenge, because when you accept the buddha as a friend, there are two possibilities:
either you have to pull the buddha down to the state where you are, or you have to rise to the state where the buddha is. The challenge is that you cannot pull the buddha back down to the state where you are; that is simply impossible. You cannot in any way bring him down to the darkness and to the depth and to the blindness where you live. You will have to rise to his sunlit peaks. It is a tremendous challenge.
And in rising to become capable of really being a friend of the awakened one, you will have to drop many things on the way - those same things which were expected to be dropped by surrender. You will have to drop all kinds of burdens. The higher you go, the less burdened you will have to be.
At the highest peak of consciousness you reach just naked, like an innocent child - not even with clothes. Even that is too much of a burden.
I have called you my friends... the same challenge.
And exactly after twenty-five centuries, Gautam Buddha is not back in one sense, but is back in another sense. Whenever, wherever anybody becomes awakened, it is the same taste, the same sweetness, the same joy, the same bliss, the same silence.
Can you tell any difference between the light of two candles? Light is simply light - to which candle it belongs is immaterial. Its function is to destroy darkness - that's the only meaning of light.
So whoever becomes light has now the responsibility to raise humanity from the old, traditional way of surrendering to a master, because that has created many kinds of spiritual slaveries around the world. It has not enlightened man, it has darkened his soul.
The very effort of becoming a friend... and something starts changing in you, because you are trying to reach the moon. The moon cannot come to you, but you can reach the moon. The moon can give the invitation. The moon can call your very being - provoke you, challenge you, inspire you - but it cannot come to you. You have to travel the whole path.
And it is easier and it is simpler when the master is a friend, because now between you and the master the relationship is of love.
Friendship is the purest love.
It is the highest form of love where nothing is asked for, no condition, where one simply enjoys giving. One gets much - but that is secondary, and that happens of its own accord.
To create a state of love between the master and the disciple means we are avoiding the device of surrender; instead we are making the disciple responsible. Surrender becomes, in most of the cases, an irresponsibility... because the disciple thinks, "I have surrendered to the master - now it is his responsibility to change me, to transform me, to take me to the heights where he belongs." He starts thinking in terms of the master as the savior, that "I have found the savior; now I will believe and have faith in him and he is to save me."
That's what all the religions of the world are doing. They have found the savior, and they have dropped all their responsibility. Now it is the duty of Jesus or Krishna or Buddha to take you in their arms and carry you into the highest state of being.
Now, this is not possible. Nobody can take you to the ultimate; you will have to go on your own, alone. The master's function is not to save you: his function is to show you the path. You have to save yourself.
Except for you there is no one who can become your savior.
People have never thought about it: The moment you think somebody else can save you, you are becoming dependent on somebody else. And dependence is not the right way to reach to the high peaks of consciousness, independence - total independence - freedom. You are cutting your wings with your own hands, and now you will not be able to fly to the moon.
The moment you think of your master as a friend, you save him from the responsibility of being your savior, and you save yourself by becoming responsible, by taking the whole path - its difficulties, its beauties, its anguishes and its ecstasies... accepting everything with tremendous responsibility.
You are alone, and alone you have to seek and search. And only in your ultimate aloneness will you find it. The master can only show you the path. He is only a finger pointing to the moon. He is certainly a great friend because what he is indicating to you is the greatest bliss in life.
Existence moves in two ways. One is the horizontal way, like a straight line moving from A to B, from B to C, up to X Y Z. You start becoming more and more alive.
Perhaps at point A you were just a stone. Yes, there is some kind of life in the rocks too, because they grow. The Himalayas are still growing higher, every year one foot. They are still young and still full of energy to go higher. They are the highest mountains in the world - seem to be inexhaustible in energy, as if they want to touch the stars.
I was born near a mountain which is the oldest mountain in the world, Vindhyachal. It came out of the ocean at the very beginning - the first mountain in the world. It is the oldest; ancient... it has stopped growing for millions of years. It is so old that there is a beautiful story about it.
One great sage was going to deliver his message towards the south - Vindhyachal is just in the middle of India - and for the old sage to cross the mountain was really difficult. Seeing the difficulty of the old sage, Vindhyachal bent down, just as if somebody were touching your feet, and allowed the way to the sage. And the sage said, "Remain as you are, because I will have to come back again, and by that time I will be even older. So please wait for me!" But the sage never came back; he died in the south, so Vindhyachal is still bent.
I have been to the place where the sage went; it is still bent like an old man. But it is the most ancient; nothing grows, it has come to a full stop. But it did grow sometime in the past.
The Himalayas are the newest mountains, the latest mountains in the world to have come out of the ocean. They are still growing, becoming higher and higher.
Even rocks grow, so don't think they don't have life; but the life is very dormant, very deeply asleep - not even a dream, just darkness and deep sleep. But it is still life, maybe the most primitive - at point "A" of a horizontal line.
So there in the horizontal line is man. And there are men ahead of you, but they are not higher than you. There is Albert Einstein - he is ahead of you, you may perhaps be miles back, but it is the same line... a linear progress. The difference between you and him may be miles, but it is the same road. Even if somebody reaches the very end of the line, reaches Z, then too he becomes at the most Zorba the Greek.
I have loved the name "Zorba the Greek" for so many reasons. One is because Z is the last letter in the alphabet. He is the Z; he is the end of the line. He is more alive than any man, but his aliveness does not make him higher than you. His aliveness is more like a wild animal - innocent but ignorant; full of energy, vitality, but blind, with no eyes to see. Yes, he can dance, but his dance will not have anything of divineness in it. It will be tremendously powerful but it will remain earthly.
The horizontal line moves on the earth. You can become at the most Zorba the Greek, but your unconsciousness will still be your life; you will still be groping in darkness. You will still be unaware that there is another dimension also - the vertical dimension.
The vertical dimension moves from A to a higher A. It goes on moving higher, but it remains the same energy, A becoming purified, becoming more conscious, becoming more alert; ultimately becoming fully conscious. It does not move from A to B, from B to C; it simply moves from A1 to A2, to A3, to A4. At point A4 something happens that we call the awakened one.
Life moving horizontally remains simply life; life moving vertically becomes consciousness.
It becomes consciousness, it becomes a new phenomenon. Horizontal life always has a goal to it, it is goal-oriented. When you are at B, your eyes are focused on C. When you are at point B, you are not there at all; either you are thinking of point A that you have left behind - your past, all your yesterdays, your memories - or you are projecting into the future: B, C, E... up to Z, a whole long line of goals.
Your mind is either in the yesterdays or in the tomorrows, but it is never herenow. You are never where you are; you are always somewhere else, where you are not.
This is the whole tension of the human mind, that it is always absent where it is actually present, and it is present where it is not actually present - and cannot ever be present in any possible way.
If you are at point B, you are at point B: you can only think of C, you can imagine it. You can have memories of the past and you can have imaginations of the future - but you are in the present.
The vertical line moves from the present. First you have to be herenow. Wherever you are, you have to be exactly there - no memories, no imagination - and suddenly there is a transformation, because when there is no memory, no imagination, all your energy is accumulated in this small moment. And this moment is so small, it cannot contain it. That's what brings transformation.
It brings an explosion, like an atomic explosion. The present moment explodes:
suddenly life becomes consciousness. You start moving upwards, from consciousness to superconsciousness, from superconsciousness to the collective superconsciousness, from the collective superconsciousness to cosmic superconsciousness. And that is A4: cosmic superconsciousness is the state of the awakened person, the buddha.
To be the friend of the awakened master means to transform the very quality of your life, to change its dimension from the horizontal to the vertical. It is a beginning of living in the moment - suddenly you will find Buddha is not so far away, he is just very close to you - only three steps, and he is the fourth.
In the East we have called that state "the fourth." We have not given it any name; we have given it a number, not a name. We have called it turiya; turiya means the fourth. This is the only experience which has not been given a meaningful name but only a number. It is significant.
Why did they give it a number? - because no word can explain it. It is such a mysterious experience that all words fail, all explanations become meaningless. Nothing can be said about it; only silence can give you a taste of it. Hence no specific name has been given to it, but only a number to indicate that in this world names cannot enter.
Wherever you are on the horizontal line, there are millions of things ahead of you to achieve, and whatever you can achieve, still there will be millions of things to achieve. So everybody remains a beggar - everybody without exception. Wherever he is, he remains a beggar, for the simple reason that he is never fulfilled. There is much more that is ahead of him, there is much more that others have.
Even the greatest king, even the greatest rich man, even the greatest, most knowledgeable person cannot claim everything because there are millions of things. The king may be the greatest king, he may be Alexander the Great, but in many things he is a poor man.
When Alexander the Great met Diogenes, a naked sage - just looking at Diogenes, he felt jealous.
Alexander the Great, who has conquered the whole known world, feels jealous of a naked man, for the simple reason that that naked man seems so contented, such a peace surrounds him! He has nowhere to go, he has nothing - and yet it seems he has everything. And Alexander cannot forget Diogenes - he remembers Diogenes again and again.
He cannot forget, because that man was far richer, and there is no way... you can conquer the whole world but you cannot become Diogenes. And Diogenes laughed when Alexander met with him, and he told him, "You are unnecessarily feeling jealous, because whatever I have got, you can have it - just drop this race of conquering the world. You will die exhausted, spent, and you will die a beggar."
And Alexander died when he was only thirty-three - spent, because continuously fighting, he burned himself out too quickly. And the day he died - because he remembered Diogenes saying, "You will die a beggar" - he told his prime minister and his generals, "This is my last will, and take care that it should be fulfilled. My hands should be hanging out of the casket. When you carry my dead body to the graveyard, my hands should be hanging out."
"But," they said, "this is not done! A strange kind of thing you are asking. And people will ask us, 'Why are his hands hanging out?' - because it has never been done before. What are we going to say to them?"
Alexander said, "Tell them that my hands are empty. I came with empty hands and I am going with empty hands - I am dying a beggar. Diogenes was right. Let the whole world know that I spent myself, burned myself out, unnecessarily rushing after shadows."
Yes, he became a world conqueror but he could not have even the peace and the silence of a naked beggar who had nothing. Gautam Buddha at least used to have a begging bowl....
Diogenes also had a begging bowl, but one day he was rushing to the river - he was feeling thirsty - with his begging bowl, to fill it with water and drink it. Just by his side a dog was running; it got there before Diogenes and started drinking directly from the river.
Diogenes said, "My God, this dog is far ahead of me! He does not even need a begging bowl; he has defeated me - I am finished with my begging bowl!" He dropped the begging bowl in the river and started drinking water the way the dog was drinking. That was his last possession; after that he never possessed anything.
A man who had nothing in the world, not even a begging bowl - which a beggar is allowed to have - still he made emperors jealous. Just looking at his eyes, just the light in his eyes... the very sparkle of the man was stunning. The silence of the man and his small statements, but with such great meaning....
Alexander, leaving him, asked, "Can I do anything for you? I am really impressed, I have never come across a man like you. I would love to do something; you say anything and it will be done."
And Diogenes said, "Just stand to one side because I am taking a sunbath and you are blocking my sun."
Diogenes was sitting on a bank in the sands, naked, taking a sunbath. And he said, "It would be very kind of you if you can just stand a little to one side - that's more than enough. What else do I need? I have got everything."
The man who says, "I have got everything," is not speaking of the things of this world - because Diogenes had nothing of this world. He is speaking of another dimension, of another richness, of another kingdom: he is talking about "the fourth." He is talking about a vertical growth.
To be a friend of the awakened master is a great challenge. But the distance is not far; you have just to change your dimension. If you go on moving on the horizontal line, then you will be moving farther and farther away from the master and his state of mind, his consciousness. To be a friend you have to turn and become vertical-just the way a tree grows: vertical, higher - not flowing like a river, which is horizontal.
Every person has the potential at every moment to change the dimension of his life. It is simply a decision, a commitment - not to anyone else but to your own self. It is just a decision: that "I have accepted the master, the awakened being, as my friend - now I have to prove it." Nobody else can do it for you, only you will have to prove it.
It is certainly a most exciting experience... to come closer and closer to the master's being, and to come to the experience of the fourth state of consciousness. Then suddenly all the mysteries of existence are available to you. All the questions disappear. Then suddenly you are the answer.
There is no question mark, there is no quest; you are not going anywhere anymore - you have arrived. It was so close; it was within you - and you have been carrying it all along for many, many lives; you had just never looked at it. It was your treasure, and it was for you only. It has been waiting for many lives within you. It will wait for eternity because nobody else can claim it.
Any moment it is yours - you have just to decide to turn from the goal-oriented, ambitious world where you are always looking for more and more. And you are capable of getting more and more, but your dissatisfaction remains, your desire for more continues. There never comes a point when you can say that now the desire for more has disappeared. The more you have, the more you want, the desire goes on growing more.
An ancient parable is that a king had a massagist, a poor man, who used to come to massage the king every day; he was the best massagist in the capital. He used to get just one gold coin every day, and that was more than enough. He lived like the richest man in the world. In those days, a gold coin every day... no care for tomorrow. He was the happiest man, the king never found him sad - and the king was always sad because there were so many problems and no way to solve them, and they were continuously increasing, and the enemies and the wars... problems upon problems.
And this man had nothing but... he gets only one coin every morning, and that's all. And he does not go anywhere else - his work is finished in the morning, then the whole day he enjoys. He used to play on the flute - he used to live just in front of the king's palace in a small hut. In the middle of the night when the king was overburdened with all his worries, the massagist would be playing on his flute. In the full-moon night when everything was beautiful, the king was just anxiety and nothing else.
He was very jealous of this massagist, because this poor man got only one coin every day from him and he was enjoying life like a king; and the king could not even enjoy life like the massagist.
He asked his prime minister, who was a wise old man, "What is the secret? I can't understand why he is so joyful, always singing, playing the flute, and always happy. And whenever he comes I have never seen any sadness in the man, not even the shadow of it."
The prime minister said, "You wait just a few days." In the night the prime minister threw a bag full of ninety-nine gold coins into the massagist's house.
In the morning, when he was getting up and getting ready to go to the king, the massagist found the bag. He was puzzled. He counted the coins and he said, "My God, ninety-nine coins! What am I going to do with so many coins? - one is more than enough."
But he became worried. That day he was not so happy as every other day. The king said, "What is the matter?"
He said, "Nothing; it is just that I have got into trouble. Somebody has thrown a bag of ninety-nine coins into my house, and since I counted those coins in that bag my whole life is destroyed. It is just this morning that my whole life has been ruined, because I am worried. I have never been worried."
The king said, "But why should you be worried?"
He said, "I am worried because I am thinking that it will be good now to save one coin today; I am going to try to make one hundred exactly. Today I am going to remain hungry because I cannot eat, I cannot purchase my food. And today you will not be listening to my flute because a hungry man cannot play on the flute. And the idea persists, that it will be good to make the number exactly one hundred." And since that day the man was a different man.
The old prime minister told the king, "Now do you know the secret? Up to now he had no desire for more; now there is a problem. When he has one hundred he will think that now if he can save one more, he will have one hundred and one. And now he is in a vicious circle; he will never be out of it. Those ninety-nine coins have destroyed his whole life; he will remain miserable. Now you will see him every day becoming more and more miserable."
The world of "more" is the world of the ordinary man. The world of not going after the more, not going after any goal ahead of you but just looking in the moment where you are, who you are, and taking a plunge into the presentness of your consciousness - this is the only revolution, and the only religion, and the only spirituality there is. And it is so close, only three steps. And it all depends on you.
To be the friend of the master means you have accepted the challenge: that you will rise above yourself, and you will go on rising until you reach the point where you are synonymous with the consciousness of the master. Only then is the pilgrimage of the friendship with the awakened one fulfilled.
It is the greatest challenge, but once accepted, it brings you to the greatest blessing possible to human beings.
I would love not to be your master, but just to be your friend, and give you the challenge. I cannot come to the valley of darkness, but you can come to the world of stars and light.
I can call you, invite you, challenge you, provoke you. I can show you the way - but you will have to walk. Nobody else can walk on your behalf. And that's what for centuries we have been hoping:
somebody else will do it for us. That's why it has not happened; it has happened only to a few people who have walked themselves. The whole humanity has remained in misery because they have been waiting for the savior to come.
The savior never comes. He is always there at the sunlit peaks, calling. It is not the same person always; the person goes on changing, but there is always someone on the sunlit peaks calling you forth. It is the same voice. The face may be different, the body may be different, but it is the same source. All the buddhas are the same; their message is the same, their mission is the same. Their language may differ but their indications are always to the same path.
Move from the past and the future to the present. Bring your whole energy to the present moment; and the present moment is so small that you need not do anything else - just that much energy in that small moment is bound to explode. That explosion becomes light, and you are suddenly moved one step ahead, from conscious to superconscious. Then you know - because it is the same step and it is the same movement.
If you have taken one step.... The ancient sages of China have a proverb: "One step is half the journey" - because if you have taken one step, the journey is finished really, because you know now the secret of how this one step has been taken. Now go on gathering your energies more and more in the present, again and again, and there will be bigger explosions.
The fourth explosion and you are no more - and you are for the first time, both together. You are no more as an ego, and you are for the first time as an individual. You are no longer a separate personality in existence; you are no longer a dewdrop, you are the whole ocean. And each step is such a joy that the very joy goes on taking you further and further.
Only the first step is difficult; then there is nothing difficult. You have the master key in your hands.