Buddha and Jesus, two ways

There is a story about Gautam Buddha: a woman’s only son died — her husband had died already, she was a widow. And in India, to be a widow is to be really in hell. In the West the widow again becomes Miss. In India it is not possible; once you have missed, you have missed, you cannot become Miss again. So that child was her only hope, she was living for him; and the child died. She went mad: she was carrying the dead child all over the town asking, “Help me! Somehow bring my child back to life!” A man on the way suggested, “We are ordinary people, we cannot do such miracles. But Buddha is in the town, why don’t you go there?” The suggestion was perfectly right. The woman rushed. She placed the dead child at Buddha’s feet, and she said, “I am a widow and this child was my only hope. You are a great saint. Your blessing will be enough to bring him to life.” Buddha said, “I will do it, but only on one condition.” Jesus never asked such a thing — condition …? “I will do it only on one condition.” The woman said, “I am ready to accept any condition. You do it.” He said, “First fulfill the condition. It is not a very big condition. Go around the town and bring from some house a few mustard seeds.” The woman said, “That is not a problem at all. I have mustard seeds in my house, I can bring them right now.” Buddha said, “You have not heard the whole thing. You have to bring them from a house where nobody has ever died. Only then am I going to bring your child back to life.” The woman in despair rushed from one home to another asking for a few mustard seeds. They said, “A few mustard seeds? — we can bring bullock carts full, but they won’t be of any use because the condition is impossible to fulfill. So many people have died in our family … and you are not going to find a house where nobody has ever died. This is just impossible. Wherever life is, death has happened — they go together.” By the evening the woman came back. She was no longer in despair, the tears had disappeared from her eyes. She was no longer concerned about the child. She fell at Buddha’s feet and asked him to initiate her on his path. Buddha said, “What about the child?” She said, “Everybody dies sooner or later, it doesn’t matter. Now I want to know something of that which never dies.”
Now this is a totally different way of working than that of Jesus. Jesus cures; the stories are that he raises the dead back to life. Perhaps that is his way, that’s his uniqueness. In that way he wants people to understand that life is not just eat, drink and be merry. “There is something more to it, more mysteries. Don’t waste it in just mundane things. I can show you the way of eternal life.” That is his way. But who can decide that Buddha’s way is wrong? Perhaps it is more sophisticated, perhaps for more cultured people. Jesus’ way may be for the uneducated, illiterate, who will believe in a miracle first; only then can they be interested in the mysterious. Buddha’s audience seems to be different



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