It is said that at the moment a great soul achieves enlightenment a wave of blessing is felt around the world. Here is what happened that day long ago when Gautama meditated under the banyan tree and became the Buddha.
The leopardess was well past her prime, but though age had taken some of her strength, it had given her greater cunning. She crouched silently, her spots blending with the grasses. She had remained motionless for many long minutes, but finally the fawn was now within range. As she sprang and raked it with her claws, a strange light flashed in the sky. Now, as she was about to sink her fangs into its throat, she looked into its trembling eyes and remembered her own cubs of past years. A forgotten motherly instinct arose in her as she gently licked the wounds on the baby’s flank. Then she walked away, her heart feeling a long-lost peace and contentment.
Gupta was the richest merchant in the village; his wealth was due to certain “improvements” he had devised. By placing his thumb on the inside of the grain scoop he was able to measure out a little less. He had experimented with the amount of water he added to the milk until even old grandmother Gita, who had the most discerning (and sharpest) tongue in town could not tell the difference. These little adjustments had added rupee by rupee to his secret storehouse. But this afternoon, as he wiped his brow and the folds of fat under his chin, an unfamiliar thought occurred to him. Perhaps it was due to the peculiar brightness of the sky, but for the first time in his life he thought that the poor widow-mother from down the street might need the money more than he did. From that day on, the heft of the customers’ grain bags was a bit greater and their milk a tad tastier.
The old astronomer had studied the heavens all his life. Today as part of his daily routine he carefully adjusted the sundial in the courtyard. As he did so, an idea came unbidden into his mind. What if the sun and stars did not travel across the heaven as everyone assumed? What if the orbs were fixed in the sky and the ground itself was slowly moving underneath them? It would answer so many of his questions. With great excitement, he sped toward the hall of learning to present this novel idea to the wise ones. He was fortunate because today of all days, the elders seemed curiously open to new ideas.
The young pharaoh had ascended to the throne less than a year before, after his father was slain in battle. Growing up amidst the intrigue of the court he’d had no real friends or confidants save one, his chamber slave, Nubia. At night, in whispered words, Nubia was the only one to whom he could unburden his heart. But there’d been a cloud, if not of mistrust then at least of suspicion, ever since Nubia’s wife and infant girl had been sold and sent to another part of the realm. During the ensuing years an idea had been percolating in his mind, but he had never had either the position or the courage to act on it. Today, however, a new resolve entered the pharaoh’s heart. He knew how bitterly it would be opposed by the council; nevertheless, he wrote the decree. From this day forth no person could own a slave. As of now, all were citizens; all had equal rights.
The response was as expected when the committee met: “But, how will we keep the old order? Let us not lose our grasp on the past or our rightful privileges. We must pass more and sterner laws!” The pharaoh was astute enough to know that this new law would not outlive him. But he thought, “Perhaps one day this idea will spread to other lands. Perhaps someday there will be no more slaves.”
The great masters had gathered together in the high Himalayas knowing, of course, that this moment was at hand. They had gone deep in meditation to add their blessings to the great wave that pulsed out from the Buddha. In their omniscience they knew that the world would need this light during the long centuries of darkness that lay ahead as it descended even further into Kali Yuga. Then, in its ordained time, the great cycle would reverse itself, and the slow ascent toward world enlightenment would begin anew.
Who knows if even today, confused and defiant though people are, a wave of enlightenment may chance to come again? The open heart will sense its arrival.