Scene 1

(King Prasenjit and Kshema.)

KING: Kshema, you are a great disciple of the Buddha. He is proud of your wisdom and I am fascinated by your spiritual insight. You have been at my palace for a few days, and you have given much wisdom to all the members of my royal family. I offer you my deepest gratitude.

KSHEMA: O King, I am so happy that I have been able to serve my Lord Buddha in your royal family.

KING: Kshema, tell me in a few words about Buddha’s philosophy. You have to forgive me, but I do not have much time. My work in the kingdom is simply killing me. I am overburdened, but I am deeply interested in Buddha’s philosophy. Tell me in a few words.

KSHEMA: Your Majesty, Buddha’s teaching is very simple. He gives us the message of renunciation. He gives us the message of compassion. It is through renunciation and compassion that one can enter into Nirvana.

KING: One thing more, O Kshema.

KSHEMA: Tell me.

KING: Why has Buddha not spoken about the soul? We Hindus all believe in the existence of the soul. Nothing can be done without the soul.

KSHEMA: True, he has not spoken about the soul, but he has spoken about the inner Light. What is that inner Light if not the soul? He has not used the term soul, but what he speaks of as the inner Light is nothing but the soul.

KING: He has not used the term God. We Hindus believe in God.

KSHEMA: True, he has not used the term God. But he has used the term Truth. What is Truth? Truth is God. God is Truth. The moment you realise the Highest Truth, you will realise God the Infinite.

KING: It seems to me that Buddha has not spoken about life after death or about life after Nirvana.

KSHEMA: True, Buddha has not spoken about life after death and life after Nirvana, but he has told us why death exists, and he has told us a little about Nirvana. He has given us the message of peace. Death exists when there is no peace. When you have peace, there is no death. As for the life after Nirvana, first we have to know what Nirvana is. Nirvana is infinite Delight. What can there be after infinite Delight?

KING: I don’t understand your philosophy, Kshema.

KSHEMA: Let me try to make it clear to you. From your palace you can see the Ganges?

KING: Yes.

KSHEMA: You can see the sand on the bank of the Ganges. Now send whomever you want from your kingdom to count the number of grains of sand. Or send somebody to measure the weight of the ocean. Can anybody from your kingdom do it, your Majesty?

KING: I am sorry, I do not think anybody can count the number of grains of sand on the shore, or measure the weight of the ocean.

KSHEMA: True. Nobody can count the grains of sand on the bank of the Ganges or weigh the water in the ocean. Similarly, when you enter into Nirvana, there Bliss is infinite. It cannot be measured, weighed or counted. It is unfathomable. In that highest realm of Bliss we see the meeting place of existence and non-existence. There non-existence and existence are inseparable, indescribable.

Sri Chinmoy, Siddhartha becomes the Buddha, Sky Publishers, New York, 1973