Buddha’s Path. . .
These are times when different schools were established in India. At one point they were over 1800 different ways of doing things, 1800 different varieties of Yoga. It is like how the medical science is becoming today. Twenty-five years ago, if you wanted a medical checkup, all you needed was your family doctor. Today, there is a doctor for every part of your body.
Similarly, this happened to the Yogic system. People started specializing in a variety of small things. When specialization crosses a certain point, it becomes ridiculous. This happened to Yoga. It crossed that point where 1800 different specializations of Yoga happened. That is when Patanjali came and kind of assimilated everything into Yoga Sutras to minimize this expanse that was growing endlessly.
When Gautama came, it was post Patanjali, but still there were many things. He went from school to school and he pursued eight different forms of samadhi. He saw all of them were wonderful experiences, but it still did not liberate him. In this condition, he started walking as a samana, which is a certain system where their fundamental practice is that they will never ask for food. They do not go in pursuit of food because they want to beat the fundamental instinct of survival.
Samanas used to just walk, never asking for food. But the culture was sensitive. If they saw a spiritual person walking, people would cook at home and run behind him and serve him wherever he was because they knew that he will not ask for food. If you become a samana today, you will walk yourself to death! Those days, people were sensitive to his sadhana and responded, so there were thousands of samanas walking the country. Gautama became a samana. Even if you are not asking for food, you may walk near a town so that food will come. But Gautama took it too seriously and just walked. He became just bones and a bag of skin.
Then he came to a place where there was a river called Niranjana. It was just about eighteen to twenty inches of water and he stepped into it. Halfway down into the river, he did not have the energy to cross. There was a dead branch and he just held onto it. He did not have the strength to take the next step but he is not the kind of man to let go. He held on. We do not know for how long. Maybe it was two minutes. When you are feeling so weak, those two minutes might have looked like many years. Then, as he hung on, he just realized, “What is it that I am striving for? What is it I am wandering the entire country for? Going from school to school, learning this, learning that, what is it that I am looking for?” Then he realized, “There is really nothing. This life is on. All I have to do is just take away the barriers which are not allowing me to experience this.”
Peace and Love, Jim