This story comes from China. In a particular town, a very beautiful woman arrived one day, out of the blue. Nobody had any clue about the whereabouts of the woman. In fact, she was so beautiful that no one even cared about where she came from. The fact that she was there was enough.
All the people of the town had gathered to see her. The young men had gathered in a herd and all of them wanted to marry her. The woman said, “I am one but you are almost three hundred. So let’s do one thing. All of you have 24 hours to recite the Lotus Sutra and whoever does it in a perfect fashion tomorrow, I’ll marry him.”
All these men spent the night going over and over again the Lotus Sutra. They didn’t move, eat or sleep. Such is the power of an infatuation. Ten out of these men succeeded the next morning. The woman said, “But again, I am one and you are ten. Please go to your respective homes and come back tomorrow morning to explain the meaning of what is written in the Lotus Sutra. Whoever does it fine, I’ll marry him.”
Reciting is one thing but understanding the meaning is another. But the next morning, three men were successfully able to explain the Sutra. The woman said, “The journey from three hundred to three has been extraordinary. But our original problem continues to persist. Now I want you three to go back and come back not with the intellectual aspect of the Sutra in your being, but its meditative aspect. I should see the Lotus Sutra be reflected in your very being.”
The next day, only one man was able to achieve the task. And so she took him to his parents who were very pleased to see him and gave them their blessings. Meanwhile she walked into her room and some time later he followed her into this very room. But when he opened the door, it was empty room with another door leading into the garden. When he opened the door, he saw footsteps that led him to a beautiful river. But the woman was nowhere to be seen. There were only two golden shoes lying there.
The man was puzzled. He looked back, there was no garden, no home, no parents. When he looked in front, the river was gone and so were the shoes. There was nothing around him, just great laughter and emptiness.
To quote Osho,
“This Buddhist story says that he was led slowly, slowly.
The woman was the Master.
The woman is symbolic of the Master.
She led him slowly, slowly.
First, recite the sutra;
second, understand intellectually;
third, give a sign that you have lived it.
These are the three stages.
Then she led him into no-thingness.”