Once Buddha decided to go away for a little while. He asked his chief disciples like Ananda, Shariputra and others to stay back at the monastery while he ventured out on his own. It was most unusual because generally wherever Buddha went, he was accompanied by his devotees and disciples who doted on him and revered him more than their own lives. They always wanted to be around to behold his beautiful form, to listen to his tranquil words, and above all just to serve him. But, this time, Buddha instructed them to not follow him until he said otherwise.
Exploring new places, as he walked from one village to another, many people did not recognize him. They didn’t think he was Gautama Buddha because there was no entourage, there was no crowd. He was wandering like any other monk, discreet and alone. On the way, Buddha approached a man for alms. The man, however, was distraught and livid for his only cow had just died a few minutes ago. In a fit of rage, he began shouting at Buddha and hurled abuses at him. The sage kept quiet and walked away. But, a villager close by felt the unmistakable presence of Buddha and recognized him.
He pacified the abuser and said, “Do you know who he was?”
“What do I care?” the man said.
He reminded abuser, “No, you should. He was Tathagata, the Buddha himself.”
“What are you saying?” the man exclaimed. “It’s not possible because he always has a large crowd following him. Where are his disciples?”
Man said, “That I don’t know but I can tell you that he was Buddha. I’ve heard he’s traveling on his own for the next little while.”
The man was guilt-ridden and decided to find the sage so he could beg his pardon. The next day, he traced him and fell at his feet.“Forgive me, O Sage!” he said. “I’m really ashamed for calling you names. Please punish me so I may be purified.”
“Punish you for what?” Buddha spoke calmly.
Abuser : “For swearing at you, my lord.”
Buddha: “When did you do that?”
Abuser: “Yesterday,” he said.
Buddha said,“I don’t know yesterday, I know only today.”
Life Lesson: The hardest of all human emotions is forgiveness. Yesterday is gone and Precious moment is ‘Now’. Be a change now.