On one occasion the Buddha was asked, “Do all of Master Gotama’s disciples attain Nibbāna or do some not attain it?”
The Buddha responded, “Some do, brahman, and some do not.”
“Why is that, Master Gotama, since there is Nibbāna, and the way leading to it, and Master Gotama as guide?”
The Buddha responded to his questioner, “Suppose a traveler wanted to go to Rājagaha and he approached you and asked to be shown the way. You respond by carefully giving the directions to Rājagaha. Then this traveler takes a wrong road by mistake and never makes it to his destination. Another traveler asks you the same question, you give the same directions, and he successfully makes it to Rājagaha. Now, why is it that among these two travelers you instructed with directions only one made it and the other did not?”
“What have I to do with that, Master Gotama? I am simply one who shows the way.”
The Buddha then continued, “So too, brahman, there is Nibbāna, and the way leading to it, and myself as guide, yet when my disciples are advised and instructed by me, some attain Nibbāna and some do not. What have I to do with that, brahman? A Perfect One is simply one who shows the way.”
In this brief conversation, we catch a glimpse of the Buddha’s character and the role of a Perfect One in helping the many beings to attain Nibbāna.
But look a little closer and there is sage advice for those of us on the path.
I see it as: Don’t Get Lost!
How do you see it?
(Note: This conversation can be found in Bhikkhu Nānamoli’s The Life of the Buddha, pages 200 – 201.)