When Zorba met Buddha


Leela was about to write an article on the qualities of balancing our Zorba and Buddha energies when the following emerged.


One day Buddha just got tired of all the sitting doing nothing and watching the grass grow by itself, so he decided to go for a walk along the beach and contemplate the grains of sand at his feet. He had not gone very far, when he heard a deep baritone voice singing for all it was worth. He slowly and very meditatively lifted his head, took a deep and conscious breath and then looked to see who was singing with such abandon.

There right in front of him was a big man with wild dark long hair, arms raised and doing a crazy dance, while singing on the top of his voice. He seemed utterly gone in the dance and song, so much so that he didn’t notice Buddha until he almost knocked him out with one of his flying arms.

Realising that someone else was there, the man stopped in surprise, looked at Buddha with the most piercing and jovial eyes that flashed with aliveness and said, “Sorry, I was just greeting the day as I so often do in the early mornings. My name is Zorba, Sir, and who may I ask are you, this strange man I see before me, with no hair and wearing bright orange clothes?” Buddha took another slow, deep breath, composed himself and said, “I am Gautama the Buddha.” They looked deeply into each other’s eyes for a long time and then Buddha asked, “Do you know anything about your inner reality?”

Zorba looked at Buddha for another moment and then burst out laughing uproariously. “Ahhhh, I see,” said Zorba, “you are that guy who left his beautiful palace and family to go in search of that which is permanent within us all, right?” Buddha nodded silently. “Well my friend, today is the day that you can dance, laugh and have a beer with me because I too have been in search of what is lurking deep within me and I will show you what I have found.”

Buddha was about to say, “I don’t drink and I am actually a vegetarian as well,” but before he could utter a word Zorba grabbed him playfully by the arm and said, ”Let’s dance. It will be good exercise for you after all that sitting around.” And he promptly burst into song again and began dancing around Buddha right there, on that beach, in the bright early morning sunshine. After a long contemplative moment Buddha smiled and began to move from side to side in a gentle dance and he too was soon lost in the wildness of it all. And there they were, these two wonderful men dancing on the beach, one of them in slightly ragged clothes and the other in a bright saffron lungi. People stopped to enjoy the spectacle and wondered what these two fellows were up to.

After some serious dancing, the two men fell down on the sand to rest. Buddha closed his eyes and dropped in. Zorba wheezed a while and then he too became quiet and after checking Buddha out, closed his eyes as well. Some while later Zorba jumped up and said, “OK, let’s go and eat some great Greek food and let me introduce you to the Greek way of life. We are people of the world who love to enjoy all that life presents us.”

Buddha had obviously decided that whatever today would bring, that was what Existence was giving him and who was he to interfere with it, so off they went. They ate heartily and downed a few beers and then sat chuckling at nothing in particular. “Live life to the full!” said Zorba, “that is my path. That is what I discovered when I asked myself why am I here. Now tell me, what have you discovered on your path Buddha Sir?” Being slightly tipsy, Buddha giggled and then said, “Meditation, sitting silently, is the door to the Divine that is our essence and the essence of Existence.”

Zorba sat very still, deep in thought and then asked “Hmmm, that sounds great but don’t you get just a little bored with all this sitting and looking in?”

“No, there is no boredom when you are not,” said Buddha. Zorba looked deep into Buddha’s beautiful eyes again and said, “Have you ever heard of a man called Osho? He is a great mystic who speaks about the two of us a lot. Maybe if you could teach me more about the inner world, I could teach you a little about the joy and aliveness of the outer world because I have a sneaky feeling that maybe all this sitting around stuff could make one a little serious. What do you think?”

Again Buddha drew in a deep and aware breath and said, “You know, I think you may have hit the spot there. I too have read this mystic Osho’s books and he is always saying beware that meditation should not be a serious affair and I feel there is something in that. You dear Zorba, are a little too much of the world, and I can do with some lightening up, so let’s spend some time together and see what we can come up with.”

They spent the day together chatting about deep and meaningful things, laughing a lot about the absurdity of life, had another good meal and a few more beers and a couple of Ouzos. Buddha told Zorba about his search and his enlightenment, the benefits and trials of meditation, bliss, etc. Zorba in turn spoke of his passion for the gift of life, his love of simple things and how when the fullness overcame him, he simply had to dance and sing. It was the only way he knew how to express the joy and abandon he felt. He said he also knew that many people thought he was a bit mad for singing and dancing so much but “I’m a free spirit!” he said, thumping his chest.

At the end of the day as the sun was beginning to set, they had worked out a good scheme of how to balance the inner and outer dimensions of life that they both seemed happy with. Zorba said that when he laughed a lot, which he often did, he was overcome by a peacefulness that sounded quite like Buddha’s description of meditation. So he was going to spend more time laughing for no good reason at all. Maybe he would also cut back on the alcohol a bit. He would also give this Vipassana a go. Buddha decided that he too would like to try this belly laughter to see how it felt.

So they strolled back to the beach, and the experiment began. The sun was setting and the whole sky was full of orange clouds, which gave the world a beautiful orange tinge. The full moon was just coming up over the horizon and so the scene was set for the Zorba and Buddha event.

For a while they just sat on the warm sand looking out to the sea and sky; then very gently Zorba began to laugh. Buddha joined in chuckling and very soon they were both rolling around on the beach laughing their heads off. The more ridiculous it seemed the more they laughed. After a couple of hours they calmed themselves and without any words they floated into deep meditation. Zorba realised that he had never felt such peace as he did sitting next to this wonderful man. A tranquillity beyond description seeped into him and he felt the emptiness that Buddha had spoken of earlier in the day. Soon he was so overwhelmed that tears ran down his cheeks. How grateful he felt. Buddha on the other hand was of course in his element, “nobody home” space, just pure consciousness. But there was a new atmosphere, so soft, like a gentle breeze, a perfume of lightness, and subtle smile arising within.

They sat like that throughout the full-moon night and when the first rays of day began to appear on the horizon, they stood, looked deeply into each other, hugged, and then Buddha turned and with a new lightness in his step, left. Zorba happily took his early morning swim. He floated silently on the swells and let himself surrender to the ebb and flow of life.

German translation previously published in Osho Times, Germany

Leela TNPrem Leela was born in South Africa and took sannyas in 1973; in Pune 1 she worked in the press office, while in Rajneeshpuram she was running the Welding Shop, part of RBG. It was in Pune 2 that Osho asked her to start conducting the Mystic Rose Group by giving her a few suggestions, which she then further developed into its present concept. When she is not abroad conducting workshops, she lives in Australia. facebook.comlaughtertearssilence.com

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