He would never attain enlightenment, his efforts were all vain. Death was a certainty in the forest for a man who didn’t eat for weeks. He should have stayed in the castle, should have lived the life of a prince. Now he didn’t even have the energy to cry about it.
He decided to meditate one last time.
It was his very last attempt.
He sat under a tree and entered in a meditative state…
Why did the Buddha succeed this particular time?
If 1 billion people take the spiritual journey, why do only a few succeed?
They still listen to the ego, and the ego as a preservation strategy says “try this instead” or “hope for this instead.”
And the Buddha after many many profound realizations, still had a very subtle I-thought, a very subtle ego.
But when his companions left him, when he understood death was near, he became totally hopeless.
He dropped everything. The ego was completely erased. He was total in his hopelessness.
Total hopelessness means that you are beyond hope and hopelessness.
Total hopelessness means that you hoped that something would happen but that hope is gone and now you are so hopeless that even to feel hopeless is of no use. You have simply thrown away the hope and the hopelessness, and the story behind them.
You can feel hopeless only if you cling to hope somewhere deep down. But when you are total in hopelessness (or in some other emotion), there is no space left that you can use to cling to the opposite. Total hopelessness means the death of the ego.
From there attaining nirvana for the Buddha felt effortless.
This is the meaning of Gorakhnath’s poem:
Neither isness nor no-isness, neither emptiness nor fullness,
So unfathomable, beyond the senses.
Dropping hope remaining hopeless:
What flows down, he channels up,
He releases his embrace, shatters illusion:
Die, o yogi, die! Die, for sweet is dying.
Die that death I died and saw!
Gorakhnath here is not speaking of physical death but of the end of the ego.
Ego death is the understanding that there is nothing in the future. That the future is an illusion, that now is the only time, the only eternity. The death of the ego is the beginning of total aliveness. It is just like being reborn. It has nothing to do with physical death, even though this is what motivated the Buddha.
Whenever you feel something, feel it totally, be it totally. Quite gradually (& in some cases instantly), the ego will die and you will discover the ever-deepening stillness within. Bathe in it, realize you are it & let yourself be reborn.