Angulimal is a man who wears a garland of human fingers. He had taken a vow that he would kill one thousand people; from each single person he would take one finger so that he could remember how many he had killed and he will make a garland of all those fingers. In his garland of fingers he had nine hundred and ninety-nine fingers — only one was missing. And that one was missing because his road was closed; nobody was coming that way.
But Gautam Buddha entered that closed road. The king had put guards on the road to prevent people, particularly strangers who didn’t know that a dangerous man lived behind the hills. The guards told Gautam Buddha, “That is not the road to be used. You will have to take a little longer route, but it is better to go a little longer than to go into the mouth of death itself.
This is the place where Angulimal lives. Even the king has not the guts to go on this road. That man is simply mad. “His mother used to go to him. She was the only person who used to go, once in a while, to see him, but even she stopped. The last time she went there he told her, `Now only one finger is missing, and just because you happen to be my mother...I want to warn you that if you come another time you will not go back. I need one finger desperately.
Up to now I have not killed you because other people were available, but now nobody passes on this road except you. So I want to make you aware that next time if you come it will be your responsibility, not mine.’ Since that time his mother has not come.”
Guards: “Don’t unnecessarily take the risk.”
Buddha: “If I don’t go then who will go? Only two things are possible: either I will change him, and I cannot miss this challenge; or I will provide him with one finger so that his desire is fulfilled. Anyway I am going to die one day. Giving my head to Angulimal will be at least of some use; otherwise one day I will die and you will put me on the funeral pyre. I think that it is better to fulfill somebody’s desire and give him peace of mind. Either he will kill me or I will kill him, but this encounter is going to happen; you just lead the way.”
Angulimal was sitting on his rock watching. He could not believe his eyes. A very beautiful man of such immense charisma was coming towards him. Who could this man be? He had never heard of Gautam Buddha, but even this hard heart of Angulimal started feeling a certain softness towards the man. He was looking so beautiful, coming towards him. It was early morning...a cool breeze, and the sun was rising...and the birds were singing and the flowers had opened; and Buddha was coming closer and closer. Finally Angulimal, with his naked sword in his hand, shouted:
A: “Stop!Don’t take another step because then the responsibility will not be mine. Perhaps you don’t know who I am!”
B: “Do you know who you are?”
A: “This is not the point. Neither is it the place nor the time to discuss such things. Your life is in danger!”
B: “I think otherwise — your life is in danger.”
A: “I used to think I was mad — you are simply mad. And you go on moving closer. Then don’t say that I killed an innocent man. You look so innocent and so beautiful that I want you to go back. I will find somebody else. I can wait; there is no hurry. If I can manage nine hundred and ninety-nine...it is only a question of one more, but don’t force me to kill YOU.”
B:“You are absolutely blind. You can’t see a simple thing: I am not moving towards you, you are moving towards me.”
A: “This is sheer craziness! Anybody can see that you are moving and I am standing on my rock. I have not moved a single inch.”
B: “Nonsense! The truth is, since the day I became enlightened I have not moved a single inch. I am centered, utterly centered, no movement. And your mind is continuously moving round and round in circles...and you have the guts to tell to me to stop. You stop! I have stopped long ago.”
A: “It seems you are impossible, you are incurable. You are bound to be killed. I will feel sorry, but what can I do? I have never seen such a mad man.”
Buddha came very close, and Angulimal’s hands were trembling. The man was so beautiful, so innocent, so childlike. He had already fallen in love. He had killed so many people.... He had never felt this weakness; he had never known what love is. For the first time he was full of love. So there was a contradiction: the hand was holding the sword to kill the person, and his heart was saying, “Put the sword back in the sheath.”
Buddha:“I am ready, but why is your hand shaking? — you are such a great warrior, even kings are afraid of you, and I am just a poor beggar. Except the begging bowl, I don’t have anything. You can kill me, and I will feel immensely satisfied that at least my death fulfills somebody’s desire; my life has been useful, my death has also been useful. But before you cut my head I have a small desire, and I think you will grant me a small desire before killing me.”
A: “What do you want?”
B: “I want you just to cut from the tree a branch which is full of flowers. I will never see these flowers again; I want to see those flowers closely, feel their fragrance and their beauty in this morning sun, their glory.”
So Angulimal cut with his sword a whole branch full of flowers. And before he could give it to Buddha, Buddha said, “This was only half the desire; the other half is, please put the branch back on the tree.”
A: “I was thinking from the very beginning that you are crazy. Now this is the craziest desire. How can I put this branch back?”
Buddha:“If you cannot create, you have no right to destroy. If you cannot give life, you don’t have the right to give death to any living thing.”
A moment of silence and a moment of transformation...the sword fell down from his hands. Angulimal fell down at the feet of Gautam Buddha, and he said, “I don’t know who you are, but whoever you are, take me to the same space in which you are; initiate me.”
By that time the followers of Gautam Buddha had come closer and closer.
“Don’t initiate this man, he is a murderer. And he is not an ordinary murderer; he has murdered nine hundred and ninety-nine people, all innocent, all strangers. They have not done any wrong to him. He had not even seen them before!”
Buddha:“If I don’t initiate him, who will initiate him? And I love the man, I love his courage. And I can see tremendous possibility in him: a single man fighting against the whole world. I want this kind of people, who can stand against the whole world. Up to now he was standing against the world with a sword; now he will stand against the world with a consciousness which is far sharper than any sword. I told you that murder was going to happen, but it was not certain who was going to be murdered — either I was going to be murdered, or Angulimal.Now you can see Angulimal is murdered. And who I am to judge?” He initiated Angulimal. The question is not whether anybody is worthy or not. The question is whether you have the consciousness, the abundance of love — then forgiveness will come out of it spontaneously. It is not a calculation, it is not arithmetic. Life is love, and living a life of love is the only religious life, the only life of prayer, peace, the only life of gratitude, grandeur, splendor.
Source: Osho, From Here to Here