Buddha was moving from one town to another. They had lost their way. They asked a few villagers on the way, “How far until the next town?”
They said, “Just two miles,” as is always said in India. Whether it is fifty miles or twenty miles, it makes no difference; villagers always say, “Just two miles.”
Buddha and his disciple Ananda, they walked two miles but there was no sign of any village coming nearer. They couldn’t see any possibility that the village was any nearer. They asked again a few villagers, “How far is the village?”
They said, “Just two miles.”
They moved two miles. Ananda became desperate. He said, “Are these people absolute fools or are they knowingly deceiving us? – Because we have again moved two miles and there is no village. Are they playing tricks? Why should they lie?”
Buddha said, “You don’t understand. They are like me. It is because of compassion that they say, ‘Just two miles,’ so you get courage. And you say, ’Okay, so just two miles? Let two miles be passed.’ They help you. If they say, ‘It is a hundred miles,’ you will drop dead. You will be flat on the earth. You will lose courage.”
A master cannot do it for you. He cannot pass through the misery, through the chaos. If he could he would have done it, but that is not possible in the nature of things. But he can help you, he can give you courage, he can say, “Come on, just a little more, and the night will pass. And when the night is the darkest the morning is nearest.” He will give you courage, and that is needed.
That’s why without a master it is almost impossible to travel on the path, because who will help give you courage? Who will say, “Just two miles more…”? Who will say that you are almost at the end of the journey, you have almost reached, just a little bit more…? And as Lao Tzu says, a thousand league journey is completed by taking only one step at a time. You take one step, then another, then another, and a thousand-mile journey is completed.