Buddha’s Footprints – Osho Story and Explanation

Buddha's Footprints - A Zen Buddhist Spiritual Story by OshoHe was sitting under a tree. One astrologer approached him – he was very puzzled, because he saw the footprints of the Buddha on the wet sand and he could not believe his eyes. All the scriptures that he had been studying his whole life had been telling him about certain signs that exist in the feet of a man who rules the world – a chakravartin – a ruler of all the six continents, of the whole earth.

And he saw in the footprints in the wet sand on the riverbank all the symbols so clearly that he could not believe his eyes! Either all his scriptures were wrong and he was wasting his life in astrology… otherwise, how was it possible on such a hot afternoon, in such a small, dirty village, a chakravartin would come and walk barefoot, on the burning hot sand?

He followed the footprints, just in search of the man to whom these footprints belonged. He found the Buddha sitting under a tree. He was even more puzzled. The face was that of a chakravartin – the grace, the beauty, the power, the aura – but the man was a beggar, with a begging bowl!

The astrologer touched the feet of the Buddha and asked him, “Who are you, sir? You have puzzled me. You should be a chakravartin, a world ruler. What are you doing here, sitting under this tree? Either all my astrology books are wrong, or I am hallucinating and you are not really there.”

Buddha said, “Your books are absolutely right – but there is something which belongs to no category, not even to the category of a chakravartin. I am, but I am nobody in particular.”

The astrologer said, “You are puzzling me more. How can you be without being anybody in particular? You must be a god who has come to visit the earth – I can see it in your eyes!”

Buddha said, “I am not a god.”

The astrologer said, “Then you must be a gandharva – a celestial musician.”

Buddha said, “No, I am not a gandharva either.”

And the astrologer went on asking, “Then are you a king in disguise? Who are you? You can’t be an animal, you can’t be a tree, you can’t be a rock – who exactly are you?”

And the answer the Buddha gave is of immense importance to understand. He said, “I am just a Buddha – I am just awareness, and nothing else. I don’t belong to any category. Every category is an identification and I don’t have any identity.”

From Osho – The Dhammapada: Way of the Buddha Vol. 1

What Is the Spiritual Moral / Message of Osho's “Buddha's Footprints” Story?

The spiritual meaning that arises from this tale is a profound reminder of the nature of identity and self-realization. It transcends the boundaries of societal roles and categories, illuminating the essence of our true selves. The story reflects the spiritual truth that our fundamental being is not confined by worldly labels or identifications. It encourages us to delve deeper into the understanding that beyond all designations, our core essence lies in pure awareness, a consciousness that knows no categories or identifications.

This story serves as an emblem of humility, showcasing the virtue of humility within spiritual awakening. The Buddha's revelation of being simply awareness reflects the humility inherent in recognizing the formless nature of the self. It guides us toward understanding that genuine enlightenment is not in grand titles or identifications but in acknowledging the simplicity and depth of our pure consciousness—a humility that transcends societal hierarchies.

Furthermore, the narrative conveys the essence of detachment from identity. The Buddha's profound statement invites contemplation on the concept of releasing attachment to rigid identifications. It urges us to transcend the allure of labels or roles that often confine our existence, nudging us toward a state of being unattached to any singular identity.

This spiritual story highlights the principle of self-realization. The Buddha's declaration serves as an invitation for self-exploration beyond external attributions. It encourages individuals on their spiritual journey to delve deeper into the layers of consciousness, beyond the superficial identifications, towards the realization of their true nature—pure awareness.

Moreover, the tale embodies the essence of unity and interconnectedness. The Buddha's proclamation of being “just awareness” underscores the interconnected nature of existence. It echoes the profound truth that beneath diverse identities or classifications lies an underlying unity—an awareness that surpasses individuality and embraces the interconnectedness of all life forms.

This story serves as a spiritual beacon, guiding us toward the recognition that our authentic essence is beyond the confines of worldly categorizations. It urges us to embark on an inward journey, relinquishing the limitations of identity, and embracing the expansiveness of pure awareness—the profound realization that we are not defined by any particular category, role, or label but by the boundless consciousness that unites us with the essence of existence itself.