Prince Siddhartha left home to seek enlightenment shortly after his son, Rahula, was born. After six years of intense struggle, Prince Siddhartha gained full enlightenment and became the Buddha. By the time he came home to visit his family, Rahula was already seven years old.
As the Buddha approached the palace, Rahula’s mother, Princess Yasodhara, pointed to the Buddha in the distance and instructed her son, “That man is your father, go to him and ask for your inheritance.”
Rahula ran towards the Buddha and then walked alongside him. According to one interpretation of the story, it was presumably a hot day and Rahlua kept himself shaded in the Buddha’s shadow. After a while, Rahula looked up to the Buddha with a smile and said, “It is so pleasant to be in your shadow.”
When I read that account, that last sentence resonated with me to my core. It felt like the perfect metaphor for me. All I really want to do is to be in the shadow of the Buddha.
So these days, whenever somebody asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I say that when I grow up, I want to be worthy of being in the Buddha’s shadow. That is all.