IF THE EGO IS LIKE A LADDER: you have to use it but you cannot make your house on it. Or, the ego is like a boat: you can use it to go to the other shore but then you need not carry it on your head for your whole life. It has something essential to do, but it should not become a burden forever; when its purpose is fulfilled it has to be dropped.
Just as a child needs to say no, the mature person one day needs to say yes. If the child cannot say no to the parents, to the authorities, to the teachers, if the child is unable to disobey, he will not attain to any individuality; he will not have any form, shape. He will be just part of the mob mind, the crowd. He will be impotent; he will not be able to stand on his own. He will not have any self-respect. He will remain hotchpotch, an ugly mess.
He will not really be born; he will remain in a psychological womb his whole life, ungrown-up. He has to learn how to disobey. And the wise parents will help him to disobey in such a way that disobeying does not distort him. They will give him opportunities to disobey, they will give him opportunities to say no.
That's exactly the meaning of the biblical parable. God said to Adam, "Don't eat the fruit of this tree, the tree of knowledge. If you eat the fruit of this tree you will be expelled from paradise." It is a great temptation! It is giving Adam an opportunity to disobey.
And also God said to Adam, "If you eat the fruit of this tree you will become a mortal; right now you are immortal. Secondly, if you eat the fruit of this tree you will become like gods, all-knowing." You see the temptation, the multi-dimensional temptation? First:
"You will be able to become like gods, all-knowing." Who would not like to become like gods, all-knowing? And the second, the danger, the risk: "If you eat from this tree you will become mortal; death will start happening to you." Now it is a challenge! Danger always attracts, and death is the greatest danger.
God did not leave any possibility for Adam to remain obedient. There must have been millions of trees in the Garden of Eden and only one tree of knowledge; if Adam had been left alone, on his own he might not have discovered it up to now. But God didn't leave it up to him; he pointed out the tree and created the temptation. You think the serpent did it? If the serpent did it, then he must have been in the service of God.
A small child was telling his mother...the mother had asked, "What have you been taught today in Sunday school?"
He said, "We have been told the biblical story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion.
Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, then the servant of God came and tempted them."
The mother said, "Servant? You must have misunderstood -- it is not servant, it is serpent!"
But my feeling is that the child is right: the serpent must have been in the service of God, must have been in the secret police department of God, the FBI or something like that.
And in all civilizations the serpent has always represented wisdom. Jesus says: "Be wise like serpents and innocent like doves." Wise like serpents? God must have used the most wise animal to convey the message, the temptation, to Adam and Eve.
The message was given to Eve, not to Adam; since then it has been always so. The salesman comes to the wife not to the husband. The moment the husband leaves for the office the salesman comes and knocks on the door, because the woman can be tempted more easily. The husband will argue, will be stubborn, will not listen, but the wife is easily tempted.
One advertising company was told by a big manufacturer of television sets, "Find out some new way to tempt people to purchase our product." The advertising company suggested, "Send letters to all the addresses given in the telephone directory. The letters should be in the husbands' names but on top of the letters there should be a note in red letters: 'Personal. Private. Not to be read by anybody else.' Then the wives are bound to read them; then you cannot miss." And once they read them, once THEY are impressed...all husbands are henpecked -- universally so, categorically so. To be a husband and to be henpecked are synonymous, and I cannot do anything about it. It has been so since Adam; that is the way things are.
Once Eve was convinced, tempted, Adam followed suit.
If parents are really wise they will create opportunities for the children to say no -- and beautiful opportunities. Right now, unknowingly, they give ugly opportunities. For example, you say to the child, "Don't smoke cigarettes." This is an ugly opportunity because the child WILL smoke -- you have tempted the child to smoke cigarettes. You should have told him something better -- "Don't go out in the sun. Don't climb the tree."
But you say to the children, "Don't eat ice cream." You should say to them, "Don't eat fruit" -- that will be a wise temptation! "Eat as much ice cream as you want, but don't eat fruit." Give them such a temptation as leads them to say no to you but does not harm their lives; otherwise they will remain deformed their whole lives.
Two old men -- one was seventy, the other was eighty -- were talking. They were talking about the most embarrassing moments in their lives. The seventy-year-old man said, "I have never told anybody, but you are my bosom friend and I know you will keep it a secret. The most embarrassing moment of my life was when I was caught looking through the keyhole of a bathroom when a young woman was taking a bath."
The other said, "Forget all about it -- each child does that. There is nothing to be so much embarrassed about."
And the old man said, "I know -- but it was yesterday."
Once wrong habits are formed they continue; they remain like hangovers and they become more and more ingrained, more and more deep they go into your unconscious.
Nitin, I am perfectly in favor of creating an ego in the child, because without an ego the child will remain a part of the parents; he will never be an individual on his own. But the no and the no-saying creates only a superficial individuality; because no is negative it cannot create REAL individuality.
The superficial individuality is called personality; the ego gives you a personality. But it is better than having nothing at all at least it gives you a sense of your being, it defines you. But don't remain in it forever; it is a passing phase, a stepping-stone. From the personality you have to reach individuality. From the superficial individuality you have to attain to a core individuality. That is possible only by saying yes. But yes is significant only when you have become able to say no. If you say yes from the very beginning, your yes carries no meaning at all; it is meaningless. If you are capable of saying no then your yes has meaning, as much meaning as your no has strength.
Hence the society teaches you a false, superficial personality. But when you come to a Buddha, to a Jesus, to a Krishna, to a Mahavira -- to a MASTER, to a real Master -- he will teach you how to say yes. He will take away your no, he will take away your personality.
The personality is like the shell of an egg -- the ego is the shell of the egg. It protects the life within for the time being only; beyond that it will be destructive. The egg has to be broken one day so the bird can come out. No only creates a shell around you. It is good, it is needed, it is protective, but one day you have to come out of it. That's the function of religion.
Hence religion is possible only in a civilized, cultured, sophisticated society. The more educated the society is, cultured, civilized, the higher the religion that is possible. The primitive people also have religion, but their religion is not yet religion; it is magic, it is ritual. Hence they have not produced Buddhas. They are good people, simple, beautiful, innocent....
You can go around India; there are many tribes still, aboriginals, very beautiful people. I have been to them, I have lived with them, I have enjoyed their beauty and their innocence. But they have never created a Buddha in their whole history; at the most they create magicians. Their religion consists only of rituals, formalities; it never attains to the heights of prayer and meditation; it never reaches to the heights of a Patanjali or a Lao Tzu or a Mohammed. They have not produced any Koran, Upanishads, Bible; they cannot. They are people who have not yet said no, they are people who have not yet disobeyed. They have not eaten the fruit of knowledge, they are simply ignorant.
Eat the fruit of knowledge! Become knowledge-able, and one day renounce your knowledge. Then wisdom is born. Wisdom is not ignorance; wisdom is renunciation of knowledge -- but first the knowledge is required.
Before you can become a Christ you will have to become a disobedient Adam and Eve, otherwise Christ is not possible. Christ is the higher stage of Adam. Adam says no, creates a personality; Christ says yes, drops the old personality and attains to a new individuality which is eternal. By saying no Adam becomes a mortal; by saying yes Christ becomes an immortal. By saying no Adam becomes only apparently a god; by saying yes Christ REALLY becomes a god.
The process is paradoxical, hence the question. I can understand your question, Nitin:
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO OUR INDIVIDUALITY, FREEDOM AND SPINE?
The spine, the individuality, the freedom, that is created by no is only a transitory process. You have to go beyond it; it is a boat that has to be left behind. When you have reached the roof you leave the ladder; it is a bridge to be crossed.
Now learn how to say yes. No you know perfectly well. In fact, Nitin has come from Africa to be here with me forever -- against his parents. This was your ultimate no! Those who come to me, they have to come against their parents, because parents are Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, Buddhists, Jainas...I am nobody! Coming to me, a Christian will become a non-Christian and a Hindu will become a non-Hindu and a Mohammedan will become a non-Mohammedan.
I am not creating a new religion here, but a new man, a new consciousness. I am not creating a new philosophy or theology, but a new vision, a new humanity. You have to come out of your old, rotten ideologies. Hence parents are bound to be against you; they will not like you to be here. I can understand them -- they are worried about you, they care for you. Their worry is utterly wrong, but still it shows their care and their love.
They would like you to remain in the fold in which they and their forefathers have always lived. They are worried you may go astray -- they have not attained to anything by being in the fold, but still they would like you to be in the fold. It is safer, familiar, more secure.
Nitin has come with his wife against the desires of his parents; that was the ultimate no.
Now I will teach you how to say the ultimate yes. The function of the no is complete; if you go on saying no here too, then you are misunderstanding me completely. I am not your father, I am not your mother! I have to take this no away from you and create yes.
The work of the no is complete; now you need a higher flight, now you need a higher altitude of being. That is possible only through yes, because yes is positive.
No gives you a negative kind of individuality, yes gives you a positive individuality. A negative individuality is not real individuality, it is only personality, a mask -- good in its own time. But remember always that every means has to be transcended some day or other. If you want to reach the goal, one day you will have to leave the way.
Buddha used to say, "Once I saw five fools carrying a boat on their heads in the marketplace. I asked them, 'What is the matter with you? Why are you carrying this boat?'
"They said, 'This boat helped us to come from the other shore to this shore; this boat has helped our lives.
If this boat had not been available... on the other shore there were wild animals, and if we had had to remain there even only for one night we would be dead by now. We can never forget the great blessing that the boat has bestowed upon us. Out of sheer thankfulness we will carry the boat forever on our heads!'" Buddha said, "This is the way of the stupid people. They carry scriptures, they carry ideologies, they carry philosophies, on their heads. Rather than becoming a help, the boat has become a hindrance. It would have been better if they had died on the other shore; at least they would have been saved carrying this weight their whole lives. Now this WEIGHT will kill them!"
No is good, but nobody can live in the no, nobody can make a home out of the no. No is suicidal -- use it, but go beyond it. Be alert and conscious that you don't become encaged in the no-saying. Attain to yes; use no as a stepping-stone.
By being part of this commune you have to learn how to say yes with totality. That is trust, that is surrender, that is faith. That's what will become a bridge, the final bridge between you and God. It will not destroy your freedom; it will simply make your freedom positive.
There are three kinds of freedom. One is 'freedom from'; that is a negative freedom:
freedom from the father, freedom from the mother, freedom from the church, freedom from the society. That is a negative kind of freedom -- freedom from -- good in the beginning, but that can't be the goal. Once you are free from your parents, what are you going to do? Once you are free from your society then you will be at loss. You will lose all meaning and significance because your whole life had meaning in saying no. Now whom to say no to?
A young man came to me; he wanted to marry a girl. He was a brahmin, a very high-caste brahmin, very respected in the city, and he wanted to marry a Parsi girl. The parents were obviously against it, absolutely against it. They had told him that if he married that girl they would disown him -- and he was the only son. The more stubborn the parents became, the more the young man became determined to marry the girl. He had come to ask my advice.
I said, "Just meditate for three days on one thing: are you really interested in the girl or are you simply interested in saying no to your parents?"
He said, "Why do you say this to me? I LOVE the girl, I am absolutely in love!"
I said, "If you say so, then get married. But I don't see any love in your eyes, I don't see any love in your heart. I don't see any fragrance of love. I only see some negative aura around you, a black aura around your face. It says you are determined to go against your parents -- the girl is only an excuse."
But he wouldn't listen. If he was not going to listen to his parents, how was he going to listen to me? He got married. After six months he came to see me, crying and weeping.
He fell at my feet and said, "You were right -- I don't love that woman, that love was false. You were right, your diagnosis was right. Now that I have got married to her and I have denied my parents' order, all love has disappeared."
This is 'freedom from'. This is not much of a freedom, but better than nothing.
The second kind of freedom is 'freedom for'; that is positive freedom. Your interest is not in denying something, rather you want to create something. For example, you want to be a poet, and just because you want to be a poet you have to say no to your parents. But your basic orientation is that you want to be a poet and your parents would like you to be a plumber. "Better be a plumber! That is far more paying, far more economical, far more respectable too. Poet?! People will think you are crazy! And how are you going to live?
And how are you going to support your wife and your children? Poetry can't pay!"
But if you are for poetry, ready to risk all, this is a higher freedom, better than the first. It is positive freedom -- 'freedom for'. Even if you have to live a life of poverty you will be happy, you will be cheerful. Even if you have to chop wood to remain a poet you will be utterly blissful, fulfilled, because you are doing what you wanted to do, you are doing your own thing. This is positive freedom.
And then there is a third freedom, the highest; in the East we have called it MOKSHA -- the ultimate freedom, which goes beyond both the negative and the positive. First learn saying no, then learn saying yes, and then just forget both, just be. The third freedom is not freedom against something, not for something, but just freedom. One is simply free -- no question of going against, no question of going for. 'Freedom from' is political, hence all political revolutions fail -- when they succeed. If they don't succeed they can go on hoping, but the moment they succeed they fail, because then they don't know what to do.
That happened in the French Revolution, that happened in the Russian Revolution...that happens to every revolution. A political revolution is 'freedom from'. Once the Czar is gone, then you are at a loss: What to do now? Your whole life was devoted to fighting the Czar; you know only one thing, how to fight the Czar. Once the Czar is gone you are at a loss; your whole skill is useless. You will find yourself very empty. 'Freedom for' is artistic, creative, scientific. And 'just freedom' is religious.
Nitin, before I can teach you MOKSHA -- just freedom, neither for nor against, NETI NETI, neither this nor that, but pure freedom, just the fragrance of freedom -- before I can teach it to you, you will have to know the positive one: 'freedom for'.
Hence the commune. It is a creative commune; we are going to be creative in a thousand and one ways. In every possible way we are going to be creative, so that you can learn how to say yes to life.
When the yes has destroyed your no, both can be thrown away. That is the ultimate in joy, in freedom, in realization.
The second question
NOT ONLY SOMETIMES BUT ALWAYS. Fictions are only reflections of life -- how can they be more surprising? No fiction is so fictitious as life itself; life is made of the stuff called dreams. Hence the mystic says life is illusion, MAYA, a mirage. It is a mystery, unfathomable, infinite, beginningless, endless.
So I will not say that only sometimes it is surprising; each moment of it is a surprise, but you don't feel it. You feel it only once in a while when something really extraordinary happens and you are shocked into wakefulness. Only then do you understand that life is far more surprising -- because you are fast asleep. Unless something out of the way, very outlandish, far out, happens, and you are shaken and shocked into a little bit of awareness, only then do you see what a miracle life is, how much surprise it contains.
But to the Buddhas each moment of it is a surprise, because it is each moment new, renewing itself. Everything is extraordinary if you are alert, if you are sensitive enough, if you are open enough. Then the whole of life, from the mundane to the sacred, from the lowest to the highest, the whole of life is such a mystery that you are always in for a surprise. It depends on your sensitivity, it depends on your awareness, it depends how conscious you are.
A Zen Master was asked, "What did you use to do before you became enlightened?"
He said, "I used to chop wood and carry water from the well for my Master's house."
The inquirer asked, "And now that you have become enlightened, what do you do?"
He said, "I chop wood and carry water."
The inquirer was obviously puzzled. "Then what is the difference? You used to chop wood and carry water, you still chop wood and still carry water -- then what is the difference?"
The Master laughed. He said, "The difference is infinite! Before I simply used to chop wood not knowing the beauties that surrounded me. Now chopping wood is not the same because I am not the same. My eyes are not the same, my heart beats in a different rhythm -- my heart beats with the heart of the whole. There is a synchronicity, there is harmony.
"Carrying water from the well is the same from the outside, but my interior has become totally different. I am a new man, I am born again! Now I can see in depth, I can see into the very core of things, and each pebble has become a diamond, and each song of a bird is nothing but a call from God, and whenever a flower blooms, God blooms for me.
Looking into people's eyes I am looking into God's eyes. Yes, on the surface I am carrying on the same activity, but because I am not the same the world is not the same."
Start becoming a little more alert and watch things, and you will be surprised. Life is mysterious, unexplainable -- life is absurd. You cannot prove anything for or against.
Tertullian says: I believe in God because God is absurd -- CREDO QUIA ABSURDUM.
WHY do I believe in God? -- because God is absurd! No logic can prove him, no logic can disprove him. It is a love affair. And life is very hilarious because it is very ridiculous too.
If you become a little alert you will find love, light, laughter, everywhere!
It is said that when Hotei attained enlightenment he started laughing. He lived at least thirty years afterwards; he continued laughing for thirty years. Even in sleep his disciples would hear him giggling. His whole message to the world was laughter; he would go from one town to another just laughing. He would stand in one marketplace, then in another, just laughing, and people would gather. His laughter had something of the beyond -- a Buddha's laughter. He is known in Japan as 'the laughing Buddha'.
His laughter was so contagious that whosoever heard it would start laughing. Soon the whole marketplace would be laughing; crowds would gather and laugh and they would ask him, "Just give us a few instructions."
He would say, "Nothing more, this is enough. If you can laugh, if you can laugh totally, it is meditation."
Laughter was his device. It is said many people became enlightened through Hotei's laughter. That was his only meditation: to laugh and help people laugh.
Just watch life, and you will be surprised.
A Scot, an Italian and a Jewish man were dining together in an expensive restaurant.
When the bill arrived, the Scotsman promptly declared that he would take it.
Now this is impossible! "The Scotsman promptly declared that he would take it." Can you believe it? Is it possible? It has never happened, it is not going to happen -- but that day it happened.
The next day the newspapers carried the headline: "JEWISH VENTRILOQUIST SHOT IN RESTAURANT."
McLeod and his wife visited one of the circus airfields where they charge fifty dollars for a plane ride just around the town. Naturally he would not spend the money until the pilot approached him.
"I will take you and your wife up for nothing," he said. "It will be a rough ride -- but if you and your wife let out one single word, one sound, while we are up there, then it is double."
McLeod accepted the challenge and up they went. It really was a rough ride -- dives, loops, turnovers. Finally they landed.
"You win," said the pilot. "Not a word out of you."
"No," said the Scotsman. "But I almost did speak when my wife fell out."
Just look at people! And each person is a fiction, and each person carries so many stories in his heart. Love people, search in their souls, and you will not need to go to the movies and you will not need to read novels. EACH person contains many novels and many movies, but we don't listen to people. We don't see people face to face, we don't hold their hands, we don't allow them to open their hearts.
For the first time humanity has become very closed. Each person is living a windowless life, completely encapsulated. Open up! Throw your doors and windows open. Let wind and rain and sun come in Let people enter into you and you enter into people's lives. That is the only way to become aware of the tremendous mystery of life. And to be aware of the mystery of life is to be aware of God.
One day King Arthur decided to go in search of the Holy Grail, but he hesitated to leave his knight, Sir Lancelot, with his wife, Queen Guinevere, so he went to ask the wise Merlin for advice. Merlin told him to give him a few days to think it over.
A few days later King Arthur returned to see Merlin who proudly showed him his new invention -- a chastity belt. Puzzled, King Arthur looked at it and said, "But this is no good -- it has the hole in the wrong place! " Merlin said, "No, no! You just watch this." And he picked up a pencil and put it in the hole. The pencil snapped in half.
King Arthur was absolutely delighted and departed with the belt. After putting it on his wife he set off in search of the Holy Grail, his mind at peace about Guinevere and Sir Lancelot.
Many weeks later he returned -- and immediately lined up all his knights in the castle courtyard and told them to pull down their trousers. Lo and behold, all the knights were castrated except the one at the end of the line, Sir Lancelot.
King Arthur, distraught at having mistrusted his gallant knight -- the only one to have upheld the honor of Queen Guinevere -- went up to him and said, "I give you my humble apologies. You are the knight that I mistrusted the most, but in fact you are the most loyal. I will grant you anything that you ask for. Say what it is that you desire."
And Sir Lancelot went, "Mm mm mm...."
The third question
THE DIFFERENCE IS VERY CLEARCUT, but subtle and delicate To be indifferent means to be dead; it does not mean that you are a witness, it simply means you are disconnected from life and all the sources that nourish you. You are only uprooted; that is alienation.
Uproot a tree and it will start dying. Its greenness will be gone, soon the foliage will wither away, flowers will not come any more. The spring will come and go but the tree will know nothing of it; it has become alienated from existence. It is no longer rooted in the earth, it is no longer related to the sun, it no longer has any bridge. It is surrounded by walls, all bridges are broken.
That's what has happened to the modern man: he is an uprooted tree. He has forgotten how to relate with existence, he has forgotten how to whisper with the clouds and the trees and the mountains. He has completely forgotten the language of silence... because it is the language of silence that becomes a bridge between you and the universe that surrounds you. The universe knows no other language. On the earth there are three thousand languages; existence knows no language except the language of silence.
An English general was talking to a German general after the Second World War. The German was very puzzled; he said, "We had the best equipped army in the world, the best war technology, the greatest leader that history has ever known, the best of generals, and such a devoted army. Why? -- why couldn't we win? It seems simply Impossible that we have been defeated! It is unbelievable -- although it has happened -- but we cannot believe it!"
The English general laughed and said, "There is one thing you have forgotten: before starting any battle we used to pray to God; that is the secret of our victory."
The German said, "But we also used to pray to God, every morning!"
The English general laughed and he said, "We know that you used to pray, but you pray in German and we pray in English -- and who told you that God knows German?"
Everybody thinks his language is the language of God. Hindus say Sanskrit is the holy language, the divine language -- DEVA VANI -- God understands only Sanskrit. And ask the Mohammedans -- then God understands only Arabic; otherwise, why should he have revealed the Koran in Arabic? And ask the Jews -- then God understands only Hebrew.
God understands no language because God means this total existence. God understands only silence -- and we have forgotten silence.
Nicolaas, because we have forgotten silence, forgotten the art of meditation, we have become alienated. We have become small, dirty, muddy pools and we don't know how to go and be one with the ocean. We go on becoming dirtier every day, shallower every day, because the water goes on evaporating. We are just muddy, our life has no clarity. Our eyes cannot see and our hearts cannot feel.
This state is the state of indifference; it is a negative state. The mystics have called it 'the dark night of the soul'. It is not witnessing, it is just the opposite of witnessing.
When I say be a witness I am not saying become uprooted from life. I am saying live life in all its multi-dimensionality, and YET remain aware. Drink the juices of life, but remember that while you are drinking the juices of life there is a consciousness in you beyond all action, all doing. Drinking, eating, walking, sleeping, are all acts, and there is a consciousness in you which simply reflects, a mirrorlike phenomenon. It is not indifference. The mirror is not indifferent to you, otherwise why should it bother to reflect you at all? It is immensely interested in you, it reflects you, but it does not become attached. The moment you are gone, you are gone; the mirror does not remain remembering you; the mirror now reflects that which is in front of it.
A witnessing consciousness lives in life but with tremendous non-attachment, with great non-possessiveness; it possesses nothing. It lives totally, it lives passionately, but still knowing that "I don't possess anything."
The witnessing consciousness is not an island separate from the ocean; it is ONE with the ocean. But still a miracle, a paradox: even being one with the ocean there is a part that remains above the ocean like the tip of the iceberg. That part is your witnessing soul. To create it is the greatest treasure in the world; one becomes a Buddha by creating it Falling into indifference you become simply unconscious, you go into a coma. You lose all joy in life; the celebration of life stops for you. Then you don't exist, you only vegetate. Then you are not a man but only a cabbage -- and that too uprooted. You become more and more rotten every day, you stink; no fragrance comes out of you. The same energy that could have become fragrance passing through a witnessing soul becomes a stinking phenomenon by becoming indifferent.
But I can understand your question, Nicolaas. From the outside sometimes indifference and witnessing may appear alike. This has been one of the greatest calamities -- because they APPEAR alike. Hence true sannyas was lost and a phony sannyas became predominant. I call sannyas phony if it lives in indifference.
The phony sannyas is escapist. It teaches you not to enjoy ,life, it teaches you not to love music, it teaches you not to cherish beauty. It teaches you to destroy all the sources that beautify your existence. It teaches you to escape to the caves, ugly caves, to turn your back towards the world that God has given as a gift to you.
The phony sannyas is not only against the world, it is against God too, because to be against the world is to be against the creator of the world. If you hate the painting you are bound to hate the painter. If you dislike the dance, how can you like the dancer? God is the painter, the world is his painting. God is the musician, the world is his music. God is the dancer, NATARAJ, and the world is his dance. If you renounce the world, indirectly you are renouncing God.
The phony sannyas is escapist; cheap it is, easy it is. It is very easy to escape from the world and live in a cave and feel holy -- because there is no opportunity for you to be unholy, no challenge. Nobody insults you, nobody criticizes you. There is nobody present, so you can think that now there is no anger in you, you can feel that now there is no ego in you. Come back to the world!...
I know people who have lived for thirty years in the Himalayas, and when they come back to the world they are surprised to find that they are the same people, nothing has changed. Thirty years of Himalayas -- a sheer wastage! But while they were in the Himalayas they were thinking they had become very sacred, very holy, they had become great saints. And there were reasons for them to think so, because no anger, no ego, no greed... there is nothing to possess so you feel non-possessive, nobody to compete with so you feel non-competitive, nobody hurts your ego so you don't feel the ego at all.
Things are felt only when there is some hurt. For example, you feel your head only when there is a headache. When the headache disappears, the head also disappears from your consciousness; you cannot feel your head without a headache. You become headless when there is no headache.
Living in the Himalayan cave you have escaped from all the hurts of the world which make you aware again and again of the ego, of the anger, of the greed, of jealousy....
Coming back into the world you will find everything is back again -- and back with a vengeance, because for thirty years it has been accumulating. You will bring a bigger ego than you had ever taken with you to the Himalayas.
The sannyas that teaches indifference is phony.
The sannyas that teaches you how to live in the world and yet float above it like a lotus flower, like a lotus leaf, remaining in the water and yet untouched by the water, remaining in the world and yet not allowing the world to enter into you, being in the world yet not being OF the world, that is true renunciation.
That true renunciation comes through witnessing; it is not indifference. Indifference will make you alienated, being alienated you will feel meaningless, joyless, accidental.
Feeling accidental, the desire to commit suicide will arise, is bound to arise. Why go on living a meaningless life? Why go on repeating the same rut, the same routine, every day? If there is no meaning, why not end it all, why not be finished with it all?
Hence many many more people are committing suicide every day, many many people are going mad every day. The rate of suicide and madness is increasing. Psychoanalysis seems to be of no help. Psychoanalysts, in fact, commit suicide more, go mad more, than any other profession.
Nothing seems to help the modern man -- because the indifference is too heavy; it has created a dark cloud around him. He cannot see beyond his own nose; he is suffocating in his lonely world. The walls are so thick, thicker than the China Wall, that even when you love you are hidden behind your wall, your beloved is hidden behind her wall. There are two China Walls between you. You shout, but no communication seems to be possible.
You say one thing, something else is understood; she says something, you understand something else. Husbands and wives sooner or later come to one understanding: that it is better not to talk. It is better to keep silent, because the moment you utter a word misunderstanding is bound to follow.
All communication has disappeared from the world. Everybody is living a lonely life -- lonely in the crowd; the crowd is becoming bigger and bigger every day. The world population is exploding; there have never been so many human beings as there are today -- and man has never been so lonely. Strange! Why are we so lonely amidst such a crowd? Communication has failed.
Gaffney staggered into a bar crying. "What happened?" asked Brady the bartender.
"I did a horrible thing," sniffed the drunk. "Just a few hours ago I sold my wife to someone for a bottle of Scotch."
"That's awful," said Brady. "Now she is gone and you want her back, right?"
"Right," said Gaffney, still crying.
"You are sorry you sold her because you realized too late that you love her, right?"
"Oh, no," said the Irishman, "I want her back because I am thirsty again!"
It is becoming more and more difficult to understand people, because such thick, dense indifference surrounds everybody that even if you shout you can't be heard, or they hear something which you have not said at all. They hear that which they want to hear or they hear that which they CAN hear. They hear not what is said but what their mind interprets.
Two black teenage girls wandered into a photographer's shop in Alabama to have their photos taken.
The photographer sat them down and then busied himself under the black cloth behind his camera.
"What's he doin'?" whispered one girl to her friend.
"He's gonna focus," she whispered back.
"What, both of us?"
D'Angelo, the immigrant, had to travel by train from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina. When he was met by a cousin it was obvious that D'Angelo was in a very bad mood.
"What happened?" asked his relative.
"Ah, that goddamn-a conductor he tell-a me no do this and no do that!" exclaimed the Italian. "I take out-a my sand-a-wich and he say, 'No -- inna dining car.' I start-a drink-a some vino and he say, 'No -- inna cluba car.' So I go inna club-a car, meet-a girl, and she take-a me back to her empty compartment and then the goddamn conductor he come along ana yell, 'No'foka Virginia, no'foka Virginia!'" You understand that which you can understand. Your mind is always there to interpret, and the interpretation is yours. It has nothing to do with what you have been told People are becoming more and more lonely, and out of desperation they are trying every possible way to communicate. Nothing seems to help. Nothing can help unless they start learning the art of silence. Unless a man and woman know what silence is, unless they can sit together in deep silence, they cannot merge into each other's being. Their bodies may penetrate each other, but their souls will remain far apart. And when souls meet there is communion, there is understanding.
Indifference makes you dull, makes you mediocre, makes you unintelligent. If you are indifferent your sword will lose all sharpness. That's how it happens to the monks in the monasteries. Look at their faces, in their eyes, and you can see that something is dead.
They are like corpses walking, doing things robotlike because those things have to be done. They are not really involved; they have become utterly incapable of getting involved in anything.
This is a very sad situation, and if it continues, man has no future. If it continues, then the third world war is bound to happen -- so that we can commit a global suicide; so there is no need to commit suicide retail, we can commit it wholesale. In one single moment the whole earth can die.
Hence meditation has become something absolutely needed, the only hope for humanity to be saved, for the earth to still remain alive. Meditation simply means the capacity to get involved yet remain unattached. It looks paradoxical -- all great truths ARE paradoxical. You have to experience the paradox; that is the only way to understand it.
You can do a thing joyously and yet just be a witness that you are doing it, that you are not the doer.
Try with small things, Nicolaas, and you will understand. Tomorrow when you go for a morning walk, enjoy the walk -- the birds in the trees and the sunrays and the clouds and the wind. Enjoy, and still remember that you are a mirror; you are reflecting the clouds and the trees and the birds and the people.
This self-remembering Buddha calls sammasati -- right mindfulness. Krishnamurti calls it 'choiceless awareness', the Upanishads call it 'witnessing', Gurdjieff calls it 'self- remembering', but they all mean the same. But it does not mean that you have to become indifferent; if you become indifferent you lose the opportunity to self-remember.
Go on a morning walk and still remember that you are not it You are not the walker but the watcher And slowly slowly you will have the taste of it -- it is a taste, it comes slowly. And it is the most delicate phenomenon in the world; you cannot get it in a hurry.
Patience is needed.
Eat, taste the food, and still remember that you are the watcher. In the beginning it will create a little trouble in you because you have not done these two things together. In the beginning, I know, if you start watching you will feel like stopping eating, or if you start eating you will forget watching.
Our consciousness is one-way -- right now, as it is -- it goes only towards the target. But it can become two-way: it can eat and yet watch. You can remain settled in your center and you can see the storm around you; you can become the center of the cyclone. And that is the greatest miracle that can happen to a human being, because that brings freedom, liberation, truth, God, bliss, benediction.
The last question
NOT A FEW BUT MANY...PLENTY! because I don't take anything seriously. So many times my sannyasins write to me, "Osho..." Subhuti wrote just a few days ago; when I said that Napoleon was obsessed with food, he wrote to me, "Is it Napoleon or Nero?"
Who cares; Subhuti? Whichever you like! Sometimes I say Nero, sometimes I say Napoleon. I am not a very learned mm, and I am absolutely happy in being utterly unlearned.
The other day somebody wrote: "You said that the gospels were written a few centuries after Jesus. This is not correct!" But I have not told you that this is correct! If it is incorrect it makes no difference to me. He has also written -- must be a learned man!...you have fallen in wrong company! -- he has also written: "You said that it was translated into Latin first." To me Latin and Greek are all the same! I don't understand Latin, I don't understand Greek, so all that I meant was that it was translated into something that I don't understand!
Teertha understands it perfectly well. He has written a story. He has written to me:
Osho, I was walking down M.G. Road one day when I saw a very strange sight: there was this man, right in the middle of the road, moving his arms as though he was rowing a boat. (Demonstrate, but mind the microphone!) I watched for a while, and eventually had to call out to him to find out what was going on.
"What are you doing?" I shouted.
"Rowing a boat, of course!" he replied.
"But you are not in a boat" I called back.
"I am not?!" he yelled, looking panic-stricken; and then started swimming as hard as he could. (Demonstrate, but mind the microphone.) Now he knows that I can hit the microphone -- and he is much more concerned about the microphone!
I can commit mistakes a-plenty, but I am not deterred by them, I go on committing them - - because if I start thinking that no mistake has to be committed then I cannot relate to you what I want to relate. Then I will have to be absolutely silent, because the truth that I have known can only be related if I am ready to commit many mistakes. Then too it is not related as it is.
A telephone operator in San Francisco says that the city's Chinatown receives fewer calls than any other area of similar size in the city. And with a straight face she explained the reason: "I guess there are so many people named Wing and Wong that people are afraid they will wing the wong number."
I am not afraid -- I go on winging the wong number! And it is not only that I can commit mistakes...the world is proof enough that God also commits mistakes. Otherwise, do you think you would have had any chance of being here in the world?
Mulla Nasruddin was speaking to Morarjibhai Desai. Seeing Mulla Nasruddin in orange, Morarjibhai Desai was obviously annoyed. He said to Nasruddin, "Mulla, what turned you on to Rajneesh?"
'The day I saw him walking out with his hands folded, I knew then that God exists," replied Mulla.
Morarji, looking at Mulla from the corner of his eye, asked, "Hmmm, and what do you feel when you see me?"
Mulla said, "That God can also make mistakes."
Be Still and Know