Sri Aurobindo is a strange case. He knows everything about enlightenment, but he is not enlightened.
He is one of the greatest scholars of this age, a genius; vast is his knowledge. But his knowing is nil. He knows about the scriptures, and he knows better than anybody else.
His interpretation is profound, very logical, but heartless. It is dead; it is not coming out of his own realization.
This is one of the great problems for all seekers of truth: one can get lost in knowledge without knowing anything about the reality.
He knows all the theories, all the philosophies, but he is just a blind man who knows everything about light but has not seen the light himself. And it is possible to remain in a deception for your whole life -- because you know so much, and people start worshipping you, people start believing you. And belief has its own psychology: if many people believe in you, you are bound to believe in yourself.
I have often told a small story about a great journalist who died and reached the doors of heaven.
The doors of heaven and hell are not far apart; they are just opposite each other. The distance is not much, and naturally one would like to enter heaven. So he knocked on the door. The doorkeeper opened a small window in the door and asked, "What do you want?"
He said, "I am a great journalist. I have just died, and I want to enter."
The doorkeeper said, "I am sorry but I have to refuse you -- because we have a quota; we can have only twelve journalists in heaven. That quota has been filled for centuries -- for centuries, no new journalist has entered. And anyway, even those twelve are utterly useless because nothing happens in heaven. They tried to publish a newspaper, but only one issue appeared -- because there are only saints here -- no murder, no suicide, no crime, no politics, no struggle for power... no change ever happens; everything is eternally the same. From where can you get news?"
"And," the doorkeeper said, "you must have heard the definition of news: when a dog bites a man it is not news, but when a man bites a dog it is news. So nothing sensational happens here, no love affair... When people get bored, they read the first issue that was published centuries ago.
"You should go to hell. Every moment tremendous things happen there. All the active people of the world, all the creative people of the world are there -- painters, musicians, poets, actors, dancers, thieves, murderers, rapists, psychoanalysts, philosophers -- you will find every variety.
"Heaven is monotonous. Only dull, dead saints -- skeletons. Their only quality is that they don't do anything. So just go to hell and enjoy. You will find everything that you may have missed on earth -- because for centuries upon centuries, all the juicy people have collected there. In fact, I myself want to go... but once you get into heaven, you cannot escape. So I am stuck here. My suggestion is that you just go."
But journalists are stubborn people. He said, "I have a suggestion, and I think you must be compassionate enough to do it for me. Just give me twenty-four hours' entry. If I can convince one of the journalists inside to go to hell then you can put me in the quota; twelve journalists will remain twelve."
The gatekeeper said, "It is unheard of, there is no precedent. But I cannot say no to you.
Go in, have a try. But remember, after twenty-four hours.... I am taking a risk. After twenty-four hours, come back."
After twenty-four hours he came back. In those twenty-four hours he had created a rumor among all the journalists: "A big newspaper is going to be started in hell and there is great need for editors, sub-editors, story writers, all kinds of journalists. The salaries are great. So what are you doing HERE?"
After twenty-four hours when the journalist came to the gate, the gatekeeper said, "Go back. You cannot go out now."
The journalist said, "Why not?"
The gatekeeper said, "I have kept my word, and you have to keep your word. You were very convincing. All twelve journalists have gone. I tried hard to explain that `This is just a rumor; don't spoil your heaven.' But they wouldn't listen."
The man himself had created the rumor, but he had started thinking perhaps there was something in it; otherwise twelve persons wouldn't go to hell for no reason.
He said, "Just open the door!" He was convinced by others being convinced.
And this happens to millions of people.
When you see that seven hundred million people are convinced that Catholic Christianity is the only religion, it is difficult to say that those seven hundred million people can be wrong. The sheer number has such weight.
That's why all the religions go on trying to increase their numbers. They have their methods to increase their numbers because the more you increase the numbers the more you convince those who are not in your fold that they are wrong and you are right. Your sheer majority is an argument; it validates anything you say.
Sri Aurobindo was a great intellectual, a very convincing, rational philosophical genius.
He convinced many people, and those many people convinced him that he was enlightened.
He knows nothing of enlightenment. It is true that there is something more in existence than the enlightenment Gautam the Buddha achieved. But it is Gautam the Buddha himself who, for the first time in the world, indicated the possibility of the beyond.
Naturally, nobody else can say that there is something beyond -- unless they reach that boundary.
So when Sri Aurobindo says there is something more than the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha, he is hiding the fact that it was Gautam Buddha himself who was the first man in the whole of history to say that "This is not all; there is something beyond."
Buddha says -- and you can see the sincerity of the man -- that "A man who has entered the path, srotapanna, who has entered the stream that leads to the ocean, is millions of times more respectable than anybody else, just because he has entered the path in search of the truth. He has not found, but just the urge, just the effort, the first step, and he has become millions of times more honorable than all your respectable generals, kings, emperors and world conquerors.
"The person who has reached the point from which he will not turn back, anagamin, is millions of times more honorable than the srotapanna, than the one who has entered the stream. And the man who has become enlightened, who has become a buddha, is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return."
The point of no return is something worth understanding.
Many people start the search and then drop out. It is arduous, it is moving into the unknown; nobody knows whether there is anything like enlightenment or just a fiction created by a few people like Gautam Buddha. Perhaps they are not lying, perhaps they themselves are deceived -- who knows? There is no guarantee.
So many start, but very few remain. Most of them return to the world. Sooner or later, finding that they are going into an unknown territory without a map, without any guide, they start feeling crazy. Because the whole world is going in a totally different direction, and they are left alone. Their whole strength was in the crowd. Alone, a thousand and one doubts arise. Alone, one starts feeling that millions of people cannot be wrong, "And I am alone, thinking that I am right -- I must be getting crazy."
Anagamin is one who has come to a point from where he cannot return. He is not enlightened but he has seen, from far away, the possibility. He has not reached the peak; he is still in the dark valley. But he can see the sunlit peak; it is a reality, it is not a fiction. Now there is no force in the world which can make him go back.
Buddha says, "But the one who has become enlightened is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return."
And here is the sincerity of the man -- he says: "The man who has transcended buddhahood, who has gone beyond enlightenment, is millions of times more honorable than anyone who is enlightened." He is not claiming that he has gone beyond; he is simply saying "I can see from my place that faraway star."
And he was the first to see that faraway star: beyond enlightenment.
Sri Aurobindo is not sincere. He never quotes this passage, which was his duty to quote.
He tries to convince his readers and followers that he is working to open the door beyond enlightenment. He is not even courageous enough to declare himself... to say that he is enlightened. He never declared that. But only indirectly... he is assuming that you will understand that he is enlightened because he is trying to open the door beyond enlightenment. Naturally he must be enlightened, but he is not saying it.
To declare it needs courage, not scholarship.
He gives a hint, as if he is enlightened and he is working for others so that they can also go beyond enlightenment. They have not even reached enlightenment. It is hilarious, the very idea that he is trying to open the door... his whole life's aspiration.
All his aspirations were stupid.
This is stupid because others will need that door only if they have become enlightened.
First help people to become enlightened! Rather than helping people to become enlightened, you are devoting your whole energy to opening the door beyond enlightenment.
And it is not only on this point that he was talking nonsense, he was talking nonsense on many points.
Another of his aspirations was physical immortality; he was working so that man can become physically immortal. Naturally you will think he has become physically immortal -- these are natural assumptions. And his followers all over the world started spreading the great news, the good news, that Sri Aurobindo had become physically immortal:
"Now he is trying to find the right techniques so that every human being can become physically immortal." And then one day he died.
One of my friends was living in Sri Aurobindo's ashram. I phoned him immediately and asked him, "What happened?"
But such is blindness... he said, "Here in the ashram everybody was shocked. But the mother of the ashram told us that he has simply gone into a long samadhi. He is not dead; it is part of his project to find immortality. He has found all, but just for the last, missing link he has to go into deep samadhi, to dive deep into the ocean." And he told me that everybody believed it!
For three days they did not cremate his body or bury his body because they believed that he would be coming back. But in three days the body started stinking. Then they became afraid that if the news spread that the body was stinking...
The man was dead, he was not going to come back. After three days they put his body into a marble grave.
Still they did not burn his body because he might come back at any moment. The really faithful ones still believe that one day he will come back. And the whole belief shifted towards the mother -- she was the co-partner in the business of finding immortality for humanity. And it looked as if she had found it, because she lived for almost a century. It seemed probable; perhaps she had found it. And she was saying that she was going to live forever.
Now this is the beautiful thing about spirituality: I can say to you that I am going to live forever and tomorrow I can die -- who are you going to argue with?
And one day the mother died. Again the same thing: they waited for three days, and when the body started stinking, she was put into another marble grave next to Sri Aurobindo.
And the faithful ones still sit beside the graves every day, waiting for them to return.
Slowly slowly, the number of faithful ones is lessening. The hope is turning into hopelessness, into despair. Perhaps they have not yet found the missing link together.
It is enough that man has an immortal soul, an immortal consciousness, an immortal life principle.
But Sri Aurobindo was obsessed with the idea that he had to bring some original contribution to the spiritual progress of humanity. That the human soul is immortal is as ancient an experience as humanity itself. Even the VEDAS, five thousand years old, declare man as amritasya putrah -- "you are sons of immortality." Something new, something original... and this was a great original idea, that your body can be immortal.
One cannot conceive how intelligent people can get caught up in such absurd ideas.
Sri Aurobindo was a child, he became a young man, he became old. If the human body is immortal, then you will have to say at what age it is going to be immortal. As a child? As a young man? As an old man? Or as a dead man? The last seems to be the only possibility.
"As a dead man, the human body is immortal" -- and certainly it is, because all the elements of the human body disperse into nature. Nothing is going to die, everything is going to merge -- the earth into earth, the water into water, the air into air... all the elements will go to their sources. In that sense the human body has always been immortal. Not only the human body -- buffaloes, donkeys, monkeys, everybody is immortal. It does not need a Sri Aurobindo to declare that his body is immortal.
Gautam Buddha is the rarest human being in that he recognizes that there is still something more, he has not reached the end of evolution.
In Japan, they had a beautiful collection of paintings called "Ten Zen Bulls." It is a series of paintings depicting the whole story of the search.
In the first, a man is looking here and there... his bull is lost. You see forest all around, ancient trees, and the puzzled man standing there looking, and he cannot see the bull.
In the second painting, he looks a little happier because he has seen the bull's footprints.
It is the same painting, the same forest. Just one thing he has discovered in this painting and that is, he has seen the bull's footprints, so he knows where he has gone.
In the third painting he moves and sees the backside of the bull -- because it is standing by the side of a tree, and the man is behind him -- so he looks... and just the backside is shown in the painting.
In the fourth he has reached the bull; he sees the whole bull.
In the fifth he has caught hold of the bull by the horns.
In the sixth he is riding on the bull. It is difficult, the bull is trying to throw him off.
By the eighth he is returning home, the bull is conquered.
In the ninth the bull is back in the stall and the man is playing on a flute.
In the tenth, there is no question of the bull at all. The man is seen in the marketplace with a bottle of wine, drunk.
Buddhists were very much embarrassed about the tenth painting. It does not seem to be Buddhist at all -- and there is no connection, because nine seems to be perfect; there is no need for the tenth.
So in the Middle Ages they dropped the tenth painting, and they started talking of the nine paintings. Only recently has the tenth painting been discovered again in the ancient scriptures with its description -- because each painting has a description of what is happening. The bull is lost, your soul is lost -- the bull represents your soul, your energy, your spirit. When the bull is found, you have become a realized soul. You are singing a song on the flute -- that is the stage of enlightenment.
What about the tenth? That is the stage when you go beyond enlightenment; you become ordinary again. Now there is no split between this world and that, now there is no split between good and bad. Now all opposites have joined together into one single harmony; that's what is represented by the bottle of wine, a bottle of wine in the hands of a buddha.
Sri Aurobindo never talked about the Ten Bulls because that again would have destroyed his originality. The paintings of the Ten Bulls are at least fifteen centuries old.
The Buddhists in the Middle Ages were cowardly; they could not understand the tenth.
But as far as I am concerned, I can see a natural growth from the ninth to the tenth, from enlightenment to beyond enlightenment.
Enlightenment makes you special. That means something of the ego in some subtle form still remains. Others are ignorant, you are a knower; others are going towards hell, your paradise is guaranteed. These are the last remnants of a dying ego. And when this ego also dies the buddha becomes an ordinary human being, not knowing at all that he is holier than thou, higher than thou, special in any sense -- so ordinary that even a bottle of wine is acceptable. The whole of life is acceptable; the days and the nights, the flowers and the thorns, the saints and the sinners -- all are acceptable, with no discrimination at all.
This ordinariness is really the greatest flowering of human reality.
Sri Aurobindo will be remembered as a great philosopher -- should be remembered as a great philosopher -- a man of tremendous insight into words, scriptures; immensely articulate in bringing meanings, interpretations to them; novel, original.... But he was not a man of realization. And he is not sincere, he is not an authentic man.
He had a great desire to prove himself, to prove that he is greater than Gautam Buddha.
That was his ego.
To go beyond enlightenment is not to become greater than Gautam Buddha.
To go beyond enlightenment is to become an ordinary human being. To forget all about enlightenment and all about great spiritual aspirations and to live simply joyously, playfully... this ordinariness is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the world.
But you will not be able to recognize him. Up to Gautam Buddha you will be able to recognize, but as a person moves beyond Gautam Buddha, he will start slipping out of your hands. Those who have recognized him as an enlightened being may remain aware of who he is, but those who come new will not be able to recognize him at all, because he will be simply a very innocent, ordinary human being -- just like a child collecting seashells on the beach, running after butterflies, gathering flowers. No division of body and soul, no division of matter and spirit, no division of this life and that -- all that is forgotten; one has relaxed totally.
If Sri Aurobindo had known even the meaning of what it is to go beyond realization, beyond enlightenment, he would not have even thought about it. He was thinking that going beyond enlightenment is something greater than Gautam Buddha. He was continuously in a inner jealousy, and of course the jealousy was of Gautam Buddha.
And he wanted to come up with some original ideas so that he could prove them, but he has not proved anything.
I respect Sri Aurobindo as a scholar -- but scholars are just scholars, a dollar a dozen.
The skeptical mind is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
It has been condemned by the religions because they were not capable of answering skeptical questions; they wanted only believers.
And the skeptical mind is just the opposite of the believer.
I am all in favor of the skeptical mind. Do not believe anything unless you have experienced it. Do not believe anything -- go on questioning, however long it takes.
Truth is not cheap. It is not available to the believer; it is available only to the skeptical.
Just remember one thing: don't be skeptical halfheartedly. Be a total skeptic. When I say be a total skeptic, I mean that your skeptical ideas should also be put to the same test as anybody else's beliefs. Skepticism, when it is total, burns itself out because you have to question and doubt your skepticism too. You cannot leave your skepticism without doubt; otherwise that is the standpoint of the believer.
If you can doubt the skeptic in you, then the mystic is not far away.
What is a mystic? -- one who knows no answer, one who has asked every possible question and found that no question is answerable. Finding this, he has dropped questioning. Not that he has found the answer -- he has simply found one thing, that there is no answer anywhere.
Life is a mystery, not a question. Not a puzzle to be solved, not a question to be answered but a mystery to be lived, a mystery to be loved, a mystery to be danced.
A totally skeptical mind is bound to finally become a mystic; hence, my doors are open for all. I accept the skeptic because I know how to turn him into a mystic. I invite the theist because I know how to destroy his theism. I invite the atheist because I know how to take away his atheism. My doors prevent nobody, because I am not giving you any belief. I am giving you only a methodology, a meditation to discover for yourself what in reality is the case.
I have found that there is no answer. All questions are futile, and all answers are more futile. Questions have been asked by foolish people, and great philosophies have arisen because of their questions. These philosophies are created by the cunning and the shrewd.
But if you want to have a rapport with reality, you have to be neither a fool nor shrewd.
You have to be innocent.
So whatever you bring -- skepticism, atheism, theism, communism, fascism, any type of nonsense you can bring here -- my medicine is the same.
It does not matter what kind of nonsense is filled in your head when you come here. I will chop your head without any distinction. Who is sitting on your head does not matter -- my concern is chopping!
I am just a woodcutter.
It is a very profound inquiry.
Anybody who is sincere will have the same inquiry.
All questions are foolish, silly at the most. But still, there is some existential need for an answer.
The question is not known.
I have told you about one of the most beautiful woman poets, Gertrude Stein. She was dying, and a small circle of friends had gathered around her. Just before her death she opened her eyes and asked, "What is the answer?"
They were all puzzled because this is not the way... first you have to ask the question.
She is first asking what the answer is -- answer to what? But you cannot be hard to a dying woman -- and no ordinary woman, a really great poet.
And even in this statement her greatness is absolutely present.
For a few seconds there was silence. Then one person gathered courage and said, "Stein, you have not asked the question. This is strange that you are asking what the answer is."
So the dying woman opened her eyes and said, "Okay. So tell me what the question is."
And she died.
This is something truly mystic.
There is no question, but there is an existential thirst which appears to the mind as a search for an answer. But there is no answer.
Existence is, and it is tremendously beautiful, psychedelically colorful. It is song and dance and celebration all over.
But please don't ask any question or any answer.
It is a mystery. Mystery means there is no way to solve it, whatever you do is going to fail. Rather, live it -- drop solving. Perhaps through living you will come to an understanding. But that will not be the answer, it will be more than the answer; it will be an alive experience. You will have become part of the mystery itself.
Even the greatest philosophers have been behaving like children. They go on representing life as if it is a puzzle, a crossword puzzle.
It is not a puzzle. It is simply an unanswerable but experienceable phenomenon.
That's what I mean by `mysticism'.
Philosophers miss it completely because they try to find questions, and then answers.
Questions are man-made.
A rosebush never asks a question, a cloud never bothers about a question, a mountain never raises a question. It does not mean that they have the answer; it simply means they are beyond the question-answer game.
And when I say `going beyond enlightenment' I am saying the same thing in other words -- going beyond the question-answer game and just accepting reality as it is, whatsoever it is.
Otherwise, there are troubles upon troubles. First you create the question, then you create the answer. Then the answer creates ten more questions; you create ten more answers and then each answer creates ten more questions. It is like a tree; it goes on growing and becoming bigger and bigger and there is no end.
Just live your life simply, without putting a question mark behind every experience.
People may think you are crazy, but if you are crazy then the whole of existence is crazy -- what to do? It is out of our hands.
Why does the sun rise in the morning every day? Not even a single day is a holiday. Not even for a single day does it rise from the West -- just for a change: "I am getting tired of rising from the East..."
No, things are simply going so smoothly... just man is in trouble.
The moment you also start living like a rosebush, rising like a sun, floating like a white cloud, you have come to a profound understanding of the mysterious, of the miraculous truth of existence.
The ego is simply the ego, it is neither male nor female.
But man has been very inhuman towards women for centuries, continuously. And the strange thing is that the man has been so cruel and inhuman towards women because he feels a deep inferiority complex in comparison to them.
The greatest problem has been that the woman is capable of becoming a mother; she is capable of giving birth to life, and man is not. That was the beginning of the feeling of inferiority -- that nature depends on woman, not on man.
Moreover, he has found that she is in many ways stronger than him.
For example, for every one hundred and fifteen boys that are born, only one hundred girls are born -- because fifteen boys will pop off by the time they become sexually mature, but the girls will remain; they have a certain stamina. Women fall sick less than men.
Women commit suicide less than men -- although they talk about suicide more, they simply talk. At the most they take sleeping pills, but always in such a small quantity that they never die. Men commit suicide in almost double the numbers. Women live five years longer than men.
Women are more patient, more tolerant than men. Men are very impatient and very intolerant. Women are less violent than men. Women don't commit murders; it is the man who commits murders, who wages crusades, who is always getting ready for war, who invents all kinds of deadly weapons -- atomic bombs, nuclear weapons.
The woman is completely out of this whole game of death.
Hence it was no coincidence that man started feeling somehow inferior. And nobody wants to be inferior; the only way was to force the woman in artificial ways to become inferior. For example, not to allow her education, not to allow her economic freedom, not to allow her to move out of the house, but confine her to an imprisonment.
It seems almost unbelievable what man has done to woman just to get rid of his inferiority. He has made the woman artificially inferior.
In China, for five thousand years it was thought that women had no soul. Of course all the writers were men; they proposed the idea that a woman is only a machine, a reproductive machine. And the idea gained so much influence that it even entered the justice system of China. If a man murdered his wife, he was not a criminal -- because he had simply broken a chair, a table... at the most a television. But it was his property, and he had the right to destroy it.
So in China, thousands of women were killed by their husbands. But the husbands could not be punished by the government or the courts, because the basic principle that the woman had a soul was denied.
In India for ten thousand years the woman was told that even to dream of some other man is a sin. The same was not said to the man. The woman had to live a very virtuous life while for the man there was freedom. Man created prostitutes for his freedom.
And this possessiveness in India took on almost insane proportions. When a man died, his wife had to die with him. She had to jump alive onto the funeral pyre -- and for ten thousand years that continued. If some woman was afraid -- anybody would be afraid to jump alive into a funeral pyre -- then she was condemned as immoral. The husband's wish was that she should die with him because he could not trust her -- when he is gone, she may start having some love affair with somebody else, and this cannot be tolerated.
But the strange thing is that the same rule was not applicable to men, that when the wife dies the husband should jump into the funeral pyre. No, man was a higher quality of being.
The way they used to do it brings tears... because to burn a woman alive is not an easy task. First they would make the funeral pyre, put the dead body of the husband on it, force the woman to lie down next to the dead body. Then they would put more wood on top of both of them and pour refined butter all over the funeral pyre, so that the fire would get going fast, strong -- and not only fast and strong, but it would create so much smoke that nobody could see what was happening there, because sometimes the woman would try to jump out of the funeral pyre.
There were priests standing around the funeral pyre with burning torches in their hands.
If the woman tried to jump out, they would force her, with the burning torches, back into the funeral pyre. Hence so much smoke was needed, so nobody could see what the priest was doing.
The woman was bound to cry and scream. Her screams should not be heard, so there was an arrangement: behind the priests, there was another row of thousands of people playing music, dancing, singing, shouting as loudly as possible just to drown out the screams of the woman coming from the funeral pyre. And they were celebrating, because one woman had proved her love, her trust by committing suicide.
She was forced; she did not come to do it willingly, she was brought there.
And the same situation has happened all over the world. In different ways, they have been cutting woman's wings, her abilities, her talents, her genius.
It is not only a question for you. When your woman is telling you that you have a male ego, she is simply representing all women, and you are nothing but a representative of all men. Your forefathers have done so much harm that there is no way to come to a balance.
So when your woman says that this is male ego, try to understand -- perhaps she is right.
Most probably she is right -- because the male has accepted himself as superior for so long that he does not feel that it is his ego. It is the woman who feels it.
Don't deny her feeling. Be grateful to her, and ask her where she feels the ego so that you can drop it. Take her help.
You are simply denying it; you don't feel that you have any male ego. But it is simply a traditional heritage.
Every small boy has a male ego -- just a small boy, if he starts crying you immediately say, "Why are you crying like a girl? A girl is allowed to cry because she is subhuman.
You are going to be a big male chauvinist; you are not supposed to cry or weep." And small boys start stopping their tears. It is very rare to find men who are as ready to cry and allow tears to flow as women are.
Remember, you both have the same size tear glands in your eyes, so nature does not make any difference. Listen to the woman. You have suppressed the woman and oppressed the woman so much, it is time that she should be listened to and things should be corrected. At least in your personal life do as much as you can to allow the woman as much freedom as possible -- the same freedom that you allow yourself. Help her to stand up so that she can blossom again.
We will have a more beautiful world if all women -- and women are half of the world -- are allowed to grow their talents, their genius. It is not a question at all... nobody is higher, nobody is lower. Women are women, men are men; they have differences, but differences don't make anybody higher or lower. Their differences create their attraction.
Just think of a world where there are only men. It will be so ugly, everywhere Morarji Desai... Morarji Desai... all drinking their urine, nothing else to do.
Life is rich because there are differences, different attitudes, different opinions. Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior. People are simply different.
Accept this, and help your woman to be free from ten thousand years of repression. Be a friend to her. Much harm has been done; she has been wounded so much that if you can do some healing with your love, you will be contributing to the whole world, to the whole world consciousness.
Don't feel bad if your woman says "this is male ego." It is there in a subtle form, unrecognizeable because it has been there for so long; you have forgotten that this is ego.
Take her help so that you can recognize it and destroy it.