Obedience needs no art
WHEN I HEAR YOU SPEAKING OF YOUR VISION, I CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL THAT THOSE FEW DARING PEOPLE AROUND YOU WILL LIVE TO EXPERIENCE THE NEW MAN. BUT IT FEELS MORE LIKE A HUNDRED YEARS AWAY BEFORE MAN AT LARGE WILL COME TO SEE AND LIVE THE GENIUS OF YOUR WAYS. IS THIS TRUE?
It is true.
Even if it happens in a hundred years time it will be soon.
But the question is significant in a totally different way. It is not the realization of the vision, the coming of the new man, a new humanity... that will come in its own time. The more important thing is to be able to visualize it.
Everything great that has happened in the world has been an idea first. Sometimes it took hundreds of years for it to become a reality, but the joy of having a vision, an insight into the future, is immense. The people who are with me should rejoice that they can see a possibility of the old rotten world disappearing and a new fresh human being taking its place.
Just the vision will change you at least, will shift your being from the past to the future.
In a certain way you will start living the new man, who has not yet come. You will start living the new man in small ways, and each moment of that living will be a blessing. And as you become acquainted, within yourself, with the explosion of the new and the destruction of the old, you are changing, you are going through a revolution.
I am interested in you. Who cares about what is going to happen after a hundred years?
Something must be going to happen, but it is not our business. And when I talk about the new man I am really talking about you, for you to become aware of the possibility, because that very awareness will change you. I am not interested in the future; I am simply interested in the immediate present.
The future will go on for eternity, but if your mind can be cleaned of the past rubbish, and if you can see the faraway rising sun... I am not interested in the sun, I am interested in your vision, in your capacity to see, in your understanding, in your hope that it is possible. That very hope will become a seed in you.
The new man will come whenever it has to come.
But the new vision can come right now.
And with the new vision you participate in a subtle way with the man who has not come yet, with the humanity who is still in the womb. You start having a synchronicity, a certain relationship. Your roots from the past start dropping, and you start growing your roots into the future.
But my interest, I repeat, is basically in you. Neither am I interested in the past, nor in the future. I talk about the past so you can get rid of it; I talk about the future so you can remain open to it. But you are the point of my emphasis.
NOTHING THRILLS ME MORE THAN WHEN YOU SPEAK ABOUT NIRVANA.
HOW MYSTERIOUS IT IS THAT I CAN LONG FOR SOMETHING SO MUCH THAT I DON'T KNOW AND YOU CAN'T SAY. THE WORD ITSELF IS STILL UNPOLLUTED AND SO WONDROUS. ON THE OTHER HAND, I NOTICED THE OTHER WEEK THAT WE NOW HAVE "ENLIGHTENED" INSURANCE POLICIES!
WOULD YOU PLEASE THRILL MY HEART ONCE MORE?
This must be Kaveesha, because the question can come only from California. In California you can have enlightened insurance policies. In California everything is possible! But there is no insurance, no guarantee for enlightenment. You have to earn it, you have to deserve it. Nobody can give it to you; it is not a commodity.
And I can see why the word nirvana thrills you into ecstasies. It is certainly one of the words which is unpolluted. There is a reason why it remained unpolluted. The first reason that it remained unpolluted was its meaning. Unless you have come to a deep understanding of yourself and existence, the word nirvana will create fear in you. It is a negative word. Literally it means "blowing out the candle."
Gautam Buddha used the word for the ultimate state of consciousness. He could have chosen some positive word, and in India there were many positive words for it: moksha, freedom, liberation; kaivalya, aloneness, absolute aloneness; brahmanubava, the experience of the ultimate. But he chose a strange word, which has never been used in spiritual contexts: "blowing out the candle." How can you relate it with a spiritual experience?
Buddha says your so-called self is nothing but a flame, and it is being kept burning through your desires. When all desires disappear the candle has disappeared. Now the flame cannot exist anymore. The flame also disappears -- disappears into the vast universe, leaving no trace behind it; you cannot find it again. It is there but it has gone forever from any identity, from any limitation.
Hence Buddha chose the word nirvana rather than realization, because realization still can give you some egoistic superiority -- that you are a realized person, that you are a liberated being, that you are enlightened, that you are illuminated, that you have found it.
But you remain. And Buddha is saying you are lost -- who is going to find it? You disperse, you were only a combination. Now each element goes to its original source. The identity of the individual is no more. Yes, you will exist as the universe...
So Buddha avoided any positive word, knowing the human tendency, because each positive word can give you a feeling of ego. No negative word can do that; that's why it remains unpolluted. You cannot pollute something which is not. And people were very much afraid to use the word -- with a deep inner trembling -- nirvana.
Thousands of times Buddha was asked, "Your word nirvana does not create in us an excitement, does not create in us a desire to achieve it. The ultimate truth, self-realization, the realization of God -- all those create a desire, a great desire. Your word creates no desire."
And Buddha said again and again, "That is the beauty of the word. All those words which create desire in you are not going to help you, because desire itself is the root cause of your misery. Longing for something is your tension. Nirvana makes you absolutely free from tension: there is nothing to desire. On the contrary, you have to prepare yourself to accept a dissolution. In dissolution you cannot claim the ego, hence the word remains unpolluted."
No other word has remained unpolluted. Its negativity is the reason -- and only a great master can contribute to humanity something which, even if you want, you cannot pollute. Twenty-five centuries... but there is no way. Nirvana is going to dissolve you; you cannot do anything to nirvana.
It is certainly the purest word. Even its sound, whether you understand the meaning or not, is soothing, gives a deep serenity and silence, which no other word -- god-realization, the absolute, the ultimate... no other word gives that feeling of silence. The moment you hear the word nirvana it seems as if time has stopped, as if there is nowhere to go.
In this very moment you can melt, dissolve, disappear, without leaving any trace behind.
THE ANECDOTE YOU TOLD ABOUT MULLA NASRUDDIN AND THE SACK OF SUGAR PINPOINTED THE REASON FOR MY OCCASIONAL RESISTANCE TO BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO. WHEN NASRUDDIN'S FATHER SAW WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THE SUGAR, HE NEED ONLY HAVE MADE HIS SON AWARE OF IT, WITHOUT PROVIDING A SOLUTION. HAVING HAD THE SITUATION POINTED OUT TO HIM, THE MULLA, IF HE HAD ANY INTELLIGENCE -- AND IT SEEMS HE HAD HIS FAIR SHARE -- COULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY SEEN WHAT WAS NEEDED TO BE DONE AND ACTED ACCORDINGLY. BUT HIS FATHER DID NOT ALLOW HIM THE CHANCE TO THINK IT OUT FOR HIMSELF.
TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO USE THEIR INTELLIGENCE AND INITIATIVE SEEMS TO BE A CREATIVE WAY OF PUTTING ONE'S AUTHORITY INTO ACTION.
I WOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR COMMENT.
The story is simply a way of saying very complex and complicated things. As far as the story is concerned, you are right; the father could have explained. There was no need for any order, and no need for obedience or disobedience. But it is a story.
In actual life there are things -- particularly for example God, or the soul, or paradise, the temple, worship, the prayer to an unknown God... there is no way to explain. The father cannot explain God -- he himself does not know. He has been told, he accepted it, and he has believed it. Now it is time for him to tell the son -- how can he explain? And that's where I come into the story.
Your whole society and the mind of your society is based on things which can be only believed but cannot be explained; hence the necessity of obedience; hence the angry reaction of your elders if you disobey.
It was a problem for me also in my childhood. My whole family was going to the temple and I was resistant. I was willing -- if they could explain what this whole thing was all about. They had no explanation except, "It has been done always, and it is good to follow your elders, to follow your old generations, to follow the ancient heritage... it is good."
This is not an explanation.
I told them, "I am not asking whether it is good or bad; I am asking what it is. I don't see any God, I see only a stone statue. And you know perfectly well that it is a stone statue -- you know better than me, because you have purchased it from the market. So God is being sold in the market? You have installed it with your own hands in the temple; at what point did it become God? -- because in the shop of the sculptor it is not worshipped.
People are haggling for its price; nobody is praying to it! Nobody thinks that these are gods, because there are so many statues. And you can choose according to your liking.
"You haggled for the price, you purchased the statue, and I have been an observer all the time, waiting to see at what moment the stone statue becomes God, at what moment it is not a commodity to be purchased and sold, but a divinity to be worshipped."
They had no explanation. There is no explanation, because in fact it never became God; it is still a statue. It is just no longer in the shop, it is in the temple. And what is the temple?
-- another house.
I was asking them, "I want to participate with you in your prayers, in your worship; I don't want to remain an outsider. But I cannot do it against myself. First I have to be satisfied, and you don't give any answer that is satisfying. And what are you saying in your prayers?
"`Give us this,' `Give us that' -- and do you see the whole hilarious scene? You have purchased a stone statue, installed it in a house, and now you are begging from the statue, which is purchased by you, `Give us this,' `Give us that... prosperity to our family, health to our family.' You are behaving very strangely, in a weird way, and I cannot participate in it.
"I don't want to disobey for disobedience's sake. And this is not disobedience; I am ready to follow your order, but you are not prepared to give it to me. You never asked your own parents. They lived in ignorance, you are living in ignorance, and you want me also to live in ignorance."
They thought that I would cool down by and by. They used to take me to the temple.
They would all bow down, and I would stand by the side. And my father would say to me, "Just for our sake... it doesn't look good. It looks odd that you stand by the side when everybody is bowing down with so much religiousness."
I said, "I don't see any religiousness; I simply see a certain kind of exercise. And if these people are so much interested in exercise, they can go to a gymnasium, which will really give them health.
"Here they are asking, `Give us health,' and `Give us wealth.' Go to the gymnasium and there you will get health, and you will have real exercises. This is not much! And you are right that it looks odd -- not my standing here but you all doing all kinds of stupid rituals.
You are odd. I may be in the minority, but I am not odd.
"And you say for your sake I should participate. Why are you not participating with me for my sake? You all should stand in a line in the corner -- That will show that you really want to participate."
Finally he told me, "It is better you don't come to the temple, because other people come and they see you, and you are always doing something nasty."
I said, "What?"... because I was always sitting with my back towards God, which is not allowed -- that is "nasty."
I said, "If God is omnipotent, he can change his position. Why should I be bothered about it? But he goes on sitting in the same position. If he does not want to see my back, he can move; he can start looking at the other side. I am more alive than your God, that's why you tell me to change my position; you don't tell your God. You know that he is dead."
And they said, "Don't say such things!"
I said, "What can I do? He does not breathe, he does not speak, and I don't think he hears, because a man who is not breathing, who is not seeing, who cannot move, cannot hear -- all these things happen in an organic unity, and the organism has to be alive. So to whom are you praying?"
And slowly, slowly I persuaded my family to get rid of the temple. It was made by my family, but then they gave it to the community; they stopped going there. I told them, "Unless you explain it to me, your going shows that you are not behaving intelligently."
So the question is not the story. The story is a simplification of the complicated life situations where explanations have never been given. For thousands of years man has lived without explanations, has lived in obedience, has not questioned, has not doubted, has not been skeptical; has been afraid to, because these are all sins -- obedience is virtue.
To me obedience is not virtue: intelligence is virtue. If you follow something because it appeals to your intelligence, it becomes virtuous. And if you don't follow something because your intelligence is against it, it has not to be condemned as sin.
The mind of man, for centuries, has been conditioned to obey.
I want a society where we will drop all those things which cannot be explained. Then only, obedience can be dropped.
I have not removed God without any reason; it is all a connected whole.
If God is not removed, obedience remains in religion. Then religion never becomes a scientific approach towards your own interiority.
So anything that cannot be explained should not be ordered. Those things should be taken out of the human mind. But then, what remains of your religion? God disappears, hell and heaven disappear.
Mahavira believed in three hells, because people are committing sins in different categories. Naturally, to put all of them in one hell and punish them in the same way is illogical. He was a man of logic; he was very mathematical. You will be surprised to know that twenty-five centuries ago he said everything about the theory of relativity that Einstein discovered in this century. Of course not in such minute detail, because he had no way to experiment; it was just his vision....
So he has three hells. Christianity has only one, Mohammedanism has only one, Judaism has only one -- why does Mahavira insist on three? Because he can see that it is unjustified: somebody has committed a small sin, has simply stolen a little money from somebody else, and somebody has killed many people, murdered, raped. Now putting them together with the same punishment is illogical. So he has three categories.
In the first will be the light sinners: the people who have been smoking, and drinking tea and coffee, and eating ice cream etc. They are not doing very great sins, so just the first hell will be for them, just to give them a little torture. Not to give them their ice cream will be enough; to put them in hellfire seems too much! In the second will be the heavier sinners. And in the third will be the most heavy ones, the greatest sinners.
But it is not so easy to categorize into three. Buddha has seven hells, because he sees that with three you still cannot be fair, because there are so many kinds of people and so many kinds of sins that a little more scope is needed to be fair. He has seven hells. But nobody has any explanation; nobody can prove their existence. It is just hypothetical.
There was a man, Sanjay Belattiputta who was also a great teacher, contemporary to Buddha and Mahavira. He has seven hundred hells because, he says, "These people don't understand the complexity." And I think he is right. As far as complexity is concerned, even seven hundred hells may not be enough. You may have to find a hell for everyone, for every single sinner, because two sinners cannot be put together: it will be unfair to this person, or to that person. There is no criterion, no weighing machine so that you can decide how much sin you have done, how many kilos.
But it is all hypothetical. And whom to listen to? -- all the three persons are great teachers, great masters. But what they are saying, although it seems to be reasonable, is still hypothetical. Somebody may come and may talk about seven thousand, and you cannot refute them and you cannot prove them.
Once you ask for an explanation for everything, your religions will start withering away.
Your political ideologies will be found to be based on nonsense.
For example, communism is based on the equality of man -- and there are not two men who are equal, or have ever been equal. It is psychological nonsense to talk of the equality of man. Each individual is unique; there is no question of comparison. All that your mind is filled with -- if you take it item by item and try to find out evidence, proof, explanation, you will be surprised: you are carrying an unnecessary load.
Yes, there are things which cannot be explained but still they are true. But they are not to be ordered either; they have to be learned in a deep, loving atmosphere.
If you trust a master, if you love a master, if you can feel his authenticity, sincerity, his humanness, then perhaps he can talk about things which are but can only be experienced, which cannot be explained. But such a man will not order you to believe in them.
For example, I cannot tell you to believe in reincarnation, although I know it is a truth.
But because I cannot prove it, I cannot ask you to believe in it. I can only ask you to explore, to go deeper into your meditation, to go deeper into your own being, so that you can reach to when you were born; and still a little deeper, so that you can feel that you are in your mother's womb.
You have been in your mother's womb, and the memory of it is carried by you. Go further back, and you can see the moment in which you were conceived, the moment when your father and mother provided the opportunity for your soul to enter into a body.
Go back a little more, and you can see yourself dying -- your past life's end. You can move backwards into a few lives but that will be your experience; still you cannot explain to anybody else, and you cannot insist that they should believe your experience. You may be hallucinating, it may be an illusion, it may be a dream. It is not -- because dreams have different definitions.
You cannot repeat a dream. Have you thought about it? You see a dream, and tomorrow you want to repeat it -- can you repeat it? It is beyond you. It may come sometime, but you cannot repeat it.
But by going into your past life, you can repeat; it is within your hands, it is not a dream.
A hallucination needs unconsciousness, a drugged state. In meditation you are not unconscious, you are conscious -- more conscious than ever; hence your experience of past lives cannot be a hallucination. But these are your inner experiences, and they remain individual.
There are things which cannot be explained; they are there, but they need not be ordered.
They have also been ordered -- to be a Hindu you have to believe in reincarnation. But the person who believes in reincarnation knows nothing about it. And every belief dulls your intelligence.
So it is right that Mulla Nasruddin's father could have explained to his son rather than ordering him, but he is ordering because otherwise the story would have lost all meaning.
The story is a Sufi story; it has a certain purpose. If the father had explained, and Mulla Nasruddin had followed the explanation, what story would there be?
The story is there to indicate something about human beliefs, which can only be ordered, which can only be obeyed, which cannot be explained. And if the younger generation wants to get rid of them, the only way is to disobey everything that does not convince them.
Disobedience is an art.
It is not against anybody, and it is not something hard. You can be very polite, you can be really nice, and yet disobedient. It looks difficult because we have become accustomed to the association that the disobedient person is a hard person, that he is not gentle, that he is not nice. That is a wrong association.
I have disobeyed my whole life -- my parents, my teachers, my elders -- but I have never let them feel that I am in any way disrespectful to them, or that I am being nasty to them.
Disobedience is a greater art than obedience.
Obedience needs no art.
One of my professors, Professor S.S. Roy, was in deep love with me -- so much so that at times he would say, "Okay, so you come here, near the board, and you explain to the class if you feel my explanation is not enough, or is not adequate." And he would go and sit in my place, and I would stand in his place and teach the class.
I asked him again and again, "Do you feel that I am disrespectful to you?"
He said, "Never. Don't be worried about it." He was very much concerned that I go to the examination hall, because he knew perfectly well that I was not interested in examinations or in getting degrees or anything. I was in the university to sharpen my intelligence, not to get a certificate. So he would come to my room, take me in his car to the examination hall, see with his own eyes that I had entered into the hall -- and then he would leave.
I told him the first day, "I have not prepared at all about this subject. And I am going to be absolutely original, because any answer that I am going to give will not be found in any book!"
He said, "My God, why did you not tell me? -- because I have set this paper. Don't be worried, there is still time." He took out his notebook and gave me five questions, and told me, sitting in the car, answers to each, in short. He said, "I am giving you just the essential answers, then you can elaborate."
When he was finished, I told him, "Don't feel hurt -- I will not use a single sentence of what you have told me, because it is unfair. You have set the paper; you should not let me know. You have created more difficulty for me. Now I will have to avoid everything that you have said."
He said, "You are strange!"
I said, "I am not strange, I am simply saying that you have done wrong; now please don't force me to do wrong." And it was a difficult paper because he had given me the questions, he had given me the answers, and I had to avoid his answers. But it was a great exercise to find my own answers -- absolutely clean, unpolluted. And he was also the examiner of that paper, so as my paper reached to him and he saw it, he could not believe his eyes: I had really avoided everything that he had said; I had not even used one word.
He called me, and said, "I am sorry that I gave you such trouble. I can see how difficult it must have been for you to avoid all the right answers, and yet remain right. But you did well, and I am giving you ninety-nine percent marks. I wanted to give you one hundred percent, but that would look a little too much, so I have cut one mark.
"But to you I can say that that was my desire -- to give you one hundred percent marks, for the simple reason that you have been able to avoid all the real answers and yet you have managed to answer my questions relevantly. And these answers cannot be found in any textbook; it must have been a strain on you."
I said, "No, it has not been. It has been just a play, just an exercise."
"Still," he asked, "why did you not listen to me? That would have been the easiest thing."
I said, "You know that I cannot do anything which is unfair; no other student knew it.
Now these ninety-nine percent are my own earning. If I had repeated your answers I would have always felt guilty that I was part of some unfair process. But don't feel hurt; I have not rejected your answers for any other reason."
You can be disobedient with great artfulness; in fact you will have to learn much artfulness to be disobedient. So to anything that has no explanation, and is being forced on you, it is good to say no.
But there will come a moment in your life when you are close to a mystic -- then don't ask for explanations, because he is not ordering you to believe anything or disbelieve anything. He is simply opening his heart to you. He is not asking for any response from you, so the question of obedience and disobedience does not arise.
Don't ask explanations from him.
Ask how to experience what he is saying.
So there is a world of explanations, which is mundane.
And there is a world of experience, which is really the very truth, the very essence of life, the very foundation of existence.
ARE WE REALLY LOOKING FOR THE ANSWER TO OUR NUMEROUS QUESTIONS? IT OCCURS TO ME THERE MUST BE, FOR EACH OF US PRESENT HERE, ONE QUESTION THAT CHARACTERIZES US, AND WHICH, IF WE COULD JUST PINPOINT IT, WOULD ACT LIKE A BEACON. THEN THAT QUESTION WOULD BE ENOUGH IN ITSELF AND WITHOUT THE NEED FOR AN ANSWER.
In fact there is no question which will be an answer to you. The reality is unquestionably here. All your questions are not really in search of answers -- but they can put you in great trouble.
If the man you are asking the question to is a scholar, a pedagogue, then he can give you an answer which will create thousands of questions. You had come only with one question; he has given one answer. Now that answer creates thousands of questions -- and that's how it has been going on in philosophy, in theology. Each question leads to an answer, and that answer leads to many questions. And this goes on growing.
In fact, if the man you are asking knows, then he is not answering your question; he is destroying it. He is trying that you get rid of it. He is not putting an answer in its place, because then that will torture you.
This is the real work of a master, a mystic, that sooner or later the people who are with him start feeling questionless.
To be questionless is the answer.
There is no answer... it is not that when you are questionless all your questions have been demolished. It is not that you come upon a hidden answer.
No, there is nothing hidden.
All the rubbish has been removed. You feel just a clean and clear consciousness. This is the answer... Not the answer to any question, but the state of no question is the answer that we are seeking and searching. Every question is a burden, every question is a wound, every question is a tension. And to be questionless, to be completely free of all questions...
There is a story in the life of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. He was working with his disciples in the desert, in a small monastery. A few travelers passing by, just out of curiosity stopped and went in. They saw that in the courtyard the students were sitting, the disciples were sitting, and Mevlana -- Mevlana means the beloved master -- Mevlana Rumi was answering them.
They got fed up, because strange questions and strange answers... they went on their way.
After years of traveling, they came back, and stopped again to see what was happening.
Only Mevlana Rumi was sitting there, and there were no disciples. They were really shocked -- what had happened? They went to Mevlana and they said, "What happened?"
Mevlana laughed. He said, "This is my whole work. I crushed all their questions, and now they have no questions so I have told them, `Go and do the same to others: crush their questions. And if you find somebody you cannot manage, send him here!'" When all questions are removed, you are again a child, utterly innocent. Then your mind is bound to be silent, and there is no possibility of it getting disturbed. And a great serenity...
This is the answer. There are no words in it, and it is not relevant to any question in particular; it is only a state of silence.