The Suchness of Things
LAO TZU IS SAID TO HAVE SAID:
"KNOWING THE NOT-KNOWING -- THAT IS HIGH.
NOT KNOWING THE KNOWING -- THAT IS AN ILLNESS.
THE ONE WHO SUFFERS FROM THIS ILLNESS IS NOT ILL.
THE WISE IS NOT ILL BECAUSE HE SUFFERS FROM THIS ILLNESS -- THAT'S WHY HE IS NOT ILL."
Eiko, Lao Tzu is one of those few masters who have tried to say the truth as accurately as it is humanly possible. He has made tremendous effort to bring the inexpressible to the world of expression, to bring the wordless experience within the confinement of small words.
The words we know are mundane; they are meant for ordinary day-to-day use. And the experience that happens in absolute silence is absolutely beyond them. But still it has to be expressed -- if not expressed, at least hinted at.
Lao Tzu's words are fingers pointing to the moon. Don't cling to the fingers. Forget the fingers and look at the moon, and great insight will descend upon you.
There is no other scripture like the TAO TE CHING for the simple reason that each single word in it is immensely pregnant, not only with the unknown but also with the unknowable. Words have been used only as indicators, milestones showing the way, telling you to go ahead, not to stop there.
These words are very significant, but at the first reading they will look very puzzling, confusing, paradoxical, contradictory -- unless you have tasted something of meditation.
That taste makes everything clear.
Meditation is like eyes. When you talk about light to a man who has eyes, he immediately understands what you mean. When you talk to the blind man about light, he HEARS the word but listens to nothing, understands nothing. His ears are perfect; the word reaches him but empty, with no content. The content has always to be put by your experience.
These words are not ordinary words. Unless you come to them with great meditation it is impossible to figure out what is what. If you come with meditation, then things cannot be more simple than Lao Tzu's words are. He says, "Knowing the not-knowing -- that is high."
The highest point is that nothing can be known, that everything is unknowable -- and not only unknown, but unknowable. A distinction has to be made between the unknown and the unknowable; these two words have to be pondered over. The first is the known. That which is known today was unknown yesterday. That which is unknown today may become known tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Hence the difference between the known and the unknown. It is not a difference that makes any difference; it is only a question of time. There is no qualitative difference between the two.
But the unknowable is qualitatively different. The unknowable is that which has never been known and will never be known; unknowability is its intrinsic nature.
This is the most profound truth, that life in its totality, in its organic wholeness is absolutely a mystery. It is not a problem that can be solved, it is not a question that can be answered. No amount of knowledge is going to demystify it. It will remain mysterious.
Mysteriousness is not something accidental to it. You cannot take it away from it; it is its very soul. And whatsoever we know is just superficial, very superficial. Whatsoever we know is only befooling ourselves.
D.H.Lawrence, one of the mystic poets of this age, and a man I love and respect very much, was walking in a garden with a small child. The child asked him -- and only a child can ask such a tremendously significant question.... The knowledgeable people always ask foolish questions because they ask out of their knowledge. In fact, they have already got the answer and they are asking just to see whether you have also got the answer or not. They are searching for an argument to prove their knowledge. Their question is not authentic, is not true. Any question arising out of your knowledge is pseudo.
But when small children ask something they mean it; it is not out of knowledge, it is out of innocence, out of a state of not knowing. Whenever there is a question out of not knowing it has immense beauty, splendor.
The child asked D.H.Lawrence, "Can you tell me one thing: why are the trees green?
Why not red? Why not blue? Why not black? Why not this, why not that? Why are they green and always green?"
A man of knowledge would have answered very easily. He would have told the child the chemistry of the trees, the biology of the trees. He may have told the child about chlorophyll: "Why are the trees green? -- it is because of the presence of chlorophyll."
But D.H.Lawrence remained silent; he closed his eyes.
The child was puzzled -- such a great man, world famous, author of many books, who could not answer such a small question? The child nudged him and said, "Why have you closed your eyes? Either you know or you don't know! What are you doing with closed eyes? If you know, say it; if you don't know, say so."
D.H.Lawrence said, "The trees are green because they are green."
And the child said, "That's right!" He was absolutely satisfied, contented. He said, "That's right -- trees are green because they are green!"
But only a child can ask such a question, and only a child can receive such an answer.
What Lawrence is saying is exactly what Lao Tzu is saying. To say that trees are green because they are green, is to accept the ultimate mystery, that nothing can be said. It is so.
That was Buddha's way of answering. His word was TATHATA. Tathata can be translated approximately as suchness. He was asked a thousand and one times, "Why is there death?"
And he would say, "Tathata -- such is the nature of things." It is not an answer, remember. What kind of answer is this? "Such is the nature of things -- that the water flows downwards and the fire rises upwards." Such is the nature of things...?
In fact, the word DHAMMA, used by Buddha, which is ordinarily translated as religion, exactly means suchness, the suchness of things, the dhamma of things. "Aes dhammo sanantano" -- such is the ultimate nature of things. Nothing more can be said about it.
That which is born will have to die. The young will become old, the child will become young, the beautiful will become ugly, the healthy will become ill. Such is the nature of things -- but this is not an answer, remember. And Buddha insisted again and again, "I am not answering your questions, I am only making your questions clear to you."
This is the difference between a philosopher and a mystic: the philosopher tries to answer your questions, the mystic simply helps you to understand your questions.
Whenever Buddha used to go to a new place, his disciples would go ahead and declare to the people: "Please don't ask these eleven questions. It will be a sheer waste of time, because all that he is going to say is, `Such is the nature of things.' So WE can say it to you! This will be his answer to these eleven questions: `Such is the nature of things.' So don't ask these questions."
Neither is Buddha a philosopher, nor Lao Tzu; in fact, no one who has KNOWN is a philosopher. Philosophers are blind people thinking about light.
You must have heard the ancient Panchtantra story....
Five blind men went to see an elephant. They were not five blind men, they were five philosophers, but all these philosophers were blind. That story has two meanings: one for small children -- then it is five blind people -- and one for those who are a little more mature, and then it means five philosophers.
Those five blind men touched the elephant from different sides. Somebody touched his feet and declared that the elephant was like a pillar -- and so on, so forth. They all described the elephant according to their very limited, partial observation. And they started quarreling, arguing. A great argument arose, and the whole village gathered. They were very argumentative people. They quoted scriptures, they tried to prove that what they were saying was right. They were philosophers, theologians and scholars. Of course there could not have been any conclusion. Philosophers have never come to any conclusion -- they cannot, because a conclusion is possible only through experience, and the experience has to be total, absolute, categorical.
The first experience of the mystic is that existence is not a problem but a mystery; it is unknowable -- not only unknown. Science divides existence into two categories: the known and the unknown. Hence science assumes that a day is bound to come when the whole unknown will be transformed into the known. That will be the end of all inquiry.
But religion believes in three categories. The known and the unknown belong to the lower world of knowledge, and the unknowable belongs to the higher world of knowledge. That higher will always remain the same; it will be always there to inquire into, to go into; to merge with, to melt into, to become one with.
Lao Tzu says: KNOWING THE NOT-KNOWING -- knowing that life is absolutely mysterious, that there is no way to know it -- THAT IS HIGH. That is the ultimate of experience. There is no beyond to it, nothing more transcendental than that; one has arrived home. The moment you enter the mysterious, you have found the home. No knowledge can satisfy you unless you are merged with the unknowable.
NOT KNOWING THE KNOWING -- THAT IS AN ILLNESS.
Lao Tzu calls even wisdom an illness, because you are falling from the ultimate health, ultimate well-being.
NOT KNOWING THE KNOWING....
Even by saying, "I don't know," you have asserted something, you have said something, you have claimed some knowledge. For example, if Socrates had met Lao Tzu, Lao Tzu would have said, "You are ill -- ill with wisdom! A good illness, but you are just a step below," because Socrates' famous statement is: "I know only one thing, that I know nothing." But there is a claim: "I know." Although the claim is that "I know nothing," still it is a claim of knowing, a claim of knowledge. Even though it claims that life is mysterious, the claim has come in.
Even to say that God is indefinable is a kind of definition. To say that truth is inexpressible is in a certain sense giving it some expression. To say that the truth cannot be said means you have said something about it. Your very statement falsifies it; it is self- contradictory. Hence he calls it illness -- it is self-contradictory.
Lao Tzu was one of the most consistent men; it is rare to find a buddha so consistent as Lao Tzu. His whole life he never wrote. All the teaching that he gave to his disciples was not a teaching at all; his whole method was VIA NEGATIVA. The disciple would come to him with all his knowledge, and Lao Tzu would start dismantling his knowledge, destroying his knowledge; that was his whole and sole purpose. He would go on taking away your knowledge brick by brick. A moment comes when the whole building of your knowledge collapses; then you are left in a vacuum. That is the moment Lao Tzu would say, "Now you can sit by my side -- just sit in this vacuum." And of course in a vacuum you cannot ask any question, you cannot expect any answer. If you can ask, if you can expect, it is not a true vacuum yet. A true vacuum means no answer, no question; nothing is left, all has disappeared. The very earth beneath your feet has been taken away; you are falling into a bottomless abyss.
These were the people Lao Tzu had gathered around himself. They would sit with him, they would walk with him, they would move from one village to another village. But he was not like Buddha or Mahavira, who were teaching, who were trying to convey something of the unconveyable.
His whole life he was asked again and again by the kings, by the emperors, by the rich people, "Please write something about your experience for the coming generations. Don't take it away with you. We know you know, whether you say it or not. We know, because your very presence is so pregnant it is almost tangible. We can touch it, we feel it, we become flooded with it. We know you know! Please write something, just a few words for the future generations to know that a man like Lao Tzu has been in existence." But he was very reluctant. He would simply laugh, he would not even say no.
Once a disciple asked, "At least just to be polite you can say no!"
And Lao Tzu said, "To say no means you are on the way to saying yes! If they can get a no out of me, sooner or later they will get a yes too, because yes and no are two sides of the same coin."
And he is right, he is absolutely right. If somebody says no to you, that means there is hope -- yes IS possible. There is a possibility; however far away it may be, there is a possibility. The no can turn into yes because yes can turn into no; they go on changing into each other. And you know that your no in the morning becomes yes in the evening, your yes in the evening becomes no in the morning; they are interchangeable. They are not so contradictory as they appear. Somewhere deep down they are joined.
Lao Tzu would not even say no, he would only laugh. Now, what to make of this laugh?
You cannot make anything out of it. He is neither saying yes nor saying no; he is not falling from his high state. But at the last moment he was forced to write -- this is the only document in the whole history of humanity which has been written under compulsion, which has been coerced -- because he wanted to go to the Himalayas. The Himalayas divide China and India; in one sense they divide, in another sense they join.
You can see -- yes and no are not very different!
He wanted to go to the Himalayas. His disciples asked, "Why?" He had become very old.
He must have been very old for the simple reason that.... The story is beautiful; true or not, that is not the point. I am a lover of beauty; I don't bother whether it is true or not!
Beauty is something higher than truth.
Truth is logical, beauty is aesthetic.
Truth is of the head, beauty is something deeper -- of the heart.
I love the story....
Lao Tzu lived in his mother's womb for eighty-two years! It is almost impossible. When he was born he was already eighty-two years old, with a long beard, long hair, and all white. He was already an ancient man -- and then he must have lived at least eighty years more. That has been the habit in the East of all the enlightened people. Buddha lived eighty-two years, Mahavira lived eighty-two years, Krishna lived eighty-two years, but Lao Tzu defeated all of them. He lived eighty-two years in the mother's womb first! Then to balance things he must have lived at least eighty-two years outside the womb. He was a man of balance!
So by the time he started thinking about finding a right place to die, he must have been nearabout one hundred and sixty years old. He asked his friends and disciples, "Now give me permission. I would like to go to a faraway virgin peak of the Himalayas to die so that no trace of me is left behind, not even footprints on the sands of time. I would simply like to disappear into the wildness of the Himalayas. Nobody will ever know where I died, where my bones are, where my body is, where my grave is. I just want to melt into existence."
They were sad, but they knew their master -- that when he said something he meant it.
Reluctantly, they gave him the farewell.
When he was leaving the country, the emperor of the country ordered all the guards at all the posts: "Lao Tzu is not to be allowed to leave the country unless he writes down his experience in short, to be preserved for future generations."
He was caught at the border, and the military guards wouldn't allow him leave until he wrote something. Under such compulsion, he sat in one of the guards' homes for three days. Day in, day out he wrote his small treatise, TAO TE CHING. These are words from that treatise. And when the treatise was complete, he left.
But he begins the treatise with a very strange statement: "TAO cannot be spoken. The moment it is spoken, it is no longer true. Now you can read whatsoever I am writing, it is no longer true; it has already fallen. It has come down from its profound silence into the noisy world of words."
That's what he calls illness. To say something about the ultimate is a fall -- you have lost the wholeness. To be whole is to be healthy. That's exactly the meaning of healthy: to be whole. Nothing is missing; all parts are functioning in deep harmony, in accord, in tune with each other. It is an organic unity. To be ill means some parts are missing, nonfunctioning. The accord is lost, the harmony is no longer there; some trouble has arisen, the balance has been lost. That's the meaning of illness.
NOT KNOWING THE KNOWING....
So even if you say, "I don't know anything except one thing -- that I know nothing," you have already fallen; you have said already something.
There is a Sufi story....
Four disciples of a mystic were told by the master, "It is time for you to go to the mountains and sit in silence for at least seven days, and then come back."
They went with the vow to sit there for seven days, in absolute silence. After just a few minutes the first said, "I wonder whether I have locked my house or not."
Another said, "You fool! We have come here to be silent and you have spoken!"
The third said, "You are a greater fool! What has it to do with you? If he spoke, at least YOU could have kept silent!"
The fourth said, "Thank God, I am the only one who has not spoken yet!"
There is an irresistible urge to say when you experience. You want to share it -- it is uncontainable. You can see other people searching for it, and you have got it. It is as if you are standing at a crossroads: you know the right way, and people are searching for it; how can you remain silent? It is irresistible! But the problem is, the moment you say, "This is the right road," it becomes wrong. Saying it is falsifying it. Truth is infinite and words are very finite.
Hence Lao Tzu says: The best is not to say, the next best is to say. The best is to be whole, the next best is to be partially true. But remember: because truth is indivisible, you cannot be partially true. Hence his insistence that the moment you say it, it becomes false.
To be partially true means to be false, because truth is indivisible. But still he could understand the need of the person who has experienced to convey it, and the need of others who are in search of it, so he allowed it. He says:
THE ONE WHO SUFFERS FROM THIS ILLNESS IS NOT ILL.
...I am not condemning him, I am not saying that he is pathological. All that I am saying is that he is no longer the total, he is now only a glimpse, a faraway glimpse. He is now only a picture of the sunset, not the sunset itself. He is now only an echo. If this can be remembered, then even the echo can be used to find the original source. Then even the picture of a sunset can be of immense help. But people are such fools: they worship the pictures of the sunset, they forget all about the sunset. In fact, if you tell them, "This is not the sunset that you are worshipping, this is only a picture," they will be angry.
Go and tell the Hindus, "The gods that you are worshipping in your temples are not real gods. These are only pictures, photographs, and that too not true to the original, just imaginary, metaphorical!" They will be angry, they will throw you out of their temple. Or to the Christians, or to the Mohammedans, or to the Jainas...go anywhere, they will not listen to you.
Go to a Jaina temple and you will find twenty-four statues of their masters. And you will be surprised -- they all look alike, exactly alike. Even Jainas cannot make the distinction!
To be able to make the distinction, who is who, they have made small symbols underneath the statues. So they can tell who is who -- that this is Mahavira and this is Parshvanath and this is Neminath -- they just make small symbols; otherwise the statues are exactly the same. These statues cannot be authentic; they can only at the most be symbolic. Who has ever heard of twenty-four persons exactly alike? -- the same noses, the same ears....
You will be puzzled: all their ears are touching their shoulders. The earlobes...all! It may have been that one person's earlobes may have touched, but now it has become absolutely necessary for a Jaina TIRTHANKARA'S earlobes to touch the shoulders; otherwise he is not a tirthankara. And you can find some absolutely dumb, dull, stupid person whose earlobes are touching his shoulders -- just a donkey! That does not mean that he has become a tirthankara, that he has become a great enlightened master; otherwise all donkeys will become great enlightened masters! This is simply symbolic.
What can the symbol be? The Jaina method of meditation is to listen, to listen so absolutely and so silently, as if you have become all ears -- that is the symbol. So they have made big ears just to indicate their method of meditation. Their method of meditation is listening: listening to the sound of the wind passing through the pine trees, listening to the birds, just listening to anything. The dog barking or the call of a distant cuckoo...just listening, with no judgment, no evaluation. Jainas say that if a person can listen totally, without any interference of the mind, he can become enlightened -- just by listening: nothing else is needed. To show this, to represent it in the statue, they have made big ears. But people are worshipping the statues. They are not trying to find out where the sunset is, they have forgotten all about the sunset. It is as if you have seen the sunset through the window. You have forgotten about the sunset, and you are worshipping the frame of the window. Hence, Lao Tzu says that the best is not to say anything about the truth, about your experience.
Then what is a master supposed to do? He can say how he achieved, he can say what the pitfalls to be avoided are, he can help you to refine your methods; again and again he can put you on the right path, he can stop you from going astray. He can tell you about all the means that lead to the end, but about the end he should remain absolutely silent.
That's what I am doing to you: about the end I am absolutely silent. What I am talking about is the method -- the meditation, the prayer. These are the ways. When you have arrived, only then will you know what it is; it cannot be said. The moment you say it, something goes "ill" -- something goes wrong, something goes sour.
But still, Lao Tzu feels that sometimes the masters have spoken out of compassion for those who are still lost in darkness. Hence he says: "The one who suffers from this illness is not ill." He himself is not ill, but what he says is ill. He himself is whole, but his statement cannot be whole.
THE WISE IS NOT ILL BECAUSE HE SUFFERS FROM THIS ILLNESS -- THAT'S WHY HE IS NOT ILL.
A strange statement! THE WISE IS NOT ILL BECAUSE HE SUFFERS FROM THIS ILLNESS -- THAT'S WHY HE IS NOT ILL. This illness is worth suffering, because it is the closest point to perfect health. It is a great blessing! Hence, don't be misguided by the word "ill." It is illness if you compare it to the highest, but if you look back at the journey, it is not illness. And if it comes out of compassion -- and it does come out of compassion....
The story about Buddha is that when he became enlightened, for seven days he remained silent. He remained in that ultimate wholeness, health, and he was not willing to come down from there. It has happened to everybody who has become enlightened; hence the story of Buddha is very representative.
But, the story says, the gods in heaven became very much disturbed because somebody becoming enlightened is such a rare phenomenon. Buddha was hesitating to say anything about it. He was deciding, coming closer and closer to the decision that it is better to remain silent. But before he came to a decision, the gods rushed from heaven, fell at his feet, and said, "Wait! Don't decide, because once you have decided then nothing can be done. Just listen to us before you come to a decision. It is rare that a man becomes enlightened and there are millions who would like your advice, your help. Don't be so hard! And you yourself have suffered -- don't you feel anything for the suffering humanity? Tell them how YOU arrived!"
Buddha said to them, "I have pondered over all pros and cons, I have thought about all these things. My own reasoning is that whatsoever I say will not be the same as I have experienced, and that is betraying the truth. Secondly, I am ready to betray it, because I am not going to lose anything by betraying it, but the moment I say something, people will understand something else which I have not said at all. The first loss happens when I say something, I come down from my silence. And the second loss -- which is far greater -- happens when people hear it, because they start coloring it according to their ideas, according to their mind.
"The third loss, the greatest, happens when they start telling it to other people. And then it goes on falling. Soon the flower of the sky falls into the mud of the earth and is lost, trampled over by people. So what is the point? I have also thought of their suffering, but then too my reasoning is: those who can understand me will be able to find it by themselves. If they are so capable of understanding me, it won't take them long to find it on their own, so why bother? Those who can understand me will find it sooner or later. It is only a question of time, and time does not matter as far as eternity is concerned. And telling those who cannot understand me is not right; they will MISunderstand."
The gods were at a loss; they could not find how to persuade this man. They asked for some time so they could go in private to discuss the matter amongst themselves and find a way. They just wanted to be given one chance.
They went into seclusion, meditated, talked, discussed, and finally they came with a solution. They brought a really very beautiful solution. They said, "We agree with you that out of one hundred persons there may be one person who may attain it by himself sooner or later, just as you have attained. And we agree that out of one hundred, at least ninety-eight percent of people will misunderstand you, but they don't matter. They are already in misunderstanding -- what more misunderstanding can there be? So you will not be harming them. So two things are certain: you will not be helping the one percent who is going to attain it by himself, and you will not be harming the ninety-eight percent who are anyway confused and will remain confused whether you speak or not.
"But what about the remaining one percent, the borderline case who is neither here nor there, who does not belong to the ninety-eight percent and does not belong to the one percent either -- who is just in the middle of both? If you say something, he may be helped; if you don't say something, he may not be helped at all for centuries to come.
Can't you feel any compassion for that one person?"
And Buddha had to agree with them that the one percent certainly had to be considered:
"I will speak for that one person."
In fact, all the masters have been speaking for that one percent. They have been taking this risk of coming down from their sunlit peaks into the dark valleys of humanity for that one person. The message of the enlightened people can never be for the masses, has never been for the masses. The masses are always against it; it can only be for very few people. But even those very few people are enough to give life, beauty, grandeur, splendor. They are the salt of the earth.
The second question:
WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO RECOGNIZE YOU?
Prem Cordula, it is a simple phenomenon: you can recognize only that which comes within your experience. How can you recognize something which you have not experienced? What I am saying to you and what I am being to you is something utterly unknown to you -- not only unknown, but much of it is unknowable too. Recognition needs some experience within you to coincide with my experience.
Those who are falling in tune with me, recognize me, and only they can recognize; it is not for all. It is only for the disciples to have a glimpse of recognition and it is only for the devotees to be absolutely certain of the recognition.
But many of you have come here only as students searching for more knowledge, and I am imparting being, not knowledge. You have come with greed in your heart. Many types of greed are there....
Just the other day I received a letter from a very rich Marwari from Orissa. He has never written to me before; this is the first time. He writes, "I recognize you as the greatest incarnation of God. This is the time for you to prove whether you are really a god or not, because we Marwaris" -- Marwaris are the Jews of India -- "are in very great difficulty in Orissa."
In Orissa, Marwaris are being thrown out. They have exploited the poor people for so long that it has come to a climax. Now, suddenly, he remembers me. I have never heard of the man; he has never written to me. Now he writes that this is the time for me to prove...! "We will worship you forever if you can save us from the anger of the masses."
They are being burned, killed, looted. Naturally he can recognize me. But this is not recognition; this is greed, it is fear.
Just one day before that, a young man from Delhi has written another letter: "I am rich enough, but I don't see any meaning in life. I am so afraid of committing suicide that I am staying in a hospital permanently. I am afraid that if I am not looked after continuously by doctors and nurses, I may kill myself any moment. If you promise to save me then I am ready to come to you. I am ready even to become a sannyasin!"
Now, such a conditional sannyas is not possible.
Many people come to me -- they may not say exactly why they have come, but there are deep motives. Then it will be very difficult for you to recognize, because I am not here to fulfill any of your greed, to fulfill any of your desire, to fulfill any of your expectations.
I can share my bliss, I can share my truth, I can share my being, but very few people are longing for all those things; their longings are of a very ordinary nature, almost animalistic.
"While fishing one day," said the old angler, "I ran short of bait and did not know what to do. I looked around, and there at my feet I noticed a snake which held a frog in his mouth. I removed the frog and cut it up for bait, feeling very elated that I had seen the snake at that moment.
"I did, however, feel somewhat guilty at stealing the poor reptile's meal, so to repay him for my supply of bait I poured a few drops of whiskey into his mouth. My conscience was relieved when I saw the snake crawl away in a contented mood, and I went back to my fishing.
"Some time had passed when I felt something hitting against my leg. Imagine my surprise when, looking down, I saw the same snake, carrying three more frogs in his mouth!"
Prem Cordula, you ask: "Why is it so difficult to recognize you?" You come with a greedy heart -- and then it is difficult to recognize me. You come to see something according to your own ideas -- and I don't exist according to anybody's ideas.
I am simply just being myself!
Hindus come to look for a Krishna -- I am not. Jainas come to look for a Mahavira -- I am not. Christians come to look for a Christ -- I am not. If you have come to look for somebody else in me, you will not be able to recognize me, because I am simply myself. I have no obligation to be a Christ or a Buddha or a Lao Tzu. If Christ is free to be himself, he need not be me, why should I be him? There is no need. Such expectations create a barrier.
An elephant is walking through a forest and spies a naked man. He looks at him bewildered and asks, "Tell me, how do you breathe through that short thing?"
Just expectations! The elephant has his own ideas....
A sannyasin was sitting by a cliff, sobbing uncontrollably. A passerby stopped and asked what the matter was.
"A busload of politicians just plunged over this cliff to certain death!" sobbed the swami.
"That certainly is a catastrophe," sympathized the stranger, "but I did not think you sannyasins had much love for politicians!"
"That's true!" said the swami as he doubled up with a fresh wave of grief. "The fact is, five of the seats were empty!"
You will have to drop your old ideas if you want to recognize me. My whole approach towards life is different from anybody who has preceded me. It has to be so. Krishna lived on this earth five thousand years ago; Buddha, twenty-five centuries ago; Jesus twenty centuries ago; Mohammed fourteen centuries ago; Kabir and Nanak five centuries ago. Since then, so much water has gone down the Ganges!
Man has changed, the whole life pattern has changed. I am living in the twentieth century; I cannot adjust myself to anybody five thousand years old -- that is impossible.
That would be crippling myself, paralyzing myself, poisoning myself. I have to be now, here!
But you are all conditioned. Although your conditioning has not given you any joy, it has not given you any ecstatic lifestyle, still people cling to the familiar.
At a bar, a disheartened drinker complained to the man next to him that he had gone to the tracks for a whole month without backing a winner.
"Why don't you quit betting?" advised the other.
"What!" snapped the gambler. "And give up twenty years' experience in horse betting?"
Twenty years' experience! How can anybody give up so easily? And your experience of religion is five thousand years old or even more. How can you give it up? But unless you give it up, you cannot see me; your eyes will remain covered. That's why you see very few old people around me. Even the people who are old and around me are in some way not old, they are very young and fresh.
Sephalie, one of my sannyasins who is near seventy, writes to me again and again, "I am very puzzled. I feel myself so young, and nobody believes me!" Just the other day she wrote, "Not even your sannyasins believe me! They try to help me, thinking that I am an old woman. They are very good, but it hurts me because I am young! I don't feel old age at all! The body has become old, but they don't see ME, and I am not the body!" And she is right.
Back in Europe she was creating much confusion amongst people because she started playing with small children. Her family and her friends said, "What are you doing? A seventy-year-old woman playing with small children, laughing, giggling, dancing -- it does not look right!"
But she said, "I feel so young! I feel just like a child!" And her experience is right. Her feeling is coming from within her being.
So even the people around me who are old are not old in the ordinary sense, they are all young. Actually, only young people have come to me. This has been always so. The twelve apostles of Jesus were all young people, younger than Jesus. The people who surrounded Gautam Buddha were all young people. The people who lived with Lao Tzu were very young people. It has always been so for the simple reason that the old mind has so many conditionings that unless those conditionings are fulfilled he cannot see. Only somebody who is a fraud is going to fulfill your conditions.
No original man is going to fulfill your conditions because no original man has any desire for all the respectability that you can give to him. He is so blissful; what does he need your respectability for? Respectability is a substitute. Only miserable people hanker for respectability; the blissful people have never cared a bit about your respectability.
I am perfectly happy. Famous, notorious, it doesn't matter. It makes no difference to me, so I am not going to fulfill any of your expectations. You must be carrying expectations somewhere.
A Jewish father and his son go together to a Turkish bath.
"Yuk! Your feet are so dirty!" says the father.
"But, father, your feet are much dirtier!"
"How can you compare?" says the angry father. "I am thirty years older than you!"
The old mind always goes on bragging, as if oldness is something very valuable. Oldness simply means you have been accumulating junk! A really alive person is always young; to the very moment of death he is young.
For example, I know Sephalie -- when she dies she will die young and fresh, as fresh as the freshly opened rosebud. I have given her the name Sephalie because "sephali" is the name of a beautiful flower. She will die like fresh dewdrops in the early morning sun.
My people have to live freshly and die freshly. They have to remain continuously young.
The only way to remain young is go on dying to the past, go on discarding the old, go on dropping all your accumulated knowledge so you are always in a state of not knowing.
That is the highest according to Lao Tzu, and according to me also: remaining in a state of not knowing. "Not even knowing that I know nothing" -- that's the highest, the most beautiful space one can ever be in. And only then can you recognize me; otherwise there is no way to recognize me.
Prem Cordula, meditate, become silent, so that you can feel some meeting, some merging with me, so that you can taste something of the joy that I have brought to you. It is a pure gift! All that is needed on your part is a little receptivity.
The last question:
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN LAUGHTER AND SEX?
Anand Devopama, there is certainly a connection; the connection is simple. Sexual orgasms and laughter happen in the same way; their process is similar. In sexual orgasm you go on reaching a climax of tension. You are coming closer and closer to burst forth, and then at the peak, suddenly, the orgasmic release happens. After such a mounting tension, everything suddenly relaxes. The contrast between the mounting tension and the relaxation is so vast that you feel as if you have fallen into a calm, quiet ocean -- a deep relaxation, a deep let-go.
That's why nobody has ever been known to have died from a heart attack while making love. This is strange, because love-making is an arduous exercise! It is great yoga! But nobody has ever died for the simple reason that it brings such relaxation. In fact, cardiologists and heart specialists have now started recommending sex as medicinal to the people who are suffering from heart trouble. Sex can be of immense help to them; it relaxes tensions, and when the tensions are gone, your heart functions more naturally.
The same is the process of laughter: it also builds up a tension in you. A certain story, and you go on expecting that something is going to happen. Then when something really happens it is so unexpected that it releases the tension. The happening is not logical -- that is the most important thing to understand about laughter. The happening has to be ridiculous, it has to be absurd. If you can logically conclude it, then there will be no laughter.
While you are listening to a joke, if you can logically conclude what is going to happen, and if it actually happens the way you concluded, then there will be no laughter because there will be no build up of tension in the first place; and secondly, there will be no sudden change. These two things are needed: a building up of tension so you become more and more narrowed, more and more tense, and then suddenly an unexpected turn -- the punch line. It triggers a new process; the whole logic falls flat. All jokes are illogical, and because they are illogical they bring great laughter to you.
In one other sense also sex and laughter are joined together deep in the mind. Your sex organs are only the outermost part of your sexuality; the sex is not really there, the sex is somewhere in the brain center. So, sooner or later man is going to get rid of this old-style sexuality. It is really ridiculous! That's why people make love in the dark, at night, under the blankets. It is such an absurd activity that if you watch yourself making love, you will never think of it again! So people hide; they close their doors, they lock their doors. They are very much afraid of children in particular, because they will see the absurdity immediately -- "What are you doing? Daddy, what are you doing? Have you gone crazy?" And it looks crazy -- it is like an epileptic fit!
Sooner or later it is going to be changed, because now science has found that the real center is in the brain, not in the sex organs. So now a small electrode can be fitted in the head, and you need not know about it, because inside the skull there is no sensitivity at all; anything can be put there. Even if a small rock is put there you will not know. In fact, that's how many people are -- they are carrying rocks inside, not knowing! So a small electrode can be put inside your brain, just inserted inside your brain close to the sex center, and you can use a remote control. You can keep the remote control in your pocket so that whenever you feel like having an orgasm, you just push it. Just a little push on the button will trigger the sex center in the brain, and you can have an orgasm anywhere!
Then you can discard this wife, this husband, this relationship, and all this nonsense. It will be a great freedom! In fact, it is the only way humanity will be liberated. All the buddhas have failed; they could not liberate you from sex. Now Delgado is the name of the latest person who is going to free you from all sexuality. He has freed many white rats! Sometimes I wonder why they never try black rats. Maybe they think that they are Indians and may not like the idea because they are religious people, spiritual. They always try white rats!
But you will be surprised to know -- and it is good to remember -- that whenever he tried with rats, a very strange thing happened. That's what prevented him from making it a device on the market available to anybody wanting to purchase it. The thing that stopped him was that when he fixed the electrode inside the head of the white rat and showed him the remote control button, the rat pushed the switch in front of him and went through a beautiful spasm, a total orgasmic joy. And then Delgado watched....
The rat looked all around, and seeing that nobody was looking, he pushed the button, and went through it again. You will be surprised: in one hour, he pushed the button six thousand times -- till he died! He forgot all about food, forgot all about everything.
Beautiful damsels were passing by, and he didn't even care about all those beautiful girls after whom he had been going crazy; there was no need now. No woman can give a man such a total orgasm, and no man can give a woman such a total orgasm, because the sexual organs are far away from the center. By the time the message reaches to the center, it is already very, very diluted. Hence, ninety-seven percent of women never achieve orgasmic joy. And those are Western statistics. Ninety-seven percent in America -- what to say about India? I don't think I have ever come across a single woman who has said that she achieves orgasmic joy. She cannot -- the culture does not allow it. She has to lie down almost dead. She simply suffers the whole foolishness of the man, and deep down she thinks that this man is a sinner dragging her into hell. She is not interested at all because she knows nothing about orgasmic joy. And her orgasmic joy is far more profound than man's. Her whole body is erotic; man's whole body is not erotic. He is only partially erotic, locally erotic.
These centers of sex and laughter are very close in the brain, so sometimes they can overlap. So when you are making love, if you really allow it, the woman will start giggling. It tickles, because the center is very close! She may not giggle just out of politeness, because the man may feel offended -- but the centers are very close together, and sometimes when you are really in deep laughter you may have the same orgasmic joy as you have in sex.
It is not a coincidence that many beautiful jokes are sexual. The centers are so close...what can I do?
The wealthy woman woke up, looked around her bedroom, then rang for her Chinese houseboy, Fu Ling.
She asked him how she got home the night before, and he said, "I bring missy home."
Then she asked him how she got undressed. Fu Ling said, "I undress missy."
She asked then how she got into bed, and he said, "I put missy to bed."
Whereupon she said, "God, I must have been tight!"
Fu Ling replied, "First time, yes, missy! Second time...no!"
Makowski, the agent, called his friend Lyssky, the producer of striptease shows.
"Lyssky," he shouted, "I've got a girl for you that is gonna make a fortune for both of us.
She is incredible -- gotta a pair of lungs that will knock your eyes out! Listen to these statistics: hips -- forty; waist -- twenty-seven; chest -- ninety-nine!"
"Incredible!" said Lyssky. "What kind of act does she do?"
"Act? What act?! She just crawls out and tries to stand up!"
The newlyweds arrived at their honeymoon hotel. The excited groom, quite pleased with his reputation as a lover, and eager to thrill his bride with his expertise, quickly threw her upon the bed and performed with the skill of a champion sexual athlete.
When it was over he whispered to his bride, "Ah yes, my dear, I could tell how pleased you were -- I noticed your toes curling up in ecstasy. I promise you I will always bring you such joy!"
She whispered in reply, "Perhaps next time, Romeo, you could remove my pantyhose first!"
Enough for today.
Come, Come, Yet Again Come