From Italy to Nirvana
I FELT SO MUCH LOVE POURING FROM YOU WHEN I COULD NOT GET THE MICROPHONE TO WORK THE OTHER DAY. WITH MY HANDS SHAKING, AND MY HEART THUMPING, I KNEW I HAD TO DO SOMETHING -- YET WITH YOUR BIG, BROWN EYES SMILING AT ME, I JUST WANTED TO SIT THERE AND MELT INTO YOU. IT WAS AN EXQUISITE TENSION.
Anand Prateek, that's exactly what I was telling you to do. Sit silently and do nothing -- and the microphone starts working by itself! But you wouldn't listen; you continued doing something or other -- and that was creating the whole mess! But it is natural, it happens.
One day my Rolls didn't start, and I was telling Heeren again and again, "Wait a minute!"
But he wouldn't wait, he went on turning the ignition. Just one minute I was telling him to wait, and the moment I left in the other car, exactly after one minute it started. Then he realized that there are some times when if you don't do anything, things settle on their own accord. But it is difficult....
A man goes to a cocktail party. When the waiter brings round the salmon rolls, the lady standing next to him bends over to pick one up and loses her glass eye amongst the hors d'oeuvres. Before she can do anything, the man picks up a salmon roll containing the glass eye and eats it.
A week later he finds himself suffering from severe constipation. The doctors cannot seem to cure it so they decide to get him into the operating theater to stick a tube inside him and see what the problem is.
The doctor takes one look down the tube, looks up at the patient and says, "You really don't trust me, do you?"
And moreover, Prateek, what was the hurry? We were all enjoying! It was such a beautiful joke that without a single punchline to it people were bursting in laughter. I have received many letters: "What happened that day? Even when you are telling a beautiful joke, the laughter never goes so deep and so total. But that day neither were you telling a joke, nor had we heard anything, but the laughter was happening!"
Recently some tapes other than Watergate have been discovered by archaeologists, and they shed light on Daniel in the lion's den.
You must know the old story of Saint Daniel who was thrown into a den of lions because he refused to betray his faith. He came out of the den unharmed. It was thought to be a great miracle. But this recent discovery by the archaeologists says something else. It says, the tapes reveal, that at the precise moment when the lion was going to eat Daniel, Daniel quickly grabbed one of the lion's ears and whispered into it, "Don't eat me! Remember, after dinner come the speeches!"
So there was no hurry -- only a speech was going to come after. Even if the microphone was not going to work, there was no harm at all. We would have sat, enjoyed, laughed and said goodbye to each other!
Learn to do nothing....
"What are you doing here?" asks one mouse to his friend.
"Nothing really, just sitting in the sun."
"Ah!" says the first mouse. "I guess that's what I am doing too!"
And that's what all these orange people are here to do -- nothing.
Prateek, you missed one opportunity. But next time, remember, imitation won't do! Just because I am telling you, "Do nothing," it won't help -- you have to be original. But once it is said and if you follow it, the microphone is not going to work at all. That opportunity is lost, at least for this life!
The second question:
THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE GETTING MORE AND MORE CRAZY FROM DAY TO DAY. NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON AND EVERYTHING IS UPSIDE DOWN AND CONFUSED. THIS IS WHAT IS TOLD IN THE NEWSPAPERS. IS IT REAL? AND IF SO, IS THERE ANY INTRINSIC BALANCE IN LIFE WHICH IS KEEPING EVERYTHING STABLE?
Buddhaprem, the world is the same; it has always been the same -- upside down, crazy, insane. In fact, only one thing new has happened in the world, and that is the awareness that we ARE crazy, that we are upside down, that something is basically wrong with us.
And this is a great blessing -- this awareness. Of course it is only a beginning, just the abc of a long process, just a seed, but immensely pregnant.
The world was never so aware of its insane ways as it is today. It has always been the same. In three thousand years man has fought five thousand wars. Can you say this humanity is sane? One cannot remember a time in human history when people were not destroying each other either in the name of religion or in the name of God or even in the name of peace, humanity, universal brotherhood. Great words hiding ugly realities!
Christians have been killing Mohammedans, Mohammedans have been killing Christians, Mohammedans have been killing Hindus, Hindus have been killing Mohammedans.
Political ideologies, religious ideologies, philosophical ideologies are just facades for murder -- to murder in a justified way.
And all these religions were promising the people, "If you die in a religious war, your heaven is absolutely certain. Killing in war is not sin; being killed in war is a great virtue." This is sheer stupidity! But ten thousand years of conditioning has seeped deep into the blood, into the bones, in the very marrow of humanity.
Each religion, each country, each race was claiming, "We are the chosen people of God.
We are the highest; everyone is lower than us." This is insanity, and everybody has suffered because of it. Jews have suffered immensely for one single folly that they committed: the idea that "We are the chosen people of God." Once you have the idea that you are the chosen people of God, then you cannot be forgiven by others because they are also the chosen people of God, and how to decide it? No argument can be conclusive, and nobody knows where God is hiding so you cannot ask him either; he cannot be brought in the court to be a witness. Then only the sword is going to decide. Whosoever is mighty is going to be right. Might has been right.
Jews really suffered for centuries, but the suffering has not changed them. In fact it has strengthened the idea that they are the chosen people of God. The same people who tell them, "You are the chosen people," also tell them that the chosen people have to go through many tests, many fires to prove their mettle.
I have heard about an old rabbi -- he must have been a very sane man -- praying to God.
He was praying for years and years and never asking for anything -- and you know, prayer is a kind of nagging: you go on nagging God every day, morning, afternoon, evening, night, five times every day. God must be getting tired, utterly bored....
And the rabbi was not asking for anything; otherwise there was a way out. If he had been asking for something it would have been given and the rabbi would have been told, "Get lost!" But he was not asking for anything, just praying.
Finally God asked him, "Why do you go on torturing me? What do you want?"
And the old rabbi said, "Just one thing. Is it not time for you to choose some other people? Please, make some other people your chosen people. We have suffered enough!"
But this is not only so with the Christians, Jews, Mohammedans and Hindus; it is exactly the same with all the people that have existed up to now. The racial ego, the religious ego, the spiritual ego is far more dangerous than the individual ego, because the individual ego is gross. You can see it -- everybody can see it, it is so visible on the surface. But when the ego becomes racial -- "Hinduism is great" -- you don't think you are claiming anything for yourself. Indirectly you are claiming, "I am great because I am a Hindu, and Hinduism is great." This is an indirect way, a subtle, cunning way: "I am great because I am a Japanese, because Japanese are the direct descendants of the sun God"; or, "I am a Chinese and the Chinese are the most civilized people, the most cultured."
When the Westerners reached China for the first time, looking at the Chinese, they laughed. They looked more like caricatures; cartoons rather than men -- just four or five hairs sticking out of your face and that's your whole beard! What kind of people are these? The first Europeans wrote in their diaries, "It seems we have discovered the missing link between the monkeys and man."
And what were the Chinese writing in their journals? Even the emperor of China was very much interested in seeing the Europeans because he had heard many stories about them. They were invited to his court, not because he respected the Europeans, but just to see what kind of people these were. Never before...! And he could not contain his laughter; he started laughing when he saw the Europeans.
The Europeans were very much embarrassed: "Why is he laughing?" They were told, "That is his way of appreciating. He always laughs, enjoys; that is his way of welcoming the guests." But the reality was that he could not believe that these are human beings! He asked his people, "Have you brought them from African jungles? They look like monkeys!"
That's how the ego functions: the other is always reduced to the lowest possible; and compared to the other, one raises oneself higher.
You say, Buddhaprem, "The world seems to be getting more and more crazy from day to day." That is not right; it has always been so. Only one thing new is happening, and that is a blessing, not a curse at all. For the first time in the whole history of humanity, a few people are becoming aware that the way we have existed up to now is somehow wrong; something basically is missing in our very foundation. There is something which does not allow us to grow into sane human beings. In our very conditioning are the seeds of insanity.
Every child is born sane, and then, slowly slowly, we civilize him -- we call it the process of civilization. We prepare him to become part of the great culture, the great church, the great state to which we belong. Our whole politics is stupid, and then HE becomes stupid.
Our whole education is ugly. Our politics means nothing but ambition, naked ambition -- ambition for power. And only the lowest kind of people become interested in power.
Only the people who are suffering from a deep inferiority complex become politicians.
They want to prove that they are not inferior; they want to prove it to others, they want to prove to themselves that they are not inferior, they are superior.
But what is the need to prove it if you are superior? The superior man does not try to prove anything, he is so at ease with his superiority. That's what Lao Tzu says: The superior man is not even conscious of his superiority; there is no need at all. It is only the ill person who starts thinking of health; the healthy person never thinks about health. The healthy person is not self-conscious about his health; only the sick, only the ill. The beautiful person, the really beautiful person is not self-conscious about his or her beauty.
It is only the ugly person who is constantly worried and making every effort to prove that it is not so.
In fact, in proving to others that "I am not inferior, I am not ugly," he is trying to prove it to himself. The others function as a mirror. If the others can say, "Yes, you are great...."
But they will say it only when you are powerful, when you are rich; otherwise they are not going to say anything. Who is interested in your ego? They are interested in THEIR egos, but reluctantly, when you have power to destroy, they have to accept.
Adolf Hitler was mad, but nobody in Germany dared to say it. Many felt that he was mad, but the moment he was defeated and committed suicide, many people started writing that they had always felt it. Even his own physicians who had never dared to tell the person himself -- at least THEY were supposed to say the truth, they were the physicians -- they had not said that he was sick, badly sick, and not only physiologically but psychologically too.
He suffered from many nightmares, he was constantly afraid of being killed. He was obsessed with the idea that he was going to be killed, so much so that he never got married. He got married only when he had decided to commit suicide, just three hours before. To avoid having a woman in the same room, he never got married -- because who knows, the woman may be a spy, an enemy, and while he is asleep she may kill him, poison him. He never trusted even the woman he pretended to love. He had no friends, because to be friendly with someone means to trust, and he was so doubtful.
The politicians are insane, but we teach our children to be politicians. We teach our children the same culture that has tortured us, the same values that have been heavy on us, that have only proved to be subtle chains, imprisonment. But we go on conditioning our children. The same education that has destroyed our grace, our innocence -- we go on stuffing the same knowledge into our children's heads. And we go on lying to our children as our parents lied to us.
And this has been going on and on for centuries. How can humanity be healthy, wholesome, relaxed? It is bound to be crazy. Just look what lies you go on telling your children.
A little boy rushed into his mother's room and said, "Mommy, I had always wanted to ask one question, but today it is very urgent -- I want the answer right now."
The mother was changing her clothes, getting ready to go out, and the son asked, "What are these two things on your chest?"
The mother felt a little embarrassed: How to explain to the child about the breasts?
Now, it is a simple thing to explain, and children are very understanding. It could easily have been explained that they are meant for small children to get their nourishment, and the thing would have been finished then and there. But we have become accustomed to such lies -- and the mother immediately invented a lie.
She said, "These are balloons. When a woman dies, God puffs up these balloons. They become bigger and bigger and bigger, and then the woman's body starts rising towards heaven."
The child said, "Now I know what is happening."
The mother said, "What is happening?"
He said, "Our maid servant is dying, but poor daddy is trying hard to prevent her. He is lying on top of the servant, holding her down, sucking her balloons to pull the air out, and the maid servant is saying, `God, I am coming!'" Now, these stupid lies -- and you think humanity is going to be sane? It has always been insane. It has always remained upside down and confused, because you have been brought up on lies.
But one thing good is happening today: at least a few intelligent young people are becoming aware that our whole past has been wrong and it needs a radical change. "We need a discontinuity from our past. We want to start afresh, we NEED to start afresh. The whole past has been an experiment in utter futility!"
Buddhaprem, once we accept the truth as it is, man can become sane. Man is born sane; WE drive him crazy. Once we accept that there are no nations and no races, man will become very calm and quiet. All this continuous violence and aggression will disappear.
If we accept man's body, its sexuality, naturally, then all kinds of stupidities preached in the name of religion will evaporate. Ninety-nine percent of psychological diseases exist because of man's sexual repression.
We have to make man free of his past. That's my whole work here: to help you to get rid of the past. Whatsoever the society has done to you has to be undone. Your consciousness has to be cleaned, emptied so that you can become like a pure mirror reflecting reality. To be able to reflect reality is to know God. God is just another name for reality: that which is. And a man is really sane when he knows the truth.
Truth brings liberation, truth brings sanity.
Truth brings intelligence, truth brings innocence.
Truth brings bliss, truth brings celebration.
We have to change this whole earth into a tremendous festival, and it is possible because man brings all that is needed to transform this earth into a paradise.
The third question:
IS IT TRUE THAT YOU ARE REALLY AN ITALIAN?
Antar Vittorio, not now, but I must have been in some of my past lives. One has to pass through all kinds of things; one has to be an Italian too. Without being an Italian you cannot become enlightened -- that much is absolutely certain. If somebody becomes enlightened without being an Italian he will have to come back; he will relapse from his enlightenment. Hence it is a must to pass through.
To be an Italian is just the opposite of being enlightened. Have you ever heard about any Italian becoming enlightened? But it helps -- to touch the opposite pole is very necessary; only then the journey begins towards the source. You have gone as much astray as you could, then the prodigal sons return. You have to come back -- there is nowhere else to go. Once you are an Italian, where else can you go? What else can you do? You have reached the dead end of the road. So it is good to be an Italian -- the sooner it happens the better!
To be an Italian is to be really upside down, and not half-heartedly! I must have been an Italian; otherwise whatsoever I am now today would not have been possible. And I can say the same about Gautama the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Bahauddin: all these people must have been Italian in some of their lives! You cannot bypass being an Italian. If you bypass, you are bypassing it at your own risk; you will have to come back. The Italian experience is something nobody can afford to miss.
Why is there such a low suicide rate among Italians?
It's pretty hard to kill yourself jumping out of a basement window!
A German, a Frenchman and an Italian were captured during the second world war and brought to a prison camp.
"How many pairs of underwear do you need?" asked the quartermaster sergeant.
"Seven," said the German; "a pair for each day of the week."
"Four," said the Frenchman; "one for each week in the month."
"And how about you, Luigi?" asked the sergeant. "How many pairs of underwear do YOU need?"
"Twelve," replied the Italian.
"What the hell do you need twelve for?"
"One-a for January, one-a for February, one-a...."
Luigi met his best friend Giancarlo in the street one day. "Hello, Giancarlo, what-a you got-a inna your coat?"
"Well-a," said Giancarlo, "you know-a that fascist bastard Francesco? Well-a, every time I come-a to town, he says-a to me, `Hey, Giancarlo, how you doing today-a?' Then he punches me in the chest-a with his fist-a and breaks-a all my cigars. So today I got-a four sticks-a of dynamite in my pocket. When he comes-a, I am-a gonna blow his goddamn hand-a off!"
Pierino comes home from school and asks his father, "Papa, what does `simultaneously' mean?"
"It means at the same time," replies the father. But Pierino still does not understand, so the father explains it.
"Well," he says, "if you were born from a relationship between your mother and another man, not me, what would I be?"
"A cuckold!" replies the little boy.
"Right!" says the father. "And simultaneously you would be the son of a bitch!"
The Italian experience is very fundamental for spiritual growth. If you are not born an Italian, you can learn to be an Italian -- it is easy. All that you need to do is exactly the same that you do in meditation, just a little bit different. In meditation you go beyond the mind; in being Italian you go below the mind. In both cases you go out of the mind! And it is better first to try to go below the mind; that will give you an out-of-the-mind experience -- and then there is no possibility of relapsing.
Once you have tasted being an Italian, then you start praying to God, "No more of it!
Enough is enough!" Then you start praying, "I don't want any more birth and death. I am fed up with time, I want to dissolve into eternity." But without being an Italian, this longing will not arise in you.
That's why I am so much in love with Italians -- every moment they are coming closer to enlightenment. The deeper they become Italians, the closer they are coming to enlightenment; then the jump can happen at any moment.
There are people who are just in the middle -- neither here nor there; they don't have much hope. For example, Indians -- they don't have much hope. They are middle-of-the- road walkers -- very careful, very cautious; they never go to the extremes. Keeping themselves in the middle they miss both the ultimate in misery and the ultimate in ecstasy.
To be an Italian is to be in ultimate misery. The only hope is spaghetti; otherwise all is misery! Once you have experienced the ultimate in misery, now the only possible way left for you is to search for the ultimate bliss, and nothing less than that will help you.
The ultimate misery can be removed only by ultimate bliss.
It is not an accident that so many Italians are here. They have tasted the misery there, they have seen. If you have seen Italy you have seen the whole world. It is a miniature world, and once you are fed up with Italy you are fed up with the world too. Then nirvana is possible. In fact, from Italy to nirvana there is a direct route; that is the most simple, direct and the shortest route.
Italians live a very earthy life; they are earthy people. That's what is good about them -- they are down to earth. They are not too interested in heaven and paradise; they don't care much about that. This earth is enough. But because it is not enough, sooner or later they start feeling an urge to seek for something else.
The Indians live on the earth, they are very mundane, but they go on talking about spirituality. That keeps them in a kind of illusion. Because of their talk they think they are spiritual. Because of their beautiful words which they have become very efficient in repeating...thousands of years of repeating and chanting mantras. They can do it very easily and befool others, but that is secondary -- they can befool themselves. Hearing themselves using beautiful words, they can become infatuated with their own words.
Words have then their own magnetism. If you use great words you will be influenced by those words -- and your reality will be the same, it will not change. Words cannot change your reality, but they can hide, they can cover it up. They can give you a respectability.
The Indian lives in respectability. His whole effort is how to remain respectable, religious, spiritual; how to show others that he is a holy man. He is continuously making deliberate and not so deliberate efforts at pretending greatness, other-worldliness. You can see around him that stinking, ugly phenomenon of holier-than-thou.
Italians are beautiful in that way. They are simple people, down-to-earth, no-nonsense people. They don't bother about spiritual rubbish. And it is good to be earthly. My own experience is, if you have never been earthly, down-to-earth, if you have never been really materialistic, absolutely earthly, if you have never been really an atheist, you will not become spiritual, ever. Materialism has to become the base; your down-to-earthness has to become your foundation. Then the temple, the shrine of spirituality can rise on top of it.
First be a Charvaka, an Epicurean, a Zorba the Greek; only then can you be Gautama the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Bahauddin, Nanak, Kabir.... If your foundation is missing, then your spirituality is hocus-pocus; it is just verbal.
I love the Italian rootedness into the earth, because from there the work can start. The body has to be accepted first, not only accepted but respected too. If you have not explored your body you will not be able to explore the soul. The methodology of exploration is the same, but begin with the body because the body is the visible part of your soul. Start with the visible and then slowly move towards the invisible. Start with the known and then move towards the unknown. Start from the periphery and then go deeper towards the center.
There are millions of people in the world who live in words -- repeating THE BIBLE, the KORAN, the GITA, the DHAMMAPADA -- but they are like parrots, mechanical; they are gramophone records. They can repeat the scriptures perfectly, but they know nothing.
Knowledge needs roots in the earth, just as a tree needs roots in the earth. The branches will rise towards the sky, the branches will try to reach to the stars. But at the same time the roots have to go deeper and deeper into the earth. Remember, there is a balance: the higher the tree goes, the deeper its roots have to go; it is totally balanced. You cannot have a big tree with small roots. It will fall, it will not be able to stand.
That's how India has fallen...a big tree with very small roots. The most basic thing is to grow roots. But the roots cannot be grown into the sky, they have to grow into the earth, into the body, into matter. Then your branches can rise into the sky, into the world of the spiritual. They can reach to God.
Friedrich Nietzsche is right when he says, "When a tree wants to touch the feet of God, it has to reach to the very center of hell through its roots. The roots have to go to the very rock bottom; then only can the branches and the flowers be offered to the feet of God.
By Italian I simply mean a certain symbol, just as by Indian I mean a certain symbol. The Indian represents the hypocrite. Wherever he is born, that doesn't matter; he may be born even in Italy. But wherever you find a hypocrite you will find an Indian, and wherever you find a realistic, pragmatic, practical person he will be an Italian. To me these words don't represent geography, they represent something metaphorical.
My commune is going to be one of the richest communes that has ever happened on the earth. I have chosen Deeksha to take care of your bodies -- an Italian, a perfect mamma!
And she is taking care as beautifully as possible.
My commune consists of all kinds of people. They will all pool their different energies to make it the richest commune in the whole of existence that has ever existed. Around Buddha there were only Indians, around Jesus there were only Jews, around Mohammed there were only Mohammedans. Around me there are all kinds of people -- theists, atheists, materialists, spiritualists, Catholics, Communists, Jainas, Jews, Italians, Indians, Germans...all kinds of people, and they have all developed different sides of humanity.
No country has developed the whole human being, only partial human beings.
We can create the whole human being, multidimensional, immensely rich, rooted in the earth and yet longing for the stars.
The last question:
I AM LEAVING THIS WONDERFUL BUDDHAFIELD TO VENTURE FORTH INTO THE BIG, WIDE WORLD TO GET EVERYTHING READY TO BECOME PART OF OUR NEW COMMUNE.
PLEASE TELL ME A JOKE THAT WILL ACCOMPANY ME ON MY ADVENTURES AND THAT WILL REMIND ME OF YOUR ETERNAL LAUGHTER.
Deva Darshan, this is the joke for you:
A recently-married traveling salesman came home early from his business trip. He arrived at one o'clock in the morning and tiptoed up the stairs to his bedroom, not wishing to disturb his young wife. When he opened the door, to his horror he saw another man sleeping in his bed, next to his wife.
In a burst of rage he grabbed the man by the hair and pulled him out of bed. He kicked him and pushed him down the stairs and out of the back door. He forced the naked man into the garden shed, grabbed his prick and put it in a vice, which he then tightened and padlocked. He took a hacksaw from the shelf, very methodically removed the blade and fitted a new one in.
The terrified young man's eyes bulged at this prospect.
"You-you are no-no-not going to-to cut my prick off, are you?" he stammered.
"No," smiled the husband, handing the saw to the relieved young man. "YOU are! I am going to set fire to the shed!"
Enough for today.
Come, Come, Yet Again Come