Be A Light Unto Yourself
LONG AGO, IN JAPAN, A BLIND MAN VISITING A FRIEND ONE NIGHT, WAS OFFERED A PAPER-AND-BAMBOO LANTERN TO CARRY HOME WITH HIM.
'I DO NOT NEED A LANTERN,' HE SAID, 'DARKNESS OR LIGHT IS ALL THE SAME TO ME.'
'I KNOW YOU DO NOT NEED A LANTERN TO FIND YOUR WAY, HIS FRIEND REPLIED, 'BUT YOU MUST TAKE IT BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T HAVE ONE SOMEONE ELSE MAY RUN INTO YOU.'
THE BLIND MAN STARTED OFF WITH THE LANTERN AND BEFORE HE HAD WALKED VERY FAR SOMEONE RAN SQUARELY INTO HIM. 'LOOK OUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING!' HE EXCLAIMED TO THE STRANGER. 'CAN'T YOU SEE THIS LANTERN?'
'YOUR CANDLE HAS BURNT OUT, BROTHER,' REPLIED THE STRANGER.
KNOWLEDGE IS not enough, to rely on it is dangerous. Knowledge is borrowed, it is not knowing. Knowing grows with you, knowing is a growth, an evolution, knowledge is implanted within you from me outside, knowledge is borrowed, it is counterfeit. It looks like knowing, it is not. It deceives, it gives you a feeling that you know you don't.
On the path of Zen the first thing to be aware of is knowledge: the tradition, the scripture, that which has been handed over to you others. Those eyes are not yours, that light is not yours, and it is better to remain ignorant than to become knowledgeable -- because at least ignorance is yours. A least it is authentic, at least it is true, at least it belongs to you Out of the truth of ignorance, knowing can grow, but out of the falsity of knowledge, you will be lost. Nothing can grow out of it. Knowledge is an accumulation of dead facts and information. It has no life in it. It is like stones piled up, one upon another. It can rise to a very great height, but it has no growth because it has no sap of life in it.
A tree is totally different. It so goes higher and higher but it has an organic growth, a sap of life, running through it. It is growing on its own accord. It is rooted in life. It is an alive process. You can keep a plastic tree and it will look just like any other tree: it can be even more green, it can be even more deceptive, more beautiful -- but it will be dead. It will not have any roots anywhere, it will not be grounded in existence, it will not be at ease and at home, it will not be an insider. It will be a foreigner, it will be alien..
This is the first thing to understand -- then only can you understand the radical attitude of Zen. It is very easy to borrow knowledge. That's what the schools, the colleges, the universities, are doing. They go on transferring information from one generation to another. They are the via media. And people who collect knowledge from them start feeling that they know. But how can you know if YOU have not known it?
I can talk about love to you, you can listen to me, you can even agree with me, but your agreement is not the point. I may be logical and clever enough to persuade you to agree with me but that will not give you any taste of love. To know love, you will have to fall in love. To know love, you will have to travel the path of love. To know love, you will have to take the dangerous journey.
Knowledge is more of a certainty; knowing is more uncertain. That's why people choose knowledge. Knowledge is more guaranteed, it has authority, centuries are standing behind it. That's why every religion tries to prove that it is the oldest religion in the world. Why? Because the older a religion is, the greater the authority it has. Hindus say that the Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the world; -- Bibles and Korans and Guru Nankers are just very late arrivals. The Vedas are very, very old. Why so much insistence? Because the older a scripture is, the longer it has stood the test of time, the greater the authority it has gathered around it. Millions of seers are witnesses to it.
Zen says truth has nothing to do with authority, truth has nothing to do with tradition, truth has nothing to do with the past -- truth is a radical, personal realisation. YOU have to come to it.
Knowledge is certain; the search for personal knowing is very, very hazardous. Nobody can guarantee it. If you ask me if I can guarantee you anything, I say I cannot guarantee you anything. I can only guarantee danger, that much is certain. I can only guarantee you a long adventure with every possibility of going astray and never reaching the goal. But one thing is certain: the very search will help you to grow. I can guarantee only growth.
Danger will be there, sacrifice will be there; you will be moving every day into the unknown, into the uncharted, and there will be no map to follow, no guide to follow. Yes, there are millions of dangers and you can go astray and you can get lost, but that is the only way one grows. Insecurity is the only way to grow, to face danger is the only way to grow, to accept the challenge of the unknown is the only way to grow. So I can guarantee only growth.
Knowledge guarantees everything. There will be no danger if you follow the Veda, if you follow the Bible -- then you need not worry. Now it is Christ who has to worry about it, and he knows. You have simply to imitate him. And the seers of the Vedas know and Mohammed knows, so there is no need for you to make your own private effort. It has already been known, you simply believe. All that is required from you by ordinary religions is belief.
Zen says belief is counterfeit, borrowed.
You have to grow and you have to take the risk. I can guarantee you risk. In the open sky of the truth one searches, with trial and error; many times going astray, and again and again coming back to the right path. That's the only way.
Truth is not cheap; belief is very cheap. Truth is very costly -- you will have to pay with your life. Truth requires total sacrifice, nothing less will do.
Zen says that if you are believing scriptures, tradition, others.... It is irrelevant if they are wrong or right, that is not the point. Remember, Zen doesn't say that the Bible is wrong, Zen doesn't say that the Veda is wrong -- Zen says they are irrelevant. I t has nothing to do with right and wrong. They may be right, they may be wrong, but that is not the point to be considered at all. Through them growth is not possible. Those who have written them were grown-up people, mature. They have asserted something that they have known -- but for them that was KNOWING, for you it will be knowledge.
Knowing means that you have seen it with your own eyes; knowledge means you have heard it from others. It is very poor, and one who remains with knowledge remains poor.
A pundit, a so-called learned man, is the poorest man in the world. He has only counterfeit money and he goes on counting it.
WE ARE THE HOLLOW MEN, WE ARE THE STUFFED MEN LEANING TOGETHER HEADPIECE FILLED WITH STRAW. ALAS! OUR DRIED VOICES, WHEN WE WHISPER TOGETHER ARE QUIET AND MEANINGLESS AS WIND IN DRY GRASS OR RAT'S FEET OVER BROKEN GLASS IN OUR DRY CELLAR.
These beautiful lines from T. S. Eliot described exactly the situation of the man, of the mind, who has remained with knowledge. STUFFED WITH STRAW and OUR VOICES...like RAT'S FEET OVER BROKEN GLASS.
Look at your head -- it is almost rubbish. A collection, accumulation, but not knowing at all. And unless you are free from this rubbish your eyes will not have clarity, you will remain blind. I can give you my lamp in your hand, it will not help. Sooner or later the flame will be gone. In fact, the flame goes immediately, the moment I give my lamp to you. In the very transfer the flame goes out because the flame cannot be transferred. You will have to become a flame on your own accord.
You can learn how to kindle your flame but you cannot borrow it, it is not a thing that can be transferred. At the most I can give you a thirst to seek it, I can give you almost a madness to search for it. I can drive you crazy enough to go after it, but I cannot give it to you. Nobody has ever given it to anybody else, it is untransferable.
Wittgenstein says:'Philosophy leaves everything as it is.' You can become a great philosopher, you can know much, but philosophy leaves everything as it is. Nothing changes through it, it has no revolution in it.
Belief is communal, knowledge is also communal; knowing is personal, trust is personal.
You have to relate to God or to truth directly, immediately. You have to come to truth.
And it is going to be arduous because each step will require tremendous changes in you.
You cannot go to truth as you are, you will have to drop many things -- and the first thing, Zen says, is to drop borrowed knowledge.
If you ask Christians what is to be dropped first, they will say sin. But they have forgotten what the original sin was. The original sin was that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. That story comes closer to Zen. They ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge -- that became the fall. That is the real sin, the original sin. Sin has nothing to do with your acts -- moral, immoral -- sin has something to do with knowledge. The parable is so clear but still Christian theologians have misinterpreted it for centuries.
So the original sin is to become knowledgeable, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
Then what will be surrender? Then what will be virtue? Virtue will be surrendering the knowledge, vomiting the knowledge, cleaning your head completely, throwing all knowledge out. The apple that Adam swallowed is sticking in everyone's throat.
And, of course, for Adam, knowledge was just a beginning. We have accumulated more than Adam because for centuries and centuries we have been eating from the same tree.
We have completely lost the space, the inner purity, the inner innocence that comes when one throws, renounces, one's knowledge. Renounce your knowledge.
In the Bible there is another beautiful parable -- the parable of the three wise men.
Jesus is born in a stable in the poorest of poor situations. Then three wise men from the East go seeking and searching for him because according to their astrological analysis they have come to feel that something of the beyond was entering into time. They are very wise men -- learned, so learned that kings of many countries consult them and touch their feet. But still they go in search of this small child to touch his feet. Their learning is nothing compared to the innocence of this small child, just born.
This child has not yet eaten the fruit of knowledge and this child is such that he is not going to eat the fruit of knowledge. He is going to insist on remaining pure of knowledge, he is not going to pollute his being, contaminate his being. Something from the beyond, something of the Divine has entered into the world of time.
Those three wise men travel. It is arduous, the journey is long, and the three wise men are very, very old, very experienced, learned in many arts. They know all that can be known but they don't know how to be in a state of knowing. And they are going to search for this boy, this small boy, to look into his pure eyes, to look into his virgin eyes, to find out how one can be simply there without any knowledge.
They are very old and nobody knows where Jesus is born -- but the story is beautiful. The story says: look into the sky to find a path on the earth. This is strange. To find a path on the earth, you have to look on the earth, but they look in the sky. And a star guides them.
If you want to find a way on earth you have to look at the sky. If you want your feet to move rightly you will have to look at the uttermost height of life. You will have to look at the stars. If your eyes are moving towards the height your feet will follow the right track.
That is the only way. If you are crawling on the earth and looking on the earth, you will miss all paths.
A star guides them. They reach the town, they reach the stable and the star stops there.
When you reach home everything stops because the home means simply that now there is nowhere to go. You have come to the point from where one has nowhere to go. The ultimate has come.
These wise three men bow down into the feet of this small babe. This is knowledge bowing down before knowing, experience bowing down before innocence, Adam bowing down before Jesus, respectability bowing down before revolution.
And they offer many presents to Jesus: gold they offer, incense they offer, myrrh they offer. Those are symbolic offerings. In the East, gold is offered to kings and this poorest of the poor is the king of the kings. So they offer gold. Incense is offered to the priests and this boy is not a priest yet he is going to be the highest priest possible. They offer incense. And in the East, myrrh is offered to somebody who is on their deathbed. Why do they offer myrrh to this boy who is just born? They know, they feel, that this boy is going to die on the cross -- is destined. Because unless somebody dies totally there is no resurrection.
They offer whatsoever they have and they come back. The story says that they go back to their home...their home was in Iran. So they come back home and they bring the message that they have looked and found in the eyes of Jesus something of the unknown.
They bring the message but Iran never became a Christian country, never. That too is very symbolic. The three wise men were the first to encounter Jesus but still they could not bring the message back home. The experience was so deep and profound that it could not be expressed. They may have become dumb, they may have remained silent for the rest of their life, they may not have talked to anybody, they may not have said anything to anybody. Nobody knows what happened to those three wise men. Because they had come to the very source, they may have become silent.
This is a Zen parable. The first thing to be dropped is knowledge. Once you drop knowledge you attain to clarity. Look at small children -- let that be your ideal and become a child again. Only children have eyes to see. Our eyes are too full of ideas.
We go on collecting knowledge, opinions, but deep down we remain the same, nothing changes. We just go on painting our personality on the surface.
I have heard.
Cohen and Goldberg were partners in the dress business. And business was terrible.
A discouraged Cohen announced to his partner that he was going to change his name for good luck.
'From now on,' he said, 'I am O'Brian.'
That night Goldberg decided he would change his name too.
Both men instructed the switchboard operator to answer the phones, 'O'Brian and O'Brian.'
Everything went well until a caller demanded to speak to Mr. O'Brian. 'Which O'Brian do you want?' asked the operator. 'Cohen or Goldberg?'
Everything that we go on doing on the surface will be just like changing a name. Inside you will remain the same. Your persona can never become more than skin deep -- your know ledge, your identity in the world is nothing but a persona, a dressing.
Zen says you are wasting your life. Go deep, go beyond your knowledge, go beyond your name and your form, go beyond that identity that the society has given to you. Zen Masters give koans to their disciples to look into their original face -- the face that you had before you were born. Now you have a false face; it has been given to you by the society, it is just a formality. And if you think it is you, you are in a very bad shape.
Somebody is a Christian, somebody is a Hindu, somebody is a Mohammedan, somebody is a Buddhist -- all these are just superficial things, accidents of birth. You are not a Christian, because Christ has not touched your heart yet. You are a Christian because you were born in a Christian home. You are a Buddhist because it was just an accident of birth, co-incidence. It happened that your father and mother were Buddhist -- hence you are a Buddhist. But Buddha has not yet happened to you.
Remember, this is very cheap. Drop Christianity, drop Islam, drop Buddhism, drop that which has been given to you by the society, by birth, by association, by culture, by country. Drop all that so that you can find out who you really are.
These things will be taken away by death; death will burn your persona. And then you will come face to face with your being and you will not even be able to recognise it, because you never knew that this was your face. We live very superficial lives.
I have heard.
A beggar clutched at the sleeve of a benevolent-looking passerby.
'Five cents, sir, for a cup of coffee,' he whined.
The other turned and surveyed him.
'Why,' he asked, 'should I give you money? What brought you to this sad plight?'
'A terrible catastrophe, sir, ' the beggar replied. 'Two years ago I was a prosperous business man like you, I worked industriously. On my desk was the motto 'Think Constructively, Act Decisively'. Money poured in and then, and then'...the beggar's frame shook convulsively...'the cleaning woman burnt my motto!'
Just the burning of the motto!'The cleaning woman burnt my motto!' -- that has made him a beggar.
Have you anything more than just a motto? What do you call your name? What do you call your identity? It can be burnt; death will take it away. Death is nothing but a cleaning woman. It will clean it away and you will cry convulsively. Then you will say, 'Death has killed ME.'
Death has never killed anybody; death has no power to kill; death is the most impotent thing in the world. You make it potent by clinging to the superficial. The power of death is not intrinsic to death, the power of death is given by you. Death is empowered by you because you go on clinging to the superficial. Death can take only the superficial, it cannot enter the depths of your being.
But if you think your clothes are you, your body is you, your mind is you, then you have given power to the hands of death. Death will destroy this and then you will convulsively weep that 'I have been killed' and for your whole life you will be afraid of death.
Zen says that if you drop knowledge -- and within knowledge everything is included, your name, your identity, everything, because this has been given to you by others -- if you drop all that has been given by others, you will have a totally different quality to your being -- innocence. This will be a crucifixion of the persona, the personality, and there will be a resurrection of your innocence; you will become a child again, reborn.
Hindus call this state DWIJ, twice born. This is a second birth. A man becomes really a Brahmin when he has gone through the cross -- the personality burnt and destroyed by death. Or he has renounced it himself voluntarily, then innocence arises and he is reborn.
Then he is a Brahmin because then only does he come to know what truth is.
But we have decided to follow the short-cut, the way of the belief. We are hoping against hope that somebody else's eyes will do the work for us.
In Buddha's time there was a blind man in a certain village. He was a great logician, a great thinker, and nobody was able to convince him that light existed because he would argue against it.
He would say, 'If light exists, I would like to touch it, because anything that exists can be touched. If light exists, I would like to taste it or at least I would like to smell it. Or, you can throw it on the floor -- at least I can hear the sound of it.'
He said, 'These are the four senses, so any sense that is available to me can become a proof for it.'
But there is no way to touch light, no way to smell it -- it has no smell. And there is no way to throw it on the floor to create sound. There is no way to taste it. It is difficult, very difficult to prove.
And then that blind man would laugh and he would say, 'You are trying to befool me!
You simply want to prove that light is, so that you can prove that I am blind. But I am not blind. Everybody is blind -- and there exists nothing like light. You don't try to befool me.'
One day the blind man was invited to a friend's house. A preparation of milk was made and he liked it very much and he asked of what it was made. They said, 'Of milk.'
He said, 'Tell me something more about milk. How does it looks?'
They said, 'It looks white.'
He said, 'White? You will have to prove because I don't believe that colours exist. It is just imagination of man. What is white?'
They said, 'White -- just like a white cow.'
He said, 'Now you are creating more problems. What is a cow? What does it look like?'
Finding no other way, one man invented a method. He came near the old man, he put his hand before him, made a gesture as if this is the head of the cow. And he said, 'Touch my hand. The head of the cow feels like this and these two fingers are the two horns. Feel.'
He tried to feel and he laughed and said, 'Now I know. That milk looks like a bent hand.'
Absolutely logical -- because his basic question was about milk.
Finding it difficult they brought him to Buddha -- Buddha was in the vicinity -- and they said to Buddha, 'We have tried hard but we cannot convince this man that light exists or that colours exist. He is blind but he is very argumentative.'
Buddha said, 'He is not wrong, you are wrong. Rather than bringing him to me, take him to a physician who can cure his eyes. He does not need any other conviction, no other conviction is possible. It cannot be proved to a blind man that light exists and if the blind man agrees he may be agreeing only to be polite. How can a blind man agree that light exists? If he cannot feel its existence, then there is no way to feel it. You take him to a physician.'
And Buddha said, 'I know a great physician' -- Buddha's own physician, Jeevika was his name -- 'You go to Jeevika. He may be able to find some way.'
And it happened that the man was not really blind, he had a certain disease in the eyes from the very birth. After six months of treatment he started seeing. He danced the whole way to Buddha's place, he fell at his feet and he said, 'Excuse me, light is, but there was no way for me to recognise it before I had my own eyes opened.'
The same is true about God, the same is true about truth. No argument can prove that God exists, no proof exists which can help unless your eyes are opened.
So Zen doesn't bother about philosophising, about concepts. It says the only effort worth doing, the only thing worth putting your whole energy into is how to attain eyes.
Lopos Pachio, a great poet, has a few beautiful lines:
REMOVE FROM MY EYES THIS MIST OF THE CENTURIES. I WANT TO SEE THINGS LIKE A CHILD.
That is what the whole effort of Zen is -- removing the mist of centuries, removing the mist of the past. It is a great cleansing of the eyes, and your perception once is clear and once you have attained clarity to see, truth is, and nothing else is. Truth is not lost -- you have lost your eyes.
People come to me and they say, 'Where is God?' I say, 'Drop that subject completely.
That is irrelevant. Have you got eyes? That is the relevant question to ask. If you don't have eyes, even if I manage to produce God before you, you will not be able to see.'
You can see only that which you can see. You will need a greater clarity to move into the subtle mysteries of life. God is the subtlest mystery. For it, very refined eyes are needed.
So Zen says that there is no need to talk about God; all talk about God is useless. They don't talk about God; all talk about heaven and hell is useless. They don't talk about that, they don't talk about truth, they don't talk about reality -- they have no metaphysics.
Buddha was very reluctant to talk about any metaphysical problem. He would either keep quiet, he would not answer, or he would say something which was totally different to what the questioner had in his mind. He was almost silent about all the great questions humanity has been discussing, arguing about, thinking about, contemplating, philosophising about. If Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Kant, and people like that had gone to him, they would have thought him mad. He would not answer a single question of Hegel's or Kant's or Plato's or Aristotle's. At the most he would laugh at their foolish questions. He will insist on only one thing, 'APPO DEEPO BHAVA -- Be a light unto yourself.' Kindle your inner light so you can see. We can see only that which we can see.
A small girl came once to me and I asked her, 'Do you want to say something to me?'
She said, 'I would like to sing a small song.'
She was a very small girl and she sang a small song and I loved it.
The song was:
PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
I HAVE BEEN TO LONDON TO LOOK AT THE QUEEN.
PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT, WHAT SAW YOU THERE?
I SAW A MOUSE UNDER THE CHAIR.
Of course, a cat cannot see the Queen, it is impossible. A cat can only see the rat. The Queen was there sitting on the chair, but the cat could not see -- she saw a mouse under the chair.
And it is absolutely logical. A cat has eyes for the mouse and for the rat, she has no eyes for the Queen. We see only that which we can see.
If you don't see God in existence then you have to remember one thing: you don't yet have eyes for God. So work hard to have eyes. And don't borrow eyes -- eyes are not like glasses. You can borrow somebody else's glasses and sometimes they may even fit, but eyes are not like glasses.
And when I or Zen people are talking about eyes, they are not like your ordinary eyes. It is an inner vision. Even these eyes can be transferred -- you can have my eye, my physical eye, I can have your physical eye, they can be transplanted; but the inner vision, the inner eye, the third eye, is impossible to transfer.
So remember, ignorance is better than borrowed knowledge. It is at least true. Recognise the fact that 'I don't know'; recognise it so deeply that your whole ego disappears.
Because the ego exists through knowledge; knowledge is the most vital food for the ego.
That's why we go on pretending about things which we don't know -- we go on pretending that we know.
It happened in church. The old priest of the church was getting ready for his morning sermon. It was Sunday, early morning, and he was preparing his notes.
A young priest came running and he said, 'Look! What are you doing? Jesus has come and he is worshipping at the altar.'
The old priest said, 'Jesus?' It was almost a shock. Jesus had never come and nobody had ever thought that he was to come.
Even priests who go on saying that he is going to come next time, that he will come again, even they don't believe. Who believes? Priests are the most unbelieving people because they know the very secrets of the trade. They say things for others.
He could not believe it but he started trembling. He became afraid. Both came to the door and looked inside. Yes, there was a figure exactly like Jesus Christ and he was worshipping at the altar.
The young priest said, 'Now what do we do?'
He said, 'Look busy. What else can we do?' Look busy! That's how we go on pretending.
It is the most difficult statement in the world to say 'I don't know'.
If somebody asks, 'Is there God?' either you say, 'Yes, there is' or you say, 'No, there is no God in the world.' Both answers are stupid. If you have been brought up in a religious home, you say, 'Yes, there is.' If you have been brought up in Soviet Russia or China, you say, 'No, there is no God.' But these are your conditionings speaking, not you.
Wait a minute, think twice -- do you know? Yes and no both show your knowledge. The man who says no is pretending absolute knowledge. He is saying that he has searched the whole of existence and has not found him. The man who says yes -- he says, 'Yes, I have looked into the Koran, into the Bible, into the Vedas, and they all say he is, and I believe that he is.' But the truth is that they both are asserting something which has no personal experience behind it.
A real and true person will say, 'I don't know.' The moment you say 'I don't know' you are available, your doors are not closed. Then you can seek and search, then the whole journey opens for you. Once you say yes or no, doors are closed. You become smug in your knowledge.
Knowledge makes you blind. It closes your eyes. It fills your eyes with dust. Knowledge is a sort of blindness -- you will have to come out of it, you will have to jump out of it. If you can show that much courage only then can you walk the path of truth, can you meditate, can you sit in zazen.
'I don't know' is the beginning of zazen. 'I don't know 'this recognition is the first step towards knowledge.
Now the story.
LONG AGO IN JAPAN, A BLIND MAN, VISITING A FRIEND ONE NIGHT, WAS OFFERED A PAPER-AND-BAMBOO LANTERN TO CARRY HOME WITH HIM.
Now, it is absurd to offer a lantern to a blind man because he cannot see. Darkness and light, both are the same to him. It is foolish. What is he going to do with the lamp? It will be just a burden. A lamp is beautiful and helpful and a light on your path -- if you have eyes; otherwise the lamp is a burden.
Knowledge, if it is yours, is a light on the path. Knowledge, if it is just learned from others, is a burden. Then your head becomes heavy, then you are carrying stones in your head. Then you cannot fly because for flying you need to be weightless. Knowledge becomes a weight on you.
It was foolish to offer a lantern to a blind man. But the man who offered it must have been very logical. He had some logic behind it. Whenever we do something foolish we always rationalise it -- because it is very difficult for the ego to do a simple, foolish thing.
We rationalise it, we find some argument for it. Whatsoever we do we always find some argument to give it support, to at least give it a face so that it doesn't look foolish.
'I DO NOT NEED A LANTERN,' HE SAID, 'DARKNESS OR LIGHT IS ALL THE SAME TO ME.'
The blind man is simple and he knows what a light can do for him. He cannot see -- day and night are the same to him.
'I KNOW YOU DO NOT NEED A LANTERN TO FIND YOUR WAY,' HIS FRIEND REPLIED,' BUT YOU MUST TAKE IT BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T HAVE ONE SOMEONE ELSE MAY RUN INTO YOU.'
Now he has found a beautiful argument for it. And even to the blind man it appealed. It looks right. You may not be able to see, but with a lantern in your hands at least others will be able to see you and they will not run into you. It was difficult to deny this, the logic is clear.
That's how we have accepted many things: for certain reasons, for certain logic behind them. You don't know if God is, then somebody says, 'Can you think of a watch being made without a maker?' Of course you cannot. It looks almost impossible that just by co- incidence, by chance, a watch will come into existence. Inconceivable. rt looks logical that if a small watch, a small mechanism, cannot come into existence by itself, then how can this whole universe, this cosmos, so infinite and so complex and yet running in such deep order and discipline? How can this whole existence come into being without there being a maker? It appeals, it looks logical, it is difficult to deny it. So the blind man agrees; so you say, 'Yes, there must be a God.'
Look! You are accepting something which you cannot see, which you have never felt.
But the argument seems to be weighty and it seems to be difficult to deny it. You have accepted God, you have accepted the soul, you have accepted a thousand and one-things just because they are supported by weighty arguments.
But they don't help. Life is not an argument. You have to live it to know it. And the danger is that because of the argument, once you accept God -- 'Yes, God is, because the maker is needed, the creator is needed for the creation' -- you may forget by and by that you don't know this creator. This acceptance may become a dangerous thing, a fatal thing -- then you will not search, you will think you already know. Your knowledge can deceive you and you can start feeling that you already know. Millions of people in the world go on thinking that they know God exists.
That's what happened to this poor blind man.
THE BLIND MAN STARTED O WITH THE LANTERN AND BEFORE HE HAD WALKED VERY FAR SOMEONE RAN SQUARELY INTO HIM. 'LOOK OUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING!' HE EXCLAIMED TO THE STRANGER. 'CAN'T YOU SEE THIS LANTERN?'
'YOUR CANDLE HAS BURNT OUT, BROTHER,' REPLIED THE STRANGER.
Now, the danger is that the blind man, if he had no lantern in his hand, would have walked more cautiously. He is a blind man and he has always been walking. He knows he is blind so he takes all precautions. Today he must have left all precautions behind -- he had a lantern in his hand. He believed in the lantern, so there was no need to be cautious.
He must have walked at leisure, thinking that the lantern was there and nobody can run into him.
For his whole life he had been walking the same road and nobody had run into him because he was cautious. Today there was no need to be cautious -- that is the danger of borrowed knowledge.
If you are ignorant you are more cautious, you walk with more alertness, awareness, you behave more cautiously. If you think you know, then you start moving like a robot: there is no need to be cautious, there is no need to be alert, you can fall asleep, you can become unconscious.
That's what happened to the blind man. He must have walked, thinking other thoughts.
There was no need to think about the road, about other people, about himself. He trusted, he believed in the lantern.
That's how millions of people are walking in life -- trusting in the Bible, in the Vedas, in the Koran, trusting in others. Their very belief is dangerous. It is better to be aware and alert and to move cautiously.
THE BLIND MAN STARTED OF WITH THE LANTERN AND BEFORE HE HAD WALKED VERY FAR SOMEONE RAN SQUARELY INTO HIM. 'LOOK OUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING!'
He must have been angry, annoyed. Somebody was going against the logic, somebody was behaving irrationally. He had a lantern and the friend had said, and said very convincingly, that nobody will run into him now. People will be able to see him. And here comes this man. 'Are you blind?' he must said to him. 'Can't you see this lantern in my hand? What are you doing? Are you mad? Don't you understand simple logic?'
But life does not believe in logic; life is very illogical, it is very irrational, it is almost absurd. And here comes the absurdity; life always has surprises for you. The blind man was thinking that the lamp was there and so there was no problem.
'CAN'T YOU SEE THIS LANTERN?''YOUR CANDLE HAS BURNT OUT, BROTHER.'
Now this is a surprise. And how can the blind man see that the candle is burnt out, that he is carrying a dead lamp which has no light? He is carrying just a dead weight.
All your beliefs are like the lamp which has no light in it. Your Koran is dead, it has no light although it may have been full of life and full of light in the hands of Mohammed.
Your Gita is dead, the candle is burnt out. It may have been full of light in the hands of Krishna because that man had the eyes. He could have replaced the burnt-out candle any moment.
For centuries you have carrying scriptures -- burnt-out candles. And everybody was running into everybody else. Can't you see that? The whole conflict of humanity -- Hindus fighting with Christians, Christians fighting with Mohammedans, Mohammedans fighting with Buddhists, everybody running into each other -- can't you see this agony, this conflict? The whole of humanity is struggling, is at war. Sometimes it is hot, sometimes it is cold, but all the time it is warm. Sometimes you are fighting, sometimes you are preparing for a fight, but all the time it is fight.
And it is not only religions that are fighting -- nations are fighting, persons.... Everybody is fighting: the husband with the wife, the wife with the husband, the friend with the friend, the brother with the brother, the children with the parents, the parents with the children. Everybody, everywhere, is running into each other.
It is as if we are all blind and everybody thinks that he is carrying a lamp in his hand....
And the candle is burnt out.
In fact, as far as the candle of truth is concerned, the moment it is transferred from one hand to another, it dies. The Gita died when Krishna was transferring it to Arjuna. It is not that Arjuna will carry the light at least a few steps, it is impossible. When I am saying something to you, I can see it dying continuously between you and me. The moment it reaches you it is already dead.
There is no way to transfer it. Then why do I go on talking? Sometimes people come and ask me, 'Why do you go on talking if there is no way to transfer it?' There is no way to transfer it, there has never been a way to transfer it. But still I have to talk, just to show you the impossibility. You cannot understand what I am saying but it will be impossible for you to understand if I am silent. If you cannot understand my words, you will not be able to understand my silence. If you misunderstand my words, you will misunderstand my silence. But still I have to talk to you because that is the only way possible to communicate that there is something within me which cannot be communicated, that I am carrying something, that I am pregnant with something which is incommunicable. Being with me, listening to me again and again, again and again, watching me, some day you may understand the point. I cannot make you understand it but if you persist long enough YOU may be able to understand it.
But understanding will arise within you, it will not be a transfer from me. I can push you and pull you here and there but I will have to wait. And if you can also wait with me, someday your own inner flame will arise. It needs patience, it needs contact with a Master, but it cannot be transferred. The Master can function only as a catalytic agent.
My presence will make you more and more thirsty; my presence will make you more and more mad; a great, an intense, an impossible desire will arise within you -- you will become a passionate search. In that passion your own candle will start burning. You will become your own fuel.
So all that I can do is not to transfer truth but only to support, to help, so that you don't become impatient, so that you don't lose your interest in truth, so that you continue in your desire and you go on putting more and more at stake. The moment will come -- just as it comes when you heat water. You go on heating it and at a hundred degrees it jumps and becomes vapour, evaporates. All that I am doing is trying to heat you as much as I can. The jump will be yours, the evaporation will be yours.
If you allow and if you are able to suffer patiently the pain of waiting and the pain that the heat will bring and the pain that your intense desire will create -- if you are ready to suffer happily, patiently, then one day it is your flame that will arise within you. It will be absolutely yours.
And I talk also for this reason: whenever truth happens, it has to be shared. Unshared, it starts dying; shared, it lives. It is not that I can give you truth, but sharing with you, making an effort to share with you, truth can remain alive. I am talking for the same reason as birds sing or flowers bloom or stars shine. I dig it. If you also start digging it with me, if you co-operate with me, then when it happens to you, you will know that it has not been a transfer but that something authentically yours has arisen. It is individual.
Truth is revealed individually.
I would like to tell you a few anecdotes.
The old fellow was a crossing-tender at a spot where an express train made quick work of an auto and its occupants. Naturally, he was the chief witness and the entire case hinged upon the energy with which he had displayed his warning signal.
A gruelling cross-examination left him unshaken in this story: the night was dark and he had waved his lantern frantically, but the driver of the auto paid no attention to it.
Later, the division superintendent called the flagman to his office to compliment him on the steadfastness with which he had stuck to his story.
'You did wonderfully,' he said. 'I was afraid at first that you might waver in your testimony.'
'No, sir,' said the fellow,'but I was afraid every minute that that damn lawyer was going to ask me if the lantern was lit.'
Ask yourself again and again -- is the lantern that you are carrying lit? Otherwise waving it in the dark night is a sheer wastage of energy. Is your Bible lit? Is your Gita lit? If not, then drop them. Then it is better not to have these illusions.
As the rookie cop passed a store he heard a noisy argument. He paused, listened again, then stepped inside to investigate. 'What's going on?' he demanded. 'What's all the noise about?'
'It's nothing,' said the proprietor. 'There's no argument. I'm all alone!'
'Wait a minute, mac,' said the cop. 'I distinctly heard an argument going on.'
'You don't understand, officer,' said the store owner. 'I'm alone in the store. Business is terrible. So to pass the time away I talk to myself, and when I talk to myself, there's bound to be an argument.'
'How can you argue with yourself?' asked the cop.
'It's easy,' said the store owner, 'because I hate a liar!'
Look, watch what goes on inside your mind. There is a continuous inner chattering, a continuous argument with yourself.
Truth is possible only when this inner talk stops, when you are left in deep emptiness, no argument, no for/against, no pro con, no word, no thought. When the inner talk is simply suspended, in that moment of suspended inner talk a window opens towards the sky.
The third anecdote.
A miserly man was approached by a friend who did his best to persuade him to dress more in accordance with his station in life. 'I'm surprised,' said the friend, 'that you've allowed yourself to become shabby.'
'But I'm not shabby,' said the miser.
'Yes, you are,' insisted his friend. 'Take your grandfather. He was always neatly dressed.
His clothes were always well tailored and of the best material.'
'You see!' cried the other triumphantly. 'These clothes I'm wearing ARE grandfather's.'
Watch, are the thoughts that you are carrying yours? Or somebody else's? Centuries old, long ago dead and buried and you go on carrying those dead thoughts. Gather courage, this shabbiness of the mind is a great disrespect towards yourself. Those clothes are dirty.
People are not ready to use somebody else's clothes but you are very easily ready to use somebody else's thoughts.
I have heard.
A philosopher went to a shoemaker. He wanted his shoes to be repaired but he had only one pair. So he said, 'I will wait, you repair.'
The shoemaker said, 'It is difficult, it is closing time. You come tomorrow and I will get them ready.'
The philosopher said, 'I have got only one pair and it will be difficult for me to walk without shoes.'
The shoemaker said, 'Okay, keep this pair' -- he gave him one pair -- 'with you and tomorrow you return it and take yours.'
The philosopher was very annoyed. He said, 'What! To use somebody else's used shoes?
What do you think I am?'
The shoemaker laughed and he said, 'If you can carry others' used thoughts in your head, then what is wrong in using somebody else's shoes? They will just be on your feet. Your head is borrowed. So what is wrong in it?'
We are at ease in borrowing our soul, hence we are beggars. Stop this borrowing. If you don't have your own soul it is better not to have any soul at all. And once you gather that courage you will start attaining to your own soul. It is not very far away, it is just hidden behind these borrowed clothes, thoughts, philosophies, doctrines, dogmas. Be yourself.
You have heard the famous Greek dictum of Socrates:'Know thyself.' But that is not a primary thing. More primary is:'Be thyself.' Unless you are yourself, who are you going to know? So I would like to tell you that more basic and more fundamental is the dictum:'Be thyself.' Then there is a possibility to:'Know thyself.' If you are not, then who are you going to know and WHO is going to know?
A religious man is not a borrowed man, a religious man is not a hollow man, he is not a stuffed man. A religious man is absolutely empty of others -- and the moment you are empty of others you fill your own inner space -- that is what fulfillment is, that is what nirvana is, that is what liberation is.