The first question:
WHAT IS INNOCENCE AND WHAT IS THE WAY TO BECOME INNOCENT?
Sonja, innocence is your very nature. You do not have to become it, you are already it.
You are born innocent. Then layers and layers of conditioning are imposed upon your innocence. Your innocence is like a mirror and conditioning is like layers of dust. The mirror has not to be achieved, the mirror is already there - or rather, here. The mirror is not lost, it is only hidden behind the layers of dust.
You don't have to follow a way to reach your nature because you cannot leave your nature, you cannot go anywhere else. Even if you wanted to, it is impossible. That's exactly the definition of nature: nature means that which cannot be left behind, that which cannot be renounced. But you can forget about it. You cannot lose it but it can be forgotten.
And that's exactly what has happened. The mirror is not lost but forgotten - forgotten because it is not functioning anymore as a mirror. Not that any defect has arisen in it, just layers of dust are covering it. All that is needed is to clean it, to remove those layers of dust.
The process of becoming innocent is not really a process of becoming, it is a process of discovering your being. It is a discovery, not an achievement. You don't attain to something new, you simply attain to that which you have always been. It is a forgotten language.
It happens many times: you see a person on the road, you recognize him, his face seems familiar. Suddenly you remember also that you know his name. You say, "It is just on the tip of my tongue," but still it is not coming to you. What is happening? If it is just on the tip of your tongue, then why can't you say it? You know that you know it, but still you are not able to remember it. And the more you try, the more difficult it becomes, because making an effort makes you more tense, and when you are tense you are farther away from your nature, you are farther away from that which is already there.
When you are relaxed you are closer; when you are utterly relaxed, it will surface of its own accord.
So you try hard, but it doesn't come, so you forget all about it. Then lying down in your bath, or just swimming in the pool, and you are not even trying to remember that man's name when suddenly it bubbles up. What has happened? You were not trying to remember, and you were relaxed. When you are relaxed you are wide, when you are tense you become narrow - the more tense, the more narrow. The passage between you and that which is inside you becomes so narrow that nothing can pass through it, not even a single name.
All the great scientific discoveries have been made in this very mysterious way - in this very UNscientific way, so to speak.
Madame Curie was working on a certain mathematical problem for three years continuously and the more she tried, the farther and farther away the solution seemed.
She tried every possible way, but nothing was working, nothing was happening. And there was somewhere a deep, tacit feeling that "The solution exists. I am not struggling with something absurd." This tacit feeling continued all the time as an undercurrent; hence she could not drop the effort either. She was getting tired - three years wasted for a single problem. But deep down within herself somebody was saying, "The solution IS possible. This exercise is not futile. Go on." And she went on stubbornly, she persisted. She dropped all other projects, she forced herself totally into the one problem.
But the more she tried, the more impossible it became.
One night it happened, almost as it happened to Gautama the Buddha; of course, the problems were different, but the process was the same. Buddha had struggled for six years to attain enlightenment and he had attained nothing. Then one night he dropped the whole effort, went to sleep, and, by the morning when the last star was setting, he became enlightened.
That night Madame Curie dropped the idea, the whole project - she closed the chapter.
"Enough is enough! Three years wasted is too much for one problem." There were other problems which were waiting to be solved. It was finished in her mind, although the tacit understanding was still there just like a constant murmur. But she had followed it long enough, it was time. One has only a limited time; three years is too much for one problem. Deliberately she dropped the idea. As far as she was concerned she closed the whole project. She went to sleep never to be bothered by that problem again.
And in the morning when she got up she was surprised. On a piece of paper on her table, the solution was there, written in her own handwriting. She could not believe her eyes. Who had done it? The servant could not have done it - he knew nothing of mathematics, and if Madame Curie had not been able to do it in three years, how could the servant have done it? And there was nobody else in the house. And the servant had not entered in the night - the doors were locked from inside. She looked closely and the handwriting resembled hers.
Then suddenly she remembered a dream. In the dream she had seen that she had got up, gone to the table, written something.... Slowly slowly, the dream became clear.
Slowly slowly, she remembered that she had done it in the night. It was not a dream, she had actually done it. And this was the solution! For three years she had been struggling hard and nothing was happening - and the night she dropped the project, it happened. What happened? She became relaxed.
Once you have dropped the effort you become relaxed, you become restful, you become soft, you become wide, you become open. It was there inside her, it surfaced. Finding the mind no longer tense, it surfaced.
Innocence is there, you have simply forgotten it - you have been made to forget it.
Society is cunning. For centuries man has learned that you can survive in this society only if you are cunning; the more cunning you are, the more successful you will be.
That's the whole game of politics: be cunning, be more cunning than others. It is a constant struggle and competition as to who can be more cunning. Whosoever is more cunning is going to succeed, is going to be powerful.
After centuries of cunningness man has learned one thing: that to remain innocent is dangerous, you will not be able to survive. Hence parents try to drive their children out of their innocence. Teachers, schools, colleges, universities exist for the simple work of making you more cunning, more clever. Although they call it intelligence it is not intelligence.
Intelligence is not against innocence, remember. Intelligence is the flavor of innocence, intelligence is the fragrance of innocence. Cunningness is against innocence; and cunningness, cleverness are not synonymous with intelligence. But to be intelligent needs a tremendous journey inwards. No schools can help, no colleges, no universities can help. Parents, priests, the society, they are all extrovert; they cannot help you to go inwards. And buddhas are very rare, few and far between. Not everybody is fortunate enough to find a buddha. Only a buddha can help you to be an intelligent person, but you cannot find so many buddhas who want to become primary school teachers and high school teachers and university professors; it is impossible.
So there is a substitute for intelligence. Cunningness is a substitute for intelligence - a very poor substitute, remember. And not only is it a poor substitute, it is just the opposite of it too. The intelligent person is not cunning; certainly intelligent, but his intelligence keeps his innocence intact. He does not sell it for mundane things. The cunning person is ready to sell his soul for small things.
Judas sold Jesus for only thirty silver coins - just thirty silver coins. And a Jesus can be sold. Judas must have thought that he was being very intelligent, but he was simply cunning. If you don't like the word 'cunning' you can call him clever; that is just a good name for the same thing, for the same ugly thing.
The society prepares you to be cunning so that you are capable of competing in this struggle for existence, the struggle to survive. It is a cut-throat competition, everybody is after everybody else's throat. People are ready to do anything to succeed, to be famous, to climb the ladder of success, name and fame. They are ready to use you as stepping-stones. Unless you are also cunning you will be simply used, manipulated.
Hence the society trains every child to be cunning, and these layers of cunningness are hiding your innocence.
Innocence has not to be achieved, Sonja, it is already there. Hence it is not a question of becoming, it is your being. It has only to be discovered - or rediscovered. You have to drop all that you have learned from others, and you will immediately be innocent.
Hence my antagonism towards all knowledge that is borrowed. Don't quote the Bible, don't quote the Gita. Don't behave like parrots. Don't just go on living on borrowed information. Start seeking and searching for your own intelligence.
A negative process is needed; it is to be achieved through VIA NEGATIVA. That is the Buddha's way. You have to negate all that has been given to you. You have to say, "This is not mine; hence I have no claim over it. It may be true, it may not be true. Who knows? Others say it is so; unless it becomes my experience I cannot agree or disagree. I will not believe or disbelieve. I will not be a Catholic or a communist, I will not be a Hindu or a Mohammedan. I will simply not follow any ideology." Because, whoever you follow, you will be gathering dust around yourself. Stop following.
Here, being with me, you are not my followers, remember it. Friends certainly, but not followers. You are in a love affair with me, but it is not a question of following. And my work here is not to teach you something, but to help you to discover yourself. Just drop all knowledge. It hurts because you have carried that knowledge for so long and you have been bragging so much about that knowledge - your degrees, M.A.s and Ph.D.s and D.Litt.s, and you have been bragging about all those degrees. And suddenly I am saying to you: Drop all that nonsense.
Just be as simple as a child. Just be again a child as you were born, as God sent you into this world. In that mirrorlike state you will be able to reflect that which is. Innocence is the door to knowing. Knowledge is the barrier and innocence is the bridge.
The second question:
CAN I ALSO BECOME A GAUTAMA THE BUDDHA?
Govind, yes and no. Yes because buddhahood is nobody's personal possession.
Gautama does not have it as a personal attribute; he is not the owner of it and he is not the only buddha. There have been many buddhas before him, there have been many buddhas after him. The word 'buddha' simply means the awakened one.
You are asleep. Naturally, if you can be asleep you can wake up. One who is capable of sleep is also capable of waking up; the very phenomenon of sleep implies the capacity to wake up. If you are incapable of waking up you will be incapable of sleeping too; they are two sides of the same coin.
So, Govind, if you can sleep, if you can dream, you can wake up, you can be a buddha.
Hence I say yes - but you cannot be a GAUTAMA the Buddha; Gautama you cannot be. You can be Govind the Buddha, but not Gautama the Buddha; that is not possible.
Nature never repeats. They say history repeats - and it certainly repeats because history consists of stupid human beings. What else can they do? They can only repeat.
But nature never repeats; it never creates the same person again, the same form again.
Nature is immensely innovative.
That's the meaning when we say God is a creator. A creator is never repetitive, he never creates the same painting again and again. He goes on creating something new, he is always on a new venture.
Govind, God has never created another person like you and will never create another person like you. He loves individuality, he loves uniqueness. That's his way of showing respect to you, tremendous respect. And it is not only so with human beings: go into the garden, watch the leaves minutely - you will not find even two leaves exactly the same.
Not on the whole of the earth will you find two leaves exactly the same, or two pebbles exactly the same on all the seashores.
Everything is unique, everything has its own signature. Just as your thumb is unique and its print is unique - there is nobody else who has the same print - what to say about your soul? Even about such small details God is so careful - or you can say "nature," if "God" has lost its appeal for you. If the word 'God' has lost its appeal for you, 'nature' is as beautiful, or 'existence', or whatsoever you want. Buddha likes the word 'dhamma' - the universal law. Lao Tzu loves the word 'tao' - the harmony of existence, the inner order.
The universe is not a chaos, that much is certain. Whether there is a God or not is irrelevant, the universe is not a chaos. That's why we call it a universe. It has a certain unity, hence "universe," otherwise we would have called it a "multiverse." It is not a chaos, there is an order running inside it, a thread which joins everything together.
Even the smallest grass blade is joined to the biggest star. Nothing is separate, and yet everything is unique and individual. This is the tremendous beauty of existence: it loves and respects the individual, it nourishes the individual.
Hence, Govind, you cannot be Gautama the Buddha, but there is no need to be Gautama the Buddha. That will be ugly, that will be imitative. Never try to imitate because then you will always be only a carbon copy and never something original. And unless you are something original you are not using your life's opportunity to its maximum, you are wasting it.
Don't be a Christian - be a christ. And don't be a Buddhist - be a buddha. The Christian is trying to be like Jesus Christ, the Buddhist is trying to be like Gautam Buddha, and this is not possible. What is possible is that you will become an imitator, an actor. And you can act beautifully. You can walk like Buddha, you can talk like Buddha, you can sit like Buddha. You can use the same words, the same language, the same gestures, but still deep down you will be Govind, not Gautam. And you will know it! That all that you are doing is just on the outside. And it is ugly because it will create a kind of hypocrisy in you.
Hence all Christians are hypocrites and all Buddhists are hypocrites. All followers are bound to be hypocrites because they are divided persons, split persons. And whatsoever they show is only on the surface, and whatsoever they really are is hidden behind. And there is a constant conflict between these two, they live two kinds of lives.
I know this desire arises. This desire seems to be very prevalent.
Jesus and Moses were playing golf. When they came to a two-hundred-yard water hazard. Jesus took out a five iron club. Moses warned him that two hundred yards were too far for a five-iron, but Jesus insisted, "If Arnold Palmer can make it with a five-iron, so can I!"
He hit the ball and it landed in the middle of the lake.
"Will you get the ball for me, Moses?" asked Jesus.
"Just this once," he replied, walked over, raised his club, and parted the water. Then he walked out and brought the ball back to Jesus.
Again Jesus took a five-iron and again Moses warned, "If you don't make it, I'm not going to get it for you!"
Jesus reassured him, "If Arnold Palmer can do it, surely I can do it!"
Again he swung the five-iron and again the ball fell in the water. This time Jesus walked out on the water, reached down, and was picking up the ball when the next foursome came up to the tee where Moses was standing. The leader of the group asked Moses, "Who does he think he is, Jesus Christ?"
"No," replied Moses, "he thinks he is Arnold Palmer!"
Govind, you just be Govind the Buddha. There is no need for you to be Gautama the Buddha. Gautama was beautiful, but once it is beautiful - twice it is too much. And what is the point? What will your contribution to existence be if you are Gautama the Buddha? No contribution. Gautama has done it, he has done what a Gautama can do.
You cannot improve upon it.
You do something that YOU can do and no Gautama can ever do. God has great hopes for you: he hopes you will contribute something to existence. He never loses hope, that's why he goes on creating people. Although people go on deceiving, people go on misusing the opportunity, people go on wasting time, but still God goes on hoping.
With each child a new hope is born in the world. You have to contribute something that only you can do and nobody else can do, hence YOU have to do it. Forget this whole idea of being Gautama the Buddha - just be yourself.
And that's exactly what Buddha has taught, that's exactly his essential message. His last words to his disciples were: APPA DEEPO BHAVA - be a light unto yourself.
When he was dying, naturally thousands of disciples had gathered and they started crying and weeping. The master was leaving, it was natural, and the master had lived with them for forty-two years and they had loved the man, they had loved his vibe. He was one of the most beautiful men who has ever walked on the earth. Not only was he spiritually beautiful, physically he was also one of the most beautiful men. About Jesus that cannot be said. He was spiritually beautiful, but the ancient scriptures say that physically he was not beautiful. He was only four feet five inches and, moreover, a hunchback. Buddha was one of the most beautiful expressions physically too, really a lotus flower. And they had all loved him. They had renounced everything and risked everything for this man and now he was leaving. They started crying. One can understand their crying and their weeping and their tears.
But Buddha said, "Stop! Stop all this nonsense! Why are you crying? What difference is it going to make? I was not your light, you have to be your own light. And," Buddha said to them, "it may be a blessing in the form of a curse, because when I am gone you will try to find yourselves. While I was here you were more interested in me; although I was insisting: Go in! you were focused on me. Now I will not be here, you are bound to go inside."
And that's exactly what happened: many people became enlightened after Buddha died. When they were asked, "Why did so many people become enlightened when Buddha died?" they all said, "Now we understand what he meant, that in the form of a curse it is a blessing - because once you have seen a buddha and he is gone there is nothing worth seeing outside. So we closed our eyes.
"We have seen all that was the most worth seeing: we have seen the most beautiful person. What else is there? There is nothing worth hearing, worth seeing. We closed our eyes, we turned inwards and because Buddha was not there anymore we heard his words for the first time. When he was here we were able to postpone, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We were so much enchanted by his personality, by his charisma.
Once he was gone we had to fall back upon our own selves. Maybe that was his last device."
Govind, be Govind the Buddha!
The third question:
ARE THERE GREAT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT RACES OF MANKIND?
Meera, essentially there are no differences at all. Essentially there cannot be any differences. The whole of mankind is one species of being. But different races have evolved different qualities. They have lived in different climates, they have encountered different situations, they have passed through different histories; naturally they have learned to behave in different ways.
For example, the Jews had to experience a totally different history from anybody else.
They have lived for centuries without a country, they have wandered all over the world, they have lived without security, without a home; naturally that has made them very money-minded. When you don't have a home, when you don't have a country, then all your security becomes focused on money; then it is only money that can save you. And when you become focused on money, naturally you become more clever than others in earning it. Your whole being turns into a money-making machine. That's what a Jew is - a money-making machine. Nobody can defeat him in that because they have lived a totally different past.
When you are living in your home surrounded by the same kind of people, the same race, protected by the country, by the society, you need not worry too much about money. Even without money you are not going to die, people will support you, you can depend on that. But the Jews had no way to depend on anything else; hence money became their country, money became their religion, money became their home, money became their security. That was bound to happen.
In a country like India where for thousands of years everybody has been told to seek and search for his salvation.... And, of course, you can seek and search only for YOUR salvation; you cannot seek and search for somebody else's salvation, that is not possible.
The inward journey has to be done in absolute aloneness. But the by-product of it has been that Indians have become very selfish. It was bound to happen. It is an ugly phenomenon, but too much insistence on going inwards, extreme insistence on going inwards, has made people very selfish, because there is nobody who is yours. That has been the teaching of all the mahatmas: "You are alone. You are born alone, you have to live alone, you have to die alone. Nobody is going with you. All relationships are just superficial, so don't be bothered much by them and don't invest much in them." That has made India more selfish than any other country.
This is one of the most selfish countries in the world. It is because of this selfishness that India has remained in bondage for thousands of years - because everybody thinks only of himself. So if an enemy comes and conquers the country, who bothers about the country? The country does not really exist; there is no idea of nation in India.
Individuals are there, but there is no nation. Hence all kinds of quarrels and small divisions and subdivisions... you will not find the same thing happening anywhere else in the world. Every political party goes on splitting into many many small fragments.
Then those small fragments start splitting into smaller ones, and the process seems to be unending - unless you are your own party! You are the member and you are the president and you are the secretary. When only you are left alone, only then will the process stop. And who knows whether there too the process will stop or not? - because the habit of splitting everything has gone so deep that you may start saying, "Legs are not part of my party, the lower part of my body is not in my party, only the higher. The higher part is superior and the lower is inferior. The higher part means the brahmins, and the lower means the SUDRAS, the untouchables."
Every race has passed through different phases, different climates. This is a hot country.
A hot country makes people lazy, so you cannot compete with Indians as far as laziness is concerned. They are utterly lazy and lousy! You cannot compete with them, it is impossible; they will surpass everyone in that. No country can have any superiority as far as laziness and lousiness is concerned. Indians are the tops!
Because it is a hot country and the climate is not provoking people to work more, people have remained poor. If one person in the whole family earns then it is enough. If just enough is available to survive, Indians are satisfied, more than satisfied. Of course, they find rationalizations for it, they find great spiritual rationalizations for it - "We are very contented people." That is all nonsense. The reality is that they are simply lazy and the climate is hot and they don't want to work - so they have to create a philosophy to support themselves: "We are not much concerned about mundane things, we only think of spiritual things."
India condemns everybody as materialist - and those materialists have always been coming and conquering these great spiritualists! And all their spiritual power has not been of any use. All their Sai Babas, etcetera, have not been of any help. All they can do is, they can produce ash, holy ash, through their spiritual powers, nothing else. Just ordinary magic tricks, any stupid person can do it - nothing to do with spirituality.
This country has not been able to create science, technology, because, the Indians will say, "We are so spiritual we don't bother about creating material wealth." But they all hanker for it, deep down they all are longing for it. Their hearts are full of desires, but because of their old habit of laziness they can't do anything.
The cold countries became world powers for the simple reason that in a cold country if you want to be alive you have to work. In fact, when the climate is cold it provokes you, challenges you to work; otherwise you will become cold, you will die. You have to work hard, only then can you feel hot and alive. Cold countries became world powers; no hot country has ever been a world power, cannot be. Cold countries easily defeated big, hot countries.
England is a small country, not bigger than a small state of India, a small province, but it dominated India - easily, very easily, with no problem. It was so simple to dominate.
Cold countries become adventurous; Indians have never been adventurous. They will not leave their villages. There are thousands of people in India who have never gone beyond the boundary of their village, and they will never go. But the cold countries started traveling around the world. Now the world is finished; they are trying to reach the stars - they have reached the moon.
Everest is Indian, the mountain is Indian, but no Indian has ever tried to climb it. "For what?" Indians will say. "For what? What is there? It is so futile!" But for a hundred years Western mountain-climbers have been coming and risking their lives; many have died knowing that it is risky. The more risky it was, the more it was a challenge.
When Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the top of Everest, was asked, "Why?" - of course by an Indian! - "Why did you try in the first place?" do you know his answer?
He said, "Simply because it is there! It is a challenge. For no other reason. We cannot tolerate this mountain unless we conquer it - it is a humiliation! The mountain stands there so high and goes on telling us that nobody has been able yet to climb up to the top. It is a constant challenge!" But no Indian is challenged by it.
Every country, every race has lived in a different way for centuries: climate, situations, history, accidents, ideologies also have made much difference.
For example, Jews would not have been in such trouble if they had not carried this idea that they are the chosen race of God. The very idea has been the cause of all their trouble. If you think you are the chosen people of God, then of course you will be in trouble, because others will start fighting with you and proving that you are not the chosen people. "We are the chosen people. Who says you are the chosen people?" The very idea has been torturing them.
But this is something to understand: people love their misery. People are sadomasochists, they always love suffering. So any idea that gives you suffering, you cling to it. Jews have suffered so much, but they don't drop their idea. In fact, the very suffering and the antagonism of the whole world proves that they must be the chosen people of God; otherwise why is everybody against them?
So there are great differences on the surface - and the surface is all that comes in contact with others. Intrinsically no two human beings are different; in their innermost core all human beings are just human beings.
So, Meera, we have to understand both things. Essentially, all human beings are one, but accidentally they are not one. And it is not bad that they are not one. Variety is beautiful, it enriches the world, it makes the world more beautiful. It will be an ugly world where only Hindus live, where only Jews live, or where only Negroes live. It will lose all charm, it will lose all beauty.
It is such a beautiful mess.... Italians and Polacks and the Germans and the French, and they all have their own ways, their own understandings, and they have all developed different styles.
So although everybody, every human being belongs to one species, still we have been able to create a variety - different flowerings on the same bush. It makes the world really rich. I would not like to destroy these differences, I would like to enhance them - still with this understanding that human beings are human beings. Nobody is higher and nobody is lower; we should drop the idea of hierarchy, but variety is good.
Do you know how to recognize an Italian in a submarine? He is the only one carrying a parachute!
And how do you recognize the Polack? He is the one running after the Italian to steal his parachute!
A colored maid and her white employer became pregnant at the same time and gave birth on the same day. A few months later the white woman came running into the kitchen and exclaimed to the maid, "My baby said his first word today!"
In the crib the colored baby sat up and said, "He did? What did he say?"
An American couple was touring Europe.
As the bus pulled up at yet another famous cathedral in yet another famous town, the wife turned to the husband and said, "You do the inside of the cathedral, dear, and I will do the outside."
An airplane full of tourists is flying from New York to Texas when one of the engines stops working.
The captain speaks to the passengers: "Ladies and gentlemen, in order to stay alive we have to throw all the luggage overboard. Then we will have less weight and we will safely reach our destination."
So they do. But a few hours later the second engine stops working and again the captain speaks to the passengers: "Ladies and gentlemen, in order to safely reach our destination we need three persons to jump off the plane."
An Englishman stands up. "Sorry," he says, "I beg your pardon... but of course...." He turns around to the rest of the passengers, grabs his umbrella and jumps out of the plane shouting, "God save the Queen!"
A Frenchman gets up with tears in his eyes. "Vive la France!" he cries and jumps out.
A man from India wearing pure white khadi clothes, looking more like Morarji Desai than Morarji Desai himself, walks through the plane, grabs one old woman by the throat, throws her out of the plane and shouts, "Long live Mahatma Gandhi!"
Once a British lady was approached by a German man. As he was quite taken by her beauty, he marched over to her and shouted, "I love you!"
She said, "If you really love me, jump off the cliff!"
Before he could think he kissed her hand and jumped.
A short time later the British lady was approached by an Italian. He swaggered up to her and passionately whispered in her ear, "Amore mio!"
She responded by whispering in his ear, "If you really love me, jump off the cliff."
Coming up for air between kisses he answered, "If you really love me, you must jump with me!"
Impressed with his wit, she conceded to make love with him.
Still a short while later the British lady was approached by a British man. He made her acquaintance and invited her for tea. After several hours of polite conversation, he said, with some reserve, "I love you."
She answered, "If you really love me, jump off the cliff."
To which he gallantly replied, "Ladies first!"
The fourth question:
IS THERE REALLY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ORDINARY PERSON AND ONE WHO IS ENLIGHTENED?
Narendra, everyone is born enlightened. Everyone is born absolutely innocent, absolutely pure, absolutely empty. But that innocence, that purity, that emptiness, is bound to be lost because it is unconscious. One has to regain it - one has to gain it consciously. That is the only difference between an ordinary person and the enlightened one.
The ordinary person came with the same potential, has got the same potential still, but he has not claimed it yet. The enlightened one has lost it and claimed it back. The ordinary person is in a state of paradise lost and the enlightened person is in the state of paradise regained. But you can gain it any moment, it is up to you. Nobody can prevent you from becoming enlightened.
It is not a question of any particular talent. Not everybody is a musician and not everybody can be a musician; that is a question of talent. Only a few are musicians and real musicians are born musicians. You can learn the technique; if you go on and on practicing music, sooner or later you will be able to play, but you will still not be a musician. You will only be a technician - one who knows how to play but one who has no inspiration, one who is not really in tune with the music of existence. Music is not flowing through you naturally, spontaneously.
Not everybody can be a poet and not everybody can be a scientist or mathematician; these are talents. But enlightenment is not a question of talents. Everybody is enlightened; to be alive is enough. Life itself is the only need, the only requirement. If you are not dead you can still become enlightened. If you are dead, then of course wait for the next round, but nobody is so dead. People are ninety-nine percent dead, but even if you are one percent alive that is enough. That much fire is enough; it can be kindled, it can be helped. It can be used to create, to trigger more fire in you.
The difference between the enlightened one and the ordinary person is not one of talent.
This is the first thing to be remembered, because many people think that it is a question of talent. "A Jesus is talented, a Buddha is talented; we are not so talented. How can WE become enlightened?" No, it is not a question of talent at all. You cannot become a Michelangelo and you cannot become a Shakespeare unless you are born one, but you can become a christ, a buddha.
Everybody is entitled to it, it is everybody's birthright, but you will have to reclaim it.
And the effort has to be made consciously. You have lost it simply because you were unconscious. And if you remain unconscious, then the difference will remain. The difference is only of unconsciousness.
Buddha is as ordinary as you are, but he is full of awareness in his ordinariness.
Because of awareness his ordinariness becomes luminous. He lives the same ordinary life, remember it. That is another illusion that people are carrying within themselves:
that a Buddha has to be extraordinary, that a Jesus has to walk on water. You cannot walk on water, so how can you be a Jesus? A buddha has to be special, from the very beginning.
The stories say that before Buddha was born his mother had a few dreams. Those dreams are absolutely necessary. If the mother has not had those dreams before the birth, then the person cannot be a buddha. Now this is sheer stupidity! Joining Buddha with the dreams of his mother is sheer nonsense, there cannot be a more stupid idea.
And what kind of dreams? Jainas have different dreams. Before Mahavira is born, the mother has a few dreams. She sees one white elephant - that is a must. Every TIRTHANKARA, every prophet of the Jainas, before he is born has to be preceded by a dream of the mother of a white elephant - as if the son is going to be a white elephant!
Buddha's mother has to see a few dreams, a series of dreams.... These are just stories, fictitious, created by the followers afterwards. The story is that the mother of a buddha has to die immediately when he is born, she cannot live. How can she live after such a great phenomenon? It is so vast and so big, the experience is such that it is bigger than death, she simply disappears. But Mahavira's mother lives, Jesus' mother lives; they didn't have that idea there. But they have other ideas: that when Jesus is born he has to be born to a virgin mother.
Now people can go to absurdities, to the very extremes of absurdities, just to make one thing settled in your minds: that Jesus IS special while you are ordinary. Now where will you find a virgin mother?... and you have already missed. Next time maybe you try again to find a virgin mother - and unless you conspire with the Holy Ghost, it is impossible. How will you manage? And then three wise men have to come and a star has to lead them. Now stars don't do that at all, no star can do it. Stars go on their routes; they cannot lead the wise men from the East to the exact place where Jesus is born in a stable, in a poor man's house. Stars can't do that - that is impossible.
These fictitious stories have been invented just to give the idea that you are ordinary and these people are special.
My whole effort here is to proclaim to you that if they are special you are special, if you are ordinary they are ordinary. One thing is certain: you don't belong to different categories, you belong to the same category.
The miracle is not walking on water, the miracle is not walking in fire; the miracle is waking up. That is the real miracle. All else is nonsense.
Wake up... and you are a buddha! Wake up and you are enlightened! And when you wake up it is not that you will become totally different from your ordinary self; you will be the same person but luminous. You will eat in the same way, but it will not be the same, there will be an intrinsic difference. You will live in the old way, yet it will not be the old because YOU will be new. You will bring a new touch to everything and whatsoever you touch will start turning into gold, will start turning into something meaningful. Before it was meaningless, now it will have significance and meaning. And it is time that you wake up!
The master cannot force you to wake up; the master can only create a situation in which a process can be triggered in you. And ANY situation can be helpful.
Lao Tzu became enlightened just by seeing a leaf, a dry leaf falling from a tree. As the leaf started falling towards the earth, he became enlightened. Now what happened?
Seeing the dead leaf falling on the wings of the wind, with no idea of its own, utterly relaxed, utterly surrendered to the winds, he had a glimpse. He must have been in a very vulnerable state. And from that very moment he became a dead leaf in the winds.
He surrendered his ego, he surrendered his clinging, he surrendered his own ideas of what should be and should not be. He surrendered all his mind, he simply became a let- go. And that's how he became enlightened.
Anything can trigger the process. The master only creates a thousand and one situations. Who knows what situation is going to trigger the process?
Here you are going through hundreds of groups, doing all kinds of meditations, because nobody can predict in what moment, in what situation, what is going to trigger the process. It has always happened in such a mysterious way, it is not a scientific phenomenon. It is not a question of cause and effect, otherwise things would have been easier. You heat the water to a hundred degrees and it becomes vapor - but it is not like that. A few people evaporate at zero degrees, a few people evaporate at a hundred degrees, a few people evaporate at one thousand degrees. People are not matter; people are consciousness, people are freedom, so nobody knows what will trigger the process.
Not even the master can say that this is going to trigger the process. He can arrange all kinds of devices and he can wait patiently, lovingly, compassionately, prayerfully, and you have to move through all kinds of devices.
I am talking to you. Any word may trigger it... or maybe just a pause may trigger it...
and suddenly the sleep is gone, the dreams have disappeared. You are born, spiritually born, twice-born. You have again become a child. That's what buddhahood is, that's what enlightenment is.
Narendra, you ask me, "Is there really no difference between an ordinary person and one who is enlightened?"
There is no difference in this sense: that both belong to the same world of consciousness. One is asleep, one is awake; hence the difference. But the difference is only peripheral, not central, not intrinsic, but accidental.
Respect the buddhas and that will teach you to respect yourself. Respect the buddhas, but don't condemn yourself. Love yourself because you are also carrying a buddha within you. You are also carrying a bud which is going to become a buddha. Any moment, any day... it can be now, it can be here....
The fifth question:
A GERMAN NEWSPAPER CALLED YOU THE MOST FAMOUS RELIGIOUS LEADER AFTER POPE PAUL AND KHOMEINI. HOW DO YOU FEEL IN THAT COMPANY?
Veet Vivarto, I would rather be in hell than be in that stupid company - Pope Paul the Polack and Khomeini the Khomeiniac! I have not done anything so sinful in my life to suffer that company. I have no karmas to be punished - that will be a punishment.
I have heard:
One mahatma, a great saint, died - must have been someone like Muktananda. One of his followers died the next day. When the follower reached heaven, the first thing that he was interested in was, "Where is our guru, our Muktananda? He must be enjoying - he must have been given all the joys that only heaven can provide."
And then suddenly he saw Muktananda underneath a beautiful tree... with whom, do you know? - with Sophia Loren! Sophia Loren sitting in his lap, both naked, hugging each other! The follower fell at the feet of Muktananda. He said, "Guru Deva, O Great Master, I always knew that you were the greatest master; now I am seeing with my own eyes. God is so pleased with you, he has given you Sophia Loren as a reward!"
Muktananda looked very angrily at the man and said, "You fool, stop talking nonsense!
You don't understand a thing. She is not my reward, I am her punishment!"
I have not committed any sin so I don't think that I belong to that company. I belong to very ordinary people - drunkards, gamblers, not to such stupid people, full of holy cow dung!
But that journalist must think he is praising me. That's what goes on in the world:
people are so unconscious that they don't know what praise is and what condemnation is. This is condemnation, not praise!
Khomeini is not religious at all. Khomeini is the most irreligious person present today.
And do you think Pope Paul is religious? If he is religious he cannot even be Catholic, what to say about being Pope Paul? He cannot be a pope. A religious person cannot be a Catholic or a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan. These are just politicians playing the same game of power politics in the name of religion.
I have seen the article. The article is one of the most positive articles written about me, except for this small condemnation. So the journalist is not really trying to condemn me; in his vision, in his idea, he is praising me as the third most important religious leader.
I am not religious in the ordinary sense of the word, and I am not a leader at all. I don't like leading anybody. Certainly I am a finger pointing at the moon, but I am not a leader. You have to do all your walking, I am not coming along with you. I am not going to be ahead of you leading you. You are not to follow me, you have to be your own self. I can simply share my experience.
If that experience touches something in you, if that experience makes you aware that life is not what you think it is, that it is far more, that's enough. If I can create a thirst in you, that's enough - a thirst for God. I am not a leader. If I can create enough thirst in you, then you will seek and search. And those who seek find, and those who search are bound to find, are absolutely, inevitably bound to find. All that is needed is an authentic thirst, a thirst in the very heart, in the very center of your being.
But these people are fast asleep. This journalist has never been here, he does not understand anything that I am saying. Otherwise he would not have compared me with Khomeini and Pope Paul.
The Prince of Wales was vacationing in Paris. After a sumptuous dinner and many drinks he asked the hotel manager for a beautiful young lady to keep him company during the night. The manager showed him to his room and sent him a young lady.
Although the prince was quite drunk he tried to make love with the lovely woman.
Each time he tried, however, she would cry out, "MATOUSKA! MATOUSKA!" After several attempts he fell asleep exhausted.
The next morning the prince went for a stroll to a nearby village where he noticed some boys shooting marbles into holes in the ground. Suddenly one of the boys shouted, "Matouska! Matouska!"
The prince, surprised to hear this word used again, was curious and asked what it meant.
One boy answered, "Matouska means the wrong hole."
What more can you expect from a man who is fast asleep and drunk? But he was doing his best - at least he was trying to make love.... Missing the target, that is another thing.
The sixth question:
WHAT IS A FATHER?
Anand Sugeet, a father is a Catholic priest - who is neither a husband nor a father; but Catholics are well known to do such strange things. Why they call their priests "father" is really strange. Pope also means "father"; it is another form of "papa."
Father Francesco and Father Viggiani were sitting in a grotto chatting.
"Do you think the pope will ever allow priests to marry?" asked Father Francesco.
"It won't happen in our time," replied Father Viggiani. "Maybe in our children's."
The seventh question:
CAN I ALSO BECOME THE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA?
My God, Tom! I believe you must be the same Tom - Tom the Tourist! Now great things are happening to you! Reading your question for the first time I understood the meaning of the word 'tomfoolery'. I had always wondered, why this word 'tomfoolery'?
Now I know.
Yes, you can be the president, only I think President Tom won't look right. Change your name to Banana, Tomato, Potato. Mr. Potato the President - what pure poetry! And I think you have the required qualifications for it. The first thing is, you have to be stupid.
You have seen what Jimmy Carter did just two days ago? When Vivek told Asheesh, Asheesh thought it was a joke... because our orange people don't read newspapers. Who cares about all this nonsense? But what he has done is so stupid one cannot believe it.
They must have sent their best people for this rescue mission, and what happened is really just great, far out! The two American planes crashed into each other and eight persons died and the rescue mission was canceled. Now the whole world is laughing!
But this is bound to happen when you make a peanut grower a president - this is bound to happen. What else can he do? His whole life he was growing peanuts, now he has grown up and become a nut himself!
So the first requirement is: you have to be stupid. If you are not, at least pretend to be.
That's what Nixon was trying to do; he was not that stupid, but he pretended long enough. But finally the Americans found out that he was not that stupid; they threw him out immediately. So don't be caught - continue doing something stupid. If you are caught, the same fate awaits you. Be like Ford, just pure stupidity, unadulterated!
The second requirement... that I have been trying to find for you. I have been doing great research since your question! The second requirement is: you need an ugly wife.
This is something strange. Nixon, Ford, Carter, they have such ugly ducklings. It is strange, it cannot be coincidental. Only Kennedy had a beautiful wife, and they killed him, remember. So avoid!
Now Reagan has every chance, because just the other day, I was looking at his wife's photograph. I said, "This man seems to have every possibility. Now he can defeat anyone - as far as his wife is concerned he can defeat Nixon, Ford, Carter, all." And they are sitting together on a sofa and the caption reads, "Reagan is being charged by his wife." I was simply wondering... this woman can DIScharge anybody! If you have such a wife you will renounce the world immediately! And Reagan is being charged by his wife....
So these two things I have found - stupidity and an ugly wife. And change your name:
become Reverend Banana, Reverend Tomato, Reverend Potato - anything will do. Tom does not look good, it is too ordinary; you need a special name, and then you can become the president. And you have toured enough now - go back home. This is the time! Carter is losing ground every day, don't miss this opportunity. Get married to an ugly woman, pretend to be stupid. Learn to laugh for no reason, no rhyme. Just exercise your lips, keep them open as much as possible. And I think you have every possibility, as any other American has. Don't waste your time here anymore, because you don't belong here. This is not the place. We don't prepare people to become presidents and prime ministers.
The last question:
BUDDHA SAYS, "THE MASTER GIVES UP MISCHIEF." BUT AS I KNOW YOU, YOU ARE PAR EXCELLENCE MASTER OF MISCHIEF! HAVE YOU SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT IT?
Dharma Bodhi, do you think I need to say something about it? But Buddha had no knowledge about me. When he said that, I was not included in it. When I make sutras, then you will see!
Enough for today.