Better than a hundred years
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF MISCHIEF IS ONE DAY SPENT IN CONTEMPLATION.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IGNORANCE IS ONE DAY SPENT IN REFLECTION.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IDLENESS IS ONE DAY SPENT IN DETERMINATION.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE DAY WONDERING HOW ALL THINGS ARISE AND PASS AWAY.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE HOUR SEEING THE ONE LIFE BEYOND THE WAY.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE MOMENT IN THE MOMENT OF THE WAY BEYOND THE WAY.
Gautama the Buddha has raised the most important question for all those who are capable of inquiring into truth, into life, into existence. The most important question of all questions is: What is true happiness? And is there a possibility to achieve it? Is true happiness possible at all, or is all momentary? Is life only a dream, or is there something substantial in it too? Does life begin with birth and end with death, or is there something that transcends birth and death? Because without the eternal there is no possibility of true happiness. With the momentary, happiness will remain fleeting: one moment it is here, the other moment gone, and you are left in great despair and darkness.
That's how it is in ordinary life, in the life of the unawakened. There are moments of bliss and there are moments of misery; it is all mixed, hodge-podge. You cannot keep those moments of happiness that come to you. They come on their own and they disappear on their own; you are not the master. And you cannot avoid the moments of misery; they too have their own persistence. They come on their own and they go on their own; you are simply a victim. And between these two - happiness and unhappiness - you are torn apart. You are never left in ease.
This being torn apart into all kinds of dualities.... The duality of happiness and unhappiness is the most fundamental and the most symptomatic, but there are a thousand and one dualities: the duality of love and hate, the duality of life and death, day and night, summer and winter, youth and old age, and so on, so forth. But the fundamental duality, the duality that represents all other dualities, is that of happiness and unhappiness. And you are torn apart, pulled into different, polar opposite directions. You cannot be at ease: you are in a dis-ease.
According to the buddhas man is a dis-ease. Is this dis-ease absolute - or can it be transcended?
Hence the basic and the most fundamental question is: What is true happiness?
Certainly the happiness that we know is not true; it is dream stuff and it always turns into its own opposite. What looks like happiness one moment turns into unhappiness the next.
Happiness turning into unhappiness simply shows that the two are not separate - maybe two aspects of the same coin. And if you have one side of the coin, the other is always there hidden behind it, waiting for its opportunity to assert - and you know it.
When you are happy, deep down somewhere is the lurking fear that it is not going to last, that sooner or later it will be gone, that the night is descending, that any moment you will be engulfed into darkness, that this light is just imaginary - it can't help you, it can't take you to the other shore.
Your happiness is not really happiness but only a hidden unhappiness. Your love is not love but only a mask for your hate. Your compassion is nothing but your anger - cultivated, sophisticated, educated, cultured, civilized, but your compassion is nothing else than anger. Your sensitivity is not real sensitivity but only a mental exercise, a certain attitude and approach practiced.
Remember: the whole humanity is being brought up with the idea that virtue can be practiced, that goodness can be practiced, that one can learn how to be happy, that one can manage to be happy, that it is within your power to create a certain character which brings happiness. And that is all wrong, utterly wrong.
The first thing to be understood about happiness is that it cannot be practiced. It has only to be allowed, because it is not something that you create. Whatsoever YOU create is going to remain something smaller than you, tinier than you. What YOU create cannot be bigger than you. The painting cannot be bigger than the painter himself and the poetry cannot be bigger than the poet. Your song is bound to be something smaller than you.
If you practice happiness you will be always there at the back, with all your stupidities, with all your ego trips, with all your ignorance, with all your chaos of the mind. With this chaotic mind you cannot create a cosmos, you cannot create grace. Grace always descends from the beyond; it has to be received as a gift in tremendous trust, in total surrender. In a state of let-go true happiness happens.
But we have been told to achieve, to be ambitious. Our whole mind has been cultivated to be that of an achiever. The whole education, culture, religion, they all depend on this basic idea that man has to be ambitious; only the ambitious man will be able to attain fulfillment. It has never happened, it will never happen, but so deep is the ignorance that we go on believing in this nonsense.
No ambitious person has ever been happy; in fact, the ambitious person is the unhappiest in the world. But we go on training children to be ambitious: "Be the first, be at the top, and you will be happy!" And have you ever seen anybody at the top AND happy together? Was Alexander happy when he became a world conqueror? He was one of the unhappiest men who has ever lived on the earth. Seeing the blissfulness of Diogenes he became jealous. Becoming jealous of a beggar...?
Diogenes was a beggar; he had nothing, not even a begging bowl. At least Buddha had a begging bowl with him and three robes. Diogenes was naked and with no begging bowl. In the beginning he used to carry a begging bowl; he must have got the idea from the East. He's exactly a man like Buddha, Mahavira - more like Mahavira. Mahavira also lived naked with no begging bowl; his hands were his begging bowl.
Diogenes was going to the river one day with his begging bowl. He was thirsty, it was hot, and he wanted to drink water. And then on the way, just when he was on the bank, a dog passed him by, running, panting, jumped into the river, had a good bath, drank to his heart's content. The idea arose in Diogenes' mind: "This dog is freer than me - he does not have to carry a begging bowl. And if he can manage, why can't I manage without a begging bowl? This is my only possession, and I have to keep an eye on it because it can be stolen. Even in the night once or twice I have to feel whether it is still there or gone."
He threw the begging bowl into the river, bowed down to the dog, thanked him for the great message that he had brought for him from God.
This man, who had nothing, created jealousy in Alexander's mind. How miserable he must have been! He confessed to Diogenes that, "If ever again God is giving me birth, I will ask him, 'This time, please don't make me Alexander - make me Diogenes.'" Diogenes laughed uproariously, and he called the dog - because they had become friends by now, they had started living together - he called the dog and he said, "Look, listen, what nonsense he is talking about! NEXT life he wants to be Diogenes! Why next life? Why postpone? Who knows about the next life? Even the next day is uncertain, the next moment is not certain - what to say about the next life! If you really want to be a Diogenes, you can be right this moment, herenow. Throw your clothes into the river!
Forget all about conquering the world! That is sheer stupidity and you know it.
"And you have confessed that you are miserable, and you have confessed that Diogenes is in a far better, more blissful state. So why not be a Diogenes right now? Lie down on the bank of the river where I am taking my sunbath! This bank is big enough for both of us."
Alexander could not accept the invitation, of course. He said, "Thank you for your invitation. Right now I cannot do it, but next life...."
Diogenes asked him, "Where are you going? And what will you do even if you have conquered the world?"
Alexander said, "Then I will rest."
Diogenes said, "This seems to be absolutely absurd - because I am resting right now!"
If Alexander is not happy, if Adolf Hitler is not happy, if Rockefellers and Carnegies are not happy, the people who have all the money of the world, if they are not happy, the people who have all the power in the world, if they are not happy....
Have you watched Jimmy Carter's photographs? All the smile has disappeared now; now those teeth are not showing. He had really a beautiful smile, but where has it all gone? He must have been far happier than he is now. Every day his face is becoming more and more sad; more and more anxiety, anguish, is being shown.
Just this morning I looked in the latest TIME. His face seems to have become too old just within these two years, as if he has aged twenty years. He must be suffering from nightmares. Where are all those hopes that he will be happy when he becomes the president?
Just watch people who have succeeded in the world and you will drop the idea of success. Nothing fails like success. Although you have been told that nothing succeeds like success, I say to you that nothing fails like success. Happiness has nothing to do with success, happiness has nothing to do with ambition, happiness has nothing to do with money, power, prestige. It is a totally different dimension.
Happiness has something to do with your consciousness, not with your character. Let me remind you. Character is again cultivation. You can become a saint and still you will not be happy, if your sainthood is nothing but a practiced sainthood. And that's how people become saints, Catholics, Jainas, Hindus. How do they become saints? They practice inch by inch, in detail, when to get up, what to eat, what not to eat, when to go to bed....
These people even come here sometimes and ask me why I don't give a certain discipline to my sannyasins. I give them consciousness, not character. I don't believe in character at all. My trust is in consciousness. If a person becomes more conscious, naturally his character is transformed. But that transformation is totally different: it is not managed by the mind - it is natural, it is spontaneous. And whenever your character is natural and spontaneous it has a beauty of its own; otherwise you can go on changing... you can drop your anger, but where will you drop it? You will have to drop it within your own unconscious. You can change one side of your life, but whatsoever you throw in will start expressing itself from some other corner. It is bound to be so.
You can block a stream with a rock; it will start flowing from somewhere else - you cannot destroy it. Anger is there because you are unconscious, greed is there because you are unconscious, possessiveness and jealousy are there because you are unconscious.
So I am not interested in changing your anger; that will be like pruning leaves of a tree and hoping that the tree will disappear one day. It is not going to be so; on the contrary, the more you prune the tree the thicker will be the foliage.
Hence your so-called saints are the unholiest persons in the world, pretenders, pseudo.
Yes, if you look from the outside they look very holy - too much holy, saccharin, too sweet, sickeningly sweet, nauseating. You can only go and pay your respect to them and escape. You can't live with your saints even for twenty-four hours - they will bore you to death! The closer you are to them, the more puzzled, perplexed, confused you will be, because you will start seeing that from one side they have forced anger: it has entered into another side of their life.
Ordinary people are angry once in a while, and their anger is very fleeting, very momentary. Then again they are laughing, again they are friendly; they don't carry wounds too long. But your so-called saints, their anger becomes almost a permanent affair; they are simply angry, not at anything in particular. They have repressed anger so much that now they are simply angry, in a state of rage. Their eyes will show, their noses will show, their faces will show, their very way of life will show....
Lu Ting ate at a Greek restaurant because Papadopoulos, the owner, made really good fried rice. Each evening he would come in he would order "flied lice."
This always caused Papadopoulos to fall down with laughter. Sometimes he would have two or three friends standing nearby just to hear Lu Ting order his "flied lice."
Eventually the Chinese's pride was so hurt that he took a special diction lesson just to be able to say "fried rice" correctly.
The next time he went to the restaurant he said very plainly, "Fried rice, please."
Unable to believe his ears, Papadopoulos asked, "What did you say?"
Lu Ting shouted, "You heard what I said, you fluckin' Gleek!"
It won't make much difference - from "flied lice" now it is "fluckin' Gleek"! You close one door, another immediately opens. This is not the way of transformation.
To change your character is easy; the real work consists in changing your consciousness, in becoming conscious - more conscious, more intensely and passionately conscious. When you are conscious it is impossible to be angry, it is impossible to be greedy, it is impossible to be jealous, it is impossible to be ambitious.
And when all anger, greed, ambition, jealousy, possessiveness, lust, disappear, the energy involved in them is released. That energy becomes your bliss. Now it is not coming from outside; now it is happening inside your being, in your innermost recesses of being.
And when this energy is available you become a receptive field, you become a magnetic field. You attract the beyond - you can call it "God." Buddha never calls it "God," he calls it "the beyond"; that is his name for God. When you become a magnetic field, when all the energy that is unnecessarily being wasted by you in your unconsciousness gathers, pools inside you, when you become a lake of energy, you start attracting the stars, you start attracting the beyond, you start attracting God himself.
And the meeting of your consciousness with the beyond is the point of bliss, true happiness. It knows nothing of unhappiness, it is pure happiness. It knows nothing of death, it is pure life. It knows nothing of darkness, it is pure light, and to know it is the goal. Gautama the Buddha went in search of this and one day, after six years' struggle, he attained to it.
You can also attain to it, but let me remind you: by saying that you can attain to it I am not creating a desire to attain it. I am simply stating a fact: that if you become a pool of immense energy, undistracted by any worldly thing, it happens. It is more a happening than a doing. And it is better to call it bliss than happiness, because happiness gives you the feeling as if it is something similar to that which you know as happiness. What you know as happiness is nothing but a relative state.
Benson went to Krantz's clothing store to buy himself a suit. He found just the style he wanted, so he took the jacket off the hanger and tried it on.
Krantz came up to him. "Yes, sir. It looks wonderful on you."
"It may look wonderful," said Benson, "but it fits terrible. The shoulders pinch."
"Put on the pants," said Krantz. "They are so tight, you will forget all about the shoulders!"
One day I saw Mulla Nasruddin walking on the road in great despair, almost ready to burst out crying. I asked him, "What is the matter? Why are you so miserable?"
He said, "My shoes are very small - I need two sizes bigger - and they hurt like hell."
I said, "Nasruddin, then why don't you change them?"
He said, "That I cannot do."
I asked him, "Why can't you? You have the money."
He said, "I have the money, but there is much more involved in it. The whole day I suffer from these shoes, and when in the evening I go home, I throw these shoes away and I fall on my bed... it is such a relief, as if one has come to paradise! And that is the only joy in my life! I cannot change these shoes - in twenty-four hours that is the only moment of joy. If I change these shoes, that moment will also disappear. Then there is nothing left."
What you call happiness is just a question of relativity. What buddhas call happiness is something absolute.
An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian were trying to define true happiness.
"True happiness," said the Englishman, "is when you return home tired after work and find a gin and tonic waiting for you."
"You English have no romance," countered the Frenchman. "True happiness is when you go on a business trip, find a pretty girl who entertains you, and then you part without regrets."
"You are both wrong," concluded the Russian. "Real true happiness is when you are home in bed at four o'clock in the morning and there is a hammering at the front door and there stand members of the secret police who say to you, 'Igor Zhvkovski, you are under arrest,' and you are able to reply, 'Sorry, Igor Zhvkovski lives next door!'" Your happiness is a relative phenomenon. What Buddha calls happiness is something absolute, unrelated to anybody else. It is not in comparison with somebody else; it is simply yours, it is inner. And it is a happening: the beyond descending in you, the ocean falling into the dewdrop. And when the ocean falls in the dewdrop, the dewdrop disappears, its boundaries disappear. It becomes as unbounded as the ocean itself; it becomes oceanic.
Bliss is an oceanic state... when you disappear as an ego, bounded, small, and become huge, enormous, as huge and enormous as the universe itself.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF MISCHIEF IS ONE DAY SPENT IN CONTEMPLATION.
As far as Buddha is concerned whatsoever you are doing is mischief. Why? Even if you are doing some religious ritual it is mischief. Even if you are doing something that you think is public service it is mischief. In fact, the public servants are the greatest mischievous people in the world. If the public servants disappear from the world, the world will be a far better place to live in. The social reformers and the political revolutionaries and the religious missionaries, these are the real mischief-mongers.
They don't allow you to live in peace, they go on dragging you from one stupidity into another. Of course they keep you occupied - that is their attraction.
You are afraid of being unoccupied because whenever you are unoccupied you have to face yourself, and that you want to avoid, because you have repressed so many uglinesses in you that to look inside is to look into hell. You don't want to look in. You are continuously escaping from yourself, so any escape is good.
Somebody says, "Become a public servant. Let service be your motto!" and you say, "Okay, so I will serve people." Whether they want to be served or not, that is not the point. Even if they don't want to be served you have to serve them against themselves.
Whether they want your truth or not, that is not the point. It has to be given, it has to be forced down their throats!
That has been done by the religious people: at the point of the sword people have been converted from one religion to another religion - against their will! They don't want to go to paradise, at least not to YOUR paradise, but you are bent upon sending them to paradise - your compassion is such that you are ready to kill them or be killed!
A missionary was teaching in a small school and he was saying that every Christian child should make it a point that at least one act of public service should be done per week. One small boy asked, "For example, what kind of things should we do?"
The missionary gave a few examples. He said, "For example, some old woman wants to cross the street and the traffic is too much - hold her hand, help her to cross the street."
And so on, so forth.
Next Sunday he inquired, "How many of you did some act of public service?"
Three boys - the strongest and the biggest in the class - stood up. They said, "We did one act of public service."
The missionary was very happy. "So you say...." He asked the first boy, "What did you do?"
He said, "I helped an old woman, a very old woman, to cross the street."
He patted the boy and he said, "You are a good boy. Go on doing such good acts." He asked the next boy, "What did you do?"
He said, "I also helped a very old woman to cross the street."
The missionary was a little puzzled that both could find two very old women, but there are many old women - it is possible. He patted the second boy also, but not so heartily.
With a little suspicion he said, "Good. Go on doing."
Then he asked the third.
The third said, "I also helped a very very old woman to cross the street."
Now it was too much! Such a coincidence can't be, that three very very old women wanted to cross the street. And he asked, "What day, what time?" It was the same day and the same time and the same street! So he said, "You please explain - how could you find three such very very old women?"
They said, "They were not three - it was only one woman, very very old. We all three helped her."
He said, "That too is good, but were three persons needed?"
They said, "Three? Although she was old, she made so much fuss because she never wanted to go to the other side! But we DID manage. When one has to do some public act, some public service, one has to do it. She was shouting and cursing and calling the policeman, but we were determined to do it and we did it!"
As far as Buddha is concerned, whatsoever you are doing is mischief because whatsoever you are doing is done out of unconsciousness. His definition of mischief is:
any act done unconsciously. And any act done consciously is virtue.
Your life is almost a vicious circle: one mischief leads to another and that one leads to still another. Mischiefs grow out of mischiefs - only mischiefs can grow out of mischiefs. And you go on living and moving in circles and you don't know what else to do. You do good - at least you think you are doing good - but the good never happens; otherwise the world would have been overflowing with good.
So many people are doing good - parents doing good to children, and where are the good children? Husbands are doing good to wives - and wives are really after husbands to transform them, to change them, to make them saints. But where are those husbands and where are those wives and where are those children? Everybody is trying to do good according to his own idea - and he himself is living in deep darkness.
But the idea that "I am doing good" helps your ego to be strengthened, although you go on moving in the same circle - because intelligence is needed to be original, to do something new. You know only a few things, a few tricks, and the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to learn new things.
They say you can't teach new tricks to old dogs....
Kramanakis immigrated to New York. He got a job through relatives who taught him to say "Apple pie and coffee" in English so he could order in a restaurant. The next day, Kramanakis walked into a diner.
"What'll you have?" asked the waitress.
"Apple-a pie anna coffee," said the immigrant.
Since that was all he could say he was forced to eat apple pie and coffee every day for a month. When he complained to his cousins, they taught him to say "ham sandwich."
Armed with the new addition to his vocabulary he said to the waitress, "Ham sandwich."
"White or rye?" asked the girl.
"Apple-a pie anna coffee," said the Greek.
Just watch your life: "Apple-a pie anna coffee, apple-a pie anna coffee...." You go on doing, repeating, the same thing, every day, day in, day out, year in, year out. Your whole life is a very small circle: the same anger, the same greed, the same fight, the same words, the same reasons, the same motives. Is this the way to grow? Is this the way to become conscious? Is this the way to know your original face? Are you hoping that moving in these small circles continuously, mechanically, robotlike, you will attain to bliss?
Drop all such hopes!
Rabbi Glucksman was seated next to a Baptist minister on a flight to New York. The stewardess approached them and said, "May I serve you a cocktail?"
"I will take a whisky sour," said the rabbi.
"And you, Reverend?" asked the hostess.
"Young lady," said the clergyman, "before I let liquor touch my lips I would just as soon commit adultery."
"Miss," said Rabbi Glucksman, "as long as there is a choice, I will have what he is having."
Not only do you go on moving in the same small circles, you repeat, you imitate other people and their stupidities. You are constantly repeating, you are constantly looking around at what is being done by whom. You don't live a life from within; you are imitators. Your whole interest is exhibition: how to show that you are better than others, how to show that you are richer than others, how to show that you are more intelligent than others. In fact, it is only the unintelligent person who ever compares himself with others. The really intelligent never compares, because each individual is unique and comparison is impossible.
Mrs. Zimmer hired an interior designer to have the house redecorated.
"Alright," said the decorator, "how would you like it done? Modern?"
"Me, modern? No!" said Mrs. Zimmer.
"How about French?"
"French? Where would I come to a French house?"
"Perhaps Italian Provincial?"
"Well, madam, what period do you want?"
"What period? I want my friends to walk in, take one look, and drop dead, period!"
People are living just to impress. They must be really very poor inside, because only people suffering from inferiority complex want to impress others. A really superior person never compares himself with anybody else. He knows he is incomparable; not only that, he knows others are also as incomparable as he is. He is neither superior nor inferior.
This tremendous revolution is possible only by one secret key, and that is becoming more alert. The more alert you are, the less you repeat. The more alert you are, you find new ways of doing things, you find new styles of living your life. The more alert you are, the more creative you are, and only creative people know what happiness is. What you create is not the point - just being creative. It may be poetry, it may be music, it may be sculpture, it can be anything, but just the process of being creative brings you to the point where you meet God.
All the religions of the world say God is the creator. If he is really the creator, then the only way to meet him will be to become a creator in some measure. Of course you can't be a creator like God, but you can be a small creator in your own way. When the poet is creating, when the painter is creating, in those moments of creativity they are one with God. Those are the moments when they know what God is. But poets and painters and sculptors are only in those heights for moments, only for moments do they know those plenitudes.
The mystic, the buddha, the master, lives on that height twenty-four hours a day, because his creativity is subtle; his creativity is not visible, his creativity is invisible. He creates consciousness. First he creates consciousness in himself, then he starts creating consciousness in others.
That's how the master and the disciple gather together, that's how a buddhafield is created. That's how thousands of seekers surround a buddha... because he creates something that cannot be seen but can only be felt by those in whom the buddha has penetrated, in whose heart he has stirred something dormant and has made it dynamic.
A buddha creates consciousness first in himself and then in those who are ready and available and trusting and surrendered.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF MISCHIEF IS ONE DAY SPENT IN CONTEMPLATION. 'Contemplation' is not the right word; but that is a problem, how to translate Eastern insight into Western languages. Contemplation means thinking of one subject concentratedly. That is not what Buddha means when he uses the word DHYANA. Dhyana means a state of no-mind, a state of no-thought; it is just the opposite of contemplation. Contemplation cannot be the right word to translate it. But I can understand the problem, the difficulty of the translators - there are no other words.
Dhyana is one of those words which cannot be translated.
It was very intelligent of Chinese translators that they left the word unchanged. Dhyana became CH'AN in China; they never translated it. It took a little different form because dhyana is Sanskrit. Buddha used not Sanskrit but a local language of Bihar, Pali. In Pali dhyana is JHAN; in Chinese it became ch'an, left untranslated because Chinese translators came to understand that it cannot be translated; better to describe it rather than translate it. And so it happened in Japan: when it reached Japan, ch'an became Zen; first jhan and then ch'an and then Zen - but it was left untranslated.
The best thing will be for Western languages also to leave a few words untranslated, because you don't have any equivalent, and whatsoever words you have, have their own connotations.
Dhyana is not contemplation; contemplation is the purest form of thinking. Dhyana is going beyond thought, beyond the purest even, coming to a state where all thought ceases. You are utterly conscious, but there is no content to your consciousness.
Buddha says: BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF MISCHIEF IS ONE DAY SPENT IN CONTEMPLATION. Just one day is enough; if a person can remain in dhyana for twenty-four hours that's enough - he will become a buddha. But it is immensely difficult to remain twenty-four hours in dhyana.
Mahavira has said: Even if one can remain for forty-eight minutes - and my calculation is also exactly the same - if one can remain in a state of no-mind continuously for forty- eight minutes, that's enough to become enlightened.
But the ordinary mind cannot remain alert even for a few seconds, what to say of minutes! You try: just sit silently, keep a watch close by, and you will be surprised that even seconds are not without thoughts. Only once in a while for a split second there is no thought. But the moment you see there is no thought, this thought arises: you say, "Aha!" - finished! You say, "There is no thought!" and the mind has played a trick upon you, it has come from the back door. And if you listen silently you will see the mind laughing - it has deceived you! No-thought is still a thought, the idea of no-thought is still a thought.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IGNORANCE IS ONE DAY SPENT IN REFLECTION.
By "ignorance" Buddha does not mean absence of knowledge. Because the knowledgeable person is not the goal, so ignorance has to be understood in a new way - - with Buddha's meaning, with his color, with his fragrance. We call a person ignorant because he is uneducated: he cannot read, he cannot write, he does not know the three R's, he is not informed at all, he is very primitive. We call him ignorant. And we call him, the man who has a B.S., M.S., Ph.D.... and you know the meaning? B.S. means bullshit, M.S. means more of same, Ph.D. means piled high and deep. We call that man a man of knowledge. These are the people who fill our universities. And if you really want to see their faces, go and attend some convocation. Then you will see all the buffoons parading in black gowns, in strange hats.... These people are thought to be knowledgeable.
When Buddha says "ignorant" he simply means a person who does not know himself. It is not a question of becoming more informed or less informed, educated or uneducated.
Kabir is not ignorant although he is uneducated. Kabir has said: MASI KAGAD CHHUYO NAHIN - I have never touched paper or ink. And that is how it is: he never touched paper or ink, he was not able to read or write.
When somebody asked Kabir, "You can't read - you have not read the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, and all the great scriptures?" Kabir laughed and said, "LIKHA-LIKHI KI HAI NAHIN - the truth has nothing to do with the scriptures because it has never been written and cannot be written. It is not written anywhere! It is unexpressed, so what is the point of reading the scriptures? The scriptures themselves say: I have heard that it cannot be expressed. Then what is the point?"
But Kabir is not ignorant. Buddha will recognize Kabir as a buddha. Kabir IS a buddha, so is Farid, so is Raidas, so is Mohammed, so is Christ. Christ is also absolutely uneducated; Mohammed is also absolutely uneducated, uninformed.
Then ignorance has a totally different meaning: not absence of the so-called knowledge but absence of self-knowledge. Not knowing oneself is ignorance. Then you can know all: you can become a walking ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, but that won't help.
If you know yourself, then you are a man of wisdom.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IGNORANCE IS ONE DAY SPENT IN REFLECTION. And reflection has to be understood literally. Again, in English reflection has the meaning of contemplation, thinking. Buddha means literally reflection - as the moon is reflected in the lake, your face is reflected in a mirror. Be so silent, without any waves, without even a ripple; let your consciousness become a lake, utterly silent, undisturbed, so that the whole sky, the whole firmament, can be reflected in you.
Being in a state of no-mind you become a mirror, you start reflecting that which is.
And that's what God is... this total existence with its immense beauty and benediction.
If you are a mirror, it will be reflected in you, and that will make you wise, that will make you a master, that will make you the awakened one.
But people go on believing what others have said. Beliefs are not going to help you.
Beliefs are poisonous; they keep you blind. Because of your beliefs you never inquire on your own. And your beliefs are false, they are not really trust; a belief can only be superficial. You can believe in the Gita or the Koran or the Bible, but deep down the doubt persists; it is not so easy to uproot the doubt.
The doubt is uprooted only when YOU know. How can it be uprooted if Jesus knows?
How can it be uprooted if Mohammed knows? He MAY know, but who knows whether he is right or wrong, and who knows that he is not deceived, and who knows he's not deceiving others? What guarantee is there? What is the proof that Buddha is right?
Except that Buddha says, "I have attained," there is no other proof. But that is going in circles, that is the question itself: How to believe that Buddha is right? And we have only one proof: Buddha says, "I have arrived." But how to believe that what he says is right?
Deep down the doubt will persist; your belief will be only a cover-up. It is like you have a wound oozing with pus, stinking, and you cover it with roses - but deep down in the roses the pus is accumulating. The roses will not be able to transform it. They can hide it for a few moments, their fragrance may not let others know the stink that is arising out of the wound, but how long...? Sooner or later they will be stinking too! Rather than roses changing your pus, your pus will change the roses. And that's what happens: belief never transforms your doubt, your doubt transforms your belief itself.
The young rabbi finally decided that he must talk to the richest member of his congregation, no matter how much it hurt.
"Why," asked the rabbi, "must you fall asleep when I am preaching?"
"Let me explain something," answered the millionaire. "Would I fall asleep if I did not trust you?"
That's what has happened to millions of people: they have fallen asleep because they trust; there is no need to be awake. Buddha knows - what is the need for you to be awake? Christ knows - it is enough for you to be a Christian, there is no need to be a Christ.
But I say to you: unless you are a Christ nothing is going to happen. By being a Christian you are simply deceiving yourself and others, and you are wasting precious time, because in the same time you can become Christ himself. Don't remain satisfied by being Christians or Hindus or Jainas or Buddhists. Become a Buddha, become a Christ, become a Mohammed, become a Mahavira! Less than that is not going to help, less than that is not liberation.
And that is possible through reflection. If you become a no-mind, the whole that surrounds you will be reflected in you. And when YOU will know, then only you will know, and that knowing disperses all doubts. When all doubts have gone within your heart, all darkness disappeared and you are full of light, then life has been lived, life has been known. That is bliss. The beyond has reached to you, you have reached the beyond. Now God is within you and you are within God.
BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IDLENESS IS ONE DAY SPENT IN DETERMINATION.
Again there is some possibility of misunderstanding because of the translation. Buddha does not mean by "determination" what is meant in English by the word. He means decisiveness, not determination. Determination gives you a feeling of will, willpower.
Determination gives you the idea of deciding through the mind. Decisiveness is a totally different phenomenon: it is of the heart. Not that you have decided by the mind, but your heart feels a kind of commitment - it is a love affair.
In love you don't determine. You don't say to your woman that, "I have determined to love you." Or do you say it? If you say to some woman, "I have pulled all my energy together; I have created a great determination in myself that I am going to love you," that woman will never see you again... because love and determination means love is false. Love has a decisiveness about it, a commitment, an involvement, but not determination. It has no will; in fact, even if you want to determine against it you cannot. It is a mad, mad thing.
So is religion: it is not a question of determination, it is a question of falling in love with this tremendous beauty of existence. It is falling in love with this mysterious world.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE DAY WONDERING HOW ALL THINGS ARISE AND PASS AWAY.
If you can wonder you are going to fall into love. Each child is born wondering... and we destroy his wonder sooner or later. By the time a child is four we have killed, massacred his wonder. And the method that we use to kill his wonder is: we start stuffing him with information.
D.H. Lawrence, one of the great men of insight of this age, was walking in a garden with a small child. And as small children ask, the child asked, "Can you tell me one thing - why the trees are green?"
Now such questions can be asked only either by children or by mystics, either by children or by buddhas. What kind of question is this? You will never ask it, because it will look so foolish to ask why trees are green. And in fact you already know why they are green; you know, because it is chlorophyll that makes them green.
D.H. Lawrence also knew about chlorophyll. He could have said it to the child, and children are very easily trusting.... If you say, "It is because of this," they will say, "Okay." And in fact, they don't much care about the answer; by the time you are answering them they have become interested in some other question. They are intrigued by something else - a butterfly, a flower, a cloud floating in the sky. They have already bypassed the question.
When a child asks he does not ask to be answered, remember. When a child asks he is simply talking out loud to himself, he is thinking out loud, he is wondering out loud, that's all. When he says, "Why are the trees green?" he is not saying it inside, he is thinking aloud. It is not really a question. He is puzzled by the mystery, he is wondering WHY the trees are green, he is not waiting for any answer; it is pure wonder, he is intrigued.
D.H. Lawrence is a great poet, a great novelist - almost on the verge of being a mystic.
Had he been in India, had he been in the East, he would have become a buddha. About these two persons I feel very certain they would have become buddhas if they had been in the East: Friedrich Nietzsche and D.H. Lawrence. About these two persons I feel absolutely certain. They were so much on the verge, just one step more....
Lawrence looked at the trees, stood there in silence with closed eyes for a few seconds, then told the child, "The trees are green because they are green." And the child was satisfied. But Lawrence continued to think, "What kind of answer is this that I have given to the child? - the trees are green because they are green. It is a tautology. It is illogical!" But it is tremendously significant. Lawrence is saying that life is a mystery to be lived, a reality to be experienced, not a question to be answered, not a problem to be solved. It is so.
That's how Buddha used to say it to his disciples: his word is TATHATA, suchness. If you had asked him the same thing he would have said, "Such is the case. Trees are green... it is so." Nothing more can be said about it - because the more said, the more you become informed, knowledgeable, the less is the possibility to know. "It is so" - it does not close the door to you, it simply opens the door of the mystery.
Buddha says: BETTER TO LIVE ONE DAY WONDERING HOW ALL THINGS ARISE AND PASS AWAY. If you can attain again your childhood wonder you will be my sannyasins. I am not here to help you to know more, I am here to help you to WONDER more. And the only way to wonder more is to take away all your knowledge. Your knowledge is a disturbance in your wondering. It does not allow you to wonder, because before you wonder it immediately supplies you with an answer. It is because of scientific knowledge that man has lost his immense quality, his great quality of wonder.
And that is the greatest treasure a man has got. No animal wonders; it is only man who is given the gift to wonder.
Real religion is rooted in wondering and real religion helps you to wonder more and more and more. A moment comes in the life of the mystic when he becomes simply wonder. Each small thing fills him with tremendous wonder... a pebble on the shore, a seashell, the cry of a distant cuckoo, a lonely star in the evening, ANYTHING... a child giggling, a woman crying tears of joy, anything... just the wind passing through the pine trees, the sound of running water, anything... and he is full of wonder. God comes to him as wonder, God comes to him as mystery.
If you sit by the side of a mystic, don't sit to learn more from him. Sit to drop all knowledge. Sit by the side of a mystic to be filled by his wonder, to become a child again. Jesus says: Unless you are born again you shall not enter into my kingdom of God. Again he says: Unless you are like small children you will not enter into my kingdom of God. He is talking about the same wonder.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE HOUR SEEING THE ONE LIFE BEYOND THE WAY.
Each sutra is so tremendously significant! Meditate on each word. And Buddha is progressing very slowly so that you can absorb the spirit. First he says: dhyana, a state of no-mind. Then he says: the mirrorlike quality of your consciousness, which is a by- product of dhyana. Then he says: decisiveness - a love affair, your heart falling in tune with existence. Then he says: wondering. And now he says: seeing.
The eyes that can see grow in wonder - not in knowledge, not through scripture, but through innocence. Become mystified with existence!
Our whole education is based on demystifying existence. The pedagogue believes that one day we will have destroyed the whole mystery of existence because we will have gathered all the answers for all the questions. This is the most irreligious belief there is - - and your education creates irreligion. Your education, even if it is called religious education, is not religious because it demystifies existence, it supplies you with answers.
Real religion takes away all the answers, makes your questions bigger and bigger, and finally transforms your questions into wonder, into a quest. And in wonder, if you can live in wonder, you will attain to that insight, those eyes, which can see.
This seeing has been called in the East DARSHAN - seeing with innocence, looking with innocence. Then just a nazunia flower by the side of the hedge is enough... and you are transported into another world. Then you will dance when the clouds are raining, you will dance in the rain and you will know something of buddhahood. Then you will dance in the full-moon night and you will know something of buddhahood. Then you will dance around a rosebush because the roses have bloomed, and you will know something of buddhahood. Your life will become a constant singing, dancing, celebration.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE HOUR SEEING THE ONE LIFE BEYOND THE WAY. Then one hour is enough, there is no need to live for millions and millions of lives, because it is not a question of length, how long you live. The West is too much concerned with length. Make people live longer: a hundred years, a hundred and fifty years, two hundred years, three hundred years. And it is possible, because there are a few people who live....
In the Kashmir valley there is a small tribe: they live very easily up to a hundred and fifty. And in Russia there are many people who have gone beyond a hundred and fifty.
There are a few people who are a hundred and eighty and one person who is two hundred years old. Now scientists are continuously searching: what are the secrets?
Why do these people live so long? What do they eat? What do they drink? What is their pattern of life? Why do they live so long? And sooner or later they will find the secrets and man will live three hundred years, four hundred years, five hundred years. You are very fortunate that they have not found the secrets yet! Just think of yourself living three hundred years - seventy is enough to make one fed up with life!
And remember, suicide is not allowed yet anywhere. To commit suicide is the greatest crime, if you are caught before committing it. Of course if you have committed, then it is finished; nobody can catch hold of you. They cannot punish your ghost! Just think of yourself living seven hundred years.... Within seventy years all is finished - life is so futile. To live for seven hundred years will be sheer torture and they won't allow you to die.
Now there are many people hanging between life and death, particularly in America and in Europe - more in America. They are not alive, because they cannot move, they cannot do anything, they cannot even think, they cannot eat. Everything is being done by others; they are just lying down on the beds, on oxygen. They may not even have their own heart - maybe a plastic heart pumping their blood. They may not have kidneys; machines may be doing their work.
Now, these people are called alive! They are neither alive nor dead - and it is better to be this way or that. Hanging in between, they are in a kind of limbo. But the West is very much interested, mind as such is very much interested, in lengthening life. But those who know, they are not interested in long life; they are interested in intensifying life, in making it more intense, total.
That's why Buddha says: BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF MISCHIEF IS ONE DAY SPENT IN dhyana. BETTER THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OF IGNORANCE IS ONE DAY SPENT IN mirrorlike REFLECTION. BETTER TO LIVE ONE DAY WONDERING HOW ALL THINGS ARISE AND PASS AWAY. BETTER TO LIVE ONE HOUR SEEING THE ONE LIFE BEYOND THE WAY.
If you can allow wonder to happen, then sooner or later out of your wonder will grow eyes, new eyes - not these eyes which can see only objects but eyes which can see the invisible, that life which is beyond. Call it divine life, eternal life, or whatsoever name you prefer.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE MOMENT....
See, Buddha is going continuously to make it shorter and shorter: from a hundred years to one moment.
BETTER TO LIVE ONE MOMENT IN THE MOMENT OF THE WAY BEYOND THE WAY.
It is enough to live in a single moment, but totally herenow - no past, no future - your whole energy diving deep in the herenow is enough to have the taste of God, to have the taste of truth: truth which is of the way and yet beyond the way.
AES DHAMMO SANANTANO - this is the eternal law. If one can live in wonder, seeing, totally in the moment, one has come home. Bliss happens, descends, you are overflooded with bliss and benediction. It is not your creation, it comes as a gift from the beyond.
Enough for today.
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4