Life is not given ready-made - not to humanity at least. That is the dignity of human beings, and the danger too. All other animals are born ready-made, preprogrammed.
Their whole life is a simple unfoldment of something built-in. They need not live their lives consciously; their life is unconscious, it is mechanical. It can't be good, it can't be bad; it simply is. You cannot call a tree a sinner or a saint, and you cannot call a tiger or cat virtuous or full of vice. Those words are meaningless as far as existence below humanity is concerned. They become immensely significant referred to man.
Man has a special situation. He is born like all other animals, with a difference - a difference that really makes a difference. The difference is of tremendous value to understand, because one may go on avoiding it and to avoid it is to avoid your true life.
There is every possibility to remain oblivious of it, because it seems more convenient and more comfortable not to be reminded of it. To be reminded of it means a great challenge: a challenge to adventure into the unknown, into that which is not preprogrammed.
God is not a built-in possibility; it is an open opportunity. It can happen, it may not happen. It all depends on you - how you live, how much consciousness you bring to your life, how nonmechanical you become.
Millions of people don't want to be reminded of this dimension at all; hence their antagonism against Buddha, Christ, Socrates. These people - Buddha, Christ, Socrates - - goad you, they don't allow you to sleep comfortably. They bring the point again and again to your awareness that this is not the right way to live, that you are missing life.
This is not human life that you are living, this is animal life.
And sometimes you can fall even below animals. No animal can become a Genghis Khan or Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, because animals have no choice. They can't become Buddhas, they can't become Genghis Khans either. They remain whatsoever they are; they can't move anywhere else. They have a life already arranged; they will simply follow the course.
Their life is like a movie: when you see it for the first time you are immensely interested, curious what is going to happen next but in fact, nothing is going to happen - the film is already preprogrammed. Next time you don't feel so interested because you know already what is going to happen next. The third time you are bored, and if you are forced to see it a fourth time you will rebel, and if you have to see it a fifth time you may go mad. The same film.... Because now you know everything is already there, nothing is happening; the film is simply repeating a certain course.
Animals are like films - already made, unfolding whatsoever is built-in. Man lives in a world of choice; hence man has to decide what life he wants to live. He can fall below the animals, he can rise above the angels. He can exist accidentally or he can exist with a decisiveness.
It is through decisiveness that the soul is born. If you exist accidentally, like driftwood, you live without a soul; your life is not much of a life. It is pseudo, it is lukewarm; it has no intensity; it has no flame; it has no light. You cannot experience the truth. Living accidentally, knowing the truth is impossible. One has to be so decisive, so committed, so consciously involved with life, so intensely adventurous, that all is at stake every moment. One has to be creative - not only unfolding, but creative.
This is man's privilege, his prerogative, and also his danger. Very few people will choose the life of choice, commitment, involvement, because it is dangerous, because the sea is uncharted and you don't have any map. You have a very small boat and the sea is very stormy and who knows whether the other shore exists or not? Why leave the shelter on this shore? Remain here.
Buddha says millions of people simply go up and down on this shore, running hither and thither, just creating an appearance as if their life is a pilgrimage - and they are simply running up and down on the same shore. It is not a pilgrimage; it is mere occupation, befooling others and befooling yourself.
The pilgrimage begins when you leave this shore, its shelter, its security, its convenience, its comfort, its respectability, power, prestige. You leave your small boat at the mercy of the storms, at the mercy of the ocean, trusting that if this shore exists the other MUST exist, because one shore cannot exist....
With this trust - moving towards the other shore, risking all - real life begins. And real life is religious life. Real life is what I mean by sannyas. Life lived consciously is the only life; life lived unconsciously is mere existence. Animals only exist, they don't live; only man can live. But all men don't live either; only a few buddhas, a few awakened ones.
Become alert to what you are doing with your life. Are you really moving consciously, with a sense of direction - taking each step deliberately, in full awareness of why, to where? Or are you just imitating others? If they are running, you are running; if they are after money, you are after money; if they are after power, you are after power. Are you just imitators? Then your life will be imitation. Are you simply following others? Then your life will be a carbon copy. You will never know your original face.
And your original face is the face of God. But that original face has to be discovered with tremendous effort. With great risk one can actualize what is just a seed in you, one can make actual what is only potential. And then man is infinite; otherwise man is very small, ugly.
A life lived unconsciously cannot be beautiful, a life lived unconsciously cannot have freedom. And without freedom, how can there be any beauty? Beauty is a shadow of freedom. A life lived unconsciously can only be mediocre, mundane, superficial. Only with consciousness does your life start deepening; it attains a new dimension, the dimension of depth. And the dimension of depth is the dimension of the divine.
God is not somewhere else, but in your own depths, in your own ultimate depths. Truth is not to be found somewhere else; it has to be searched and looked for withinwards.
Truth is not something of the mind; otherwise it would have been very easy to attain it.
Mind is a machine.
The great Western philosopher, the father of Western philosophy, Aristotle, defines man as a rational being, but his definition cannot be applicable to the millions. It is not even applicable to himself, because he is not a buddha. A very clever man, very logical, but without any consciousness. He lived his own life as unconsciously as anyone can live. He had two wives, and he writes in his book that women have less teeth than men.
Having two wives he could have counted any time - but this was a superstition, very prevalent in Greece in those days. The male chauvinist mind cannot allow women to have anything equal to men, not even teeth! He never bothered to count - what kind of rationality is this?
In fact, unless you are conscious, you can't be rational either. To live rationally means to live consciously, to live meditatively. And the moment you can live meditatively, you cannot only live rationally, you can live suprarationally - because life is not only reason, life is far more than that. Reason is only one of its dimensions, and life is multidimensional.
Life plus consciousness, and you start becoming a buddha. Existence plus consciousness, and you start attaining life. Consciousness is the whole chemistry, the alchemy. Life plus consciousness, and you are entering into the temple of God.
Existence plus consciousness, and you enter into the temple of life. But if you live without consciousness you don't have life, you don't have God. If you have life you cannot miss God for long, because life is the first ray of God.
But people merely exist, they vegetate; they think they are already alive. This belief prevents them from creating life. When you are born, you are born only as an opportunity, as a space where life can grow. But it is not inevitable - and it is good that it is not inevitable. If it was inevitable, man would have been a machine as all other animals are.
It is tremendously significant to remember that existence has bestowed on you a great gift, and the gift is that you are born as a tabula rasa, nothing is written on you - you are born as a clean slate. Now you have to write something on it. You can write something imitating others, borrowed; you can write Vedas on it, Gitas, Korans, Bibles, but you will miss the whole thing. You destroyed a great opportunity.
You have to write your own song - not the song of Krishna and not the song of Christ, but your OWN song! You have to sing your own heart, only then will you be fulfilled.
But people are simply repeating like parrots; hence they become very knowledgeable and still remain foolish, still remain ignorant.
Saint Augustine divides humanity into two categories; those categories are significant.
The first category he calls "knowledgeable ignorance." There are people who know too much and yet know nothing; their knowledge is all borrowed. Nothing has arisen in them, nothing has happened to them; they are simply repeating others. They may be very clever in repeating it, very efficient in repeating it, but they are functioning like computers. They are not yet human beings; humanity is not yet born in them. Their knowledge knows nothing, it is a pretension.
The universities are full of such people, and the world respects these people very much because knowledge is power. They know, that is the prevalent idea, and they are powerful. And in a certain sense the idea is true: a man who knows physics is more powerful than the man who does not know, but as far as his own life is concerned he is as ignorant as anybody else. There is no difference between the villager and the university professor as far as self-knowing is concerned - and that is the real treasure.
There is knowledge which knows not, and, Augustine says, there is also an ignorance which knows. What is the ignorance he is talking about, that knows? The ignorance of the innocent. The innocent person has cleaned his mind completely of all borrowed knowledge.
Meditation is nothing but a device to clean the mind, to give a shower to your inner being, so that all the dust, the so-called knowledge, is taken away and you are left clean, fresh, young. This is what Jesus says: Unless you are born again you will not enter into my kingdom of God.
This is what in the East we used to call the phenomenon of the DWIJ - twice-born. All brahmins are not dwij, but all dwijas are brahmins. All brahmins are not twice-born, but all twice-borns are brahmins. Christ is a brahmin, Mohammed is a brahmin. The brahmin is one who has known Brahman, one who has known the ultimate life, but the secret is, you will have to be born again.
What does it mean? It means you will have to die to your knowledge - borrowed, imitative, mechanical - and you will have to be again innocent as you were when you were born the first time. But the first childhood is bound to be lost; nobody can protect it. It is in the nature of things that the first childhood will be lost. But the second childhood can be attained, and with the second childhood starts life. Before that you were merely existing. With the second birth you are entering into the real mystery of that which is.
Let me remind you: don't take life for granted. It has to be created, and it can be created only by choosing freely, by choosing on your own. Yes, there is a possibility you may go astray, there is a possibility you may commit errors, mistakes. But nothing to be worried about - mistakes and errors and going astray, they are all part of growth. It is only by committing mistakes that one learns, it is only by going astray that one comes back to the right path.
Those who never go astray remain impotent. Those who never commit any mistake because of fear, they never do anything - because if you do, there is a possibility you may commit some mistake. Afraid of committing mistakes, they never do anything. But without doing anything, how can you grow? You will remain hollow, you will not get any crystallization, you will not have any soul. You will be dead, you will be a corpse - walking, breathing, talking, but you will be a corpse because you will not have the taste of life eternal.
The first thing to be remembered is that we are not yet born. One birth happens through the parents, through the mother. The second birth happens when you are in intimate relationship with a master, with a buddha. The second birth happens in a buddhafield:
the buddha becomes the womb. The master is the womb for the disciple. The disciple enters into the womb of the master, disappears into the master and is born again.
It is through this new birth that you start being conscious. You believe that you are conscious... because you can come back every evening to your home from the office, so you think you are conscious. Because you can do certain things, you think you are conscious. Now there are robots, machine-men, which can do all the things that you are doing.
Now there is a possibility that soon there will be planes - they are already in existence, not yet used; soon they will be used - which will not have any pilots, and there will be trains without any drivers. Theoretically they are possible now. The machine will do it all. Then you will be very much surprised: you have been doing these things and you were thinking that you are conscious because you do these things. By doing a certain thing one does not become conscious.
Consciousness is doing a thing with a new flavor. Doing it, in itself, is not consciousness, but doing it with a witness inside; watching, observing, knowing that you are doing it - that is consciousness, and that is rebirth.
Bryant caught a tiny fish which suddenly began to speak. "I am really an elf and if you release me I will grant you and your wife any three wishes."
So the Irishman released the fish, rushed home and told his wife. The couple were anxious to get to town and look at things to wish for, so the wife decided to make a quick dinner out of a can of beans. But she could not find the can opener and said, "I wish I had a can opener." Kazam! She had a can opener.
"You wasted one wish on that stupid can opener," screamed Bryant. "I wish it was up your ass!"
And the sad part of the story is that they had to use the third and last wish to get it out again.
This is the way you are living, this is the way the whole humanity is living: not knowing what you are saying, not knowing what you are doing, not knowing at all - just haphazardly stumbling, groping. And this continues from the beginning to the very end.
Your whole life becomes a grammar of unconsciousness, a language of unconsciousness. And through this language, the layer of this language, you look at life - and everything is misinterpreted, distorted.
Business partners Slutsky and Gross were fishing in a small rowboat on a lake in the Catskills. Suddenly a storm came up, the boat capsized, and while Slutsky began to swim, Gross floundered and sputtered helplessly. He was sinking.
"Say," said Slutsky, swimming away, "can you float alone?"
"I am drowning," sputtered Gross, "and he is talking business!"
The old language, "Can you float a loan?" - the language of business. He understands only one language. Now, even in such a situation, what is said to him will be understood the way he can understand. We don't understand what is said; we understand what we can understand. We don't understand what we see; we see only what we can see.
Old man Bernstein lay dying. The entire family had gathered around the deathbed. In a soft, feeble voice, he inquired, "Is Sol here?"
"Yes, Papa," said his eldest son.
"Is Lester here?"
"Yes, Dad!" answered the boy.
"Is Eli here?"
"I am right here!" said the youngest son.
"If you are all here," said Bernstein, "who is minding the store?"
And now he is dying - the last moments! Even at the moment of death he is thinking of who is minding the store.
From birth to death you go on living, groping in darkness with no light - and you could have created the light. You cannot find it in the scriptures; nobody can hand it to you. It is not purchased or sold; it is nontransferable. But you can create it - you can put all your energies together. You can start living consciously from this very moment.
For example, you are listening to me. You can listen in a sleepy way... because you are here, and I am uttering a few words, and you have ears and your ears function, so those words strike your eardrums and some noise is made - and of course you hear. But this is not listening, it is only hearing. It is not listening.
Listening means you are alert, watchful, on your toes, drinking with no mind to distort; with no inner noise, with no chattering, utterly silent; not sleepy, very wakeful, very awake; as if your house is on fire, as if everything can be taken away any moment and this is no time to sleep. When your house is on fire you cannot sleep - or can you?
When your house is on fire you cannot be sleepy; you will be alert, very alert.
The first statement that Buddha made after he left his palace was, "My house is on fire.
Now I cannot live anymore in unconsciousness." There was nobody except his charioteer. The old man looked at the palace; he didn't see any flames there, the house was not on fire. He thought, "The prince has gone crazy!" He was an old man, an old servant, of the same age as Buddha's father. He had seen Buddha from the first day he was born; Buddha used to respect the old man.
The old man said, "What nonsense you are talking! Al-though my eyes are becoming weak, I am becoming old, but I don't see any flames. The house is perfectly okay, there is no fire!"
Buddha said, "Yes, I see - you may not see - my house is on fire, because each and every moment death is possible. Now I cannot remain in this sleepy state anymore."
The old man shrugged his shoulders. He said, "You are saying just insane things!"
When he had to leave Buddha in the forest and they said goodbye, the old man was crying and he said, "Listen to me - I am just like your father. Where are you going?
Have you gone nuts? Such a beautiful palace, such a beautiful wife, so much comfort, so much luxury! Where are you going?"
Buddha said, "I am going in search of consciousness." He didn't say, "I am going in search of God," because how can you talk about God if you are not even conscious? The real seeker goes in search of consciousness, not in search of God. If you start your search for God, that is going to remain an unconscious search - because you have heard priests talking about God a greed has arisen in your mind for God.
The real seeker, the real sannyasin, has nothing to do with God. His whole effort, his single effort, his one-pointed effort, his concentrated effort, is to become more conscious - how to be so intensely conscious that you become full of light, that your whole mind is a flame of light burning bright, that the torch of your mind is burning from both the ends simultaneously. In that light one knows naturally that God is.
God is not to be searched for; what is to be searched for is consciousness. Unconscious people can believe in God, but their belief in God is just like their belief in money. They believe in notes, they believe in God, they believe in stone statues, they believe in dead scriptures. They can only believe, remember: only unconscious people believe.
The conscious person knows, feels, experiences. He does not believe in God: he lives in God, he breathes in God, his heart beats in God. It is not a question of belief.
You don't believe in the sun when you see the sun rise. You don't ask people, "Do you believe in the sun?" If you ask, they will laugh at you. You don't believe in the moon when the moon is full in the night; you never ask anybody. There are not believers in the moon and nonbelievers. It is your experience; there is no need to believe or disbelieve.
Exactly like that, in consciousness you have eyes to see God, you have eyes to see the truth of existence. Then it is no longer a question of belief - it is your experience, existential experience. A conscious person knows, an unconscious person believes.
Why are you a Hindu, why are you a Mohammedan, why are you a Jaina, and why are you a Christian? All beliefs! - and the priest lives on your unconsciousness. He goes on giving you more and more beliefs - moral beliefs, beliefs that if you do this you will be rewarded, if you do that you will be punished, belief in hell, belief in heaven. He goes on piling up more and more beliefs. You are drowning in beliefs! Your beliefs have become so heavy on you, like the Himalayas on your chest; they don't allow you to live.
The first step towards consciousness is to discard all beliefs. Don't be a Hindu, don't be a Mohammedan, don't be a Christian... because I tell you the way to become a christ!
Why be a Christian? And I tell you the way to become a buddha - why be satisfied by being a Buddhist? Why be satisfied with plastic flowers when the real roses can be grown, when you can become a garden of roses? You purchase a few plastic flowers from the market and you go on worshipping those plastic flowers. What you call them - - Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu - does not matter; if they are borrowed they are plastic. The real flower has to be grown within your being; it has to blossom there.
Those who have known, they say - and I vouch for them, I am a witness - that when your consciousness opens up in its totality it is a one-thousand-petaled lotus, a golden lotus, gold with perfume. It is the ultimate miracle. And unless that is attained, don't rest. Each moment lost is a great loss.
Buddha is saying that if you are a merchant with a great treasure and you are coming home from a long long journey of business - doing business in many many places you have gathered great treasure and you are coming back home and you have only a few servants with you - you will avoid dangerous roads where robbers can rob you, where you can be killed, where your treasure can be taken away from you.
Man has been on a long pilgrimage. You are not new on the earth, you are very ancient pilgrims. And all these lives you have gathered much treasure inside you - even YOU may not be aware of it. You have learned much... you are not conscious, you don't know what treasures you are carrying within yourself. Because you are unconscious you are continuously moving on dangerous roads where you can be robbed - where you ARE robbed, robbed every day. The person who is not aware, one who is asleep, you can rob him; he will not even give you a fight.
And the robbers are not outside, the robbers are within you. Anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, possessiveness, these are the robbers, and in the unconscious mind they go on robbing you. How much has anger robbed you of? Look back! How much has your anger destroyed? But you don't even calculate! You don't even look back to have an insight into what you have been doing to yourself. How much has your lust exploited you? But you go on doing the same things again and again! The same anger which you have always experienced as poison, which you know perfectly well is only destructive - - and each time you have been in it you have repented later on - you have decided, you have promised to yourself many times, not to go into it again. And again and again you go on forgetting your promises given to yourself.
A man was saying to his friend, "Last night I went to see a Jewish porno movie, and it was quite an experience."
The friend asked, "What could a dirty Jewish movie be like?"
The man said, "It only lasted ten minutes: one minute of sex and nine minutes of guilt."
Just watch your life and you will find it: one minute of anger and how many minutes of guilt? One minute of lust and how many minutes of guilt, or how many hours, or how many days?
Brotsky was in Puerto Rico for a business convention. One night, in front of his hotel, he was hailed seductively by a beautiful prostitute. "Hello, Americano," she said. "You wanna buy what I am selling?"
Brotsky went with her. Ten days later, at home in New York, he found that he had caught gonorrhea.
The next year, in front of the same hotel, he was hailed by the same girl again. "Hello, Americano. You wanna buy what I am selling?"
"Sure," he said, "What is it this time - cancer?"
If you look at your life you will see it is moving in circles. You go on doing the same stupid things, the same stupid things, and you have done them so many times. When are you going to wake up? And again you become intrigued with the same stupidity, again and again you are caught in the SAME net. Your life has not many new things.
You just watch your life for three months, make notes for three months, and then you will be surprised: this is all that you have been repeating again and again. And unless you become awake you are going to repeat the same your whole life - and not only your whole life, you are going to repeat it in many many lives to come.
Harry, who grew up in Philadelphia, was making his first visit to England.
One night he spotted a ravishing young redhead in a pub, walked over to her and stated conversationally, "You know, I come from the other side...."
"Let's go right to my flat," she exclaimed. "This I gotta see!"
You get it? Again and again.... "This I gotta see!" You become again and again intrigued.
You may have known many women, and again another woman, and you are ready to be foolish again. Your life is repetitive - you don't even make new mistakes!
Be a little creative. If you are interested in making mistakes, at least make new mistakes.
If you can make it a point that "I will make only new mistakes," soon they will be finished - because how many new mistakes are there? One day you will simply find that there are no more new mistakes left, and you cannot make any because you have decided not to repeat.
Once should be enough - but why is it not enough? The reason is that while you are making that mistake you are not there; you are even doing it unconsciously. If you can do a mistake consciously, totally alert, with full awareness, absolute presence, you will not repeat it again.
A man of intelligence is bound to commit mistakes, but one mistake only once, then he is finished with it. He has known and understood it. But people remain immature.
Two little colored boys met on the street.
"I am five years old. How old are you?"
"Do you ever think of women?"
"Then you is four!"
Now, this is how age, maturity, is measured, weighed.
Maturity means becoming more conscious; there is no other way to become mature. I am not saying don't commit mistakes, because that will not help. I am not saying avoid mistakes, no. I am saying whatsoever you want to do, do it, but do it very consciously.
Bring your full being in it, so once done you can decide whether it is worth doing again or it is utter nonsense, useless; so once done you know whether it is a real diamond or just a colored stone.
If it is a real diamond, go after it, dig deep - you may be close to a treasure. And if it is just a colored stone, forget all about it. Don't carry colored stones; they become a weight and they make your journey more and more difficult. When you want to go uphill you need to be weightless. And the journey towards consciousness is an uphill journey.
AS THE RICH MERCHANT WITH FEW SERVANTS SHUNS A DANGEROUS ROAD AND THE MAN WHO LOVES LIFE SHUNS POISON, BEWARE THE DANGERS OF FOLLY AND MISCHIEF. Become aware. Beware means be aware. Beware is a combination of two words: be aware. Be aware OF THE DANGERS OF FOLLY AND MISCHIEF. They are two sides of the same coin: folly and mischief. Folly means unconsciousness - and out of unconsciousness only mischief is born.
If you become aware of folly and mischief.... Remember, Buddha is not saying avoid; he is saying beware.
Lao Tzu says: A man of wisdom walks as if at each step there is danger. A man of wisdom walks as if in cold winter he is crossing a frozen stream, that is what Lao Tzu says. Yes, exactly, it is so: the man of wisdom walks alert. Each step is full of dangers, because your mind can any moment assert.
Your mind is very ancient, its habits are very deeply ingrained, implanted. Just a little unawareness and the mind is bound to catch hold of you, and it will drag you into some mischief. It lives on mischief. It is bound to drag you into something which you will repent later on. But repentance does not help, it is a sheer waste of time. First you waste time in doing a mistake and then you waste time in repenting.
One man once came to me, a very rich man. He had a lifelong habit of becoming angry so easily that just a slight provocation was enough, or if there was no provocation he would create it, he would imagine something. And he had suffered much because of it:
his wife left him, his children deserted him, no servant could stay with him for long. He was living a very isolated life. He had all, but was very poor in a way because he had nobody to love him or to receive his love.
He asked me, "How can I get rid of anger? I have decided many times, I have taken vows before great saints that I will not be angry again, but again and again, when the situation arises I forget all about the vow. It comes, and it comes in such a floodlike manner that I am simply taken over by it. What should I do? I have come to you. Please help me to decide so that I can get rid of it."
I said, "You do one thing. The first thing is: drop repenting. The second thing is: never vow again against anger."
He said, "What are you saying? Then my life will be ruined!"
I said, "You have been taking vows and you have been repenting - has it helped in any way?"
He had to concede that it had not helped. Then I said, "Why not try what I am saying? - because my own understanding is that repentance is not against anger; it is in fact a way of the ego to settle you back in the old position."
When you become angry and later on you remember, your ego feels hurt that, "I have again committed the same stupidity." Now this wounded ego wants to be healed; you have fallen in your own eyes. Your wounded ego says, "Go to the temple or to some saint. Take a vow that, 'Now I will never do such a thing again.'" Taking a vow the ego feels good: "Look how religious I am." Taking a vow before a saint and before a gathering you feel tremendously strengthened in your ego: "Look, I have decided!" The wound is again healed.
You are back in the old situation again: again the ego is enthroned. You will make the same mistake again sooner or later, and now you have learned a way to heal the wounds. Repentance is a way, taking vows is a way.
So the first thing I told the man was, "Stop repenting - it is wasting time! Gone is gone, past is past. It is finished. You need not worry about it. You start afresh - don't repent.
Rather than repenting, my suggestion is: you go home and BE angry - the first thing to do - be angry and be CONSCIOUSLY angry. While you are angry, remain alert that you are angry, know what you are doing: that you are throwing things, that you are throwing abuses. Be alert!"
The next day he came. He said, "It is impossible! Either I can be angry or I can be alert. If I am alert I cannot be angry; if I am angry I cannot be alert. You have given me an impossible task!"
I said, "Now it is for you to decide: if you want to be angry, forget alertness; if you do not want to be angry, then be alert. No repentance, no taking of vows anymore. A simple method!"
All the awakened ones have been teaching the simple method.
Somebody asked Mahavira, "Who is a real saint and who is a sinner?"
Maybe the questioner wanted a ready-made answer that is given in the scriptures, but people like Mahavira speak out of their own being. What he said is tremendously beautiful. The definition that he has given is unique, unique in the whole history of humanity. He said, "ASUTTA MUNI - one who is awake, he is the saint. And SUTTA AMUNI - one who is asleep is the sinner."
Simple, but tremendously significant! Wakefulness is the only saintliness there is, and sleepiness, unconsciousness, is the only sin there is; all other sins are born out of it. Cut the root, cut the very root! Don't go on pruning the leaves.
FOR AN UNWOUNDED HAND MAY HANDLE POISON. And then, when you are aware, alert, watchful, then there is no problem. Then you are like an unwounded hand, you can handle poison. What does it mean?
Let me remind you of a situation that happened in Jesus' life. He took a whip and entered into the great temple of Jerusalem. A whip in the hand of Jesus...? This is the meaning of what Buddha is saying: an unwounded hand can handle poison. Yes, Jesus can handle a whip, no problem; the whip cannot overpower him. He remains alert, his consciousness is such.
The great temple of Jerusalem had become a place of robbers; subtle robbery was going on. There were moneychangers inside the temple and they were exploiting the whole country. Jesus alone entered the temple and upturned their boards - the boards of the moneychangers - threw their money around and created such turmoil that the moneychangers escaped outside the temple. They were many and Jesus was alone, but he was in such a fury, in such a fire!
Now, this has been a problem for the Christians: how to explain it? - because their whole effort is to prove that Jesus is a dove, a symbol of peace. How can he take a whip in his hands? How can he be so angry, so enraged, that he upturned the boards of the moneychangers and threw the moneychangers outside the temple? And he must have been afire; otherwise, he was alone - he could have been caught hold of. His energy must have been in a storm; they could not face him. The priests and the business people and the moneychangers all escaped outside shouting, "This man has gone mad!"
Christians avoid this story. There is no need to avoid it if you understand this sutra of Buddha: FOR AN UNWOUNDED HAND MAY HANDLE POISON. THE INNOCENT COME TO NO HARM. Jesus is so innocent! He is not angry; it is his compassion. He is not violent, he is not destructive; it is his love. The whip in his hand is the whip in the hands of love, compassion.
This is why in the East we have Krishna, who can fight in the war even though he has promised not to fight. He forgets all about his promise. People think that he is very diplomatic, political; he is not. That promise was given in a certain moment; now that moment is no longer applicable - the situation has changed. He is not an opportunist, he is not political at all. He is simply honest, sincere, responsible to the situation that is present. It was so in that moment when he promised that he would not enter into war; it is no longer so, the situation has changed. He enters war with no repentance; he never repented for it. There is no need to repent.
A man of awareness acts out of his awareness, hence there is no repentance; his action is total. And one of the beauties of the total action is that it does not create karma; it does not create anything; it doesn't leave any trace on you. It is like writing on water: you have not even finished... it is gone. It is not even writing in sand, because that may remain for a few hours if the wind does not come - it is writing on water.
If you go to Hindu temples you will find Rama with the bow and arrow in his hand.
Now it has been a problem for the so-called Gandhians to explain it; for Mahatma Gandhi it was a problem. If Rama had a spinning wheel in his hand it would have been okay - but the bow and the arrow? Gandhi tried to avoid it. He was repeating Rama's name every day; that was the last name on his lips when he died. When he was shot dead, the last words that came to his lips were, "Hey Ram! Oh Ram!" But how did he manage? What about that bow and arrow? He never encountered the problem honestly, sincerely - because Rama fought the war, must have killed many people, certainly killed Ravana. What about this violence?
This sutra will explain: FOR AN UNWOUNDED HAND MAY HANDLE POISON.
THE INNOCENT COME TO NO HARM. If you can be totally alert, then there is no problem. You can handle poison; then the poison will function as a medicine. In the hands of the wise, poison becomes medicine; in the hands of the fools, even medicine, even nectar, is bound to become poison.
THE INNOCENT COME TO NO HARM. If you function out of innocence - not out of knowledgeability but out of childlike innocence - then you can never come to any harm, because it leaves no trace. You remain free of your actions. You live totally and yet no action burdens you.
Remember, if you function out of unawareness, then your whole life will be DUST THROWN AGAINST THE WIND. It comes back into your own eyes. It is spitting at the sky - it falls on your own face.
You suffer not because of others, you suffer because of your own foolish actions. And what is a foolish action? Action which arises out of an unconscious state of mind.
BUT AS THE DUST THROWN AGAINST THE WIND, MISCHIEF IS BLOWN BACK IN THE FACE OF THE FOOL WHO WRONGS THE PURE AND HARMLESS. And the outcome is even more dangerous for the fool if his mischief and his wrong is against the pure and the harmless. If you are fighting with another fool there is not much problem:
he spits on you, you spit on him. Your spit comes back to you, his spit goes back to him; everything is equalized. You harm him, your harm comes back to you; he harms you, his harm goes back to him.
But when you harm or do mischief to somebody innocent, then you are really in trouble because your mischief will come back to you a thousandfold. The innocent person will not do any mischief to you; he will simply re-echo, he will simply reflect, he will be a mirror. If you are ugly, your ugliness will be shown - and of course, the purer the mirror, the more clearly your ugliness will be shown.
And the mind has a great desire to harm the innocent. It is afraid to harm the mischievous because the mischievous can prove too much. The innocent seems to be SO innocent that you are tempted to harm him. The innocent seems to be so vulnerable, so delicate, that you think there is no problem: you can do anything to him, he will not even reply. Hence Jesus is crucified, Socrates is poisoned, Buddha is stoned.
Remember, there is a great temptation to harm the innocent, because you know he will not return it in the same coin. But the trouble is, HE will not return it in the same coin, but the whole existence takes revenge on his behalf. Because HE is not going to take revenge, the whole existence takes his side. Existence is always on the side of the awakened one. You are bound to suffer much, although Jesus is ready to forgive you.
The last words of Jesus were: Father, forgive all these people because they know not what they are doing. This is his response. But existence cannot forgive you.
Existence follows a very exact law: mischief is bound to create mischief for you, and misery, if you create it for others, is bound to rebound on you. And if it is done against the harmless, against the wise, against the buddhas, then in a thousandfold way you will suffer.
Hell and heaven are not geographical, remember it. It is just a metaphor to explain something psychological. Hell is the state of the mind which is in deep misery - of course, created by your own doings. All the dust that you have been throwing against the wind falling on yourself, that is hell - all the wrong that you have been doing to people coming back to you. You have to reap the crop because you had sown the seeds.
If you sow seeds of poison you will have to reap poison. It is so simple: AES DHAMMO SANANTANO - this is the eternal law.
Nobody can be exempted from it, there is nobody who can be an exception - although everybody thinks, "I may be an exception, I may find some way to get out of it."
Certainly you can find ways to get out of human laws, you can find ways to get out of any law, because man-made laws are man-made laws; they can be broken. And you can find intelligent people who can show you how to bypass them. But eternal laws, natural laws, cannot be broken; if you break them you are bound to suffer. That suffering is hell.
Whenever you go against the law of life you are in hell, and whenever you go in tune with the law you are in heaven. Heaven means a state of joy. And whenever you are in a limbo, neither here nor there, neither against nor for, in a state of lethargy, in a state of indecision, just hanging in between, then you are in this world. In the Buddhist scriptures this world is called MADHYALOK - the middle state between heaven and hell.
There are three kinds of people in the world: a few who are in heaven, many who are in the middle, and many more who are in hell. And in fact these are not three kinds of people because each person goes through all these three states every day. In the morning you may be in heaven, by the afternoon you are in limbo, by the evening, coming home, you are in hell. You go on changing, shifting. These are psychological states.
To go beyond all these three is called nirvana, is called buddhahood, is called moksha.
If you can go beyond all the three - that means if you can go beyond all mind - then you are not only in tune with the law.... If you are in tune with the law you are in heaven, if you are against the law you are in hell. If you are indecisive, half-half, fifty- fifty, you are in the middle world, this world. But if you become one with the law, you are no longer separate - not even in tune, because in tune you are separate. If you become one with the law: if you drop your ego and mind totally; if you become immersed in the eternal law; if you become the ocean, your dewdrop disappears in the ocean and becomes it, then you are born no more. Then there is no birth, no death. Then this whole wheel of birth and death stops. Then you are one with the cosmos, then you are God.
This is the ultimate that has to be attained, this is the ultimate that man is capable of attaining, but also capable of missing. Unless great effort is made with great skill and intelligence, you will not be able to attain it.
Remember: there is no way to hide from your mischief. So don't go on befooling yourself that you will find some way: that you will go to the Ganges and take a dip in the Ganges and all your sins will be washed away. Don't deceive yourself - the Ganges cannot do that. Don't think that you will go to Kaaba and you will do HAJ, the great pilgrimage, and you will become a HAJI - the man who has been to Kaaba - and then all sins are taken away from you, God has forgiven you. Don't think that by doing a certain ritual - YAGNA, HAVAN - you will be freed from your mischiefs. Nothing is going to help.
NOWHERE! Buddha says,NOT IN THE SKY,NOR IN THE MIDST OF THE SEA,NOR DEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS, CAN YOU HIDE FROM YOUR OWN MISCHIEF. It will follow you like your shadow, it will torture you wherever you go. It is better not to do it - but you can avoid doing it only if you become conscious, otherwise you are bound to do it.
Mischief is bound to bring its own punishment just as certainly as birth is bound to bring its own death. You cannot avoid death, you cannot avoid the outcome of your deeds. So don't think in these terms, because all that time wasted in avoiding, hiding, is simply wasted. All that energy can be put into one effort: of becoming aware, of becoming meditative. That is going to help.
A man was going to the Ganges. He went to Ramakrishna, he was a follower of Ramakrishna. He asked Ramakrishna, "Paramahansadeva, I am going to the Ganges - bless me. Do you think all my sins will be washed away?"
Ramakrishna said, "Yes, certainly, because the Ganges is so pure; whosoever dives deep into it becomes as pure as the Ganges. But there is a problem that you have to remember."
The man said, "What is that problem? You just tell me, I will remember."
Ramakrishna said, "Have you seen the great trees that stand on the banks of the Ganges?"
He said, "Yes, I have seen."
Ramakrishna said, "Do you know what is the purpose of those trees?"
He said, "That I have never heard and it is not written in the scriptures. What is the purpose of those trees? You tell me."
Ramakrishna said, "The purpose of those trees is that when you dive in the Ganges, your sins have to leave you because of the power of the Ganges. Those sins sit on the top of those tall trees. When you come back out of the Ganges, they jump upon you again! So it is really futile. If you want to go you can go, but avoid one thing: if you dive in the Ganges, don't come out! Then be gone forever; otherwise those sins won't leave you. And they will take revenge, they will jump upon you with vengeance."
And this is literally true. The religious people, the so-called religious people, think that they can do a certain ritual and the sin is finished, and they are free to do the sin again!
And once you know the trick how to finish it, why bother? You can go on doing as many sins as you can - the Ganges is always there. And now there is no need to go to the Ganges either: you can bring the Ganges in pipes to your home, so every day, early morning or evening, you take a bath. Evening will be better, so the whole day's sins are finished and you are as pure as a lotus flower.
Buddha says nothing can help you. There is nowhere to hide from two things: the result of your deeds and death. They are going to happen.
Then what should we do? Become conscious, and in becoming conscious both disappear. In becoming conscious your actions automatically go through a transformation. The conscious man cannot do anything wrong, and the conscious man comes to know that, "There is no death for my consciousness. The body will die, the mind will die, but not my innermost being. I am eternal. AMRITASYA PUTRAH - I am the son of eternity, I belong to the eternal existence."
Consciousness brings these two truths home. First it transforms your world by transforming your actions; secondly it transforms your interiority by making you aware that you are eternal. When you know you are eternal, when you know that you have always been and you will always be, all your values of life immediately start changing.
Then whatsoever was important yesterday is no longer important, and whatever was never important before becomes important - because now you think in terms of eternity and not in terms of time.
To think in terms of time is politics: to think in terms of eternity is religion.
Enough for today.
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4