Gautama the Buddha worked hard for six years in all kinds of disciplines to arrive home, to know the truth of his being, to realize the meaning of life. But he failed utterly - not because he was lacking in effort, not because he was not committed to the methods he was practicing, but because he was not meditatively in them. His efforts were, in a way, superficial; they were not arising from his own innermost core. On the contrary, they were imposed from the outside by others - by tradition, by teachers, by scriptures.
After six years of arduous effort and frustration he realized this: "I can be transformed only when something becomes my own insight, when something comes out of my own vision. Borrowed visions won't do, borrowed methods won't help. Scriptures will make me a parrot, but they cannot make me the enlightened one."
After six years he changed his whole way of life: he started living from the within. And that became the turning point. That became the beginning of the endless journey into truth. That became the beginning of eternal joy, celebration.
It was natural. Everybody in the beginning follows others; that comes easy. You yourself don't know where to go, what to do, how to do it. You start asking the experts.
And the problem is that in the spiritual inquiry there are no experts - there cannot be, because each individual is so unique that expertise is not possible.
Expertise is possible if there is no individuality. About matter you can come to conclusions - matter is predictable - but about man you cannot come to conclusions in the same way.
Something about man remains unpredictable, and that unpredictable quality is his very essence. That's what makes him man; that is his freedom. He is not bound to the law of cause and effect; he functions under a totally different kind of law. He can behave in such a way that it would have been inconceivable for you, seeing the situation, given the situation, to imagine. If you had predicted it, your prediction would have seemed like an absurdity. But man can function outside the law of cause and effect.
Then how to help man? - how is a master supposed to help others? He helps not by giving detailed information, instructions; he helps only by indicating. He hints, he does not guide. That is one of the most essential things to be understood about Buddha: he is not a guide. He does not give you the whole map of the journey but only an indication, a vague, subtle hint. You need not follow him in all details. You can understand him and then you will have to work out your own life-style.
And I perfectly agree with him. He learned it the hard way; I have also learned it the hard way.
Listen to me - listen with an open heart. Try to understand what is being conveyed to you, but don't follow it mechanically. Let it first become an understanding in you, then follow your understanding, not my instructions. My instruction can only help you to raise your eyes towards the sky. It cannot give you a fixed pattern of life; it cannot give you a discipline but it can give you the direction. And the difference is great: a direction is a totally different phenomenon; a description, a detailed description, makes you a slave.
Just an opening... fingers pointing to the moon are of immense help. You need not cling to the fingers, you need not worship the fingers. In fact, when you start looking at the moon you have to forget all about the fingers. You will feel grateful, but you will not be an imitator. You will be an individual in your own right. You will be a free consciousness. That is Buddha's fundamental message.
THE WAY IS EIGHTFOLD.
Remember, it is only a hint. "The eightfold path" is simply a way of expressing his experience, giving you a certain direction. The essence of the eightfold path is in the word 'rightness'. Buddha uses the word 'rightness' about everything. He divides life into eight parts and he uses 'rightness' about each part: right food, right effort, right mindfulness, right samadhi, and so on and so forth. And it is not only a question of eight things; if you understand, then it has to be used as a direction.
Whatsoever you are doing can be done in a wrong way or in a right way; both the alternatives are always there. So you have to understand what he means by "rightness," the essence of it. You have to taste the flavor of rightness, then you can apply it in everything that you are doing. You are walking: you can walk in the right way and you can walk in the wrong way. You are talking: you can talk in the right way, you can talk in the wrong way. You are listening: you can listen in the right way, you can listen in the wrong way.
If you are listening with all kinds of prejudices, that is a wrong way of listening; it is really a way of not listening. You appear to be listening, but you are only hearing not listening. Right listening means you have put aside your mind. It does not mean that you become gullible, that you start believing whatsoever is said to you. It has nothing to do with belief or disbelief. Right listening means, "I am not concerned right now whether to believe or not to believe. There is no question of agreement or disagreement at this moment. I am simply trying to listen to whatsoever it is. Later on I can decide what is right and what is wrong. Later on I can decide whether to follow or not to follow."
And the beauty of right listening is this: that truth has a music of its own. If you can listen without prejudice, your heart will say it is true. If it is true, a bell starts ringing in your heart. If it is not true, you remain aloof, unconcerned, indifferent; no bell rings in your heart, no synchronicity happens. That is the quality of truth: that if you listen to it with an open heart, it immediately creates a response in your being - your very center is uplifted. You start growing wings; suddenly the whole sky is open.
It is not a question of deciding logically whether what is being said is true or untrue. On the contrary, it is a question of love, not of logic. Truth immediately creates a love in your heart; something is triggered in you in a very mysterious way.
But if you listen wrongly - that is, full of your mind, full of your garbage, full of your knowledge - then you will not allow your heart to respond to the truth. You will miss the tremendous possibility, you will miss the synchronicity. Your heart was ready to respond to truth.... It responds only to truth, remember, it never responds to the untrue.
With the untrue it remains utterly silent, unresponsive, unaffected, unstirred. With the truth it starts dancing, it starts singing, as if suddenly a sun has risen and the dark night is no more, and the birds are singing and the lotuses are opening, and the whole earth is awakened.
Exactly like that, when you hear the truth really, totally, immediately something awakens in you. Truth has that immense impact. Hence Buddha will say: Right listening, right effort....
You can make efforts to the extreme, and then you will miss. You can make too much effort and you will miss, or you can make too little effort and you will miss. You can become enlightened only when the effort is exactly balanced, in equilibrium.
Buddha's word is SAMYAKTVA; it is difficult to translate. Only one of its meanings is rightness. Another meaning is equilibrium; and it has a few other qualities about it, too.
The third meaning is equanimity. The fourth meaning is, looking at things with a similar eye, with no judgment; looking at things equally, without any a priori judgment or conclusion - looking at things with no conclusion at all. Because if you have a conclusion already, you can't look at the thing as it is; your conclusion will interfere. But the most important meaning is rightness.
Right effort will mean neither leaning too much to the left nor leaning too much to the right. Right effort will mean exactly like walking on a tightrope. Have you seen the tightrope walker? He continuously balances himself between the right and the left. If he leans a little too much to the left he will fall; he immediately balances himself by moving to the opposite side. But if he leans a little too much to the right he will fall, too; then again he balances by moving to the left. He is continuously moving between right and left. Balance is not something static; it is a dynamic process.
Hence you cannot decide your character once and for all. And those who decide their character once for all are dead people. They simply go on following a dead routine; they are not transformed by this dead routine.
Life is a continuous process, a movement - it is a river. You have to adjust yourself according to the situations; otherwise you remain fixed, and life goes on changing all around. The only result will be that a gap arises between you and your life, and that gap creates misery, sorrow.
You are always missing the train. Either you are too early or you are too late, but you are never on the exact point. You are either running ahead or you are lagging behind.
You are either in the past or in the future. Some people live in their memories and other people live in their imagination.
And to live rightly means to be in the present, to be exactly in the middle - in the middle of past and future, in the middle of imagination and memory, in the middle of that which is no more and that which is not yet. In that exact middleness is the rightness: samyaktva.
And Buddha applies this to every facet of life, to every aspect. You can eat too much and then one day you become tired of eating too much; you suffer, your body suffers.
Then you start fasting - that is moving to another extreme. Again your body suffers, first from too much food, then from no food at all. When are you going to be exactly in the middle?
And remember, again let me repeat it: the middle is not a fixed point. You cannot decide once and forever that this is the middle, that "I will eat only so much" - because your needs change. One day you have walked ten miles, you may need a little more food. One day you have rested, you have not worked at all, it was a holiday - you will need a little less food. One day you have been chopping wood; you will need more food, your body needs more nourishment. And one day it was raining and you were simply playing cards; you can do with little food.
And once in a while your body may not need food at all. If you are ill it will be good to give the body complete rest, because eating means work for the body. The body has to digest it, the body has to continuously work on the food. Once in a while it is good; if you are feeling that the body is not in good shape, it is good not to eat. But there is no religious quality about it; this is a very scientific approach.
One thing is certain: that nothing can become a static phenomenon. You have to go on moving.
When you are young you will need eight hours sleep. When you become old you will need four hours sleep, three hours sleep, and that will be enough. When you were a child you needed ten hours of sleep. In the mother's womb the child needs twenty-four hours of sleep; after the birth, twenty-two hours, then twenty hours, then eighteen hours, and slowly slowly... by the end, when a person comes to die, he needs only two hours sleep and that's enough.
In the mother's womb the child is growing; those nine months one grows so much that one will not be growing as much in ninety years' time. Leaps and bounds! The pace is so quick and so fast that the child needs absolute rest. But the old man, he has stopped growing long ago. Now the body does not need so much rest. The body no longer revives itself; it is getting ready to die, the process of revival has stopped. Now whatsoever cells are dying are dying; they are not being reproduced again. Hence, less and less sleep is needed. You can't fix it forever.
There are fools who fix it, who say, "I have taken a vow to sleep for only five hours a night." They will suffer when they are young, they will suffer when they are old; their suffering will never end. When they are young they will suffer because the body may need ten hours sleep, nine hours sleep, at least eight hours sleep - and they have decided to sleep only five hours. They will be continuously missing those three hours.
They will look a little sad, tired, their faces lusterless, their eyes always sleepy. They will not show intelligence, because body and mind both need deep rest. They will simply move through life like a somnambulist, half asleep.
And their scriptures say that if you feel sleepy in the daytime it means you are a sinner, TAMASIK, that you are suffering from lethargy. And the only thing that you are really suffering from is foolishness! You have decided that you will sleep only five hours when the need is for eight hours. And in old age you will try to sleep five hours and you will not be able to sleep, then you will suffer because you can sleep only three hours. Then the whole night you are tossing and turning and cursing the whole world, and you can't conceive why you can't sleep at least five hours. And trying to sleep five hours when you can sleep only three hours will be a disturbance; it will keep you in despair. You will continuously think that something is being missed.
Never decide like that. Buddha says: Let your life be dynamic. It has to correspond to the reality, to the situation in which you are. Don't follow dead rules; respond to reality, to that which is. In that responsibility you grow, you become mature. To be responsible is to be right.
And he says this rightness has to be applied in all aspects of life. Even about awareness, meditation, he says "right mindfulness" is needed - because one can become too obsessed with meditation. One can become so fascinated by meditation that one may start escaping from life.
It has happened down the ages. Millions of people have escaped from life for the simple reason that they wanted to meditate and life is a disturbance. They can't meditate in the marketplace, they can't meditate in the family, they can't meditate with the children around. They have to go to the Himalayan caves; only then they can meditate. That is a wrong meditation. If meditation is so poor, so impotent that you can't meditate in your own home, then your meditation is not worth anything. If it needs the Himalayas, then it is not your meditation that is making you silent; it is the silence of the Himalayas.
After thirty years of meditating in the Himalayas, you come back to the world, and then all the effort, that whole arduous journey, all those thirty years of work upon yourself, will simply disappear, evaporate. The world will disturb you more than before, because now you have lived outside the world for thirty years. You have become unaccustomed to it, its noise, its people, their ways. This is not right meditation.
Right meditation has to become a strength in you, not a weakness. It has to make you stronger - so strong that you can sit in the marketplace and yet be meditative.
And Buddha even uses the word 'right' for samadhi. That has to be understood. He says: "right realization of truth." One wonders, can there be wrong realization of truth?
Buddha says yes. Samadhi is the ultimate state when all desires disappear, all thoughts disappear, the whole mind disappears. You are in a state of no-mind. But this can happen in two ways.
You can fall into a deep sleep, so deep that there are no longer even dreams - the mind has disappeared. In deep sleep there is no desire, there is no mind, no thought. But this is not samadhi - this is coma!
And many people - in India particularly - go into such a coma, and they think they are in samadhi. For hours together they become unconscious. It is a kind of hysterical fit.
You can see their faces, their mouths foaming. You can see the quality of their being.
They are just lying down like corpses; they are not radiating. You will not see any joy around them, just a negative kind of emptiness. But they are thought to be great saints.
Buddha says this is a wrong kind of meditation and a wrong kind of samadhi. Right samadhi means you have to be without mind, fully awake; in wakefulness, thoughts have to disappear. It is easy to fall asleep, to fall into a deep coma, in a kind of hysterical fit and be without mind; but that is falling below mind not transcending mind. Right samadhi is a transcendence: you go beyond mind, but you are fully alert, aware. Only then is samadhi right - when it grows in awareness and when awareness grows through it. When you become enlightened you have to be absolutely awakened; otherwise you missed at the last step.
This way Buddha divides life into eight parts and calls his way "the eightfold way."
THE WAY IS EIGHTFOLD. But you have to look at your life, you will have to decide about your life. Don't just follow the words of the Buddha. Follow the SPIRIT of it, because things have changed. In twenty-five centuries it was bound to be so. You are living in a different kind of society, you are living with a different kind of mind. Your life is no longer the same as it was in Buddha's time. So the essential core will remain the same, but many things will have to be changed.
Remember that you have to be always alert, watchful, balanced; always in the middle, never moving to the extreme, never becoming excessive in anything. But then you have to work it out; different people will have to work out different plans for their own life.
If you simply follow the Buddha's words - as Buddhists are doing all over the world....
They miss the whole point; they still go on doing the same thing. Buddha used to walk, they are still walking, because you have to walk in a right way....
I will tell you: there is no need to walk in order to practice the right way of walking.
You can sit in an airplane in the right way. You have to apply the essence of his teaching to YOUR situation. He could not have said - obviously - that you should sit in the airplane in a right way. Now, you cannot walk from Chicago to Poona, you will have to come by airplane; but you can sit in the airplane in a right way. And if the pilot informs you that one engine has failed and the other is just on the verge of failing, you have to remain tranquil, still, balanced. Even if the plane catches fire and you are falling and sooner or later - it is a question of moments - you will be dead, you have to keep your awareness, you have to keep your coolness. You are not to become disturbed.
You have to apply the essence to your life; otherwise things remain superficial. One practices them, but deep down one remains unchanged.
An Italian woman and a Jewish woman were sunning themselves next to each other at a fine Miami hotel. The Jewish woman started to brag about her husband. "My husband is so generous - I asked him for a Cadillac and he gave me a Rolls Royce!"
"It's-a nice!" said the Italian lady.
"He is so wonderful. If I ask for a coat, he buys me a mink."
"It's-a nice!" came the reply.
"If I say I am tired, he immediately sends me to Miami."
"What about your husband?"
"My husband," said the Italian woman, "is-a so nice, he's-a send me to finishing school- a, where they teach me to say 'It's-a nice,' instead of 'You are full of-a shit-a!'" You can learn beautiful words. You can go on saying "It's-a nice!" and deep down you are still saying the same thing. Deep down you are not changed at all. Finishing schools won't help. You become cultured, sophisticated, religious. You meditate, you pray, you do all kinds of rituals, but they remain rituals - not even skin-deep. Just scratch a little bit and you will find the real man - and he is as animal as other animals, or sometimes even more. Because no animal can fall as low as man, and no animal can rise as high as man. Man's fall is great, man's rise is great.
Man is a ladder between heaven and hell, between the animal and God. Falling towards being an animal is an unconscious process; rising towards being a God is a conscious effort.
THE WAY IS EIGHTFOLD.
THERE ARE FOUR TRUTHS.
These are the four truths, he insists again and again. First: life as you know it is sorrow.
He wants to make you aware of the phenomenon that your life is nothing but misery. It is a long long tragedy, it is tragic. You don't want to listen to such things; you want to go on believing that you are already in paradise.
You don't want to see your wounds - and Buddha opens up your wounds again and again. He forces you to see all the pus that you are carrying. Hence people became angry at him. Before Buddha, they were told beautiful things about themselves by other priests and so-called religious teachers.
Buddha is the first master who wants you to be absolutely authentic about yourself. He wants you to become aware of the real situation. He is not interested in singing a lullaby, his interest is in waking you up. He is not a sedative, he is an awakener.
The first truth for the real seeker, he says, is to know that life is sorrow. The second truth is that there is a cause to it. His approach is very scientific. He says: first become aware that your life is sorrow. But don't be worried, don't become sad because of this fact. There is a cause to it. And if there is a cause to it, the third truth is: there is a way to remove it. If there is a cause to it, it can be uncaused. If there is no cause to your misery, then it is not removable; then there is really despair, then there is no hope.
That's exactly where modern existentialists are finding themselves. They have understood the first truth - that life is sorrow, meaningless, absurd - but they have not moved beyond that. Sartre, Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, they are all hanging around the first truth. Hence, they have created a great despair in the intelligentsia of the whole world. If life is sorrow and there is no way out of it, naturally it creates hopelessness.
Naturally, it seems suicide is the right thing to do; to go on living is cowardly. For what? If it is only sorrow, then why go on living? Why not return the ticket? And what is there to be grateful to God for?
Buddha says: "Life is sorrow" is only the first truth. The second is: there is a cause to it, so don't be worried. Sorrow is there, but because there is a cause to it there is hope. And there is a way to remove it. That eightfold path is the way to remove it.
And what is the cause? Desire - TANHA - is the cause of it.
And the fourth truth is the ultimate truth: there is a state when sorrow is no more: the state of enlightenment, liberation, nirvana.
In these four simple truths he has reduced the whole spiritual inquiry, the whole spiritual endeavor. And he has reduced it in such a beautiful way and in such a simple way that anybody who is a little intelligent will not find if difficult to understand.
THERE ARE FOUR TRUTHS....
This life that you are living is sorrow, but this is not the only life. This is the life you have chosen. You can live another kind of life: Buddha lived it, I am living it, you can live it. You can live in a totally different way: you can live desirelessly, you can live meditatively, you can live with choiceless awareness. You can live so centered and rooted in your being that no sorrow can remain. No sadness, no misery, no death remains possible; they all disappear. As you become full of light, your life goes through a transformation. This is not the right kind of life that you are living.
The traveling salesman asked the farmer to put him up for the night. The farmer said, "Sure, but you will have to sleep with my son."
"Good Lord," said the salesman, "I am in the wrong joke!"
Yes, you are in the wrong joke - you are in the wrong life. But because YOU have chosen it there is great hope: you can stop choosing it. And you have to choose it continuously, constantly, only then can you be in it. Remember, to be in the wrong you have to make great efforts - and you are making great efforts.
Look at the politicians, how much effort they make to remain in power. Look at the rich people, how much effort they make to remain rich. And their richness brings only misery, and their power trips bring only misery. The more power they have, the more greedy they are; the more riches they have, the more greedy they are. They become more and more obsessed with the same thing. They go on and on wasting their lives...
and in the end they die with empty hands.
You are feeding your wrong life. You go on watering the weeds and you go on hoping that one day roses are going to bloom. You go on hoping that "the spring will come and there will be roses and roses in my garden." But weeds can't produce roses. You have to uproot the weeds and you have to stop feeding and nourishing them. You have to clean the garden of the roots, of the rocks, of the weeds, and then only can you plant roses.
There is a cause to your misery: YOU are the cause. Your sleepiness is the cause, your unconsciousness is the cause. And in your unconsciousness you go on dreaming and desiring stupid things, with such great fervor, with such great enthusiasm. It is strange to see people putting so much effort into creating their own hell; with the same effort they can create a thousand and one paradises. The effort that you put into creating one hell is enough to create one thousand and one paradises.
Buddha says: There is a cause to it - your constant desire. And there is a way to remove it - becoming aware of your desire, seeing it through and through. And there is then the ultimate state of freedom, when desire ceases, disappears. You are left without any desire, without any dream, without any sleep - alert, aware, conscious. Then you know real life.
You can call it God; that is not Buddha's word. He is suspicious of the word 'God'.
Because of this word 'God', priests have exploited man for so long that Buddha never uses it. He is suspicious of the word 'soul' too, because there have been many who have not used the word 'God', but then they have substituted 'God' with 'soul'. And they have used the same exploitation with the word 'soul', they have done the same to humanity.
Buddha avoids God, soul, heaven, everything. He creates a new word, a very strange word. Now it doesn't sound so strange, but when for the first time he used it it was really strange, particularly in this country where for thousands of years people had been talking about religion.
Nobody was ever aware that such a word could be used for the ultimate state. Buddha uses the word 'nirvana'. Nirvana literally means cessation, disappearance, dissolution; you are no more. It doesn't seem to be very appealing! You are no more? This is the goal? You cease to be - and for that one has to make arduous effort? And one has to meditate and become choiceless and drop all desires? For what? - just not to be?
Shakespeare says: To be or not to be, that is the question. He will decide for "to be"; Buddha decides for "not to be." He says, "Yes, that's the question. To be is misery, not to be is joy."
But people were very much puzzled: "How can there be joy if I am not there? If I have ceased completely to be, who is going to enjoy?"
And Buddha said, "That is the whole point to understand: if YOU are, misery is - misery is your shadow; when you are not there, of course there is nobody to enjoy, but there is joy."
A very strange way of expressing it, but I can understand his difficulty. Use any word that can give you some idea of the ego and you cling to it. 'Soul' becomes only magnified ego, purified ego. And remember: a purified poison is more poisonous. The word 'soul' simply means nothing but a very great ego, superior, holy, sacred, divine; but it is the same ego, now tremendously decorated, crowned, garlanded. First it was temporary, now it is immortal. First it was momentary, now it is eternal... but it is the same ego!
Whenever you think of yourself as enlightened what are you doing? What is your idea of enlightenment? You still remain there just as you are; only one thing is added to you:
enlightenment. You remain the same PLUS enlightenment. Buddha says that is not possible; either YOU are, or ENLIGHTENMENT is; both cannot be together. You have to disappear. And he is right, he is absolutely right.
The ego has to go, in all its forms, and then the authentic reality explodes. And that explosion is tremendous joy, it is bliss. There is nobody to experience it, there is nobody to observe it. You are not an observer of this bliss, you are the bliss itself; there is no observer separate from it. The observed is the observer, the experienced is the experiencer, the knower is the known. The old duality is no longer relevant.
Buddha's word is significant: nirvana, cessation, stopping to be.
ALL VIRTUE LIES IN DETACHMENT.
Hence, become detached from your ego, become detached from your possessions.
Become simply detached from every possible source of attachment.
The forgetful professor left his hotel room and discovered he had left his umbrella behind. He went back to get it and found that the room had been rented already.
Through the door he heard sounds.
"Whose little baby are you?"
"Your little baby."
"And whose little hands are these?"
"Your little hands."
"And whose little feet are... and whose little knees... and whose little...?"
"When you get to an umbrella," said the professor, through the door, "it is mine."
'I' exists through 'my', 'mine'; hence so much desire for possessions. You go on accumulating and the more you accumulate, the more you can feel you are. The greater your possessions, the more money you have, the more you can feel you are. Ego is empty; it needs to be filled by things continuously so that it can go on remaining in the deception, in the illusion that it is full. But it never really becomes full; it is a bottomless pit. You go on putting things into it and they go on disappearing; it remains empty. It is never full - it cannot be full in the very nature of things. It is a false entity, how can it be full?
YOU are full. But when I say "you," I don't mean the ego; I don't mean anything that you understand by yourself. All that has to go, then the real you is discovered. And that real you is not separate from me, and that real you is not separate from the trees, and that real you is not separate from the clouds. That real you is part of the whole.
That's why Buddha says you become part of the universal law, dhamma, tao. You disappear as a separate entity. You are simply a wave in the ocean. This is liberation:
liberation from yourself is liberation, freedom from yourself is freedom.
ALL VIRTUE LIES IN DETACHMENT.
THE MASTER HAS AN OPEN EYE.
Your eyes are closed because you see only outside. Inwardly, you are completely blind.
And there is the real treasure and there is the truth of your life - and about that you are blind. You see meaningless things, you see all kinds of rubbish. You just go on missing your own center, your own source of consciousness. Buddha says: To see it is to be a seer; otherwise you are blind.
THE MASTER HAS AN OPEN EYE - and you also have those inner eyes, but you are keeping them closed. You have completely forgotten that you have those eyes. The methods of meditation are nothing but methods of opening the inner eyes. They are there; you have to learn how to open them.
THIS IS THE ONLY WAY, THE ONLY WAY TO THE OPENING OF THE EYE.
The only way to open the inner eyes is to drop desiring. What is desire? Desire means:
"I feel empty and I would like to be full." Emptiness hurts. "I need money, I need power, I need prestige, so that I can feel full" - although those who have much money and power and prestige are as empty as you are. Just look at them, just watch! Just look around! Do you see the rich person? - is he really rich? Surrounded by riches, of course, but is he rich? Is there any inner richness? Is he more sensitive to truth? Is he more aware of beauty? Is he more capable of love? Has he experienced who he is? Does he know the significance of life? Has he any sense of the ultimate?
These are the things that make one rich. Yes, he has a big bank balance, but how can that make him rich? He may be famous, the whole world may know of him, but does he know himself? And if he himself is unacquainted with himself, what does it matter how many people know him? Deep down he is not even aware of his own being. There is great darkness inside - and there is light all around, but what is the point of having so much light when there is no light inside? Yes, there are suns and stars and moons outside, but inside not even a small candle! And you call it richness?
No, Buddha is rich because the inner light is there. Jesus is rich because the inner light is there. You are rich if your inner being is suffused with light, bathed in light. You are rich if you know that existence is divine. You are rich if you have experienced the exquisite beauty that surrounds, that permeates the whole. You are rich if you have tasted the nectar of your own consciousness. You are rich if you are capable of sharing your love unconditionally. Otherwise you are a beggar.
Buddha says: THE ONLY WAY TO THE OPENING OF THE EYE is to become desireless.
FOLLOW IT TO THE END OF SORROW.
And go on uprooting one desire after another desire - because the mind is very cunning. You uproot one desire, it immediately starts growing another desire. It is so cunning, it can even become desirous of God. It is so cunning, it can even become desirous of nirvana. It can desire not to be. That desire is absurd, but mind is so cunning. Beware of the cunningness of the mind!
Passers-by on a New York subway were intrigued by a rather scruffy-looking Irishman standing before a large sign which read: SEE THE WORLD'S ONLY, ONE AND ONLY, TALKING CAT FOR ONLY 10 DOLLARS!
After a large crowd had gathered and the man's pockets were spilling over with money, he pulled a mangy-looking animal from a box and holding it in the air, whispered in the ear of the nearest member of the audience.
Rather embarrassed, the poor spectator looked into the eyes of the bewildered cat and said, "Who was the last president of China?"
Swiftly the Irishman yanked the cat's tail and the beast wailed loudly, "MAO...!"
The mind is very cunning. It can find ways to exploit others and it can find ways to exploit you too. And it goes on gathering all kinds of cunningness from the world.
That's what you call experience.
The older you grow the more cunning you become, although you pretend that you have become more wise. Just by becoming old nobody becomes wise; otherwise every old man would become a buddha. Just by becoming old you certainly become cunning. Of course, your whole life's experiences of being cheated teach you some lessons: you start cheating others, you start learning the ways of the world. A child is innocent; an old man still innocent is very difficult to find. You become great experts on borrowed knowledge.
A man suffering from backache went to a very expensive specialist who recommended hot packs. After using hot packs all night long he felt worse than ever.
His maid, seeing him in agony, asked what the trouble was. When he told the story she said, "Not hot packs. Cold packs!"
He tried it and got prompt relief. Irate, he returned to the specialist and reported the whole story.
"Hmm," mused the doctor, "cold packs. My maid says hot packs!"
The specialist and the nonspecialist are not very much different. The expert and the nonexpert, both are in the same boat.
Beware of knowledgeable people! They know nothing and yet they pretend that they know. Not only that, they teach others. They themselves have wasted their lives and unconsciously they are destroying other people's lives.
In this world, if everybody decides one thing - that "I will say to others only that which I have known" - the world can immediately become a far more beautiful and better place than it is. A single decision on everybody's part, that "I will not go on conveying borrowed knowledge. I will say only that which I have experienced"... immediately, ninety-nine percent of the rubbish will simply disappear from the world.
But with it will disappear your scholars, your pundits, your priests, your political leaders - and they don't want to disappear. They have invested so much in their borrowed knowledge; even to tell them that "your knowledge is borrowed" makes them angry.
Real knowing happens only when desire has disappeared. Then your eyes are clear of all smoke, all clouds. Then you can see. And when you can see, you can see both within and without.
A lovely young thing entered a doctor's office on her lunch hour and addressed a handsome young man in a white coat. "I have had a pain in my shoulder for a week.
Can you help me?" she asked.
"Lie down on this table," he said, "and I will massage it for you."
After a few minutes the beautiful patient exclaimed, "Doctor, that is not my shoulder!"
The young man smiled and replied, "No, and I am not a doctor either!"
Watch who you are listening to. Watch who you are reading. I have known so many books on meditation written by people who know nothing of meditation. They have come to me to ask about meditation, and when they came to ask I was puzzled. I asked, "But I have read your book. You have written such a beautiful book on meditation!"
They said, "Yes, it has sold well and we have earned much, but as far as meditation is concerned, we have not done it at all."
I asked them, "How have you written such beautiful books?"
They said, "Reading other books."
All that you need is good scissors and glue, and you can write a book on anything! Just collect fifty books, go on cutting relevant pieces and glueing them, and a new book is created. That's how all kinds of absurdities go on. New books go on appearing on each subject. There are so many books on meditation that if so many people were meditating this world would be a paradise! So many books on yoga, so many books on God, so many books on Christ, Buddha, Mahavira!
If people knew Buddha, Mahavira, Christ, Mohammed, so well, this world couldn't be in such ugly shape. But they don't know. They are knowledgeable, certainly, but their knowledge is mechanical. They have read - because they can understand language - but they have not experienced anything.
And religion is basically experience. It is an experiment with your own subjectivity. It is a journey inwards. It is a penetration into your own interiority. Buddha says:
WHEN I PULLED OUT SORROW'S SHAFT I SHOWED YOU THE WAY.
He says, "I am not a scholar, I am not an expert, but one thing is certain - I am no longer miserable. My sorrow has disappeared. And the moment my sorrow disappeared, I showed you the way." That's the right way to show the way to others. Be what you would like others to be. Except that, all that people go on saying is nonsense.
I have known many Buddhist monks who are great scholars on Buddha, who have read all Buddhist scriptures, but who have not meditated at all; who have not tasted even a single drop of Buddha's experience, but they go on believing that they are Buddhists.
Not only that, they go on converting others to Buddhism.
Beware of such people! Whether they are Buddhists, Hindus, Mohammedans, Jainas, Jews, it doesn't matter - beware of such people. Avoid such people. Look into the eyes of a man; feel his presence. If you can see something that is not borrowed, if you can feel something that has happened to the man, then and only then - if your heart is touched and stirred - listen to him and follow his insight: otherwise not. It is not a question of books, it is a question of existential experiencing. WHEN I PULLED OUT SORROW'S SHAFT I SHOWED YOU THE WAY.
IT IS YOU WHO MUST MAKE THE EFFORT.
THE MASTERS ONLY POINT THE WAY.
Buddha says, "Still I can only point the way. You will have to make all the effort. I cannot make it for you. I cannot be your salvation."
Look at the beauty of this man! He says, "I cannot be your salvation. If it was possible for me to be your salvation, then I would have done it already. I would not have even asked your permission!"
Christians go on saying that Jesus is the salvation, but that is nonsense because if Jesus is the salvation, then why is the world still in misery? Jesus has happened! He would have solved everybody's problems. He has not solved anybody's problems, not even the Christians' - he cannot! Nobody can do it, and it is good that nobody can do it, because if others can do it then they can undo it too. And if your freedom can be given by others it won't be much of a freedom; it will be another kind of bondage.
Freedom has to be achieved by your own efforts. Nobody can give it to you; hence nobody can take it away from you. It is absolutely yours.
Buddha says: IT IS YOU WHO MUST MAKE THE EFFORT. THE MASTERS ONLY POINT THE WAY.
BUT IF YOU MEDITATE AND FOLLOW THE LAW YOU WILL FREE YOURSELF FROM DESIRE.
Just do two things: meditate, watch your thought processes; become just a spectator of your mind. That is meditation, becoming a witness. And second: follow the law, follow the natural course. Don't be unnatural, don't try to fight with nature - stop being a fighter. Learn how to relax with nature, learn to let go. Flow with nature, allow nature to possess you totally. By "nature" he means dhamma, tao, the ultimate nature of things, the universal law.
Do these two things, and you will free yourself from desire and desire will disappear.
Meditate and let go. This is the path, the only path... and desire disappears on its own accord.
It is desire that keeps you in bondage, that is the cause of misery. And because of desire you have to do so many stupid things; you have to behave like a fool. Running after money is foolish, running after power is foolish. You are making a fool of yourself, but you never become aware of it because others are also doing the same. Because the majority is doing the same nobody takes note of it; otherwise you would be thought to be mad.
I know rich people who have so much that they don't know what to do with it, but still they go on and on. They have forgotten how to stop, as if their minds don't have any brakes, only accelerators. So they go on accelerating; they don't know how to stop. Now there is no point in earning more money because they have all that money can purchase. They have more money than their next ten generations will need - but they can't live. From morning to night they are possessed with the mania, with that madness of earning more and more and more.
If you ask them why, they can't answer. And it is not thought to be polite to ask such embarrassing questions!
Just watch: your desires make you stupid, they dull your intelligence. They make you behave like buffoons.
Mrs. Nusbaum told her husband that he always looked shabby and that he should buy some new clothes. At lunchtime Mr. Nusbaum noticed that there was a sale at a shoe store so he bought some new shoes. When he came home he said expectantly, "What do you think, Becky?"
"I don't see anything," she said.
So he went to the bathroom and took off everything except his new shoes and then came out again. "So?" he said.
"So," she replied, "it looks the same to me!"
"No, look! It is pointing to my shoes."
"Hmm! Then better you should buy a new hat!"
Desire makes a fool of everybody. But because everybody else is also in the same boat you never become aware of it. And if, once in a while, a Buddha appears in your boat, you throw him out of the boat because he becomes a disturbance, a nuisance. He starts telling you that "This is nonsense! This is stupidity!" He is intolerable.
It is a very strange phenomenon that the real benefactors of humanity look dangerous and the really dangerous people - who go on poisoning your minds and your beings - appear to be benefactors. The politicians and the priests and the pundits, these are the poisoners; but they are great leaders, great guides. They guide you - they guide you into bigger and bigger ditches, they guide you into more and more darkness! You can look at the world and you will be convinced of the fact.
Whenever a buddha appears you are very much annoyed by him, by his presence.
because he starts talking about light. He starts talking about opening your inner eyes.
He starts talking about your subjectivity, your consciousness. And these are things you have not heard about. These are things you are not interested in, because nobody else seems to be interested in them. You are interested in money, and a buddha talks about meditation.
Sometimes people come to me and they say, "If we meditate, will we become wealthy?"
And there are frauds who say "Yes." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says to people, "If you meditate you will become wealthy, you will become rich - because a meditator attracts money."
No wonder he has such a great appeal in America, because who would not like to sit for just fifteen minutes in the morning and in the evening and attract money? A magic secret to become more rich, more powerful - you can become the president, the prime minister, just by doing Transcendental Meditation, morning and evening. Twenty or thirty minutes does not seem to be a wastage; it seems to be worth it.
People come to me too, to ask, "Will it help us to become rich, to become more powerful?" Even if you become interested in meditation you become interested for wrong reasons. Your meditation is also a wrong meditation, not a right meditation.
If you become interested in samadhi, you ask, "What will be the gain? What we will get out of it? What kind of paradise will become available to those who have attained to samadhi?"
And there are religions which go on giving you ideas about paradise, that you will have this and you will have that - rivers of wine, beautiful women, golden trees, paths studded with diamonds and emeralds. All that you desire, they are ready to provide you. And then you become interested in samadhi. That is a wrong samadhi. That is not a right approach towards religion.
Buddha is right. He says, "YOU will not be there, your mind will not be there. None of your desires will be fulfilled. All your desires will evaporate, disappear. There is no way to say anything to you about that ultimate state because you are bound to misunderstand it. It will be discontinuous with you. You will cease, totally cease, and there will be a totally new kind of life about which nothing can be said in your language, in the language that you can understand."
Those who followed Buddha must have been really courageous people, people with guts. It has always been so and it will always be so.
Those who are with me are courageous people, people who are ready to risk all: their desires, their egos, their very existence. But if you can risk all, all becomes available to you.
Just two small things: meditation and let-go. Remember these two key words:
meditation and surrender. Meditation will take you in, and surrender will take you into the whole. And this is the whole of religion. Within these two words Buddha has condensed the whole essence of religion.
Enough for today.
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 7