Enlightenment - The Only Way Home
WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT? HAVE THE EXPERIENCE AND THE IDEA OF ENLIGHTENMENT EVOLVED WITH TIME?
Enlightenment is not something special, it is one of the most simple, natural phenomena. Just because it is so simple and natural it has become extraordinarily difficult for man to understand.
Man's mind is attracted towards the difficult. There is challenge, something to prove, something to feel one's mettle. Man is interested in going to the moon. It is absolutely pointless. There is nothing there at all; it is a dead planet. But man is ready to risk his life to go to a dead planet where he is not going to meet anybody, even to say hello.
Man is interested in reaching Everest. The peak, the highest peak in the world is so narrow that you can barely stand on top of it. You cannot do anything else there, and there is nothing else to do... eternal snow. But for a hundred years, hundreds of adventurers have been going to climb Everest. The majority of them have died on the way, but still it has not prevented new adventurers, new climbers.
One has to understand this point very clearly: the difficult is attractive because it is ego-fulfilling.
The impossible is very magnetic; it pulls you to risk everything, to risk even life, because if you can manage that which has been thought up to now impossible, you have fulfilled your ego the way nobody has yet been able to fulfill it. You are the first man, like Edmund Hillary on Everest - the first man in history - but what is the point? What have you gained? What has humanity gained? No, nobody even asks the question. Everybody knows, deep down, the answer; that's why nobody asks the question.
The more difficult, the more impossible, the more attractive: its impossibility has a fascination. The ego is not interested in the simple, in the ordinary, in the day to day; everybody is doing it. Because of this stupid ego, religions turned enlightenment also into something very difficult, perhaps the most difficult thing in existence. It has to be so. It is the realization of God, it is the realization of eternity.
It is going beyond death; it is moving into the very mystery of existence.
All the religions of the world have been exploiting your ego. And the ego is very vulnerable to being exploited; it is just ready to be exploited: show it a goal, give it a way, make it difficult, almost impossible. I say almost impossible; I'm not saying absolutely impossible, because if you make it absolutely impossible then the ego loses hope. You have to keep the candle of hope burning. It is difficult but possible - almost impossible, but yet possible. But it is possible only for rare, superhuman beings.
All the religions learned the simple strategy, in what man becomes interested, and why. And they want you to remain interested your whole life. It is not something that you achieve today and you are finished tomorrow. Religion does not deal in the commodities which you can get and be finished with. It deals with commodities which you can never get, but only hope for. And you go on hoping till death comes and destroys you.
Enlightenment itself is absolutely simple, but to say so is to destroy all priesthood. To say it is ordinary is to take away the very base of all the religions, their great scriptures, great masters, rabbis, messiahs. What meaning will these people have if enlightenment is an ordinary, simple, human experience?
No, they all will deny that it is simple and human, and they will all emphasize that it is superhuman, very arduous. Hindus say it takes thousands of lives to attain it. Buddhists say even Gautam Buddha, such a superman, had to pass through millions of lives before he could manage to reach the peak which is enlightenment. In fact the very idea of extending life into millions of lives is a byproduct of making the experience of enlightenment so difficult, so impossible, so far away, that one life is not enough.
How can you attain enlightenment in one life? One life is too short. Perhaps that is the reason that in Mohammedanism, Judaism, Christianity, there exists nothing equivalent to enlightenment. These three religions were born outside India. These three religions believe only in one life. Just in one life, all that you can do is to believe in a savior, in a messiah: cling to his apron and he will take you.
You cannot depend upon your own effort, because what effort can you make?
Just look at your life. Half your life is simply wasted in sleeping, taking baths, eating food, changing clothes, shaving your beard. The most important years of life are wasted in learning all kinds of rubbish: geography, history, geometry. By the time you come out of university you are almost thirty.
If you have gone on to attain a Ph.D. or D.Litt., you are thirty. The best time of your life has gone down the drain. And now you have to get married, and the wife, and the children, and the service, and the politics... all your time is taken up.
If you count, you will not find even seven hours in seventy years which are absolutely yours. No, life keeps you engaged... in the movies, with the television, with the radio, in the churches, in the synagogues, in things in which perhaps you are not interested at all... in God.... I can't think what kind of a man is interested in God. And why? What wrong has he done to you? You don't even know whether he exists or not but you listen to sermons on God every Sunday. People are reading the same Bible, the same Gita, every day continually, their whole life. And how much life you have got? Only seventy years.
One day just sit down and note how your life is being wasted, and how much time is left just for you. You will not find seven hours. I am absolutely certain it will be impossible to find seven hours in seventy years of life. If sometimes you have some time, then friends are there, picnics are there, football matches are there, Olympics are there. From every direction you are being called.
So these three religions never developed the idea of enlightenment. In English there is no equivalent to the Eastern words for enlightenment. 'Enlightenment' is a very poor substitute. In the Western languages, a person who is well educated, cultured - you call him enlightened. A whole century, when science developed in the beginning, is called the Age of Enlightenment. In Western history books you will call Bertrand Russell a very enlightened man. About each and every subject he is very progressive; he does not accept anything just because tradition has brought it to him - no, he thinks it over. Unless he is rationally satisfied, he is not going to believe in it.
He was born a Christian, but he wrote a book, Why I am not a Christian, because he found so many logical contradictions, fallacies, inconsistencies in The Bible, that he could not accept it. And he wrote a beautiful book bringing in all his arguments as to why he cannot accept Jesus. He would love to accept him, but he cannot because of the contradictory nature of his statements. He cannot accept him because Jesus gives no logic, no proof.... What proof has he got that he is the only begotten son of God? Anybody can say that. Any madman can declare that - there are madmen who have been declaring that. There have always been madmen who have been declaring that.
Neither they have any proof nor did Jesus have any proof.
What he says and the way he behaves are contradictory. He says, "Blessed are the humble." But he is not a humble person at all. He is very arrogant, very irritable, very egoistic. What more can the ego declare than to say, "I am the only begotten son of God"? At least Mahavira accepts twenty- three other tirthankaras. He is only the twenty-fourth. Buddha accepts twenty-four lives of his own before he became a buddha; but he accepts the fact that others can become a buddha. Anybody who tries, endeavors, is capable of becoming a buddha. So it is not his monopoly.
But Jesus seems to be very monopolistic, a real Jew: the only begotten son of God. He closes all doors for anybody else to be the son of God - nobody before him, nobody after him. He is incomparably unique.
Hindus have twenty-four avataras, and Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism - all the three religions born in India - believe in cycles. One creation is one cycle. And it seems to be very close to modern physics and its explorations. Modern physics has come to know that in existence there are black holes - it is a very strange thing, the black hole. And there are white holes. Anything coming close to a black hole is simply pulled in. For example, if this earth passes by the side of a black hole, it will be pulled in. It will be a de-creation. It will disappear into the basic elements, electrons, protons, neutrons, of which it is constituted. It is only a hypothesis right now, that perhaps the black hole is one side and the white hole is the other side of the same phenomenon. The black hole pulls things into de-creation and the white hole creates them again. From the white hole, new earths, new stars, new suns go on pouring out.
This has been accepted by all the three religions of India - that this is only one creation. It is a cycle, just as the sun rises, then the sun sets, then again the sun rises, then again the sun sets, in a cycle.
In one cycle there are twenty-four tirthankaras, according to Jainas - in one cycle. They are not making claims about the whole universe and eternity. There are millions of cycles, infinite cycles.
There is no beginning and no end. Each cycle will have twenty-four tirthankaras. If you count all the tirthankaras of all the circles, they will be millions and millions. So Mahavira is nothing unique. He is not trying to say, "I am the only one; with me comes the full stop."
What happened to God after Jesus? Has he accepted the idea of birth control? Or is the holy ghost no longer interested in women? - has become really holy? What happened to God?
In India the religions make enlightenment very difficult, but they have a different strategy to make it difficult. One cycle is millions of years. Even if you can attain in one cycle, you have attained it easily; otherwise souls go on from one cycle to another cycle, to another cycle - and just moving in the same vicious circle again and again and again.
A man, a very rich young man, listening to Buddha, asked to be initiated. Buddha said, "You should think about it; don't be so hasty" - because Buddha knew about the man. He was well known in the capital; perhaps he was the richest man after the king. And he lived such a luxurious life that even the king was jealous of him, because the king had to think of many things, the whole kingdom, and this man has no responsibility of any kind. He was living as luxuriously as one can live. So Buddha knew about the man, that he has never even walked on the bare earth; he sleeps the whole day, and the whole night goes in music, dances, girls, wine. He was a drunkard. It was a miracle that he had come in the early morning. Perhaps he had come directly from his wine and women. He had not gone to sleep, thinking, "One day at least I should listen to this man. So many people are going there, and talking about him... gather about him."
Shrone was his name, that young man's name. Indian stories use names with some significance.
Shrone means one who is capable of hearing, of listening. So the name is significant. He heard Buddha for the first time and he went to him and he said, "Initiate me."
Buddha said, "Think it over. I know you, I know about you."
Shrone said, "Once I have decided something, I have decided it. I am not accustomed to thinking twice about anything. Give me initiation right now." As he was so determined, Buddha gave him initiation. He became a Buddhist monk.
But he was the latest arrival. The serai, the caravanserai where Buddha was staying, was full of Buddhist monks. There was no space inside for him to sleep, so he had to sleep just on the steps - and he could not sleep. He had never even dreamed of such hardship... just on the steps. And Buddha had this idea that the monk can have only three pieces of material for clothes. So one he uses for the bed - a long piece of cloth - and also uses it to cover himself, so it becomes a kind of sleeping bag. And two he uses for himself: one for the lower body, one for the upper body. That's all a Buddhist monk is allowed to use. He could not sleep on a stone step with just a thin cloth...
and there were so many mosquitoes, and the whole night monks were coming in, going out, coming in, going out, and he was just on the steps, so each time anybody would come out or go in he was awakened.
Just early in the morning, when he was falling asleep at last, tired, Buddha came, awakened him, and said, "There is still time - you go back home. Nobody knows you have become a sannyasin.
Once people know, it will be difficult for you to go back. Go back! I know the whole night you have not been able to sleep. It is difficult: there are mosquitoes, and only three pieces of cloth are allowed, and in this place there is no space. And you are the youngest monk, just one day old, so you cannot have the space of some elderly monk. There is a seniority, and you are the last."
Shrone said, "Don't disturb me. What step I have taken, I have taken. Now whatsoever consequence has to be suffered, I will suffer. But I don't know how to look back. The question of going back simply does not arise; I never even look back."
Buddha said, "It is good, because in the last life you had become a monk and just because of these same difficulties you had gone back. So I thought perhaps you might do it again, because people go on in the same vicious circle again and again and again - the same habit. And they go on moving in the wheel of the habits. I had come to ask you particularly because I knew that in the last life you had turned back. This is a good sign that you have grown up, that you have stopped turning back.
But ahead it is not easy; perhaps a few lives with this determination, if you go on and on and on, you might achieve nirvana" - that is the Buddhist term for enlightenment.
Bertrand Russell cannot be called an enlightened person. He is a very great intellectual, a rational being, very progressive, and capable of getting out of the bondage of convention, tradition, but the reasons he chooses to get out are all of the mind. He finds Jesus to be contradictory - it is a mind statement. Jesus behaves arrogantly, and he talks of being humble. He says to the people, "Blessed are the poor," and then he promises them the kingdom of God. Now, there is an apparent contradiction. If poverty is a blessing, then all the sages in heaven should be the most poor, because it is a blessing. In fact the people who live in hell should all be rich, super-rich, if you follow it logically.
Jesus says, "Even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle but a rich man cannot pass through the gates of heaven." Well, where are rich men going? They must be going somewhere. So all the rich and super-rich - if you want to meet the Fords and Rockefellers and Morgans, you have to go to hell. They will all be there, with all their riches. Because if rich people cannot go to heaven, how can their riches go? Who will take them? And perhaps hell will be, right now, the most luxurious place to live in. You will find all Hollywood there; where else will they go? All the actors and actresses must be there in hell.
"Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God." But what is the kingdom of God? Is it poor or rich? If you call it a kingdom, it means it is rich, tremendously rich. So it is a strange logic: being poor makes you capable of being rich in the other world; being rich makes you capable of entering into hell.
This is strange. It is against all mathematics, because these poor people will not be able to enjoy the kingdom of God - they have known only poverty. Only the rich people have exercised, prepared for how to use riches. In fact, they should get into heaven and the kingdom of God. They are prepared and they will enjoy it. What are the poor people going to do there? And what kind of argument is this, that poverty makes you blessed in the eyes of God?
Bertrand Russell could not agree; hence he is called one of the enlightened men of the twentieth century. But this is not the meaning of enlightenment when I use the word. It is out of compulsion that I have to use it. The Buddhist word is nirvana. Nirvana means, literally: you are sitting with a candle on a dark night and you blow out the candle. Suddenly the light disappears and all is darkness. With the light disappearing all the objects that were seen because of the presence of light disappear. Now there is infinite darkness, and silence.
Nirvana simply means cessation of the candlelight, so that you are in absolute silence. And darkness has no bad connotation in Buddhism. It is peaceful, it has depth. Light is shallow; darkness is infinitely deep. Light is always bounded, it has boundaries. Darkness has no boundaries, it is unbounded. Light comes and goes; darkness always is. When there is light you cannot see it.
When light is not there you can see it. But it is always there; you cannot cause it. Light has a cause.
You burn the fire, you put on wood. When the wood is finished the light will be gone. It is caused, hence it is an effect. But darkness is not caused by anything, it is not an effect. It is uncaused eternity.
Nirvana is a very simple phenomenon. It simply means blowing out the small candle of the ego. And suddenly.... The reality has always been there, but just because of the candle of the ego you were not able to see it. Now the candle is no longer there, the reality is. It has always been there. You had never lost it in the first place. One cannot lose it even if one tries. It is your very nature, so how can you lose it? It is you - your very being. Yes, you can forget, at the most.
Now, see the emphasis. It is not an achievement. Achievement is in the future, far away.
Achievement is difficult, can be almost impossible, will take time, will take will and willpower, struggle.
No, it is not an achievement. You have not lost it. Even if you want to lose it, there is no way to lose it. Wherever you go it will go with you. It is you, too. How can you escape from yourself? You can try, but you will always find you are there. You can hide behind trees and mountains, in caves, but whenever you look around you will see you are there. Where can you go from yourself?
So nirvana is just like darkness. The light is put off and your reality is all there, with all its beauty, benediction, blessing. But there is no word in English to translate nirvana. Jainas use the word moksha. Moksha means absolute freedom, ultimate freedom, freedom from all fetters. And the biggest fetter is the ego. Other fetters are just parts of the ego: greed, lust, ambition, anger. All that is thought to be sin in other religions, in Jainism is thought only to be a fetter.
But the root, the main root of the whole tree of your slavery, is the ego. So cut the main root and all other roots will die of their own accord. Don't bother to cut small roots, branches, leaves, because they will come again. Cut the main root and the whole tree will die. And when all your fetters fall, what remains? The unfettered consciousness, the freedom.
That freedom is not anything political, anything economic. It has nothing to do with the word freedom and its connotations that you have become acquainted with. It is simply an unfettered existence. You don't find anywhere around you, anything holding you. You are no longer tethered to anything. This untethered state they have called moksha. It makes no difference, just their terminology is different.
Patanjali, the founder of the system of yoga, has his own name. He calls it kaivalya. Kaivalya means absolute aloneness, where the other is no longer needed. Otherwise you are continuously in need of the other: the father, the mother, the brother, the wife, the children. You are continuously hankering for the other. You cannot live alone, you are afraid of being alone. You have never tasted it, still you are afraid - because from your very childhood you have not been told to make a distinction between two words, loneliness and aloneness. All your dictionaries go on saying they are synonymous. They are not. They are as far away from each other as two things can be.
Loneliness is where you are missing the other. Aloneness is when you are finding yourself.
Aloneness is the finding of your true and authentic being. Loneliness is simply searching for the other, to get occupied, because if the other is not there then you don't know what to do with yourself.
Anytime when you are lonely you start doing something or other.
For twenty years I was traveling continually in India. And I was always traveling in an airconditioned coupe, so there was always a possibility that once in a while there would be another passenger too - rarely, because very few people bother about air-conditioning. But once in a while it was a great opportunity for me to watch the other. And it was sometimes a twenty-four hour journey, or a thirty-six hour journey, or even more.
I was living exactly in the middle of India and traveling all around. So if I was going to Calcutta it was twenty-four hours in one direction, and if I was traveling from Calcutta to Bombay, then it was forty-eight hours. And if I was going to Gauhati, it took six days, and so many trains to be changed....
But it was a great experiment to be with someone for forty-eight hours - and I would not speak. He would try... he would say, "Where are you going?"
And I would say, "I am going to Calcutta. I am coming from Jabalpur. My father's name is this. My mother's name is that. My profession is" - just to hit the garbage out of people's heads. I would answer anything.
He would say, "I have not asked about all these things."
I would say, "I am answering once and for all, because then, please, be silent - for forty-eight hours, no questions. You can ask anything else that you want right now. In the beginning let all the questions be settled. Otherwise soon you will ask, 'Where do you live? How many brothers?' I will tell you that I have eleven brothers and sisters... everything!"
He would say, "You are a strange man. I have never come across a man.... I have just asked, 'Where are you going?' and you are telling me everything, what your grandfather's name was, what work he usually does...."
I said, "I am trying to finish it all so nothing is left for you."
Then I remained silent and just watched the man, how difficult it was. He opened his suitcase, and he knew, and I knew, and he knew that I knew it was meaningless. He closed it, put it back - but what to do? He opened the window, and he knew that this is foolish, opening the window of an airconditioned compartment. He knew that I was there, so he shut the window again. He started reading the same newspaper he had been reading since the morning, again from the beginning, went to the bathroom, came out again, called the servant to bring the tea. Forty-eight hours....
After a few hours he said, "Do you really mean that you won't speak?" I was quiet. I did not even answer this question, because once settled, it is settled. Then by and by he started forgetting me, because how long could he remain remembering me? He was suffering.
I have seen people in airconditioned compartments perspiring, so nervous, trembling. There is nobody; nobody is going to harm them. I am absolutely harmless. I had told them in the very beginning, "I am absolutely harmless, and you need not be worried about me. You can sleep. You can do whatsoever you want to do, I will not interfere. You can dance, you can sing, you can make faces, you can do anything you want. I am not the type of person to interfere in anybody's life. Just don't talk to me, because that is interfering with me."
And for forty-eight hours I would see such misery and suffering, for no reason. The person had a beautiful, comfortable coach - airconditioned, clean - good food, servant continuously available. It was no problem for him. But no, this was not the real problem. The real problem was that he was finding himself without somebody to be occupied with. Anybody, even if it was his enemy, even if it was a quarrel, that would have done: he would get engaged and he would be able to forget himself.
I was not letting him forget himself - that was the trouble. He was perspiring. He was nervous because he knew only one thing, and that was loneliness. He had never tasted aloneness.
When he was departing I again said to him, "Just look. Remember one thing: I was also in the same compartment - I was not perspiring, I was not nervous. I was not opening my suitcase again and again, and closing it. I was not calling the servant unnecessarily. I was not reading the same newspaper again and again and again. Why were you doing it? Can you see the difference? I was alone, and you were lonely. Just remember it. Perhaps sometime it may be of help to you."
Kaivalya means aloneness. That is Patanjali's word for enlightenment. Now, in English there is no word which can convey these tremendous insights. 'Enlightenment' has been chosen for the simple reason that it means you become full of light. Yes, it is a lightening, uncaused - not from the outside, but an explosion within. And suddenly there is no problem, no question, no quest. Suddenly you are at home, for the first time at ease, not going anywhere; for the first time in this moment herenow....
Enlightenment is a very simple and ordinary experience.
I emphasize it again and again because I am not a priest, I am not a rabbi, I am not a messiah. I have no desire to exploit anyone in the world. My function is totally different. I want to share with you something that is overflowing in me. I don't need anything in return. Just that you share it is enough obligation upon me; I am grateful.
That's why I say this is the first religion in the world: because all those religions were making you, forcing you to be grateful to the messiah, to the tirthankara, to the master - but why? Why should you be grateful to Jesus or Buddha or anybody? If Buddha had something too much in him, and was overburdened just like a cloud full of rainwater, in tremendous need of showering upon you - actually that's the case: Buddha wants to shower upon you - then who is going to be obliged? He or the earth that receives it, that opens its heart and invites it?
A real master is grateful to the disciple, to the devotee. Only a pseudo-master tries to satisfy his ego trip through the disciples, the crowd of disciples, the number of disciples.
And because it is your own nature I'm not giving anything to you. All that I am doing is just putting a mirror before you so that you can look into it. The mirror loses nothing when you look into it. Or do you think it becomes less of a mirror once you have looked into it? Twice you have looked into it, thrice you have looked into it - is it exhausted, spent? No, in fact the more you go on looking into the mirror, the more you go on cleaning the mirror, because you have to see into it. If nobody looks into it, dust is going to gather on it.
The mirror is grateful that you go on looking into it, and you go on cleaning it. But the mirror does not give you anything. Still, in a way it gives you... it gives you yourself. It takes away all the wrong ideas you have about you, and gives you your original face.
You have asked, Sheela, "Has the experience and the idea of enlightenment evolved with time?"
Experience is the same. It cannot evolve, because it is not a thing. It is an experience when all things and thoughts are dropped - just a clean mirror, empty. Now in what way can emptiness become more empty? If it can become more empty then it was not emptiness in the first place. Emptiness, aloneness, freedom - all these different names - they can only be total.
It is just like the circle in geometry. You cannot draw half a circle, or can you? If it is half, it is not a circle. You may have thought before that you can draw half a circle, what is wrong in it? You cannot draw half a circle because - just because it is half, it is not a circle. It is only an arc. The circle is always complete, there is no other way for it to be. So whenever enlightenment has happened - ten thousand years ago, now, or ten thousand years ahead - it is the same experience. As far as experiencing is concerned it is the same.
But the idea evolves, the concept evolves. You have to understand the difference between the experience and the idea. The experience is when you are absolutely thoughtless, wordless, in absolute emptiness... no movement, utter rest. When you bring it into language then it becomes an idea, it becomes a concept. Then certainly as language evolves, man evolves, the idea, the concept evolves.
For example: Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism use very crude and primitive terms - the kingdom of God. This is a very primitive way of pointing to enlightenment. But Jesus is a poor man, uncultured, uneducated, a carpenter's son, born in a country which is very primitive.
Buddha was born five hundred years before Jesus, but that was the peak for India. It never came to such a height again, not even now, and perhaps may not come to that peak again. The languages had evolved to such accuracy, to such scientific expression, to such beautiful poetic potentiality. Now, no language can compete with Sanskrit. There are beautiful languages in the world, tremendously beautiful languages in the world, but no language can compete with Sanskrit. It has such a long history of evolution that for an experience like enlightenment....
In English you have to coin the word enlightenment, and you have to know that you can be misunderstood because it is being used in other contexts too. Bertrand Russell is an enlightened man, Kant is an enlightened man, Hegel is an enlightened man. None of them is enlightened in the way I am using the word. They are far away from enlightenment - much farther away than you are because they are more in the mind, and they have very disciplined minds, hence they are caged in their own minds. And they have not even heard... Bertrand Russell lived a hundred years and had not even heard about enlightenment, the way I am using the word.
Buddha used another language which had evolved side by side with Sanskrit. He used Pali.
Mahavira used Prakrit, another language, which is perhaps more ancient than Sanskrit, perhaps the most ancient language in the whole world, out of all the languages. Its very name indicates it. You will have to understand: prakrit means natural and sanskrit means refined. The very word sanskrit means refined, cultured. Prakrit is the language which is not refined. It is not yet the language of the scholars, of the learned people; it is the language of the masses. But it is certainly far more experienced than Sanskrit, because Sanskrit is nothing but Prakrit refined, just like crude oil - you go on refining it and it becomes petrol, and you refine it more and it becomes something else....
Sanskrit is refined Prakrit. Prakrit is just like a raw diamond, just out of the mine, not polished, not cut, not given a shape yet. But that too has its beauty, because it has its naturalness. Sanskrit is very refined, very polished. For ten thousand years millions of brahmins were refining it, giving it such a quality which is not available in any other language.
It is so difficult to translate anything from Sanskrit to English because Sanskrit has fifty-two letters in its alphabet - almost all the possibilities. You cannot make another sound, more than fifty-two.
They have exhausted all the possibilities of sounds. In English you will be in trouble because there are not fifty-two letters in the alphabet. So those letters which are missing you will have to somehow coin, somehow make. And the same is true about words.
Because the experience of enlightenment has been going on for thousands of years, different people using different languages use different words - nirvana for example. Nirvana is a Sanskrit word.
Buddha actually never used the word nirvana. Pali is the language of the masses, so he used the word nibbana. Now that is crude, nibbana. Sanskrit has cut it, made it rounded: nirvana... given it music.
But you cannot hope for that from Jesus. He is at a loss. He has to use the Old Testament words which were available to him. He must have felt the difficulty, and he got into unnecessary trouble.
If he had used some words other than kingdom of God he might not have been crucified and there would have been no Christianity at all. These words, kingdom of God, created suspicion in the Romans, who were the rulers of Judea. They thought that this man really means a kingdom.
And Romans have never been philosophical. They are not like Greeks. They have not produced a single Socrates or a Plato or an Aristotle or a Heraclitus or a Diogenes or a Plotinus - not a single man who can be counted in the galaxy of philosophers. Romans were soldiers, great soldiers. But a soldier's life and work is very momentary. Poetry lasts longer, philosophy lasts longer. But the Romans were only soldiers. They had no idea what this man was talking about. They were afraid, they were really so afraid....
King Herod who was on the throne in Judea heard this Jewish story, that soon the messiah is going to be born, "and once the messiah is born you will be redeemed from all suffering." Naturally Herod thought, "This means you will be redeemed from slavery too, you will become free from the Roman empire." He asked his soldiers, "Find all the children below two years of age and kill them all. Don't leave a single child below two" - because the Jews were saying, "The messiah is born, and he must be nearabout two by now." The rumor was spreading so fast, like wildfire, because everybody was waiting for the messiah. They were in so much suffering, they could not do anything other than hope.
And this was purely a rumor. But Herod became so afraid that he ordered a massacre, a wholesale massacre of all children below two years of age.
Joseph and Mary just heard that this was going to happen, that it had started happening in the capital. Soon they would be coming into the villages, and the smaller villages. Bethlehem was a very small village, so small... and perhaps there may have been some story about it, I don't know, because it is said that Jews used to laugh at the idea that the messiah has been born in Bethlehem.
They used to say, "Who has ever heard of a messiah being born in Bethlehem?"
Perhaps it was something like a city in India which is called Hoshyarpur. Hoshyarpur means the "city of the wise," but the rumor about the city is that every single person in the city is an idiot. If you are traveling near there in Punjab don't ask anybody where he comes from. If he comes from Hoshyarpur there will be difficulty. Then, "Why do you ask this question? What do you mean? Do you think everybody is an idiot?" Immediately there will be trouble, because he cannot accept the idea, but the rumor seems to be old enough....
In the times of Akbar even, four hundred, five hundred years ago, the Hoshyarpur myth was there.
The story is that they all complained to the great Akbar, "We are just normal people, just like everybody else. But we cannot even pronounce our town's name if somebody asks it. If we say 'Hoshyarpur' people start laughing, and they say, 'You must be joking!' Nobody believes it. And if they do believe it then they believe we are idiots."
So they asked Akbar, "Please send an inquiry to look into the matters of Hoshyarpur, and declare whether we are idiots or normal people, so that this thing is simply finished." Nobody knows who started it. Perhaps the name Hoshyarpur may have given the idea: "city of the wise." The name may have given the idea, because it means city of the wise... and it is so difficult to find even a single wise man - and this is the city of the wise - it must be that all its men are fools.
Akbar sent a commission. Eleven very learned people from the court went to Hoshyarpur; and in Hoshyarpur there were tremendous preparations to receive them, and to prove to them that, "We are not idiots." Everything went well. Those eleven people were surprised that it was absolute nonsense, those people were all normal, better than normal. Everybody was behaving the best he could manage. They looked better than normal. Their answers were wise, because they had been preparing for months. When the commission was going to come for three days, you had to prove, once and for all... this notoriousness had to be dropped.
Everything went well, and the commission was very happy. The chief of the commission said, "I am very happy and I will say to the great Akbar that not only are the people normal, they are far better than normal, they are far superior." And the people were immensely happy. They went with them for miles to give them a send off. It was very difficult to persuade them to go back, they were so happy.
In their whole life they have never been so happy because now the great Akbar would declare, "You are superior to the normal people."
While coming back they started talking: had anybody committed any mistake or anything? One man said, "I have committed one mistake, but I was afraid to say so, because you will kill me." He was the cook - the best cook in Hoshyarpur - who was preparing food for the eleven members of the commission.
They said, "What mistake?"
A small spice in India - jeera, it is called, a small spice, nothing significant, but it gives a good taste to things.... He said, "I forgot to put jeera in the dal."
They said, "You destroyed everything! What will they think? 'These people are absolute idiots, they don't even know about jeera, which every villager knows. Even the most idiot person knows that jeera exists!' What will they think? And you remained silent for so many days!"
They turned around, kicked their horses into a run, stopped the commission, and they said, "One day more!"
The commissioners said, "What is the problem?"
They said, with tears in their eyes, "One day more."
"But," the commissioners said, "there is no problem. Everything has gone perfectly well. We have prepared our report, and you are going to be declared superior by the king."
They said, "We don't agree. A great mistake has been committed - and you know it. You are just being gentlemanly and nice with us saying 'You are superior to idiots.' We are idiots."
The commission members said, "What happened?"
They said, "What has not happened?" And they brought the cook whom they had beaten.
The commission members asked, "What have you done to this man?"
They said, "He needs to be killed! He forgot to put jeera in your dal."
The commission members said, "Jeera? But we were never aware of it. And he has made everything so tasteful that who cares about jeera? But one thing is certain - that you are a city of idiots. You go back!" They threw away the report they had written and they said, "Now you are idiots."
So something about Bethlehem must have been true. I don't know what was the matter, why Jews consistently again and again said to Jesus and his apostles, "Who has ever heard of a messiah being born in Bethlehem?" It was a small village, a very small village, almost a nonentity. So first they were destroying the children in Jerusalem. As they started destroying the children in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary ran away to Egypt. That's the only place Jews knew. From Egypt they had come - that's what the great dream of Moses had been; he had brought them from Egypt.
Now, putting Mary and the small Jesus - he must have been one and a half years old or something - on their donkey, they started moving towards Egypt. That's how a beautiful story happened on the way. They were getting farther away from the danger and Mary said, "Joseph, have you thought what name we are going to give to our little boy?"
At the moment she said that, Joseph was struck by a rock, and said, "Jesus!"
Mary said, "Right, that's a beautiful name! It suits him."
And Jesus was brought up in Egypt. Whatsoever he knew was only heard from others. He traveled far and wide but still he was an uncultured man, uneducated. He could not give a concept, a refined idea to enlightenment. So it has not happened because Jesus was not able to give it. The fools who have been following Jesus - and remember, only fools follow - the popes and the so-called Christian saints and sages... they have all been following and they have been stuck where Jesus left them, because he was the last word of God. So no evolution has happened; otherwise they would have come to beautiful concepts, beautiful ideas.
Islam has stopped where Mohammed stopped, and he was even more uneducated than Jesus. But Buddha was very cultured, the son of a great king. All the great scholars were teaching him every possible subject that was available in those days. Mahavira was very cultured. He was also the son of a great king. So they brought refined words, and that process has continued. It has never stopped in India, because India has a tradition of writing commentaries which no other country has.
People think that what Jesus has said is enough. When I spoke on the gospel of Thomas, I received many letters from Christians: "What is the need of commenting on it? What Thomas has said is enough, clear enough." Certainly it is clear enough, because Thomas was also an uneducated man; he has ideas that are not very complex, that can be explained. But if I want to make something complex out of something simple, I can. That is not difficult. And when they heard me on Thomas, then they started writing letters to me: "We had never known that this is the meaning of Thomas."
It has nothing to do with Thomas, it is simply my meaning. It is my gun on poor Thomas' shoulder.
I am using him as a jumping board; and I have used all these people as jumping boards. I don't say that what I have said is their meaning - how can it be? I have come twenty-five centuries after Buddha; how can it be? Twenty-five centuries have not gone by uselessly. So when I speak on Buddha, it is not the meaning of Buddha, it is my meaning. I am using his words and putting my meaning into his words. This has been a continuity in India that makes for a tremendous development of ideas.
Krishna's Gita - there are one thousand commentaries on it. One thousand people, of different kinds, using their intelligence, their experience, and putting it into Krishna's mouth. Of course if Krishna comes back he will be very angry, particularly with me, because I have put many things into his mouth with which he cannot agree. But he is not going to come, so there is no problem. I don't think that we are going to meet anywhere. And even if we meet, I can simply say I'm sorry.