I think you do not understand the meaning of discipleship. You are asking something impossible. It is almost as if I ask you: Can you be my sannyasin if I don't want to be your master? You can see the absurdity of it. But why such a question arises in the first place has to be understood. It has to do with the whole past of humanity.
People are Christians without being Christians; people are Hindus without being Hindus. Only formally do Christians accept Jesus as their master. It is not an intimate, sincere, total relationship.
It is just by birth - it is an accidental relationship. They have not chosen to be Christians. They are born in a Christian home, or in a Jewish home, and they have been conditioned to believe that Jesus is your master, Moses is your master - poor Moses knows nothing about you, neither has Jesus any idea who you are. And this is true all over the world.
Religion has nothing to do with your birth. By birth one cannot be Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan; but that's how it has been happening. Religion has been joined with birth to deceive you. The best way to deceive a person is to give him the idea that what people are seeking, he has already got.
This is the most refined way of cheating.
A Christian never thinks of searching to find out what religion is, what it means to be a disciple, what it means to accept someone as your master. He has been deceived from birth to believe that he already has religion. Ready-made it has been given to him. No effort on his part has been made, no search, no seeking, no enquiry. He has a master in Jesus Christ, he has a holy book in THE BIBLE; everything is supplied by tradition, family, society.
They don't leave any chance for you to enquire on your own; and the problem is, unless you enquire on your own you will never find what life is all about, what truth is, what these tremendous moments are, like when one becomes a disciple, when one finds a master.... You will never know those moments of ultimate rejoicing. You will never run in the street naked, shouting, "Eureka! I have found it!"
Archimedes was not mad. He was one of the most important scientists of his time and of all times.
And if he, finding a simple thing, a scientific fact, forgets all about clothing because he was in his bathtub when he found a certain principle for which he had been looking....
When you are looking continuously in all directions, knocking on all doors, you never know which door is the right door. Archimedes was puzzled for months because the king had told him, "If you are really a scientist you should find out one thing. Somebody, another king, has presented me with a crown of gold. I want to know whether it is pure gold, or if there is some mixture in it. Is any other metal mixed in with it? And I don't want the crown to be cut. I don't want you even to touch it. You have to find the answer without spoiling the beautiful present."
For months Archimedes was troubled: how to find out? If he were allowed to cut a little piece of the crown it would have been possible to find out whether other metals were mixed in or not. When a question remains continuously with you for twenty-four hours, it takes you, by and by, close to the answer. The answer comes in a moment of relaxation. The question is a tension, but you can get the answer in relaxation only if the tension has been to its uttermost climax.
It had been so for months, and the king was asking every day. Archimedes was starting to feel embarrassed: a well known scientist cannot find such a small thing? People had started laughing at him. He could not sleep, he could not do anything - only one question.... That day, relaxing in his bathtub - which was full of water, completely full - as he sat in the tub, naturally some water flowed out to make a space for him. And something clicked in his mind. He weighed the water that had flowed out, and he found the principle. If pure gold is put in water, then a certain amount of water will come out. If some other metal is mixed in it, then a different amount of water will come out, because that certain metal will not have the same effect on water as the gold if it is pure.
Now the crown need not be destroyed; it has just to be put in water, and another piece of pure gold of the same volume can be put in water and you can see how much water comes out from both. If it is exactly the same then the crown is of pure gold; if it is not, then there is a mixture. The finding was not something great. He had not found a master, or truth; he had not realized himself. He had not entered into nirvana. But such a small finding.... The question is not of small or great; the question is of finding yourself. The joy comes from finding, not what you find.
Archimedes jumped out of his bathtub, ran out of his bathroom, and rushed into the street shouting, "Eureka!" A crowd followed him. They thought, "We were always thinking this man is crazy, now he has gone completely crazy; naked, he is going towards the palace!"
He reached the court naked, shouting "Eureka, I have found it!"
The king said, "It seems you must have found it. But where are your clothes?" That moment Archimedes became aware that he was naked.
The king said, "Your coming naked shows that you must have found it, because when someone finds something it is such a joy. Who cares about clothes? Who remembers about manners? You need not say anything to me; just your coming in this way has given me proof that you must have found it."
But you have not found Christianity. You have never shouted, "Eureka!" You have not found Hinduism; you have not found anything that could have driven you into the street naked, shouting.
This is why such a question arises.
You have been living on borrowed things. You can borrow things but you cannot borrow experiences.
You can borrow money from someone, but you cannot borrow his love experience. You cannot say, "Just give me your love experience for two days, and I will return it with interest." Love experience is not a commodity.
You are asking me, "Can you still be my master if I don't wish to be a sannyasin?" There must be many misconceptions in your mind. As if it is something that the master has to do! So if the master accepts, that's enough, you need not be a disciple, you need not be a sannyasin, you need not do anything.
That too is given by your idiotic tradition to you: Jesus is the savior, all that you need is to accept him as your savior, and that's all. The whole responsibility is his. On your part only one thing is needed:
to accept him as your savior. Nothing else is needed, no transformation in you.
The reality is just the opposite: the master does nothing. It is in your becoming a disciple that the whole mystery lies. It is in your surrender of the ego that the whole search comes to an authentic point. It is in putting your mind aside.
That is what sannyas is: an authentic discipleship. It means putting your mind aside. You have lived according to your mind up to now. If that is fulfilling, then there is no need for anybody to become a sannyasin.
If you feel you are blissful with your mind, then why bother about a master? Why carry an unnecessary load? Why become tethered? It is certain that as your mind is, it is nothing but anguish; it is suffering, misery, despair. But you are not ready to become a sannyasin. That means you are not ready to put your mind aside.
Translated into reality, you are not wishing to change even a little bit - not even your clothes, what to say about your mind? You are not ready even to hang a mala with my picture around your neck, how are you going to allow me to enter into your heart?
You want me to be your master and you are keeping yourself closed in every possible way. You are saying, "Would you like to come into my house?" and you are closing the doors in my face. On the one hand you are inviting me, on the other hand you are closing your doors and windows, so I cannot enter in any way.
The relationship between a master and a disciple is one of the greatest mysteries of existence.
The master does nothing - remember it always. He is only a presence. All that is done is done by the disciple. The presence of the master is helpful, just the presence. It is immensely nourishing.
His presence gives you the guarantee that what has happened to him can happen to you; otherwise where are you going to find the evidence that things like that happen? The master's only function is to give you tangible evidence.
You cannot make Jesus your master because he has been dead for two thousand years. The relationship between a master and a disciple is a living relationship.
You don't get married to women who died two thousand years ago; otherwise, I think everybody would be marrying Cleopatra, Amrapali. Who will bother about ordinary women when you can marry Cleopatra? And Cleopatra cannot say no; she has been dead for a long time. But you are doing the same thing when you relate yourself to Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed.
You don't understand a simple thing, that relating to a master is a bigger, far bigger love relationship; it is a far more crazy love affair. It cannot happen between somebody who is living and somebody who has been dead for thousands of years; the distance is too much. But people prefer to make Jesus, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Zarathustra, their master, for the simple reason that the master is not present, he cannot say no. He cannot tell you, "First you have to go through a transformation." It is a one-way affair; the other party is absent.
But I am not absent, I am present. You cannot ask such a stupid question to me.
If you don't wish to become a sannyasin - am I mad, that I should become a master to you? Why should I become a master to you? For what? You are not even wishing to be a sannyasin. You don't want to give anything, and you want to get everything. Becoming your master I will be taking on your total responsibility. And you are not even wishing to be a sannyasin - which is nothing. At least my sannyas is the simplest that has ever existed on the earth.
What is required of you? Even this seems to be too much. Then just don't be bothered with the greater things of life. Go back to your hell. You are not meant to have eyes; perhaps to remain blind is your destiny. Remain blind.
Asking such a question implies that a master is to do everything, the only thing needed is to be accepted by him, then your work is finished. Now you can go on doing all the nonsense that you have been doing. You can do it now even more without any guilt, without any fear, without any worry about the consequences, because now somebody has taken your responsibility.
Omar Khayyam, one of the great poets of Persia, said, "Don't stop me from enjoying women and wine. Don't stop me - because God is forgiving; if I do not commit sin, then what will happen to God's forgiveness? I have to commit sins just to keep God qualified, compassionate, forgiving. No sin is bigger than God's compassion. Let me commit the worst: he is there."
You see the logic of the man? It is perfectly clear. If God's very quality is to forgive, then what is the fear of sin? And how much sin can you commit? God's compassion is infinite. All your sins combined will still be finite, they cannot be infinite. If you can commit infinite sins you have become almost a God because you can do infinite things. Then there is no difference between you and God.
You have infinity in your hands as much as God has.
Omar Khayyam's statement is significant because that's what all religious people are doing: they put the responsibility on somebody, and then they go on doing their thing, hoping, believing that everything will be all right in the end. They have a great savior who will stand for them before God.
Your question seems to be just throwing responsibility on me. And I am a very irresponsible person. I have never lived responsibly. From my very childhood everybody has been telling me, "Be responsible." But I have always said, "I enjoy being irresponsible so much that I don't see the point, why I should be responsible. You enjoy being responsible - be responsible. I never say to you, 'Be irresponsible.' Why do you bother about me? If my irresponsibilities are going to lead me to hell I am perfectly willing to go there, because anyway I don't want to live with your saints.
"I have lived with saints and I have lived with sinners, and I have seen that to be with sinners is far more colorful, far more pleasant, far more human. There is some song in it, some dance in it; there is laughter, there is life. To live with a saint is to live with a dead man, a corpse."
Have you ever been in a room alone with a corpse? Can you sleep? Can you eat? Can you drink?
Can you laugh? The corpse will not interfere in any way, but just the presence of the corpse in the room is enough to prevent you from living. Do you see the great principles involved there? The corpse is not doing anything, and yet you cannot eat - you will feel like throwing up. You cannot sing. The corpse is not preventing you, the corpse is not going to hear it, but just the idea of singing when the corpse is there....
Saints are dead people. The more dead they are, the more they are thought to be saintly. To live with them is simply sickening. It is nauseating. They are so inhuman about everything. They themselves live mechanically, robot-like, and they won't allow anybody else to live differently. They will make you feel guilty for everything.
In Mahatma Gandhi's ashram - and he was a great saint, mahatma means great saint - you could not smoke. I know smoking is silly, but what is wrong in being silly? And if one enjoys it, once in a while to be silly is perfectly human. It should be acceptable. You can tell the person, "It will harm your health, your life will be reduced by five years." But if you don't want to live that long, it is perfectly good - because what are you going to do with five years more? You will smoke more!
And it is not a healthy habit; but people who don't smoke, they fall sick - and I have seen people who have been smoking continuously, chain-smokers, never falling sick. So all this is just guesswork. All that the smoker is doing is enjoying taking the smoke in and throwing it out. The smoke is warm, just like the mother's milk, and the cigarette is exactly the mother's nipple; he is again enjoying being a child.
A cigarette is just a way of enjoying one's childhood again; that's why a cigarette is so relaxing.
When you are worried, tense, you start looking for a cigarette. It helps; it is human. It will look really odd to go to your mother now, and say, " I am so tense and worried...." I think cigarettes are a good substitute. Don't disturb these people; otherwise they will disturb women. Your mother may be dead - then you have to go to your wife, and she may be just mad at the idea that you have come with.
She will think you are going nuts.
Cigarettes are such a simple substitute; don't disturb people. When I see you smoking I feel sorry for you, not because you are smoking but because you have to smoke. I think about your worries, not about your smoking; that is nothing to be bothered about. I think about your anguish, your tension.
I think that there must be something eating at your heart; otherwise why should you burn yourself with smoking? I never judge your smoking, that you are doing some wrong act. I see deeper. I see why you are smoking.
But no saint bothers about why you are smoking. For them smoking is a sin. In Mahatma Gandhi's ashram if somebody was found to be smoking he was immediately turned out in disgrace; he had fallen. And the poor fellow was simply trying to relax. In fact his smoking was an indication that the ashram was not relaxing, that it was not a place where people could relax. Instead, it was a place where people became more tense. In fact, all the ashrams make you more tense.
It is a strange dilemma: they make you more tense, more worried. This world is not enough for them; they bring in hell and heaven and all kinds of consequences that you will have to suffer.
Rather than helping you to get out of your tense mind, they make your mind more tense - and then you cannot smoke, then you cannot drink even tea or coffee; these are all prohibited because they are all relaxing.
A relaxed person may not need to smoke unless playfully, once in a while, sitting with friends, when everybody is smoking and he does not want to play the saint. I used to go to parties when I was in the university. It was a problem because the host was worried that everybody would be drinking and I might feel left out. Knowing it from many other previous experiences, I had to go to the host and say, "Don't be worried about me. You just give me Coca Cola as if I am also drinking with everybody."
But he would say, "They will think you are also drinking alcohol."
I said, "Let them think that, it is no problem. What is the problem? It simply shows I am also human.
I want to participate with them, I don't want to be holier-than-thou. To me that attitude is ugly, that attitude is simply egoistic.
"I cannot drink alcohol, because I don't know what I will do after drinking. There is no problem - as far as I am concerned there is no problem, I can drink, because I don't think that even though alcohol is called spirits, it can be spiritual, or it can enter into my spirit. It will just go through my kidneys and sooner or later pass out of the body. So there is not much of a problem. I am thinking of you, because I may do something, and that may create trouble for you! So just give me Coca Cola."
Drinking Coca Cola with people - they almost all glared at me! They all said, "You are also drinking?
We were worried that you would be here not drinking, and we would look like sinners."
I said, "No, I am a drunkard. You go on, you cannot compete with me" - because I could go on drinking Coca Cola as much as I wanted. But I felt happy that they were not feeling guilty. I felt that I had done something appropriate; I had been human.
Your saints are not human. Gandhi was very particular about cleanliness. He followed the same idea: cleanliness is next to God. Now for me it is a trouble - there is no God, so only cleanliness remains. Not even next to God, just the first - there is no next. But I don't come to look into your room, and into your bathroom. That seems to me evil. But Gandhi used to do that.
He would go into your room to see that everything is as it should be. He would have a look in your bathroom to see whether it was clean or not. But this is interfering in your privacy. I can talk about cleanliness, I can praise cleanliness. I can tell you the beauty of it; but then at least I should trust you, your intelligence, your privacy, and ultimately your responsibility to yourself. I am not responsible for you.
But this is not the way of the saints up to now. They have been after their disciples almost like detectives, making the disciple feel as guilty as possible. There is some arithmetic behind it.
The more guilty they make people feel, the bigger saints they are thought to be. Their height goes on becoming higher and higher as you go on sinking lower and lower. Their whole saintliness depends on your guiltiness. And to make you feel guilty is very simple: start condemning everything that is human, that is natural.
On my path the master is only a light. You can see in that light and go wherever you want to go. The master is not somebody who is continuously following you, forcing you. He is simply a presence. In his presence you become aware of your ultimate potential. You become aware of what you can be, and what you are not. You become aware of your hypocrisy.
Sannyas is nothing but dropping your hypocrisy.
And you say to me, "I don't wish to be a sannyasin." You insist on remaining a hypocrite, a split person. Making me your master, you will be more split. You will become more guilty because you have made somebody a master and you are not a disciple to him.
It will look unkind to you that I refuse. But it is a refusal out of compassion, not out of unkindness. I refuse to be a master of anyone who is not wishing to be a disciple.
The meaning of the word 'disciple' is beautiful. It means one who is ready to learn. And there is much to be learned. Almost everything has to be learned, because whatsoever you know is not learning, it is knowledge, completely rotten knowledge. You have taken it from others; you have not searched for it, looked for it, enquired about it. It is not your own, you cannot say "Eureka!" Not for a single thing can you say "Eureka!" And a man who is ready to learn, a disciple, finds every moment like Archimedes - life goes on revealing new secrets every moment.
How can I become a master to you? You are not ready to be vulnerable to me. You are not ready to be open to me, you are not ready to listen to me, you are not ready to come along with me. You want to remain as you are, what you are, yet you want one more guarantee: you want me to become responsible so that you feel less guilty - at least you have a master. But that is not going to help.
You can have all the masters of the world - and that's the beauty of dead masters, they cannot say no. You can accept all the masters of the world, be a disciple of all the masters of the world.
There are people who are following Zen, who are following Sufism, who are following Tao, anything.
Neither Lao Tzu can prevent them, nor Bodhidharma can prevent them, nor Jalaluddin Rumi can prevent them. Those people are gone, just words echoing are left.
But I am yet in the flesh.
I am yet not only a word.
My word is still living.
If you want to have any contact with me, you will have to be ready to travel with me. It is a long journey. Much of the load that you are carrying will have to be dropped. Much of the mind which you are thinking is very valuable will prove just junk. Much of your character that you valued so much will prove nothing but forced discipline.
Discipline can be forced so much that it becomes unconscious. People are behaving in the right manner - are not stealing, are not harming others, not hurting others - but it is not their conscious choice.
I have heard about a retired military general... it was a case after the first world war. The general had lived his whole life in the army - and not only his life; his father was a general, his father's father was a general. As far back as he could remember their family had been in the army. It was in his blood. From the very beginning he was disciplined in the manners of the army.
He was retired now, the war was over. One day he was carrying a bucket full of eggs, and a man just played a joke on him; the man shouted, "Attention!" and the general stood to attention, dropping the bucket and all the eggs on the road. He was very angry; his eggs were all finished. And he said, "What kind of a joke is this?"
The man said, "But can't I say 'Attention!'? It has nothing to do with you. You could have carried your bucket. I was not telling you to drop it."
The general said, "You don't understand, it has gone into my blood, into my bones. Even in the night, if somebody says, 'Attention!' I will jump out of the bed and be at attention. Only then will I realize that it is a joke - but first I will be in position."
This is discipline. Your morality, your character, are nothing but forced disciplines. They have become unconscious, and anything that is unconscious is of no value at all. Coming along with me you will have to understand that your morality is just imposed. You are an impostor pretending to be moral, not knowing even the ABC of morality. Your character is nothing.
When I applied for a professorship, they asked me for a character certificate. I said, "I cannot produce one."
The education minister said, "But why not?"
I said, "For the simple reason that I haven't found a man of character from whom I would like to have a character certificate."
He said, "You are something. You can't find a man of character?"
I said, "No, I can't find a man of character. And how can I have a character certificate from somebody to whom I cannot give a character certificate?"
I knew my vice-chancellor and I told him, "I cannot take a character certificate from you because I cannot give a character certificate to you. I know you perfectly well."
I knew my head of department, who was a very loving man, who loved me. But he himself said, "I cannot give you a character certificate because I don't have any character and you know it perfectly well."
I said to the education minister, "You give me a character certificate, and I will expose you - I will just call a press conference today. You give me a character certificate and I will tell the press conference what kind of character you have."
He started perspiring. He said, "You just take your appointment later."
But I said, "What about the character certificate? - because it has to be attached to the application."
He said, "Don't be worried."
I said, "No, it is a question of principle. If everybody needs a character certificate then I will write a character certificate for myself. That's the only man I know perfectly well who has character. About anybody else it is at the most guesswork."
He said, "Do whatsoever you want, just please leave me alone. You take your order." So I wrote a character certificate for myself. He said, "But please don't sign it in your own name because I will be in trouble."
Then I said, "Whose name have I to sign?"
He said, "Anybody's name but not your own name."
So I signed it in the name of one of my professors. He said, "But you are signing with somebody else's name. I know this man, S.S. Roy; he is your professor. What are you going to tell him?"
I said, "You don't be worried. This a copy of the original, the original I will take from him." I said, "This is done everyday; the original is taken, then copies are made. This is just the reverse: the copy is given to you, the original I will make."
I went to S.S. Roy. I told him that this had happened and, "This is the character certificate I have written. You give me the original."
He looked at the certificate. He said, "You should have come to me, because you have not written anything good. I would have given you a beautiful character certificate."
I said, "It was something spontaneous. That man was in a difficulty and I could not write more than this about myself. What more can I write?"
He said, "But this is not a character certificate at all, because you are saying that you are a human being - this is very ordinary. You ask me to sign it, and it says that you have all the weaknesses of human beings, that one cannot trust you, you are not reliable. Now I have to sign it," he said, "and you will show it to people."
I said, "No, I will not show it. The original I will give to you. The original you can keep in case it is needed."
He said, "Then it is okay because I don't want people to see that I have written this character certificate about you. I love you and I know you. These are not your qualities."
I said, "But when I have to write about myself, do you think I should write, 'He is the only begotten son of God'? Do you want me to be crucified? Once was enough."
Coming along with me you will have to drop almost the whole of you. Only the essential will remain, only that which you cannot drop. Even if you want to drop it you cannot. Only that will remain.
It is a great surgery in which all the cancerous growth that surrounds you has to be cut out completely. It is painful, it is hard. Just because it is so painful and so hard, I make it as light as possible, as joyous as possible. I try to make it a joke for the simple reason that the task is hard, and it is good to pass the dark night of the soul with laughter, with gossiping, with joking, with dancing, with singing. It is good to pass the dark night of the soul with joy.
What is the point of crying and weeping and mourning and wearing the black habits of the Christian priests? The night is dark enough, why make it darker? To transform yourself, to change, is painful enough; why make it more miserable?
Once I was operated on, a little operation. I continued to joke with the doctor. He said, "You please wait. Don't make me laugh because I may do something wrong. Leave me alone. I was saying from the very beginning that you need chloroform; otherwise you will go on talking and you will disturb me. But you said local anesthesia will do. So we have given" - he was doing the operation on my finger - "so we have given you local anesthesia. But it was wrong - you don't leave us alone, you just go on joking!"
I said, "Lying down on a surgical table, is it not the right place to joke? And will it not be helpful to you to be laughing and enjoying and doing your work? Just the way a painter paints, a surgeon should do his work. Why make it sad and.... It is already painful; make it light, don't make it heavier."
Hence, my sannyas is a rejoicing. You say you are not wishing to rejoice with me. You say you are not going to laugh with me. You say you are not going to dance with me, sing with me. Then for what are you wanting me to be your master? To make you more sad? Are you not sad enough? To make you more guilty? Have not the Christian priests done enough? Do you want me to make a heavier cross? Is not Jesus' cross weighty enough for you? For what do you want me to be your master?
And to be your master or not, that has to be left to me; you are not to be concerned about it. Your whole concern should be, can you be a disciple? "How can I be a disciple?" should be your question.
You are not going to be a master so why bother about the master? That is my business. And I know my business perfectly well. You just leave it to me - you do your part. And if you succeed in doing your part you will not go empty-handed from my door. But first things first. You should be ready to do your part.
Becoming a sannyasin is not just changing the robe and changing the name; those are just playful things. I could have chosen any color. Blue is good, the color of the ocean. Green is good, the color of the whole of nature. I could have chosen any color.
I have chosen red for two reasons. One, because red in the East has been the color of sannyasins for centuries. I have not chosen it because it has been the color of the sannyasins, so that my sannyasins should also be part of that tradition. No, I have chosen it to sabotage that tradition, because all those sannyasins were serious people: heavy, dull, mediocre.
I wanted to bring a new breeze into the world of sannyas, and to disturb the definition of the sannyasin, which had become completely ossified. I created confusion. Now in India it is very difficult to know who is who. My sannyasins are laughing, enjoying, dancing, and the people cannot understand what is the matter because sannyasins have never done such things.
And secondly, I chose red because red has become associated with communism. I wanted to sabotage that idea too, that red is anybody's monopoly. Just to disturb these two I chose red. But this is just playful.
You will have to think about sannyas in its deepest meanings. It means that you have found someone whose eyes can see farther than your eyes can see, whose reach of the hand goes higher than the reach of your hand. You have found someone that you feel jealous of. You would like to have this serenity, this peace, this silence, this song. Then be prepared on your part.
I am ready, I have been long ready.
And don't miss the opportunity, because I will not be here forever. Today I am here, tomorrow I may not be here. So if you want in some way to use my insight, my vision, my experience, if you want to become a part of my universe, then don't miss a single moment, because nothing can be said about the next moment. I may not be here, and then your getting ready will be pointless. Now I am here, and you are not ready.
That has been happening again and again in the past. It is said the day Gautam Buddha died a man came running. Buddha had told his disciples, "This is my last meeting with you in the body.
I am going to leave the body. Before I leave, if you have any more questions left" - he had been answering for forty-two years - "if anything is still left in anybody's mind, ask it, because I won't be here anymore."
The disciples were crying, weeping. What can you ask? For forty-two years Buddha had been answering even those questions which you had not asked. He had been answering questions which you had wrongly asked. But he had answered rightly. He was not only answering you, he was also creating questions for you. In forty-two years he had done everything that was possible. Now, what to ask at the last moment?
They said, "No, we are just grateful."
Buddha closed his eyes, he moved the first step inwards - that is, he moved away from the body to the mind. The second step: he moved from the mind to the heart. The third step he was just going to take, from the heart to the feeling of am-ness, asmita. It cannot be called "I" - it is far more refined - just am-ness. And then... the last jump into nothingness. While he was just moving in, the man came running.
He said, "But I have a question."
The disciples said, "Now don't disturb him. Where have you been? He has passed through your village at least thirty times."
He said, "I know, but sometimes there was such a crowd of customers in my shop. Sometimes I was engaged in my son's marriage; sometimes my wife was sick - and so on and so forth. I always thought, next time when he comes I will go to him. Just now I heard that he is leaving the world.
What about my question?"
The people said, "You seem to be an idiot. Thirty times he passed, and thirty times you missed. And now, when he has just taken leave of us... now it cannot be done."
But Buddha came back. He opened his eyes, he said, "No, let him ask. Let him be answered because I don't want it to be known in history, for the coming generations, that a Buddha was alive and yet somebody returned from his door empty-handed. Let me do my part. If he is ready - and I can see he is ready; my death has been a shock to him and has made him ready. I am happy that even my death has helped somebody to be ready, to listen."
He answered his question. The question was not philosophical, theological, intellectual. The question was really authentic, sincerely spiritual. But that man had been missing for so many years, just because of the idea, "Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, any time Buddha comes and goes, I can go and meet him and ask."
He asked - this was the last question to Buddha - "How can I be in a position so that whether you are in the body or not, your presence will remain available to me? What can I do?"
He had asked a real religious question. He was asking, "What can I do so that your presence remains available to me? This time I have missed - when you were in the body. But I don't want to miss forever."
Buddha gave him the instructions for meditation, vipassana; how to be aware of your breathing; how to be aware, silently watchful of the breath going out, coming in, going out, coming in..."so slowly, slowly you can be separate from your breathing. The moment you are separate from your breathing my presence will be available, because you are separate from your body just as I am separate from my body."
If a disciple is ready, even a dead master can be alive. If the disciple is not ready, then even a living master cannot do anything. It all depends on the disciple.