I have been talking about an incident that is absolutely important in order to understand my life and its workings... and it is still alive for me....
By the way, I was saying I can still remember, but the word "remember" is not right. I can still see the whole incident happening. Of course I was just a young child, but that does not mean that what I said is not to be taken seriously. In fact it is the only serious thing that I have ever talked about:
To a westerner, it may seem a little rude to ask a monk - who is almost like a pope to the Jainas - such a question: "Why don't you commit suicide?" But be kind to me. Let me explain before you conclude, or stop listening to me.
Jainism is the only religion in the world which respects suicide. Now it is your turn to be surprised.
Of course, they do not call it suicide; they give it a beautiful metaphysical name, santhara. I am against it, particularly the way it is done. It is very violent and cruel. It is strange that a religion which believes in non-violence should preach santhara, suicide. You can call it metaphysical suicide, but after all, suicide is suicide; the name does not matter. What matters is that the man is no longer alive.
Why am I against it? I am not against the right of man to commit suicide. No, it should be one of the basic human rights. If I don't want to live, who has the right to force me to live? If I myself want to disappear, then all that others can do is to make it as comfortable as possible. Note it: one day I would like to disappear, I cannot live forever.
Just the other day someone showed me a car sticker. It says, "I am proud that I am an American."
I looked at it, and when afterwards I cried over it. I am not an American, and I am proud that I am
not an American. Nor am I an Indian - then who am I? I am proud that I am nobody. That is where my whole journey has brought me - to nobodiness, to homelessness, to nothingness. I have even renounced enlightenment, which nobody has done before me. I also renounce illumination, for the illumination of that German idiot! I have no religion, no country, no home. The whole world is mine.
I am the first citizen of the universe. You know I am crazy. I could start issuing passports for universal citizenship. I have been thinking about it. I am thinking about an orange card, which can be issued by me to my sannyasins as a passport for universal brotherhood, as opposed to nations, races and religions.
I am not against the Jaina attitude to suicide, but the method... their method is not to eat anything.
It takes almost ninety days for the poor man to die. It is torture. You cannot improve on it. Not even Adolf Hitler could have conceived such a great idea. For Devageet's knowledge, Adolf Hitler conceived the idea of drilling into people's teeth - without anesthesia of course. There are still many Jews around the world whose teeth were drilled for no reason other than to just create anguish. But Adolf Hitler may not have heard of Jaina monks and their masochistic practices. They are superb!
They never cut their hair, they pull it out with their hands. Look what a great idea!
Every year the Jaina monk pulls out his hair, beard and mustache, and all hair on the body, just with his bare hands! They are against any technology - and they call it logic, going to the very logical end of a thing. If you use a razor, that is technology; did you know that? Have you ever considered a razor a technological thing? Even so-called ecologists go on shaving their beards without knowing that they are committing a crime against nature.
Jaina monks pull out their hair, and not privately, because they do not have any privacy. Part of their masochism is not to have any privacy, to be utterly public. They pull their hair out while standing naked in the marketplace. The crowds, of course, cheer and applaud. And Jainas, although they feel great sympathy, you can even see tears in their eyes, but unconsciously they also enjoy it, and without needing a ticket. I abhor it; I am averse to all such practices.
The idea of committing santhara, suicide, by not eating or drinking is nothing but a very long process of self torture. I cannot support it. But I am absolutely in support of the idea of the freedom to die. I consider it a birthright, and sooner or later every constitution in the world will contain it, will have to have it as the most basic birthright - the right to die. It is not a crime.
But to torture anybody, including yourself, is a crime. With this, you will be able to understand that I was not being rude, I was asking a very relevant question. On that day I began a lifelong struggle against all kinds of stupidities, nonsense, superstitions - in short, religious bullshit. Bullshit is such a beautiful word. It says so much, in short.
That day I began my life as a rebel, and I will continue to be a rebel to my very last breath, or even after it. Who knows? Even if I won't have a body, I will have thousands of my lovers' bodies. I can provoke them - and you know I am a seducer, I can put ideas in their heads for centuries to come. That is exactly what I am going to do. With the death of this body my rebellion cannot die.
My revolution is going to continue even more intensely, because then it will have many more bodies, many more voices, many more hands to continue it.
That day was significant, historically significant. I have always remembered that day with the day when Jesus argued with the rabbis in the temple. He was a little older than I was, perhaps eight or nine years older. The way he argued determined the whole course of his life.
I don't remember the name of the Jaina monk; perhaps his name was Shanti Sagar, meaning "ocean of bliss." He certainly was not that. That is why I have forgotten even his name. He was just a dirty puddle, not an ocean of bliss or peace, or silence. And he was certainly not a man of silence, because he became very angry.
Shanti can mean many things; it may mean "peace," it may mean "silence." Those are the two basic meanings; both were missing in him. He was neither peaceful nor silent, not at all. Nor could you say that he was without any turmoil in him because he became so angry that he shouted at me to sit down.
I said, "Nobody can tell me to sit down in my own house. I can tell you to get out, but you cannot tell me to sit down. But I will not tell you to get out because I have a few more questions. Please don't be angry. Remember your name, Shanti Sagar - ocean of peace and silence. You could at least be a little pool. And don't be disturbed by a little child."
Without bothering whether he was silent or not, I asked my grandmother, who was by now all laughter, "What do you say, Nani? Should I ask him more questions, or tell him to get out of our house?"
I did not ask my grandfather of course, because this man was his guru. My Nani said, "You can ask whatsoever you want to, and if he cannot answer, the door is open, he can get out."
That was the woman I loved. That was the woman who made me a rebel. Even my grandfather was shocked that she supported me in such a way. That so-called Shanti Sagar immediately became silent the moment he saw that my grandmother supported me. Not only her, the villagers were immediately on my side. The poor Jaina monk was left absolutely alone.
I asked him a few more questions. I asked, "You have said, ' Don't believe anything unless you have experienced it yourself.' I see the truth in that, hence this question...."
Jainas believe there are seven hells. Up to the sixth there is a possibility of coming back, but the seventh is eternal. Perhaps the seventh is the Christian hell, because there too, once you are in it, you are in it forever. I continued, "You referred to seven hells, so the question arises, have you visited the seventh? If you have, then you could not be here. If you have not, on what authority do you say that it exists? You should say that there are only six hells, not seven. Now please be correct:
say that there are only six hells, or if you want to insist on seven, then prove to me that at least one man, Shanti Sagar, has come back from the seventh hell."
He was dumbfounded. He could not believe that a child could ask such a question. Today, I too cannot believe it! How could I ask such a question? The only answer I can give is that I was uneducated, and utterly without any knowledge. Knowledge makes you very cunning. I was not cunning. I simply asked the question which any child could have asked if he were not educated.
Education is the greatest crime man has committed against poor children. Perhaps the last liberation in the world will be the liberation of children.
I was innocent, utterly unknowledgeable. I could not read or write, not even count beyond my fingers.
Even today, when I have to count anything I start with my fingers, and if I miss a finger I get mixed up.
He could not answer. My grandmother stood up and said, "You have to answer the question. Don't think that only a child is asking; I am also asking and I am your hostess."
Now again I have to introduce you to a Jaina convention. When a Jaina monk comes to a family to receive his food, after taking his meal, as a blessing to the family, he gives a sermon. The sermon is addressed to the hostess. My grandmother said, "I am your hostess today, and I also am asking the same question. Have you visited the seventh hell? If not, say truthfully that you have not, but then you cannot say there are seven hells."
The monk became so puzzled and confused - more so by being confronted by a beautiful woman - that he started to leave. My Nani shouted, "Stop! Don't leave! Who is going to answer my child's question? And he still has a few more to ask. What kind of man are you? - escaping from a child's questions."
The man stopped. I said to him, "I drop the second question, because the monk cannot answer it.
He has not answered the first question either, so I will ask him the third; perhaps he may be able to answer that."
He looked at me. I said, "If you want to look at me, look into my eyes." There was great silence, just as it is here. Nobody said a word. The monk lowered his eyes, and I then said, "Then I don't want to ask. My first two questions are unanswered, and the third is not asked because I don't want a guest of the house to be ashamed. I withdraw." And I really withdrew from the gathering, and I was so happy when my grandmother followed me.
The monk was given his farewell by my grandfather, but as soon as he had left, my grandfather rushed back into the house and asked my grandmother, "Are you mad? First you supported this boy who is a born troublemaker, then you went with him without even saying goodbye to my master."
My grandmother said, "He is not my master, so I don't care a bit. Moreover what you think to be a born troublemaker is the seed. Nobody knows what will come out of it."
I know now what has come out of it. Unless one is a born troublemaker one cannot become a Buddha. And I am not only a Buddha, as Gautam the Buddha; that is too traditional. I am Zorba the Buddha. I am a meeting of the East and the West. In fact, I do not divide East and West, higher and lower, man and woman, good and bad, God and the devil. No! A thousand times no! I don't divide.
I join together all that has been divided up to now. That is my work.
That day is immensely significant in order to understand what happened during my whole life, because unless you understand the seed, you will miss the tree and the flowering, and perhaps the moon through the branches.
From that very day I have always been against everything masochistic. Of course I came to know the word much later, but the word does not matter. I have been against all that is ascetic; even that
word was not known to me in those days, but I could smell something foul. You know I am allergic to all kinds of self-torture. I want every human being to live to the fullest; minimum is not my way. Live to the maximum, or if you can go beyond the maximum, then fantastic. Go! Don't wait! And don't waste time waiting for Godot.
That's why I say to Ashu again and again, "Go on, go on, and drive Devageet nuts!" Of course I cannot drive Ashu nuts; a woman cannot be driven nuts; that is not possible. She drives men nuts.
That is her ability, and she is efficient. Even if she sits in the back seat, she will drive the driver.
You know back seat drivers, they are the worst; and when there is nobody to drive the driver, what freedom! Women cannot be driven nuts-even I cannot drive a woman nuts.
So it is difficult; although I go on saying, "Go on, go on," she does not listen. Women are born deaf; they go on doing whatsoever they want to. But Devageet hears. I am not saying anything to him, but still he hears, and freaks out. That is the way of the coward. I call it the way of the minimum, the speed limit. If you go more than that, you get a ticket.
Minimum is the way of the coward. If I am to decide then their highest limit would be the minimum limit; anybody going below it would immediately be given a ticket. We are trying to reach the stars, and they are sticking to bullock carts. We are trying, and it is the whole aim of physics, to ultimately reach the same speed as light. Unless we reach that speed we are doomed. If we can reach the speed of light, we can escape from any dying earth or planet. Every earth, every planet, every star is going to die one day. How are you going to escape from it? You will need a very speedy technology.
This earth in just four thousand years will be dead. Whatsoever you do, nothing can save it. Every day it is getting closer to its death... and you are trying to move at thirty miles per hour! Try one hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second. That's the speed of light.
The mystic attains to it, and suddenly, in his inner being there is only light, and nothing else. That is awakening. I am for the maximum. Live to the maximum in every possible way; even if you are deciding to die, die with maximum speed. Don't die like a coward - take a jump into the unknown.
I am not against the idea of ending life. If one decides to end it, then of course it is his right. But I am certainly against making it a long torture. When this Shanti Sagar died, he took one hundred and ten days of not eating. A man is capable, if he is ordinarily healthy, of easily lasting ninety days without food. If he is extraordinarily healthy then he can survive longer.
So remember, I was not rude to the man. In that context my question was absolutely correct, perhaps more so because he could not answer it. And, strange to tell you today, that was the beginning not only of my questioning, but also the beginning of people not answering. Nobody has answered any of my questions in these last forty-five years. I have met many so-called spiritual people, but nobody has ever answered any of my questions. In a way that day determined my whole flavor, my whole life.
Shanti Sagar left very annoyed, but I was immensely happy, and I did not hide it from my grandfather.
I told him, "Nana, he may have left annoyed, but I am feeling absolutely correct. Your guru was just mediocre. You should choose someone of a little more worth."
Even he laughed and said, "Perhaps you are right, but now, at my age to change my guru will not be very practical." He asked my Nani, "What do you think?"
My Nani, as ever true to her spirit, said, "It is never too late to change. If you see what you have chosen is not right, change it. In fact, be quick, because you are getting old. Don't say, ' I am old, so I cannot change.' A young man can afford not to change, but not an old man, and you are old enough."
And only a few years later he died, but he could not gather the courage to change his guru. He continued in the same old pattern. My grandmother used to poke him saying, "When are you going to change your guru and your methods?"
He would say, "Yes, I will, I will."
One day my grandmother said, "Stop all this nonsense! Nobody ever changes unless one changes right now. Don't say ' I will, I will.' Either change or don't change, but be clear."
That woman could have become a tremendously powerful force. She was not meant to be just a housewife. She was not meant to live in that small village. The whole world should have known about her. Perhaps I am her vehicle; perhaps she has poured herself into me. She loved me so deeply that I have never considered my real mother to be my real mother. I always consider my Nani to be my real mother.
Whenever I had to confess anything, any wrong that I had done to somebody, I could only confess it to her, nobody else. She was my trust. I could confide anything to her because I have come to realize one thing, and that is: she was capable of understanding. I must have done every kind of thing a person is capable of doing, and I would tell it to her at night. This was while I stayed with her, before I went to university.
I never slept at my mother's house. Although my grandmother had moved to the same village as the rest of the family after my grandfather's death, I would sleep there for the simple reason that I could tell her so many mischiefs that I had done during the day. She would laugh and say, "Well done!
Great! Good! That man deserved it. Did he really fall into the well just as you said?"
I would say, "Yes, but he didn't die."
She said, "That's okay, but you managed to push him into the well?"
There was a well in our neighborhood, without any protecting wall. At night anybody could fall into it.
I used to lead people towards it, and the man who had fallen in was none other than the sweetmaker.
My mother - my grandmother... I always forget because I consider her to be my mother. Better to call her Nani, so there is no misunderstanding. I told my Nani, "Today I managed to make that sweetmaker fall into the well." I can still hear her laughter. She laughed herself to tears.
She said, "That's very good, but is he alive or not?"
I said, "He is perfectly okay."
"Then," she said, "there is no problem. Don't be worried; that man deserved it. He mixes so many rubbishy things into his sweets, somebody had to do something about it." Later she told him, "Unless
you change your ways, remember, you will fall into the well again and again." But she never said a single word to me about it.
I asked her, "Don't you want to say anything about it?"
She said, "No, because I have watched you from your very childhood. Even if you do something wrong, you do it so rightly, and at exactly the right moment, so that even a wrong becomes a right."
It was she who told me, for the first time, that right in the hands of a wrong man becomes wrong; and wrong in the hands of a right man becomes right.
So don't be worried about what you are doing; remember only one thing: what you are being. This is a great question, about doing and being. All religions are concerned about doing; I am concerned with being. If your being is right, and by right I mean blissful, silent, peaceful, loving, then whatever you do is right. Then there are no other commandments for you, only one: just be. Be so totally that in the very totality no shadow is possible. Then you cannot do anything wrong. The whole world may say it is wrong, that does not matter; what matters is your own being.
I'm not worried about Christ being crucified, because I know even on the cross he was fully at ease with himself. He was so fully at ease that he could pray, "Father" - that was his word for God. To be exact he did not even say "father," but "abba," which is far more beautiful. "Abba, forgive these people because they know not what they are doing." Again emphasize the word "doing" - "what they are DOING." Alas, they could not see the being of the man on the cross. It is being that matters, the only thing that matters.
That moment in my life, asking the Jaina monk strange, irritating, annoying questions, I don't consider that I did anything wrong. Perhaps I helped him. Perhaps one day he will understand.
If he had had courage he would have understood even that day, but he was a coward - he escaped.
And since then, this has been my experience: the so-called mahatmas and saints are all cowards.
I have never come across a single mahatma, Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist, who can be said to be really a rebellious spirit. Unless one is rebellious one is not religious. Rebellion is the very foundation of religion.