Now, my work upon you....
I was telling you about a certain relationship that happened between a child of about nine years of age and an old man of perhaps fifty. The difference in age was great, but love can transcend all barriers. If it can happen even between a man and a woman, then what other barrier could be bigger? But it was not, and cannot be described as just love. He could have loved me like a son, or like his grandson, but that was not it.
What happened was friendliness, and let it be on record: I value friendliness higher than love. There is nothing higher than friendliness. I know you must have noticed that I have not used the word "friendship." Up till yesterday I was using it, but now is the time to tell you of something greater than friendship - friendliness.
Friendship can also be binding, in its own way, like love. It can also be jealous, possessive, afraid that it may be lost, and because of that fear, so much agony and so much struggle. In fact people are continuously fighting those whom they love - strange, just strange... unbelievably strange.
Friendliness rises higher, to all that man knows and feels. It is more a fragrance of being, or you can say a flowering of being. Something transpires between two souls, and suddenly there are two bodies, but one being - that is what I call flowering. Friendliness is freedom from all that is small and mediocre, from all that we are acquainted with, in fact, too acquainted with.
I can understand why my Nani shed tears for my being friendly with Shambhu Babu. She was right when she had said to me, "I am not bothered for Shambhu Babu - he is old enough, soon death will take him over." And it is strange, but he died before my grandmother, exactly ten years before, and yet my grandmother was older than him.
I am still amazed at that woman's intuition. She had said, "He will die before long, then what about you? My tears are for you. You have to live a long life. You will not find many people of such quality as Shambhu Babu. Please don't make his friendship your criterion, otherwise you will have to live a very lonely life."
I said, "Nani, even Shambhu Babu is below my criterion, so you need not worry. I am going to live a life according to my vision, wherever it may lead. perhaps nowhere, but one thing is certain," I told her, "that I absolutely agree with you that I will not find many friends."
And it was true. In my school days I had no friends. In my college days I was thought to be a stranger. In university, yes, people always respected me, but that is not friendship, what to say of friendliness. It is a strange fate to have always been respected from my very childhood. But if my Nani were alive now she could have seen my friends, my sannyasins. She would see thousands of people with whom I have a synchronicity. But she is dead; Shambhu Babu is dead. The flowering has come at a moment when all those who were really concerned about me are no more.
She was right in saying that I would live a lonely life, but she was wrong too, because just like everybody else, she thought loneliness and aloneness are synonymous; they are not. Not only are they not synonymous, they are poles apart.
Loneliness is a negative state. When you cannot be with yourself and beg the company of the other - then it is loneliness. Whether you get the company or not will not make any difference at all, you will remain lonely. All over the world, in every house, you can see the truth of what I am saying. I cannot say every home, I say every house. A home very rarely exists. A home is where loneliness has been transformed into aloneness, not into togetherness.
People think that if two people are together, then loneliness is finished. It is not so easy. Remember it, it is not so easy; in fact it becomes more difficult. When two lonely people meet loneliness is multiplied, not only doubled, remember; it is a multiplication, and very ugly. It is like an octopus, a continuous fight in different names, for different reason. But if you put all these covers aside, underneath you will see nothing but naked loneliness. It is not aloneness. Aloneness is the discovery of one's self.
Many times I told my grandmother that being alone is the most beautiful state one can dream of.
She would laugh and say, "Shut up! Nonsense. I know what it is - I am living a lonely life. Your Nana is dead. He deceived me: he died without even telling me that he was going to die. He died without even communicating to me where he was going, and to what. He betrayed me." She was bitter about it. She then told me, "You left me too. You went to university, and you only visit once or twice each year. I wait for months just for the day you will be back home. And those one or two days are over so quickly. You don't know what loneliness is - I know."
Although she was crying, I laughed. I wanted to cry with her but could not. Instead of crying, I laughed.
She said, "Look! You don't understand me at all."
I said, "I do understand, that's why I am laughing. Again and again you go on insisting that loneliness and aloneness are one, and I say definitely and absolutely, they are not the same. And you will have
to understand aloneness if you want to get rid of your loneliness. You cannot get rid of it just by being sorry for yourself; and don't be angry with my grandfather."
This was the only time I defended my Nana against her. "What could he do? He has not betrayed you - although you may feel betrayed, that's another matter. Death or life are in nobody's hands. He died as helplessly as he was born... and don't you remember how helpless he was? He was calling again and again, 'Stop the wheel, Raja, can't you stop the wheel?' In that constant asking us to stop the wheel what was he asking? He was asking for his freedom.
"He was saying, 'I don't want to be born against my will, and I don't want to die against my will.' He wanted to be. He may not have been able to say it correctly, but that's exactly how I translate what he said. He just wanted to be - without any interference, without being forced into birth or being forced into death. That's what he was against. He was only asking for freedom."
And do you know, the Indian word for the ultimate is moksha. Moksha means "absolute freedom."
There is no word in any language exactly like moksha, particularly not in English, because English is so dominated by Christianity.
Just the other day I received a photo album from one of the German centers. The album consists of all the pictures of that beautiful place and its opening ceremony. Even the Christian priest from the nearby church participated in the ceremony. I liked what he said:
"These people are beautiful. I have been watching them working harder than anybody works nowadays, and so joyously that it is a joy to see them... but they are a little bit crazy."
What he said was right, but why he said, "They are a little bit crazy," is not right. Yes, they are crazy, far more than he could conceive, but the reason why he said it was ugly - the "why" not the "what."
He called them crazy because they believe that there are many lives, lives after lives. That was his reason for calling them crazy.
In fact, if anyone is crazy then it is not my people but those who think that my people are crazy. I reserve that right for myself. I can call them crazy because when I say it, I say it out of love and understanding. It is not a condemnatory word for me; for me it is an appreciation. All the poets are crazy, all the painters are crazy, all the musicians are crazy; otherwise they would not be the poets, the musicians and the painters. If this is so about the painters, the musicians and the dancers, then what about the mystics? They must be the craziest. And my sannyasins are on the way to being the craziest because I know no other way to be really sane in this insane world.
My grandmother was right in saying I would not have friends, and she was also right in saying that Shambhu Babu would not have friends. About Shambhu Babu she was absolutely right; about me, only to the point when I started initiating people into sannyas. She was alive for just a few days after I initiated the first group of sannyasins in the Himalayas. I had particularly chosen the most beautiful part of the Himalayas, Kulu-Manali - "the valley of the gods" as it was called. And certainly it is a valley of gods. It is so beautiful that one cannot believe it, even when one is standing in the valley itself. It is unbelievably true. I had chosen Kulu-Manali for the first initiation of twenty-one sannyasins.
That was just a few days before my mother... my grandmother died. Excuse me again, because I go on again and again calling her "mother" and then correcting it. What can I do? I had known her as my mother. My whole life I have tried to correct it and not been able to. I still don't call my mother "mother." I still call her bhabhi, not mother, and bhabhi only means "elder brother's wife." All my brothers laugh at me. They say, "Why do you go on calling mother bhabhi? - because bhabhi means elder brother's wife. Certainly your father is not your elder brother." But what can I do? I knew my grandmother as my mother from my earliest years, and those early years are the most important years of life. It is what I think the scientists call "an imprint."
When a bird comes out of its egg and looks at its mother, with that first look he is imprinted. But if the bird comes out and you have removed the mother and replaced her with something else, a different imprint happens.
It actually happened this way that the word "imprint" came into use. A scientist was working on what happens when a bird first comes out of the egg. He removed everything from the surroundings but he completely forgot that he himself was there. The bird came out, looked around and could see only the boots of the scientist who was standing there watching.
The bird came to the boots and very lovingly started playing with them. The scientist was amazed but later on he was in trouble because the bird was continuously knocking on his door, not for him, but for his boots. He had to keep his boots near the bird's house. And the strangest thing you can imagine happened: when the bird became mature he first made love with the boots. He could not fall in love with a girl bird, and there were many available. But he had a certain imprint of how his love-object should be. He could only love a beautiful pair of boots.
I lived with my grandmother for years and thought of her as my mother. And it was not a loss. I would have liked her to be my mother. If there were any possibility of my being born again, although there is none, I would choose her to be my mother. I am simply emphasizing the point. There is no possibility of my being born again, the wheel has stopped long ago. But she was right when she said that I would not have friends. I did not have friends in school, high school, college or at university.
Although many thought they were my friends, they were just admirers, at the most acquaintances, or at the very most followers, but not friends.
The day I started initiating, my only fear was, "Will I be able to someday change my followers into my friends?" The night before, I could not sleep. Again and again I thought, "How am I going to manage it? A follower is not supposed to be a friend." I said to myself that night in Kulu-Manali in the Himalayas, "Don't be serious. You can manage anything, although you don't know the A-B-C of managerial science."
I recall a book by Bern, THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION. I read it, not because the title contained the word "revolution," but because the title contained the word "managerial." Although I loved the book, naturally I was disappointed because it was not what I was looking for; I was never able to manage anything. So that night in Kulu-Manali I laughed.
One man - I will not tell you his name because he betrayed me, and it is better not to mention somebody who betrayed me and is still alive - was sleeping in my room. He was awakened by my laughter, and I said to him, "Don't be worried. I cannot be more mad than I already am. You go to sleep."
"But," he said, "just one question, otherwise I cannot go to sleep: Why did you laugh?"
I said, "I was just telling myself a joke."
He laughed and went to sleep without even asking what the joke was.
I knew that very moment what kind of seeker he was. In fact, like a flash of lightning I saw that this man was not going to be with me very long. So I did not initiate him into sannyas, although he insisted. Everybody wondered, because I was insisting for others to "take the jump" yet resisting all persuasion from that man. He wanted to take the jump and I said, "Please wait."
Within two months it was clear to everybody why I had not given sannyas to him. Within two months he had left; leaving is not a problem, but he became my enemy. To be my enemy is inconceivable to me - yes, even to me. I cannot believe how anybody can be an enemy to me. I have not harmed anybody in my life. You cannot find a more harmless creature. Why should anybody be my enemy?
Must be something to do with the person himself. He must be using me as a screen.
I would have liked to initiate my grandmother, but she was in the village of Gadarwara. I even tried to contact her, but Kulu-Manali is nearly two thousand miles from Gadarwara.
"Gadarwara" is a strange name. I wanted to avoid it, but it had to come anyway, this way or that, so it is better to be finished with it. It means "the village of the shepherd"; it is even stranger, because the place in Kashmir where Jesus is buried is called Pahalgam, which also means "the village of the shepherd." In the case of Pahalgam it is understandable, but why my village? I have never seen any sheep there, nor any shepherds. Why is it called "the village of the shepherd"? There are not many Christians there either; in fact, only one. You will be surprised, he is the father of a small church, and I used to be his only listener.
He once asked me, "It is strange: you are not a Christian so why do you come exactly on time, every Sunday without fail?" He went on, "Whether it rains or there is a hailstorm, I have to come because I think that you must be waiting, and you are always here. Why?"
I said, "You don't know me. I just love to torture people, and to listen to you torturing yourself for one hour, saying things you don't mean, and not saying things that you do mean, is such a joy to me. I would come even if the whole village were burning. You can rely on me: I would still be here exactly on time."
So certainly Christians have nothing to do with that village. Only one Christian lived there and his church was not much of a church either - just a small house. Of course a cross had been placed on it, and under it was written: "This is a Christian Church." I had always wondered why that village was called "the village of the shepherd," and when I went to Jesus' grave in Pahalgam, in Kashmir, the question became even more pertinent.
Strangely, Pahalgam has almost the same structure as my village. It may be just a coincidence.
When you cannot figure something out you say, "Perhaps it is a coincidence" - but I am not the type of man to leave a thing so easily. I looked into the matter as far as I could at that time, but now I can look as far as I want.
Gadarwara was also visited by Jesus, and outside the village is the place where he stayed. Its ruins are still honored. Nobody remembers why it is honored. There is a stone on which it says that at one time a man called Isu visited this place, and stayed there. He converted the people of the village and the surrounding area, then he returned to Pahalgam. The archaeological department of India placed that stone there, so it is not very old.
I had to work really hard on that stone just to clean it. It was difficult because nobody had cared for it. The stone was inside a small castle. The castle was no longer habitable, and it was dangerous to even enter. My grandmother used to try to prevent me from going inside because it could collapse at any moment. She was right. Even with just a small wind the walls would start swaying. The last time I saw it, it had collapsed. That was when I had gone to Gadarwara for my grandmother's funeral. I also went to pay a visit to the place where a man called Isu had once stayed.
Isu is certainly nothing but another form of the Aramaic Yeshu, from the Hebrew Joshua. In Hindi Jesus is called Isa, and lovingly, Isu. Perhaps one of the men whom I love the most had been there, in that village. Just the idea that Jesus too had walked those streets was so exhilarating, was such an ecstasy. This is just by the way. I cannot prove it in any historical way, whether it is so or not.
But if you ask me in confidence, I can whisper in your ear, "Yes, it is true. But please don't ask me more...."