A gathering of friends
IN THE OLD DAYS IN BOMBAY, EVEN THOUGH I FELT PHYSICALLY SO CLOSE TO YOU, YOU WERE SO FAR AWAY. NOW SITTING HERE WITH YOU IN BUDDHA HALL, WHERE THOUSANDS OF US MOVE AROUND YOU - COMPARED TO THE ROOM IN BOMBAY - I FEEL YOU SO INTIMATELY AND PERSONALLY, LIKE I NEVER DID BEFORE.
BELOVED MASTER, HAVE YOU DROPPED SERIOUS POLITICAL TALKS AND BECOME MORE INTIMATE AND JUICY? YOUR SMILE IS HAPPENING MORE OFTEN THAN EVER. PLEASE COMMENT.
Anand Murti, in a very simple question you have touched many implications. I would like to go into those implications, because without understanding them your question cannot be answered sincerely and authentically.
In the days in Bombay you were certainly physically close, but that very physical closeness destroyed the possibility of a deeper closeness, where the heart meets the heart, and where the spirit dances with the spirit. It happens because if you are physically close, people start taking you for granted.
Now nobody can take me for granted, not even the prime minister of India. I live in seclusion, in isolation. It was possible in the old days for anybody to come to me at any time to ask any stupid question. You will be amazed if I tell you about all the incidents that used to happen.
I was traveling from Udaipur to Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. I was alone in the first class compartment.
Suddenly I felt somebody massaging my feet.
I said, "Who are you and why are you unnecessarily disturbing my sleep?"
He said, "You keep quiet!"
I said, "This is strange. These are my feet."
He said, "You simply keep quiet. I am very angry and I am very much frustrated, because I am also coming from the Udaipur meditation camp. They did not allow me to massage your feet and those guys were always surrounding you, so I thought, 'Let us wait, because he will pass through Chittorgarh.' So I left ahead of you and I have been waiting here. Now nobody can prevent me. And I know certainly that you are so loving, you will not prevent me."
I said, "I am loving and I don't want to prevent you, but you should also be compassionate towards me... tired after a seven day camp. I had just fallen asleep."
But he wouldn't listen. For two hours continuously... I had to persuade him, "If you don't listen to me then I will have to pull the chain and call the conductor."
He said, "My God, I had never thought about that. You can do that."
I said, "I have every birthright to protect myself, at least from people like you who can't see a simple thing: I am tired and I don't want to talk, I want to sleep."
Just with this threat, he got off at a small station somewhere. But from the window he said, "At least touch my head."
I said, "You have tired me for two hours continuously massaging my feet, and now I have to massage your head!"
He said, "You do it, otherwise I will enter the compartment again."
I had to do it. He was very happy.
I was staying in a university campus, taking a meditation camp, and in the afternoon when I was sleeping, I suddenly became aware that somebody was walking on the roof. So I opened my eyes and what I saw... a professor had removed a tile and he was looking at me.
I said, "Hello! Why can't you come through the front door? Are you going to jump on me?"
He said, "At the front door they don't allow me. They say you are asleep, and as a matter of fact you are not asleep, you are talking with me."
When people think they can approach, ask, enquire at any time... I will be available tomorrow, what is the hurry today? This taking me for granted creates the problem. You remain physically close but spiritually far away. It is difficult for me to make an effort for thousands of people separately to be spiritually close to me.
And man's mind functions in a very strange way. If you go closer to him he becomes afraid, he becomes more closed. If you want to open his heart he becomes hard, he resists. The only thing possible was that I toured around the world inviting my would-be people, and when they started arriving I closed myself in a dark cell, where there was no possibility of anybody reaching me.
Strangely enough, this has opened thousands of hearts. Because I am not making any effort to open their heart, I am not interested in opening their heart, they have suddenly become open; there is nothing to be afraid of. And twice a day I am with you, you wait for me.
Waiting in itself is a great meditation.
Waiting in itself is the whole religiousness.
Waiting for the unknown, waiting for the guest, waiting for the master - whatever form it takes, but waiting for the right season when you will also be blossoming is the whole enquiry and the search of man.
I could have come into the ashram as many times as possible - it is not far away. But I have not been in the office since 1974. I have never seen anything in the ashram except my room and the meeting place where I see you, where I talk. It is not a sermon, it is not a discourse, it is simply an outpouring of a heart who loves you and wants to reach you; who trusts you and wants to enter into your deepest core; who wants to help you on the way.
And knowingly I don't come, because I want you not to take me for granted. I want you to wait for me. And sometimes I disappear, I don't come. But even then lovingly you wait - perhaps tomorrow I will be coming, or the day after tomorrow. And those days of waiting are not without significance.
They are as significant as the days when I am with you. I want you to be absolutely free of me, absolutely independent.
I don't impose any doctrine, any cult, any philosophy. I don't want followers. I simply want people who know freedom, who know love, who know the dignity of man, who know the peaks of awareness.
Only those who will know the peaks of awareness will be my friends, only those who will go to the depths of love will be my friends.
I talk to give you hints, not forcing anything on you, but simply whispering in your ear. It is said that if you want a woman to hear you, you have to whisper to somebody else. Don't talk directly, nobody is going to hear you, but whisper to somebody else. And it will be more perfect if you can find another woman. Whisper anything and your wife will hear it.
I am simply whispering to you things which cannot be managed in words, in language, things which need to be understood only in the silences of the heart. Perhaps in a gesture or perhaps in the depths of the eyes, I come to you.
And, Anand Murti, I have known you for almost twenty-five years. You were here in the ashram when I was away, you are here in the ashram now. I have never talked to you because I don't want to destroy the silence that is growing between me and you. I have not even said hello to you. And this is the same about everybody who is here.
And there are a few more things... In the Bombay days I was surrounded by Indians. Now, to be with Indians you have to be serious; otherwise they don't think you are a religious man. You will not believe me, that in the whole Indian history of ten thousand years there has not been a single Indian joke. Laughter is simply a foreigner. India does not even allow laughter a tourist visa.
You are saying, "In the old days in Bombay, even though I felt physically so close to you, you were so far away. Now, sitting here with you in Buddha Hall where thousands of us move around you - compared to the room in Bombay - I feel you so intimately and personally."
The reason is simply that now I am surrounded by my own people. They are not Indians, they are not Germans, they are not Americans; they don't have a religion, they don't have a race, they don't have a nation; they are purely individuals. It is a gathering of friends. It is because of this that you can feel me intimately and personally, although I don't know where in the ashram you live. I have never invited you even for a cup of tea.
In this way I am showing to you what a spiritual relationship is. It does not depend on anything visible. It is purely invisible, an energy that transpires in hearts, that makes them aflame. And my people know in the deepest of their depths that they are part of this commune, part of me, and part of this universe. They have thrown away all limitations and have become citizens of the universe.
You say, "Beloved Master, have you dropped serious political talks and become more intimate and juicy?" I am the same but the people around me have changed many times. In these past thirty-five years I have been working to raise the consciousness of humanity. Many people have come and left, and it has been always good because they emptied some space for better people. It is a strange experience, that those who have left me have always left places for a better quality of people. I have never been a loser.
There was a time... because, accidentally, I was born into a Jaina family; now, it is not my fault - you can call it unfortunate. But naturally, because I was born into a certain religious group, they were the first people to surround me. When people started looking at me, asking me questions, feeling that something has happened in me, the first ones were bound to be Jainas because they were my relatives, they were my neighbors. It was obvious that they would be the first. Naturally their questions were concerned with Jainism, with Mahavira. Their questions you could not ask; it would never occur to you that this also can be a relevant question.
I was staying with a Jaina family. The father of the family was almost eighty years old and he had retired, according to the tradition that after seventy-five years you should retire. He had retired to a small hut outside the city. The family provided food, care, but he lived alone there chanting Jaina mantras, reading Jaina scriptures.
Someone gave him my first book, THE PATH. He was so much impressed by the book that he could not believe it - "All my learning of the scriptures was futile, only this small book is enough. And this man, who has written this book, must be a saint; otherwise, how can he write such great truths?"
When he heard that I was staying with his family - his son was very much interested in me - he came to see me.
And I said, "You unnecessarily walked for miles in your old age. You could have given a message, a phone call. I could have come to you; your son has a car, there is no problem."
He said, "No, I wanted... to me this is a pilgrimage."
In Jainism, only twenty-four masters are accepted in one circle of creation. Those twenty-four masters have happened - Mahavira was the last. That was twenty-five centuries ago and now there still are thousands of years which will remain empty; there will not be another Jaina master they call the tirthankara, "the man who makes the path."
The old man was very learned and he said, "If it was in my power, I would have declared you the twenty-fifth tirthankara, but it is not according to the scriptures and it is not in my power. But I respect you exactly as the twenty-fifth tirthankara."
I said, "You should wait a little, you should watch a little. You may have to change your idea."
He said, "Never! I will never change my idea. I have come to a definite conclusion. I have seen all Jaina scriptures - you go miles and you find such small nourishment. Your small book is enough for a man who really wants to find the truth. It is enough, more than that is non-essential."
It was evening time and the sun was setting. And the woman of the house came and said to me, "It is time for your supper. The sun is setting." In a Jaina family, you have to eat before the sun sets; otherwise you have to remain hungry.
But I said to the woman, "Don't be worried. Your father-in-law has come from miles away to see me.
It doesn't matter to me, I will eat a little later. Let me first converse with him because he has been waiting for me for years."
The moment the old man heard that I was going to eat in the night, he was so shocked. He said, "What am I hearing? I called you the twenty-fifth tirthankara and you are going to eat in the night!
I have been thinking that your book is the essential for all those who are seekers of the path - and the reality is, you don't know even the ABC of religion." This is the ABC of religion, that eating in the night is preparing your path towards hell!
I said, "I told you just to wait, not to make decisions, but you didn't listen, you said you were determined. In fact just to show you how determined you were, I told the woman that I would eat after one hour."
He said, "Really? Then forgive me. I touch your feet, just forgive me."
I said, "Wait, you are making decisions too quickly."
He said, "No, I am absolutely determined. This time I am not going to change." And he touched my feet, asked for my forgiveness.
I said, "There is no difficulty in forgiving because you have not committed any crime, but one thing you should understand: the twenty-fifth tirthankara eats in the night."
He said, "You eat in the night?"
I said, "I am saying it myself, and if you want, you can wait. Let the sun set and things will be clear."
He said, "My God! Then how could you manage to write such a book?"
I said, "Eating in the night or not has nothing to do with religion."
But he was very much frustrated. He left and he told me when he was going, "I am going to burn your book."
I said, "That's the right thing. But think before you burn it. You seem to be a very quick, decisive man. And each decision is absolute. I may not eat... and I was just joking when I said that I eat in the night."
He said, "Really?"
Now, what can you do with such people?
When I was surrounded with Jainas I had to talk with these people about things which have no importance, nothing. But those were the people and these were their questions. Slowly, slowly others started moving towards me, Jainas became a minority. Out of that minority a few are still here - very few, their percentage has fallen to one percent at the most.
The second group that followed, which was certainly the closest group to the Jainas... Mahatma Gandhi had adopted a Jaina doctrine of nonviolence, so all the Jainas became Gandhians, and all the Gandhians came close to the Jainas. At least on one point they were in agreement. So when Jainas were becoming alert that I am a dangerous man, Gandhians followed. Their great leaders - Vinoba Bhave wanted to meet me; Shankarrao Deo attended a meditation camp; Dada Dharmadhikari attended many meditation camps; Acharya Bhagwat attended many meditation camps. And because these were the thinkers of Gandhism, all over India Gandhians started becoming interested in me.
Again I was surrounded by a certain group with a fixed ideology. The day I criticized Mahatma Gandhi... I was simply stating the facts, not even criticizing him. Somebody had asked, "What do you think about Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of nonviolence?" Now, you would not ask that kind of question.
I said that Mahatma Gandhi was simply a cunning politician. By adopting nonviolence he was managing many things. All the Jainas became his followers. They found a certain man who was in tune with them; although he was not a Jaina, he was at least nine percent Jaina. I have the percentages about Gandhi: he was born a Hindu, but he was only one percent Hindu. He was born in Gujarat, an area very dominated by Jaina philosophy; nine percent he was a Jaina. And ninety percent he was a Christian. Thrice in his life he was just on the verge of being converted to Christianity.
I said to them that by nonviolence he managed the Jainas; he also managed the upper-class Hindus who are nonviolent people; he also managed to influence Christian missionaries, Christians, because Jesus Christ's message is of love, and nonviolence is another name of love. And these were not all the benefits of accepting nonviolence. The most important thing is, India has been for two thousand years a slave country. It has forgotten what it means to be independent. It is not yet independent, its mind has become that of a slave.
Two thousand years is not a small time. In these two thousand years a certain slave psychology has penetrated the Indian mind. They have become cowards. India has never invaded anybody. Small invaders, uncultured, uneducated - Mongols, Turks, Hunas, very small tribes from Central Asia - simply came, and they were not even given resistance. India has lost the nerve to fight. So when Gandhi said nonviolence, the whole of India was absolutely convinced by him, because there was no question of fighting.
Indians are very much afraid of fighting. They have never fought. A small group could manage to keep this vast continent in slavery. The ownership changed from one group to another, but India remained in slavery.
Secondly, Gandhi was intelligent enough to see that on the one hand Indians are not people who will fight, and on the other hand, they don't have any weapons to fight with. Thirdly, the British empire of that day was the greatest power in the world. It was impossible to fight violently with the British empire: you don't have weapons, you don't have trained people to fight, you don't know anything about fighting.
Nonviolence was a political policy. It served many purposes, and served well. It shocked the British empire and it destroyed the British empire too. Britain was absolutely ready if the Indians were going to fight. But they would not fight; even if there were British soldiers killing Indians, they would simply stand and be killed. All over the world the British empire was condemned: "This is absolutely stupid.
People who are not fighting, who are not terrorists, who are not revolutionaries, who are simply asking for their freedom... And instead of giving them freedom you give them a bullet in the chest - unarmed people!"
Britain was in a very awkward situation. You can arrest the people who are following Gandhi - and they were ready to be arrested - you can put them in jail, but how many can you put in jail? And what is the point? Sooner or later you will have to release them because this is an unnecessary burden on you - feeding them, clothing them. And thousands more were coming every day to be arrested. Before every jail, before every court, people were standing, waiting to be arrested: "Give us freedom or arrest us."
Nowhere in the world had such a situation ever happened. Britain got puzzled. It looked inhuman to kill these people, it looked inhuman to jail these people, and a worldwide condemnation... And finally the whole empire collapsed, because India was the central beam. Once India was free, other smaller countries started becoming free. And with India out of the British empire, Britain itself has become such a small power that it is not counted at all as far as great powers are concerned. It was the topmost.
So I said that Gandhi's nonviolence was not a spiritual philosophy, but a political policy. And it is proved by the facts. He had promised before independence that the moment India became free, all armies would be dissolved, all arms would be thrown into the ocean. When asked, "If you do this and somebody attacks, what are you going to do?" he said, "We will receive them as our guest and we will say to them, 'We stay here; you also can stay.'"
After independence everything was forgotten. Neither the armies were dissolved, nor the arms were thrown into the ocean; on the contrary, Gandhi himself blessed the first attack on Pakistan. Three Indian Air Force planes came to receive his blessings and he came out of his house and blessed the planes. All nonviolence and all that bullshit talk that he was doing his whole life was forgotten.
The moment I criticized Gandhi... And this was only on one point. I am a man who loves to go deep into everything. If I don't go, I don't go at all. Once I started, I had to condemn Mahatma Gandhi on a thousand and one grounds, and on each point Gandhians disappeared; now I don't think even one percent of those present are Gandhians - not here, even in India, because they cannot be Gandhians if I am right. I have condemned him point by point.
I have not changed, just the people around me went on changing. When Gandhians disappeared then the people who were communists, socialists, who were against Gandhism thought, "This is a great chance. If he can support us..." But I had not condemned Gandhi to support communism. I had never thought about it, that this would become an opportunity for socialists and communists.
And then I had to condemn them. There is no other way to get rid of such people.
So all those political talks were a necessity, to find out exactly who my people are: who are without any prejudice; who have come to me; who have not come to me to hear about Christ, or to hear about Buddha, or to hear about Gandhi, or to hear about Mahavira; who have come directly to listen to me. I have my own message, I have my own manifesto to the world.
So the people who are here have a totally different quality. I can talk to you without ever thinking that it can hurt you, without ever thinking that I have to somehow say things which you like. Now I can say things which are my own experience, which my own existential being is ready to express.
I have never been a serious person. But I was surrounded by serious people for many years, and amongst those serious people it is very difficult not to be serious. It is almost like being in a hospital.
You have at least to pretend that you are serious. For years I was surrounded by sick people and I had at least to pretend that I was serious.
I am not serious at all because existence is not serious. It is so playful, so full of song and so full of music and so full of subtle laughter. It has no purpose; it is not business-like. It is pure joy, sheer dance, out of overflowing energy.
Now I can talk to you as if I am talking to myself. There is no problem.
Just the other day Chaitanya Keerti was translating a few of my talks into Hindi, and he was puzzled about how to translate the jokes, because the Indians will not be able to swallow them. Those jokes will get stuck in their throats. So I told Chaitanya Keerti, "You are an Indian, and you know perfectly well what will be troublesome - drop it. You are not only translating into Indian language, you are also translating for Indians. Keep in mind that they cannot understand jokes. You are in a totally different climate, in a different atmosphere. They are not in the same situation. They are afraid to enter the door."
I had an ear infection and a specialist, Dr. Jog, was called. He could not believe that such a beautiful ashram exists in Poona. And he lives in Poona, is the topmost expert here. He had passed, looked at the door, looked at the people, but he had never dared to enter. And then he said, "When I told my wife that it is a beautiful place and there are beautiful people, full of laughter and joy; it is nothing like what the third-rate yellow newspapers go on printing about it - lies, absolute lies - she wanted to come."
They both came one Sunday when he was free. And when he came to see me again, he said, "My wife wants to come whenever she can manage. I cannot come every Sunday, because that is the only free time for conferences, for meetings, for this and that. But whenever I can come, I will come.
Can she come alone?"
I said, "There is no problem. Here men are afraid of women, women are not afraid of men! This is a totally different world. You can see the scene: the swami is running away, and not one, but many mas are trying to catch hold of him, saying, 'Where are you going? Come back!'"
And he said, "One thing more, she wants to see you for five minutes alone."
I said, "There is no problem. Whenever you want, you inform me and she can see me."
He himself wondered, "What does she want to see you alone for?"
I said, "That is your problem, that is not my problem. She may have some trouble with you. You may be torturing her or you must be doing something."
Even that day I had seen, as the car stopped, that his wife seemed to be intelligent, educated. They were sitting just here, and his wife showed him the thumbs-up sign. Perhaps he does not know that I have seen it. I never miss anything that is worth seeing!
Now something serious....
Prince Edward, the queen's youngest son, takes a horse ride every morning in Hyde Park. And every day he sees the same beautiful girl sitting on a park bench. He soon falls madly in love with her, but is too shy to introduce himself. Not knowing what to do, he consults his elder brother Charles who is more experienced in such matters.
"Simple," says Charles. "Just paint your horse green."
"Green?" exclaims Edward.
"Yes, green," says Charles. "And next time you see her, she will say, 'Your horse is green?' and you can say, 'That's right, and my name is Prince Edward.' And then you can take her for a drink and then you can invite her for a weekend in Scotland, and if you play your cards right, you may end up with a romp in the heather."
"Great!" says Edward. And the next morning he arrives in the park with a green horse.
The girl looks up, sees him and cries, "My God, your horse is green!"
"Yes," says Edward, and then he stammers, "well, er, well, well... I wanna fuck you!"
Continuing their tour of India, Hymie Goldberg and Becky Goldberg go trekking in the Himalayas.
Walking along the path, gazing at the mountain scenery, Hymie bumps straight into a yeti, one of the legendary abominable snowmen. The yeti picks up Hymie and runs off into the hills, leaving Becky wailing and crying that she will never see her Hymie again.
Sure enough, a few minutes later there is a piercing shriek that echoes around the mountains and Becky fears the worst. But a short while later, Hymie comes limping down the path into Becky's arms.
"What happened?" she cries in relief. "How did you escape?"
"Well," says Hymie reluctantly, "I thought I was finished, all twisted up in the creature's arms until I could not breathe. And then I saw this pair of balls hanging in front of my nose, so with my last energy I bit the balls as hard as I could. And you have no idea how much strength a man gets when he bites his own balls!"
Yes, Beloved Master.