There is a slight difference between the two and there is a little similarity between the two also.
Actually the field of each extends into the other. Shaktipat is the energy of the divine. In fact, there is no other energy except the energy of the divine. In shaktipat, however, a person functions as a medium. Although ultimately the person is also a part of the divine, in the initial stage the individual functions as a medium.
It is just like the lightning that flashes across the sky and the electric light that lights the house: they are the same but the light that burns in the house is brought about through a medium and the hand of man is clearly evident behind it.
The lightning that flashes in the rain is the same energy of the divine but it is not brought about by man. If man becomes extinct the lightning will still flash across the sky but the electric bulb will no longer work. Shaktipat is like the electric bulb in which man is the medium; grace is the lightning in the sky that comes without the help of a medium.
A person who has attained to this energy level, one who is in contact with the divine, can function as a medium because he is a better vehicle than you are for this happening. He is familiar with the energy and its workings. The energy can enter you more quickly through him. You are totally unacquainted, immature; this man is a well matured vehicle. If the energy enters you through him, it comes about easily as he is an efficient medium.
Secondly, that person is a narrow channel from which you will receive energy, but only according to your capacity. You can sit under the electric light in the house and read as it is a regulated light; you cannot read under the lightning in the sky because it follows no regulation.
So if suddenly by chance a person happens to be in a state in which the grace can descend on him or a sudden situation is created in which shaktipat happens to him without a medium, then there is every possibility of his freaking out or becoming insane. The energy that has descended on him may be too much and his capacity to hold it too little; hence he can be completely shattered. Then unknown, unfamiliar experiences of joy become painful and unbearable.
It is as if a man used to staying in darkness for years is suddenly brought out into the daylight: the darkness will deepen all the more and he will not yet be able to see the light of the sun. His eyes were accustomed to seeing in the darkness, so they cannot stand the glare of light and will close.
So sometimes it happens that such a situation can come about within you in which the unlimited energy of grace can descend unknowingly on you; but its effect can be fatal, destructive, if you are not ready. You have been caught unawares so the happening can turn into a disaster. Yes, grace can also become harmful and destructive.
In the case of shaktipat the chances of accident are very few, almost nil, because there is a person who is functioning as a medium, as a vehicle. Passing through a medium the energy becomes gentle and mild, and the medium can also regulate the intensity of the energy. He can allow only that amount of energy to flow into you which you can hold. But remember, the medium is only a vehicle and not the source of this energy.
So if a person says that he is doing shaktipat, that he is doing the transmission of the energy, then he is wrong. It would be just like the bulb declaring that it is the giver of light. Because the light is always emitted through the bulb, the bulb may be deluded that it is the creator of light. This is not so. It is not the primal source of light but merely a medium for its manifestation. So a person who declares that he can perform shaktipat is under the same illusion as the bulb.
The energy that is transmitted is always the energy of the divine. But if a person becomes a medium, then we can call it shaktipat. If there is no medium and this energy descends suddenly it can be harmful. But if a man has waited long enough, if a man has meditated with infinite patience, then shaktipat too can happen in the form of grace. Then there will be no medium, but then there will be no mishap. His infinite waiting, his boundless patience, his unwavering devotion, his everlasting resolve, develop his ability to allow the infinite. Then there will be no mishap. And the happening can take place both ways - with or without a medium. But in the absence of a medium he will not feel it as shaktipat but as grace from the beyond.
So there are similarities as well as differences between the two. I am in favor of grace as far as it is possible; as far as possible there should not be a medium. But in certain cases this is possible and in certain cases it is not possible. So instead of the latter category of people wandering for endless lives, some person can be made a medium to bring down the divine energy to them. Only that person can be a medium, however, who is no longer an individual ego. Then the hazard is almost nil, because such a person while becoming the medium does not become a guru: there is no person left to become a guru. Understand this difference well.
When a person becomes a guru he becomes a guru in reference to you; when a person becomes a medium he does so in relationship to the universal being; then he has nothing to do with you. Do you understand the difference?
Ego cannot exist in any state brought about in relationship to you. So the real guru is one who does not become a guru. The definition of a sadguru, a perfect master, is one who does not become a guru. This means that all who call themselves guru do not have the qualification to be a guru. There is no greater disqualification than a claim of guruship; that shows the presence of ego in such a person, and that is dangerous.
If a person suddenly reaches a state of void, where ego has completely disappeared, he can become a medium. Then shaktipat can happen near him, in his presence, and there is no possibility of danger. There is no danger to you or to the medium through which the energy is flowing.
And yet basically I am in favor of grace. When the ego has died and the person is no longer an individual, when these conditions are fulfilled, shaktipat almost becomes grace.
If the individual is not self-conscious of this state, then shaktipat is very near to grace. Then just being near him can bring about the happening. This person appears to you as a person but in actuality he has become one with the divine. It would be better to say that he has become the hand of the divine extended towards you. He is close to you. Now such a man is wholly instrumental. If that person speaks in the first person in such a state of consciousness we tend to misunderstand him. When such a person says 'I', he means the supreme self - but it is difficult for us to understand his language.
That is why Krishna can say to Arjuna, "Leave all else and surrender unto me." For thousands of years we will be pondering on what sort of a person this is who says, "Surrender unto me." His statement seems to confirm the presence of an ego. But this man could say it this way simply because he is no more an ego. Now his 'I' is the outstretched hand of someone, and it is that someone who is behind him saying, "Surrender unto me - the only one." These words, the only one, are priceless. Krishna says, "Surrender unto me, the only one." The 'I' is never the only one - it is many. Krishna is speaking from a place where the 'I' is the only one, and this is not the language of the ego.
But we understand only the language of the ego; therefore, we feel that Krishna has made an egoistic statement by telling Arjuna to surrender unto him. But this is a mistake. We always have two ways of looking at things: one is through our own point of view, from where we are invariably deluded; and the other is from the point of view of the divine, from where there is no question of delusion. So the happening can take place through a person like Krishna in whose person individual ego plays no part.
Both happenings, shaktipat and grace, are very contrary at the periphery; both are very close to one another at the center. I am in favor of that space where it is difficult to distinguish between shaktipat and grace. That alone is useful; that alone is valuable.
A monk in China was observing the birthday of his guru with great celebration. People asked him whose birthday he was celebrating, as he always said that he had no guru and that there was no need for a guru. Then what was all this about? He begged them not to question him, but they kept on insisting, "Today is the day of the guru - have you a guru?"
The monk said, "Don't put me in difficulty. It is good that I keep quiet."
But the more he kept quiet, the more the people insisted, "What is the matter? What is it that you are celebrating? - because this is master's day celebration. Do you have a master?"
The monk said, "If you go on insisting then I have to say something about it. Today I remember the man who refused to be my guru, because if he had accepted me as a disciple I would have gone astray. That day when he refused me I was very angry with him, but today I want to bow down to him in great gratitude. Had he wished he could have been my guru, because it was I who begged him to accept me, but he did not agree."
So the people asked, "Then what do you thank him for when he refused you?"
The monk said, "It is enough to say that by not becoming my guru this man did for me what no guru could do. Therefore, my obligation is doubled. If he had been my guru there would have been some give and take on both sides. I would have touched his feet, offered my veneration and respects, and the matter would have been concluded. But this man did not ask for respect and he did not become my guru. Therefore my obligation to him is double. This has been absolutely one-sided: he gave and I could not even thank him, because he left no place even for that."
Now in such a situation as this there will not remain any difference between shaktipat and grace.
The more the difference the more you should keep away from it; the less the difference the better it is. Therefore, I emphasize grace. The day shaktipat has come very close to grace, so close that you cannot distinguish between shaktipat and grace, know that the right happening has taken place.
When the electricity of your house becomes like the unhindered and natural lightning in the sky and becomes a part of the infinite energy, that moment you should know that if shaktipat happens then it is equivalent to grace. Remember what I have said.
Explosion never takes place with only one energy. Explosion is the union of two energies. If the explosion was possible with one energy, then it would have happened long ago.
It is as if you have a matchbox and you place a matchstick near it: they can lie like this indefinitely and no flame will result. No matter how small the distance between the two - half a centimeter or a quarter of a centimeter makes no difference - there will be no result. For that explosion the friction of the two is necessary; then only you will get fire. Fire is hidden in both of them but there is no way of producing it with only one of the two.
The explosion happens when the two energies meet. Thus, the sleeping energy within the individual must rise up to the sahasrar and then only is the union, the explosion, possible. No union is possible except at the point of the sahasrar. It is just as if your doors are closed and the sun is shining outside. The light stays outside your door. You move inside the house up to the door, but still you will not meet the light of the sun. Only when the door opens do you come in contact with the sunlight.
So the ultimate point of the kundalini is the sahasrar. That is the door where grace awaits us.
The divine is always waiting at this door. It is you who are not at the door: you are away within somewhere. You have to come to the door. There the union will take place, and that union will be in the form of an explosion. It is called explosion because then you will immediately disappear; you will no longer be. The matchstick will have been burnt in the explosion though the matchbox will still be. The matchstick that is you turns into ashes and merges into the formless.
In the happening you will be no more. You will be lost; you will be broken and scattered; you will no longer be. You will not be what you were behind the closed door. All that was yours will be lost. Only the one who waits outside the door will remain, and you will become a part. This cannot happen to you alone, by yourself. For this explosion it is very necessary for you to reach up to the infinite cosmic energy. The sleeping energy within has to be awakened and made to rise upwards to the sahasrar where the cosmic energy forever awaits. The journey of the kundalini starts from your sleeping center and ends at the place, at the boundary, where you disappear.
So there is one boundary which is of the physical, which we have taken for granted. But this is not the greater boundary. If my hand is cut off it does not make much difference to me. If my feet are cut off, the body will not suffer much, because I still remain. In other words, I still remain in spite of the changes within these limits. Even if the eyes and ears are not, I still remain. So your actual boundary is not the boundary of the body; your actual boundary is the sahasrar center, after which you no longer exist. No sooner do you encroach on this boundary than you are gone; you cannot remain.
Your kundalini is your sleeping energy. Its boundaries extend from the sex center to the center at the top of the head. That is why we are continuously aware that we may be able to disidentify ourselves with the other parts of the body, but we cannot break our identity with the face, with the head. It is easy to recognize that "I may not be the hand," but to see one's face in the mirror and to conceive that "I am not this face" is very difficult. The face and the head is the limit. Therefore, man is ready to lose everything but not his intellect.
Socrates was once talking about contentment, saying that it is a great treasure. Someone asked him whether he would prefer to be a discontented Socrates or a contented pig. Socrates replied, "I would prefer to be a discontented Socrates than a contented pig, because the contented pig has no knowledge of his contentment. A dissatisfied Socrates will at least be conscious of his dissatisfaction." This man, Socrates, is saying that man is willing to lose all, but not his intellect - even if it is a dissatisfied intellect.
The intellect is also very near the center of sahasrar, the seventh and last chakra. Rightly speaking we have two boundaries. One is the sex center; below this center the world of nature begins. At the center of sex there is no difference between trees, birds, animals and ourselves. This center is the ultimate limit for them, whereas for man it is the first point, the starting line. When we are based in the sex center we too are animals. Our other limit is the intellect. It is near our second boundary line beyond which is the divine. Beyond this point we are no longer ourselves; then we are the divine.
These are our two frontier lines, and between these two our energy moves.
Now, the reservoir where all our energy lies asleep is near the sex center. That is why ninety-nine percent of man's thoughts, dreams and activities are spent around this reservoir. No matter how much culture may be displayed, whatever the false pretexts the society may bring out, man lives there and there alone: he lives around the sex center. If he earns money it is for sex; if he builds a house it is for sex; if he earns prestige he does so for sex. At the root of it all we will find sex.
Those who understood talked of two goals - sex and liberation. The other two goals, wealth and religion, were only the means. Wealth is a resource of sex; therefore, the more sexual the era the more wealth-oriented it will be. The more in search of liberation an age is the more it will be thirsty for religion. Religion is just a means as wealth is a means. If you long for liberation religion becomes the means. If you wish for sexual satisfaction wealth is the means. So there are two goals and two means - because we have two frontiers.
It is interesting that between these two extremes you cannot rest anywhere, you cannot stop anywhere. Many people find themselves in great difficulty as they have no desire for liberation, and if for some reason they become antagonistic towards sex they find themselves in a terrible predicament. They start staying away from the sex center, but they won't go anywhere near the center for liberation. They fall into doubt and uncertainty, and that is very difficult, very painful, and really a hell. Their lives are filled with inner turmoil.
To linger in the middle is neither right nor natural nor meaningful. It is as if a man climbs a ladder and stops half way. To him we would say, "Do one of the two: either go up or come down, because the ladder is not a house and to stop in between is meaningless." There cannot be a more useless person than one who stops halfway up the ladder. Whatever he has to do, he can do it either at the top of the ladder or at the bottom of the ladder.
So the spine is the ladder, so to speak. On this ladder each vertebra is a step. The kundalini starts from the lowest center and reaches to the very top. If it reaches the highest center explosion is inevitable. If it remains at the lowest center it is sure to take the form of sexual discharge, ejaculation.
These two things should be understood well.
If the kundalini is at the lowest center a discharge of sexual energy is inevitable. If it reaches the highest center explosion is certain. Both are explosions and both require the participation of the other. In the discharge of sex the other is necessary, even if it is an imaginary other. But all your energy does not become scattered from here, because this is only the beginning point of your being.
You are much more than that, and you have progressed much from there. The animal is fully satisfied at this point and therefore does not seek liberation.
If animals could write scriptures there would be written in them only two goals worth striving for:
wealth and sex. Wealth will be in forms suitable to the animal world. The animal that has more flesh, more strength, will be the richer one. He will win over the others in a competition of sex; he will gather ten females around him. And this also is a form of wealth. The extra fat within his body is his wealth.
A man too has riches which can be converted into "fat" at any time. A king can keep a thousand queens. There was a time when a man's wealth was measured by the number of wives he possessed. If a man is poor, how can he afford four wives? Today's criteria of education and bank balance are a much later development. In the olden days the number of women was the only criterion of wealth. This is why in extolling the affluence of our ancient heroes we have had to inflate the number of their women, and this was many times false.
For instance, the sixteen thousand queens of Krishna. In Krishna's time there was no other way of expressing his greatness: "If Krishna is a great man, then how many wives does he have?" So we had to conjure up the colossal figure of sixteen thousand - which was an impressive number then, though today it might not seem so due to the population explosion. In those days there were not so many people. In Africa even now there are communities that consist of only three people. So if they are told that a man has four wives it would be an impossible figure because they do not know anything beyond the figure of three.
In the realm of sex the presence of the other is required. If the other person is not present, even imagining the other produces the necessary effect. This is why it was thought that if God is present even in imagination, the explosion can take place. Therefore, the long tradition of bhakti, the path of devotion, developed in which imagination was used as the means for explosion. If ejaculation is possible through the imagination, why cannot the energy explosion take place in the same way at the sahasrar? This gave rise to the possibility of meeting God in the head through the use of imagination. But this was not really possible. Ejaculation is possible in imagination because it has actually been experienced; therefore it can be imagined. But we have had no meeting with God; therefore he cannot be imagined. We can only imagine that which has been experienced by us.
If a man has experienced a certain kind of pleasure he can always sit back, recall the experience and enjoy it again. A deaf person cannot hear in his dreams no matter how hard he tries; he cannot even imagine sound. Similarly, a blind man cannot envisage light. But if a man has lost his eyes he can always dream of light. Rather, now he can only see light in his dreams, because he no longer has eyes to see it. So we can envisage our experiences, but there is no way to imagine what has never been experienced.
Explosion is not our experience; therefore imagination does not work here. We will actually have to go within, and then the actual happening can take place. So the sahasrar chakra is your ultimate boundary, where you end.
As I said before, man is a ladder. Nietzsche's words in this context are very precious. He said, "Man is a bridge between two eternities." There is one eternity - that of nature, which has no end - and there is the other, of the divine, which is also infinite, limitless. Man is a bridge swaying between these two. Therefore man is not the resting place. One either goes forwards or backwards. There is no place to build a house on this bridge. Whoever tries to settle on it repents, because a bridge is not a place to have a house; it is only meant for crossing over from one end to the other.
In Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar tried to build a temple of all religions. He dreamed of one religion, which he named Deen-e-Illahe - the essence of all religions. So he had inscribed a sentence on the entrance door which is a saying of Jesus Christ. It reads: This world is only a resting place and not a permanent home. You may halt here for some time but you cannot stop here forever. This is only a place of rest on your journey. It is a camping ground, a traveler's bungalow where one can stay the night and resume traveling in the morning. We halt here only so that we may rest the night and start again at daybreak. There is no other purpose. We do not stop here for all time.
The human being is a ladder that has to be climbed; therefore he is always tense. It is not correct to say that a man is tense: rather, man is tension. A bridge is always tense; it is a bridge because it is tense. It is that which lies between two extremes. Man is an inevitable tension; therefore he is never at peace, never tranquil. Only when he becomes like an animal does he experience a little peace, or else he attains perfect peace when he becomes the divine. The tension loosens when he becomes an animal; then he has climbed down the steps of the ladder to stand on the ground, the place with which he has been familiar for thousands of lives. He has relieved himself of all bother about tension. So man seeks freedom from tension in sex, or in other experiences related to sex such as alcohol, drugs, etcetera, that can take him into temporary unconsciousness. But you can be there for a short while only; even if you wish, you cannot stay in the animal state permanently.
Even a man of the worst quality can stay in the animal state only for a short while.
The man who commits murder does so in the moment when he becomes an animal. Had he waited a moment longer, perhaps he might have been unable to do it. Our becoming like animals is somewhat like a man jumping: for a moment he is in the air; then he comes back on the ground. So the worst of men is not bad forever; he cannot be. He is so only during moments; otherwise, he is normal like any other person. For one moment he derives comfort, because he falls back onto the known ground where there are no tensions. This is why we find no tensions in animals.
Look into their eyes: there is no tension. The animal never goes mad or commits suicide; he suffers no heart disease. But all this becomes possible for animals who are in the bondage of man - when he pulls man's wagon or becomes his domestic pet. This is a different thing altogether. When man tries to pull the animal across the bridge the complications start.
Now if a stray dog enters this room he will move about as he pleases, but if a pet dog enters he will go and sit where he is ordered. Now this pet dog has entered the world of man and left his animal world behind. He is bound to land himself in trouble. He is an animal that has been made to undergo the tensions of a human being. Thus, he is forever in distress. He eagerly awaits the order to run out of the room.
Man can fall back into the animal state only momentarily. This is why we say that all our joys are shortlived. Joy can also be eternal, but where we look for it, it is only a transitory state. We try to find happiness in the animal state, and this can be only for a very short while. We cannot remain in the animal state for long. It is difficult to go back into our previous state of existence. If you want to go back to yesterday you can close your eyes and visualize - but for how long? When you open your eyes you will find yourself where you are.
You cannot go back. You can forcibly do it for a moment or so, but then you always repent. Therefore, all momentary pleasures bring repentance in their course. You are left with a feeling that your efforts have gone in vain, but after a few days you forget again and fall again into the same mistake.
Momentary joy can be attained on the animal level, but eternal joy is attained only upon merging into the divine. This journey has to be completed within your own being. You have to cross from one end of your bridge to the other; only then does the second happening take place.
Therefore, I consider sex and samadhi equivalent. There is a reason for this. In fact, these are the only two happenings that are equivalent. In sex we are at one end of the bridge, the lowest rung of the ladder where we are one with nature; in samadhi we are at the other end of the bridge, the topmost rung of the ladder where we are one with the divine. Both are unions; both are explosions in a certain way. In both cases you lose yourself in a particular sense: in sex you lose yourself for a moment, and in samadhi, forever. In both cases you cease to exist. The former is a very momentary explosion, and after it you recrystallize, because where you had gone was a lower state to which you cannot revert. But once you merge into the divine you cannot recrystallize.
This reversal is as impossible as the one into the animal state. It is absolutely impossible. It is just like expecting an adult man to get into his baby clothes. You have become one with the absolute, so you cannot revert back to the individual. Now the individual self has become such a narrow and insignificant place that you can no longer enter there. Now you cannot even imagine how you can be in it. The matter of the individual ends here.
For the explosion to happen both things are needed: your journey within must reach the point of the sahasrar, to meet with the grace there....
Why we call this center sahasrar needs to be explained. These names are not coincidental, though language always develops accidentally and by constant use. We use the word door: any other name could have been easily used to denote the same thing. There are thousands of languages in the world and there must be thousands of words that mean door and are capable of conveying the same meaning. But when a thing is not accidental there occurs a similarity in all languages. So the meaning of door, or dwar, conveys the meaning of that through which we pass in and out. So in all languages the word used for door will convey this meaning, because this is a part of an experience and not a coincidental arrangement. The idea of the space through which entrance and exit are possible is conveyed by this word door.
Thus the word sahasrar has been coined as a result of experiences, and it is not accidental. No sooner do you attain the experience than you feel as if a thousand flower buds have bloomed within you all of a sudden. We say a thousand, meaning infinite, and we liken it to flowers because the experience is like a flowering. Something within that was closed like a bud has opened. The word flower is used in the context of flowering, of blossoming. And not only have one or two things blossomed - infinitely many things have blossomed.
So to call this experience "the opening of a thousand-petaled lotus" is natural. Have you seen a lotus opening in the rays of the morning sun? Watch carefully. Go near a lotus pond and observe silently as the lotus bud slowly opens its petals. Then you can visualize what the feeling would be if a thousand-petaled lotus opened in this way in the head. Then you will be able to imagine the experience somewhat.
There is another wonderful experience: that of sex. Those who go deep into the experience of sex also feel this flowering, but it is a very fleeting experience. Something within blossoms, but it closes again almost immediately.
But there is a difference between the two experiences. In the sex experience the flower is felt to be hanging downwards, whereas in samadhi the petals are felt to be blooming upwards. This differentiation can only be made by passing through both experiences. It is natural that the flowers that bloom downwards join you to a lower realm, while the flowers that bloom upwards join you to a higher realm. In fact, this blooming is an opening that makes you vulnerable to another realm. It is a door that opens - a door through which something enters within you for the explosion to take place.
Thus, both these things are required. You will travel up to the sahasrar and there someone is always awaiting you. It is not correct to say that someone will come there when you reach; that someone is already there waiting for the happening to take place in you.
This has to be understood properly. In existence, in life, there is no happening which is so simple that you can understand it just by one aspect of it; it has to be viewed from many dimensions. Now if I strike a door with a hammer and the door opens, I can say that the door opened with the blow of my hammer. This is also correct in the sense that had I not struck the door, the door would not have opened. Now with the same hammer I strike another door, but the hammer may break and the door may not open - then... Then one other factor comes into our knowledge: when I struck the first door and it opened, it was not entirely because of the hammer. The door was fully ready to open. It may have been old, it may have been weak, but whatsoever the case it was ready to open. So the door had as much a hand as the hammer in this happening. In one instance the hammer struck and the door opened; in another, the hammer broke and the door did not open.
So when the happening takes place in shaktipat, it is not entirely due to shaktipat. At the other end, the meditator in such a case is inwardly prepared and ready, so a slight push becomes effective. If this push had not been given by shaktipat, the meditator may have taken a little longer time to reach to sahasrar. So the kundalini is not reaching to the sahasrar only because of shaktipat; it is the time element that is decreased - nothing more. The meditator would have reached in any case.
Suppose I had not hammered at the door, but this door is old and about to collapse: then it could fall with a single gust of wind. And even if there is no wind, in the course of time it will collapse on its own. Then it will be difficult to explain why and how it fell, because it is preparing to fall all the time.
So at the most, the difference will be of the time gap.
For example, a glimpse of the divine happened to Swami Vivek-ananda near Ramakrishna. If Ramakrishna alone was responsible for the happening in Vivekananda, then it could have also happened to all the others who came to him. He had hundreds of disciples. If Vivekananda alone was responsible, it could have happened to him long before. He had gone to many before he came to Ramakrishna, but the happening did not take place. So Vivekananda was ready in his own way and Ramakrishna was capable in his own way.
When this readiness and capability meet at a particular point, the time gap of the happening is reduced. It could be that if Vivekananda had not met Ramakrishna at that particular moment, the happening may have taken place one year later, two years later, or maybe in his next birth, or perhaps after ten more births. The time is not important. If the person is getting ready then the happening will take place sooner or later.
The time gap can be shortened. And it is important to understand that time is fictitious, dreamlike; hence it is not of much value. In fact time is such a dreamlike phenomenon that it has not much value. You can take a short nap and hardly a minute may pass, but in that short period you might see a dream from your childhood right up to your old age, with all the events, incidents. But in the waking state it will be hard to believe that such a long dream lasted not more than a minute. Actually, the time dimension in the dream state is very different. Dream time is capable of having many, many incidents in a very short span; hence, the illusion.
Now, there are insects that are born in the morning and are dead by the evening. We say, "The poor creatures!" - but we do not know that in that span of time such an insect lives out life in its entirety, and it experiences all that we experience in seventy years. There is no difference: such an insect builds a house, finds a wife, has children, fights with others, and even reaches the state of sannyas - all within twelve hours. But their perception of time is different. We pity them for the short life granted to them, and they must be pitying us that we take seventy years to do all that they can do within a period of twelve hours. How dull we must be according to them!
Time is dependent on mind; it is a mental entity. The length of time fluctuates according to the states of our mind. When you are happy, time becomes short. When you are in trouble or pain, time becomes very long. When you are sitting at the deathbed of some relative, the night never seems to end; it seems as if the sun will never rise. It seems as if it is the last night of the world and it will never end, the sun will never rise. Sorrow prolongs time. In sorrow you want time to pass quickly.
The keener you expect the time to pass the slower it seems to creep, because this is a relative experience, though time is actually moving at its normal speed. When a lover awaits his beloved he feels she is taking too long to come, when actually she is walking at her normal pace. He wants her to have the speed of an airplane.
So time appears slow in sorrow. When you are happy, when you meet your friends or loved ones, you spend the night talking and at daybreak you wonder how the night passed so quickly. Perception of time is different in moments of happiness and of sorrow.
Time is dependent on mind; therefore, changes can be brought about in time by hammering the mind with an outside agent. If I hit you on your head with a stick it is natural that your head is hurt.
Your body can be hit from outside, so can your mind. But you cannot be hit by some outside force because you are neither the body nor the mind. But right now you think that you are the body and the mind, so the body and the mind can be affected. And by affecting your bodymind, the time scale can be changed in different ways; centuries can be reduced to moments, and vice versa.
The moment awakening happens to you, you will be struck with wonder. It is now two thousand years since Jesus, five thousand years since Krishna, and a great deal of time has passed since Zarathustra and Moses. But you will be surprised that the moment you awaken you will say, "My God, they too have just been awakened!" The time gap ceases completely then. Now these thousands of years become like a dream period.
So when one awakens, all awaken. There is not even the difference of a single moment. This is difficult to understand. The moment you awaken, you become the contemporary of Buddha, Christ, Mahavira and Krishna. They will be around you as if they too have just become awakened with you.
There is not a moment's difference - there cannot be.
Now if we were to make a circle and draw many lines from the center to the circumference, we would find that at the circumference the distance between any two lines will be the most. Then, as you proceed along these lines toward the center, the distance between the two lines becomes less and less, until at the center point there is no distance. All the lines become one at that point. So when a person reaches the center of that profound experience, the distances that were present at the circumference - of two thousand years, five thousand years - vanish. But it is difficult for such a person to explain his experience, because his listeners are at the periphery and their language is also that of the periphery. This is why there is the possibility of deep misunderstanding.
A man came to me. He was a devotee of Jesus. He asked me, "What do you think of Jesus?"
I replied, "It is not proper to give an opinion about oneself."
He looked at me in surprise. "Perhaps you did not hear me," he said. "I asked your opinion on Jesus."
I said, "I also feel that you have not heard. I said, 'It is not proper to give an opinion of oneself.'" He looked perplexed. Then I explained to him, "You can theorize about Jesus so long as you do not know him. The moment you know, there will be no difference between you and him. How will you form an opinion?"
Once an artist came to Ramakrishna bringing with him a picture of Ramakrishna and showing it to him. He asked Ramakrishna how he liked the picture, but he found that Ramakrishna bowed down and touched the feet of the picture with his forehead. The people present there thought there was some mistake, some confusion. Perhaps he did not realize that it was his own picture. So the artist reminded him that it was his own picture that he was bowing to.
"I forgot about that," Ramakrishna replied. "This picture is so deep in samadhi - how can it be mine?
In samadhi there is no 'I' and no 'you'. So I bowed to samadhi. It is good that you reminded me or people would have laughed." But people had already laughed.
The language of the circumference is different from the language of the center. So when Krishna says, "It was I who was Rama," and when Jesus says, "I had come before and told you," and when Buddha says, "I will come again," they speak the language of the center, and this is difficult for us to understand. Buddhists are waiting for Buddha's coming again on earth. The truth is that he has come many times. Even if he came he would not be recognized, because there is no way of coming in the same form again. That face was a dreamlike phenomenon, and it has been lost forever.
So at the center there is no time gap. Therefore, the time implied for the happening of enlightenment can be speeded up or slowed down; it can be speeded up very much. That can be done by shaktipat.
And in the last part of your question you are asking about the other person involved in the happening of samadhi.
The other appears as the other because of your clinging hard to the boundary of your own ego.
So Vivekananda will think that the happening took place because of Ramakrishna. If Ramakrishna thought that way it would be foolish. For Ramakrishna it took place in a different way. It was as if the right hand is hurt and the left hand applies the medicine. Now, the right hand might think that someone else is treating it and might offer thanks or refuse the treatment. The right hand may say, "I don't take help from the other; I am independent." But then it does not know that the same energy is working through the left hand that works through the right hand. So when a person is helped by another it is not actually another; it is your own readiness that calls out for this help from the other part of your very own self.
There is an ancient book in Egypt in which it is said, "Never go looking for the master. He will appear at your door the moment you are ready." It says also, "Even if you set out in search of him, how will you search? How will you recognize him? If you have become qualified enough to recognize the master, then nothing else is missing in you."
Therefore, it is always the master who recognizes the disciple. The disciple can never recognize the master. There is no possibility, there is no way. Since you still cannot recognize your own inner being, how will you recognize the master? The day you are ready, some hand that is really your own will be present as your guide to help you. That hand is the hand of another so long as you do not know. The day you know, you will not even wait to offer thanks.
There is a certain custom in zen monasteries in Japan. When a meditator comes to the monastery to learn meditation he brings along his mat, spreads it on the ground and sits upon it. Every day he meditates on the mat and leaves it as it is. The day his meditation is complete he rolls up the mat and leaves. The master then understands that his meditation is complete. He expects no thanks, because where is the need? And who is to thank whom? The meditator does not say a word. The master sees the meditator rolling his mat and he understands. The time has come to roll up the mat.
It is good. There is no necessity to even observe the formality of thanking. Who is to be thanked?
And if the meditator commits this mistake, the master might hit him with his staff ordering him to unroll the mat as meditation has not yet happened.
So the idea of the other is due to our ignorance; otherwise where is the other? It is oneself alone in myriad forms; it is only oneself on numerous journeys; it is oneself in innumerable mirrors. It is definitely oneself alone who is in the mirror, though what one sees is other than oneself.
There is a Sufi story. A dog lost his way in a palace. The walls and the ceiling of this palace were made of mirrors, so the dog was in a great difficulty. Wherever he looked there were dogs, dogs and only dogs. He became very puzzled: so many dogs all around! He was alone and yet surrounded by so many dogs. There was no way to get out, because the doors were also of mirrors so he saw dogs there too. Then he began to bark, but all the dogs in the mirrors began to bark with him. And when his bark filled the room he was sure his fears were not unfounded and that his life was in danger. He went on barking and all the dogs barked even louder. He ran here and there to fight them; the dogs in the mirror did likewise. All night he exhausted himself barking and fighting the dogs in the mirrors, although he was alone there! In the morning he was found dead inside the palace by the guards.
The dog died running, barking and fighting with the reflections, although he was alone there. When he died all noise subsided; the mirrors became silent.
There are many mirrors, and when we see the other it is our own reflection in different mirrors; therefore, the other is a fallacy. The notion that we are helping others is an illusion, and the notion that we are receiving help from the other is also an illusion. Actually, the other, as such, is an illusion.
Once this is realized life becomes simple. Then neither you do something for the other, taking him as the other nor do you let the other do something for you feeling him as the other. Then it is you yourself extended on both ends. Then if you give a helping hand to someone on the road you will have helped your own self. If someone else has given you a helping hand, then he too has only helped himself. But this comes within our understanding only after the ultimate experience. Before that, the other is definitely the other.
It was not shaktipat that was harmful for Vivekananda but what followed afterwards. But the idea of gain and loss also pertains to the dream state; it is not beyond dreams.
With the help of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda had a glimpse of samadhi which he would have had on the basis of his own strength, but much later. Now, it is like this: I struck the door with a hammer and the door fell, but I can make the door stand again by fixing the nails into it with the same hammer.
The hammer that can bring down the door can fix it also - but it is the same hammer working in both the cases.
Ramakrishna had some difficulties for which he had to make use of Vivekananda. Ramakrishna was a complete rustic, unlearned, uneducated. His experience was profound but he had no means of expressing it, conveying it. It was necessary for him to use another person as a vehicle, as a medium to make his experience known to the world. If this had not been so you would never have heard of Ramakrishna. It was out of his compassion that he tried to convey to you his experiences through another person.
If I have come upon some treasure in my house and if I am lame and I climb upon the shoulders of another man to deliver the treasure to your house, I will be making use of this man's shoulders. He will be put to a little inconvenience and trouble by carrying me, but my intention was only to deliver the treasure to you. But because I am lame, and the treasure may be unclaimed for all time, I cannot even go out and give the news.
This problem was there with Ramakrishna; it was not so with Buddha. In Buddha's personality both Ramakrishna and Vivek-ananda were present together. Buddha could express what he knew; Ramakrishna could not express what he knew. He needed another person who could be a vehicle for his expression. So he showed Vivekananda a glimpse of the inner treasure, but immediately told him that he would keep the key with him and he would give the key back to Vivekananda only three days before his death.
Vivekananda started crying and begged Ramakrishna not to take away what he had given him.
Ramakrishna told him, "You have other work to do. If you go into samadhi you will be lost forever and my work will suffer. It is good that you do not experience samadhi before my work is over, as you would be able to do that work only before attaining to samadhi." Ramakrishna did not know that people have worked after attaining samadhi also. He could not have known it, because he himself was unable to do anything after samadhi.
Normally we are guided by our own experiences. After his experience of samadhi Ramakrishna could not do a thing. He could not speak for long - talking was very difficult for him. Even if someone said the word Ram, he would enter into a trance. Someone would come along and say in salute to him, "Jai Ramji," and he would be lost to the world. For him it was difficult to retain consciousness even at the mention of any name of God, such as Ram. It at once reminded him of the other world. Someone would say "Allah!" and he would be gone. If he saw a mosque he would be lost in samadhi; he could not move from there. He would hear a devotional song while walking along the road and he would collapse in a trance, then and there.
So according to his own experience he was right in thinking that the same could happen to Vivekananda. Therefore, he told Vivek-ananda, "You have a great task to perform, and after that you can enter into samadhi." Vivekananda's whole life passed without attaining samadhi, and this caused him great pain.
But remember, the pain belonged to the dream world. It was like a man dreaming a bad dream.
Three days before his death he was given the key, but until then there was great pain. The letters he wrote until five to seven days before his death are full of pain and anguish, and the agony increased more and more with his restless longing for that of which he had had only a glimpse.
Your longing is not yet that intense because you have no idea of what it is. One moment's glimpse and the longing will begin. You can understand it this way: you are standing in the dark with pebbles in your hands, thinking they are a treasure of precious stones. You are very happy. Then a flash of lightning comes and you find out that there are mines of diamonds ahead of you while you are holding pebbles in your hand. Then the lightning is gone, but it leaves a message behind that you have to inform others who stand holding pebbles in their hands that a priceless treasure awaits them. So the lightning will not flash for you, and you have to carry out the task of telling people about the treasure lying ahead. Thus Vivekananda was made to accomplish a particular task which was complementary to Rama-krishna and a necessity for him; what was missing in Ramakrishna he had to complement through another person.
It happens like this many times. If a single person is unable to perform a particular task, three or four other people are required. Sometimes even five to ten people are required to help spread the message of a single person. So Ramakrishna did it out of compassion, but it created some difficulty for Vivekananda.
So I say avoid shaktipat as much as possible. As far as possible, strive for grace. Only that shaktipat is useful which is as good as grace, which has no strings attached, which has no conditions along with it, which is absolutely unconditional, for which nobody says, "I am keeping the key for a certain period."
Shaktipat should take place without the medium even inquiring what happened. If you want to thank him you should not even know where to find him; then it will be easy for you. But at times, when someone like Ramakrishna needs the help of another, there is no other way of obtaining it than this; otherwise, Ramakrishna's experiences would have been lost, unexpressed. He needed a medium for expressing it and Vivekananda fulfilled it.
This is why Vivekananda always said that whatever he was saying did not belong to him. When he was honored in America he said that he was very pained because the honor belonged to one of whom they had no idea. And when someone called him a great man he said, "I do not even deserve to be in the dust at the feet of that great man who is my master." But the fact remains that had Ramakrishna gone to America he would have been locked up in a lunatic asylum; he would have been put under psychiatric treatment. Nobody would have heard him; rather, he would definitely have been pronounced mad.
We have yet not been able to differentiate between mundane madness and divine madness, so in America both these types would be put in the asylum. Ramakrishna would have been kept under treatment, whereas Vivekananda would be given all the honor - because what Vivekananda says is intelligible. He himself was not in the state of divine madness. He was simply a messenger, a postman who carried the letter of Ramakrishna and read it to the people abroad. But he could read it well.
Mulla Nasruddin was the only literate person in his village - and you can imagine how literate he would be in that case - so everyone in the village looked to him to write their letters. One man went to him to get his letter written. Nasruddin said he would not write as his foot hurt. The man said, "What has your foot got to do with writing a letter? Won't you write with your hand?"
Nasruddin said, "You don't know. When I write a letter, only then can I read it. So I have to travel to another village to read it. I will write the letter but who will read it? My foot is in deep pain. As long as I cannot walk I will not do any letter writing."
So if people like Ramakrishna write a letter, they alone can read it, because they have forgotten your language and the language they speak is meaningless to you. We would call such people mad. So such people have to look for and choose a messenger from among us who can write in our language. Such a man is no more than a postman. Therefore, beware of Vivekananda. He has no experience of his own. What he says is another's experience. He is proficient in his art, he is an expert in using words, but it is not his experience.
It is for this reason that we find an overconfidence in the talks of Vivekananda. He stresses his points more than is required, and this is to make up for the deficiency. He himself is aware of the fact that what he is saying is not out of his own experience. The wise one, however, always hesitates: he is afraid; he may not be able to put forth his experience as clearly as he feels it. He will contemplate a thousand ways in his mind before he speaks and yet he will be concerned that what he says may not be quite what he wants to express. One who does not know goes ahead and says what he has to say. He feels no hesitation, because he knows exactly all that he has to say.
But this was very difficult for an enlightened one like Buddha. He did not give answers to certain questions. He used to say, "There is difficulty in answering these questions." So people used to say, "There are better people in our village who answer all our questions. They are wiser than Buddha.
We ask them whether God is, and they reply either yes or no confidently. Buddha does not answer because he does not know."
But for Buddha it was very difficult to answer yes or no, so he hesitated and said, "Ask something else, not this." It was only natural for people to say that he did not know and that he should admit his ignorance. But this also Buddha could not say, because he knew. In fact Buddha speaks a different language from us and this is what causes the difficulty.
So it has happened time and again that many people like Ramakrishna left this world without giving their message. They could not. It is a very rare combination for a person to know and be able to convey. When this rare combination takes place we call such a person a tirthankara, an avatar, a prophet, etcetera. So the number of en-ightened ones is not restricted only to those who have spoken. There have been many others who could not deliver their message.
Someone asked Buddha, "You have ten thousand bhikkhus here, and for the last forty years you have been teaching the people. How many people have reached the state of consciousness you are in?"
Buddha said, "Many have reached."
The person asked, "Then why can't we recognize them as we can recognize you?"
Buddha said, "You cannot recognize them because of the difference that I can speak and they cannot. If I too keep silent, you will not know me. You recognize only words; you cannot recognize enlightenment. It is only a matter of coincidence that I know and can also speak about it."
So there was some difficulty for Vivekananda which he must rectify in his lives to come. But this difficulty was inevitable. Therefore Ramakrishna out of sheer necessity brought it upon him. Vivek- ananda felt a loss but his loss belonged to the world of dreams. But even then, why should one undergo loss even in a dreamlike realm? If we need a dream then why not have a good dream?
There is a fable of Aesop:
Once a cat was lying under a tree dreaming. A dog comes along and he too rests under the tree.
The cat seems to be dreaming a lovely dream, and the dog is curious to find out what it is all about.
When she wakes, the dog asks her what she has dreamed. The cat says, "Oh, it was a lovely dream.
The sky was pouring mice."
The dog looks down in disdain and says, "You fool! It never rains mice. We also dream, and we always see bones pouring down - and our scriptures also say that it always rains bones. Mice never fall like rain, you stupid cat! If you must dream, dream of bones."
For the dog, bones are meaningful. Why should he dream of mice? But for the cat, bones are useless.
So I say to you: if you have to dream, why dream a bad dream? And if you are to awaken, then make maximum use of your own ability, your own strength, your own resolve - and do not wait for the other person to help you. Help will come, but that is another matter. You should not wait for and expect help, because the more you expect the weaker will become your resolve. Stop thinking on those lines altogether. Expect no help and make a total effort, remembering that you are all alone.
Help will come from many sources - but that is a different matter altogether.
Therefore, my emphasis is on your own willpower, so that no other hindrance is created for you. And when you get something from someone it should always be unasked for and unexpected by you. It should come like the wind, and then it may go away like the wind.
This is why I said that Vivekananda suffered a loss, and as long as he lived he was acutely aware of it. His listeners sat enraptured; they even got a glimpse of what he said. But Vivekananda knew for himself that it was not happening to him. It would be a terrible thing for me to bring you the news of something tasty and have no experience of its taste myself. I may have once had a taste of it, but in a dream that then broke. Imagine if afterwards I am told, "Now you will no more dream of it, but go and tell others about it." So it was with Vivekananda. He had his own hardships. But he was a strong man; he was able to bear these hardships. This is a part of compassion, but this does not mean that you too should bear such hardships.
It will be good to call it a preliminary experience. The question of its authenticity is not important here. It was totally a preliminary experience in which one gets only a glimpse. This glimpse cannot be very deep or spiritual. This happening takes place at the borderline where the mind ends and the soul begins. At this depth it is only a psychic experience; therefore the glimpse was lost. But in Vivekananda's case it was not helped to go too deep because Ramakrishna was afraid. He did not allow it to go too deep; otherwise this man would be of no use to him. Ramakrishna was so deeply concerned about his vision that it never occurred to him that his concept about the experience leaving a man useless for the world was not one hundred percent correct.
Buddha spoke for forty years after his enlightenment; the situation was similar with Jesus and Mahavira. They had no difficulty. But with Ramakrishna it was different. He had this difficulty; the difficulty was always in his own mind. Therefore, he gave Vivekananda just a fleeting glimpse.
It was authentic as far as it went, but it was elementary. It did not go deep enough; otherwise he would have found it difficult to come back.
Not partial but preliminary. There is a difference between the two. The experience of samadhi cannot be partial, but there can be a mental glimpse of samadhi. The experience is spiritual; the glimpse is mental. If I stand on the top of the mountain and see the sea, I will definitely see the sea but from a distance. I will not have stood at the shore; I will not have touched or tasted of its waters; I will not have dived into it or bathed in it. I have seen the sea from the top of the mountain. Would you call this experience partial?
No. And in spite of the fact that I did not touch even a drop of the ocean, you cannot call my experience unauthentic. I have seen the ocean from the top of a mountain even though I have not become one with it. In the same way you can see the soul from the topmost peak of your body.
The body too has its peak - its peak experiences. If you have a very deep experience of the body you can get a glimpse of the soul in it. If you are perfectly healthy and experience a feeling of wellbeing, if the body is overflowing with good health, you can reach a height of the body from where you can have a glimpse of the soul. You will experience that you are not the body and that you are something else. You will not have known what the soul is but you will have reached the ultimate height of the body.
The mind too has its heights: For example, when you are deeply in love - not in sex, because sex is only the possibility of the body. But even in sex, if you reach the peak of sexual experience, you get a glimpse of the soul. However, it will be a faraway glimpse - a glimpse from the farthest end. But if you have a deep experience of love, if you sit next to your loved one for a moment with not a word to break the silence, with only love moving between the two of you, without any doing or desiring but only waves of love moving from one to the other, in that peak moment of love you will reach the height from where you will have a glimpse of the soul. So lovers too get a glimpse of the soul.
An artist paints a picture. He is so absorbed in making it that for a moment he becomes God, the creator, because he experiences the same state that God must have felt when he created the world.
But this height is of the mind. During the moment of the glimpse this man feels like the creator. Many times such a man makes the mistake of thinking that this experience is enough. This experience can be had from music, from poetry, from natural beauty and from other such things. But all these are faraway peaks. When you are totally dissolved in samadhi, the realization happens. On the outside there are many peaks from where you can have a glimpse of the soul.
So this experience of Vivekananda happened at the level of the mind, because as I have told you, the other can go into you up to the peak of the mind and can lift you up to that peak.
Look at it this way: I take a small child on my shoulders and he looks all around. Then I put him down - because my shoulders cannot be his own. His own legs are still small and it will take a long time for him to grow up to my height. But lifted up on my shoulders he has seen, and now he can go to others and say that he has seen something. People may not believe him; they may say that it is not possible at his height. But it is possible to climb on the shoulders of another and have a view.
All this is the possibility of the mind; hence, it is not spiritual.
All the same, it is not unauthentic; it is elementary. The elementary experience can take place either in the body or in the mind. And it is not partial; it is complete, but it is confined to the realm of the mind. It is not of the soul, because in the experience of the soul there is no coming back. At that level no one can keep your key; no one can say that when he returns the key, then only will it happen. Nobody else has any say there. If some special task is expected to be accomplished by a medium, then he has to be stopped before the point of transcendence; otherwise difficulty will arise.
So Vivekananda's experience was an authentic experience, but its authenticity is psychic and not spiritual. This too, however, is not a small happening; it does not happen to all. It requires a very powerful and matured mind.
It could be said but it should not be said, because the word conveys an idea of condemnation behind it. He did not exploit him to gain something selfish for himself; his idea was that through Vivekananda others will be benefited. He exploited him only in the sense that he made use of him. There is a great difference between exploitation and utilization. When I am dealing with something or using something for the sake of my ego, then it becomes exploitation. But when I am doing something for the world, for the universe, for everybody, there is no question of exploitation.
Besides, where is the certainty that if Ramakrishna had not shown him the glimpse, Vivekananda would have got it in this life by himself? This point can be decided only by those who are enlightened.
I feel that would have been the case, but we cannot show any proof in such matters. When Ramakrishna told Vivekananda that three days before his death he would get the key, it could only mean that according to Ramakrishna, Vivekananda would have reached samadhi three days before his death as a result of his own efforts. Now, as far as returning the key is concerned, Ramakrishna was already dead, but the key was returned exactly as it had been said.
This is possible because you do not know your own personality as much as the person who has gone deep within the self. From his own depths he can know your potential. He can even tell when you will reach if you can walk at your own pace.
Let us say, you have started on a journey and there is a mountain in your path. Now, I know the path and the steps of the mountain, how long it takes to cross it and what difficulties you will encounter. I see you climbing the mountain, and I can say that you will take, for example, three months to cross it. I can tell from the speed of your walking and the manner in which you are traveling that you will take that much time. If I were to pick you up on the way and give you a glimpse of the top, then leave you again where you were, promising you that within three months you will find the goal, this cannot basically be looked upon as my making use of you. Everything within is so subtle and complex that you cannot know it outwardly.
For instance, Nirmala went home yesterday and somebody told her that she will die at the age of fifty-three. Now, I have given her a guarantee that she will not die at fifty-three. It is not I who will carry out the guarantee: it will fulfill itself on its own. So now if she does not die at the age fifty-three she will attribute it to me.
Vivekananda would say that the key had been returned three days before his death - but who was there to return the key?
Never think in terms of this language, that "It could be..." because this has no end and there is no meaning in it. In this way you will go on thinking irrelevantly. It is enough to think in terms of what exactly is possible and no more, because otherwise these are mean-ingless paths that may lead you astray. In this pattern of thinking you will be deeply harmed, as you will go on missing that which is. So always see a fact as it is, and if you want to know a thing as it is, cut out all the could- have-beens. If you do not know the exact facts, then know that you do not know, but do not try to cover your ignorance with wise assumptions of "It could be." This is how we cover up many of our shortcomings. It is better to refrain from this.