I have much to say about darkness, because nobody has taken notice of the mystery that darkness is.
Much has been said about light, almost nothing about darkness. But darkness is a much deeper phenomenon than light is. Light comes and goes - darkness remains; it never comes, it never goes.
Light is not eternal, because it needs fuel, some kind of fuel, and the fuel will be exhausted sooner or later. Darkness needs no fuel, no cause; hence darkness is not an effect and can remain eternally there.
In the morning, you see the sun arises and there is light; in the evening the sun sets, the light disappears, and suddenly all over there is darkness. It does not mean that when the sun disappears, darkness comes in. It has been there all the time; just because of the light you could not see it. How can one see darkness while light is there? The light prevented your vision.
So anytime just close your eyes and darkness is there. Anytime just blow out the candle and darkness is there.
Gautam Buddha is perhaps the only man who, for the ultimate state of consciousness, has chosen a word which can be interpreted as darkness; otherwise all the religions have talked about light, forgetting completely that light is not eternal, and if you are light, you are also not eternal. Light is dependent on something, it is caused by something.
Gautam Buddha has called his ultimate state of being, nirvana. Even Buddhists have not thought of it as darkness, because the very word produces bad associations in us. But nirvana means exactly "darkness"; literally it means blowing out the candle. So for twenty-five centuries Buddhists have been using the literal meaning "blowing out the candle." But what does it mean? Blowing out the candle, what remains then? Eternal, deathless, abysmal darkness.
Feeling yourself full of light may be again an ego trip. Feeling yourself identified with light, you may be simply changing your identity - but the ego remains. But blowing out the candle is blowing away the ego; and the vast darkness is bound to create in you a similar vastness of humility, humbleness, egolessness. So I love the word.
I always see light as a disturbance, and darkness as silence. But centuries of continuously fearing darkness... because it became associated with the time when man was living in jungles. The night was the most dangerous time. In the day somehow he managed to protect himself from the wild animals; he managed to kill them for his own food. But in the night he was absolutely helpless.
Darkness all around, he was a victim. Any animal was capable of destroying him. In the day he could have managed to escape, to climb a tree or do something, but in darkness he was simply in the hands of wild death. So it was very easy to get a deep association between darkness and death.
All the religions depict death as darkness and life as light. It is simply the experience of man in the past when he lived in the jungles. That experience has molded his language, given it meanings.
And he has not yet been able to clean those words again - because now he is not living in jungles, but still there is a certain reason why he continues to be afraid of darkness.
When there is light you are not alone, you can see everybody else. If suddenly the light goes off, the others may be there still, may not be; one thing is certain, you feel lonely. You are no more associated with the crowd. The crowd gives you a certain security, safety, a certain warmth, and you feel that you are not alone. Any danger - so many people are with you. But in darkness suddenly you are lonely, nobody is with you.
And man has not learned yet to know the beauties of his loneliness. He is always hankering for some relationship, to be with someone - with a friend, with a father, with a wife, with a husband, with a child... with someone.
He has created societies, he has created clubs - the Lion's Club, the Rotary Club. He has created parties - political, ideological. He has created religions, churches. But the basic need of all is to forget somehow that you are alone. Being associated with so many crowds, you are trying to forget something which in darkness suddenly is remembered - that you were born alone, that you will die alone, that whatever you do, you live alone. Aloneness is something so essential to your being, there is no way to avoid it.
You can befool yourself and deceive yourself; you can pretend that you are not alone - you have a wife, you have children, you have friends - but it is all pretension. You know and everybody knows that the wife is alone as much as you are alone, and two alonenesses joined together do not change the situation; instead they make it worse.
As I see it, why lovers are continuously fighting - there may be thousand other reasons, but those reasons are superficial. The basic reason is that they had chosen the other as a beloved, as a lover, to destroy their loneliness - and it has not happened. On the contrary, the presence of the other makes them more aware of their loneliness.
I used to have a very rich friend - he had a beautiful wife, children... all that one needs, perfectly comfortable, so much so that when I asked him, "Now you are fifty, and you have enough money - retire from the businesses," he did not hesitate for a single moment. He just informed people that he is no more an active participant in any businesses, he has retired.
I was going to Mount Abu; I told him, "It is a beautiful place - "sometime you and your wife should go there. And now you are retired, you have enough time. Be there for a few weeks or months."
He said, "You are right, we have time, but you don't know what you have done to me. I was also thinking that when I am retired I will feel relaxed for the first time in my life. My father died when I was young, and since then I have been working continuously, becoming richer and richer. And I had a hope that one day I will retire and relax and will not have any worries of the world. And when you told me, 'Now it is time - you have enough.... What more do you need? Your girls are married, you don't have a son - for whom are you earning now? You may live twenty years, thirty years - for that you have too much. You could live with what you have for three hundred years. You retire!'"
He said, "I understood, because I have been deep down always hoping to retire, and when it came from you, I said, 'This is the moment to take the jump.' But you have created a trouble; now I am lonely. I have never felt it before. And I am so utterly lonely that I am angry at you. How can I relax in such loneliness? And if this loneliness continues, I don't think I can survive twenty or thirty years.
It is becoming colder and colder, and darker and darker. And I am feeling absolutely cut off from the world."
"But," I said, "you have your wife."
He said, "That is another trouble. I had never felt so lonely in her presence as I feel now. I was so busy in my businesses that I would come home late and she was always quarreling, nagging, asking for this and asking for that. There was no time to feel each other. Now the whole day I am sitting at home, and when I see her I know: just as I am alone, she is alone. And two alonenesses do not help in any way; on the contrary they make each other more clear."
He said, "I will come to Mount Abu, but I would like some friend to be with us; otherwise three weeks or three months, just living with my wife" - and he loved the woman - "will be too much, intolerable."
I realized his situation and I told him, "Now, you have listened to my first advice which has created the trouble for you; but it has not created the trouble - the trouble was already there. Your businesses were just keeping you occupied so you were not aware of it - now you are aware of it. Now take my other advice: go deeper into it rather than escaping. It is your reality - there is no way to escape from it.
"It is just like your shadow - the faster you run, the faster your shadow runs. Wherever you go, the shadow goes. It is simply stupid to fight with the shadow. Rather, sit silently and let the whole feel of being alone envelop you. In the beginning it may be fearsome. You may feel you are falling into an abysmal depth. It will be dark, and you may feel that it may become darker if you go deeper into it.
"But I say from my own experience that the more you know it, the more you love it. It is your privacy, it is your individuality. It is something which cannot be trespassed by anyone. It is your privilege.
And there is nothing wrong in being alone.
"But never use the word 'lonely' because 'lonely' automatically suggests the need for somebody else. 'Lonely' is a sick word. Use the word 'alone'; 'alone' has a health of its own." I told the man, "And if you can do that then there is no need for any other meditation, this will be your meditation - just be alone. Even in the crowd remember that you are alone, don't forget it. Your whole life you have tried to forget it; now remember it."
The man was immensely courageous. He tried it - he succeeded, and he was immensely grateful to me... because the moment you feel you are absolutely alone, that is the time you start feeling that you are not the body, it is only a cover; that you are not the mind, it is only a mechanism; that you are not even the heart - that too is a mechanism of a different sort for different purposes.
Behind all these layers there is a space, crystal clear - nobody else has ever passed through it; its purity is absolute. To enter that space is to enter in meditation. Feeling that aloneness, you will feel the whole existence is alone.
There is no God - that was the need of the lonely people. Those who have tasted aloneness have discarded God, hell, heaven, and every other nonsense. You are alone, the whole existence is alone: aloneness is the only reality.
Yes, it is immensely dark, but darkness has a silence and darkness has a depth. And darkness has peace, and darkness takes away all your knowledge, takes away everything that you thought belonged to you. It leads you absolutely into the unknown and into the mysterious. So to me, darkness is one of the greatest mysteries in existence - far greater than light.
And those who are afraid of darkness will never be able to enter into their own being. They will go round and round, they will never reach themselves.
And it has to be darkness, not light, because light comes and goes; once you have discovered the spot of darkness in you, you have discovered something that is eternal, something indestructible, something which is more than what you know of life. It is the basic substance existence is made of.
But they are just two names of one thing - aloneness or darkness.
Just be yourself, utterly yourself.
And never think in terms of how you can help my vision to happen in the world, because that's what makes a missionary - and I am against missionaries. They are the poisoners. Their intention is good, they want to spread something which they feel is immensely valuable, but a missionary does not know that what he is trying to spread is not his own experience.
So I would like to make it clear that you just be yourself, and that will be the way of spreading my message to people, because that's my message - to be yourself authentically, sincerely. It is not a question of saying something to somebody; it is a question of being somebody in a way that the vision radiates from you... that the people feel that something has happened to you that has not happened to them... that there is something in you that they are missing... that you are full and they are empty... that you can give and yet you will not be losing anything. And they are only beggars; they cannot give, they can only take. And whatsoever they take also disappears soon because it is not their own.
I would not like my people to be like Christian missionaries.
I was in an American jail one morning... the jailer must have been a very fanatic Christian, and he came with a BIBLE, thinking that I am a religious man. And he said, "I would like to pray for you and I would like to present God's word to you." And before I could say anything, he started praying for me loudly, with closed eyes: "Jesus loves Bhagwan, Jesus will help Bhagwan. Jesus will save Bhagwan."
I said, "Wait! You have gone too far!"
He opened his eyes; and he said, "Have I said anything wrong?"
I said, "Everything wrong... because Jesus could not save himself! And you are putting everything wrong: 'Jesus loves Bhagwan.' That's not right. Put it: 'Bhagwan loves Jesus, and Bhagwan will save Jesus.'"
He said, "I have prayed for many prisoners - what are you saying? You are in jail, you need to be saved."
I said , "I am not in any difficulty. This whole world is a jail, so what difference does it make whether you are outside or inside? And you don't understand anything of religiousness - you did not even ask my permission to pray for me.
"A prayer is trespassing my being. And to whom are you praying? I don't have any god, so all your prayers are just stupid. And I don't think that Jesus or anybody else can save anybody else. It is enough if you can save yourself. Without asking me you started praying! And who told you that this book is the word of God?"
He said, "It is written in the book itself."
I said, "But it is written in so many other books too. It is written in the VEDAS, and Hindus believe the VEDAS are written by God. It is written in the GITA because Hindus believe it is spoken by the perfect incarnation of God himself. Mohammedans believe the KORAN is the word of God.
"What criterion have you got to choose which one is right? And I can write a book in which I can say, 'These are the words spoken by God.' Just because it's printed, will you believe it?"
He was silent for a moment, and then he said, "I will think it over and I will come back to you.
Because I used to think... I am a missionary and I always have five hundred prisoners in the jail, changing every day. So I have been preaching and helping them becoming real Christians."
I said, "Are you a real Christian? Was Jesus Christ himself a real Christian? What do you mean by 'real Christian?' Jesus never behaved like a Christian. He was a very angry man. He teaches to love your enemy - and he curses a fig tree which is out of season. And it is not the fault of fig tree that it has no fruits! And he curses it in a very ugly way because it has not welcomed him and his disciples with fruits.
"Now, what can the fig tree do about it? And this man you think is a Christian, and this man you think can love his enemies! He cannot even be loving to a fig tree which has not done any harm to anybody. And the fruits come only in the season and it is not the season, so it is not the tree's fault.
This man is insane!
"And you are spreading his word. Have you tried to live his word? That would be the right way - live it! When somebody hits you on one cheek, give him the other cheek. Should I try," I asked him, "hitting you on one cheek, and will you give me the other cheek? And I would like to do it before all five hundred prisoners."
He said, "You are a dangerous man!"
I said, "I am not a dangerous man, I am simply saying that to be a missionary is something ugly. You are trying to interfere in somebody's being, his thought processes, his existence, without ever trying all that you want others to be on yourself. And my feeling is, if you try it on yourself, there is no need to spread it - it will spread on its own."
So I would like to say: Just be yourself. Be meditative, be loving, be human, be respectful, be accepting of everybody; don't be judgmental. And something will start radiating from you, and that will be my word. And it will not be just an empty word, it will be full of meaning and full of fragrance.
It is very simple to feel close when you are far away, because then I am not present to you; it is only your own imagination about me. And naturally you are very close to your imagination, and you can make that imagination the way you want. You can make it according to your ideas - it is your imagination - and you are bound to be very close.
But when you come to me, you will have to drop your imagination. And the moment you drop your imagination immediately the second feeling will arise: "Perhaps we are strangers." You were not a stranger to your imagination; it was yours. To me you are a stranger. We are all strangers to each other.
We try in every way to drop this strangeness; that's how we have created all kinds of rituals. One man gets married to a woman.... What is marriage? - just a ritual. But why? - because they want to drop that strangeness and somehow create a bridge. The bridge is never created; they only imagine... now that one is husband, the other is wife. But they remain strangers. Their whole life they will live together but they will not be anything else than strangers, because nobody can penetrate into the other's aloneness.
You can be not a stranger only if you can penetrate into my aloneness or I can penetrate into your aloneness - which is not possible, not existentially possible. We can come as close as possible; but the closer we come, the more we will become aware of the strangeness, because the better we will be able to see, that "The other is unknown to me - and perhaps unknowable."
It is a known fact: you fall in love with a man; you don't fall in love with the real man, you fall in love with the man of your imagination. And while you are not together, and you see the man from your balcony, or you meet the man on the sea beach for a few minutes, or you hold hands in a movie, you start feeling, "We are made for each other."
But nobody is made for each other. You go on putting more and more imagination on the man - unconsciously. You create a certain aura around the man; he creates a certain aura around you.
Everything seems to be beautiful because you are making it beautiful, because you are dreaming it, avoiding the reality. And you both are trying in every possible way not to disturb the other's imagination.
So the woman is behaving the way the man wants her to behave; the man is behaving the way the woman wants him to behave. But this you can do only for few minutes or few hours at the most.
Once you get married and you have to live together twenty-four hours a day, it becomes a heavy burden to go on pretending something that you are not.
Just to fulfill the imagination of the man or the woman, how long can you go on acting? Sooner or later it becomes a burden and you start taking revenge. You start destroying all that imagination that the man has created around you because you don't want to be imprisoned in it; you want to be free and just yourself.
And the same is the situation with the man: he wants to be free and just himself. And this is the constant conflict between all lovers, all relations.
The reality is, we are alone, we are strangers, and the world will be far better if we accept the basic truth that we are strangers.
And what is wrong in falling in love with a stranger? What is the need that before you fall in love with a stranger, the strangeness should be destroyed? His caste should be known, his nationality should be known, his religion should be known, his astrology should be known - when he was born, the date of birth, the time of his birth. All these are efforts to destroy the strangeness, and to create some kind of illusion that you are not strangers.
But no illusion can stand against reality. The reality is going to crush it sooner or later.
So remember: away, you can think about me the way you want, because my reality is not going to give any trouble to you - your imagination is free. But when you are with me, then you have to put your imagination away, and without imagination, immediately we are strangers.
We may have known each other's name, we may have seen each other's face many times - that does not matter. Our beings are so hidden and so deep that there is no way that I can touch anybody's being, or can see anybody's being - and that is where the whole strangeness is. But I don't feel that it is a catastrophe; on the contrary I feel it is a blessing.
If we were not strangers we would have been just robots, just machines. Our strangeness gives us individuality, uniqueness. And because it is impenetrable it gives you your strength, your dignity.
But humanity has lived with illusions of all kinds in every sphere.
My effort is to help you to live without illusions, to live with reality as it is.
Then you will not be frustrated, then you will not be miserable, then you will not be tense and worried, because you had from the very beginning accepted the fact that everybody is a stranger.
The society does not like strangers. The society wants everybody to be just like everybody else, because the society is afraid of the stranger. Even people casually meeting - for example in a train....
I was traveling for twenty years continuously; once in a while there was another passenger in the coupe. The first thing the person will start asking, "What is your name, where are you coming from, where are you going, what is your business?" I was surprised: why should one bother about these things? So I started... before the person will ask. I will enter, I will say, "This is my name and this is my father's name and this is my father's father's name, and this is my business, and this is where I am coming from and this is where I am going..." And the man will feel a little afraid.
He will say, "But why you are telling me?"
I will say, "Because you will ask sooner or later. Let it be finished. Have you any more questions? - because after this I am going to remain silent. For twenty-four hours we will be together, so I have said everything that you wanted to know."
And then I will be silent, just watching the man. And it would be such a beautiful experience! He will be fidgety, tossing and turning, opening the suitcase - for no reason. He would know, I would know, that there is no reason. Then closing it, then trying to read a book - which he is not reading, just looking. Then putting it away, then calling the servant, then going to the bathroom, then coming up....
Just something is disturbing him: a very strange man has entered. You had not asked his name, and he tells all the names of his fathers and grandfathers and what they did and how many brothers they have and how many brothers he has and how many sisters, and who is married and who is not married....
The stranger has become more strange by this introduction. And now he is sitting silently watching you and you have to do something; otherwise it looks stupid - just sitting there and.... I would go out and tell the conductor, "Soon that other person will call you and say that he wants to change the seat to another compartment. You have to tell him that no seat is vacant."
And I was traveling so much that almost all conductors knew me. They said, "But why again and again do you disturb people so much? Now we know that for twenty-four hours he is in trouble. He cannot sleep, he cannot sit, he cannot do anything!"
I said, "Let him learn something." And actually that is what he will do. He will ring the bell, call the conductor, and tell him that he wants to change the room. And the conductor will say, "There is no other seat vacant, this is the only seat. But why do you want to change?" That he cannot say: why he wants to change.
"Has the other passenger disturbed you? Or has he done anything to you, touched your body or anything?"
He said, "He has not done anything, but just to be here feels very strange."
People meeting each other try to make some bridges; otherwise it is difficult.
Once it happened in Bombay, I entered the compartment - one man was there already and he saw that hundreds of people had come to see me off, so I must be a Hindu saint, because those people outside all look like Hindus. So he simply fell at my feet.
I helped him to stand up and I said, "You have done something wrong. I am a Mohammedan."
He said, "Mohammedan? And I have touched your feet!"
I said, "You didn't give me any chance - you immediately jumped and touched my feet!"
"No," he said. "No, you are not a Mohammedan, you must be joking!"
"Why should I be joking? Do you think religion is a joke? It is not a joke, it is a serious affair. This is a serious affair."
He said, "But the people who had come to see you were all Hindus."
I said, "Yes, I have a great Hindu following too. But you can see my face is Mohammedan."
He said, "Perhaps. But now I will have to take a bath, because I am a brahmin, Bengali brahmin; and I have not even touched a Mohammedan in my life - and I have touched your feet!"
I said, "If a bath is needed, you take a bath." And he took a bath and he came out. And I said, "I was just joking! - I am really a Hindu saint. But what kind of brahmin are you that you cannot recognize a Hindu saint?" And he touched my feet again, and I told him, "Now you will have to take the bath again!"
And the man said, "You will drive me crazy. Why don't you say who you really are?"
I said, "Really if you ask, I don't know, because when I was born I had not come with any identification - whether I am Hindu or Mohammedan or Christian - so as far as reality is concerned, I don't know.
But as far as social conditionings are concerned, I am a Mohammedan." And it was a cold night, and he had to go and take another bath!
And the conductor came to me and said, "This is too much! That man will die. You will have to keep him taking baths the whole night...."
And I said, "I will not keep him, I will do many other things. But why, in the first place, should he bother to touch my feet? - I had not asked him."
And he came back, repeating a mantra and trying to avoid looking at me. I said, "Don't avoid! I had to force you to take two baths, because I allow people only to touch my feet after two baths. I am not an ordinary saint."
He said, "My God! Then why did you not tell me before? I would have taken two baths before and would not have gone into such agony that I had been touching the feet of a Mohammedan!"
I said, "Now you can touch them." But he was hesitant. I said, "If you are hesitant, don't touch because it is a question of faith. If you have real faith, and you are a real brahmin, only then can you touch."
He said, "I am a real brahmin and I have faith, and I had faith in you from the very beginning; I had touched your feet, and I am going to touch - and he touched my feet.
And I laughed. He said, "Why are you laughing?"
I said, "Don't ask; otherwise you will have to take a third bath, and the night is too cold. You just cover yourself with a blanket and go to sleep."
He said, "You will kill me!"
I said, "I am not doing anything; I am simply sitting here. It is you who are doing all these things - touching my feet, taking a bath. Why are you bothered with me?"
I have experienced thousands of times that people are trying to figure out who you are. That gives them a certain kind of solace that you are not a stranger: you are a Hindu, you are a Mohammedan, you are a brahmin.... That gives a certain consolation that something is known about you. But the reality is that nobody is a brahmin, and nobody is a Mohammedan, nobody is a Hindu. And it is not that I am a stranger to you; everybody is a stranger to everybody else.
It is our imagination that creates all kinds of ideas about people. Sooner or later they are disturbed.
Against the reality, they cannot stand.
So your question is exactly the description of reality. Far away you can feel me very close, very much known, because that is just the figment of your imagination. Close to me it is impossible. You will have to be absolutely certain that all imagination is dropped and you look at me, whatever the case - whether it turns out to be a stranger.... It is going to turn out to be a stranger.
But my experience is, it is one of the beauties of life that we are all strangers and there is no way to change this reality. It is beautiful to have strangers love you, to have strangers your friends, to have strangers all around the world. Then the whole world becomes a mystery - it is a mystery. Our mind is continuously trying to demystify it, but the mind cannot succeed. Against reality there is no way to succeed. And it is good that the mind's failure is recognized, so even when you are far away, you don't allow your imagination and mind to play games with you. You don't start dreaming, you remain clear that strangeness is nature. All that we can do is apply labels.
There was one very famous man in India, Mahatma Bhagwandin. There were only two people in India who were called mahatmas; Gandhi and Bhagwandin. Mahatma means the great soul.
He loved me very much. He used to stay with me whenever he passed my town. He was a very knowledgeable man. He was very old, must be seventy-five, eighty... very knowledgeable - a great scholar in many ways about strange things you would never think....
I would take him for a morning walk, and he would start describing every flower - its name, its Latin name, its qualities, its medicinal use... anything. And he was so full of all these things that he would destroy my morning walk.
So I told him, "Do you think by knowing the Latin name of the flower you know the flower? Do you think by knowing its medicinal use you know the flower? Do you think a poet looking at this flower will think of the Latin name and its medicinal use? Do you think a painter looking at this flower will think of anything other than colors? And even if you know the Latin name and you know the colors, and you know the medicinal use and you know everything possible about the flower, still the flower remains an unknown reality; it is mysterious.
"Just its being there is mysterious. Its fragrance is mysterious. Why it exists, why existence needs it, we don't know. There must be some necessity it fulfills; without it, existence will be a little less, incomplete. We can never know the relationship of the flower with existence, and that is its reality.
That will always remain a strange phenomenon. But why not leave it as strange?"
It is said that once Picasso was painting on the seashore. For two hours a man was watching him paint - two hours is a long time to watch somebody paint. Finally he ran out of patience; he asked Picasso, "I did not mean to disturb you - for two hours I have been waiting for the moment when you will put the brush down for a moment, and I can ask just one question: 'What is it that you are painting?' In two hours I have not been able to figure it out."
Picasso said, "This is strange! Nobody asks nature, 'Why did you make these mountains, why did you make this ocean? What does it mean? Why do you go on making so many birds, so many flowers, so many people? What it is all about?' And I am a poor painter - just on a small canvas I am doing my own thing, and the whole world is on my head asking, 'What does it mean?' Why should it mean anything?"
The man said, "I did not want to offend you."
Picasso said, "I don't feel offended, I simply feel that people think everything has a meaning, everything has to be known. I don't know what it is, but I loved painting it. I still don't know what it is, but I am immensely happy that I have painted it. It was within me for days; all these colors that I have spread on the canvas have been in me. I don't know why, but I don't want to know either."
And that is a significant point to understand: why should we be concerned about knowing each other?
When I was in the university they used to have 'Getting-to-know-you' meetings once or twice a year.
I never went there. The vice-chancellor said to me, "You never come to the 'Getting-to-know-you' meetings." I said, "Because one thing is certain for me, that nothing can be known. So all that nonsense that you call 'Getting-to-know-you' is just a waste of time. I go into the hills, I go to the river - which is far better. What is this need to know each other? What are you going to know?"
In this sense I respect the poets, the painters, the musicians, the dancers. You cannot ask a dancer, "What does it mean?" You can enjoy it, you can love it, you may start dancing with him, but you cannot ask, "What does it mean?"
It remains a mystery, and the best in art, the best in music, the best in literature, the best in philosophy, the best in religion - all are mysteries.
And I want to bring to my sannyasins all of life's mysteries.