From the Alone to the Alone
[NOTE: This is a translation from the Hindi discourses: Nahim Ram Bin Thaon. It is being edited for publication, and this version is for reference only.]
BEFORE WE ASK ANYTHING WE WOULD LIKE TO OFFER OUR GRATITUDE AND GREETINGS TO YOU.
THE MYSTICS HAVE ALWAYS SAID THAT "THERE IS NOWHERE TO GO BUT IN." YOU ALSO SAY THE SAME. WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE WORDS, BUT OUR UNDERSTANDING OF IT DOES NOT GO BEYOND THE VERBAL LEVEL. COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DEEPER MEANING OF IT?
Understanding at the verbal level is not worth calling understanding. In the world of religion there is no greater deception than words. The words can be understood, there is no difficulty in that, but that which is hidden behind the words remains uncomprehended, and that is the real difficulty.
When the word is understood, but not that which lies behind the word, life becomes a great turmoil.
We create the illusion of knowing when we do not know, and nothing is more dangerous than assuming that one knows when one does not.
Life begins at the point where knowing happens. Life is transformed through knowing. But if we live under the illusion that we know religion because we know the words, then our mind travels in one direction while our life travels in another, and often these directions are completely opposite. This is why hypocrisy comes to be a daily routine in the life of the so-called religious man.
The so-called religious man seems to be nothing but a hypocrite. He says one thing and lives another, and there is no harmony between what he says and what he lives. The origin of this lack of harmony is in the fact that he has substituted words for understanding.
Let us consider a few more points about this before dealing with the question. The moment we hear the words god, soul, enlightenment, we immediately think that we understand them because we know their meaning that is written in the dictionaries. We know the meaning of "enlightenment"; we know the meaning of "God"; we know the meaning of "soul"; but the verbal meaning is not the existential meaning. Just to say the word god, just to hear the word god, is not to know God. The word god is not in itself God. Even if the speaker of the word has known, he cannot pass on his knowing to you. Only the words will reach you, not his experience. The words will become part of your memory. Your memory will become full and dense, a load, and will become a scripture. You will fall in the illusion that you know God because you have heard the word, have read it, and its meaning is given in the dictionary.
But without reaching out to him, how can anyone know God? If it was so simple that God could be known just by referring to a dictionary, there would be no ignorant person left on this earth; everyone would have become a knower. If the etymology and grammar of the word liberation were the key to liberation, everybody would be free, no one would be in bondage. How simple it is to know a word!
So mind, because it is afraid of the journey, creates the illusion. That mind should be afraid of the journey is only natural, because it is going to be a journey into death for it. The one who will set out in search of God will lose himself. But in referring to a dictionary there is no worry about losing oneself, in reciting the scriptures there is no question of losing oneself. But one who seeks enlightenment will disappear, because no enlightenment, no liberation, is possible without disappearance. Basically, it is the 'I' who is the bondage. Then how is enlightenment possible until this 'I' is dissolved?
This 'I' is the wall between oneself and God. Until this wall falls, how can God be experienced? This journey is a journey of death. The seeker has set out to die. But only through dying is the ultimate life attained; only by losing oneself is one found. Because of this, mind is afraid... so it creates illusions and substitutes.
Understand well this law of substitution: to find substitutes is the greatest art of the mind. What is not found in life, mind provides it in dreams.
You are thirsty and fast asleep at night, you are dying of thirst. You will have to wake up. You will have to interrupt your sleep to go and find some water. But no, it is then that mind creates a substitute - you start dreaming of a fountain, and in your dream you approach the fountain and drink to your heart's content. No need to interrupt your sleep! Not until you wake up in the morning do you discover that the water was no water, the fountain was no fountain, and there was no quenching of your thirst: it was all illusion. But only after waking up do you come to know this. The sleep in the night continued undisturbed; mind found the substitute to keep it so.
Mind creates substitutes in life too, so that our sleep in life itself is not disturbed. If you are to know God, your sleep will be disturbed; it will come to an end. And we have a great vested interest in our sleep, because for lives upon lives we have treasured and cultivated only sleep, that is our only creation. And up to this very day our family, wife, friends, children, money and prestige are all part of our slumber. The moment our sleep ends, all this will disappear too. The whole edifice will disintegrate. If sleep ends, this whole world that we have thought as our world and all we have seen as ours, will disappear. When we wake up in the morning we cannot find the friends who inhabited our dreams. When we wake up in the morning we cannot find the palaces that crowded our dreams.
After waking up, there is no way to find the treasures that were ours in the dream; they are gone, gone for ever.
All this we have created in our dream; hence the fear that the dream may be broken, our sleep may be broken. So we live an unconscious life. The name for this unconsciousness is mind. And wherever there is any fear of the sleep being broken, mind immediately creates a substitute. In knowing God our sleep will end, but in knowing the word god, there is no cause for our slumber to end. On the contrary, our sleep deepens and is fortified. If we go to seek God, the world will disappear. By reciting the word God, we make God also a part of the world.
This is why we build mosques and temples and gurudwaras. We construct the churches and temples next to our shops and homes in order to make them a part of the world. Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans, Sikhs, Jainas... we add these religious differences to our worldly turbulence - as if there is not already enough trouble, enough politics; as if there is not already enough warfare, we add religious warfare, we fight in the name of religion. As it is, there is more than enough competition - in the name of nations, for money, for prestige; but to these we add religious competition. We make even religion a part of the world. This is the art of the mind.
Have you observed one thing? You must all have had dreams in which you dreamt that you woke up and the dream was broken. The alarm has gone off, it is morning, you are awake, you get out of your bed, you stand up and the dream has ended - but this was all part of the dream. But to know that you had only dreamed all this is not possible until you really wake up in the morning. And to dream that one is awake is the most dangerous dream of all, because this is the pinnacle of illusion.
The deepest dream of all is when a man dreams in the midst of his worldliness that he is religious.
Instead of going on the search for God, we create a phony God around ourselves. If we go in search of the real God, we will come to an end. To save ourselves we invent the false God.
Scriptures say God created the world. They may be right, but if we look at the gods around man - they are all manmade. The image enshrined in the temple is made by you. And man is very clever:
he bows and worships before the image he himself has made. He himself carves the image, he himself installs it in the temple, he converts stone into God, then kneels and prays before it. A great game! He offers worship and prayer to his toys, and returns home satisfied that he has been to the temple.
This whole web is created by words. So it is rightly asked why understanding the verbal meaning does not lead to realization. Actually, nothing is understood through the word; only a substitute for understanding is created. It appears that one has understood., and this appearance is bad. So the first thing to be understood is that there is no value in verbal understanding. It is just a way to hide our non-understanding. It is like covering our nakedness with clothing: our nakedness does not disappear - inside we still remain naked. If we are clever we can even make our nudity even more obvious through the kind of clothes we wear and the way we wear them. A naked man, a naked woman, is never as nude as the illusion that can be created by wearing right clothes. Your words, your false understanding, will not eradicate your inner poverty, but only hide it.
And there are times when your false understanding is used in such a way that through your scholarliness only your foolishness is revealed more profoundly. The fool has a kind of innocence, a kind of simplicity about him. But a pundit? The foolishness of the pundit is very complex, very intricate. And if you have even a little insight into things you will see that it is difficult to find a bigger fool than the pundit. His foolishness shows in all directions. He has covered it well, but all that one covers only testifies that one is aware of it. All that we cover is exhibited too, because all our covering declares that something has been covered, that something was there worth covering. The ignorant and uneducated man who has not covered himself has the nudity of a primitive native; his nudity is unselfconscious, he is nude without knowing that he is nude. But the foolishness of the pundit is like the nudity of a prostitute, who is decked out in an array of splendid garments, but all the covering is only to display the nudity beneath.
The very reason for covering something is the fear of its exposure. If you can understand that verbal understanding is no understanding at all, then the first step has been taken. If you can know that knowledge derived from the scriptures is not knowledge, then the first ray of knowledge has descended on you. And then it won't be difficult to put the scriptures away; then it won't be difficult to detach yourself from the web of words and come out of it. Right now it is difficult because if appears as if it is understanding. If we hold pebbles in our hand, and believe them to be diamonds, it is difficult to part with them - not because of the stones, but because of our belief that they are diamonds. The moment one comes to recognize that they are stones, that seeing them as diamonds was an illusion, then where is the difficulty in dropping them? With the recognition that they are stones, one will not have to drop them, they will simply drop from our hands on their own.
Let the stones of words fall away, then meaning will arise. In the realm of religion, meaning does not arise from words, meaning arises from no-word. Remove words, and the stream of no-word flows.
The river that flows through Poona gets covered with leaves and vegetation; greenery spreads all over so that the water is not visible. Your mind is just like that. Remove the leaves, and there is the flowing river beneath. Remove the words, and the river of meaning is hidden beneath.
The story is not the same in all dimensions. When I say tree, you understand the meaning in an instant, and likewise when I say river or house or ocean, just hearing the word you catch the meaning. But when I say God or soul or enlightenment, you hear the word only; you do not know the meaning. I only have to say the word tree and you understand, because the tree is your experience too. The word indicates, and your own experience of it gives you understanding. I say ocean, and from your own experience you understand.
But imagine a man far away in the desert who has never seen the ocean, not even a picture of the ocean, and we say 'ocean' to him; now he has not the slightest idea what we mean. He hears the word, even tries to understand its meaning intellectually. We can even explain to him that just as this is a vast expanse of sand, so there is a vast expanse of water - this gives him an idea, he forms a concept, but still the experience of the ocean by a man who has seen it standing on its shores, who has entered the ocean and swum in it, who has been surfing in it, cannot be matched by any concepts of this man from the desert.
When I say God, what does it mean to you? You have never stood on God's shore, you have never floated on his waves; neither have you been one with his waves, or dissolved into the music of his waves. You as a drop have remained as a drop. The drop is afraid that if it goes into the ocean, it will disappear. This fear is true, but it is also false. The drop will disappear certainly, but nothing is lost because in its very disappearance the drop will become the ocean. The small will be lost, and the greater will be attained. Nothing will be lost, and all will be gained. But the drop is not aware of what it will gain, it is only aware of what it will lose - hence the fear.
Get rid of the words! Understanding that the words are of no value in this realm is the first step towards abandoning them. The words of sages cannot be explained in the schools. What the mystics have said cannot be related in any way with the universities. What the mystics have said has been compiled in the scriptures, but really it could not be compiled. The external, the shell, was compiled, but the inner essence was left behind. The outer lines were traced, but the inner, the soul, remained untouched.
This phrase, Nahin Ram Bin Thaon - no refuge other than Rama - is unique. In this one statement all the Vedas, all the Upanishads, all the Gitas are contained. If this one statement is understood, there remains no need to understand any Koran or Bible. This small statement is like atomic energy - immense energy within a tiny atom!
And the saints who gave these atomic statements were not very educated people. It is a strange fact that the educated are often unable to attain to saintliness. Exceptions may be found, but as a rule the learned do not attain to saintliness, because those who are highly educated become so skilled in finding substitutes, and so expert at deceiving themselves, that they are never able to catch themselves red-handed at what they are doing. The uneducated - Kabir, Dadu, Nanak - enter very easily. They do not have too much load on them to be unloaded, there is no great wall to be demolished - just a small push and everything falls down.
This statement is the essence of the life experience of such uneducated people. The statement is direct, the words present no difficulty: there is no shelter other than Rama; there is no other shade, no other refuge than Rama.
Under what conditions does such an understanding dawn? We seek refuge and shelter in wealth.
The language of the people all around me is that of money, they measure people by their money.
How much you have is the weight of your soul. If you have nothing, you have no soul.
But wealth, in whatever currency, is external - and you are within; whatever you have, there is no way to take it within. There is no way to take your safes inside; they will have to stay on the outside.
Great kingdoms too will have to stay outside, there is no way to take them within. And you are always within, there is no way that you can be brought outside. This is why wealth and soul never meet. Soul means interiority, wealth means outer, always outer, and these are two lines that can never intersect each other. They simply do not meet anywhere, ever; there just exists no way of their meeting. Their dimensions are different, they are two different worlds.
But we measure a man by what he has - how much education, how much status, how big a position, how much power! You are what you have - this is our criterion. This criterion is utterly wrong.
Because of this criterion, if someone asks us of our inner experience, "There is no other refuge but money" will be the essence of our answer. We even weigh the mystics in monetary terms. Had Mahavira been born in a poor family, Jainas were not going to recognize him as their tirthankara, their spiritual master. I say this with absolute certainty, because all twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas are sons of kings. It is worth considering that in thousands of years not a single person from a poor family became a tirthankara. Is it that only the sons of kings can become tirthankaras? Then the future is dark, because there are no kings now, so no one will become a tirthankara. Now this is a great difficulty.
Gautam Buddha is a tirthankara, a jina, he attained to Buddhahood, but the public mind would not have accepted him either had he not been the son of a king. Give birth to Rama and Krishna in poor families and you will see, they will not be acceptable as avataras. Our mind measures even the mystics in material terms. So if you look at the Jaina or Buddhist scriptures, the Jainas recount therein how big an empire Mahavira had. It was not in fact that big - cannot be, because the kingdoms of those days were just small estates of landlords. There were some two thousand kings in India at that time, so how big can these kingdoms have been? It cannot be bigger than a small district of today. So, Mahavira's father was just an average landlord, he was not a great king. Had Mahavira not been born as his son, nobody would have mentioned him in history. But Jainas ascribe to him enormous wealth - with such a big empire, so many horses, so many elephants and so on.
The number of horses and elephants they recount, there could not have been enough space for them to even stand in his small kingdom. And so many gems and diamonds - all bullshit!
But there is a hidden truth in all this, and that truth is that the mind of a Jaina does not want to agree to the idea that his tirthankara may come from a poor family. It is worth knowing this truth.
"My tirthankara must have been a chakravartin, a world ruler. How could he come from an ordinary background?" Then the false aura of enormous wealth is created around him.
And when Mahavira speaks, listeners rush to occupy the seats which are spread thousands of miles around him, because if there are only ten or twenty listeners the tirthankara lacks greatness.
No, the audience numbers billions and trillions. This is impossible though. Today it is possible because of modern technology, and hundreds of thousands of people can listen simultaneously. But in Mahavira's time this was not possible. Inevitably Mahavira spoke to small groups. But the Jaina mind cannot agree to this, because the value lies in numbers! How many people? We do not care at all about truth or falsehood.
The devotee and the enemy, they never care about truth. Devotion speaks falsely, exaggerates things. The enemy also tells lies and exaggerates. In love and in hate we forget everything. The river starts flowing unchecked, breaking all barriers of truth and lie. We do the same about Buddha, and the same about Rama or Krishna. What we attribute to them bears no relation to what they actually had or had not, it only indicates about our criterion: if they had nothing, we wouldn't accept them.
We recognize the vastness of the soul by exaggerating material wealth! We measure Mahavira's renunciation by the wealth of the empire he abandoned. If he had nothing, we would not be able to call him a renouncer. How can one be a renouncer, if he has nothing? That even a beggar can be a renunciate is impossible in our way of thinking.
Renunciation has nothing to do with how much one has renounced, but with the spirit of renunciation.
Suppose A has one cent and that is his total wealth, while B has ten million dollars. A renounces his one cent, and B renounces five million dollars of his fortune. According to you, B is a bigger renouncer, because you think in terms of one cent and five million dollars. But no, those who know say that A is the real renouncer because he gave up everything he had whereas B has not really renounced at all; he renounced only half of what he had. But still we need that single cent for the purpose of our calculations about renunciation. If one who possesses nothing says he has renounced, we will not accept his statement. We will say, "You had nothing, so what have you renounced?"
Renunciation has no relation to what you had, it is an existential state of being. But how to measure that state? Money is our only standard measure, so renunciation is also measured by what one had.
It is curious that we measure renunciation and indulgence in the same monetary terms. Money is our measure. Money is our only refuge! As long as money is our refuge, Rama cannot be our refuge.
From what state of mind will arise: "Rama is the only refuge"? This only arises when the illusion of money disappears, when one discovers that money is worthless and that nothing is gained through gaining any amount of it.
Wealth is in conflict with Rama. It is a fight. Wealth is a device to avoid surrender. Wealth means, "I have the power myself, why should I surrender? Why should I go to anyone else's refuge, let people come to my refuge." Wealth is an arrangement for calling others to your refuge. This is why Jesus emphasizes so much that "those who are not poor cannot come to me."
Jesus says, "A camel may pass through the eye of a needle but the rich will not be able to enter the kingdom of God." This does not mean that those who are rich will be deprived of entry for ever.
The question is not so much of the wealth but whether it is the wealth to which you attach the most value. It may be that you have nothing, you are a beggar, but if your values lie in the wealth, your life is structured towards wealth, the basis of your thinking is wealth, you calculate everything with wealth, then you may well be a poor man but you would not be able to enter the kingdom of God.
Why? - because one who believes in wealth believes in the ego. To take refuge in wealth is to take refuge in ego.
To take refuge in Rama, in God, means that one's refuge in ego has come to an end; it is the end of one's own will. The man who is full of what we call willpower will find this statement quite meaningless because he feels that, "I am my own power. My power comes from me; my success comes from me; wealth, position, prestige, all come because of me. I am the source of power; I will create wealth, expand the empire, increase my power; I will fight even death and will one day attain to the final victory." A worldly man means a man whose confidence is in his own ego.
To understand this is difficult because we attach great value to self - confidence, we teach self- confidence, we tell every child: "Stand on your own two feet. Have confidence in yourself. Fight, resist, don't be afraid. Maintain the idea that you will win, then you will win. The very secret of competition, ambition, contest, is in keeping confidence in yourself. If you lose confidence in yourself you will waver and fall." We teach every one that, "You are immensely powerful, do not fear, fight, and if not today then tomorrow, all will come to your refuge."
The day this illusion shatters is the day one feels, "How can any power be mine, because I myself am not! 'I am' is nothing but an idea. I can be only if I can manage to remain separate from this whole existence. But if I have no air to breathe even for a few moments, I will come to an end; no sunrise and I will soon die. In this vast network of existence, even if a single little thing slips from somewhere - all the bricks of the house, the house called me collapses. Of this whole cosmos I am just a small part, and not such as can be separated. The moment I become separate, I am not."
Just think about it. Separate yourself from existence, and what are you? Immediately you disappear.
Your life current flows from the whole, the totality. Your breathing comes out of the whole, and goes back to it. You are born out of it, and in death you return to it. Everything comes from it and returns to it. There is a vast cycle of existence in which you revolve; your existence is not separate. Then with whom is the struggle? It can arise only if you are separate; then others are your competitors, your enemies.
Remember this: until one experiences Rama as the refuge, everyone in the world is an enemy; nobody is a friend. Even the one we call friend is just a hidden enemy; he too is in conflict with us. We are sitting here and there appears to be no struggle. But let the oxygen content of the atmosphere fall and we will all become competitors as to who inhales the oxygen! Scientists say that towards the end of this century the air will be so badly polluted that only the rich will be able to get oxygen. Ever since the advent of technology, our atmosphere is becoming more and more polluted. Oxygen is not going to remain a free commodity for long, because that too is limited. In big cities like New York and Bombay only the wealthy will be able to buy oxygen; the poor will have to exist on polluted air. Just as now the poor live on polluted water, in dirty dwellings, in filthy clothes, in the future they will have to live on polluted air - because they will not be able to buy pure air. If this situation goes on worsening, only a few will survive - those who can afford pure air; all the rest will die.
Even now, sitting here, just breathing we are in struggle. We are sitting, apparently peacefully, and there seems to be no struggle, no competition, but the competitor is there inside. Even friends are hidden enemies. If you maintain a separateness, this whole world is your enemy and you have to protect your life by fighting it. Thinkers like Darwin could come up with theories like "survival of the fittest" because basically they consider everyone to be separate. Then life is a conflict, a chaos, and violence is its rule.
Destroying others is the only way to survive. Your death is my life; my death is your life.
In such a way of life, bliss is impossible. Where violence is the law, bliss is impossible. Where violence is the law, celebration is impossible. Where violence is the law, peace is impossible. Where every moment is a fight for survival, there is no way to attain the enlightened state of life. Where there is battle for every breath and a need to become the other's death, how can there be opportunity and room for rejoicing and celebration, and for gratitude? If I am separate - as we all believe - then enmity is all around, and how can you arrive at fearlessness amid such enmity?
The day this illusion of being separate drops, the feeling of I am-ness dissolves, the ego disappears; one instantly finds that one is a part - a part of a living universe. That tree there, the cloud wandering in the sky, and I, are all expressions of the same one original source, and are born of the same spring of life. Differences are of the forms; the original source is one. This difference is of the shape, not of the soul. Shapes are different; the soul is one. Forms are different, but the formless stream of consciousness running through all is one.
I am not separate - that is the meaning of the statement, "Rama is the only refuge." My will is no longer my law now. Surrender is the law of my life, now I bid farewell to struggle and begin floating - that is the meaning of "Rama is the only refuge." Instantly, the whole universe becomes a friend.
But it is not really right to say this, because how can there be any friendship where there remains no enmity? The whole world becomes a family; there arises the recognition of the internal familyhood of all the forms in the world. Then I am within all, and all reside within me.This is what Hindus have been calling nonduality.
Don't get confused by the word Rama in the statement "Rama is the only refuge." It has nothing to do with the Hindu deity Rama, the son of Dasharatha. In this sutra, Rama means Allah, God, the absolute existence. Rama here means that phenomenon in which we are living, in which we are breathing and breathe, in whose existence is included our existence. Try to understand this. If this is true, if this experience of the mystics is true, that we are part of the whole, then there can be no such thing as death for us, because it is only persons who disappear; the whole remains forever. It was when I was not, and it will be when I am no more.
If I am separate, then my birth takes place and my death takes place, because separateness both has to be born and has to die also. But if I am not separate, then I was before my birth ; only my forms may have been different. I will remain after my death; my form can be any but there is no way to perish. If I am one with the whole, then life is eternal, with no beginnings and no ends, from infinity to infinity. The fear disappears, and then arises celebration in life. How can fearful hearts dance? Death is omnipresent, casting its shadow from all sides, lurking round every corner, following wherever you go.
The sense of separateness gives birth to death. If I am separate, then death is inevitable. If I am one with this vast oneness, death perishes. Or, to put it another way, the moment ego disappears, death disappears. As the will dissolves, there is no death and the deathless is born. This is why the mystics say that surrender is deathlessness. People search for nectar....
In the West there is the long tradition of the alchemists. In the East - in India, in China - people have been experimenting with metals and chemical formulae, in the hope of finding nectar, something which makes man immortal. But no chemical research will ever lead to nectar, because nectar is not a chemical; neither will it come from mercury, nor from gold dust, nor from pearls. No, none of these will help, because the very meaning of nectar is something else: it is not the product of a chemical process.
Nectar means surrender. Nectar means the disappearance of death; it is the death of death itself.
As it is, your inner existential state is death. You may try to hide it and you may try to ignore it, but your inner existential state is death. Every moment you are shaken by death; every moment death is resonating within you. Your body is traveling fast towards its death. Each moment brings death a little nearer, and from all around death is watching you. You see an old man and you are reminded of death; you see a demolished house and the memory of death stirs in you; a withered flower is sufficient to bring the fragrance of death; a fountain has run dry - again it is death looking at you.
Look anywhere. Death prevails, and you are shaken by it. In this shaken state....
Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, was a great thinker of the West. He says that man's actual state is a trembling; man is shaken every moment. Some time or other just close your eyes and you will find that there is nothing but fear inside. Because of this fear, you may pray to God - but that too will be only an extension of your fear. The masses that kneel in the churches and mosques and temples are not bowing down to any God; they are bowing down out of the fear that exists inside them. God is merely a cover-up for the fear that prevails within; kneeling is just a symptom of the warrior who is losing on the battlefield. Inside is an intense trembling. Death is standing in front of them! Frightened, man kneels and wrings his hands, begging to be saved. And this we have formalized into prayer: we face God afraid, and tell him of the death that is pursuing us; we pray for relief, and beg him to save us from death!
I have heard, in Damascus there was a Sufi master. One morning his servant came to him and asked him for his horse. "I have not much time," the servant said. "I was in the market buying vegetables for you, and somebody put his hand on my shoulder; he was shrouded in black. 'Who are you?' I asked. 'Your death! Be prepared this evening, for I am coming,' was his answer."
The master laughed and said, "You may take my horse."
The servant left Damascus immediately, and fled to Samarra. When he had gone, the master went to the city and visited the marketplace. He saw Death lurking in the corner and asked him, "Why all this playing tricks? Why did you frighten my servant needlessly? If there was any message to be delivered, you should have brought it to me."
"I did not mean to frighten him," said Death; "it was a surprise to me when my hand reached out on its own and placed itself on his shoulder. I wondered how he came to be strolling around here, when my appointment with him this evening is in Samarra, which is far away. It was my own surprise that placed my hand on his shoulder."
The master laughed again. "But why do you laugh?" asked Death.
"When he asked me for my horse this morning, then too I laughed," replied the master, "and I felt sorry for him. I also felt that he must reach Samarra before nightfall, and walking all the way would wear him out, so I gave him my horse thinking that if he is going to Samarra his death is predestined there."
Run anywhere you like, but even if your horse is the fastest - there is no escape. All the alchemists passed away. Many claimed to have discovered nectar, but none of them is alive; only their stories live on. Now scientists are repeating the same folly. What we know as chemistry also derives from alchemy, and it was the search for nectar that led eventually to the discovery of oxygen, hydrogen and so on in chemistry. Now, once again, science is proclaiming that something has to be done so that man can be saved from death; and scientists claim that something can be done. This belief that man can overcome death has prevailed since the beginning of time.
And certainly something can be done, but that has nothing to do with a laboratory; it is something that happens in the inner layers of one's being. As long as my own will remains, as long as I am there, death will surely be there. Only on the day when I am not will death cease to be, because the whole never dies; the vast existence never perishes. Waves come and go, but the ocean remains.
As long as I am a wave I am going to die; once I am the ocean there is no way to die.
In this sutra, Rama symbolizes this vast ocean. It has no relation with the Hindu or the Christian or the Mohammedan. For Hindus, Rama is a very sweet word indicative of the universal reality. It does not refer to any person, to any historical figure. To surrender to Rama is to surrender to the whole by effacing oneself. I am not; only the vast expanse, the vastness, the ultimate reality, is - and there is no other refuge than this. One who is searching for refuge elsewhere will go astray.
Life after life we have been wandering, searching for this refuge. A place of shelter is needed, a shade where one can rest. We have been searching for it through birth after birth, one road leading to another, but the shelter never comes. Many times overnight stops come but not the destination.
An overnight stop means one stops for a brief respite, then comes to know that this is not the destination, and so begins a new journey. Every journey links itself to a new journey, but the traveling itself does not come to an end. Only in Rama does the traveling come to an end.
This does not mean that afterwards you do not move anymore, that you do not flow anymore. No, you do move, you do flow because the flow of life goes on non-stop. But you are no more. The journey remains, but the traveler is no more. And the day the traveler disappears, how can worry continue? The day the traveler is not there, who will do the worrying? Then life is a festival, a celebration. Then life is a dance and a music, saturated with samadhi! As it is now, life is a worry, a restlessness, an inner turmoil. As it is now, life is a sadness.
Rama is the only refuge.
Certainly, there is no other refuge but Rama.
Anything more, Maitreyaji?
SOME PEOPLE CAME TO KNOW THAT RAMA IS THE ONLY REFUGE BY ARRIVING THERE, BUT WE START FEELING THIS JUST BY LOOKING AT YOU. WHY IS THIS SO?
Yes, you can feel this provided you look - but who looks? In order to look, a different kind of eyes is needed. There are times when, without your knowing, such eyes appear on their own; there are times when, without your knowing, you forget yourself. In those moments when you are absent, when you are not, the curtain in front of your eyes disappears. In those moments you catch a glimpse.
Seeing happens when there is no seer inside, because the seer is continuously distorting the vision.
He has his biases, his theories, his concepts and so on. He is constantly disturbing the seeing, saying: "Look in this way," "See this," or "What you are seeing cannot be." The seer inside does not allow you to see. But sometimes the seer moves aside. This happens unaware, without your knowing. If you knew, you would not let it move aside; you would go holding on to it. Sometimes, listening to me, you simply forget that you are. Then for a moment the curtain moves away from the eyes and you can see. Sometimes, when you are sitting quietly by my side, my peace becomes dense within you too, because peace too is an element, just like the coolness of the air; it is not just your imagination.
You visit a garden; sitting there the cool breeze touches you and everything in you cools down to your very core. Peace is also a similar elemental force. If I am at peace, and if you can even sit quietly by my side, in a state of acceptance, then the peace which is within me will also penetrate you, will touch your nerves deep within and soothe you to your very core.
And seeing happens when the eyes are cool. Excited eyes cannot see anything. Excited eyes, filled with their own restlessness, are insane eyes. So whenever you are at peace, seeing happens. And for this to happen you do not necessarily have to come to me; I am just an excuse. If you can be at peace and in silence even sitting in your own aloneness, the same will happen. Even if listening to the birds you forget yourself, the same will happen, because the birds are also singing the same song: Rama is the only refuge.
This is not a matter of you alone; the whole existence is saying the very same thing. Except man the whole existence is living with Rama. Only man has gone off the track a little and gone astray.
That is why except in man there is nowhere else any anguish; except in man there is nowhere else any insanity. The trees also are born and die, but no ego possesses them, so they are always in bliss. The birds too are born and die, but they are forever dancing and singing; nothing hinders their celebration!
Man has gone astray, and he has the potential to go astray because he is conscious. The birds are full of bliss, but they are not aware of their blissfulness. Man is unhappy because he is aware. If man can forget himself, he too will enter into bliss, just like the birds and the trees. There will be just one difference, which is also the ultimate difference: man will know that he is blissful.
It is this very potential of being aware that has led man into unhappiness, and it is the same potential that will take him into ultimate bliss as well. It can happen anywhere. You are sitting on the river bank; watch the flow - forget yourself and let the flow go on. Don't even think about the flow, because thinking will bring you back in. Become as though absent, forget that you are, just let the flow go on.
At once, as though out of nothingness, the bliss will fill you from within and without; thousands of flowers will blossom within you, and you will be able to see.
Seeing is possible, experiencing is possible, all that is needed is your absence; everything else is an excuse. Having invited you, I am sitting with you, talking to you. This talking is just an excuse.
My talking to you is just a device - a device that perhaps you may get engrossed in my talking while one thing leads to another and you may forget yourself. You may get so engrossed, perhaps you may not be able yet to be so engrossed with a river. Perhaps you have never really looked at the trees, have never really heard the birds; you are not acquainted with that language. But you are familiar with my language, you are familiar with the language of human beings. Perhaps you may get drowned, absorbed in this language; perhaps the poetry of this language may catch hold of you.
In that moment, suddenly you will be able to see. Your eyes will be open, as if lightning flashed and all that was in darkness got illuminated.
Even if you see for only a single moment, you will never be the same again, because whatever is seen becomes part of your being. Whatever is seen calls you again and again. Whatever is seen becomes a challenge to you, and the search begins for what you have seen.
Once you come to understand that my talking to you was only a device to open your eyes, then you can use even the sounds of birds for the same to happen; then they will become your master. Then you may look in the eyes of a cow and she will become your master. Then you can find a master anywhere.
If one knows how to be a disciple, the master is revealed everywhere. The real question is of discipleship. This is why Nanak called his disciples sikhs. 'Sikh' derives from shishya - disciple.
Learn to be a shishya, and the master is available everywhere; even a stone wall will become a master, even a rock will become a master. And if one does not know how to be a disciple, then even a master is no more than a stone wall. So once in a while such glimpses will come to you here.
Preserve such a glimpse, nourish it within you, because there is nothing more valuable than this.
And keep the search in the direction where you can get the same glimpses even in my absence.
Soon, with constant search in that direction, the thread leading to these glimpses will be in your hand. And the thread is such that it cannot be explained; only by persisting with your experiences and searching will you understand it.
It is just like swimming. Ask any swimmer for the key to swimming, and he will be unable to tell you; even a top-class swimmer will find himself unable to explain it. Instead he will say, "Come, let's go into the water! Throw your arms and legs about, and slowly you will come to feel from your own inner experience what kind of hand and leg movement makes swimming happen." Slowly slowly the haphazard movements of hands and legs will become systematic. And swimming after all is nothing but a systematic thrashing about. If you throw a man who does not know how to swim into the water, he too will thrash his arms and legs about, but without any rhythm or system to it. If he drowns, it will not be because he did not know how to swim, it will be because he did not know the right kind of swimming. Thrashing his arms and legs about chaotically, he will trap himself into drowning.
The difference between a swimmer and this man is not that of thrashing the arms and legs, but of the movement being systematic or unsystematic. The system comes out of experience. By and by, you will move your arms and legs with more expertise, with less labor. When you become still more expert, probably you will not even move your arms and legs; you will be able to simply float on the water. You will cease all doing, the water itself will support you. It is not necessary to thrash your arms and legs; you will be afloat without any effort, just like a flower, like a lotus flower. Then you will not need to do anything. But this floating will happen only out of constant experience.
I am guiding you into a similar swimming experiment. Often you will catch a glimpse, and when you do, look after it; take it within and nurture it. Move with the care of a pregnant woman - just as a pregnant woman moves cautiously with a baby in her womb. Let this seeing, this moment, become your pregnancy. Gradually, this moment will grow bigger; it will spread all over and you will disappear.
Certainly, being near to me, many times you will feel that Rama is the only refuge. But it can be so even without me, and that should be the target of your meditations.
Enough for today.