[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.]
Enlightenment is not related in any way to any external object. It cannot be; enlightenment is an inner happening. It happens in you, and it happens because of you. Even its not happening is because of you. That it has not happened so far is also because of you. No one else is responsible for your ignorance; likewise, no one and nothing else can be the cause of your enlightenment.
And remember, if anything could be a hindrance, then the same thing could also be a help. No tree is responsible for your unenlightenment. The bodhi tree is not a hindrance to Buddha's enlightenment, so it cannot be a catalyst either. The tree has no responsibility. What relationship can Buddha have
with a tree? That buddhahood did not happen was due to Buddha, and that it did happen was also due to Buddha.
So first of all understand that this is a fundamental truth, because it is in the very nature of our minds to throw the responsibility on someone else. If something bad happens, we think it is because of someone or something other than ourselves; perhaps the stars, the planets, the constellations, or somebody else, or certain circumstances; and if something good happens, then too we think that its source is somewhere else other than ourselves.
There is a reason for this habit of mind. If the responsibility is someone else's, then your own responsibility is at an end, and the mind can rest. So some talk of fortune, others of destiny, others of God's will; some say that it will happen whenever it is destined. As a result, the question of you doing something, of you making an effort, of you moving in a certain direction, does not arise; it will happen when existence wills it. In fact except for your own will no one's will can either assist or oppose.
Still, the fact remains, Buddha came to his self-realization sitting under a tree, Socrates was standing against a tree at the time of his enlightenment, and Mahavira too was close to a tree. What could be the reason? It cannot all be dismissed as coincidence. The reason is just this, as I was telling you yesterday: the first, the outer layer of the individual, is of culture, society, conditioning. The second layer is of nature. And the third, the innermost layer, is the basic divine being.
So you can understand the phenomenon in this way: culture is the outer layer, nature is the deeper inner layer, and the being, the self, is the base. Or it can be seen in this way: the being, the self is the center, nature is the circumference, and covering the circumference is the web of conditionings. The tree is the symbol of nature. All these people going into the wilderness, casting off society and their conditioning - take it as a symbol. All these people dropped their conditioning and went to the forest.
The happening took place amid nature. It could not happen in the so called civilization; it happened somewhere that was free of man's imprint, where there was nothing that had been touched by man's rules and customs, where man's artificial web did not exist. Yes, the event happened under a tree, but the reason is not hidden in the tree. It is just that these people left society and went to nature.
Once in nature, these people disciplined themselves to withdraw from nature; they dropped nature also. You can leave civilization for the forest, but where will you go from the forest? Both nature and civilization are outer, external, so you can move from society to nature and from nature back to society. But if you have to drop both, then where will you go? On the outer there is nowhere left to go; the only way now is inwards. Leave society and go to the Himalayas; leave the Himalayas and return to society - but both are on the outside. The one who has left society for nature, and now wants to go onwards from nature, will have to turn inwards.
So the first journey is from the so-called civilization to nature, and the second is from the outer to the inner. The enlightenment of these people took place in nature because the second journey can only begin from that place.
Nature is a stage between conditioning and being, and there is a need to rest awhile in that place.
The myth that buddhas attain under trees reflects the stories of people who, having put aside the so-called civilization and their conditioning, have been at peace in nature. From this resting place
begins another journey - inwards. Buddhahood does not happen under a tree, it happens only within the self. The tree was just a stage on the way.
If you understand it in this way you will find it easier to travel through the difficulties of your own journey. First your slate has to be cleared of all that man has written on it in the name of culture.
When it is cleared, you find yourself under the tree, in nature. To come to nature means to enjoy pure childhood, to live in an innocent simplicity, empty of all calculation, of all the cleverness that society has given you. What arises then is flawless and sacred. Now you are neither good nor bad - no tree is good or bad. You cannot make any distinction between trees - that these are sacred trees and these are profane trees. If you are sitting under a tree and a fruit falls from the tree and injures your head, you don't say that the tree is wicked. Even if the whole tree falls on you and kills you, nobody will say the tree is a murderer, because the consciousness of trees is not yet divided into good and bad. Even if you die under a tree, it is only a matter of coincidence; the tree is not responsible, because it harbored no wish to kill you.
To enter into nature is to withdraw from the concept of good and bad, and to live in the realm of the pure and unhindered nature - where there is no duality, where there is no choice, where whatever happens is accepted, where we float with no attempt to control. This is the tree, and it is under such a tree as this that we find the Buddha's enlightenment happening.
When man is relieved of the burden of humanity, he becomes light. You may not have considered this, but the peace that one finds on going to the mountains is not caused by the mountains, it comes from being free of mankind. You go for a walk on your own, there is no one else around, and suddenly a man comes into sight on the road. At that very moment you change, even the way you are walking changes, because now a new weight is on your mind: society has entered. Up to this moment you were all alone with the trees, the sky, the stars, there was nobody to oppress your mind, to decide whether what you are doing is right or wrong, whether your way of walking is as it should be or not. You were alone, wandering along amusing yourself, maybe smiling, humming a song perhaps, and in this aloneness you had become as a child. Maybe you were talking to yourself, gesticulating, making faces, dancing - and suddenly a man appears on the road and everything changes. The childhood disappears, you come back to your calculating state of mind - what will this man think? It is society that has entered in. Now your behavior will only be such as is acceptable to society; otherwise you may well be regarded as insane. Now you will walk in a fitting manner.
Society and the social codes have all come back. The happiness which aloneness has to offer is the happiness of feeling free of society, because society is an ever-present prison, it encloses you wherever you go.
People come to me and say that they are beginning to catch a taste of bliss in deep meditation, but they do not allow themselves to go totally into it, because, "someone may be watching. We are afraid of what they may say about us, so we do not go fully into it." The very idea creates disturbance. The deciding factor is the other's eye, because he will not only see you, he will also judge whether you are right or wrong in what you are doing. The other will form an idea about you, or if he already has an idea about you, he will change it. Up to now he regarded you as a gentleman, a cultured man, a prestigious person, and if he sees you here, weeping and screaming, his opinion of you will change.
And we live by other people's opinions, valuing their opinions of us because we have to live with them. Tomorrow you might need this person to do something for you, and he may not even allow you in his office. You may say hello to him and he will look the other way, afraid of what others will
think of him - that he has some relationship, some friendship with this person who is mad. Certainly this man may also have some madness in himself.
The fear of opinion is great, and society is a web of opinions all around us. One woman said to me, "I will come and watch the meditations, but I won't be able to join in, because there are a hundred or even two hundred spectators there, and many of them are my acquaintances."
The Western seekers who come here enter into meditation far more easily than you do. The reason is that none of their acquaintances are here; and as they have no dealings with you, they are not bothered by what you think of them. You would find it just as easy to enter into these meditations if you were in England or America, because that society is not yours, those people are nobodies as far as you are concerned. No matter what they see and think of you, how can it affect your interests?
But in the case of acquaintances, with whom you have to interact, with whom you have business and other interests, there is much fear. They may well affect your interests. And if your image changes in their eyes, you will find yourself getting uneasy, because you have no self-awareness. You have taken it for granted that you are that which others think you to be. If others say you are beautiful then you think you are beautiful. If others see you as being good and a nice guy, then that is how you see yourself. And if others regard you as mad, it won't be long before you start having doubts yourself, and finally one day even start believing you are mad.
Psychologists maintain that we retard the intellectual development of most children because we treat them from their very childhood as though they are stupid. If you consistently tell a child that he is stupid and unintelligent, when can he learn to trust his intelligence? Never! And remember, it is you who are committing the sin of making him stupid. When the father tells the child he is stupid, when the schoolteachers tell him he is stupid over and over again, the child begins to think, "They must be right! If they all think so, then I must be stupid!" Then the child begins to prove them right, because his logic is that it is not good to oppose what so many people say. What so many people believe must be right! And whenever any situation proves him stupid, he will say to himself, "This was bound to happen, because I am stupid, just as everybody says."
Repeat any idea often enough, psychologists tell us, and eventually it will take root in the mind and affect your behavior accordingly. You have created your self-image out of all that society says about you. This identity of yours is borrowed, you are dependent on the views of others for this image.
Only those who have discovered their own true identity, who have realized their own self, can be free of this pseudo-identity. Only one who knows himself can liberate himself from this borrowed self-image, and only in breaking the borrowed image can you know yourself.
This is why Mahavira and Buddha go to the forest - it is not that the forests attract them, but that they are repelled by you. It is not that the mountains are calling, it is you that are driving them there!
The mountains are lovely because they do not judge you. No mountain will regard you as insane if you dance ecstatically. Trees are like saints; they do not think about you, they form no opinion about you. You are sitting, that's fine; standing - perfectly okay; weeping, laughing - all okay! The tree accepts you as you are; the tree will not disturb your being in any way.
But man is very strange. Man cannot accept that there is any freedom of your being, that you have the right to be as you are. Man says, "I shall interfere, I am going to improve upon you." Everybody is
engaged in molding everybody else. The husband is busy molding the wife, the wife is busy shaping the husband, the father is shaping the children, the children are also shaping the father. Everyone's eyes are like guards watching others. They are not just eyes but bayonets. And through them we are expressing our opinions, right or wrong. From all sides come the condemnations and praises.
Caught in this web, it is difficult to find the self.
This is why people withdrew to the wilderness. This is why Buddha had to leave the palace.
Remember, my emphasis is that it is not a question of leaving the palace, nor is the wilderness calling, but the web, the net of conditionings within us is so intricately connected with the palace that it will not break unless we leave the palace itself. And it will be surprising if it does break even on leaving the palace - the fear is that it will follow you even when you have left the palace.
Buddha left his palace and traveled, and the kings of the neighboring states, wherever he would go, would come and say to him, "What are you doing here? If you have any problems with your father - they were all friends of Buddha's father - then my palace is open to you, and my daughter is available to marry you. You can rule half of my kingdom. This going to the forest doesn't suit you.
It is not fitting for a prince to wander like a beggar. If you don't get on with your father, it doesn't matter, you are always welcome here. I am your father's friend, hence just like a father to you."
Buddha would laugh and say, "There is no quarrel between me and my father, and it is not about my leaving or not leaving the palace, it is about transforming myself. And if I cannot accomplish this in my father's palace, it will be far more difficult to transform my being in your palace. If I cannot transform myself among my own family, it will be utterly impossible among those who are not my friends and relatives." ... Because your own people may even excuse you in some matters, but why should those who are not connected to you?
For six years Buddha constantly received such invitations. When Buddha's father found out that his son was begging on the streets, he assumed that he had gone crazy. "We have everything he could ever need," he would say, "and none of our ancestors has ever been a beggar. We have always lived as the emperors we are. What kind of madness has happened to this boy?" In the eyes of his father Buddha must have looked insane, and to protect himself from these eyes Buddha needed to go to the forest. Had his father been able to accept him, had he been able to say, "This is the way he is, fine!" - but it was not so!
The ways of being in this existence are infinite, and every soul has the right to become whatever it can, whatever it wants, whatever its potential is, whatever it is destined to be. The meaning of love is simply to allow the other to become all that he can; to allow the seed to become a tree and come to its flowering, without hindering it. Love does not require the lily to become a rose, or the rose to become a lotus. Love allows the lily to be a lily, nurturing it as a lily, watering it with care the way a lily needs to be watered, and being careful not to create problems for it. This is what love is.
And it is evident that there is no love at all in this world. Had there been love in the palace, Buddha would not have needed to leave it - because love accepts you as you are, love does not try to change you. The effort to change others is an expression of hatred and violence - it is a kind of surgery: "I want to carve you like a stone, mold your features, shape your insides into my image of you. I will cut into you with hammer and chisel, telling you that you are wrong, until you turn out the way I want you to be." And everyone is trying to improve upon the other by adding their own bit of carving.
But there happens no improvement, only a bit more perversion, because every individual can become only that for which he has the potential. There is no way on earth to make him anything else, and whenever we attempt to do so, we will do him a twofold harm. He won't be able to become what he was born to become, and of course he can never become that which he carries no potential for. He will be crippled - hung in the middle, neither on the earth nor in the stars. His destiny has been altered, and he is destined to fail to fulfill what his destiny has now become. This is why we are so stunted. This is why we live such ugly lives, and die ugly and half-formed, with our seeds never reaching to their flowering. This is the reason, too, why there are so few Buddhas and Mahaviras seen in the world.
Every man is born with the potential to become a Buddha, but there are so many people engaged in shaping him. It is said that too many cooks spoil the broth. So many people, so many artists and sculptors are after each individual that there is no way that this statue can be made; it will be destroyed. The mother wants to make the child something, the father wants to make him something else, the uncles want something else; the grandfather and the brothers want something still different; teachers are trying something different; politicians have some other designs on him. In their very effort to make something out of the child is his destruction.
We may offer our hand to help, but the other can become only that for which he carries the potential within himself. And this is tricky, because we only offer our help to exploit. Our help is a kind of bargain, requiring the other to agree with you. Even the father says to his son, "Unless you are prepared to listen to me, these doors are closed to you!" It is not out of love that these doors are open, the father is committing an act of violence with his bargain: "If you comply with my wishes, with the decisions of my ego - if you agree to become what I want - then this bread and butter is yours, then this house is yours. If you cannot become as I wish, then what is my relationship to you?
If you want to become what you want, then stand on your own two feet!"
The quarrel that is perpetually going on between husband and wife everywhere in the world - its roots lie in this kind of attitude. The wife cannot allow her husband his independence; she wants to govern every aspect of his behavior, his every line of action....
I have heard: a schoolteacher wrote a letter to the mother of one of the children in her class. It said, "I am fed up with trying to control your son. He is after every girl in the school. Already he has got half of them into trouble. I am finding it more and more difficult every day to control him - I don't know what to do!"
The boy's mother wrote back, "When you find a way to control him, please do not hesitate to let me know, because I have the same problem with his father. So if you find a way to stop him harassing all the girls, please tell me, so that I can use it with his father. I have been trying for twelve years, without success!"
Every wife tries this her whole life and fails. They fail not because men are bad, but because no one can ever succeed in shaping another's behavior. And the husbands too are watching all the time.
Such eyes cannot be full of love, because love accepts, love trusts. Trust is the sign of love. But the husband is sitting in his office worrying about the possibility of his wife laughing and chatting with some other man, because the husband cannot tolerate the idea that his wife should even smile when he is not with her. Without him, she should be constantly miserable. All husbands expect
their wives to behave like a character in Kalidasa's poetry, receiving messages with clouds, pining for their husbands while becoming pale and fading away, and hardly noticing the existence of any other man in the world. Without him she is lost, as though for the woman there is only one possible source of pleasure - her husband. All joy must come through him, as though the rest of the universe is empty.
This is neither trust nor love. It is just an attempt to mold the other to your own specifications, as if the other is an instrument, an object to be possessed and ornamented, rather than an individual with a soul.
This effort to change the other in every conceivable way is the trademark of society. And it is a trait that runs so deep that Buddha has to go to the forest. And where will he sit in the forest?
Under a tree, of course! This is why I say it is just coincidental. Buddha sits under the shadow of the tree to keep himself aloof from the society, because this fire of the society burns you out; this poison of the society kills you. Up to now we have been unable to create a society on the earth in which buddhahood can be nurtured. I will only call it really a society in which it is not necessary to go to the jungle to grow to one's buddhahood. Until that happens, know well that all we have is a pseudo-society, barbarians, a violent group of killers.
But the ways of cutting the throat are so subtle and refined that the one whose throat is being cut is also feeling glad of it. He lives under the impression that this is all being done to him in his own interests. For centuries it has been propagated that whatever society is doing is all in your own interest: Even if we kill you it is for your own good! And as others are doing to you, so are you doing to others. It is essential to move away from this mess; hence the event takes place in the wilderness.
But remember, once he has attained to buddhahood, Buddha returns to society. When his self- realization has happened, Mahavira returns to society. Little thought has been given to this subsequent happening. Why do they return? - because now there is no danger. Now you cannot destroy the Buddha, neither by cutting his throat, nor in any other way. In his buddhahood he has attained something which cannot be annihilated. Now the immortal is part of Buddha's life, and its flowing through him is eternal. Now if you come close to Buddha, it is you who will be in difficulty, not the Buddha. In approaching him now it is you who is taking the risk. And Buddha is not trying to change you, but the very nature of being a buddha is such that in his presence you will change.
A master is not one who is seeking to change you. A master is one in whose proximity the change begins on its own. A master cannot be more than a catalytic agent, and if he is more, he is a charlatan. If he is making any direct effort to change you, he will also oppress you. If he praises you or condemns you, if he persuades you to agree, if he is annoyed when you don't agree and smiles when you agree, then he too is using the heaven-and-hell, greed-and-fear technique on you.
Then he too will harass you, he too will destroy you. This is why most so-called masters are actually the enemies of their followers, and near the majority of such masters the disciples do not find new life-energy, they just rot and are destroyed.
It is only the master who is not anxious to transform you directly, who is not at all engaged in liberating you, who can liberate you. His presence transforms you indirectly. Being around him the changes begin to happen, just like the bud blossoming into a flower when the sun shines. If the bud does not open the sun feels no disappointment. It does not worry that its rays may not open the bud.
And the bud opens anyway in the suns rays, blissful to be opened by the sun, thankful to be able to drink in the sunbeams. From lifetime to lifetime it has been the dream of every bud to dance in the rays of the sun.
The bud opens on its own, the sun is not forcibly opening it. Nor is the sun knocking at the doors of the birds' nests telling them that it is time to get up, that the early morning is no time to be sleeping.
The birds have opened their eyes on their own. As the sun's rays creep over the horizon, the birds begin their morning chorus; their eyes open and their song begins. A moment of festivity has arrived and they are riding on it. Enjoying this festive moment is the birds' own doing. The sun does not act upon them in a direct way, but in its presence something is happening. The sun is not doing anything itself, but indirectly, in its very presence, something is happening. Even if the whole earth continues sleeping, even if not a single bud opens or a single bird begins its song, it will make no difference to the sun's delight. It is not that by noon the sun is going to feel disappointed, withdraw its rays and begin to shed tears, or wonder whether to rise at all the next day, whether to set out on the journey in the first place: "Why should I bother about these people who have rejected me?"
A master is like the sun. The disciples open in his presence, but there is no effort on his part.
Whether they are saints or sinners, the disciples are all equal in his eyes. There is no praise for the saints and no condemnation for the sinners. Only in such a person is there a catalytic potential; only near such a person can something happen. When Buddha returns to society he is like the sun:
things simply start happening in his presence, in his proximity.
We have given a name to this being in the presence of a master: satsang. Satsang means to be near the master. Also our unique Indian scripture is called Upanishad, which also means to sit near the master - not doing anything, just being near the master, so that the rays from his unknown being can begin to open your bud. To use the verb "to open" in this way is a little inaccurate, because there is not really any action of opening going on. No, it is just that in his presence your bud suddenly starts to open. The master does not do anything, but much happens around him. Around the guru who does things, nothing happens.
A buddha returns to society. For him now there is no society. Up to now, before his buddhahood, society was; society was because it was destroying him. But now no one can destroy him, now he can return. The poison of society is no longer poison for him; his destruction is now impossible. Even someone who comes to destroy the buddha will now gain something, he will share the buddha's love.
He will receive a gift which will influence him for life after life.
The wisdom is attained in the forest, but it showers abundantly back in society. Not a single buddha has remained in the forest. If he stays in the forest, then buddhahood has not yet happened - because the moment bliss happens, the longing to share it happens simultaneously. Understand this well; we want to give what we have. If we are unhappy we want to give unhappiness; if we are blissful we want to give bliss. And whatever we have it increases through sharing. When you give unhappiness your unhappiness increases; when you give bliss your bliss increases. Whatever you share increases. Sharing is the way to increase. So if you are intelligent you will not give unhappiness to others, because this will increase your own unhappiness. And you will not cast thorns on others' paths, because they are thorns on your own path - sooner or later you will come across them. If you are wise you will never spread unhappiness, because you own unhappiness will increase in the giving, and in not giving it will fade away. If you are wise you will always share joy, because your joy will increase in the sharing, and if it is not shared it will die.
Sharing is the formula for growing. The miser only dies, he does not live. The miser is a dead man, a corpse. No celebration ever enters his life - it cannot, because the celebration is born in giving, in sharing. This is why we give each other presents on festive days. Even if we have nothing to give, we at least offer the greetings, share the delight that is in our heart. All the holidays are days of sharing. The miser can never share, no delight ever enters his life. In this world it is hard to find a man more dead than a miser. Even the deadest of corpses is not as dead as a miser.
I have heard: a Scotsman died, and the doctor was called to confirm that he was dead. When the doctor arrived to examine the body he simply put his hand in the man's pocket, withdrew it and said, "This man is absolutely dead."
The people who were watching said, "This is a novel way of examining a dead body. We have seen many methods, but what is this?"
The doctor replied, "Put your hand in a Scotsman's pocket, and if there is a flicker of life in him he won't be able to lie there, not even if his pocket is empty!"
The Scotsman is the most miserly in Europe, so even if he were at his last breath he would stand up to prevent you from going through his pockets. The man is dead, for sure! No further examination is necessary.
The personality of a miser is shrunken. How can one who shrinks attain to Brahman, which means the supreme reality that is constantly expanding? Only one who is himself expanding can attain to Brahman. In attaining bliss he gives bliss to others. In attaining wisdom he gives wisdom to others.
You too are distributing what you have. If you have not attained wisdom you are distributing your ignorance. Of all the things given in this world, nothing is given as much as advice. So many are ignorant and everyone is advising! Because of this, ignorance expands ad infinitum. The ignorant person never cares whether he knows anything about the things on which he gives advice. Whether he knows is not the issue; the point is that he enjoys the sensation of knowledgeability that he gets through giving advice. The one who knows may hesitate to give advice, but not the ignorant man.
Ask him any question and he is ready to answer it.
Ignorance is distributed; unhappiness, competitiveness and ambition are all distributed. In our abundant giving we spread around the germs of all these diseases, and in doing so we convert the world into a teeming madhouse. But the one who knows - the blessed one, the man of consciousness, the man who has attained godliness - he also gives, he also distributes, and all his giving can only take place in society. The happening of knowing may well take place under a bodhi tree, but the distribution of that knowing can only take place where you are.
All the awakened ones return to society, but they return only when society can no longer influence them in the least, when not a single trace of society can be imprinted onto them. Society can carve as many lines as it likes, but they will be like lines drawn on water; no sooner are they drawn than they disappear. Neither your praise nor your condemnation have any influence. All that you say to them is meaningless.
No, there is no esoteric relationship involved, so don't go on thinking that enlightenment can only take place when you are sitting under a tree. It can happen anywhere. The sky is as faultless as any
tree. It can even happen under the roof of this house, because even the thatch on the roof is more innocent than a human being. Among rocks, under the open sky - it can happen anywhere! The event of enlightenment has no causal relation with any tree, but many times it has happened under a tree because society is not yet mature enough that it can itself be the bodhi tree for enlightenment to happen. Society is as yet crippled, impotent and diseased; hence... but you need not seek for any hidden or esoteric relationship!
They are all true together. It is a very hard kind of learning, because it is totally concerned with the unknown. And if you set out to learn that which you have never known, have never come across, which has never concerned you, and with which you are not at all acquainted, then whatever is said about it, it all disappears into the void. If even a tiny experience of the phenomenon were within you, then things said about the unknown would gather around that experience. But there is no such experience within you, and this is why all the talk disappears over your head. This science is about the unknown, and it does not relate in any way to anything known to you. If it did relate, then it would stick and crystallize somewhere within you. All these talks go by you in vain, without touching you, because you are unable to catch them.
And how are you going to catch them? They are in no way related to that with which you are trying to catch them. It is just like trying to catch air in your fist: you shape your fist to capture the air, but find that there is no air in it. And the interesting point about it is that as long as your fist remains open the air is in it, but as soon as you close your fist, the air disappears. What kind of logic will a person use who finds that the air disappears as he closes his fist? His logic will say, I could not close the fist in the right way, I was too slow, I should close the fist faster so that it is shut before the air can escape. His logic will look for the hole in the fist through which the air is maybe escaping.
The facts are plain and simple, and we know they are wrong, but this is how logic works, this is the conclusion it will reach. Logic will never say that it is because you are closing the fist that the air escapes - if you don't make a fist, the air will still be there.
But our intellect will say, "How can there be anything without something to hold it?" Money stays if it is held in a safe, if it is held in a closed fist. But on an open palm, money will not stay for a moment.
Even the closed fist is no guarantee of its security, what to say about the open hand! Leave the key to the safe lying around for a single day and the money is gone.
The experience of life tells us, "Grab it fast, only then will it be yours." And so we don't know how to catch air, because there the opposite applies. There, if you open the hand, keep it loose, the air is
yours. Make a fist and you have missed it. Air can't be locked up in safes, nor can there be any key.
Air is the name of freedom, it has been flowing since eternity. And if by some means you manage to enclose it, it will become stale and dirty and the juice of life will disappear from it. In stale air there will be no oxygen; only nitrogen and other lifeless elements will remain. In the first place it is difficult to enclose air, and if you do enclose it you will lose that which made it worth enclosing, and only those elements that are worthless anyway will remain.
This is exactly the situation with the known. All that we know is related to the material and physical world, and everything else is unknown. In approaching the unknown we use the same means that we have used successfully in dealing with the known. Hence all that is successful in this world proves to be a failure in the other world. All that you have learned up to now was with the help of memory, but nothing of the other world can be learned through the use of memory; only through experience can anything be known. All that you have known up to now is worthless, limited, and can be put into words. That which I am telling you about is limitless, vast and beyond words.
People ask, "Please define God." This is such a foolish question! Only that which is finite can be defined. And definitions are always done by linking something with its opposite. If someone asks you, "What is life?" then immediately you will have to bring death in to define it. You will find yourself saying that life is that which is not death. If someone asks you, "What is light?" you will immediately have to bring in darkness, to say, "It is that which is not darkness." It is amazing that even the greatest dictionary is just like a child's plaything. Consult a dictionary and ask the meaning of matter, and it will say, "Not mind." Turn a few pages to find out what mind is, and it will say, "Not matter." Is this any kind of definition, where the meaning can only be expressed with the help of its opposite? This is only a game, and it is very difficult to continue this game when you are dealing with God, because there is no opposite to God, so there is nothing that can be used to define God.
Your home has a boundary around it, it has its limits. But have you ever considered that this boundary is defined by your neighbor's home? If you are alone in the world, how will you determine the boundary? To define the limit, somebody else, the enemy, the opposite, is required. But there is no one other than God - there is no one who can be called the other, there is no enemy. This is why God cannot be defined in terms of duality. Many people who come to me ask me, "What is the definition of God?" I tell them that there is no definition. Then they say, "Then the talk cannot proceed any further!" They are right! What is the sense in speaking about a word which cannot be defined? This is why modern Western thinkers say that god and other such words are meaningless.
For the past five decades in the West a great movement of philosophers and linguistic scholars has been giving birth to a new doctrine and developing a new sect. The foundation of their sect is linguistic analysis, the analysis of language, and they say, "As long as there is no definition pertaining to a word, we don't want to discuss it" - because how will you discuss it? Until the meaning of the word is determined, discussion of it is meaningless. I will say something and you will understand something else, a third person will understand a third meaning and a fourth yet another.
The experts in this type of linguistic analysis say that for millennia philosophy has been engaged in futile discussion. First a word must have a clear cut definition, and only then can we proceed further.
Then there is no possibility to grow into godliness, there is no possibility to grow into soul, love or meditation. All doors are closed. This is the difficulty. Whatever you know about this world is useless there; whatever methods you may have found useful in this world will be of no use there. This is what makes this learning so difficult.
And because of this difficulty it has been necessary to keep it secret for thousands of years; there is no other reason for the secrecy. If you are not going to be able to understand, what point is there in discussing it? You will have to be prepared and made ready first so that you can understand. Only when you are ready, only when you are worthy to receive, will you be able to understand - only when you are standing at a place where the message that is beyond words can reach you. This learning is difficult.
And the second point, that man is stupid, is also true. That complicates the issue even further. The learning is difficult, and man is stupid. What do I mean by stupidity? To be stupid does not mean to be lacking in information, because even a scholar can be stupid just as an uneducated man can be far from stupid.
Stupidity is a covered state of mind - covered with ego. Stupidity has nothing to do with how little information one has. If to be less informed is to be stupid, then Kabir is stupid - and Buddha would have difficulty passing his matriculation. If Buddha could be brought back from his mahanirvana to sit his matriculation exams, he would surely fail. So this means that your children who are getting through matriculation are less stupid than Buddha!
Where will Jesus stand? Would he pass? And how will Mohammed get on? He could not even write! When the first verses of the Koran descended upon him, Mohammed's words were, "What are you doing? I don't even know how to write! How can I write down what you are telling me?"
Then Mohammed heard the divine word saying, "Do not worry. If the experience comes to you, then writing will come to you as well. To those who are dumb, speech will come. The experience will flow.
Don't be afraid!"
But Mohammed was terrified. "What is this work that is being done through me? I cannot write. I cannot even sign my name!" The word of the divine told him that his signature was unnecessary:
"The Koran will not descend on one who is still interested in his own signature. Your signature is not required. Just silence your mind, and don't be afraid!"
Mohammed returned home and asked his wife to fetch him a blanket because he was feeling very feverish. His wife covered him with many blankets, and he lay there, his body trembling. His wife asked him, "How has this come on so suddenly? You were fine when you left here an hour ago.
How is it that you are now in such a high fever?"
Mohammed said, "This fever is of a strange kind, as though my whole life is at stake. Some great work is being done through me for which I find myself utterly incapable. I will not be able to do it. It is totally beyond my capacities, but I can't prevent it. Somebody is flowing through me. This heat is not mine; this fever is not an ordinary fever, it is something else which I cannot even recognize, because this is the first time I have ever felt anything like it. How can I define it? It has never happened before, how can I understand it? This is a divine fever. Just let me rest!"
For three days Mohammed was in a continuous fever, and when after three days he got up, his face was transformed, as if gold had passed through a fire. An ordinary, uneducated man had suddenly become a knower! What had happened? What was this great happening? Without this Mohammed was just simple, ordinary. That is why the Koran has none of the literary excellence of the Upanishads. When a Hindu begins to read the Koran he cannot see what is in it. He does
not know that it was written by an uneducated man - that the divine instrument was unlearned and illiterate; he could not be expected to write refined literature. But just because of this, the Koran has a quality which is absent from the Upanishads. It is the same quality as when an uneducated villager speaks; there is no literary finesse to his words, but he has an impact - his language is born in life, not in books; it is not dead. It is not soft, but it is alive.
So among all the scriptures, the Koran has no equal in the whole world as far as living force is concerned. Its whole expression and style is rough, primitive, and it hits your head like a stone.
Its impact is profound, coming directly from life experience. There is no tenderness, no poetry, no metaphors, no great fantasies; just straightforward village style - but very clear. This is why there has never been any need for commentaries on the Koran. Commentary is out of the question; even the most uneducated can understand it.
The Gita needed thousands of commentaries, and still it is not understood; it is the language of sophisticated men. But the Koran can be understood directly. So commentaries on the Gita are many, and many people read them, but the Hindu religion could never spread the way Islam spread, like a wildfire. The Hindu religion could not touch the common mind; it is a pundit's religion, a religion for the learned. And the way a Mohammedan is ready to die for his religion, a Hindu is not. How can one die for something which has only entered the intellect and has not become your life? Islam has a much more profound impact because it enters into the heart itself.
And this descended onto Mohammed, whom we would call uneducated, uncivilized, illiterate. Jesus too is uneducated, the son of a carpenter, coming from a poor family. So in the Bible also there is no poetic glory, only simple statements, but they read like fire. Where will you find words like those of Jesus in the Bible?
When I say stupid I do not mean less informed. What I mean is that even if you know everything and do not know yourself, you are stupid. And if you do not know anything except yourself, you are a wise man. So here, knowledge has only one meaning: knowing the self. And as long as you know only your ego you will not be able to know yourself. 'I' is the only disturbance. This is why ego is stupidity - the ultimate stupidity! Egolessness is knowledge. Certainly, man is stupid, and this science is difficult.
And the third thing you say is also true - that you say you want to know, but in reality you don't want to know. Deep down you are not ready to know, you want to avoid knowing. What must be the reason for this complexity? To be engaged in knowing while you don't want to know - why this contradiction?
It is a delicate issue and worth understanding. And unless you understand it, unless you understand your own duality, you cannot become nondual. I have the experience of knowing thousands of people who come close to me, all of them saying that they want to know. But of all those thousands there is hardly a single person who could truly be said to have that wish to know. Then why do they say it? Who are they deceiving? And what is the point of the deception? They are wasting all their time, all their life that should have been given to the pursuit of knowing. If they do not want to know, why not drop the whole matter? Why this duality? There are reasons for it.
The first reason that you do not want to know is because the life you are leading contains not only
suffering, but also glimpses of happiness. You do not want to drop those glimpses of happiness, you only want to cast off the unhappiness. This creates a conflict. Understand it well.
Happiness and unhappiness are both there in your life. Happiness may be just a little, perhaps only a glimpse, a hope or even an illusion, but still it is there. And unhappiness is there as well. You want to get rid of the unhappiness, so you approach the one who knows because he offers you some possibility of relief from your unhappiness. But when you approach the man who knows he tells you to cast off the happiness as well as the unhappiness, because only then can knowing happen.
Really, this is where the difficulty lies. You don't want to cast off the happiness that is yours. You have only recently got married; the wife is beautiful, people have been congratulating you, expressing their delight that you are married and now you have the one you wanted. You want to preserve this happiness. The arrangement you are seeking is one in which the unhappiness of the world disappears but the happiness remains - and this is impossible. No one has ever been able to manage this, nor ever will, because the happiness and unhappiness of the world are two sides of the same coin. Either you retain the whole coin or you throw the whole coin away. You are trying the impossible and that is why you are divided within yourself. You want to leave one half and keep the other. But this life cannot be divided. Life is whole, to divide it is impossible.
When those who know talk of freedom and relief from unhappiness, of the way to bliss and ecstasy, you begin to think of your happiness. You think, "Yes, this is what our wish is, that our happiness should become ultimate." But the bliss of those who know and your happiness are two different things. The word bliss coming from a knower leads you into a false understanding. You think, "This is exactly what I want, the great happiness. Let us go and listen to the knower." And listening to him you find yourself in difficulty, because he tells you to leave the happiness as well as the unhappiness; leave them both, then the bliss will happen. And when he says so, logically it makes sense to you also.
Suppose your wife gives you happiness. Then from this same wife you will also get unhappiness.
Only one who can give you happiness can give you unhappiness. One who cannot give you happiness cannot give you suffering either. Your neighbor's wife cannot give you suffering, and if she can, then know well that you are also finding some happiness in her, even if it is just by seeing her. And from the one who brings you happiness will also come suffering. If you go to pick roses you will also find thorns pricking you, because they are part of the roses. Your wife's smile is a flower to you when she is happy with you today. But tomorrow, when she is displeased and unhappy - then what? Then her misery is going to be a thorn. You want your wife to be happy because that in turn makes you happy. But your wife cannot remain happy twenty-four hours of the day, day in, day out, because the ordinary flow of life swings between opposites.
Except for the supreme knower, no one can remain happy twenty-four hours a day. Just as there is day and night, so there is happiness and suffering, and similarly pleasure and dejection. If your wife is very happy, be prepared: misery is not far away! And if you are getting pleasure from her delight, then her misery is going to bring you suffering. You yourself cannot remain happy and peaceful all day long. The opposite will come. Just as the river flows between two banks, so do you flow between the dualities. A river cannot flow with only one bank, nor can you.
Buddhas flow without banks, they are like oceans. It is not that one bank has been dropped; both banks have been dropped. One who wants to drop only one of the banks will not be able to drop
either. So it is your greed that brings you to those who know, and intellectually it is true that you understand their point. You know they are right when they say that as long as happiness is there, unhappiness will also remain. As long as you find happiness in life you will find unhappiness in death.
If you are getting prestige and position, and deriving pleasure in it... what happens when the position is lost? And these positions are going to be taken away, otherwise how will others get them? If they were not snatched away, then how did you get them? You only got the position because it was taken away from someone else. So the taking away and the getting will continue. If your position brings you happiness, then when it is taken from you you will contract and suffer. Today glory, tomorrow shame! Today people are singing your praises, tomorrow they will be criticizing you. They too cannot sing your praises forever - they get tired. Criticism becomes necessary. And remember, one who has praised you a lot, he will have to put you down. He will grow tired of singing songs in your praise.
When he sang them he selected all that was good in you and turned a blind eye to the bad. But how long can he avoid it? If not today then tomorrow he will have to see it. The more songs of praise he sings the more it will be revealed that he was lying.
This is the most remarkable thing - take anything to its extreme and its opposite will immediately begin to come into view. It is as if you are saying about a man, "How beautiful, how extremely beautiful. No one was ever so beautiful!" Immediately that man's ugliness will begin to reveal itself to you, because you have gone to the extreme. Everybody is somewhere between beauty and ugliness; no one is entirely beauty and no one is entirely ugliness. If you go to the extreme and say, "No one was ever as beautiful as this," then that is the moment when you will begin to see all the ugliness. One who has been singing praises always gets ready to criticize. The one who has been criticizing, today or tomorrow he will sing songs of praise. One who befriends prepares for enmity, and the one who is your enemy either is your old friend or will become a friend before long.
So whatever has brought you happiness, today or tomorrow will bring you unhappiness. The point has been understood logically, intellectually - not through the heart, only intellectually. So when you are near the sages you understand this clearly, but all your understanding evaporates as soon as you walk away from them. The emotional drives in you, the stupidity in your life, the ignorance, all revolt: "What is this you are thinking? This way all your life will be a waste. If you throw away your happiness too, what is the point? Do something to save the happiness, just cut out the unhappiness!"
This is what the worldly man is doing - saving the happiness and getting rid of the unhappiness.
The sannyasin drops both. That is the difference between the sannyasin and the worldly man. The worldly man thinks, "There must be some way, somewhere, which saves the happiness and destroys the unhappiness." We call a sannyasin someone who has reached to the understanding that this is impossible, that this cannot be, that this is against the laws of nature and life.
Happiness and unhappiness both have to go; there is no way to keep one and lose the other. When this understanding crystallizes - not in the head but in the heart - when your every cell experiences the truth of this, in that very moment, for the first time, you will want to transform yourself - not before that.
Once you really want to transform yourself, no stupidity can distract you. The day you want to transform yourself it is very easy to cast off the ego. It is just like a man carrying a heavy load on
his head, feeling very burdened because the load is too heavy, but because he thinks that the load consists of gold bars it has to be carried. The moment someone lets him know that these are not gold bars, but only rocks, that is the moment when he will immediately drop the load.
The day you wish to transform yourself, the weight of your ego will feel like a weight of rocks, not of gold or precious diamonds, and in that very moment you will drop it. And when this stupidity drops then this science is not difficult. From that day on it becomes a very simple affair - because how can it be difficult to enter into your own nature? How can it be difficult to find that which you always are?
Enough for today.