[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.]
DIFFERENT RELIGIONS HAVE DIFFERENT MANTRAS, SUCH AS: OM NAMO SHIVAYA NAMO, ARIHANTA NAM, ALLAHU AKBAR, OM MANI PADME HUM. IN WHAT STATE OF BEING WERE SUCH GREAT MANTRAS BORN? HOW AND IN WHAT WAY ARE THEY RELATED TO OUR VARIOUS INNER CENTERS? HOW SHOULD A SEEKER SELECT A MAHAMANTRA MOST APPROPRIATE TO HIM?
A seeker's journey can proceed on two paths; one is of power, the other of peace. The journey into power is not the journey into truth, it is a journey into ego - whether the power is derived from money, prestige, or from chanting mantras. To have the desire for power means that you have no desire for truth. Any power you acquire, whether it is of body, of mind or if it is so-called spiritual power, will only strengthen you, and the stronger you are, the further away from truth you are. The very fact of your power is the assertion of your ego in the face of truth. Your power will turn out to be a barrier. Your very power will in reality become your weakness in the realm of truth. So the more powerful you become according to yourself, the more impotent you become at the doors of truth.
Hence the search for power is not the search of a true seeker. But the seeker moves in that direction because what we seek in this world we start seeking also in the divine. Our aim, in fact, is to get in that world what we are unable to get here in this. So there is a continuity between our world and our moksha, liberation. What we sought after and could not achieve in the marketplace, the same
we go in search of in the temple. The search is the same. What we sought in money and could not achieve, the same we seek in religion. The search as such remains the same, and the one who is searching has not changed at all. When you fail in one place, you simply try to succeed in another.
But why in the first place do you want to become powerful? This very desire of becoming is what makes you unhappy. When you disappear, bliss will happen. In your absence nectar is going to pour, but not a drop will be there as long as you are.
Mantras bestow power. Through chanting a mantra one gathers power; there is no doubt about this.
Let us understand what a mantra does. A mantra concentrates the mind, bringing all the diffused rays of the mind together. Whatever mantra you use - Allahu Akbar, or Om Namo Shivaya, or Om Mani Padme Hum, or just Ram, Ram, Ram - it makes no difference. You can make up your own mantra if you want to, the words in a mantra have no significance at all. Words and meanings are not what mantras are about; the whole purpose of the mantra is to concentrate your mind. So any ordinary phrase, any meaningless word, can serve as a mantra.
When you chant a mantra, all the energy used in your thoughts is released to flow into the mantra.
Only the mantra remains in your mind; all other avenues of thought are closed, all other outlets for your mental energy are shut off; there is nowhere else for it to flow. Normally when you are thinking, your energy flows in countless different currents; one thought travels north, another south, another east, another west. When you think you travel in many different directions. You are not one, you are not a unity; you are divided. But when you chant a mantra, all the energy begins to flow in one direction.
If we use a lens to converge the rays of the sun, fire can be created. The fire is hidden in the sunrays, but when they are separate, at the most some heat can be created, not fire. It is when they are concentrated together that the fire appears. In just the same way there is a great fire hidden in your mind, but as long as the rays of the mind are separate, only a little heat is there. Mantra is a method to concentrate the rays of your mind together. The moment this happens great heat, a tremendous amount of energy is created.
If you consistently practice a mantra, many phenomena relating to energy and power will begin to happen in your life, and they will provide great nourishment to your ego. Whatever you predict will come true, whatever you describe will happen exactly as you have said; if you curse it will come to pass; if you grant a wish it will come true, because so much energy and power is concentrated in you that your statements begin to materialize. The only reason for their materialization is that when a person can invest great power in the things he says, his words enter directly into the unconscious of the listener - the arrow flies straight to the other's heart. And when anything reaches to the heart it starts taking effect.
Suppose you say to someone, "Tomorrow morning you will fall sick," and suppose, in saying this, it is the only thing in you - a mantra; there is nothing else, no other line of thought, no distraction. If this sentence, "Tomorrow morning you will fall sick," becomes your mantra, your mind totally full with it, then the moment you say this to someone your words will strike to the core of his heart. Now he will be unable to sleep the whole night; he has seen your eyes, heard the tone of your voice, caught your gesture, and his mind is so impressed that there is no way for him to avoid what you have said to him. His mind will keep coming back to this mantra. In his dreams that night he will see you and
hear your words, and although his mind will try to argue that nothing is going to happen - "Why fear this man? Nothing is going to happen!" - yet some force will drive him. He is repeating the mantra - your mantra - even in his fighting it. He is bound to fall sick by the morning! Half this sickness is your creation, and half his own.
You can do similar things in many different areas of life. Once your words begin to come true, your confidence will grow and you will feel ever more powerful. The more your words come true, the more you will feel yourself to be full of some divine power, some siddhi - the power to do miracles.
This confidence will strengthen your mantra, and the mantra will increase your confidence; slowly you will come to experience many powers. Yoga has named these experiences of power as siddhis.
These siddhis are the greatest obstacle on the way to realization. Patanjali has mentioned them in the Yoga Sutras, so that one can keep clear of them. Never move in that direction; and if you have, then come back - and the sooner the better, because all the time spent in their company is time wasted, and every time you travel further in that direction, the coming back becomes more and more difficult.
My own point is that the world means the search for power, the search for siddhis; "God" means the search for peace, the search for emptiness - and in this search you slowly disappear and dissolve.
But in pursuit of siddhis you will still be there in the end, and there will be no trace of godliness. In pursuit of peace, in the end, you will not remain; only godliness will remain. It is out of necessity that one of the two has to disappear, the two cannot exist simultaneously. You and God cannot coexist, it is impossible. When you are, God is not. When God is, you are not.
Yes, the power-trip into siddhis will strengthen you, and this is why those who practice the use of mantras seem to be so full of ego. The ego of the rich man does not even compare, nor that of the politician who prides himself on his position. And there is a good reason for this. Money can be snatched away, money can be stolen; what is the value of money? And one cannot rely too much on a political post. It is here today, tomorrow it may not be. But the power of a mantra is more reliable.
No thief can steal it, no public opinion can change its status. The power of the mantra depends solely on your own mind, not on anyone else. So you can feel more powerful, more self-reliant, standing on your own two feet.
A seeker after siddhis has already gone astray, though there is going to be much in it to interest him - the ego is always ready to be fascinated by such matters. An ant was coming towards you, and through willpower you altered its course; the ego is highly impressed by such feats, even though the act in itself is of no importance at all.
There is a woman in Russia who has been the subject of many scientific experiments. With her mental powers she can move anything. She stands six feet from a table, concentrates her mind for fifteen minutes, and she can move the table either towards or away from herself. Every detail has been scientifically investigated, and it is now clear that there is no trick involved. What does the woman gain out of it? During the fifteen minutes of the experiment she loses two pounds in weight, and for a fortnight she is so weak that she has to rest in bed. The body loses two pounds in just a few minutes. When you send out your energy through mental concentration, your body loses that energy.
But still, this woman is deriving great pleasure from her accomplishment. Her whole life is disturbed by it, her home is a mess, her family is very upset. She is unable to care for her children, unable to
look after her husband, but the show goes on because despite all this her ego is deriving immense satisfaction. Her photograph is published in the newspapers, scientists are coming to study her, and a miracle is taking place. But what is the point of this miracle? What is to be gained from all this?
The table could be moved by hand, using the energy of just a few blood cells, instead of using the mind at the cost of two pounds in body weight and a fortnight of sickness and dis-ease!
Someone once approached Ramakrishna and said, "You are supposed to be a great master, but there are no signs of your great powers, your siddhis. My master can walk on water, he can walk across the river!"
"How much time did your master spend in learning this art?" asked Ramakrishna.
"It took him at least twenty years," was the reply. Ramakrishna said, "This is a sheer waste of time and life. I can cross the river - it costs me two paisa. Twenty years to learn to do something that can be done in a few minutes for as little as two paisa! And if there is no boat you can swim."
But one can easily waste twenty years in learning to walk on the water. You also will feel tempted to do so. But of course, being able to cross the river is not the real motive at all. The real point is that the ego is going to rise high if you can walk on the water. Sitting in a boat does nothing for the ego, and swimming does little either - after all just two paisa have been spent and only the river has been crossed. But to walk on water! - this is great for the ego! This man has no interest in crossing the river, his interest is strengthening his ego.
Mantras are a source of power, and it is true that all the religions have devised mantras, because all religions fall from the search for peace to search for power. Mahavira sought for peace, but what have the Jainas who follow him to do with peace? Buddha sought to dissolve himself in the emptiness, but the Buddhists are interested in their safety and security, not in dissolving themselves.
Those individuals around whom the religions are born had indeed attained to emptiness, but those who gather around them do not do so to become empty; they are interested in something else, they are interested in the opposite. Hence, those through whom religions are born and those into whose hands they fall are always enemies - their desires are totally different. This is why all religions deteriorate.
The search for power brings religion into the confines of the world. And it makes no difference whether it is Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Mohammedanism. As long as your interest is in the miracles, understand well that the quest for religion has not arisen in you yet. You are in awe when some sadhu, some baba, some holy man, creates ashes in the palm of his hand. What are you going to do with the ashes? There are plenty of ashes lying on the roads, or you can make ashes at home for little cost by burning coal. But if someone creates ashes in his palms, and this so impresses and delights you that you are moved to become his follower, then you are mad!
It is worth understanding the nature of this fascination. That nothing is going to change from this creation of ashes is something that you also know. But in the ashes you are looking for something else; your hope is that the one who can create ashes can also create diamonds. Through making ashes he has set fire to your desire. Your hope is that if he can create ashes he can also destroy your ills. If he can create ashes, then he can give you victory in the elections. This is why every politician in Delhi has his guru. Everyone, president and prime minister included, has to depend on some baba, some mahatma, who creates ashes and performs miracles.
Everyone who harbors desires is impressed by miracles. Look at the millionaires: every millionaire is touching the feet of this or that guru. He may be a millionaire, but the deeper truth is that he wants to be a billionaire! You bow down to the miracles because you have some desire, there is something you are hoping to gain for yourself. And of course, the miracle-maker feeds this hope in you and helps you cling to the belief that your dream can come true. People are unhappy, they face many difficulties - sickness, unemployment, work going badly, some matter in the law court, and so on. Seeing the ashes being created out of nowhere, the hope is aroused: "If it pleases this baba, my misery can be made to disappear, and happiness can shower on me just as the ashes are showering!"
But happiness has never been able to shower just through someone else's dispensation. Bliss has never been born through someone other than you yourself. Centuries of history provide the evidence that no one other than you can give you bliss. But the mind has its own illusions; the mind seeks cheaper, easier ways.
It is a miracle that you have come here to listen to me. This is what I call a miracle... because no ashes are going to be created here, no miracle-making devices are going to be distributed. I am not going to cure you of your illnesses, nor will you win any elections through being here; in fact, none of your ambitions will be fulfilled. And yet you have come - this is what I call a miracle! There is no logic in your coming to me, because nothing of all that you want is going to be given to you. On the contrary, through being here whatever you have may be taken away, until in the end you yourself dissolve. And yet you have come, and I have to agree that you must have some genuine spiritual quest: you have obviously not come in search of ashes, nor are you so insane as to try to walk on water!
The truth is that you are indeed bored with your world, and this boredom is real. Your anguish has run to the limits of this world, to where you want to enter a different world of spirituality. You want to break the continuity which has defined your journey up to now. You want to jump off it, you are not interested in moving in the same rut.
So I don't give you any mantra - nor do I have any to give you, because a mantra is given when the search is for siddhis, for power and prosperity. I am not going to strengthen your mind; I am going to dissolve it. I will cut into it, and then wait for the layers to peel off one by one. Just as the layers of an onion are peeled off, so the layers of your mind will gradually drop away until finally the whole onion has disappeared. Nothing of the mind will remain, and you will have attained the emptiness. Buddha compared the mind to an onion, whose layers are peeled off one after another until the whole onion has disappeared. Only when mind has vanished completely do you appear in your true nature.
How to dissolve you, this is the great mantra. Concentration will make you more solid, meditation will dissolve you. Concentration focuses and solidifies all your energies, meditation makes your energies surrender to God. So God is not to be turned into a point of concentration; one has to surrender to him. The mind is not to be concentrated, it has to be dissolved into God. The two are very different matters. One has to dissolve, disappear, till the moment comes when one is not conscious of oneself. Such a moment will come that even if you search, you will not be able to find yourself. You will go within, and you will find that the house is empty. You will look in a mirror, and you will see in your eyes that there is no one within. There, in that dissolving, is nirvana.
So the reality is that religions have not given any mantra, it is the priests who have done so. The
mantras are not given by the enlightened ones but by the priests. And the priests have nothing to do with religion. It is the priests who destroy religion, who make religion a part of the business world.
The priest is the servant to your desires; he says yes to whatever you want. He reassures you and keeps your hope alive.
But real religion only begins when all your hopes come to an end; it begins only in utter hopelessness. If even a single ray of hope remains, it will keep you wandering in the world. If there is just the smallest possibility that tomorrow something may happen, you will go on waiting for tomorrow.
Let your hopelessness become so crystallized that all your dependence on tomorrow evaporates.
Let your anguish run so deep that not a trace of hope is left alive. Where there is no hope, no tomorrow, there is no place for desires to arise, because desires arise on the foundation stone of hope.
Desire lives in tomorrow, not in today, because in today there is no room for it. In tomorrow, in the time to come, in the life to come - this is where desire lives. It is the expanse of time that gives desire the room in which to live. This is why you always live in the tomorrow, never in the today. But living in this way, whether you chant mantras or go to the mosque or temple to pray, it is all false, because all your prayers are nothing but the offspring of your desires.
The prayer which is born in desire is a false prayer; your prayer is just to make some demand. The very word prarthana, prayer, is derived from a root meaning demand, and your visits to the temple are only to make your worldly demands. As long as you are demanding something from God, it is certain that you are not demanding God himself; that something is more to you than God himself. It is actually a miracle that you can ask God for petty things, because what this means is that these petty things are more important to you than God.
When Vivekananda came to Ramakrishna, his family was in a very impoverished state. His father, who was an impulsive worldly man, had died leaving many debts to be paid off, so that there was not even enough food in the house. If it somehow became possible to prepare a meal, there was never enough for the two - Vivekananda and his mother. So Vivekananda would say to his mother that he was invited out by some friend to eat with him; otherwise his mother would make him eat first and then go hungry herself. To convince her, he would leave the house, wander around the streets for a while, and then return, looking well pleased and belching! Of course he had not been invited to eat anywhere - this performance was just to please his mother. He would tell her how good the meal was, how content he was after the meal.
When Ramakrishna came to know of this, he said to Vivekananda, "Are you such a fool? You come here every day, and it would be the easiest thing in the world for you to pray to Kali in the temple for what you need. Why make life so difficult for yourself?" Vivekananda could not refuse his master, and said, "If you tell me to pray for food, I will do so."
When Vivekananda went into the temple, Ramakrishna sat outside and waited. When, after a long time, Vivekananda reappeared from the temple with tears of joy and ecstasy flowing, Ramakrishna asked him, "Have you told the Great Mother of your need?"
Vivekananda said, "I forgot!"
"Is this a matter to be so easily forgotten?" asked Ramakrishna. "You are hungry, your mother is hungry, your home is threatened by the debts that have to be paid off - and all you need do is tell Kali. Just a small hint is all that is necessary, and everything will be set in order. Go back!"
So Vivekananda disappeared into the temple again, and as before he was gone a long time. When he came out, his eyes were brimming with the tears of bliss. Ramakrishna said, "There you are, you see. You look so happy, it is obvious that you asked this time."
"No," said Vivekananda, "I forgot again!"
Three times this happened, and finally Vivekananda said, "It's no good! Every time I go to her I forget everything but her. She is the only thing I see. I even forget myself, so how to remember my problems? It is impossible!"
Ramakrishna was happy. "I set you this as a test," he said, "and that is why I kept sending you back into the temple. Because had you been able to ask, it would have meant that prayer was not possible, that true prayer had not happened in you yet."
A mind that can beg is the mind of a beggar. How can such a person enter into prayer? For him there are still bigger things to ask for than God.
A person who desires God himself cannot ask for anything else when he is facing him. He cannot even ask for God! Try to understand this, because the mind is very cunning and knows how to adopt the alternative viewpoint: "Okay, then I will not ask for anything, only for God himself." But in that too you are present, and again God is made smaller than you, because it is you who is going to get God. He is going to become your wealth. You are going to grasp him in your hands, and he will become just an extension of your possessions. You will give God a corner in your kingdom, while you remain the master.
Remember it: no one can ask for anything in God's presence. If you are asking for the world, it only shows that you are not standing in his presence. You are still making the trivial more significant than the vast, you are still taking the meaningless as meaningful, and your prayer is false. And neither can you ask for God, because standing in his presence the very asking disappears, asking becomes meaningless; the one who asks no longer exists.
So prayer is not an act. You cannot pray, because the one who prays is no longer there. Prayer is a state of ecstasy, a state of dissolution in which the doer disappears; you are no more there the way you always were. That is prayer.
I will not give you any mantras, and as long as I don't, no religion will be able to grow up around me. If I give you mantras then a religion can arise. If a mantra comes the temple follows. When the temple comes the priests follow - and the whole net is spread, and the seed of it all is the mantra. If I give you a mantra it only means I am accepting your search for power, I am saying that your search is worthwhile. So I will not give you any mantra - neither Namokar nor Omkar nor Mani Padme Hum - because with your ego strengthened by mantras you will be dangerous.
You have come to me. So drop your mantras if you have any; don't fill yourself up with mantras. A mantra is a mind-game. Think about it: how will you recite a mantra if you are without a mind? If the
mind is not, who will chant Namokar? Namokar is a thought process too. Somebody is humming a love song from some film he has seen because his mind is obsessed with sex and romance. It is this same energy and mind with which he can chant mantras if his mind gets entangled with religion.
So whether it is a mantra or a film song, both are just thought-forms. And for me there is no question about which is pure and which is impure; all thoughts are impure - thinking is impurity.
There is no such thing as a pure thought, cannot be, just as there cannot be a healthy sickness. If sickness is the name of the state one is in, how can there be a healthy sickness? How can there be clean dirtiness, or do you think there can be? Thinking as such is impurity. The very existence of a thought wave makes consciousness impure, whether the thought is of sex or prayer, meditation or marketplace, it makes no basic difference. The presence of thought in the consciousness is impurity.
There cannot be a holy thought, because holiness means thoughtlessness, the absence of thought.
Think of it this way: suppose you add water to milk; now water is pure, and milk also is pure, so should not the mixture of these two purities give us something doubly pure? But the milk cannot be called pure when we add water to it. It becomes impure, because the nature of water is different from the nature of milk. However pure the water, adding it to milk will not make the milk any purer; the purity of the water is irrelevant. And of course, it is not only the milk that becomes impure when the water is added; the water too becomes impure. You just don't notice this because you are paying attention only to the milk. The fact is that the water has also lost its purity. Two pure substances have been mixed with each other, and as a result both have become impure.
Thought, like consciousness, has its own nature, and the natures of the two are different from each other. So the meeting of the two will bring impurity into both. Thought in itself is pure, consciousness in itself is pure. For anything to be in itself is purity. To be in one's own nature is purity; to be otherwise is impurity. So no pure thought can purify consciousness, just as no pure water can purify milk. When the space within is thoughtless, when it contains no clouds - not even the cloud of a mantra - then, in that formlessness with which you are one, God is.
YOU SEEM TO BE SAYING THAT THE SPIRITUAL SEARCH IS A MATTER OF BEING EITHER ON THIS SHORE OR ON THE OTHER - THAT WE ARE EITHER IN THE RELIGIOUS OR IN THE IRRELIGIOUS, IN LIBERATION OR IN BONDAGE, IN RAMA OR IN RAVANA. PERHAPS THERE IS NO INTERMEDIATE STATE. IF IT IS SO, THEN WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEEKING AND SURRENDER?
Certainly there is no intermediate state - there cannot be. Understand this well, because it is a bit subtle. The mind falls into a state of hopelessness if it accepts that there is no intermediate state. It is actually the mind that creates the intermediate state in order to give itself hope: "I may not be a Rama but at least I am not a Ravana either. I have gone already half the journey, I have come a long way. I may not yet have attained salvation, but at least I have left the material world. The supreme knowledge may not have happened, but I have already gathered a great deal of knowledge. Really I have only a small distance left to travel!"
But can knowledge be divided? Can it ever be that half knowledge has happened to you? Is half enlightenment possible? And if someone has become half enlightened, why would he carry the burden of half-unenlightenment with him? If half of someone's inner world is illuminated, is this half illumination not capable even of dispelling the darkness of the remaining half? How can one save half of a desire?
To inform you that progress is being made is one of the great tricks of the mind. In this way it keeps its hope alive. So the mind says, "We are climbing steadily, step by step; there are only a few steps left now, and there is no hurry, and nothing to fear. There is no cause for concern; so many steps have been climbed, and just these few left ahead will also be climbed."
Mind creates the steps, where in fact there are no steps. Mind invents degrees of attainment, where in fact no such thing is possible. Either a man has found wisdom and then ignorance cannot survive even to the smallest degree - the idea of half is simply impossible: how can ignorance remain in the presence of wisdom? - or a man is in ignorance. Then it is impossible for him to say, "A little wisdom has happened to me." That "little wisdom" would burn away all his ignorance.
Your entire house may be in darkness, but if you light a small lamp all that darkness will come to an end. It will not be necessary to put the whole house on fire in order to light it. Just a small lamp and there is light, and the darkness is gone. The presence of light is the end of darkness. And if it happens that some darkness remains - that your lamp shines light only into a part of your darkness - then be aware that your lamp is only imaginary, that you are convincing yourself that there is a lamp when in fact there is none. You are only dreaming, or it may be that you are looking at the painting of a lamp. An artist can create such a lifelike painting of a lamp that when you look at it you will think it is a lamp, with the flame flickering and the aura around the flame. But you will never be able to dispel darkness with this lamp, it is false. Our knowledge is like this painting of a lamp, we have collected it all from the scriptures, it is only a painting. We have preserved it in a part of our minds while the darkness remains where it is. The knowledge that does not dissolve ignorance is borrowed knowledge, it is false, fictitious.
One can be either Rama or Ravana, but there is no way to be in between. Our trouble is that we know perfectly well that we are not Rama, but it is a big hurt to the ego and the mind does not want to agree to it. It is hard enough for the mind to say, "I am not Rama," and we cannot say, "I am Rama," because everybody knows we are not and they will just laugh at us. So, although we would love to equate ourselves with Rama, we cannot - the difficulties are real in this case. But to liken ourselves to Ravana is equally impossible. So we choose the middle path and declare, "I am neither Rama nor Ravana, I am in between at present. Buddhahood and the supreme understanding have not happened to me yet, but neither am I an ignorant and foolish man."
This idea of being in the middle is very dangerous, because it does not allow you to discover where you really are. It is far better to know that you are a Ravana - and what is wrong in Ravana that you are afraid of? If you understand the nature of Ravana, you will see that there is no such thing as being in the middle; at the most your choice is to be a lesser or a greater Ravana! Yes, you may be just a mini-Ravana - you may be a drop rather than the whole ocean - but what difference does this really make to your nature, to your consciousness? The ocean is salty, and a drop of the ocean is salty too.
Buddha said, "If you taste a single drop of the ocean you have tasted the whole ocean." Scientists
say that if you analyze a drop of sea water you have analyzed the whole ocean. It is all contained within that single drop. The ocean is just a magnification of that drop; the drop is a microcosm of the ocean. So maybe you are a drop, rather than being the whole ocean, but the basic characteristic is the same in either case.
What makes it so difficult to admit to the Ravana in yourself? Just have a look and see what is in Ravana that is not in you. Ravana is mad after wealth, Ravana is obsessed with expanding his empire, Ravana lusts after women. If he is attracted to a woman it is totally irrelevant that she has her own life and lives with her own man. If Ravana is attracted, she must dwell in his palace. And Ravana is a great scholar; he knows the scriptures inside out.
Now if we really look into ourselves, which of these characteristics of Ravana is not to be found?
Women are a constant attraction - except for our own woman, to whom we are less and less attracted. We become slowly habituated to our own wife. For how long is a man really attracted to his own wife? The mind is bored with what it already has, so that the attraction to one's own wife dies altogether. No attraction remains in that which is available to us; our attraction is to that which is unavailable, and the more unavailable the more intense is our attraction.
It was because she was so utterly unavailable that Ravana was so fascinated by Rama's wife, Sita.
Not that to steal her away - which he did - was difficult but to win her, to seduce her, this was impossibly difficult.This was the challenge. Her love for Rama was so total that Ravana could find not a single flaw through which to steal into her heart. So this became the challenge.
Is a man ever really attracted to a prostitute? His attraction is to the sati, the devoted woman. How can he be really attracted to the prostitute? He has only to show his wallet and she is available.
Since she can be bought, what interest is there in her? But to buy Sita was impossible; hence Ravana's interest. There was no way to buy her, and no way to force an entry into her heart. And this is the reason why the Eastern woman is such an attraction - far more so than the Western woman. Even Westerners find an attraction in the Eastern woman that is lacking in the Western woman. The latter may be more beautiful and her body may be better proportioned, but still she lacks the attractiveness of the ordinary Eastern woman - because to enter into the heart of the Eastern woman is impossible. The challenge is great!
Ravana had no shortage of beautiful women, and it is possible he may well have had women more beautiful than Sita, but her devotion to Rama was so unique that it became a great challenge for Ravana to win her. You too experience the same sense of challenge all the time. Your interest is in the woman who is somebody else's. This is a characteristic of Ravana's consciousness - to be interested in what the other has, rather than in what you have yourself.
Rama has no interest at all in other women; it is as if in Sita is contained for him the whole world.
This is the nature of Rama's consciousness - what you yourself have is all; what you have is the whole. You are in deep contentment, with no demand for what you do not have. In fact, you do not even see more than that which you have. In what you have, everything is contained, as though all the women in the world were contained in Sita's womanliness. For Rama, to be with Sita is to be with all women.
Ravana's consciousness, on the other hand, will not be satisfied until he has conquered all the women in the world, and there is no guarantee that he will be satisfied even then. Ravana has no
reverence for the individual; the only things that he values are his own sensations - selfishness is his creed.
Look how our sensitivity becomes blunted towards those with whom we live. Because we see them every day, we find nothing worth seeing in them; knowing them day in, day out, there remains nothing worth searching for in them; acquainted with the whole of their personality, everything comes to feel stale. This is the way of all the senses. Eat a certain food, and today it tastes delicious. Eat it again tomorrow and it is a little less appetizing. By the third day we are bored with it, and if we are presented with it for the fourth day we will throw the dish out! Yes, it is just the same with our sense of taste: the food is wonderful the first day, and by the fourth day we are throwing it out.
This is the way of the sense organs. They get bored with the old, and each day is a search for the new. What they want is sensation, and sensation is provided by the new. So all societies that are based in the sensual will function according to the formula: search for the new. Societies that are spiritually based will have the characteristic of contentment with the old. Consciousness seeks the eternal, senses seek the novel.
Rama has found the eternal in Sita - he has sought that which never grows old, which need never be renewed, and which never knows boredom. Love, unlike sex, can never be boring, because love belongs to the heart, while sex belongs to the sense organs. So if sex is your center, then you need a new man or a new woman every day. Your taste is for novelty, because the body seeks fresh sensations every moment; it wants excitement and new challenges, whereas consciousness lives in the eternal. This is why love can be eternal.
Love has happened between Rama and Sita, but between Ravana and his wives the link is only sexual. And Ravana's desire for Sita indicates the lack of interest he now has in his own wives. This is the situation in which we are living, this is the state of our own consciousness. What we have is hell, what the other has is heaven! We say, "I shall not be able to rest until I get it," but the moment we possess it, it becomes worthless. Once it is mine, I lose interest in it; now I have to look for something else again. It is this perpetual quest after something else - after the other - that keeps us unhappy. This path offers no possibility of contentment.
Ravana is also obsessed with wealth. His city, Lanka, is called the golden city. Yet golden though it is, Ravana lusts after other kingdoms and other people's riches. Rama's Ayodhya is not made of gold as Lanka is, but still Rama has no interest in the cities and kingdoms of others. You, even if you are given a golden kingdom, will still be preoccupied with what others have. Even if you have palaces you will still be attracted by the cottages that belong to other people.
An individual with the consciousness of Rama, though he lives in a simple cottage, will be quite unattracted by palaces, because wherever Rama stays becomes for him a palace. But no matter where Ravana stays there will be no palace, only unhappiness, because Ravana only sees the palace that belongs to the other, the palace where he is not, the palace that has to be won.
We talk of Ravana's ten heads. If we ask psychologists about this, they will say that everybody has ten heads, because everybody has to keep many faces ready for use. Between morning and night we change our faces many times. Maybe you are not aware of this, maybe you have never really looked at what you are doing. In the presence of your subordinate you put on one face, and in the
presence of your boss another. If you pay full attention, you will find that you change your face in an instant. You are wearing one face for the man who comes to you to ask about his work, and look at your face a moment later when you go to see the boss about your own work! Have a look at your expression in a mirror when you are on your way to ask someone for a loan, and see your face when someone comes to you asking for a loan! You will discover that the faces do not belong to the same person, they belong to two different people.
But don't stop at the number ten either - don't take ten to be just ten. Ravana's ten heads are just an indication, a symbol. Ten is the last number in counting before repetition begins, hence the mention of ten. The actual number of faces you have runs into thousands, but all over the world counting ends at ten. Everything above ten is repetition; thus eleven means one over ten, and twelve means two over ten. Ten is the symbolic end because man began to work with numbers by counting on his ten fingers; above ten, repetition begins. So those ten faces of Ravana are to indicate the upper limits of counting - there is really no end to the number of faces you have, and all day long you are changing them.
Rama has only one face, whether you meet him in happiness or in unhappiness, whether he is sitting in his palace or in the middle of the jungle; he does not wear different faces. And whoever comes to have but one face becomes Rama. To have but one face means to have become authentic, to show your true inner face, not to mask your truth on the outside, not to be influenced by circumstances, but to let your face reveal your inner being. Rama's face remains the same whether you blame or praise him; no mere circumstance can manipulate his features now. His face has become stable, and the name of this stability is Rama.
It was very difficult to kill Ravana when the war came, because cutting off his head made no difference. If one head fell, another grew in its place, and the real head - the real face - was nowhere to be found. There is no sense in cutting off false faces, because new ones will always arise to replace them - and anyway, they are not in fact faces at all. This is why Ravana's heads go on falling and new ones go on taking their place. If a false face is cut off, what difference can that make? No flesh and blood is to be found; it was only a thought, an image, in the first place, and if it is taken away, another immediately arises.
Ravana could not be killed unless his real face was known; to find his true face was the key. And you too, facing God as Ravana faced Rama, will be unable to dissolve because you will keep your true face hidden - you will not let your real head be cut off. Many times you visit the temple and return home again still wearing your false face. Even if all these false faces are cut away, nothing will happen. Just watch how a man goes into the temple and bows down at the feet of God.... And if you observe carefully you will see how his pride is unmoved, his real face is untouched, protected by his false face. What is bowed down is his false face; the real face is still standing, looking all around asking everybody to look at him and acknowledge what a devotee he is - unmatched in all the world.
I have heard of an emperor who used to pray very early in the morning. Because he was an emperor, and because it was a special time, it was his right to pray in the temple before anyone else. Five o'clock in the morning he was there in the temple, because if he came any later others would come to pray, and he would miss out on his privilege. So there he was, praying, "O Holy Father! I am a poor man and a great sinner, I am a humble nobody. Please grace me with your favor!"
Just at this moment he felt the presence of someone else in the temple. In the darkness he could see almost nothing, but listening carefully he was able to hear a murmuring coming from the steps nearby. There he found a man, bowing down, praying, "O Holy Father! I am a poor man, I am a nobody...."
"Who is this," roared the emperor, "declaring in my very presence that he is a nobody? Who is this who dares to call himself a nobody when I have declared just this? Who is this who calls himself - as I have called myself - a poor man? I shall make him eat his words!"
For this man to call himself egoless when the emperor is claiming it for himself is too much for the emperor's ego: To make such a statement is to prick at his ego. "How dare you claim my humility, my nothingness, my poverty!" says the emperor. "I am the greatest of the poor, the greatest among nobodies, and my supremacy must remain unchallenged!"
And so it is when you enter the temple. Your head bows down, but your ego remains erect. This bowing head is false, it has no value.
If you understand Ravana's mind, you will find that he is quite firmly established within you; and it is this same Ravana who tries to convince you, "True you are not Rama, but neither are you Ravana!"
Pay no attention to his words. You have listened enough to him already, and it is that very listening that has brought you to the state you are in now. So if it is clear to you that you are not Rama, then be clear also that you are Ravana.
To accept this in yourself is the first step towards becoming Rama. To accept yourself as full of faults is the first, and the revolutionary step, towards virtue. The deep recognition, "I am in darkness,"
becomes the search for light. The real thirst for knowing is born in the awareness of your own ignorance.
And stop thinking in terms of in-betweens and half-ways: either you are on this side or you are on the other. And because there is no intermediate space between the two sides, when you leave this side you reach the other. There is no space in which to exist between ignorance and knowing.
The disappearance of ignorance and the emergence of knowing are simultaneous events in just the same way that water becomes steam at a hundred degrees. There is no gap; we can never find a space in which the water has ceased to be water but has not yet become steam. No, either there is water or there is steam, but no in-between state exists. There is nothing like a river between the two shores in which you can float your boat. There is no river at all, just two shores. And as long as you are on this shore, you have not reached the other shore.
This has to be deeply understood. Don't fall into the ditch of the mind. Either light or darkness, either life or death - no half-dead state! If one is alive, one is alive. We talk of being half dead, but how can anyone be half dead? It is a linguistic error. How can anyone be half alive? Even if a man is lying completely unconscious in a coma, he is still alive, totally alive, one hundred percent alive.
We cannot call him half dead, any more than we can say that someone who is dead is half alive. If a man is dead, he is completely dead; if he is alive, he is completely alive. There is no gap, no empty space between life and death.
See yourself as you really are, and you will find that Ravana is hidden within you. Allow yourself to experience this truth - that you are a Ravana. That was exactly Ravana's error, that he could not
admit to being Ravana; he lived under the impression that he was a sage and a great scholar who could master Rama in his understanding of the scriptures. He had learned the scriptures by heart, and, just like all the ignorant who seek for power, had become the master of great siddhis. The ignorant man will do anything for the sake of collecting siddhis, and Ravana was no exception. The story goes that Ravana cut his head off at the feet of Lord Shiva. The ignorant man is prepared even to go this far, he is ready to sacrifice anything to the greater glory of his ego. He is even prepared to die in order to perpetuate his ego.
Ravana's quest was for siddhis, for great powers, and mantras were his discipline. He was a great ascetic. Of Rama's disciplines and siddhis we know nothing, but of Ravana we are told that he performed great penances and was rewarded with great siddhis. In the end he so pleased the Lord Shiva that he became the master of supreme powers. And he possessed knowledgeability too. He possessed everything, so that it was natural for him to regard himself as Rama.
If compared in terms of powers, empires, gold or knowledge, Rama is just nobody. The picture of Rama going into the jungle is a portrait of nothingness. All that he has ever had is taken from him.
Now he has nothing. He is in the jungle like a helpless nobody - Ravana has everything, and so sees himself as Rama. If the only concern is power, this logic will prevail.
As long as you have not truly acknowledged the Ravana in you, not a single step has been taken in transforming your life. And the moment you begin to see that you are Ravana, the walls of Ravana's palace come crashing down, because nobody can remain a Ravana once he has become aware of it. Knowing that I am wicked, my wickedness cannot endure, because this knowing is a fire in which the wickedness is burned up and reduced to ashes. Wickedness can only survive if I convince myself that I am not wicked; if it may not be possible to say that I am virtuous, at least I may declare myself less evil than others and that I have come a long way on the path towards virtue.
A man died, and in his town it was the custom to say something in praise of the deceased before burying him. But this man had lived such a wicked life that not a single person could be found to honor him in his death. It was difficult to conceive of anyone as troublesome and degenerate as this man had been, and the whole village was just glad that finally he was dead. Even to greet him on the road had been to invite danger, and any kind of relationship with him meant trouble. Now his corpse was lying there in the graveyard, the villagers sitting around him, but not one of them was prepared to say a word in his praise. They were in a dilemma, because they did not want to go against the village tradition, but evening was approaching, and still no one would honor him.
The villagers were sick and tired of the whole affair; even in his death this man managed to cause trouble! Now the night was coming on. They could not bury him, and could not leave until he was buried. Finally one man got to his feet and said, "Compared to his other four brothers, this man was an angel. Compared to their wickedness, this man was a god!" The villagers buried the corpse and went home.
You too remain convinced that in comparison to others you are a god, that there are such evil people in the world, and you are not that evil. You may not be as good as Buddha or Rama, but certainly you are not as bad as Ravana, and the world is full of Ravanas. You are just somewhere in between.
But no one is in between - no one can ever be. And if you drop the illusion of being in the middle, your journey of transformation can begin.
Enough for today.