[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.]
KNOWING THE INADEQUACY OF WORDS, KABIR USES THEM IN AN INVERTED SENSE AS ONE MAY PLAY WITH AN INVERTED FLUTE. FOR EXAMPLE:
"EVERYONE KNOWS THAT THE SKY SHOWERS WITH RAIN AND THE EARTH SOAKS.
BUT ONLY SOME RARE BEING UNDERSTANDS THAT THE EARTH SHOWERS WITH RAIN AND THE SKY SOAKS."
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?
Yes, the words of the mystics are ulatbansi, an inverted flute-playing. First you have to understand this inverted flute, ulatbansi - it is a very mysterious and loving phrase to use. When someone plays the flute, there is the man who plays and the flute that is being played on. The inverted flute means that now the flute is playing and the one who plays on the flute is himself being played on. The
reverse is happening. The one who should be playing is being played, and the flute which should be played on is now the player. The whole process is reversed.
Such a moment comes. If you know how to play the flute, you will have no difficulty understanding this. A moment comes when the flute player is so merged in playing that he does not experience anymore that he is playing the flute. The merger is so intense, the player is so submerged in the playing, that he starts feeling as if the flute is making music on its own. The doer disappears. And when the merger acquires the ultimate height or depth where it is so total that there is no way to go beyond it, then not only does one feel that he is not playing the flute and it is playing by itself, but one also starts to feel that the flute is playing him. The means becomes the end, the first becomes the last, the effect becomes the cause and the cause the effect - everything becomes inverted.
This happens not only in flute-playing, this happening takes place in any dimension of life where the possibility of dissolving goes on intensifying. One day the dancer comes to know that he is not dancing; the dance is happening on its own. And then comes also the hour when the dancer knows that the dance is dancing him.
The very idea of being a doer - that I am doing it - is an illusion. This is why the mystics' whole life is an experience of the inverted flute.
Kabir's words are unique. It is difficult to find a mystic like Kabir in the history of the whole world, because he is raw, uneducated; whatever he says, it has no way of coming from the scriptures. He is quite unacquainted with the scriptures, he has no treasure of great value in words. The words he uses are of the marketplace, of the day-to-day use. But in those words he has poured everything, which even for the seers of the Upanishads has been difficult to pour in all their purest of word forms.
His experience is that in the enlightened state the world becomes exactly opposite of what we had known it to be earlier.
It is as if you are standing on the bank of a lake or pond, looking at your reflection in the water. If you look only at your reflection you will feel as if your image is upside down - the head on the bottom and the feet on top. If all other doors of your perception are closed and you are able only to see your reflection, you will experience it upside-down. Then suddenly one day you awaken, your eyes freed of the reflection, and you look at yourself. Then you fall in a great difficulty, because you will feel that everything has gone in reverse - that your head is on the top and the feet are on the bottom.
Carl Gustav Jung's secretary has written some memoirs. She describes how vexed Jung used to become sometimes over very small issues: just very minor points, and he would become extremely annoyed. One day it happened again that she made a small mistake and Jung became so annoyed over it. This time she too felt very hurt because it was such a trifling matter; the matter was such a negligible one, not worthy of getting angry about or of so much heat. So she was unhappy and sad and thought that she should leave this job. As she was about to take her leave of him that evening, he asked her to come into the garden with him. There in the garden, Jung did a headstand and said to her, "Come on, you know the headstand as well, and I want you also to stand on your head!"
She could not understand: What absurdity was this and what did he mean by it? But when a man like Jung says it there must be some meaning behind it. So she stood on her head, and then she began to laugh because the whole world looked upside-down. Jung smiled, and said goodbye to her.
Some time later the realization came to her that what was such a negligible matter to her may not be so for Jung. Just as everything appears inverted in a headstand, similarly what was a small matter in her view could be a great matter in Jung's view.
A mystic is someone who is standing in a kind of headstand. He has entered an opposite viewpoint to yours. All your conceptions and conventions he has inverted for himself. You value the material, and for him the material has no value at all. For you the body is all, for him the body is nothing.
For you all the treasures are hidden in money; for him it is no more than rubbish. You are looking outwards, he is looking inwards. You are seeking the taste and the essence of life in others; he seeks for it within himself. He is in shirshasana - he is standing upside-down. So your world will look upside-down to him, just as his world will look upside-down to you. This is the happening of inverted flute-playing. And whenever someone has seen the world from this inverted viewpoint, whatever he has seen has looked very paradoxical to you.
This song of Kabir's is one such melody played on the inverted flute. Everyone has seen nectar showering from the sky, but who has seen the earth showering the sky with nectar? We see the blessing in the falling rain - we see something coming down below from above, but we cannot see that the earth is also giving something to the sky. Yet it must be so, because all of life's processes are made of both, giving and taking. To only receive is not possible, there must be some giving too.
If there were only taking, the whole exchange of life would be brought to a halt. You breathe in and you have to breathe out. There is no way that you can only take, that you can only breathe in, and if you do not exhale then inhaling will become impossible. Thus the law of giving is implied in the law of taking.
The point to be understood is that the more you give the more you will be able to receive; the less you give the less you can receive. One can inhale only as deeply as one can exhale. The deeper the exhalation the deeper the inhalation. The giver is also receiving. Hence the Upanishadic statement that renunciation is indulgence: ten tyakten bhunjithah. Those who clung, missed. They alone tasted, who have renounced. If you are afraid to let out the breath you have inhaled in the fear that it may not come back in, you are dead. The fear is precisely that once you have let the breath out, will it return or not? What is the guarantee? And what control do you have over the breath that is gone out? If you hold the breath in under the fear that it may not come back again if allowed to go out, then you are going to die on the spot.
This is what we are doing in our lives. We catch hold but we don't let go, and because of not letting go we become lifeless. So it is fortunate that we have not applied our miserliness yet as far as breathing is concerned, otherwise we would have been dead. But in living we are lifeless because there we have taken clinging to be all there is. But life is a balance; in life, if you will take you will have to give also. You can take only if you give. Kabir says, "Empty out with both your hands." The more you empty out the more you will get filled up.
So the supreme formula hidden within these (inverted-flute) sayings is that the day you become utterly empty, the whole fills you. The secret of receiving lies in giving, the secret of enjoyment lies in the ability to renounce, and to dissolve yourself is to become the whole. But there is a balance between the two. Everything is in balance. We certainly are able to see when it rains down from the sky, the rains coming like nectar to the earth, but the earth is not only taking, it must be giving too. If the earth were not also giving, the skies would soon be empty of clouds and rain would be
impossible. In fact, clouds are a gift of nature; every single leaf is releasing the water back. You don't see it ... that is another matter. But if you sit near a tree at sunset and look at the leaves, you can see them giving off water vapor.
All that the earth receives, it gives back. So the earth is not only a receiver, and if the earth rejoices in receiving rain-showers from the sky, the reverse also happens: the sky rejoices when the earth gives back. There is a love between the earth and the sky; they are playing in a deep embrace.
This is why the old scriptures have called the earth woman, and the sky man - there is a great embrace between the two, a vast intercourse going on between the two. There is a giving and a taking, because love cannot sustain in only giving or in only taking. To walk, both legs are needed; to swim, both arms are needed; to fly, both wings are needed.
So we see the joy nature is in when it rains. Dry leaves have disappeared and the green is everywhere. Right now it is happening all around as the rainy season is beginning, and the sky is getting ready to pour. The trees have turned green in welcome, the flowers are blooming, birds are ecstatic and singing, the peacocks will dance - the whole earth is welcoming. The earth had been waiting, everything was hot, its life shrunk, as if the earth was suffocating, big cracks in the soil here and there - it was thirsty in all dimensions. And now when the clouds shower, there will be a contentment all over.
But this is only one side that the sky rains and the earth becomes happy. There is another side too, which perhaps you do not see. One whose eyes have opened, he sees the other side also. And a seer, a mystic means one whose eyes are open. He sees that the sky also becomes sad when the earth is ungiving. He sees the emptiness of the sky if the earth does not give and shrinks back. He sees that the sky goes through the same hardship and pain when the earth does not give, the same agony that the earth goes through when the sky does not give. So the earth also gives back.
The Ganges is flowing towards the ocean - all the Gangeses are moving towards the ocean - and what will the ocean do? It will absorb the Ganges and will give it back to the sky. Dark clouds will form again, will gather in the sky, the earth will again give a call, rains will again shower and the Ganges will flow towards the ocean again. It is a circle - a circle of giving and taking. There is nowhere even a moment's disruption in this circle. The name of this circle is bliss, and unhappiness is what happens wherever this circle is broken.
But why is Kabir saying this? He is not interested in making statements about geographical phenomena, he is not declaring a truth about the earth and the sky, he is saying something about you. Within you too there is earth and there is sky. Your body is your earth, your soul is your sky - what we have called antarakash, the inner sky - and between the two a great transaction of giving and taking is going on. But often it so happens that your soul gives much to your body, your inner sky gives much to the earth within you, but your body is unable to give back. What your inner earth has to return gets lost somewhere in the desert of the world. That river does not reach the ocean; instead, it dries up somewhere in the desert. The give and take transaction within you has got disrupted somewhere. The circle of what scientists call ecology has broken down, and hence you are miserable.
If your body and soul get balanced in the give and take, then that rhythm that we call samadhi, enlightenment, will reverberate in you too. The day that giving and taking are equalized in you like
the two sides of a balance holding steady with the pointer motionless, in the middle - neither this pan is weightier nor that - from that very moment the taste of the divine begins to descend on you.
But you are leaning on one side; you are leaning too much towards the body and away from the sky. Thus you take a lot from the sky but are unable to return anything. And this is your samsara:
the world that you go on taking from the sky but do not return. Thus accumulation of material things increases but the soul is lost. You sell your soul for things and think perhaps they will make you blissful. So you may grow in importance, your empire may expand, you may have very great wealth - but you are not even aware what a price you have paid for it. You have sold your self and accumulated rubbish. Your inner sky goes on becoming more and more empty. The clouds of this inner sky go on showering, but your nature returns nothing. The nectar flows only one way, nothing is returned, and eventually the circle is broken.
Unhappiness is the name of that broken circle. And if the break is complete, if there is not the slightest contact at the breaking point, that state is called hell. If this circle is maintained, that state is called heaven. And if this circle is so complete that the balance remains exactly in the middle, that state we call moksha - liberation. Hell is the breakage of the circle into many parts, heaven is establishment of the circle, and liberation is such a perfection of the circle that there remains no room for its further perfection.
Kabir says that everyone has seen the nectar showering from the sky, but who has seen the nectar that the earth showers on the sky? Yet every moment the earth is showering it! These plants turned green, the flowers blooming, these songs of birds - these are responses, answers. All this is not happening accidentally, it is earth's expression of thanks for what it has received. The breath that has come in is now going out. The same rhythm has to happen within you; your body too should be returning.
This is the difference between the worldly man and the sannyasin, the indulger and the renunciate.
The indulger does not return anything back, the sannyasin does. The worldly man only collects; giving disappears from his life. He only bargains, not giving anything and only accumulating. The sannyasin is one who gives as much as he receives; his account is always clear. The lifestyle of the worldly man is exploitive, is that of sucking. He takes from everywhere, but he does not wish to give anything. Perhaps he thinks this way he will have a lot, but in fact just the reverse happens: he has nothing in his hands, he dies emptyhanded.
The lifestyle of the sannyasin is that of balance. He gives back as much as he takes, he is never in debt. When he dies he is utterly debt-free; hence he will never need to return the world. If one dies in debt, one will have to come back again and again. The bigger your world, the longer and more torturous your life journeys will be, because you will have to keep returning until you have paid for everything that you have taken. Until that happens your case cannot be dismissed from the courtroom. Till that happens, you will have to keep on lightening the load you are carrying.
The sannyasin is liberated, because he gave back all he had taken. The account is closed, in the account book there is no credit and no debit against his name. It is this state of being to which Kabir is indicating.
There is one more dimension of meaning to ulatbansi: that which is illogical, inconsistent, mysterious. There is a world of logic in which two and two always make four; there two and two
never make five or three. But this world of logic exists only in man's mind, it is not so in life. Life is very illogical. In life, sometimes two and two make five, sometimes they make three also. This is the mystery.
By mystery is meant that it is impossible to predict in life. By mystery is meant that no matter how much we may come to know, there is always something more to be known, and this knowing is never completed. By mystery is also meant that no matter how much our knowing may grow, we are only able to touch the part, we are never able to touch the whole; the whole is always left beyond our grasp.
This is the difference between science and religion. Science believes that two and two always make four, and that life runs by some series of logic. But now even this concept of science is crumbling, because in the past fifty years the eyes of science have penetrated so deep that some facts have revealed themselves under which two and two do not always make four. So the new physicist is in a great restlessness. Ever since Einstein, physics has moved closer to spiritualism, and the physicists find themselves in great difficulty. All that old idea of certainty has come to an end. After the splitting of the atom a few mysteries fell into their hands. One of these mysteries concerned the three components of the atom - the proton, the neutron and the electron. It turns out that these behave in a very illogical way: sometimes they appear to be waves, and other times they appear to be particles.
Now this is impossible! This is ulatbansi. If you make a point in your book with a pencil... now according to geometry a point is not a line... and then you see the point becoming a line, and the line becoming again a point, what will you say it is? A line means many points in succession, in other words if one point becomes many points, then only it can be a line. A point means a single point, a line means many points. So one becoming many and many becoming one again, this is the world of the Upanishads, this is the world of madmen like Kabir and Eckhart, and not of mathematicians like Einstein and Max Planck.
But these tiny particles of the atom behave like the mystics - their behavior is very unpredictable.
Sometimes it is seen as a particle, at others it behaves like a wave. So a new physics is born which had to abandon its concepts of certainty and accept the principle of uncertainty. This means our mathematics works only superficially; as we move into depths mathematics gets into difficulty.
The ulatbansis, the Koans of Kabir are saying that the world of mathematics created by you, the expanses of logic woven by you, are all fine superficially, work in the marketplace, but never try to take them into the depths of life, they do not apply there. This is how it happens that Kabir says, "I was wonderstruck when I saw the ocean on fire!" Now, can the ocean ever catch fire? If water can catch fire, then there cannot be anything like science in the world. Water extinguishes fire, how can it catch fire?
And then Kabir says, "I have seen another miracle: the fish left the ocean and climbed up a tree."
Now, fishes do not climb trees. In the first place it is not possible for them to leave the ocean - let alone tree-climbing! The fish is a creature of the water - no legs, no wings, no claws, it can neither fly nor climb trees; water alone is its medium.
All these statements are statements to shatter mathematics. These are saying that your calculations are right as far as the surface is concerned, but inside is a world full of wonders, and Kabir came
face to face with such wonders; only then he wrote these ulatbansis. Had Kabir been trained in Einstein's lab, he would speak the language of modern physics; but he happened to be an ordinary villager, simple, he had no idea of quantum physics. But he was aware of the ordinary facts of life, he knew that fishes do not climb trees. And the day they do - or the ocean catches fire or the rains shower from the earth towards the sky instead of the other way round - understand well that either we have gone mad, or the whole existence has gone mad, or know that the laws and concepts we had created were all based not in our understanding but in our misunderstanding.
Mystics have often appeared to be mad. And the reason for them appearing mad has been just this, that you have not seen the wonders they have seen. For them, the old order has been completely uprooted and a chaos has taken its place. They have seen aspects of life that would destroy all order for you too if you were to see them.
Ulatbansi means that life cannot be solved with the help of mathematics. Ulatbansi means that whatever order you are creating, keep in it the place for its opposite too, because the opposite is also present. You will get into trouble if you ignore the opposite. And it always happens that the mind overlooks the opposite; we always like to catch hold of only one perspective. The mind is a great lover of order, so whatever is in its opposition we simply ignore it, we just deny its very existence.
We create an orderliness.
For example, suppose you are in love with someone. Your mind will tell you that there is nothing except love for this person, only love. Now, mind is creating an orderliness which is false, because wherever there is love there is also hidden hatred. But the mind believes in mathematics, it says that if there is love then how can there be hatred? If there is trust, then how can there be mistrust? If there is day, then how can there be night? If there is life, then how can there be death? Mind is driven by mathematics, it denies the opposite. Discarding the opposites is a definition of mathematics.
But the opposite is not going to be discarded just because you discard it. Where birth is, death is hidden in it, no matter what suppositions you may care to make. So when a child is born we never remember the fact that he will die also, and if somebody mentions this fact at the time of a child's birth - that there is no need for such music and celebration, such feasting and rejoicing - we will be ready to fight with him, because what kind of predictions is he making? He is not making dark predictions in saying this; he is simply shattering our mathematics. Our mathematics believes it is a birth, "where is the question of death here?"
Birth and death are opposites, so we hide the opposite; we make the graveyard on the outskirts of the town. When a corpse is being carried to the graveyard, mothers call their children inside the house so that the death is not noticed. Death disturbs our mathematics... because the child is going to ask, "This man died, what does it mean?" And children are ignorant, they are not knowledgeable like you; they have not completely denied the opposite yet, it is still present in them. So the child is certainly going to ask if he will also die. It is hard to block his curiosity. If he sees someone dead, he is bound to ask how this happened. Do all people die? Will he too die? And in a mother's mathematics this does not fit that her child will also die. How can her son die? One who is just born he cannot die. No, there is no end to life. "All others will die, but not my son!"
There is a story in Buddha's life. The only son of a woman called Krisha Gautami died. Her husband had already died, and her son was everything to her. She was utterly attached to him, he was the
very essence of her life. And then he too died. She was driven almost insane with grief, and began to wander from one house to another in her village, asking people to revive her son. Trying to console her, one villager said, "It is not in our power to do anything to help, but Buddha has arrived in the village; better you go to him. And any miracle may happen there he is Bhagwan, God, himself!"
So Krisha Gautami went and knelt at Buddha's feet, carrying her dead son. She put the corpse down at Buddha's feet and said, "Revive this child! I want nothing else. When Bhagwan himself is present in the village, why should I weep? And if you cannot do even this much, then you are not God as they say you are!"
Buddha's disciples were in suspense to see what would happen now. A great crowd had gathered, the whole village had gathered, and they all started waiting for the miracle.
Buddha said, "Gautami, you do one thing. Leave your son's dead body here - I will certainly revive him - but first you go look for a house in the village where nobody has ever died, and you bring me some mustard seeds from that house."
What will a drowning person not do? Even a blade of grass looks like a support to a drowning man.
It did not cross Krisha Gautami's mind how she could find a house where nobody had ever died.
In obsession, one gets blinded. She rushed, she knocked on each and every door in the village and asked, "I want a few mustard seeds, but the condition is nobody should have died ever in your house."
People said, "Gautami, have you gone mad? Where will you find a house where nobody has died?
Wherever people are born, people die also. Birth and death are parts of one phenomenon."
But Gautami had no time to listen to this. She rushed on to the next house and the next. By the evening she had been to all the houses in the village. By the evening when she was leaving the last house, her tears had dried away. A revolution had taken place in her personality. She went to Buddha, lifted up her son's body and carried it to the graveyard. After cremating the body she returned to Buddha and said, "Please initiate me. I am a sannyasin."
Buddha said, "Don't you have something to ask of me? What about the mustard seeds? What about the son?"
She said, "Let nothing more be said of this. It was my illusion to have forgotten that death is attached to birth. Now that I have remembered, there is no question concerning my son; the question now concerns Gautami. Before I die, I want to find out what this whole mystery is, this whole web all around us."
Death is certain, there is no way to escape it. But we try to keep death out of the town. Insanity has gone too far in the West, because in the absence of the theory of reincarnation there is more fear of death there than here in the East. We have some consolation that never mind, at least the soul will not die. Though soul is not our own knowing, yet there is some consolation, so never mind. There is someone within us: nainam chhindanti shastrani, no weapon can destroy it, no fire can consume it - at least we have read this in the Gita, and that brings consolation. At the time of death only the body will die, we shall remain. And then there are lives after lives, it is a long journey; there is no hurry as there is infinite time available.
In the West the fear is much greater because Christianity has the theory of only one birth. So the West is trying in many ways to conceal the fact of death. The man dies, the woman dies, and big businesses are prospering there in the area of death too. They make up the face of the dead person, they make it look beautiful again, they dress the corpse in lovely clothes. By the time the corpse is put in its coffin, the body looks more beautiful than it had ever looked even when the person was alive. If it is a woman, the lips are painted with lipstick, the eyes decorated with eye shadow and mascara - the face is made so beautiful as it never was even when alive. The flowers, the bouquets, the beautiful and costly coffin, and the procession to the graveyard - it all appears as if nobody has died and it is some festivity that is going on. Now, this is all a deception - not to the dead, there is no way to deceive the dead - a deception to those who are alive. The fact of death is being concealed from them. Behind the wall of lipstick, the makeup, the face paint, death is being concealed.
The graveyard should be located in the heart of the town. And when someone dies, everyone - even the one-day-old baby - should be exposed to the corpse.
But your mathematics of life is one-sided. When you are loving, you believe, "How can I hate?" and this is where the trouble begins. You have denied hatred, and it lies buried deep within you. Most of the murders that happen throughout the world are committed by lovers against their partners. And remember, when two brothers fight, there is no other fight like that: the enmity with which they fight is unequaled. And what you call trust... when you turn against that person, it is difficult to find a worse enemy than you, a more untrusting person than you. You follow somebody, and any day you are going to go against the person. The only way to avoid all this is that you have not denied the opposite.
If you denied, difficulties will arise, because life does not pay any attention to your logic. If you can admit your hatred also for the person you love, then maybe your love will last longer. There is no danger then, because you are accepting life. Then your lover also knows that hatred will coexist.
One will not only receive kisses and hugs from the person one loves but trouble, conflict, even violence, are going to follow. And the two coexist. If the lovers accept the coexistence of both, they accept life. Such a love can last forever.
But lovers also move with calculation. They abandon one; hatred simply does not exist for them.
Can your wife even believe that she hates you too? She may demonstrate her hatred towards you twenty-four hours a day, but she will never admit to the fact. If you try to tell her she will refuse to hear you: "How could it possibly be?" she will say. The husband is divine. If you believe the husband to be divine, you will also see the devil in him. No matter how much you try to hide this fact, the devil will not disappear due to it. Yes, if you can accept him then there is a possibility that you can transcend the duality.
We have done this same thing in all the dimensions of life; we have denied the opposite. But life is duality, life is made of opposites. Your denial will not change this reality; only you will be more in difficulty because of it. These ulatbansis proclaim life's duality. You know one facet; these express the other - and the other facet says that life is illogical. The opposite is always hidden in everything.
What you see, its opposite is also there.
And the day you will be able to see the two together will also be the day you will be able to transcend them both. If you remain blind to the other, then that other will find a way to express itself - if not
today, then tomorrow. But then you will see only this one, and forget the one that you were seeing before. The one who is a friend today becomes a foe tomorrow. Today you are seeing love, tomorrow you will see hatred; today you did not see the hatred, tomorrow you will not see the love. You have moved from one polarity to the other.
The one who sees them both simultaneously transcends them both. These ulatbansis herald the mystery of life. Mystery means no matter how much we try to decode it, we will not be able to. Now it is very mysterious that a fish should climb a tree; it is not happening so, this is never seen. It may happen in a dream or in the imagination; it may be true for a poet, but no scientist will ever agree to the possibility. But if we ask the scientist to investigate the phenomenon more deeply, the findings are strange. The scientists say that life for the first time began in the form of the fish - so whoever climbs a tree was once a fish. You too were a fish once.
This is ancient news to the Hindus. This is why they accepted that their first incarnation of God was as a fish - matsyavatar. Hindus are the only race.... If we look at their order of the ten incarnations of God, it matches exactly with Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin says that life began in the ocean; the first Hindu incarnation is also in the ocean. Life began in the form of a fish, and Hindus' incarnation is called Matsya - the fish. By and by, says Darwin, man evolved from the animal world.
But even today scientists are still looking for the missing link between animal and man. It must have taken millions of years for the animal to evolve into man. So there must be a middle link, and this link must have been half animal and half man, and it must have existed for thousands of years.
One of the Hindu incarnations of God is Narsimha, the man-lion, and this seems to be that middle link. Up to now scientists have not been able to find the middle link. Explorations go on all over the earth for a skeleton that resembles half man, half animal, so that the theory of evolution can be completed. Mathematically the theory is clear, that if man has evolved from animal there has to be a middle link which must have existed for thousands or even millions of years. So Hindus have this one incarnation, Narsimha, which is half man, half animal, and all the incarnations after Narsimha are full-fledged human beings. The Hindu incarnations range all the way from the fish to the supreme man, the buddha.
If we are able to see this long process in a single glance - which we do not, we are too shortsighted - then we would be able to see that the fishes have already climbed the tree. Not only have fishes climbed the tree, the fishes have become buddhas. What this means is that the highest is hidden in the lowest. When you look at the small, do not think it small, because within it resides the great.
So bow down even to the smallest, for the divine resides within it. That pebble lying on the road can anytime become an idol in a shrine. So in passing it by or in treading on it, do so humbly, because any day if it becomes an idol you will have to worship it!
Here anybody we call a sinner can become the virtuous - the fish has climbed the tree! Here anybody we have labeled as the lowest, the most contemptible, the meanest, can become the bearer of the supreme honor. Here a sinner becomes a saint; here a stone becomes the holy idol in the shrine. So between the micro and the macro, the small and the great, between nothing and everything, there is no basic difference. Fishes climb trees, water catches fire ... here opposites also happen. The one who accepts both, transcends both.
The sayings of all who have known these are ulatbansis. This is why there is a profound difference between the words of the mystics and the words of the philosophers. In the words of philosophers there is never ulatbansi, there is only a logical order. The philosopher is essentially a systematizer, he creates systems. Kant, Hegel, they all build an order, a palace of order. They make a little clearing in the forest and create a garden there. They keep the forest completely out, outside the walls.
In the forest there is no order, no measurement, no symmetry; there are no straight lines and no proportions, and the trees grow as and where they will. The philosopher clears the ground and then designs his garden, in which there is symmetry and proportion, there is order in everything, the pathways are with roads geometrically built and trees planted at equal distance from each other.
In Japan there are Zen monasteries, and there they use no symmetry in anything. If paths have to be made, they are kept nongeometric, as if they are paths in a forest. If they plant trees it is done in a manner so it does not look like a garden but like a forest.
There was a very famous Zen master who was an expert in gardening. The emperor appointed the master to teach his son gardening. Every day the son would go to the Master to learn from him. The emperor had hundreds of gardeners, and whatever the prince learned from his master he would pass on to these gardeners, and they would make the garden accordingly. The master had said to the prince that after three years he would come to see his garden, and this would be the examination; there would be no other examination.
For three years the prince went on creating a beautiful garden, so beautiful that it had no parallel in the whole of Japan. Thousands of gardeners were engaged, and by the time three years had passed the garden was so exquisite that even the emperor was amazed, and he said to the son, "Such a garden has never been seen. There is no way you can be failed in the examination."
But the prince himself was less sure. "My master is a totally different kind of man," he said. "He is so unpredictable!"
Finally the master came. The emperor was present, all the court attended, and the prince of course was there. The garden glowed like a garden in paradise. But the master's face remained serious, without the trace of a smile. The emperor felt uneasy, and the prince was trembling in fear. The master visited every corner of the garden, but so far there was not a flicker of admiration visible on his face. Suddenly he asked for a basket.
The basket was brought, and the master ran out with it. He came back with the basket full of dry leaves and threw them on the garden pathway where they were further scattered all over by the wind.
The master said, "Your garden speaks so much of human interference that it cannot be called a true garden. There was not even a single dead leaf to be found anywhere. This is false and unnatural.
You will have to work for three more years. Wherever there are green leaves there must be some dead leaves too. Wherever there is birth there is death. Wherever there is light there is darkness.
No, I do not accept this garden. For three years now you must work to turn it into a jungle. No human touch should be visible, because the human touch means logic, mathematics, calculation.
The garden must bear the impression of the divine, where there is no logic, no mathematics, no calculation - where all is beyond understanding."
Ulatbansi means a beyond-understanding-ness. The philosopher makes a garden from which all the dead leaves have been removed. The mystic enters into a jungle where there are no points of reference, where there is every chance of going astray, where there is no map to help him find his way. Ulatbansis are news of the world of mystery which is mapless and beyond our understanding; they are like the koans of the Zen masters.
It is a pity that in India we did not use them like koans. Had we done so, it would have been very precious. Zen monks in Japan have used koans. Koans mean the same as ulatbansis, but they used koans in the context of meditation, which we have not done. When someone in search of truth approaches a Zen master, the master gives him an ulatbansi, which in Japan they call a koan. Koan means a riddle that cannot be solved; if it can be solved it is not a koan. Riddles that can be solved are riddles; the riddle that can in no way be solved is a koan.
For example, the Zen master will say, "Meditate on this. Clapping is done with both hands. If someone claps with one hand, what will the sound be of that one hand clapping? Go and meditate on this."
Now, how can there be a sound of one hand clapping? How can there be such a clap, and without the clap, how can there be a sound? So right from the start your mind - this mind full of logic - will say, "This is meaningless. Why waste time!" What this man is asking me to do is quite pointless.
Nothing can come of it. It is like trying to squeeze oil out of sand."
So if you are too logical you will immediately leave and go home. Zen masters say that those who are so full of logic cannot enter the temple of the divine, so it is good if such a person gives up at the very first stage of the koan; for him there was no possibility of continuing on the path. But if you are not too logical, if you have some glimpses beyond logic in life, if you have wandered not only in the gardens but also in the jungle of life, if you have heard not only the words of man but also the songs of the birds and have seen life in its chaos, in its total lawless freedom, then you will settle in favor of the koan.
To agree is your first step. Even sitting with the koan in meditation, your mind will repeatedly ask, "Why are you pursuing this fruitless task? Can clapping ever happen with just one hand?" And if you still persist, then the mind will give you so many new suggestions: "Hit one hand against the wall, that will make a sound!" So you will go back to the master and say, "It is the sound that comes from hitting one hand on the wall."
The master will say, "You have made the wall the other hand. No, the other as such is not to be used. You are not to bring duality in; it has to be the sound of the nondual, of one hand alone."
Hindus call this the anahat nad - the unstruck sound. If my two hands hit against each other, the sound that is born is called ahat; it is born out of striking. If one hand alone creates sound out of the void, that is called anahat nad, the unstruck sound. This is the sound you have to search for.
Banging against the wall will not do, waving your one hand fast through the air will not do. The other must simply in no way be present.
So the Zen seeker will go on searching, will go on meditating. Many times his mind will come up with suggestions, he will rush with that answer to the master, and the master will instantly reject it, because no mental suggestion is going to work. In a ceaseless struggle, nothing but struggle, an understanding will arise in the disciple; he will stop listening to the mind, because whatever is born out of the mind will involve the other, it will be an ahat phenomenon.
Mind is a duality, mind is a conflict. All its solutions are the sound of two hands clapping. Duality is the very essence of mind; mind is duality itself. So if you listen to the mind, it will put you into duality. But when the master goes on rejecting everything you come up with, when all solutions have become meaningless, the seeker will eventually stop listening to the mind - even though the mind will continue to make suggestions.
It happened once that a seeker who was in continual meditation with his koan persisted in listening to his mind. Finally one day his master said to him, "How long are you going to keep this up? If you can't find the solution, it is better that you die!"
The next day the seeker came to the master and his mind said to him, "Yes, it is quite right. It is better to die if the solution cannot be found."
So as the master asked, "Have you brought the solution?" the disciple fell to the ground and closed his eyes. The master said, "Very good! If you have not brought the answer, death is better. But now tell me, after dying do you have the answer or not?"
The disciple opened one eye and said, "No, I don't have the answer."
The master said, "Get up! Corpses do not speak, nor do they open their eyes. Just get lost! You have only died because the mind said so. The mind is going to deceive in everything, and if you die following its advice even that death will be a false one."
Mind is the source of deceptions. All illusions stem out of it. Whoever listens to mind will have to accept the false. Mind is maya, the illusion. Both its life and its death are false. All its answers are meaningless. But if the seeker persists, does not get defeated by it, does not run away, if he stands fast, the mind will finally get tired and will fall down. The day the mind gives in and falls the unstruck sound is heard - because that sound is humming within us perpetually. We have called it omkar.
So your Om is not a mantra that you sit down and go on chanting: Om, Om, Om, and something is going to happen out of it. That is a struck sound, blown from the throat through the striking of the lips. That Om is not what we have called Omkar. The Om that has to be recited is useless. Any achievement through the recital of Om is an achievement of the mind.
But when the mind drops, suddenly you hear Omkar. You do not recite Om, you hear Om. You are not the doer of it but only the listener. You hear the Om resonating within you. That resonance is not yours, it is not created by you; rather it is this resonance that is creating you. The flute became inverted. Now you are not blowing the flute, you are not creating the mantra, the mantra is creating you. Omkar is not an effort of yours, you yourself are the materialized form of Omkar. That perpetual sound of Om within you is creating you. You are not giving birth to that sound, but that sound is giving birth to you. So Om is not a mantra, it is your life. Om is not a thing that you can do, it is your source, your existence. Om is the sound of existence, the anahat nad, the unstruck sound.
The day mind drops, that unstruck sound is heard. And when that day comes you do not need to go and tell your master the answer. The moment you reach the master knows that the answer has come. Your face says it, your eyes say it, your walk says it. How could you ever hide such a great happening? Even an ordinary thing like pregnancy and the woman cannot hide it. Her walk changes, the radiance on her face and in her eyes changes. Her whole style changes.
When God enters your womb, when you hear the unstruck sound, how can you possibly hide it?
In the same way that if someone had drunk the sun the light would radiate all over, flames of fire will arise, every cell of your body will be lighted similarly when you hear the unstruck sound, anahat nad. You don't have to go to tell your master. Therefore, as long as the disciple brings answers, all answers are wrong.
So you will have difficulty understanding the ways of the Zen masters. If you answer the Zen master it is wrong. If you don't answer him it is wrong. If you answer him he will beat you. He always keeps his Zen stick with him and says, "If you give me the answer I will beat you, if you do not give me the answer I will beat you"... because giving the answer means you have come with a readymade answer, not giving means you have come with your mind made up not to give any answer. But there is a third state, when you simply do not know the answer. You are not aware of giving or not giving, you simply come to the master with no decision to answer or not to answer, you simply are the answer. It is contained in your very way of being. That day the master's stick....
Nan-in was leaving his master to go into a solitary meditation. The master called him and said, "Let me take this opportunity to beat you with my staff once more!"
Nan-in said, "What do you mean? Anyway you have beaten me so many times! My bones hurt at so many places from the beatings. Moreover you do not have any reason in this moment for beating me. I have not said a single thing, so there is no question of anything being wrong."
The master said, "You don't understand. When you return I shall no longer be able to beat you, because the hour is fast approaching... this is my last chance. If I leave you unbeaten this time, there will be no next time. When you return there will be no possibility left to beat you anymore, there will be no reason."
The moment comes within when the unstruck sound resounds, when the flute begins to play in the reverse way. Until this happens you had always thought that you are the doer, but now you understand that you are the instrument. Up to now you had thought that you sang the songs, now you know that the songs are sung through you. Up to now you had thought that you are, now you know that you are not, it is he who is, it is God who is. Everything inverts.
Kabir's ulatbansis could very well have been used like koans, but the Hindus missed; they could not make use of them. Had Kabir been born in Japan he would have ranked with the greatest of the awakened ones in the tradition of the Zen masters. The sole outcome of his having been born in India is that idiots in universities write Ph. D. theses on him, that is all. He is of no other use. The number of doctorates earned on Kabir is much higher than on anybody else, because a doctorate can be earned on each and every word of Kabir - and the man himself was illiterate!
So you can see how far goes the intelligence of the educated ones: they are getting Ph. D's. by writing on a noneducated one! And then they become great scholars. Kabir would never have been
able to get a Ph. D. Indeed, nobody would even have allowed him into the university. Out, keep your ulatbansis out, they would have told him. No, no one would have allowed him to even enter the university campus. But nobody stops to consider this, or to ponder over the fact that in India alone there are hundreds of Ph. D.'s who owe their doctorates to Kabir. Great pundits!
It is interesting to note that someone who could have transformed lives is used merely for attaining degrees. One who could have turned you into a Kabir helps you merely to be a professor in some university. You get a doctorate, some decoration in the name of degrees gets added to your name, your name gets published here and there. These people earning their Ph. D. by writing on the ulatbansis have no taste of the ulatbansi experience.
Kabir is one of the truly blessed individuals of this country, a remarkable being in many ways. Buddha and Mahavira are princes, highly cultured; what they got to know, what they got to be, they had all kinds of resources to help them to it. They had the best teachers, they lived on the best food and in the best environment, under the most favorable conditions.
Kabir comes from a simple, rustic background. There was no question of a kingdom for him, even his parents are not clearly known. It is not even clear whether he was a Hindu or a Mohammedan.
He was an orphan, a beggar on the street. This small baby who was found by the roadside, he later became Kabir. No one knows who his parents were, where he came from - he is just a vagabond!
No facilities, no amenities, no way for him to get bored with the world....
For Buddha, yes, the possibility to be bored is there. When there is plenty of everything a boredom sets in, when the most beautiful women of all types are available, a detachment comes over you.
So it is no speciality of Buddha, anybody in his place will get bored. In fact anybody who gets the luxuries that Buddha had, what else can happen to him except boredom? Buddha's father made sure to gather all the most beautiful women for his son, and the beautiful women became meaningless to him... because whatever one has enjoyed, whatever is freely available, becomes useless. The fascination with the beautiful women is caused by their unavailability. All the beauties of womanhood were there for Buddha, so naturally he lost interest. All the wealth he could ever desire was his, and it ceased to have any attraction for him. A kingdom was already there for him, so what was there left for him to achieve?
So if Buddha turned away from the world, it is very natural, very logical. Kabir had nothing, yet he turned away from the world. This is beyond logic. It needs a great genius of rare brilliance for it to happen. When there is no abundance of things to bore one and yet one gets bored, he has a deep capacity to see. When there is no wealth available to you and you come to see the fruitlessness of wealth, it needs a great insight for it. If a beggar renounces the world, it can only mean that he has such clear vision that he can see even through that which is not his experience - he can recognize that too. He could see through and through. Kabir came from the lowest class, from a background where revolution never happens. This is why Kabir is so unequaled.
Kabir can be compared with neither Buddha nor Mahavira, he can only be compared with Christ.
The quality of rebellious individuality is the same in both of them. But India just swallowed him up.
The reason is that the tradition of the pundits is so age old in India that the moment truth is born somewhere, the pundits pounce and grab hold of it. And the moment truth is in the hands of a pundit he corrupts it, he draws out of it some totally different meanings which have no connection at all.
Kabir got caught by the pundits; pundits got busy interpreting his ulatbansis. No tradition of seekers could be formed after Kabir, rather a tradition of pundits has emerged.
The phenomenon has been missed; otherwise a similarly vast revolution could have been born through Kabir as the one that sprang from Jesus Christ. Both men are equally uneducated: Kabir was a weaver, and Jesus a carpenter - and ulatbansis are present in the sayings of both of them.
Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." These are the beatitudes of Jesus, these are his ulatbansis.
The narrative style may be different, but whenever any mystic has experienced something his sayings are always paradoxical.
Whenever you come across a paradox, an ulatbansi, a koan, stop there. Don't be in a hurry to move on from there, because this is the place you can find some ray of truth. But whenever it looks like a well groomed and cleared out garden, so much so that it contains not a single dead leaf, run away from that place as fast as you can, because here lives a pundit, not a sage.
THERE IS A SAYING IN SANSKRIT: ATI PARICHAYAT AVAGYO - TOO MUCH ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE THINGS, PEOPLE AND EVENTS OF THIS WORLD BRINGS BOREDOM. BUT IN SO MUCH ACQUAINTANCE WITH YOU NOT ONLY THE BOREDOM DOES NOT SET IN BUT EVEN THE ACQUAINTANCE DOES NOT SEEM TO HAPPEN. ON THE CONTRARY, THE FEELING OF KNOWING YOU LESS AND LESS GROWS. WHAT IS THIS MYSTERY?
It is ulatbansi! As the acquaintance grows, boredom sets in; that is the law of the world. They grow in the same proportion, because acquaintance means no more curiosity - whatever was worth knowing has become known. Acquaintance means, now nothing remains to be sought after, all is familiarized. So the race of the mind in the name of search, curiosity, eagerness, is demolished.
This is what boredom means, that there is now no activity left with which the mind can keep itself occupied. This is the law of the world. And wherever something contrary is happening, you can be sure it is some phenomenon of beyond the world.
If your eagerness and curiosity also grow along with your familiarity with someone - the more familiar you get the more attraction you feel, and the more you know the person the more reveals itself to be explored - then this is the kind of person we call one who has attained to buddhahood, to nirvana, to liberation. You will never be able to exhaust such a person. And if you can, then he is also nothing but part of the world. You will never be able to come so close to such a person that there is no closer to come. The closer you come, more doors keep on opening, and there is no end to these doors. As you come closer, you will find that something more is always calling, something more has appeared for exploration - and this never comes to an end.
So even if you can have a buddha for eternity, you will never become bored. Near a buddha there simply is no way to get bored, because the buddha has no limits that you can reach. If you keep a distance perhaps you may see limits, but as you come closer the limits will disappear and the limitless will manifest. A moment will come in which you can disappear, in which you can become part of the buddha's limitlessness, but you can never become bored.
Call this love, if you like, or meditation, or prayer - where you never get bored and no amount of familiarity can be too much, where excess just does not exist.
There is a sutra in Buddhist scriptures that says excess of meditation is not possible. You cannot say that you meditated too much; there is no such state as excessive meditation. Meditation is always less than enough; no matter how much you meditate, it is less. Excess is simply impossible.
You are with me. If I am creating a world around me, then you will get bored - if not today then tomorrow. If what I am giving you is of this world, then at some point you will become bored. But if what I am giving you comes from the beyond, you will never be bored. I may go on speaking to you every day, but if what I speak comes from the void, it will create only the void in you too. If what I speak arises out of the infinite, it will give birth only to the infinite in you too. Near me, by and by you will become like me.
There is no way for boredom to happen in satsang - in sitting in communion with the master - there is no excess, no matter how much you sit in communion. Drink any amount of nectar, there will be no end to your thirst. You will never be bored, you will never get satiated. And no matter how much you drink nectar, there is no state where you have drunk more than you need - it will always be less.
This is why we call God anant, the endless, and aseem, the boundless.
Even in meeting him you will discover that you have not really met; even in being close to him you will discover that you could not be totally close; a distance will always remain to be crossed.
This is why I always say that there is a beginning to spirituality but no end. There is a first step to this journey but there is no last step to it. You never arrive at the destination. The journey is endless.
The journey itself is the destination!
Enough for today.