[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.]
YOUR WORDS INDICATE THAT THE COMING TEN YEARS ARE GOING TO BE FULL OF CRISIS AND DISASTER, AND ARE GOING TO BE DECISIVE FOR THE HUMAN RACE. YOUR ARRIVAL IS ALSO PERHAPS CONNECTED WITH THE FACT THAT MAN COMES TO MINIMUM HARM FROM THE IMMINENT TRAGEDY, AND MAXIMUM VALUES OF THE CULTURE AND RELIGION ARE SAVED. WOULD YOU PLEASE PROVIDE GUIDANCE TO US IN THIS AREA?
The history of mankind and man's consciousness do not travel in a straight line. In the West the idea prevails that man's evolution is linear; Darwin, Marx and many others share this view, but it is a notion that has no substance to it. The Eastern concept is that the evolution of life is circular, not linear. We are not progressing along a straight line, but moving round in a circle. This seems much more fitting.
A child is born, and with his birth the circle is begun. As he grows up and grows old the death happens at the same point where birth had begun - the circle is complete. We do not see a straight- line progression in the journey from childhood to old age; it rises to a peak and then gradually descends. In nature the change of seasons follows a circular motion, not a straight line. Summer passes, then it comes again; the winter goes, then it comes again. Each season gives way to the next as though some giant wheel is turning. The sun, the earth, the moon and the stars all travel circular paths.
So the circle seems to be an essential feature of life. Human history too moves in circles: now the heights, now the depths, now the peaks of progress, and now the decline and fall, and so it goes on. But the journey ends where it begins, and it is at such a time, when life takes a leap in the circle, that a crisis happens.
Such a crisis is present today.
To understand this crisis, first two things have to be understood. One, just as life is cyclical, it is also dialectical - that is, nothing is singular, its opposite is always present with it. When the East is religious, the West goes intellectual; when the West becomes religious, the East goes intellectual.
This East and West divides one wholeness into two parts. The East was religious in the past, today it is turning to intellectuality; the West was intellectual until very recently, and today it is becoming religious.
The greatest search in the West today is for meditation. People are coming from the West to the East in search of meditation, in search of peace. Whether it is possible to realize soul and God seems to have become their most important quest in life. And the people in the East laugh at them!
Money is the real thing, and if anyone goes from the East to the West it is in search of science, not religion. People from the East are going West, but in search of universities, science, technology, nuclear physics, and so on. People from the West are coming East in the search of soul and the divine. Now this is a unique phenomenon that the West is willing to sit at the feet of the East if it can have religion, and the East is willing to sit at the feet of the West if it can have wealth!
It is a time of crisis, where the rotating wheel is ready to take a one hundred eighty degree turn. All that was up will come down, and all that was down will go up. All the values will be reversed: the spokes of the wheel that were up will go down and the ones that were down will come up. This is the hour of crisis. In it, all the old structures will go topsy-turvy and chaos will intensify. Such a chaos has already appeared. In it, all criteria of morality will crumble, all old concepts will be destroyed.
What will happen to all the systems we have established up till now is just as if an earthquake comes and flat land turns into craters, hills turn flat and lakes into hills. In this last phase of the twentieth century, enormous dreadful changes are to take place.
And what is the real crisis? It is that the deep, essential treasure that the East has, it may lose it - it is losing it. No matter how often you may recite the Gita every day, its value in your heart is lost. You may be going in search of a master, but it is to find health, to achieve success, to get the position in life you covet, to win the elections, and so on.
Two days ago a friend came here to see me. He said, "I had big businesses, but my eyes gradually became weaker and now I have lost them completely. As a result, I had to move away from my business. Will you please do something so that I can see again."
The man was over sixty. I said to him, "Now you should search for the inner eye. You can thank God your outer eyes are closed; now the whole energy can turn inwards. The energy that was looking out can now look in!"
But he did not like the idea. It was obvious from the expression on his face that he had not come to hear such things. I said to him, "Forget the business! You have made enough from it - enough for the rest of your life. What will you get by earning more?"
"No," he replied, "it was a big business, and I had to hand it over to others."
Now even if the others ruined the business, it would not make any difference to this man. He has plenty; he can live well whatever happens to the business. He would listen to what I was saying but he did not even once nod in agreement. As he was leaving he said again, "Just give me your blessings that I shall be able to return to my business" - as though the business is his very soul!
Now, what does he want to achieve through businesses?
This is the situation of the East. Even when we go to a master, it is in search of things for which we should not go to a master at all. This is why millions gather around so-called masters who have miracle-making tricks. If a man can produce ashes out of thin air, thousands of people gather around him. They are convinced that if they can win his favor, he can make anything happen for them. After all, he makes miracles! Understand this well: when people start to gather around miracle workers, it is a sure sign that religion has been uprooted from their hearts. After all, what connection has religion with miracles?
Lin Chi was a Zen master. One day he was talking among his disciples when a man suddenly interrupted him: "Enough of words," said the man, "do you have any miracles to perform? I also had a master; he is no more, but he certainly was a man of religion. He used to stand on one bank of a river with a pen in his hand, while I stood on the other bank half a mile away holding a piece of paper. And he would use that pen to write on the paper I was holding! Now you, if you can, show me a miracle as wondrous as this!"
Lin Chi said, "Among us you will find no such miracles. We know only one miracle, and that is that we are content. Yes, this is our single miracle - contentment! The only miracle we can offer is that whoever joins us also becomes content."
It is very unlikely that the man understood. How could contentment be regarded as a miracle?
But I also tell you, contentment is the only miracle. And the East is all discontent - with whatever wealth it has, with whatever position and prestige it has, the East is discontented. India has also tested its atom bomb, and the whole Indian mind is so joyous, so happy as if this is some great achievement. You don't stop to consider the fact that even if you have nuclear energy, you will still remain a third-rate power in the world. You will still be only number six, you can never be the first among the nuclear powers; you will always be at the back of the line, a hanger on. What is there to be so pleased about?
But in the field where you can rank first, you are losing your standing. The field where no one in the world can compete with you, the place where India's tradition of thousands of years of work has put you - you are losing your ground there. You are standing in a queue at sixth place, and you think it is something great! Do you think India can ever surpass America or Japan in material wealth?
There you will always remain a beggar. Even the atomic explosion you have carried out is borrowed, and based on foreign aid. Tomorrow, if the foreign aid ceases, your nuclear program will come to a standstill. And it is utterly idiotic - it is like a poor man selling his house to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, who sets off a few fireworks and is very pleased. The children in his house are dying of hunger and outside the house he has arranged a show of fireworks. These atomic explosions are mere fireworks but that is where our interests lie today.
We are eager for money, power, prestige, and when Westerners come to the East in search of religion, we laugh at them thinking they have gone mad. "What is wrong with them?" we want to know. In the West there is a different kind of worry: people arrive from the East to become engineers, doctors, nuclear physicists in the West, and the Westerners wonder: "So, their search is also for the materialistic!" And they feel disappointed: "What can we get from these people who are running to get help from us - who have no food and shelter, whose minds are set only on material desires?"
This is the crisis - that the East is losing what it has gathered over so many centuries, and the West is anxious to find that of which it has come to know only in the past few centuries. So what is the crisis in it? The crisis is that what the East already has will be lost and the West will have to start from ABC. This is a serious crisis, because it takes millions of years for religion to come to maturity.
Religion is no ordinary thing.
There are certain seasonal seeds which can be sown, just as it happens, and soon they start sprouting. The plant may mature in two weeks, the flowers may bloom in four weeks, and then maybe in eight weeks its life is over. All flowers of materialism are seasonal flowers. But religion is not a seasonal flower; it takes thousands of years for the seed of religion to sprout. Hundreds of buddhas are born and gone before the seed of religion sprouts; it is not a one-day affair that you will accomplish today. A very, very long experiment is able to transform consciousness just a little bit.
So if at all the East has a little potential of religion, the hands of Mahavira, Buddha, Krishna, and Rama have contributed to it.
There is another point, which is that science can be given birth by even ordinary people; it requires no special soul for this just technical know-how is needed. And for this even soul is not needed, a computer will do it! No Einstein is necessary for the discoveries of the future. Just feed the computer with the appropriate information and it will discover all your new principles for you. Einstein is redundant! All the experimenting, all the inventing, can be done by computers, machines. Actually even now this is the case; your brain that discovers science is purely a mechanical part of your body - a biocomputer.
But religion is your consciousness. Until there is a purity like that of Buddha, until there is an innocence like that of Mahavira, until there is a dancing heart rooted in self-realization like that of Krishna, you do not get even a glimpse of it. Scientific discoveries are made even walking on the plains, but for religion you have to touch the peaks of Everest; only then you attain it.
It takes thousands of years before the seed of religion goes deep enough and sprouts. And the experiment that was carried out in India was such that it not only sprouted, it flowered too. And you are ready to lose that immense treasure of flowers. And you will lose it, because you don't see anything in it, you have turned your back on it. You no longer see any meaning in it. And the West will have to start from ABC. If it starts on the journey of religion the West will have to start from the point where we started some five thousand years ago, at the time of the Vedas. And for the West to come to the point we reached it will take another five thousand years. But in the meantime the survival of man will become impossible.
This is why I say that there is a great responsibility in India's hands which is that what we have discovered - the clues, the laws, the methods of entering human consciousness that we developed
- even if you want to abandon them, hand them over to someone before doing so. That is the least you must do. But remember, you can only hand over that which has happened within you. We can present the Gita to the West, but it will soon be rubbish, because the song itself is not in the Gita. There are words in the Gita, but these have already been translated into most of the Western languages. That is not going to solve anything. But how can we give that which was in Krishna?
The Gita is only the shadow of that, just an echo; how can we hand over that which had happened within Krishna? That can be transmitted only if Krishna goes on happening within us.
And this is my intention - that a meditator is born within you. If India can give birth to even a few dozen meditators, who have the same light as that of Buddha's wisdom, then there is no harm. The question is not that religion should survive in India or in the West - no, that is not the issue. The question is whether it will survive. On which soil the temple will be erected is not the issue - all soil is alike. But you are ruining the temple. Even if Westerners carried it away, all they would find in their hands is the bricks and the cement, the ruin, the broken pieces. And even if the West erects a temple carefully, it will be suitable only for a museum; it won't be of life, it won't be alive. And that is what is happening. That temple will be dead. People will go to the museum and look at it, it will have no purpose more than that; life will have moved out of it.
Here you have a temple which has not fallen down yet. Those who have eyes, they still see it alive. But before long it will have fallen, because you are engaged in demolishing it, you are busy destroying it; you are removing the bricks of this temple and making staircases with it in your house.
You have no idea what you are doing! You are selling the very god of the temple and filling your cash box with that money.
There is a reason for all this. Because the fish is born in the ocean, it cannot see the ocean. She is born in it, she is thoroughly acquainted with it; hence she forgets. The same way you are born in a temple, which you are unable to see, and you have forgotten it completely.
My whole effort is to enable you to start seeing that living temple. Either you must become the priest of that temple again - which is natural for you - or, if this is impossible, then you have to hand over the temple in alive condition to those in whom the longing for it has arisen, in whom the thirst for it has been born.
Before the temple of religion falls down, either you take charge of it, or the West takes charge of it, but it should not be allowed to crumble and become the showpiece of a museum. Through it the door to the possibility of man's survival will open. The race for money only annihilates, ambition just destroys, and leads in the end to insanity. No one has ever come to contentment through ambition.
No matter how great the ambition in which you succeed, each success brings only more discontent.
Even an Alexander dies weeping; he seems to have attained nothing, in spite of conquering the world. Only religion brings contentment. Contentment is a miracle. Even a beggar can be contented, while even an Alexander dies full of discontent.
Religion has some mysterious keys which open these doors of the heart that can shower nectar. It is these keys I am calling meditation. Through meditation, only one miracle is going to happen: you will become absolutely contented. But there is no greater mystery than this in the world! There is no greater mystery in the world than that of a person becoming contented.
Think about it. Just imagine for a little while that you have become contented, and what that moment will be like where not a single desire is arising, where your interest is not even in the very next moment, where you are totally here and now, as though all the flowers of the heart have opened and you are filled with their fragrance! And the fragrance is such that a gratitude is welling up within you and you can thank God; you can say that a single breath in this bliss is enough, life is fulfilled.
Think about it, imagine this state of absolute gratefulness and fulfillment. A single moment of it and the agony of all your lives together was worth going through. This is why Lin Chi says, "We know only one miracle."
I have a friend who asks me, "Why do you not make ashes appear in your hands? Millions of people will gather." Maybe, but they would all be the wrong people. Millions might come, but they would be the wrong millions. And in the crowd of those millions even the few right ones who are near me will be lost, because the right ones who are with me won't be able to remain in the front row of those millions. That crowd will come in the front, because it will be a crowd of ambition-chasers and madmen. People who flock to the hand that makes ashes appear are mad, they should be in the mad houses - they are sick. And once you have invited the sick, they will not let the healthy ones stick around.
It is a simple law of economics that counterfeit coins push the real coins out of the currency. If you are carrying a counterfeit one rupee note in your pocket, you want to use that one at the first opportunity and hang on to the real notes. So the false coins push the real coins out of circulation, because nobody uses the real ones if false ones are available. He uses the real ones only when it is not at all possible to use the false ones. And wherever the pretender appears, he pushes the real man in the back because he wants to move fast, before he is found out.
Religion has no concern with the millions; its concern is only with the few. But remember this, that if even a single person becomes religious unknown rays of peace begin to descend into the lives of millions. Such a person becomes like a sun, giving forth light. Even if a single person becomes contented it creates a crack in the discontented madness of the world. One link in the chain of discontent breaks. Even if just one person becomes a buddha, the degree of madness among all the people is reduced, because a buddha's peace is contagious, buddhahood is contagious.
Even as diseases spread, and one man infected with a disease can infect the whole town with it, so is buddhahood. When even a single person attains to buddhahood, the whole earth changes its way of being. Its whole behavior, its whole way of life - everything changes. If a buddha passes by your town, even if you were sleeping at the time, you will not remain the same. You cannot remain the same, even if you were asleep in your house at the time of his passing.
India today is a very discontented country, full of grief, and yet Westerners come here and experience peace through being among you. You will be astonished to learn that these travelers when they return to their countries write books and articles saying, "If you want to see man at peace, he is to be found in India."
Now this is very strange! One wonders what kind of peace they must be seeing in you, because there is certainly no peace within you. Nevertheless, so many buddhas have wandered amongst you that some shadow of them is left on you. You yourself are not aware of it. The shadow of the buddhas is left in your bones, in your flesh, in your tissues, without your knowing it, without any effort
by you - in fact, inspite of all your protests. It is like a man passing through a garden unintentionally and his clothes catching the fragrance of the flowers of which he may not be aware at all. It is even possible that he may be unable to smell that fragrance; his nose may be used to stink.
A man fell unconscious on the street. It was a hot day and he got sunstroke. A crowd of people gathered around him, trying to revive him. Someone took his shoe off and put it to the man's nose in the hope that this would bring him round, but to no avail.
The place was a perfume-sellers' market and a nearby shopkeeper hurried to the scene with a very precious perfume in his hand. "Give him this to sniff," he said; "it dispels unconsciousness."
The scent bottle was waved under the man's nose and immediately, even in the depths of his coma, the man began to writhe throwing his arms and legs this way and that as though he was choking.
A man who was standing in the crowd jumped forward and said, "Don't kill him! I know the man, and I know what he needs." The unconscious man was a fisherman and his empty fish basket was lying beside him. This man picked it up. "There are no fish in it now," he said, "but just sprinkle some water into it and the basket will be the perfect thing for him to smell. This fishy smell is perfume to him."
Sure enough, as soon as the fish basket was raised to the fisherman's nose, he took a deep breath, came back to his senses, and shouted, "You idiots, you were killing me!"
A man to whom the smell of fish is perfume will pass through a garden of flowers as though he is passing through a stink. This is exactly how you have passed by the buddhas. But still, without your knowledge and in spite of your opposition, the fragrance of the buddhas has permeated you. It is in your flesh and in your bones, and this is why people coming from the West see peace in you. You don't see it yourselves. They are in search of it, they have set out in search of the buddha, and in you, faintly, they see a ray.
But there is nothing in it for you to be proud about, it is not your virtue. You are unfortunate in the sense that where you could have been a buddha yourself, you are carrying around just a shadow of the buddha. And that shadow too your are ready to sell. If we have a buddha and the West wants to purchase him, we will take an atom bomb and give the buddha in exchange. After all, what can you do with a buddha? You can't fight wars with him, or plough fields, or run factories.
So this is the crisis: that the East has a temple already built which embodies in it the efforts of thousands of buddhas. The West has no such temple. But while the West is in search of it, you are in a coma. So either give this temple alive to the West.... Remember, the temple belongs to the one who is ready to pray; there is no hereditary right over a temple.
There was a church at Jabalpur that had stood closed for a long time. It was the church of a minority group and stood closed now. The priests had left when the British were leaving India and now lived in London. Some local Christians, who do not belong to that particular sect to which the church belonged, came to me to ask for my advice. They said, "We don't have a church. Do you think it would be alright for us to start using this church for our worship?"
I said, "A church belongs to the one who worships in it. So you start using it!"
They opened the lock, and began worshipping in the church. And I came and inaugurated it for them. But neither the police nor the court believes in this logic. I also had to go to court, because the vicar in London claimed that our action in opening the church was illegal - that we had taken possession of another's wealth.
All I said to the court was, "I know only one thing: a temple, a place of worship, belongs to those who worship in it. Is there any other heredity of a temple? Can you possess a place of worship like a property? Is a temple a piece of real estate? Those who are sitting in London, those who locked this church up, cannot worship here. So which is better: a locked-up temple, or an unlocked temple in which people are worshipping?"
The magistrate said, "We are not here to discuss such tricky things. Our concern is with the law.
This estate belongs to somebody else."
I said, "Your concern may be for the law; my concern is for the prayer. So what shall we do now?"
If India cannot look after this temple, then let it be handed over alive to those who are in search of it.
People ask me, "Why is it that so many foreigners are seen with you and so few Indians?" How can I help this? I am handing over the temple to them. The temple is yours, but you have stopped praying in it. And if this was a visible temple, there could be trouble in the courts; but this is an invisible temple and I will hand it over to them. Those who want to worship in it will take it away with them.
All that India has discovered has to reach alive to the West, or else India has to be reawakened, in which case there is no need to send it to the West. But it has to be saved! The heritage of Buddha, Krishna, Mahavira, Rama has to be saved. If it is lost it will again take five thousand years of hard work. To save it is precisely my effort!
FOR A FORTNIGHT NOW AND FROM DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS YOU HAVE BEEN EXPANDING FOR US THAT RAMA IS THE ONLY REFUGE, THERE IS NOWHERE TO GO BUT IN, AND WE ARE DEEPLY GRATEFUL TO YOU.
FINALLY, WE BEG YOU ONCE AGAIN TO EXPLAIN TO US SOME MORE IN ORDER THAT WE CAN REMAIN WAKEFUL TO THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE ESSENTIAL AND THE NONESSENTIAL, AND OUR EXPERIENCE OF "RAMA IS THE ONLY REFUGE" REMAINS DEEP AND UNDETERRED IN US.
The understanding of the essential from the nonessential is the greatest treasure, but the mind will never be able to make this distinction. The mind itself is nonessential and that is the difficulty. So whatever your mind tells you is essential, you can be sure that it is nonessential. Don't listen to the mind! To not listen to the mind is the greatest asceticism for the seeker.
And whether you ask for it or not, whether you listen to it or not, the mind goes on giving you advice.
The mind goes on and on repeating whatever it chooses, whatever it wants, and the trouble is that
because of its sheer repetitiveness you listen to it. You are not so wakeful that you can avoid listening to that which is constantly repeated. If someone goes on and on offering you advice and counsel, that counsel eventually becomes your own. And the mind is very skillful in giving counsel! It tells you: This is essential. And what, according to the mind is essential?
Sensual enjoyment is essential; sex, beauty, taste, appearance - these are of the essence. The mind's essence is bound to the senses: Whatever the senses enjoy, this is the essence. And all sensual pleasures lead you nowhere; they only consume you, they make you empty. All sensual pleasures are like scratching your scabies. If you never had scabies, it is worth experiencing - somehow create scabies once and go through the experience. One feels great joy in scratching the scabies, and the more you scratch, a kind of sweetness takes you over. It seems as if a peak experience of some great happiness is just around the corner, and then you start scratching even more vigorously - and suddenly a moment comes when the sweetness turns into bitterness and the whole thing becomes a bloody and painful experience.
Sensual pleasures are all sweetness in the beginning, and all pain in the end. All sensual pleasure is nothing but scratching of the scabies. But even if you have known the scratching, which brought only pain in the end, and blood oozed out leaving a wound behind, still when the scabies will itch again, your hands will be ready to scratch.
It is the mind's trick not to link the beginning with the end, to keep the cause disconnected from the effect. Mind will never draw the conclusion that the wound that finally appeared was the result of the initial scratching. The mind which comes to this conclusion is bound to move into sannyas. The one who sees that all happinesses turn into sorrows, for him the world has become meaningless. This then is the formula : all happinesses - all that the mind calls happinesses - become sorrows in the end. Wherever the mind says there is happiness, unhappiness is born. Yes, superficially there is the resemblance of happiness, but as soon as you dig deeper you find unhappiness.
If you go on listening to the mind as you have been doing for lives upon lives, as you are doing this very moment, then the mind leads you into the rut of the same pleasures you have tried so many times before. But you never make the connection between the beginning and the end. You only have to connect the beginning with the end to see that all pleasures are nothing but sorrows in disguise.
Once you see this, you understand that pleasures are only invitations to unhappiness, brightly painted doors that lead you into hell. But the decoration of the door attracts you so strongly that you immediately enter the hell and are never able to figure out that it is the decorated door that brought you here.
The door to hell has to be gaily decorated and painted, otherwise who will enter? The door to heaven is utterly plain. So if you think that the door to heaven will be decorated you will never find your way to heaven. The gates of heaven are totally clear of decoration; they do not even bear a sign saying, "Welcome to heaven!"- not even this much, it is not needed. In fact it is the unreal that has to advertise, it is unhappiness that has to offer a welcome, it is hell that issues invitations!
There is a ghee - purified butter - shop in Varanasi called The Real Pure Ghee Shop, and a sign hangs outside it saying, "Our ghee is real and pure. Anyone proving it impure will be given a cash reward of five thousand rupees at once." And below it in large red letters is written, "Many times such
prizes have been given!" This is to say, do not doubt in either way; the ghee is pure and the reward is also guaranteed.
The greater the unreality, the greater the show. The truth is so clear and simple, the untruth is such a complicated world. How will anyone go to hell if there is no perfume to entice, no one at the door to welcome?
I have heard: A man died and arrived at the crossroads between heaven and hell. He was a clever man, as men are, so he decided to find out as much as he could before choosing which way to go.
He made inquiries of passing travelers about which place he should visit first, about whether it was possible to return, and so on. He was a man of great worldly experience, and he was of the firm opinion that one should find out as much as possible before setting out for any place. Eventually a passing deity said to him, "This is difficult! Come, I will show you both the places, and then you can choose."
First he took the man to heaven, and it was so quiet, so peaceful, that it looked gloomy to him. You come from such an intensely crowded marketplace - which you have mistaken for real life - that in utter peace you find only gloom. When you move into peace you feel sadness there. For this man heaven was like a graveyard, because the graveyard is the only place where we know a little peace; there is no other place where we can be in any peace. Only the graveyard is still carrying some peace with it; from the rest of life peace has long ago moved away. We have made life so restless that only in death do we have a little peace.
This man found heaven so depressing! no color, no music, no song, no dance, no celebration, no nothing - just a deep quiet. He thought, "This is not appealing at all. But before I make up my mind I should see hell too." So, with the deity he went to hell also.
The people he saw in heaven were not smiling, not laughing; nowhere the sound of a good belly laughter. Yes, you will only find people roaring with laughter in hell, not in heaven, because people laugh to hide their unhappiness. Why should people laugh in a place of utter peace and happiness?
So when you see a man roaring with laughter don't assume that he is in some great state of being.
That laughter is concealing some great sorrow behind it; it is a trick, he is trying to forget himself, he is trying to amuse himself. This is why the more the unhappiness increases in the world the more the modes of recreation increase. Movies, television, radio, theatres, clubs - all these are inventions of the unhappy man. If man is happy, why should he go to a club? He will be so happy and content just sitting in his courtyard that where is the question of his going anywhere else? Why should he bother with the radio? All its noise will only shatter the music that was surrounding him. Why should he strain his eyes watching television? The empty sky is enough - more than enough! No, it is the sad man who invents contrivances for pleasure and amusement.
All was quiet in heaven. To this man, the people living there seemed sad. No one was even talking, no gossips anywhere - there was not a single newspaper, because there was never any news. To have a news item there has to be some trouble happening. In hell the newspapers are published at every hour of the day - and on beautiful paper. Nowhere else will you find newspapers like those, because it is hell of course where things are happening!
The man said to the deity, "Take me to hell, so that I can decide where I want to go."
So they went to hell. Bands were playing there, great decorations were all around right from the entrance, everybody looked ecstatic, and the Devil was there to welcome them. In heaven there had been no trace of God's presence, and when the man had inquired after him he had been told, "We don't know. he may be. he may be in himself. We have no idea where he is. We only know ourselves. And one who knows oneself - that is where God is as far as we can say." But in heaven, the man could find no trace of God. Here in hell the Devil himself, along with his subordinates, was at the doors to greet him and embrace the man heartily in welcome.
The man thought, "This is the place to live. But things are the wrong way around, the signboards seem to have changed places by some mistake. Where it said Heaven that place feels like hell, and where it says Hell, this seems to be heaven." So he said "I am coming here."
At these words the deity took his leave of the man, the doors closed behind him, and the Devil grabbed the man by the neck. "What are you doing?" the man cried.
"That was only the reception committee," said the Devil. "Now the real hell begins. All you have seen so far was just to make you feel welcome; now prepare yourself to meet the hell you read about in the scriptures. That area is our reception area, now come to the real hell." The man looked and saw the flames roaring beneath huge cauldrons into which people were being thrown.
This is the state of the senses too: a similar reception committee at the door - and then the real hell begins.
If you want to distinguish the essential from the nonessential, then be aware, be alert to what the senses say is essential. This is the religious discipline. And wherever the senses say, "Here there is nothing essential," then stay there, don't run away from there; dig deep, and that is where you will find the essential.
When you sit in meditation your mind and your senses will say, "What are you doing? There is nothing of essence in it, why are you wasting your time?" You could have finished reading the newspaper in the meanwhile or you could have listened to the radio, you could have gossiped with your friends, or you could have gone to the restaurant. Why are you wasting your time like this?" Or your mind will say, "Come on, get up, start working! This much time you could have used for earning money. This time you could have converted into coins."
People come to me and they say, "There is no time for meditation." And these are the very people I have seen sitting and gossiping in the markets. Ask them what they are doing and they will tell you that they are chatting, chewing pan, smoking and passing the time! But if I ask them to meditate they say that they have no time. They are not aware that this "There is no time" is an understanding conveyed to them by their senses... because where senses are interested, they say, "Pass your time here, the very use of time is to pass it." And when they sit down to meditate, then their minds, their senses ask them, "Where is the time? Why are you wasting it? Who knows how much you might have earned in the meanwhile! And this way, just sitting, you will become like an idiot."
So whenever your mind and your senses tell you "There is nothing to be found here," beware. There is something there. Start digging, right there! This very digging is called spiritual discipline. And if this becomes the very structure and style of your life, that is called sannyas.
Where you find happiness at the door, there unhappiness will come later on. The one who is prepared to bear with unhappiness at the door attains to the very source of happiness. One who is ready to go through unhappiness in the beginning, he attains to the ultimate happiness.One who asks for happiness in the beginning, he attains to unhappiness.
The meaning of essential is: where unhappiness may come perhaps first, and happiness will follow.
And the meaning of nonessential is: where happiness, or what appears to be happiness happens first, and unhappiness follows. The gateway to the essential is free of all pomp and ceremony, and hides heaven behind it. The nonessential gives you a big welcome with fireworks exploding and a festival of colors happening at the door, but the hell is hidden behind, the pain and misery are waiting for you in the backyard. Behind the thorns the flower is hiding, and behind the flower the thorns. It is what we gain in the end that stays with us, so it is he who keeps the end in mind who finds the essence. The one who only pays attention to the beginning wanders in the nonessential.
The long journey of wandering in the nonessential is our world. To take a leap from the nonessential to the essential is called moksha - liberation - or nirvana, or Rama, or whatever else you wish to call it. And the one who has seen that the senses are illusory, that they only cause us to wander, enters into the refuge of Rama, saying, nahin ram bin thaon - Rama is the only refuge. Right now you are in the refuge of your senses.
We should look at this from one more aspect. The senses are many; you can count at least five. But they do not end at five, because each of the senses has many forms, each of the senses is a crowd in itself. So one who takes refuge in the senses, the senses become fragmented because of many masters. Even two masters are enough trouble; imagine what will happen to you if there are many masters!
The Christians have an old story. God was testing Job for his trust, his sincerity, his surrender, so he took everything away from him, and Job did not complain at all. God took everything from Job except his wife, and there was not a shadow of complaint in Job's mind. Much thought has been given to this story concerning why God put Job to such a test - and everything was taken away and Job made no complaint at all.
But one man asked a Hassidic master, "The other matters I can understand, but why did God not take Job's wife away from him as well? If God wanted to take everything away from Job, taking his wife as well would have perfected the test. So why not her too? It seems that in fact not everything was taken from him, something was left behind."
The Hassidic master gave a very remarkable reply. He said, "There is a mystery behind this that you don't know about, which is this. When God saw that even when he deprived Job of all that he had, Job remained true to God, and then everything returned to Job twice over. This was why God did not take his wife - because he would have had to return two wives. And it is difficult enough to live with one wife; it would have been far harder for Job if he had to face two wives! Job had proved his trust, so why give him such an ordeal to face?" Two wives would break anybody in two; two wives means two masters.
Each and every sense is a master, and the result is that you are broken into many parts, you are converted into fragments, and all these fragments walk their separate ways. You become like a
bullock cart to which the oxen are harnessed in every direction: each bullock tries to pull the cart in his direction. Sometimes one bullock drags the cart into a ditch, sometimes another; it is impossible to keep to the road. How can the cart be steered on to the road when its bullocks are harnessed in all directions? When one bullock pulls with all his strength, the others give up, or drag on no longer interested, and the cart begins to fall apart. You are never going to reach anywhere; you will just collapse and die where you are.
All your senses are pulling you towards themselves. The eyes say, "Come, in beauty is the real juice." The ears say, "Listen, there is no greater happiness than listening to this sound." And the taste buds and sex and smells are all calling you, are all pulling you in their direction. You feel the pull in every direction. Under such circumstances you live in a state of anguish. There is nothing fruitful in such a situation; just your bones are being pulled loose and stretched and broken, and you disappear without ever arriving anywhere. You never get to see any shore. This is the situation of your taking refuge in the senses. You have made the senses your only refuge and the reality is that one who chooses many masters goes insane.
Insanity is the ultimate state of sensual people, the madhouse is their final destination. If you do not end up there it only means that you were not total in what you were doing! If you remain lukewarm, stuck halfway, that is another matter, but if you move fully in accordance with your senses you are bound to reach the madhouse. That is its pure conclusion. If a worldly person does not go insane it only means that the person was worldly but not totally so, and so he remains hanging in the middle. The bullocks were pulling his cart their separate ways, but they were not being fed properly!
Although the pushing and pulling went on, the cart somehow stuck to the road. There has been no journey, but somehow the cart kept on the road and did not fall in the ditch.
This is who we call a good man, one who is holding on to the road somehow, who feeds the senses a little only. The more you feed them the higher will be your pitch of madness. Therefore, the differences amongst the crowd of mad people around us are only of degrees and not of any basic nature. Some are a little more mad, some a little less; some are mad by fifty degrees, some by sixty degrees, and yet another by seventy degrees... and then there are those who are at ninety nine degrees, just waiting to cross the border! Yes, the differences are only of degree. Where there are many masters, insanity will be the outcome. Insanity is the state of being broken, shattered, into many pieces.
One master - this is the meaning of taking refuge in Rama. The word Rama has nothing at all to do with Rama, the son of King Dasharatha. Rama means the Brahman, the divine residing within you.
You are Rama!
You are not body, you are soul.
If you are body, the senses will make you crazy. If you are soul, the senses will slowly surrender to this soul.
This does not mean that the person who is surrendered to Rama is not going to eat, or see the beauty of the open sky; nor does it mean that his ears will not be delighted by music. But one revolutionary transformation has taken place: that his senses are surrendered to Rama, not that
Rama is surrendered to the senses. His soul is not a slave to the senses, the senses are the servants of his soul.
And then a basic difference will take place. You will slowly notice that when your senses are your masters, the more sexual a music the more you enjoy it. But as your senses go on surrendering to Rama, gradually you will find that sexual music is no music at all. You will feel it just a disturbance, as discordant and disturbing as a kind of blow. This is why Western music feels like a hit. It feels as though it is upsetting you, jarring you, it does not give you a feeling of peace.As your senses will surrender towards the inner, your music will become a kirtan and bhajan, spirituality will enter your music. And then if any music disturbs your peace you will find it discordant to listen to.
A moment will come when you will only find music in the state of emptiness. Only then, when all is quiet around you, not a single sound, only then you will discover that the ultimate music is going on.
Only then the ultimate sound, which we have called Omkar, the sound of Om... It is not a sound, it is not a sound struck on the strings of a veena - because that too is a hit; there too we are hitting on the strings of the veena. Agreed you are hitting in a manner where there is a rhythm between the hits, but still it is a hit.
As the senses surrender towards the within, the music of the void will be experienced. Sex will fade away and love will arise. Sounds will be gone from the music, only the void will remain. Sexuality will be gone from the sex, only love will remain. And this will happen with all the senses. The eyes will slowly cease to be interested in the form, their interest will be in the formless. There will no longer be beauty for the eyes in the form; rather because of the form there will be a hindrance in seeing the beauty. If you can really see somebody, you will find that no matter how beautiful the person's body, it is because of the body that his beauty is blemished. No matter how beautiful the body, it cannot be truly beautiful. So because of the body the person's beauty is marred. Beauty will only be perfect when there is no body at all; then there will be nobody to hinder.
In China the mystics say that when a musician has scaled the heights and reached the peaks of music, he breaks his instrument, because now the instrument can only be an obstruction. When a sculptor surpasses all limits in carving figures, he throws away his tools, because he knows now that no matter what his chisels may carve it will not be truly beautiful, because chisels cannot shape the formless, they can only create form. And no matter how beautiful the form may be it will fall short, because form can never be perfect. It is always subject to further improvement - and further and further, there is no end to improvement.
The formless is perfect. In it there is no room for improvement. Now your eyes will still see the beauty, but in the formless, not in the form. Now you will still enjoy the food, but what you are eating will be nonessential; the essential to you will be the life force hidden in the food. It is in this state that the seers of the Upanishads said: Annam Brahma - food is God. You could not have even thought how food can be God: How can bread be God? And if you ask the pundits to explain, they start telling crap!
"Food is God" is the experience of that state when senses have surrendered to the soul within. Then you will see Rama even in bread; then bread will be only the outer shell and Rama will be the reality within it. Then bread will enter your body and later leave it, but Rama will remain within. Then all your senses will be experiencing Brahman in the world.
As long as you are still surrendered to the senses, you find the world even in God. The day you are surrendered to Rama, you will start seeing God even in what we call the world.
Nahin Ram Bin Thaon means your refuge is within you; you are running around carrying your destination within you. And you are unnecessarily searching for it here and there, and listening to your senses: How far have you not yet traveled, how many earths and stars and moons have you not visited. How many births, how many forms, how many shapes you have taken, you did what your senses asked you to do, but you have not arrived anywhere. How tired you are, yet you go on listening to the senses.
Because of my constant traveling, I wear ear plugs when I am sleeping in the train. Then all noises are cut off. The air conditioner goes on making noise, but I don't hear it. Also I catch cold very often, and when I catch cold my breathing becomes noisy. Then I have to remove the ear plugs, because then they start functioning like a stethoscope; the inner noise becomes so loud that it is impossible for me to sleep. So I remove the ear plugs, and then I start hearing the air conditioner and other noises. Now I do not hear the inner sound; although it still goes on, it does not reach me. Similar is the situation. As long as your senses are engaged in listening outside, the inner sound will not be heard. And the day the inner sound is heard, the senses will become introverts; the outside will disappear for them.
There are two types of states you can be in. In the senses there is shelter; this is one state your mind can be in. Really, there is no shelter in the senses, no resting place. Not only is there no destination, there is not even any journey in the senses, they are all useless. Then you have a shelter in Rama.
Rama is within you. You are Rama.
So when I am asking you to leave everything to Rama, I am asking you to leave everything to the inner. Let the outer come towards the inner, let it surrender towards the inner. Let the circumference surrender towards the center. This is the meaning of Rama the only refuge.
What you are doing is surrendering the center to the periphery. You are destroying the house for the sake of the fencing, you are demolishing the palace for the sake of the boundary walls around it.
You are looking after the body and losing yourself completely.
Wake up! And the only thing meditation will do is it will close the outside for a brief while, so that the inner melody can also be heard. Once you hear that inner melody you will start running ecstatically towards it like a madman.
You must have heard how when Krishna plays on his flute, the gopis, his girl friends, become completely incapable of doing their housework. They lose all control, they leave their chores and run to him completely intoxicated. The story is just symbolic. The gopis are feminine - they symbolize the senses. The senses are feminine.
The day the inner flute begins playing - in fact the day it is heard, because it is constantly playing; you pay a little attention to it and it is heard - that is it! All your senses forget all about the milking and churning, they forget the water pots, they drop their work and start running intoxicated towards it. This is the ultimate state, where the flute of the inner Krishna is playing, and all the senses start dancing around him. The periphery starts dancing round the center. We have called this state raas, this phenomenon of Krishna dancing and the gopis dancing around him.
You are in a reverse state; the gopis are running away and you are running after them! And remember, no gopi ever desires the one who runs after her. The moment you ran after a gopi she is gone after someone else; you have become worthless to her. The very fact of your running after reveals that you are not even your own master, so how can you be entitled to master others?
A man running after the senses... even the senses realize how worthless you are. You have no substance, you are running after the insignificant.
Become conscious! Meditation will make you conscious. Meditation will change the dimension of your journey. And once you begin hearing the inner melody, the revolution has happened. Now the senses will be at their posts and will be healthy. Their dance will also continue - because there is no disturbance of any kind from their dance - but they will be on the periphery, at their respective places. They will move with you, they will be your shadow. And the one who found this inner Rama, this interiority, has nothing more to attain. Only then contentment happens, never before this.
Lin Chi is right when he says that the only miracle he is aware of is contentment. This is what I say to you: I have only one miracle, and that is contentment. And the day you will also be a little contented, you will know that all other miracles are only childish nonsense and belong to street jugglers. They are not signs of maturity.
Maturity longs for only one thing and that is such a contentment which lacks nothing; such a perfect contentment beyond which there remains nothing to be achieved; a contentment which is so total that every cell and every pore of your body overflows with the delight, the thankfulness and the gratitude towards the divine.
This can happen.All arrangements for it to happen are within you; just a slight rearranging is all that is needed. All the ingredients are present, only a small change has to be managed.. You have the flour, you have the water, and the oven is lit. All you have to do is make the dough, roll it into bread and let it bake, and the hunger will be satiated.But you sit there, with the flour and water and burning fire - but weeping! You have everything, just a small re-organizing...
And this reorganizing is the spiritual discipline.