A very simple and humble affair
IS BLISSFULNESS AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE TOWARDS EXISTENCE?
Sanjiva, it is just the reverse. Blissfulness is not an expression of gratitude; on the contrary, gratitude is an expression of blissfulness. First comes the experience of bliss. First you attain to the state of consciousness where ecstasy is natural, where your potential blossoms to its ultimate expression.
A great dance arises in you, a tremendous peace and a deep silence - but it is not the silence of the graveyard, it is a silence fully alive, throbbing with a heartbeat. This whole experience is bliss. And because of this bliss that existence makes available to you, a feeling of gratitude, a thankfulness arises.
To me, this is the only authentic prayer. Not the prayers that are being done in the churches, in the synagogues, in the temples, before stone statues of God - those prayers are full of greed. They are asking for something; in other words they are complaining about something. Something is wrong in life and God should put it right. There is no gratitude in those prayers; on the contrary, they are absolute indicators of ungratefulness.
The moment you ask for something, you are saying that what you deserve has not been given to you, that what is your birthright has not been fulfilled. You are throwing the responsibility upon existence.
Rather than being grateful for what has been given to you, you are showing ungratefulness out of what your greed demands, your ambition demands, out of what your desires are manipulating you towards. The prayers in the so-called temples of God are not true prayers. They are full of your greed, desire, lust.
The authentic prayer arises only to the meditator. It is not addressed towards a god - which is only a hypothesis; there is no proof for any God. Yes, there is absolute proof for godliness: a quality of divineness in the sun rising in the morning, in the starry night, in the beautiful flight of a bird on the wing, in the flowers, in the trees, in the oceans.
All this vast universe is enough unto itself. It needs no God - God is only a consolation for the ignorant. The meditator encounters existence itself. His own being becomes the experience of godliness. He knows that in his own inner being he is part of eternal life. There is no death, there has never been any death. Experiencing this, there arises a dance so subtle... there arises a deep gratitude, not addressed to anybody in particular but simply addressed to the whole cosmos. To the stars, to the trees, to the earth, to the moon, to the animals, to people... it is an unaddressed gratefulness.
And unless you experience an unaddressed gratefulness, you don't know exactly the meaning of prayer. The word 'prayer' gives a wrong connotation; it should be changed into prayerfulness, just as I am changing 'God' into godliness.
H.G. Wells has written one of the most important histories of the world. And when he comes to write about Gautam Buddha he has a tremendous statement to make. He says Gautam Buddha was the most godless person, yet the most godly. Gautam Buddha did not believe in any god, but he believed that everybody can become a god. To be a god is nothing but the realization of your total potential. Your seed is carrying within itself, in its womb, the ultimate flowering of the lotus paradise.
There are possibilities of as many gods as there are living beings in existence, if every one comes to its ultimate expression.
The very idea of one god creating the world is dictatorial. It is the fanatic's idea; it is fascist. One god is very dangerous to all democratic values, and once we accept one god as the creator of existence we are depriving man of his dignity, his freedom. He is reduced to a puppet. If God is the creator, you can't have any freedom. If there is a God who is ruling the world, then what freedom can you have?
In India they say that without God's will even a small leaf does not move. They think they are being very religious when they make such statements. But if without God's will even a leaf of a tree cannot move in the wind, then what freedom can you have? Then we are only puppets; our strings are in the hands of an unknown God. If he wants us to be miserable we will be miserable. If he wants us to be blissful we will be blissful. It will not be a dignity; it will be simply that everything is in his hands.
We remain beggars.
People like Gautam Buddha want you to be emperors. They give you back your dignity, your honor, your self-respect. God and self-respect cannot exist together. There is no coexistence possible.
Gautam Buddha denied God not because he was an atheist; he denied God because he was a lover of ultimate freedom. His denial has a totally different reason. Atheists have been denying God not for the freedom of man, but just to give man a licentiousness: "Eat, drink, be merry, because there is no God and you need not be worried. You need not feel any responsibility towards life, towards yourself." Atheists make people irresponsible. They make people synonymous with vegetables. They deny your inner being; they deny your very spirituality.
Gautam Buddha is not an atheist. He certainly is not a theist - he does not propose any hypothetical god who has to be worshipped. On the contrary, he changes the whole dimension of religion. The people who are looking towards a god in the sky are looking outward. Gautam Buddha insists there is no god; there is no need to look outward - look inward. And if you can look inward, with your eyes closed in deep silence, you will start feeling a new quality to your life, to your existence; a quality that can only be called godliness, that can only be called divine... something more than matter. You don't end with matter.
Matter may be the foundation of life, but it is not its highest peak. Matter may be the roots of the tree, but it is not its flowers. And unless you know the flowering consciousness in you, you cannot feel bliss.
Bliss is the ultimate experience of your coming home, of your feeling at ease with existence, relaxed, in a total unity and harmony.
The moment your heartbeat and the heartbeat of existence become one, the moment your small dance is in tune with the vast dance that goes on around you, the moment you become part of this celebration that is existence, there arises a tremendous gratitude. You don't have to do it. You simply find it arising from you, just as fragrance arises from the flowers. It is a spontaneous thing.
This is true prayerfulness.
I have told you a beautiful story by Leo Tolstoy. An archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church was very angry because thousands of people were going to see three absolutely unknown villagers who lived on a small island in a lake. People thought they were saints.
Now in Christianity, unless the church certifies you as a saint, you cannot be a saint. This is such a stupidity that you cannot conceive... For centuries this has been going on. In fact, the English word 'saint' comes from sanctus. It means sanction by the church. Unless the church gives you a sanction... it is almost like getting an honorary D.Litt. from a university.
Sainthood cannot be certified by anyone. There is no one who has the authority to certify anybody's sainthood. Sainthood is, in itself, self evident. The moment you see it, you know it. The moment you feel it, you know it. It needs no other approval.
But the archbishop was very angry; "Without my permission, without my sanction, how have three idiots from a village become saints?" And people were not coming to his congregation; people were going to visit those faraway saints.
Finally he decided to go and see for himself what was going on. He took a motorboat, reached the small island. It was so small that there was only one tree on the island, but with beautiful foliage, and all those three saints were sitting underneath it.
Just by looking at them the archbishop knew: These are absolutely uneducated villagers - who has created this rumor? And how gullible are people that they are worshipping these people? And as he descended from his boat all the three villagers touched his feet. He was immensely happy.
He said, "Are you the three priests the whole country is talking about?"
They said, "We don't know. People come to us, we cannot prevent them coming. All that we know is that we are absolutely contented. All that we know is that there is no more desire, no more ambition.
Life is just a tremendous blessing, and we are enjoying it. More than that we don't know. We are uneducated, we are villagers."
The archbishop was very happy. He said, "What kind of prayer do you do?"
Those three saints looked at each other ashamed, embarrassed. Finally one said that it was not much of a prayer. "We have created it by ourselves. We don't know what is the authorized prayer of the church, but whatever we have been doing we will tell you."
Christianity believes in the trinity of God - that God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, three together. And those three villagers said, "Thinking that he is three and we are also three, we have made our prayer: 'You are three, we are three, have mercy on us!' More than that we don't know."
The archbishop was very angry - "This is not the right thing for a Christian to do! How have you dared to create such a stupid prayer? I will tell you the authorized version which the church accepts."
They said, "We will be very grateful, but make it a little short, because we are uneducated and we cannot remember anything long."
The archbishop said, "You will have to remember it!"
They said, "We will try if you insist."
The archbishop recited the whole prayer. It was really long, and when he had said the whole prayer one of the three said, "You will have to repeat it at least three times, because we are three. Be kind and compassionate so we can remember it."
He repeated it three times, they listened silently, and the archbishop was very happy. They touched his feet again, and he said, "You are nice people, but remember the prayer that I have taught you."
And then he left in his motorboat.
When he was just in the middle of the lake he saw something almost like a cloud, running towards the boat. He could not figure out what was happening. Then he saw - those three saints were coming, running on the lake. They said, "Wait! We have forgotten the prayer, so we thought it would be better to catch hold of you. At least three times more; have mercy on us."
But seeing them walking on water, the archbishop thought, "Perhaps I have unnecessarily disturbed these beautiful people."
He said, "Forgive me for interfering. You continue your old prayer, which has been heard. My prayer has not been heard yet. My prayer is nothing but my intellectual approach to a hypothetical God.
Your prayer comes from your very heart. Your prayer is not to ask for something, your prayer is just a thankfulness because you are feeling so contented. You don't have anything, but you have tremendous contentment. Your bliss is enough. Then, whatever way you want to give thanks is up to you. There is no need for you to know about the authorized prayer. On the contrary... I'm feeling miserable; I have missed my whole life in reading, learning, accumulating knowledge, holy scriptures. But I cannot walk on the waters. Your simple prayer has been heard."
This small story from Leo Tolstoy has always appealed to me tremendously. The implications of the story are great. You need not believe in God to be religious. First you have to be religious to know something about godliness. All the religions are putting the bullock behind the cart. Hence the whole humanity is suffering - no movement, no progress, no spiritual growth.
Your religiousness, your blissfulness, your meditativeness, your experience of your own interiority, your own subjectivity... coming to the very center of the cyclone, you will be able to dance a prayer, to sing a prayer, and it need not be anything intellectual. It has to be something coming from your being spontaneously.
It will be a simple thank you.
And not to any personal god, because there is no personal god - a thank you to the whole universe.
The whole universe is intelligent. The whole universe is divine.
Sanjiva, you are asking "Is blissfulness an expression of gratitude towards existence?" No, it is just vice versa: gratitude is an expression of blissfulness. Without knowing bliss, how can you be grateful? Grateful for what?
Put things right: first, search for those rare moments when you are in tune with existence. Seek the inner path so that you can know who you are.
Knowing oneself is the whole of religion. Anything else is just a footnote.
The essential religion is simply expressed by Socrates in two words, "Know thyself." In fact, within these two words are included all the holy scriptures of the world and all the mystical experiences of people who have come to know themselves. The moment you know yourself you have known the most precious thing in existence; your consciousness, your bliss. And you have known the most beautiful, almost unbelievable experience - what we were talking about this morning: om mani padme hum. You have come to experience something which can only be called the sound of silence, the diamond in the lotus - an experience of a beauty which cannot be seen with open eyes, a sound of silence which cannot be heard by your outer ears. But at the very center it is already present; you just have to go there.
I teach you not to be bothered by any scriptures, not to be bothered by any churches, not to be bothered by any philosophical or theological systems.
Religion is a very simple and humble affair.
Just go withinwards.
Know thyself; be thyself.
And all blessings will shower on you as if thousands of roses are showering. Only out of that experience will gratitude arise. Gratitude is not possible before experiencing something of the ultimate.
EXPERIENCING HEADACHE, I DISCOVERED MY MALE NATURE. EXPERIENCING HEARTACHE, I DISCOVERED MY FEMALE NATURE.
BELOVED MASTER, IS THERE ALSO GOING TO BE A BEING-ACHE?
Paritosh Gyano, there is no such thing as being-ache. The being knows superb wholeness, health.
It knows no disease, no sickness, no death. To go beyond your head and your heart is to transcend the duality of existence. This transcendence brings you to your being.
Being simply means you have dropped the ego that was part of your head. You have even dropped the separation, very subtle and delicate, that was part of your heart; you have dropped all barriers between you and the whole. Suddenly the dewdrop has slipped from the lotus leaf into the ocean.
It has become one with it.
In a sense you are no more and in a sense you are for the first time. As a dewdrop you are no more but as the ocean you are for the first time, and this is your nature.
One of the great psychologists, William James, has contributed tremendously by coining a new word for spiritual experience, the "oceanic" experience. He is perfectly right. It is the experience of expansion, all boundaries disappearing farther and farther and farther away. A moment comes when you don't see any boundaries to you; you become the ocean itself. You are, but you are no more in a prison. You are, but you are no more in a cage. You have come out of the cage, you have come out of the prison, and you are flying into the sky in total freedom.
Remember one thing: a bird on the wing and the same bird in the cage are not the same at all. The bird in the cage is no more the same because it has lost its freedom, it has lost its tremendous sky.
It has lost the joy of dancing in the wind, in the rain, in the sun. You may have given it a golden cage but you have destroyed its dignity, its freedom, its joy. You have reduced it into a prisoner - it looks like the same bird but it is not.
A man confined to the boundaries of the mind and the heart and the body is imprisoned, walls upon walls.
In the last prison where I was in America they had three doors. It was the most modern, ultramodern, technologically; the first jail of its kind made in America. It had been opened just three months before.
Everything was electronic. Those three doors were almost impossible for any human being to cross.
First they were all electrified - just to touch them was enough and you would be dead. And they were so high that no ladder or anything was possible. And then... one after another, three.
They opened only by using a remote controller, which my jailer used to keep in his car. He would press the button, and the first gate would open. It was almost like a mountain, so big, so high, and as the car entered, it would have to wait for the first door to come down. Only when the first door had come down would the remote controller work on the second door. And when the second door had come down, then the remote controller would work on the third door.
When I entered for the first time that jail in Portland I told the jailer, "Perhaps you don't know, but you have managed a perfect symbol."
He said, "Symbol of what?"
I said, "This is the situation of man: the body is the first door, the mind the second, and the heart is the third. And then behind these three doors is the poor soul."
He said, "I never thought about it. It must be just coincidence; nobody has thought about it, that three doors... why three? Why not four?" He said, "I don't know. I have not made it."
But I told him, whoever made it perhaps unconsciously felt something of the symmetry, the correspondence between the imprisonment of human consciousness and being an architect for making a prison for human beings. Once you get beyond the body... which is not very difficult, because the body is very beautiful in a way because it is still in tune with nature. Hence to go beyond it is very easy; it does not give much resistance. It is very cooperative.
The real problem is the mind, because the mind is created by human society, specially designed to keep you a slave. The body has a beauty of its own. It is still part of the trees and the ocean and the mountains and the stars. It has not been polluted by the society. It has not been poisoned by the churches and religions and the priests. But the mind has been completely conditioned, distorted, given ideas which are absolutely false. Your mind is functioning almost like a mask and hiding your original face.
To transcend the mind is the whole art of meditation, and the East has devoted almost ten thousand years to a single purpose - all its intelligence and genius - of discovering how to transcend the mind and its conditionings. That whole effort of ten thousand years has culminated in refining the method of meditation.
In a single word, meditation means watching the mind, witnessing the mind. If you can witness the mind, just silently looking at it - without any justification, without any appreciation, without any condemnation, with no judgment at all, for or against - simply watching as if you have nothing to do with it... it is just the traffic that goes on in the mind. Stand by the side and watch it. And the miracle of meditation is that just by watching it, it slowly slowly disappears.
The moment mind disappears, you come to the last door which is very fragile - and that too is not polluted by the society - your heart. In fact, your heart immediately gives you a way. It never prevents you, it is ready almost every moment for you to come to it and it will open the door towards the being. The heart is your friend.
The head is your enemy. The body is your friend, the heart is your friend, but just in between the two stands the enemy like a Himalaya, a big mountain wall. But it can be crossed over by a simple method. Gautam Buddha called the method vipassana. Patanjali called the method dhyan. And the Sanskrit word dhyan became, in China, ch'an and in Japan it became zen. But it is the same word.
In English there is not exactly any equivalent for zen or dhyan or ch'an. We arbitrarily use the word meditation.
But you should remember: whatever meaning is given to the word meditation in your dictionaries, is not the meaning as I am using it. All the dictionaries will say meditation means thinking about something. Whenever I say to a Western mind, "Meditate" the immediate question is, "On what?"
The reason is that in the West, meditation never developed to the point dhyan or ch'an or zen have developed in the East.
Meditation means simply awareness - not thinking about something or concentrating on something or contemplating something. The Western word is always concerned with something. Meditation as I am using it simply means a state of awareness.
Just like a mirror - do you think a mirror is trying to concentrate on something? Whatever comes before it is reflected, but the mirror is unconcerned. Whether a beautiful woman comes before it or an ugly woman comes before it or nobody comes before it, it is absolutely unconcerned; a simple, reflective source. Meditation is only a reflecting awareness. You simply watch whatever comes in front of you.
And by this simple watching, mind disappears. You have heard about miracles, but this is the only miracle. All other miracles are simply stories.
Jesus walking on water or turning water into wine or making dead people come to life again... all are beautiful stories. If they are symbolically understood they have great significance. But if you insist that they are historical facts, then you are being simply stupid. Symbolically they are beautiful.
Symbolically, every master in the world is bringing people to life who are dead. What am I doing here? Pulling people out of their graves! And Jesus pulled out Lazarus after he had been dead only four days. I have been pulling people out who have been dead for years, for lives! And because they have lived in their graves so long they are very reluctant to come out. They give all their resistance - "What are you doing? This is our house! We have lived here peacefully, don't disturb us!"
Symbolically it is right: every master is trying to give you a new life. As you are, you are not really alive. You are just vegetating. If the miracles are interpreted as metaphors, they have a beauty.
I am reminded of a strange story which Christians have completely dropped from their scriptures.
But it exists in the Sufi literature. The Sufi story is about Jesus.
Jesus is coming into a town and just as he enters the town he sees a man whom he recognizes; he had known him before. He was blind and Jesus had cured his eyes. That man is running after a prostitute. Jesus stops the man and asks him, "Do you remember me?"
He said, "Yes, I remember you and I can never forgive you! I was blind and I was perfectly happy, because I had never seen any beauty. You gave me eyes. Now tell me - what am I to do with these eyes? These eyes are attracted towards beautiful women."
Jesus could not believe... he was stunned, shocked: "I thought I had done some great service to this man and he is angry! He is saying, 'Before you gave me eyes, I never thought about women, I never thought that there were prostitutes. But since you have given me eyes you have destroyed me.'"
Jesus leaves the man without saying anything - there is nothing to say. And as he moves on he finds another man lying in the gutter, saying all kinds of meaningless things, completely drunk. Jesus pulls him out of the gutter and recognizes that he had given him legs. But now he is feeling a little shaky himself. He asks the man, "Do you know me?"
The man says, "Yes, I know you. Even though I am drunk, I cannot forgive you: it is you who disturbed my peaceful life. Without legs I could not go anywhere. I was a peaceful person - no fight, no gambling, no question of friends, no question of going to the pub. You gave me legs, and since then I have not found a single moment of peacefulness, of sitting silently. I am running after this, after that, and in the end when I am tired I get drunk. And you can see yourself what is happening to me. You are responsible for my situation! You should have told me beforehand that if I was getting the legs, all these problems were going to arise. You did not warn me. You simply cured me without even asking my permission."
Jesus became so freaked, he left the city. He did not go any further. He said, "Nobody knows what kind of people I am going to meet." But as he was coming out of the city he saw a man who was trying to hang himself from a tree. He said, "Wait, what are you doing?"
He said, "Again you have come! I was dead, and you forced me to be alive again. Now I don't have employment, my wife has left me because she thinks a man who has died cannot be revived; she thinks I am a ghost. Nobody wants to meet me. Friends simply don't recognize me. I go into the city and people don't look at me. Now what do you want me to do? And again when I am going to hang myself you are here! What kind of revenge are you taking? Can't you leave me alone? Now I cannot even hang myself. Once I was dead and you revived me - if I hang myself you are going to revive me again. You are so intent on making miracles, you don't even care who are the sufferers of your miracles!"
When I came to see this story, I loved it. Every Christian should know about it.
There is no miracle except one, and that is the miracle of meditation which takes you away from the mind. And the heart is always welcoming you. It is always ready to give you a way, to guide you towards your being. And the being is your wholeness, it is your ultimate well-being.
A policeman notices a car weaving dangerously along the road, and when he pulls it over a beautiful woman gets out. She is clearly under the influence of drink but to make sure, the cop gives her a breath test. Sure enough, she is over the limit, so the cop says, "Lady, you have had two or three stiff ones."
"My God," cries the woman, "it shows that too?"
Headache is okay, heartache is okay, but don't go beyond that. Beyond that there is no ache, no pain, no suffering. Beyond the heart is all that you have always longed for - knowingly, unknowingly - searched for, consciously or unconsciously.
Your journey is long. Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism - three religions which were founded outside India - have all committed one great mistake: they have given people the idea that you have only one life. That has created many problems.
In the East all the religions have agreed on one point: that you have been here for thousands of lives; this is not the only life you have. You have lived many lives; the pilgrimage is long, and you have been going almost in circles. So your consciousness has not grown; you are committing the same mistakes again and again. Each life is wasted almost in a repetitive way.
People say history repeats itself. History has no business to repeat itself; it repeats itself because we are unconscious so we go on making the same mistake again and again. Our consciousness remains the same. That's why in every life we live on the same miserable plane. We never grow up.
This is time enough. You should start working deeply on your being, searching for it, because once you have known your being then you are not going to be born again in a body. Then you are not going to be in another prison, then you will be freed from all prisons. And this ultimate freedom is the only lesson worth learning through all these lives.
But we are functioning almost in a drunken way.
Ruben Levinsky is telling his friends at the club how his five-year-old son got his nursemaid pregnant.
"But that is impossible!" cries Sollie.
"Unfortunately it is not," replies the embarrassed Ruben. "The little wretch punctured all my condoms with a pin."
It is a very strange world. I have heard a proverb, very ancient: "God made women without a sense of humor so they could love men without laughing at them."
Hymie Goldberg is sitting in a bar one night when the man sitting on the next stool slides off and lands on the floor.
Feeling that there is no way the man will make it home on his own, Hymie finds his address in his wallet and decides to help him. Slipping an arm around his waist, they head for the door. But immediately the man's legs crumple and he collapses.
"You drunken bum," complains Hymie, "why the hell didn't you stop drinking sooner?" The man mumbles something, but Hymie is in no mood to listen. Feeling as righteous as Mother Teresa, Hymie throws his shoulders beneath the man and carries him home. Knocking indignantly, he strides in when a women opens the door, and dumps the man on the couch.
"Here is your husband," says Hymie. "And if I were you, I would have a serious talk with him about his drinking."
"I will," promises the woman. "But tell me," she continues, looking outside, "where is his wheelchair?"
It is a hilarious world. Everything is going so unconsciously. The only thing worth remembering is not to lose the opportunity that you have to develop your consciousness to the point where you have the same vision, the same clarity, the same intuition, the same understanding as a Gautam Buddha. Unless you become that much awakened, your life is going to repeat again and again the same mistakes. An unconscious man cannot be expected to change his life's course. It is only consciousness, growing consciousness, that is going to change your lifestyle.
And once you are fully awakened, enlightened, you need not come back again into another womb.
The enlightened being disappears into the womb of the universe itself. Not that you are no more, but in fact you are for the first time - as vast, as infinite as this universe is, with no boundaries, and expanding continuously.
All your misery is because you are so vast and you have been forced into a small body, into a small mind, into a small heart. Your love wants to expand but your heart is too small. Your clarity wants to become as clear as a sky without clouds, but your head is too small and too crowded. Your being wants to have wings and fly across the sun like an eagle, but it is encaged - three walls around it; it is almost impossible for it to get out of this prison.
The East has been working only for one thing - that's why it has not created much science, much technology, because all its geniuses were concerned with only one thing, and that was the innermost core of your being. They were not objective people. They were more and more interested in subjectivity. The East has found the golden key. It can open the doors for you, of infinite bliss, of all the splendor that is hidden in existence. It can allow you to receive gifts from all dimensions.
You are not a miserable creature. You are carrying a god within you, and you have to discover this god. This is the only miracle I believe in, the only magic. Everything else is non-essential.
Yes, Beloved Master.