Just to relax on the river

Fri, 23 December 1987 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Om Mani Padme Hum
Chapter #:
pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
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Question 1:



Prem Jivan, truth is the most obvious and the most simple thing in existence. This has created tremendous difficulty - the mind is not interested in the obvious. The mind is not excited by the simple, because deep down mind is nothing but your ego, and the nourishment of the ego comes from the challenge of the far away. The more arduous, the more torturous, the more difficult an achievement is, the more the mind becomes fascinated. It is ready to go to the farthest star, not even bothering what it is going to get there; that is irrelevant.

I remember a remark by Edmund Hillary, who was the first man to climb Everest, the highest mountain in the Himalayas. When he came down, the whole world's media was interested to know what his experience was, what he had gained. Before him, for almost a hundred years, hundreds of mountaineers had destroyed their lives in the same effort of achieving Everest.

Edmund Hillary could not answer. For a moment there was silence, and then he said, "Just because it is there, a challenge to humanity - that was enough for me to risk my life. I have not gained anything, I have not experienced anything."

The truth is, whenever I think of Edmund Hillary standing on the Everest, alone, he looks to me to be embarrassed, utterly idiotic. And in fact he did not stay there longer than two minutes. For those two minutes he risked his life.

This will give you an insight into the human mind and its workings. That which is available cannot be made an achievement. And that which is not available, the farther away it is, the more nourishment there is to the ego. The obvious, that which you already have, has no interest at all for the mind.

That's why millions of people have lived on the earth and missed their own being. They traveled far and wide, world travelers - Marco Polo, Columbus - they tried to conquer the whole world, like Alexander the Great. But they forgot one thing: they have not even known themselves; the question of conquering does not arise.

Alexander was on the way to India when he heard about a very strange man, Diogenes, who lived just by the side of the road. Alexander had heard many stories about the man; he was a legend in his own time. He lived naked.

In India it is easy, but in the West it is not so easy - in India thousands of Jaina monks have lived naked. But you will be surprised to know why Jainism never reached outside India - the nakedness prevented it. Buddhism spread all over Asia to Tibet, to China, to Korea, to Japan, because they were not living naked. Mahavira was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha, but he could not move - neither have any of his disciples in twenty-five centuries moved - out of India.

But Diogenes must have been a more courageous man than Mahavira. He lived in Greece absolutely naked. All his possessions consisted only of one ordinary old-style lamp that he carried twenty-four hours, lighted, even in full daylight. Whenever he would meet anybody he would bring his lamp close to the person's face... and you could see the disappointment, the frustration on his face.

People would ask, "What are you trying to find?"

He said, "I am simply trying to find an authentic man, a simple man, a sincere man - a man without a mask, just natural, as if he has been born just now."

The day Diogenes died, people gathered, and they asked, "For your whole life, your search has been only one. Did you succeed in finding a natural, simple, innocent man?"

Diogenes said, "Don't ask such depressing questions. All that I can say about men is that they have not stolen my lamp yet."

There were many stories about the man. Alexander stopped his army and said, "I would like to see him."

The first question that Diogenes asked Alexander is the first question every intelligent person has to ask himself.

Diogenes did not waste a single moment. He said, "Alexander, you are trying to conquer the whole world. What about you? Will there be time enough after you have conquered the world to know yourself? Are you certain about tomorrow, or the next moment?"

Alexander had never faced such a man. He had conquered great kings, emperors, but he could see that Diogenes is a lion of a man. With downcast eyes, Alexander said, "I cannot say that I am certain about the next moment. But one thing I can promise to you, that when I have conquered the world I would love to rest and relax just like you."

Diogenes was having a morning sunbath by the side of a river, surrounded by beautiful trees. He laughed... sometimes I think his laughter must be still echoing.

People like Diogenes belong to eternity. Their signatures are not made on water.

Alexander felt offended and asked, "Why are you laughing?"

Diogenes said, "It is so simple! If I can rest and relax without conquering the world, what is preventing you? The river is big enough and I have no objection. You can take any place you want - even if you want my place, I can change. Rest now if you ever want to rest. Relax now. Now - or remember, never."

What Diogenes was saying was absolute truth, but to a man who is on an ego trip it was too obvious, too simple. Just to relax on the river bank does not give any nourishment to the ego. What have you conquered? What is your achievement?

People measure their own lives according to their successes, according to their money, according to their power. There is no way to measure your success if you simply settle with the obvious and the simple. The obvious is nothing but a graveyard for your ego.

Prem Jivan, remember: truth is always simple. It is the untruth that is complex. If you are accustomed to lie, you will have to have a good memory. But if you are simply stating the truth, you don't need to have any memory at all. Lies are so complex, they need a very complex bio- computer which you call memory. Truth is so simple, it does not even need to be said.

I am reminded of Lao Tzu. He used to go every day for a morning walk, early, before the sun rises.

Just by the side of his village there was a small hillock which was the most beautiful spot to see the sun rising. One of his neighbors asked him, "Can I also come with you?"

Lao Tzu said, "Whether you can come with me is not the right question. The road does not belong to me; neither the mountains, nor the sunrise. If you can come by my side but not with me, everything is okay. But remember: you are alone, I am alone. Nothing has to be said; no word has to be uttered."

The man had known Lao Tzu for a long time. He agreed. But one day the neighbor had a guest and the guest was also excited and wanted to follow his host, to go with Lao Tzu on his morning walk.

The neighbor explained to him: "Lao Tzu has no other conditions except that you are alone; he does not want to become a crowd. Language is prohibited. You should not say anything, and I don't think he will object."

He did not object, and the guest remembered... but how long can you remember? When the beautiful sun started rising out of the morning mist he forgot all about what his host had said to him.

And he said a simple thing, which should not be objectionable; he said, "What a beautiful sunrise!"

And then suddenly he remembered: you are alone, you are not supposed to use words. Only mad people use words when they are alone.

They came back. Reaching the house, Lao Tzu said to his neighbor, "Please tell your guest never to come again. He is too talkative."

In a two-hour morning walk he had uttered only that small sentence - "What a beautiful sunrise!"

But still Lao Tzu is right. Because the guest tried to argue with him - he said, "I simply expressed my feeling."

Lao Tzu said, "I was also present, I was also experiencing the sunrise and the beauty. We were all surrounded with the same blessing, the birds singing and the flowers opening. I am not blind; I also have a heart. You insulted me by saying, 'What a beautiful sunrise' - do you think I cannot understand the beauty? And moreover you forgot your promise. You are not a man who can be relied upon, you are not a man of your word."

These strange people like Lao Tzu or Diogenes are the authentic people of the world. And they have known the truth not by conquering the world, not by becoming astronauts, not by climbing Everest; they have known the truth just by sitting silently doing nothing. And obviously, the grass grows by itself!

You don't have to do a thing. And when truth comes to you in its utter simplicity, it goes deep to the very center of your being because it is not a mind fabrication; it is not a thought, it is something existential.

Your experience is perfectly true. "It went," you say, "to my heart like an arrow."

Yes, it goes into the heart just like an arrow. And after such experience you are never the same person - you cannot be. Just think of a blind man: if his eyes can be cured and he starts seeing the light and the colors, do you think he will remain the same man as he was when he was blind? He will be a totally new person.

Perhaps you are not aware that your experience of life comes eighty percent from your eyes. Only twenty percent is divided among the other four senses. It is not coincidental that a blind man attracts your sympathy more than anybody else. A man who is deaf, a man who cannot smell, a man who cannot walk - of course they create a certain sympathy in you, but the man who cannot see takes the major portion of your sympathy.

Without knowing the reasoning, you are functioning naturally. The blind man is living only twenty percent of his life. Eighty percent of his life does not exist - no colors, no paintings, no flowers, no butterflies... not all the greenery of the world, not the mountains with eternal snows. No sky full of stars, no beautiful sunrise, no beautiful sunset. His life is reduced to such a minimum....

I have heard:

A young man had just won a lottery, and he was passing over a bridge. He always used to give some money to a blind beggar there, but that beggar was not present - somebody else was present. But he was still spreading his hands asking for the money "for a blind man." So the young man gave him a rupee. The blind man immediately told him, "It is a false coin."

The man said, "Are you blind or not?"

He said, "I used to be blind before, but people were cheating me. Then I changed my profession; I became deaf and dumb."

The man asked, "And what happened to the blind man who used to sit here?"

He said, "It is his holiday, he has gone to a movie."

Your experiences, unless they transform you, are not experiences. They are only clouds in your mind. If you have felt the truth, then it is going to transform your whole life. It will have its impact on your every action, on your every attitude. There is no other way to know whether a man has found the truth or not. The only way is, all his gestures, his eyes, his very presence will start affecting you in a totally different way than you have ever been affected by another being, another man.

He may not say a single word, but his silence will overwhelm you. He may not look at you, but his eyes you will not be able to forget, ever. They will haunt you, they will follow you like a shadow.

His words will be just the same as your words. Dictionaries cannot make any distinction, but you are not a dictionary - when a man like Gautam Buddha speaks, he uses the same words that everybody else is using but his words have a flavor, an authenticity, a sincerity of the heart, a tremendous love and compassion which the word itself does not necessarily carry.

But if you are open, available - if the arrow has struck you in the heart - then it opens a window that has remained closed perhaps for millions of lives. And from that small window tremendous experiences can float inwards, can transform you so totally....

It is said that in the great capital of Vaishali there used to be a thief, a master thief. He was known as a master thief because he was never caught; in fact the situation had become such that people bragged if the master thief had entered their houses. It became something prestigious, because the master thief would not go to a beggar. He would go to the emperors, to the kings, to the richest people.

Mahavira was staying for four months of the rainy season in Vaishali. The master thief was training his son in the art of which he was the master.

He said, "Listen, one thing: never go to hear this man Mahavira. Even if by chance you are passing and you hear a word or a sentence from the man, close your ears. Because he can destroy just with a single word my whole effort of making you my successor."

Naturally it created a great curiosity in the young man. The father has been training him for years, and he is so afraid of a man that just a single word from him and the whole discipline can be destroyed! He might never have heard Mahavira, but his father created the curiosity. One day he went, but he heard only one sentence and became afraid of his father, because his father was no ordinary man - if he comes to know, he will kill him! There is no other punishment. But he heard one sentence and escaped.

That night his father was in the palace of the king, and much jewelry was stolen. The father escaped.

The son was not part of the stealing process but the son was caught. He was coming from the discourse of Mahavira where he had heard only one sentence, which was absolutely meaningless.

The sentence which he heard was that in heaven men and women have a few strange things about them: one is that their feet are not the same as ours. Their feet are backwards; they walk forwards but their feet are backwards. This is not great philosophy.

But the young man was caught in place of his father because they looked alike. There was a difference in age, but in the dark night... The police used a strategy to make the young man confess.

He was given so much alcohol that he fell asleep. When in the middle of the night he opened his eyes, he was in a beautiful palace, with such beautiful women - he has never seen such beautiful women - all kinds of delicious foods, ready for him. He thought, "Perhaps I have died and I have entered heaven!"

Then he suddenly remembered what Mahavira was saying, that in heaven the feet are backwards.

So he looked at the feet - they were not backwards. Otherwise he would have been caught, because those beautiful women were asking him: "Tell us everything you have done in your life. You are just in the reception room of heaven, and this is customary, to give your whole record before you enter heaven."

He was just going to give them an account of his whole life but he stopped. He said, "My God! If I had not heard that one sentence, I would have been finished today. Although I have not done great robberies, I have done smaller things. This has been my whole training." He simply remained silent.

Asked again and again, he said, "I don't have any record. I am a man of silence, not a man of action.

I am a meditator." There was no other way - in the morning he was released.

He did not go to his home, he went to Mahavira and he said, "Your single sentence, which was absolutely irrelevant, has saved my life. Now this life belongs to you, not to my father. And if your single sentence can save my life I can conceive the tremendous transformation that can happen if I understand all your words, and if I can understand even your wordless silences."

Mahavira said, "I will accept you only on one condition: you go and tell your father what has happened. It is your duty. Your father also needs to be saved. What he is doing is utterly stupid."

The son was very afraid but he had to go. He told the whole story. The father was shocked at first, but then he realized the truth of it. And the story is that both became initiates of Mahavira.

A man of the qualities of Mahavira not only transforms his actions, they change automatically. His words also start growing new meanings, new fragrances. His silences are also messages.

Prem Jivan, what has happened to you is going to happen to everybody who is sincerely here to be transmuted, who is not here for any ego trip, who is here for a deeper understanding of himself.

The miracle of the deeper understanding of oneself is that simultaneously you understand the whole mystery of existence. Just one thing to be remembered: when I use the word 'understanding', I don't mean knowledge. You feel it, you touch it, you live it. You sing it, you dance it, but you don't know it.

It never becomes knowledge; it becomes your very life.

You are it.

But unfortunate are those who are just curiosity-mongers, who are just beggars in a way, collecting dregs from scriptures, from other people, from the rotten old past, and then covering their ignorance with their so-called knowledge. These are the most stupid people in the world, but they dominate the world because they are knowledgeable people and knowledge gives them a certain power.

A man who wants to understand the mystery of existence has to drop the idea of power completely.

He has to be utterly non-existential, as if he is not, and all the doors suddenly open.

Paradise is not somewhere else.

Paradise is the moment you are available to existence in totality. On this same earth, in this same time, you have entered the lotus paradise of Gautam Buddha.

Those who teach you about a heaven above in the sky are the greatest criminals the world has known, because they are depriving you of the paradise that is herenow available.

Question 2:



Deva Amrito, the question you have asked is significant for every seeker on the path. You are asking, "Being with 'not knowing what is' seems a better pointer now, but it is still contaminated with becoming. Can insight really stop the movement of becoming, or is this theoretical?"

First: being is becoming.

They are not two things.

It is the language that creates the fallacy of division. When you see a river, you don't really see a river, you see a rivering because the water is continuously flowing. It is never in a state of being, it is always in a state of becoming.

You see a tree, you see a child, you see a bud - everything is always in a state of becoming. But the language has changed verbs into nouns. It calls flowing water a river. It has forgotten completely the great insight of Heraclitus, that you cannot step in the same river twice. Where are you going to find the same river twice?

But if I happen to meet Heraclitus some day - and nothing is impossible in this mysterious existence - I am going to hit him hard! Because although he has stated something tremendously beautiful, it is only half true.

I would like to say, you cannot step even once in the same river because when your feet touch the surface, the water underneath is flowing. When you reach the middle, the waters on the surface and underneath are flowing. When you reach the bottom, it is not the same river that you had entered.

Even once is impossible, such is the river's aliveness.

Nothing is dead in existence. But language has made everything dead.

We call somebody a "child" and somebody a "young man" and somebody an "old man" - as if there are milestones where you can say that on a certain Monday, this man became old, this child became a young man. The young child is flowing continuously into the youth; the youth is flowing continuously into old age. Old age is flowing continuously into death and death is flowing continuously into future life.

There is no place where existence knows any stop - not to mention stop, it knows not even a semicolon or a comma; it is an unending sentence which goes on and on from eternity to eternity.

Amrito, you are making it a theoretical question. You want to be satisfied with being. But you don't understand the nature of being: the nature of being is becoming. Once you see the point - that the nature of being is becoming - there is no question of any conflict. You don't have to repress becoming, you don't have to force yourself into being. You can allow your being its natural course of becoming.

Who are you? You are the being and you are the becoming and they are not two separate things.

Mind has a tendency to divide things and then create categories and hierarchies, and then create problems: how to achieve this, how to achieve that.

One Zen master, Lin Chi, used to say to his disciples, "I am going to ask a question. If you answer, whatever the answer, I am going to hit you. If you don't answer, I am still going to hit you." He left no other possibility; any answer will be a wrong answer, and in being afraid that all answers are going to be wrong answers, your silence is also an answer. You are trying to be clever. Lin Chi will not leave you alone, he will hit you in any case.

When Lin Chi's successor arrived, as usual Lin Chi said, "I am going to ask the question..." And the successor said, "You need not. If you ask the question, I am going to hit you - whatever the question. And if you don't ask I am going to hit you."

In a gathering of disciples, this stranger... and Lin Chi hugged him and said, "So you have come!

Take the seat, because I am retiring."

Ed Meese comes into the oval office one morning and says, "Mr. President, I was wondering, sir, if it might be possible for my son to work somewhere in the White House."

"Of course," replied Reagan, "what does he do?"

Meese throws up his arms and says, "Well, actually he does nothing."

"Excellent," replies Reagan, "we won't have to train him."

Amrito, you don't need any training. You just enjoy whatever you are - being, becoming ... don't miss a single point. Life appears from the outside as static. From the inside, it is a constant flux. And once you know life from outside and inside, the flux and the stasis are no longer different. And this is the revelation: one becomes absolutely happy, contented, fulfilled in any situation, in any state of affairs. One has no complaint, no grudge. One is simply utterly satisfied with existence as it is.

Ronald Reagan dies and goes to hell. The Devil ushers him in and Reagan is very surprised: instead of the eternal fires he had always expected, there is only a big pool full of shit. The Devil explains that the more evil you were on earth, the more you are covered with shit here. And indeed, Reagan looks around and sees many former friends and colleagues.

One scene catches his eye. In a far corner there is a short, black-haired man with a tiny mustache whose right arm is raised to the sky in salute, and the shit only comes up to his ankles. Reagan calls to the Devil and asks, "What about this man? He was very evil on earth - why is he only covered in shit up to his ankles?"

The Devil shouts, "Hey, Hitler, when will you learn to stand on your own feet instead of always standing on the pope's head?"

Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Beloved Master.

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