Immediate and ultimate ordinariness
I HEARD YOU SAYING THAT WE ARE ALL ENLIGHTENED. IF SO, WHY AM I WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN? IS IT AN OLD HABIT?
Veet Vigyanam, it is one thing to hear; it is another thing to understand. You certainly heard me saying that we are all enlightened, but you did not trust it - at least you excluded yourself. "Perhaps everybody else is, but I am enlightened?" This was too much for you to accept; hence the question.
Your question shows your innermost turmoil. You are saying, "If so..." I had not said that your enlightenment is some probability - perhaps you are enlightened, perhaps you are not. There were no ifs and no buts; it was a simple statement. I repeat again:
You are enlightened and you cannot be anything else.
But I can understand your difficulty. You have been told you are ignorant and you have accepted it. You have been told you are unworthy and you have accepted it. You have been told you are not beautiful and you have accepted it.
Just look at how many things you have accepted without creating ifs and buts, without even asking a question.
When I was a student in the university, my philosophy class consisted only of three persons. Two were girls and I was the third. And a certain Professor Bhattacharya - a little cynical, as is almost expected from professors of philosophy - had a certain idea of celibacy. He used to teach the class with closed eyes. When I saw this on the first day, I could not figure it out - what is the problem?
After the class I approached him and asked him.
He said, "I cannot see women."
I said, "If you cannot see women, why do you close your eyes?"
He said, "You don't understand me. I don't want to see women."
I said, "Even then, you have seen them; it does not matter whether you want to or not. Women are all around. Just by closing your eyes, do you think you are not seeing women? Then what are people doing in their dreams? I insist on the point that if you are keeping your eyes closed because of the women, you will be consistently reminded only of women. And remember that no woman is so beautiful with open eyes as she becomes when your eyes are closed. Then the woman becomes a romantic dream. Reality is not so romantic. With your eyes closed you are taking a very dangerous step."
The next day I also closed my eyes. He looked at me and thought perhaps I had also become convinced of his ideology of celibacy. After the class he asked me, "So it seems you are also convinced."
I said, "The reality is that I slept the whole hour. And now I will sleep every day: if you are free to close your eyes, I am also free to close my eyes. It does not matter what happens with closed eyes - you dream, I sleep."
He said, "But then what is the point of attending the class?"
I said, "There is no point at all, it is just that one has to be somewhere. Do you mean to say that wherever I am I have to answer the question why I am here?"
And I told him an old story, that a man comes home, finds his wife naked on the bed, sees the shoes of his friend by the side of the bed, looks all around, suspects he must be in the cupboard. He opens the cupboard; certainly the naked friend is standing there. He is really angry and he says, "I used to think you were my best friend."
He said, "I am."
He said, "Then why are you standing here in the cupboard?"
The man said, "This is strange - everybody has to be somewhere, and this cupboard of yours is very cozy. And this is not the first time that I am standing here. It is my usual habit."
I told Professor Bhattacharya, "Never again ask me about any reason, because I don't believe in rationality. I mean, things simply are and there is no reason for them to prove why they are, where they are, who they are."
But from your very childhood, you have not been given the right vision. You have always been pushed and pulled this way and that way: "Become this, become that." Nobody ever thought that if existence wanted only Gautam Buddhas it could have manufactured Gautam Buddhas just the way a Ford factory produces Ford cars, on an assembly line, all exactly alike, with tremendous efficiency.
Each minute a single car comes out of the assembly line, twenty-four hours around the clock.
But existence does not believe in a situation where everybody is like everybody else. The enlightenment of Gautam Buddha is going to be his enlightenment. Your enlightenment is going to be your enlightenment.
The problem arises out of comparison. You started thinking that "If I am enlightened, then why am I not a Gautam Buddha or a Jesus Christ or a Bodhidharma? I am just Veet Vigyanam. Nobody worships me. I go around, nobody even takes any note of me. What kind of enlightenment is this?
Certainly I have yet to achieve it. Certainly it has not happened yet, it has to happen."
The idea has been propagated with such consistency, for so many thousands of years, that enlightenment is an achievement. I say unto you, enlightenment is not an achievement, it is your very nature. If you are missing it, the reason is not that you have not achieved it, the reason is that you are looking for it all around in every place excluding yourself. Going to every temple, reading every holy scripture, visiting all kinds of stupid people who are pretending to be masters.
I want you to declare this very moment that you are enlightened. It does not matter, it is not needed that everybody should worship you. Why should anybody worship you? You are making unnecessary conditions for enlightenment.
This is not only your problem, it has been a problem for many. The Buddhists cannot accept Mahavira as enlightened, because he is naked and Gautam Buddha is not naked. Because Gautam Buddha has beautiful hair and Mahavira pulls out his hair, how can both these men be enlightened?
We have, without contemplating, accepted an idea that every enlightened person is going to be the same. It is absolute nonsense. In existence, variety is the beauty of it.
I would also like everybody to be enlightened in his own way and express his enlightenment in his own way. Otherwise this whole life will become a boredom. Just think - as Jesus says to his disciples - "everybody has to carry his own cross." Just look around, imagine everybody carrying his own cross... there are not even people to crucify them, because they are carrying their own crosses!
The whole thing would be so hilarious.
Existence never produces the same person again. Similarity is not the rule of this beautiful universe, but uniqueness. And the moment you accept uniqueness, you accept a tremendous respect for others as they are.
Let me say it in a different way. The moment you respect yourself as enlightened, you cannot do anything other than respect everybody as enlightened, as they are. There is no need for everybody to fit into a certain category. Enlightenment is not a category such that you have to eat the same kind of food. If there was a certain rule like this, rather than eating spaghetti I would have renounced enlightenment. It is good that no holy scripture says that spaghetti is absolutely the characteristic of an enlightened man.
If you understand me, what I am saying, I am saying that in your very ordinariness you are perfectly good. Nothing needs to be added to you. And if you can relax in this ordinariness, this very ordinariness, because of your relaxation, will become radiant, will start blossoming. Your acceptance, your self respect will be a nourishment, will bring the spring to your being, and the flowers will start opening their petals.
But you are never at home. You are looking into other people's homes. Somebody is in Gautam Buddha's, somebody in Lao Tzu's, somebody in Jesus Christ's, somebody in Moses'... it is a very strange situation that you have been diverted in such a way that everybody is somewhere else, where he is not expected to be, and he is not where existence wants him to be.
I teach the immediate and ultimate ordinariness. It is the most beautiful experience, because now there is no desire, no tension, no search, no inquiry, nowhere to go. You are already where you wanted to be.
And you are asking, "If so, why am I waiting for something to happen?" Now, do I have to answer this? Perhaps this is your unique enlightenment, that even though you are enlightened, still you are looking for some happening. A little crazy, but that does not destroy your enlightenment. And a few crazy people are also needed. They bring salt to existence. Existence without crazy people will lose something very interesting.
But you cannot even accept that. You go on, asking, "Is it an old habit?" Just trying to console yourself, that although you are enlightened, just because of the old habit you go on looking here and there. But the more you will look here and there, the more you will be nourishing the old habit. You will be practicing the old habit.
It is very difficult to see that eating your food silently and joyously, sleeping with as much blissfulness as you can contain, having an ordinary life of being a carpenter or being a shoemaker, or being a painter or a poet or a dancer and relaxing in whatever you are without making ideals....
But man cannot be destroyed without ideals, and he cannot be enslaved without ideals. He cannot be condemned, he cannot be made to feel guilty if there is not an ideal that he has to become. And nobody ever becomes the ideal that he has tried his whole life to become.
Have you ever seen any Christian becoming a Christ? Almost half the humanity is Christian and for two thousand years these people have been trying hard to fulfill the ideal of being a Christ. Why do they go on failing? And it is not only the Christians - the Jainas, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Mohammedans, nobody has been successful.
The reason is so fundamental that you cannot go against it.
You can either be yourself or just a wastage.
These are the only two alternatives.
Love Gautam Buddha for his uniqueness, but never imitate him. He himself never imitated anybody, that's why he is enlightened. It is strange that a simple fact has not been recognized. Mahavira never imitated anybody and that's why he's enlightened. You show me a single enlightened being who has ever imitated anybody.
I am reminded of a very beautiful man, Kabir. In India, Hindus believe that the Ganges is a holy river, and if you die near the Ganges then your paradise is absolutely guaranteed. Then it does not matter what crimes you committed, what sins you committed, what immoralities; everything is washed out by the Ganges.
Naturally, all the Hindus cannot live by the side of the Ganges. That will be too much of a crowd.
Those who live there are fortunate; those who cannot live there at least go in their old age to live there, when they see death is coming. In cities like Varanasi, you will be surprised to see - why are there so many old people, old women? No other city can compete in that respect. All these people have come there to die and now they are waiting for their death; it may come any moment.
Sometimes it happens that some nearby village... Varanasi is costly, it is available only for rich people to live there to die; the poor people live in nearby villages. Naturally it happens that they die in their villages, but immediately their friends and their relatives take their dead bodies to the Ganges. It doesn't matter, just a few minutes or half an hour or one hour... God cannot be so cruel.
He will forgive even these people also.
Kabir lived all his life in Varanasi, the holiest city of the Hindus. Just on the other side of the Ganges, there is a small village called Magahar. I don't know how the idea became prevalent that anybody who dies in Varanasi goes to paradise and anybody who dies in Magahar becomes a donkey. And Magahar is just on the other side of the Ganges.
Before Kabir felt that now his time had come, he told his friends, "Take me to Magahar."
They said, "Are you mad? Nobody wants to die in Magahar. People who are living there are continuously afraid - before death they have to escape from there. And you have lived your whole life in Varanasi and now, when the right moment has come, you want to go to Magahar? You know perfectly well that people who die in Magahar become donkeys."
Kabir said, "If you don't listen to me, I will have to walk down to Magahar. But I don't want any obligation, either to the Ganges or to any God. If I am enlightened, I am enlightened in Varanasi; I am enlightened in Magahar. Let me set the precedent, because the poor people of Magahar have been condemned for centuries. Let me die in Magahar, because after me it will be difficult for anybody to say that anybody who dies in Magahar becomes a donkey. At least about Kabir that cannot be said."
Kabir died in Magahar. He changed it; now nobody says that if you die in Magahar you will become a donkey. On the contrary, many people who love Kabir live in Magahar; Magahar has become a holy place for the followers of Kabir.
It happened that Meera, another woman mystic, had come to Varanasi just on a pilgrimage. And Varanasi has the highest council of Hindu scholars, the so-called wise, and the saints. There was trouble because many of those people wanted Kabir to be invited to their annual conference but Kabir was a weaver; not only that, it was suspicious whether he was a Hindu or a Mohammedan.
His name was Mohammedan - Kabir in Arabic means Allah, another name of God. And he was found on the bank of the Ganges by a Hindu monk, Ramananda - left by his parents, a small child.
And the story is very beautiful....
It was dark, early morning, when Hindus take their bath before their worship of the sun. As Ramananda was coming down the steps, the small child took hold of his robe. Surprised - who is there? - he looked: a small child, not more than four years old, sitting on the steps. What to do with this child? There was nobody else around; the parents had abandoned the child there.
Ramananda was a man of courage. He took the child, although all his disciples said to him, "You are taking an unnecessary risk. You will be denounced by the Hindus, by the same people who worship you. You are not supposed to do such things. Moreover, on the hand of the child is written in Arabic 'Kabir', his name, which is an absolute proof that he is a Mohammedan. And a Hindu monk is not supposed to have children, he has renounced life."
But Ramananda said, "I have not done anything in respect to gaining worshippers, followers. If they have come, they have come on their own. If they go, they go on their own. Nobody dictates to me what I am to do, because I have never dictated to anybody what he has to do." So Kabir was brought up by Ramananda. Because of Ramananda people think he must be Hindu, and because of his name people think he must be Mohammedan.
And now, because he has become known as the wisest man of his times, a few people wanted him to come to the holy conference of the Hindus. He was a weaver. There was great opposition. But they did not want any split in their council, so finally they came to the agreement that they would invite him.
But when they went to invite Kabir he had a condition: "You have to invite Meera also, because she is staying with me. You can leave me out. In my place, invite Meera."
But that was even more difficult. She was a woman. Never was a woman invited into the wisest council of the Hindus. A woman is not accepted as pure; basically she is impure and unless by arduous disciplines she becomes born as a man, she will not be able to reach paradise. There is no direct way from the woman to paradise. She has to go via man. Now Kabir was making a condition which was even more difficult.
They told him, "It has been very difficult for us even to invite you, and you are making an even more difficult condition."
He said, "I never change what I say. If Meera is not respected by you then you don't understand anything, and I don't want to mix with ignorant people."
Kabir's followers told him, "It is a great opportunity. No weaver" - weavers are the lowest Hindu class - "has ever been accepted by the brahmins as wise. Don't miss this opportunity."
And Kabir said, "I am wise or unwise on my own accord. I don't depend on anybody else's acceptance. But I am making this condition because for centuries Hindus have behaved with women with such ugliness that the time has come to change it."
Because of Kabir's insistence, Meera was the only woman - for the first time - who entered the Hindu council of wise people. It was a very uneasy conference. One Mohammedan was there, one woman was there. The whole Hindu idea of their purity and their superiority was absolutely destroyed.
Kabir continued to be a weaver his whole life. Even kings were his disciples and they asked him, "We feel ashamed that you go on continuously weaving in your old age and then you go to sell your cloth in the market. We can manage everything that you want. There is no need."
Kabir said, "That is not the question. I want the future humanity to remember that a weaver can be enlightened, and even with his enlightenment he can continue to weave. The ordinary profession of weaver is not a distraction from enlightenment; on the contrary, his weaving becomes his prayer.
Whatever he does is his prayer; whatever he does is his meditation. Whatever he does is his expression of gratitude to existence. He is not just a burden on the earth, he is doing whatever he can do.
"I cannot be a sculptor, I cannot be a great painter, but I can certainly say that nobody can weave the way I weave. I weave with each breath full of prayer and gratitude. And the cloth that I make is made not just to sell but to serve God, to serve existence in the way in which I can serve it the best."
The Hindu word for God is Ram. And Kabir used to address every customer who came to his shop by the same name, "Ram." He would say, "Ram, I have been weaving for you. Take care, this is no ordinary cloth. Each fiber in it is vibrating with my gratitude, my love, my compassion, my prayer. Be respectful to it."
Sometimes it would happen... he would wait, late, when the market was closing. People would ask, "For whom are you waiting? The market is closing."
And he would say, "I am waiting for my Ram, who has not come, and for whom I have made the cloth." A certain man had asked him and he might not have been available on that day, or might have thought that he would go on the next market day. But Kabir was waiting there.
People would inform the man - "What are you doing? It is getting late and Kabir alone is sitting in the marketplace waiting for you because he says, 'I cannot accept the fact that Ram would have forgotten or that Ram could have given me his word and go against it. I have to wait even if I have to wait for seven days.'" Because in India, in villages, the market day is only once a week, four times a month. "I will wait for seven days; perhaps he is in difficulty, perhaps he is sick. But I cannot move from this place. If he comes and finds that I am not here it will be sheer ingratitude on my part."
Now Gautam Buddha lived in a totally different way. Meera lived in a totally different way. Meera danced all over the country, and she reached Mathura, where stands the greatest Krishna temple.
The priest of the temple was a fanatic celibate. I used to tell Professor Bhattacharya, "You are an incarnation of that fanatic, and unless you drop this fanaticism you are not going to be relaxed and relieved from the wheel of life. You will have to born again and again and again."
In the temple of Krishna, no woman was allowed. They could worship only from the outside. The priest had not seen a woman for thirty years - he never used to go outside, and inside the temple no woman was allowed. When he heard about Meera he was worried, because she would certainly come to the greatest temple of Krishna. He had put two guards at the gate: "Prevent that woman if she comes dancing here."
But when Meera came dancing, those guards completely forgot their purpose, why they were standing there. The dance was so beautiful and Meera was so beautiful, so radiant, that without anybody noticing she entered the door, dancing.
The priest was in the middle of his worship. The plate that he was holding in his hand, a golden plate full of roseflowers... seeing Meera dancing and entering into the temple, the plate fell from his hands. He was very angry and he said to Meera, "It is against the rules of this temple - no woman can enter here!"
And you will be surprised to know the answer of Meera, which stands out in the whole history of the mystics with a strange flavor, an aliveness. She said, "My God! I used to think that only Krishna was the man and everybody else is a woman, a lover to Krishna. Today I have found two men. You are also a man!" And the way she spoke to the priest, the priest trembled. Perhaps she was right.
There are only two ways for the devotees to conceive of God. Either God is conceived, like the Sufis, as a woman - she is the beloved and the mystic is the lover - or God is conceived, like the Indian mystics, that they are women and God is the man. He is the lover and they are the beloveds.
Meera said, "The thing has to be decided here now: either you have to declare yourself a man or you have to declare yourself also a woman."
Under the impact of Meera that poor priest had to accept, "I am also a woman."
Meera said, "Then from now onwards the rule is changed. Only women can enter this temple. Those who think they are male, cannot enter."
If you look into the lives of these mystics, these enlightened people, you will not find any similarity.
You will find only utter uniqueness. Sometimes they are so ordinary that you may not even recognize them. Sometimes they are so radiant that even those who are blind will see their light. But there is no general rule and there are no fixed characteristics. You don't have to fulfill certain ideals.
My own approach is to take away all ideals from you and to take away the very idea that enlightenment is going to happen to you in the future. Future does not exist! In fact the idea that it is going to happen in the future is simply to avoid the self respect that you can have only in the present.
There have been teachers - they were not masters, they were as unconscious as you are. They were not aware of their own enlightenment. They were teaching morality, discipline, methods, how to become enlightened. But do you understand the inner logic? If you can become enlightened then there is every possibility you can also become again unenlightened. If there are methods to become enlightened there can be methods to make you unenlightened. This is a simple thing. If you can become sick, you can become healthy, and you can also become sick again.
Enlightenment is not something that you have to attain, because that which is attained can be stolen.
That which is attained can be robbed. That which is attained can be lost.
I say unto you, you are enlightenment itself.
I don't want you to attain enlightenment, I want you to live it. From this very moment, whatever you do, do it in the way enlightenment is bound to do it.
I love one statement of one of the most important people of the West, Alan Watts. He was a drunkard, but he was the man who introduced to the West the most essential parts of Zen and enlightenment. He wrote not as a scholar, but as a master. Before he was dying, he was still drinking and a disciple asked him, "Have you ever thought... if Buddha had seen you drinking alcohol, what do you think he would have thought about it?"
Alan Watts said, "There is no problem. I always drink in an enlightened way."
The question is not what you do, the question is how you do it. Yes, I accept Alan Watts' statement.
There is a possibility of a man to drink alcohol in an enlightened way. Enlightenment should not have any limits. And it should not have a particular formula, a particular pattern that you have to follow.
Enlightenment should be an individual experience - the most individual experience, incomparable and unique to everybody. Once this is understood, all the clouds that surround you with darkness start dispersing.
Veet Vigyanam, I will go on repeating again and again, until it sinks into you, that you are enlightened.
And you are not to do anything special for it; you have just to be as you are, totally relaxed, at ease with existence. Not going anywhere, no achievement, no goal. All goal-orientation is what is making people miserable.
Disperse all the goals and you will start dancing this very moment - because you have so much energy involved in your process of achieving. Moving far away in your imagination, you don't have time, you don't have space, you don't have energy to be here. If you can gather all your energy in this very moment, just the accumulation of that energy will become a dance in your heart. And that dance transforms everything, not your efforts.
A Polack walks into the travel agent and books for a special sea cruise to Hawaii. The travel agent directs him to the next room to fill out some forms. Just as the Polack walks through the door, someone hits him over the head, throws him into the corner and mugs him.
Later in the same day, an Italian enters the travel agency to book for the special Hawaiian sea cruise.
As he is directed to the next room, he too gets hit over the head and mugged.
When the two of them wake up, they find themselves floating in the middle of the ocean on a small raft. The Italian looks over at the Polack and says, "I wonder if they will fly us back?"
"I doubt it," replies the Polack. "They didn't last year."
Father Murphy is chosen to do some missionary work for the Catholic church, and is sent to a remote part of the Arctic.
After a few months, a bishop comes to visit.
"How do you like it here," asks the bishop, "among the ice and polar bears?"
"Just fine," says Father Murphy. "The Eskimos are very friendly people."
"And what about the weather?" asks the bishop.
"Ah," says the priest, "as long as I have my rosary and my whiskey, I don't care a bit about the weather."
"I am glad to hear of it," says the bishop. "Speaking of whiskey, how about a glass or two?"
"Great idea!" says Father Murphy. "Rosary! Can you bring us the whiskey?"
Hymie is a little drunk when he comes home. "Becky," he calls to his wife in the bedroom, "start nagging, or else I won't be able to find the bed!"
Just enjoy your life.
It is perfect as it is.
The whole idea of perfectionism creates only neurosis, pathology and a derangement of the mind. I teach you the ordinary. I teach you the simple, I teach you the natural, I teach you that you are where you have been trying to reach, exactly at home. Don't waste your time running here and there.
But you have been told always to become something, someone - that's why every religion is against me, all the moralists are against me. I can understand, because if I am right then all the traditions and all the teachings that have been driving humanity towards some faraway goal are proven absolutely criminal. Because they have taken away people's chance to live, chance to love, chance to sing, chance to dance. And in the ultimate sense, the very opportunity to feel the divine in the herenow.
Unless you can feel the divine in the mundane, you are not an intelligent person. If you cannot manage in your small things an expression of gratitude, joy, awareness, then you are bound to remain miserable - not only in this life but perhaps for many lives.
I can't see much opportunity for you to find a man like me again. You will meet all those religious teachers, missionaries... try to find one and you will find a thousand. But I am absolutely respectful to your ordinariness. My reverence for the mundane is absolute; I don't want to improve on anything.
For centuries people have been improving and improving and improving, and nothing is improved.
Just give me a chance. Stop improving.
And you will be surprised to know that the energy that was involved in improving becomes your dance, your celebration.
Yes, Beloved Master.