From Emptiness Towards Truth
Discourse Date: Fri, 27 February 1969 00:00:00 GMT
Many questions are before me. One friend has asked: "If the soul cannot be seen, then why is so much importance given to something invisible? Why do you also talk about this same unseen atman?"
The trees are visible, not so the roots that lie hidden in the ground beneath. That does not mean that they are of less significance. Rather, the visible tree is entirely dependent on the invisible roots for its existence. If we tend the tree and neglect the roots, the tree is sure to die. No longer will it give out flowers and fruits, for its very life-breath lies hidden in the roots. Whatever is of consequence in life, is always hidden from view. What is manifest is the outer cover; what remains unmanifest is the soul within. The body can be seen for it is the outer covering; that which is within the body, is not open to view. This does not decrease its value however. Its quest becomes all the more necessary because it is invisible.
May it not happen, that we go through life mistaking the apparent manifestations of life as the be all and end all of existence. May it not happen that we live through life, taking the apparent world as real and of consequence. That also exists, which is imperceptible and invisible - in the sense that it cannot be seen with the ordinary eye. But he who develops his insight and cultivates his understanding and power of discretion, soon begins to see That which is.
There is a continuous movement of thoughts within us; but if the skull is opened up for dissection, there is no sign of them within! The scientist will declare, that technically speaking, thoughts do not exist; but we all know that thoughts are very much there, for we experience them. If thoughts cannot be proved in a laboratory, it only means that the apparatus used, are too coarse to detect the subtle element of thought. Some experiments have been conducted of late however, and very soon we shall be able to develop the method of detecting thoughts.
One university in America has carried out a test in this connection. A man was made to sit before a very sensitive camera and he was asked to concentrate with all his energy on a single thought.
The camera was loaded with an extra sensitive film and it was hoped that if a thought was projected with full concentration, this film might be able to catch its reflection. The man fixed his mind on a knife, with one-pointed attention and to the wonder of all, the film showed the picture of a knife. The camera was successful in catching the subtle waves of the mind. This was the first time that thought was ever photographed.
There is a great scientist in Soviet Russia by the name of Fiadov. He carried out an experiment in telepathy over a distance of a thousand miles. Sitting in Moscow, he sent a wave of thought- vibrations, without the help of any instruments, to a place called Tiflis, a thousand miles away. A few men were stationed in a garden in Tiflis to keep watch over a bench that bore the number ten. Soon a man came and sat down on this bench. Fiadov was informed that the seat was now occupied.
Sitting in Moscow, Fiadov began to concentrate on him and send him suggestions: "Go to sleep, go to sleep"... The man on bench number ten fell fast asleep in three minutes! Fiadov was duly informed but he was told to give more proof of his experiment. It could have been that the man was tired and had gone off to sleep. He was asked to wake him up in five minutes. Fiadov sent a fresh wave of suggestion to the sleeping man: "Get up! Get up within five minutes..." Within five minutes, this man, a thousand miles away, awoke from his sleep; and to the astonishment of all the observers, he looked anxiously from side to side, as if he were looking for someone. They went up to him and asked him what had caused him to get up so startled.
"I am puzzle," said the man. I came and sat here, as I normally do every day. Then it seemed to me as if someone was coaxing me to go to sleep! I thought perhaps I was tired and it was my mind telling me to rest. So I went to sleep; but hardly five minutes had gone by, when the same voice ordered me to get up. 'Get up' it said, 'Get up within five minutes. I am so intrigued - who could it be?"
Fiadov has carried out very many experiments in telepathy and given proofs thereof. Thoughts cannot be seen but they are very much there; the soul is even more invisible but it is very much there.
Those who enter the depths of meditation are, in a manner of speaking, able to "see" the soul. The roots of the tree are hidden but if we start digging around the base of the tree. roots can be seen.
It is a similar action when one concentrates and tries to separate the living consciousness from the gross body. This leads to the seeing of the Self within.
There was a Muslim fakir by the name of Sheikh Fareed, People came from far and near to touch his holy feet. One man asked him: "It is said that Jesus was smiling when he was being crucified. How could this be? And it is said that when the limbs of Mansoor were being cut off, he too was laughing.
When they pierced his eyes, there was not a twinge of pain on his face! This is impossible."
Fareed picked up a green coconut near him and handing it to the man, told him to break it for him without injuring the kernel.
"That is not possible," said the man. "The coconut is tender, and the kernel is stuck fast to the shell, When I break the coconut, the kernel is bound to break."
Fareed picked up a dry coconut. "What about this one?" he asked.
"There is no problem with this one, for the fruit is dry and the kernel is free of the shell," replied the man.
"Exactly!" said Farced, "and you have got your answer. There are people who are attached to the shell of the body. If the body is hurt, they are hurt. There are others who so detach themselves from the body, that even when the latter is severely castigated, they are not affected. Jesus and Mansoor were like the dry coconut and the likes of you are green coconuts - that is what I wanted to tell you."
The body alone is visible because That which is within, is so integrated with the body, that it cannot be located separately. If we can separate the two, it can be observed.
Now the question of the importance of the soul: The soul is THE Thing, hence its significance. The body is not of much value - of what value are clothes? The perpetual is to be prized and not the transient clothes do not have the same importance as the wearer of the clothes. So also, the body does not have the same significance as the Self that resides within the body. No one knows how many bodies this soul has acquired and how many it has abandoned! Its journey is long but we do not know anything about it - for we know only the body, the covering and take it to be the thing.
Those who know will tell you that that which is within is the real Truth. What is outside, is the covering that changes and keeps changing every day. Perhaps you do not know that your body of today, is not at all the body you were born with? The cluster of cells within the embryo in the mother's womb, was something entirely different from what you are now. The body changes every minute - as the waters of the river. Scientists say that every cell in the body will be replaced, so that in seven years' time, we have a completely new body. If a man lives for seventy years, his body changes ten times The body is a perpetual flow but within there is something that does not flow It is the same forever.
The body passes from infancy to youth and from youth to old age - but you? You are the same today as you were yesterday, and you will be the same tomorrow and in the days to come. This is the reason why you can remember that you were once a child. If you had undergone a complete change there would be no one left behind to remember I knew the body when it was a child; now that it is young, I know it as such. When it gets old, I shall know it as such. Those with deeper understanding are also aware of death when it comes, and are capable of witnessing the same.
When Sikandar was about to set out for India, his friends said: "When you return, bring a sanyasin from India along with you, for genuine sanyasins are found only in India "
As he returned homewards, after plundering many lands, he remembered his promise. He was passing through a village of the Punjab. He told his men to go and find out if there were a sanyasin in the village and ordered them to bring him with them. The village folk told his men: "There is a sanyasin who stays by the sea-shore, but we are not sure if you could take him."
The men went and told Sikandar. "Do not worry," he told his men. "It's no great task to capture him.
How can a poor mendicant stand up against the great Sikandar?"
The village people laughed: "Perhaps you do not know the might of a man of God. It is easy to kill him but impossible to move him even an inch."
All this was beyond Sikandar's understanding, for those who live by the might of the sword cannot imagine a power superior to it. Sword in hand, he set out to meet the fakir His men went in advance to inform him.
"The mighty Sikandar is coming to see you," they told him. "Be prepared."
The fakir laughed: "What! The mighty Sikandar? Does he too think he is great?"
"Certainly"' said the men. "And that is what he is out to prove to the world."
"Tell that fool," said the sanyasin, "A great man never sets out to prove his greatness. If he does so, he only betrays his smallness within."
"Sikandar was filled with rage when he heard this. He went up to him and at the point of the sword, ordered him to follow.
"Whom do you order?" asked the fakir. "Know that I take orders from nobody. When we stop taking orders from others, and obey the orders from within, we become sanyasins. We live as we please, obeying no earthly sire - as the wind goes wherever it pleases, so we go wherever we please. It seems you are wholly ignorant of the ways of a sanyasin."
"I am not prepared to listen to all this. You will have to follow me. My command has never been disobeyed. If you choose to resist, your head will part company from the rest of your body."
"You poor, foolish, ignorant man!" said the fakir. "The head you threaten to sever, I have long since known to be apart from me. It matters little whether it is on my shoulders or not. If you cut my neck, I shall see the head rolling off to the ground, the same way as you do. You will see and I will see - we both shall see; and do not be under the illusion that you are killing me. That which you destroy is not me; and That which I am, you can never destroy. This is for what I had gone in quest. Now the quest is over, and the experience is complete."
Sikandar did not know what to do. On his return to Greece, he told his friends: "I met a sanyasin in India but could not bring him with me. No threat worked on him, for the man did not fear even death!"
No one can have a hold on him who does not fear death. We are afraid of death, and therefore vulnerable. Why are we afraid of death? We are afraid of death because we take all that is perceptible as the actual reality. The visible world is transitory and hence the fear of death. But those who discover the hidden self within, which is immortal, rise about death.
And you ask the worth of such a Self? That alone, is Existence; that alone is Immortal; that alone is Truth. The body holds as much value as a house; but the owner who stays within cannot be evaluated with the same measure. But there are fools, who sell the owner to save the house, who take the body to be everything and forget the Self.
As Swami Ram was passing through the streets of Tokyo, he saw a big mansion in flames. He waited with the crowd to watch this great disaster. The owner of the house stood outside on the road as his servants brought out the valuables from within the house. When they thought everything of value had been removed, they came to ask if anything else was left behind. "My son!" cried out the owner of the house. "Where is my son?" Just then, two men brought out the dead body of the son, the owner and the inheritor of all his wealth. The man was beside himself with grief. "What shall I do with all this wealth, when the one for whom it was, is no more!"
"Swami Ram writes in his diary: "I witnessed a strange happening today, but very true. Today I saw the owner of a house burnt to death, while everyone was busy saving his belongings from the flames. I have also, this day, come to the conclusion, that this is what is happening all over the world."
Each man is busy saving the house and letting the owner perish: because the house is visible, while the owner is not. But we forget that. That which cannot be seen, exists all the same and that which is seen exists because of it. The foundation is invisible on which the visible house stands. This seems converse, that That which cannot be seen is authentic, for we take the apparent world as real. Life is a big riddle; here everything is topsy-turvy; and from these inverse rules, all things are made.
You pick up a stone and examine it. Does it ever occur to you that it is made up of invisible things?
Ask a scientist: He will say that it is made up of atoms. But atoms are invisible. Similarly, all that is visible is a synthesis of invisible components.
You must have seen little children revolving burning torches, round and round at the festival of Holi.
The flame forms a circle. The circle appears to exist, whereas actually it does not; for it is in fact, the burning torch that goes round and round and the speed covers up the interim space.
The scientists say that the atoms revolve so fast that they cannot be seen. Therefore we can "see"
the stone and everything else in this world. This is a miracle. Matter is that which can be seen; but those who know (and now the scientists also agree), say that there is notifying like matter.
Nietzche said about eighty years ago: "God is dead!" God is not dead but matter is dead. Matter does not exist. There is nothing like matter and whatever appears so, is an illusion. But we will not agree. How can that which is so plainly visible, be an illusion?
Look at the sky above. You see the star; but perhaps you do not know that the star is not where it appears to be! The star ,has moved further on, but because its rays take a long time to reach the earth, it appears to be there where the rays first started. If the rays of a star takes, say, sixty years to reach the earth, the star will have long moved out from that position by the time these rays reach the earth, and we see it. It could also be possible that that star may have disintegrated by then. Yet its light is visible to us and will be visible to us for another sixty years. Thus all the skies are illusory and so false! The stars are not where you see them and you cannot see them where they are.
Life is very very strange. This matter that we see does not exist. This body that appears so compact is also a mere synthesis of atoms, and That which is of the greatest significance, lies hidden within!
That is consciousness on which depends all play of life. The more you try to find this consciousness, the more elusive it becomes.
In these three days, we have talked on some suggestions, some hints and some rules in the quest of this Truth. That which is invisible is of great importance and hence the need to talk on it. When this body falls, as it is sure to one day, only that remains which is invisible hence it is very useful and very necessary to talk about it and to find ways and means of attaining it. Those that stagnate in the visible world are unfortunate.
One friend asks: "Are you against restraint and continence?"
Definitely so. I am against all restraint, especially the restraints that are brought about by force and pressure. I am in favour of that moderation, which comes as a result of right understanding.
Both these statements should be rightly understood. There is one moderation that man forces upon himself. He is one person without, but quite a different person within. The majority of people who bring moderation upon themselves are like this. Outwardly, this man practises non-violence: he strains the water he drinks; he forgoes food at night; he takes all kinds of precautions not to commit violence and feels proud of his self-restraint; but all the while violence smoulders within.
Sex rages within and he practises celibacy from without. He is filled with wrath within, but his face is all smiles. he implants all virtues from outside, while his within is filled with just the opposite of these virtues. Such self-restraint is very dangerous. It is like sitting on a volcano.
There lived in a village a very hot-tempered man. In a fit of rage one day, he pushed his wife into the well. She died and this filled him with remorse - as is the way with all people of violent temperament.
This repentance, however, does not help, for such people soon become the same as before. He was very unhappy and refused to be consoled by those around him. Then a sanyasin happened to come to that village. His friends took the man to see him with the hope that the sanyasin may be ab!e to soothe his spirit. The wave of penitence was as yet very high when he stood before the Muni and he confesses his guilt. He begged him to show him the way to conquer anger.
"It is difficult for an ordinary house-holder to conquer wrath,"' said the sanyasin. "You will have to practise self-restraint. If you take sannyas, something can be done."
The sanyasin was a naked fakir, so the repentant man, in the fervour of his exuberance, stripped himself of all his clothes without a thought and bowing at the feet of the Muni, asked for initiation that very moment. The Muni was surprised at such a courageous resolve!
"I have yet to see a man of such singular will-power," he said.
It was no matter of will-power, actually. The fact was that the wrathful man pushed himself into sannyas with the same vigour that he had pushed his wife into the well. The fever of anger was the same, there was no difference, but the Muni mistook it as a sign of powerful determination.
Usually people of violent temper become ascetics and hermits, for wrath can bring forth great penance. It is a dangerous energy. Wrath can cause a man to chastize his own person as much as he is capable of chastizing others, and with a vengeance! Wrath revels in castigation. Ninety-eight per cent of those who practise penance are people of violent temperament. They merely revert their anger from others to themselves and begin tormenting themselves with as much relish.
There are two types of violence in this world. One is directed towards others: this is sadism.
And there is another type of violence that is directed towards the person's own self: this is called masochism. There is as much pleasure in one as there is in the other.
The Muni lauded the man and praised his good fortune - what a momentous decision he had made!
Proofs started to pour in of the initiate's earnest resolve. He performed the most arduous penance and soon outdid the others. His guru named him, Shantinath, for he was engaged in conquering anger. As years passed by, his fame spread and people from far and near came to worship him.
When other sadhus sat in the shade, he stood in the gruelling heat of the sun; when others walked on smooth roads, he walked on thorny foot-paths; when others ate once a day, he ate once in three days. His body looked like a veritable skeleton. The more people venerated him, the greater became his enmity towards his own self: He decided a thousand ways of self-torture and his fame increased accordingly.
Then one day, he reached a big town where his fame had reached before him. There lived an old friend of his in this city, who was shocked to hear that his erstwhile comrade of volatile temperament, had become a sanyasin! He could not believe it, so he went to see him. The Muni was seated on a high seat; and when they are thus installed, be they saints or politicians, they fail to see those seated before them. That is the elation of the Ego - the world knows him but he knows no one. The sanyasin saw his friend of bygone years but pretended not to know him. The friend could also see that he had recognized him but did not want to acknowledge him. This made him doubt whether he had really conquered anger, for anger and ego are brothers. If one comes, the other is bound to follow.
The friend went and sat close to the dais and said: "Your Lordship, I have heard a great deal about you. Your fame spreads far and wide but what exactly is your name?"
The Muni lost his temper at his feigned ignorance. "Don't you read the papers?" he asked. "Don't you hear the radio? Everyone is talking about me. My name is Muni Shantinath. Know it once and for all." The friend thanked him with folded hands and praised his forbearance.
After a few minutes, the friend asked again: "Please sir, what was your name that you said? It has slipped my mind."
It was difficult for the Muni to control his anger. "Are you out of your mind? I told you my name was Muni Shantinath!"
"Forgive the inconvenience. I am grateful to you for telling me your name once again."
After some time, he again caught the Muni's feet: "I am ashamed of my memory. Forgive me please but what did you say was your name?"
The Muni picked up his staff, and shaking it at the man said: "You deserve to be beaten. Where are your brains? I told you my name is Muni Shantinath!"
"Everything is intact in its own place, my Lord!" said the friend.
"My intelligence is where it should be and your anger is where it always was. I had come to find out whether you were really rid of your anger."
All the self-restraint had suppressed the wrath within. The violent can thus appear non-violent; the anger-ridden appear sweet and forgiving, the greedy cultivates renunciation and the debauchee becomes celibate; but this brings no actual transformation. All transformations start within. When one becomes self-cognizant, one's conduct automatically changes; but by changing the conduct alone there is no inward change. I am against all those modes of self-control which lay stress on conduct. And I am in favour of that self-restraint that is born within and spreads all over the nature of the person.
Both these methods follow different routes. The restraint implanted from without is the outcome of repression: according to this, if there is anger within suppress it; if there is violence within; subdue it and bring forth from outside the opposites of these. The right self restraint does not come this way. By suppressing violence, non-violence is not attained. On the contrary, by understanding and recognizing violence and by seeking the source of violence within, one awakens gradually towards violence, which then subsides on its own. When violence fades, what remains is non-violence.
So there are two types of non-violence: (i) what is cultivated by suppressing non-violence; and (ii) non-violence that is born when violence fades from within.
But man has been taught to cultivate self-restraint since time unknown! Therefore there are many lessons in moderation but the extremes in life far exceed these lessons. Since thousands of years there have been discussions on temperance and self-control but man has failed to be moderate and normal. Why is this so? The more talk of celibacy there is in a society, the more sexually obsessed the people will be. It becomes a matter of great concern then. The logic of the situation is: whatever we try tc suppress permeates deeper and deeper and settles in the deeper layers of consciousness.
Suppression binds, it does not liberate. Try to suppress something and you find yourself bound hand and foot to it.
One evening, as Mulla Nasruddin was setting out to call on some of his friends, an old friend happened to come along. It was twenty years since they had seen each other. Both were beside themselves with joy. "It is ages since we met." said Nasruddin. "I am so very happy to see you. You rest awhile and refresh yourself for the journey must have been long and tiring. I shall go quickly to see a few friends I have promised to visit."
"Oh no!" said the friend "I have not the heart to waste even a minute of your company. I will go along with you and we can talk on the way, if you will lend me a coat, for my clothes are dirty."
Now Nasruddin had a set of expensive clothes presented to him by the king, which he had kept by for a befitting occasion. They were an expensive coat, a turban, and a pair of shoes. He had never worn them but today was a special day, and what could be more befitting than that his childhood friend should make use of them! He quickly brought them out and gave them to his friend. He was so happy that the clothes had come in handy at the right moment!
But when the friend appeared, dressed in the royal attire, Nasruddin felt a twinge of jealousy. The clothes looked gorgeous and his friend looked so handsome in them. Had he done a wise thing by giving him these clothes. He looked almost like a servant before him! It is too hard on a man to see another looking rich and handsome in his clothes, while he looked like a beggar before him! Had the clothes belonged to the friend, even then it would have been a difficult situation - but this was worse!
Nasruddin tried to get over this feeling by telling himself of the higher virtues of life, as all men of temperance do: "What difference does it make whether the clothes are mine or his? He is a very dear friend, and that is all that matters. What is there in clothes?" Thus he cajoled himself trying to convince himself of the worthlessness of jealousy. But alas whoever they met had his eyes glued on the friend and his clothes.
The world looks at clothes and not the man. Nobody so much as glanced at Nasruddin, so that in spite of all his sanctimonious talk, he was filled with pain and suffering. At last they reached the first house of call. The door opened and Nasruddin's friend came out, but his eyes were caught by the richness of the friend's attire! Nasruddin noted this and began to introduce his friend: "This is my childhood friend, an extremely fine person but as for his clothes, they are mine." In an unguarded moment, the words fell out and Nasruddin feet great remorse. The friend was astonished at his behaviour and so were the people of the house.
When they came out, the friend reproved him: "Forgive me but I cannot accompany you any further.
You have insulted me. Had I known, I should have accompanied you in my own clothes, even though they were dirty - they were mine! Where was the need to point out the clothes?" Nasruddin begged forgiveness: "Forsooth, there was no need. Pray forgive me; it was a slip of the tongue!" he said.
The tongue never slips - remember this always. What goes on within the mind comes invariably on the tongue. That which is suppressed within comes out in an unguarded moment, as steam bursts forth from a closed kettle. The kettle is not at fault. The steam collects within and wishes to get out.
Even if the kettle bursts, it has to get out.
"If you say so, I believe you," said the friend. "But be mindful at the next house." Nasruddin promised to watch his words. And to prove his sincerity, he even made a gift of the clothes to his friend. "They are yours from now on," he told him.
They came to the next house. Here also, the man of the house and his wife could not help staring at the friend and his attire. Again it came to Nasruddin: "How foolish of me to give him the clothes right away! I cannot hope to see myself in them."
And when the time came to introduce the friend Nasruddin began: "Meet my childhood friend, an extremely nice person and as for his clothes, they are his, not mine."
Again Nasruddin slipped! To say that the clothes were not his, creates a doubt. The friend refused to go any further. Nasruddin begged of him to give him just one more chance, otherwise he would suffer remorse all his life. It was a mistake committed because of the first mistake. He pleaded with his friend, attributing his statement to various reasons; but it was a clear case of suppression.
Now Nasruddin entered the third friend's house with a vow that he would not mention the clothes.
But the clothes, by now, had taken possession of every inch of his being, and like all persons of self- restraint, he put up a brave front outside. Little did the friend suspect what was happening within poor Nasruddin. He looked all right on the outside, but within, he was verging on insanity. Wherever he looked, he saw clothes and nothing but clothes. It filled him with anger and pain but do as he would, he could not subdue this feeling. So he began to repeat his resolve to himself, lest he slipped again: "I must not talk about clothes - I must not talk about clothes!"
And now he was called upon to introduce the guest once again! Poor Nasruddin, with clothes littered all over his consciousness, he began the introduction: "This is my friend. We have known each other for many years and now he comes to visit me after a long absence; and as for his clothes, I have sworn not to mention to whom it belongs."
A suppressed mind works in this manner. It gets involved with the very thing it tries to suppress.
The mind gets diseased, obsessions are formed - is this self-restraint? Definitely not. But this is how it has been defined over the years. Even today when someone starts to practise moderation, he begins with self-repression. The result is that the perverted forms of the very thing he tries to suppress, take possession of his mind.
I was once sitting with a sanyasini at the sea-shore. The lady was talking to me about Soul and Over-Soul, liberation and beatitude. We always talk of things that normally do not concern us, and perhaps, we never talk of things that occupy our mind. She talked, and I listened. Then a strong wind arose in the sea and blew my mantle towards her. It fluttered and touched her and she became very upset. I was surprised, so I asked her why the touch of my cloth had upset her so. She said:
"It is forbidden for us to touch men's clothing. I shall have to perform penance."
"But just now you were saying you are not the body, you are the soul; and now you attribute sex even to a piece of clothing. Does cloth touched by men become masculine?" I asked her.
These are the traits of suppressed sexuality, of suppressed desires, and of a suppressed mind. It has been so badly repressed that even a piece of cloth acquires meaning.
"If you have come to realize that the soul is not the body, then there is no cause for alarm even if you touch a man's body - for the body is dust," I told her. Unfortunately we become all the more conscious of that which we suppress, which then tries to hold us from different angles in different forms.
I was staying once with a sadhu. Every day, in the course of conversation, he would tell me, "I have kicked a fortune of lakhs!" He would repeat this about half a dozen times with some excuse or the other in the course of the day.
"When did this happen?" I asked him. "About thirty-five years ago," he replied.
"The kick does not seem to have been very effective," I said, "Or else there was no need to be reminded of it, time and again. You renounced a fortune, that was the end of the matter."
The lakhs of rupees still pursued the man. He kicked them away, but they followed him and made their nest in his mind. Repression did not bring renunciation, in spite of all the self-control. When the lakhs were with him, he strutted proudly - the owner of lakhs. Now he renounced them, and his arrogance doubled! The second conceit is worse than the first, for the former can be recognized while the latter is so subtle. It is suppression in another form and this we look upon as self-control and we call such men renunciates!
I was in Jaipur. A friend came along and said: "A great mahatma has come to the town. You should go and visit him." I asked him how he measured the mahatma's greatness - what scales he employed.
"There is no need to measure him. That the Maharaja of Jaipur touches his feet, is enough proof of his greatness."
"In that case," I said, "the Maharaja is great, for whosoever he venerates automatically becomes great!" Thus renunciation is also measured in terms of wealth.
Have you ever pondered over the fact that all the twenty-four Teerthankars of the Jains, were the sons of kings? Buddha was a prince and so was Ram and also Krishna - they were all the sons of kings. Not a single Teerthankar was a poor man's son! What is the reason? Is it necessary to be rich in order to be a Teerthankar? It is not so. Even poor men's sons have been Teerthankars but we have had no means of measuring them. We only weigh in terms of gold; the greater the wealth, the greater the renunciation. This way renunciation becomes another form of wealth. It becomes an investment for beatitude. This then becomes another state, another symbol of wealth.
I was in Ahmedabad, two years ago. Several speakers took part in a general meeting. One who spoke before me said: "Shun greed if you wish to be liberated." When my turn came to speak, I said: "The worthy speaker who spoke just now, made a wonderful statement. He says: 'to attain liberation, we must give up greed.' He at the same time holds forth the temptation of liberation as he exhorts us to shun greed. If some poor avaricious man has heard him, he will be very ready to sacrifice one temptation for another. To covet beatitude is also avarice."
Life is very complicated and in this life-complex many inverse practices are rampant in the name of self-control, renunciation and liberation. I stand opposed to all these inverse practices. Life should be straight, clean, and lived in its entirety. It should not be broken up into bits and parts - one thing within and another without. We should lead an integrated life - what is within should also be without.
We cannot change the internal self from without, though an external change can be brought about from within.
If wealth becomes meaningless to a person it will never occur to him to mention that he has renounced it, for the renunciation of that which holds no meaning, is meaningless. Every day we throw rubbish out of our houses but we do not go about informing all and sundry that we have renounced it! Rubbish cannot be renounced; it has to be thrown away. So if a man says he has thrown his fortune away, then it means that wealth as yet holds value for him, and he still looks upon wealth as wealth.
There was once a fakir who was a very poor man, but he never begged for alms nor asked anyone for help. He and his wife would cut wood in the forest and sell it in the market. In the evening they would buy just the bare necessities and give away the rest of their earnings to other needy folk. They never kept a penny aside but gave all away.
Once it so happened that it rained heavily for five successive days. They could not go to the jungle, so they had to go without food for all the five days On the sixth day, the sun came out. The old man and his wife made their way to the forest once again. As they were returning with their bundles of wood, the old man walking ahead and the old woman following him, the old man chanced to see the marks of hooves on the ground. On one side of the path lay an open bag from which some gold coins had spilled on the ground.
Then the old man thought as all men of self-restraint. They are always worried about other people's morals and are forever busy keeping tag on other people's activities; so much so that they even decide who will go to hell and what sort of punishment he will receive! Why does a moralist do this?
He is doing nothing more than projecting what goes on within his own self.
The old man worried lest the old woman succumbed to temptation. He himself must have been tempted, or else this thought would never have come to him. He quickly went down on his knees and began to push the coins into a hole, and was still covering them with mud when the old woman came along. She asked him why he had stopped and what he was doing? Being a man of morals, the old man had taken a vow not to tell a lie.
All moralists act on principles, though the opposite of these principles is always present within them; or else, where is the need of taking these vows? You never vow to get past a door. You pass because that is the way to go out. A blind man however, may vow to do so. The blind always take vows; those with eyes find no reason to do so. When a man is apprehensive of his own self, he takes vows.
The old man had vowed he would not tell a lie... Against what and whom does a man take a vow - against his own self; against his own lying mind. So when the old woman asked, he perforce had to tell the truth.
"It would be better if you do not ask," he told her. "Since you ask, I must tell the truth: There was a bag of gold coins lying on the way-side. So that you may not be tempted, I quickly covered it with mud."
The old woman laughed out loud. "Oh Lord in heaven! I thought this man was freed from the lust of gold! You were going your way, and how was your attention drawn towards this bag and how did the gold of the ashrafis catch your eye? You differentiate between mud and gold and I was under the illusion that you were free of desires. Seeing you thus pile mud on mud, I am filled with shame!
What could these trees be saying? This man is binding mud with mud!"
Both these are people of self-control. The old man's restraint is what one should be wary of. The woman too, is a person of self-discipline - the type that transforms life into truth. If gold appears as mud, there is no necessity of covering it, nor is there the necessity of running away from it; nor the need to proclaim its renunciation from house-tops.
The matter finishes, like a dry leaf that falls from the tree. Neither the tree is aware of its falling, nor the leaf itself; nor does the wind gets news of its falling - quietly, in utter silence, it falls to the ground.
If a green leaf is broken, the tree feels the pain and so does the leaf. It leaves behind a wound, for it has been wrenched away from the tree. The man who cultivates self-control, is one who plucks the green leaves that leave scars behind. These wounds then become painful.
I am in favour of that self-discipline that happens like the falling of a dry leaf. Certain things drop out from life, become meaningless, and life is transformed. "But how will they fall unless we fell them?"
you might ask. If you remove them by force it will be like plucking green leaves. Therefore I say, do not pluck them. Try to understand them. Do not start to fight with evil; try to recognize it, try to know it.
For instance, if there is anger within, do not fight with it, know it, understand it. And when anger takes possession of you, shut yourself in a room and meditate on it. Look at anger - where it is, what it is; where it has taken hold of your being, watch where all the flames of anger burn within the consciousness. You will be surprised - the more you observe anger, the fainter it will become. The more conscious you become of anger, the sooner it will be destroyed. Then a moment will come when it will drop off from you, like a dry leaf! Then what remains within is peace, tranquillity.
Serenity is never obtained by subduing anger. When anger takes leave of you, serenity results.
Remember: violence is not the opposite of non-violence. Non-violence is the absence of violence.
In the same way, love is not the opposite of hate so that you could arrest hate and bring about love.
Love results in the absence of hate. It is just as we burn a lamp in a dark night. As soon as the lamp is lighted, darkness vanishes. All other means of removing darkness are bound to fail. Darkness can only be removed by light. Violence can also not be removed by fighting with it, nor can anger and hatred be removed this way. But lamps can be lighted - lamps of knowledge. When lamps of knowledge begin to burn, all darkness flees forever.
One small story, and we shall finish our talk for the day. It is said that once Darkness went before God. Placing her head on His feet, she began to cry. God asked. "What is the matter, what is bothering you?"
"I am very unhappy?" she said. "I am terribly scared of your Sun. Every morning, as soon as he gets up, he begins to chase me. By evening when I am completely exhausted, he somehow lets me alone. I hardly manage to rest the night when I find him standing at my door. Then again the chase starts. He has been after my life ever since time began. What have I done that he harasses me so?"
God sent for the Sun and questioned him: "Why you erase Darkness? What has she done?"
"Darkness?" asked the sun. "Who is Darkness? I have never met her. Where does she live? I have never set eyes on her, so how can I harass her? At least I should be acquainted with my foe! Please call her so that I may beg her forgiveness and clear the misunderstanding."
God could not persuade Darkness to come before the Sun.
This happened billions of years ago, they say. The problem remains still unsolved, for darkness is not the opposite of light but its absence.
Understand well the difference between "opposite" and "absence." If darkness is the opposite of light, we could throw a handful on a lamp and the light would go out. We cannot do that for the simple reason that, darkness is the absence, the non-presence, the non-being of light. It has no existence of its own. Light has its own existence. When light is not, what remains is darkness. Darkness cannot he removed. It cannot be dealt with, directly. If you want to bring in darkness, you will have to do something to light.
In exactly the same manner, all that is considered evil in life, I look upon as darkness be it greed, sex, anger. All that is bad in life, is full of darkness. Generally, we look upon one who fights this darkness as an ascetic, a man of temperance. I do not call him so. I consider the methods of such people as devices for insanity and hypocrisy; and neither a hypocrite nor a lunatic is in a desirable state of being.
Darkness is not to be fought with - a lamp has to be lighted. In the presence of light, there is no darkness. Whatever is excellent in life, that alone is Truth. Its absence is neither the opposite nor the inverse of its presence. Its absence is its pure non-presence alone. Therefore a man of violence can cultivate non-violence but the violence remains within. A man may cultivate celibacy but sex will rage just as much within. Such self-control is deception and I am against it. I am in favour of that self-control, in which we do not subdue the evil, but awaken the good within. We do not remove darkness, but kindle a light within. such awakening transforms the man and takes him to the temple of Truth. He who awakens to the Truth, reaches this temple.
In the course of these three days, we talked about the journey to Truth. My words will not carry you, nor will the words of anyone else. Therefore my last request before we end this series of lectures:
this journey can only be undertaken if you set out by yourself. If the journey was possible through my words, it was an easy matter. Then everyone's journey would have long been over. We have heard Buddha and also Mahavir but mere listening has not helped anyone.
Those who think that by listening alone they can be transported to the realm of Truth are under an illusion. The road is to be traversed by each himself. No one can do anything for another, in the same way as I cannot breathe for you, or make love for you, or even walk for you, or die in your place. Then how can I attain Truth for you? No one can attain anything for another. Many a time when we hear a person talk on truth, we are so carried away that we feel we have reached. We feel we have already reached our destination! This is a dangerous illusion. May God forbid that anyone of you should feel this after hearing me.
Many people are deluded for they write to me: "We heard you and felt we have attained serenity."
Mere listening is entertainment and cannot give serenity. By only listening, words are gained and not truth. Truth and tranquillity will only be obtained when you set out on the journey yourself.
Whatever I have said, was not for you to listen to only - but to practise. If something in my talk appeals to you, use your discretion and take the first step. A thousand scriptures are nothing compared to a single step taken on one's own. Do not worry that the road is long, for the longest distance is gained only step by step.
Gandhiji used to like a song - a wonderful song. He had it sung in his ashram every day. It's opening line is: "One step is enough for me. I do not long for the distant scene!" But he who takes the initial step, reaches the distant scene! No one can walk more than one step at a time - be he great or small. We are all equal in this respect. Only one step is taken at one time, but all steps together complete a journey of thousands of miles.
A youth sat with a lantern on the outskirts of a village. He had to reach the distant mountain. The night was dark, and all he had to guide him was a hurricane lamp that barely lighted a distance of three feet. He calculated (some people are very clever at mathematics) the length of darkness up to the mountain to be ten miles, and the light of the lantern a distance of only three feet. So he divided ten miles by three feet - and gave up!
Such massive darkness was impossible to overcome by so small a light. He sat down, waiting for the dawn. And then, an old man came along. He had a smaller lantern in his hand.
"Why are you sitting in this lonely place at this time of the night, son " he asked the boy.
"What else can I do? The night is dark and I have to reach those distant mountains. All I have is this lamp that hardly lights three feet ahead. How can I cover so much darkness with so small a light?"
"You foolish boy!" said the old man. "You do not have to cross all he ten miles at one time! Cross the first three feet with the light of the lamp and the lamp will light another three feet ahead. Then cross the next three feet and the lamp will light another three. The lamp will light your way as you proceed. You can traverse not only ten miles but ten thousand miles with the aid of this small lamp."
Step by step, darkness is overcome. One small step and life reaches far off scenes that are unseen by the eyes today; but one has to make a beginning. Then what seemed a mere web of words, becomes the truths of life that sound so melodious even as we hear them. Would that we reach there, so that we know how truly melodious they are.