Expelled from the World
The first question:
I DON'T UNDERSTAND. YOU SAID THAT LONGING IS IN AND OF ITSELF DIVINE. YET YOU HAVE OFTEN SAID THAT ALL DESIRING, EVEN FOR GOD, IS MUNDANE AND NOT SPIRITUAL.
Deva Ashoka, longing in its purity is divine, longing when it longs for nothing is divine.
The moment an object of the longing arises, it becomes mundane. Longing is a pure fire that purifies, longing is a smokeless fire, a smokeless flame. But the moment it becomes attached to any object whatsoever -- worldly, otherworldly; money, meditation, God, nirvana, it doesn't matter -- any object, and the longing is no more pure, it is contaminated by the object. Then the object becomes more important than the longing itself. Then the longing is only a means, it is no more the end in itself.
And the whole effort of sannyas is to help you drop all objects of longing. Longing will not disappear -- in fact, the more objects are dropped, the more intense, the more total the longing will become, because the energy involved in the objects will be released. And there comes a moment when one is simply thirsty -- not thirsty for something, but just simply thirsty. Hungry -- not hungry for something, just a pure fire of longing. And that very pure fire consumes you, reduces you to ashes. And out of that, something new is born.
This is the meaning of the parable of the phoenix, this is the significance of the parable of the phoenix. The bird dies out of a fire that arises within his own being, is consumed by it, disappears into it, and then is resurrected.
And this is the meaning of Jesus' resurrection too, his dying on the cross and being reborn. Jesus says again and again, "Unless ye are born again, ye will not be able to enter into my kingdom of God."
But how to be born again unless you die first? An ultimate death has to precede it before the ultimate birth can happen.
Ashoka, I can understand your confusion -- because on the one hand I say, "Longing is in and of itself divine...." I repeat it again, it is so. And there is no contradiction when I say that all desiring, even for God, is mundane and not spiritual. Longing is divine. Long for, and you have fallen. This is the original fall. You have lost the purity, the virginity of longing; it has become muddy, it has fallen on the earth, its wings are cut.
There is no contradiction in these two statements. Whenever you find a contradiction in my statements make it a point to meditate over them, because essentially there cannot be a contradiction. Apparently there may be, but now you have to start doing some homework too.
Meditate, look at all the possible aspects, all the possible meanings, and you will be surprised. When you are able to see the consistency, the intrinsic consistency, when you are able to go beyond the contradiction, it will be a moment of great insight. It will fill you with light, it will make you delighted, because it is a discovery, and each discovery helps growth.
The second question:
OFTEN I HAVE THE FEELING THAT I AM NOT DOING SOMETHING I OUGHT TO BE DOING, OR DOING SOMETHING I SHOULD NOT BE DOING; THAT SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE AND FAST -- A SCHOOLDAYS' WORRY THAT I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE THE GRADE, THAT I MIGHT BE EXPELLED.
Krishna Prabhu, this is how we all have been brought up. Our whole education -- in the family, in the society, in the school, in the college, in the university -- creates tension in us. And the fundamental tension is that you are not doing that which you ought to do.
Then it persists your whole life; it follows you like a nightmare, it goes on haunting you.
It will never leave you at rest, it will never allow you to relax. If you relax, it will say, "What are you doing? You are not supposed to relax; you should be doing something." If you are doing something it will say, "What are you doing? You need some rest, it is a must, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy -- you are already on the verge."
If you do something good, it will say, "You are a fool. Doing good is not going to pay, people will cheat you." If you do something bad it will say, "What are you doing? You are preparing the way to go to hell, you will have to suffer for it." It will never leave you at rest; whatsoever you do, it will be there condemning you.
This condemner has been implanted in you. This is the greatest calamity that has happened to humanity. And unless we get rid of this condemner inside us we cannot be truly human, we cannot be truly joyous and we cannot participate in the celebration that existence is.
And now nobody can drop it except you. And this is not only your problem, Krishna Prabhu, this is the problem of almost every human being. Whatsoever country you are born in, whatsoever religion you belong to, it doesn't matter -- Catholic, communist, Hindu, Mohammedan, Jaina, Buddhist, it does not matter to what kind of ideology you belong, the essential is the same. The essential is to create a split in you, so one part always condemns the other part. If you follow the first part then the second part starts condemning you. You are in an inner conflict, a civil war.
This civil war has to be dropped, otherwise you will miss the whole beauty, the benediction of life. You will never be able to laugh to your heart's content, you will never be able to love, you will never be able to be total in anything. And it is only out of totality that one blooms, that the spring comes, and your life starts having color and music and poetry.
It is only out of totality that suddenly you feel the presence of God all around you. But the irony is that the split has been created by your so-called saints, priests and churches.
In fact the priest has been the greatest enemy of God on the earth.
We have to get rid of all the priests; they are the root cause of human pathology. They have made everybody ill at ease, they have caused an epidemic of neurosis. And the neurosis has become so prevalent that we take it for granted. We think that this is all life is about, we think this is what life is -- a suffering, a long, long, delayed suffering; a painful, agonizing existence; an autobiography of much ado about nothing.
And if we look at our so-called life, it seems so, because there is never a single flower, never a single song in the heart, never a ray of divine delight.
It is not surprising that intelligent people all over the world are asking what the meaning of life is. "Why should we go on living? Why are we so cowardly as to go on living?
Why can't we gather a little courage and put a stop to all this nonsense? Why can't we commit suicide?"
Never before in the world were there so many people thinking that life is so utterly meaningless. Why has this happened in this age? It has nothing to do with this age. For centuries, for at least five thousand years, the priests have been doing the harm. Now it has reached to the ultimate peak.
It is not our work, we are victims. We are the victims of history. If man becomes a little more conscious, the first thing to be done is to burn all the history books. Forget the past, it was nightmarish. Start anew from abc, as if Adam is born again. Start as if we are again in the garden of Eden, innocent, uncontaminated, unpolluted by mean priests.
The priests have been very mean, because they discovered something tremendously significant for themselves: divide a man, split a man, make him basically schizophrenic and you always remain in power. A divided man is a weak man. An undivided man, an individual, has strength -- strength to accept any adventure, any challenge.
A man was looking for a good church to attend and found a small one in which the congregation was reading with the minister. They were saying, "We have left undone those things we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done."
The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, "Thank goodness, I've found my crowd at last."
Go to any church and you will find your crowd, you will find replicas of your being.
Maybe the language is a little bit different, the ritual a little bit different, but the fundamentals are the same. The fundamental is: man has to be reduced to a civil war.
The first day when you recognize this, what the priests have done to you, is a day of great insight. And the first day when you drop all this nonsense is the day of the beginning of liberation.
Do what your nature wants to do, do what your intrinsic qualities hanker to do. Don't listen to the scriptures, listen to your own heart; that is the only scripture I prescribe. Yes, listen very attentively, very consciously, and you will never be wrong. And listening to your own heart you will never be divided. Listening to your own heart you will start moving in the right direction, without ever thinking of what is right and what is wrong.
So the whole art for the new humanity will consist in the secret of listening to the heart consciously, alertly, attentively. And follow it through any means, and go wherever it takes you. Yes, sometimes it will take you into dangers -- but then remember, those dangers are needed to make you ripe. And sometimes it will take you astray -- but remember again, those goings astray are part of growth. Many times you will fall. Rise up again, because this is how one gathers strength -- by falling and rising again. This is how one becomes integrated.
But don't follow rules imposed from the outside. No imposed rule can ever be right, because rules are invented by people who want to rule you. Yes, sometimes there have been great enlightened people in the world too -- a Buddha, a Jesus, a Krishna, a Mohammed. They have not given rules to the world, they have given their love. But sooner or later the disciples gather together and start making codes of conduct. Once the master is gone, once the light is gone and they are in deep darkness, they start groping for certain rules to follow, because now the light in which they could have seen is no more there. Now they will have to depend on rules.
What Jesus did was his own heart's whispering, and what Christians go on doing is not their own hearts' whispering. They are imitators -- and the moment you imitate, you insult your humanity, you insult your God.
Never be an imitator, be always original. Don't become a carbon copy. But that's what is happening all over the world -- carbon copies and carbon copies.
Life is really a dance if you are an original -- and you are meant to be an original. And no two men are alike, so my way of life can never become your way of life.
Imbibe the spirit, imbibe the silence of the master, learn his grace. Drink as much out of his being as possible, but don't imitate him. Imbibing his spirit, drinking his love, receiving his compassion, you will be able to listen to your own heart's whisperings. And they are whisperings. The heart speaks in a very still, small voice; it does not shout.
Listen to the master's silence so one day you can listen to your own innermost core. And then this problem will never arise: "I am doing something that I should not do, and I am not doing something that I should do." This problem arises only because you are being dominated by outer rules; you are imitators.
What is right for a buddha is not right for you. Just look how different Krishna is from Buddha. If Krishna had followed Buddha we would have missed one of the most beautiful men of this earth. Or if Buddha had followed Krishna he would have been just a poor specimen. Just think of Buddha playing on the flute; he would have disturbed many people's sleep, he was not a flute player. Just think of Buddha dancing; it looks so ridiculous, just absurd.
But the same is the case with Krishna. Sitting underneath a tree with no flute, with no crown of peacock feathers, with no beautiful clothes, just sitting like a beggar under a tree with closed eyes, nobody dancing around him, nothing of the dance, nothing of the song, and Krishna looks so poor, so impoverished.
A Buddha is a Buddha, a Krishna is a Krishna, and you are you. And you are not in any way less than anybody else. Respect yourself, respect your own inner voice and follow it.
And remember, I am not guaranteeing you that it will always lead you to the right. Many times it will take you to the wrong, because to come to the right door one has to knock first on many wrong doors. That's how it is. If you suddenly stumble upon the right door, you will not be able to recognize that it is right.
There are many people who come here directly, they have never been to anybody else. It is almost impossible to have any contact with them. They cannot understand what is happening here, they have no background, they have no context for it. They have not learned what is wrong, so how can they understand what is right?
But when people come here, and they have lived with many many so-called masters and lived with many many seekers and been part of many schools, when they come here something immediately is lit in their hearts. They have seen so much that now they can recognize what is true.
So remember, in the ultimate reckoning no effort is ever wasted, all efforts contribute to the ultimate climax of your growth. So don't be hesitant, don't be worried too much about going wrong. That is one of the problems; people have been taught never to do anything wrong, and then they become so hesitant, so fearful, so frightened of doing wrong, that they become stuck. They cannot move, something wrong may happen. So they become like rocks, they lose all movement.
I teach you: Commit as many mistakes as possible, remembering only one thing: don't commit the same mistake again. And you will be growing. It is part of your freedom to go astray, it is part of your dignity to go even against God. And it is sometimes beautiful to go even against God. This is how you will start having a spine; otherwise there are millions of people, spineless.
Because I say such things, many people are angered. Just the other day a journalist came here. He had come to cover what is happening here in this ashram, and he wanted to have both stories -- the people who are for it, and the people who are against it. So he went around the town. He talked to police officers, he went to see the mayor of Poona. And what the mayor said was really beautiful, I loved it.
He said, "This man is so dangerous that he should be expelled from Poona -- not only from Poona but from India, not only from India but from the world!"
I loved it. And I started thinking about it. Where will they expel me from the world?
That's a really fantastic idea! If they can manage it, I am willing to go.
Why is there so much anger? The anger has a reason in it, it has a rationale behind it. The rationale is that I am trying to give you a totally new vision of religious life -- and if the new vision succeeds, then all the old visions will have to die.
Krishna Prabhu, forget all about what you have been told, "This is right and this is wrong." Life is not so fixed. The thing that is right today may be wrong tomorrow, the thing that is wrong this moment may be right the next moment. Life cannot be pigeonholed; you cannot label it so easily, "This is right and this is wrong." Life is not a chemist's shop where every bottle is labeled and you know what is what. Life is a mystery; one moment something fits and then it is right. Another moment, so much water has gone down the Ganges that it no longer fits and it is wrong.
What is my definition of right? That which is harmonious with existence is right, and that which is disharmonious with existence is wrong. You will have to be very alert each moment, because it has to be decided each moment afresh. You cannot depend on readymade answers for what is right and what is wrong. Only stupid people depend on readymade answers, because then they need not be intelligent. There is no need; you already know what is right and what is wrong, you can cram the list, the list is not very big.
The Jews have ten commandments, so simple, you know what is right and what is wrong.
But life goes on changing continuously. If Moses comes back, I don't think he will give you the same ten commandments -- he cannot. After three thousand years, how can he give you the same commandments? He will have to invent something new.
But my own understanding is this, that whenever commandments are given they create difficulties for people, because by the time they are given they are already out of date.
Life moves so fast; it is a dynamism, it is not static. It is not a stagnant pool, it is a Ganges, it goes on flowing. It is never the same for two consecutive moments. So one thing may be right this moment, and may not be right the next.
Then what to do? The only possible thing is to make people so aware that they themselves can decide how to respond to a changing life.
An old Zen story: There were two temples, rivals. Both the masters -- they must have been so-called masters, must have really been priests -- were so much against each other that they told their followers never to look at the other temple.
Each of the priests had a boy to serve him, to go and fetch things for him, to go on errands. The priest of the first temple told his boy servant, "Never talk to the other boy.
Those people are dangerous."
But boys are boys. One day they met on the road, and the boy from the first temple asked the other, "Where are you going?"
The other said, "Wherever the wind takes me." He must have been listening to great Zen things in the temple; he said, "Wherever the wind takes me." A great statement, pure Tao.
But the first boy was very much embarrassed, offended, and he could not find how to answer him. Frustrated, angry, and also feeling guilty because, "My master said not to talk with these people. These people really are dangerous. Now, what kind of answer is this? He has humiliated me."
He went to his master and told him what had happened. "I am sorry that I talked to him.
You were right, those people are strange. What kind of answer is this? I asked him, 'Where are you going?' -- a simple formal question -- and I knew he was going to the market, just as I was going to the market. But he said, 'Wherever the winds take me.'" The master said, "I warned you, but you didn't listen. Now look, tomorrow you stand at the same place again. When he comes ask him, 'Where are you going?' and he will say, 'Wherever the winds take me.' Then you also be a little more philosophical. Say, 'If you don't have any legs, then? Because the soul is bodiless and the wind cannot take the soul anywhere!' What about that?"
Absolutely ready, the whole night he repeated it again and again and again. And next morning very early he went there, stood on the right spot, and at the exact time the boy came. He was very happy, now he was going to show him what real philosophy is. So he asked, "Where are you going?" And he was waiting....
But the boy said, "I am going to fetch vegetables from the market."
Now, what to do with the philosophy that he had learned?
Life is like that. You cannot prepare for it, you cannot be ready for it. That's its beauty, that's its wonder, that it always takes you unawares, it always comes as a surprise. If you have eyes you will see that each moment is a surprise and no readymade answer is ever applicable.
And all the old religions have supplied you with readymade answers. Manu has given his commandments, Moses has given his commandments, and so on and so forth.
I don't give you any commandment. In fact the very word commandment is ugly. To command somebody is to reduce him to a slave. I don't give you any orders, you are not to be obedient to me or to anybody else. I simply teach you an intrinsic law of life. Be obedient to your own self, be a light unto yourself and follow the light and this problem will never arise. Then whatsoever you do is the thing to do, and whatsoever you don't do is the thing that has not to be done.
And remember, don't go on looking back again and again, because life goes on changing.
Tomorrow you may start thinking what you did yesterday was wrong. It was not wrong yesterday, it may look wrong tomorrow. There is no need to look back; life goes ahead.
But there are many drivers who go on looking in the rear-view mirror. They drive onwards but they look backwards; their life is going to be a catastrophe.
Look ahead. The road that you have passed, you have passed. It is finished, don't carry it any more. Don't be unnecessarily burdened by the past. Go on closing the chapters that you have read; there is no need to go back again and again. And never judge anything of the past through the new perspective that is arriving, because the new is new, incomparably new. The old was right in its own context, and the new is right in its own context, and they are incomparable.
What I am trying to explain to you is: drop guilt! -- because to be guilty is to live in hell.
Not being guilty, you will have the freshness of dewdrops in the early morning sun, you will have the freshness of lotus petals in the lake, you will have the freshness of the stars in the night. Once guilt disappears you will have a totally different kind of life, luminous and radiant. You will have a dance to your feet and your heart will be singing a thousand and one songs.
To live in such rejoicing is to be a sannyasin, to live in such joy is to live a divine life. To live burdened with guilt is simply to be exploited by the priests.
Get out of your prisons -- Hindu, Christian, Mohammedan, Jaina, Buddhist, communist.
Get out of all your prisons, get out of all your ideologies, because ideologies supply you readymade answers. If you ask the communist a question he will have to look in Das Kapital. In the same way, if you ask the Hindu he turns the pages of the Gita.
When are you going to use your own consciousness? When? How long are you going to remain tethered to the dead past? The Gita was born five thousand years back; life has changed so much. If you want to read the Gita, read it as beautiful literature -- but just like that, no more than that. It is beautiful literature, it is beautiful poetry, but it has no dictums to be followed and no commandments to be followed. Enjoy it as a gift from the past, as the gift of a great poet, Vyasa. But don't make it a discipline for your life; it is utterly irrelevant.
And everything becomes irrelevant, because life never remains confined. It goes on and on; it crosses all borders, all boundaries, it is an infinite process. The Gita comes to a full stop somewhere, the Koran comes to a full stop somewhere, but life never comes to a full stop, remember it. Remind yourself of it.
And the only way to be in contact with life, the only way not to lag behind life, is to have a heart which is not guilty, a heart which is innocent. Forget all about what you have been told -- what has to be done and what has not to be done -- nobody else can decide it for you.
Avoid those pretenders who decide for you; take the reins in your own hands. You have to decide. In fact, in that very decisiveness, your soul is born. When others decide for you, your soul remains asleep and dull. When you start deciding on your own, a sharpness arises. To decide means to take risks, to decide means you may be doing wrong -- who knows, that is the risk. Who knows what is going to happen? That is the risk, there is no guarantee.
With the old, there is a guarantee. Millions and millions of people have followed it, how can so many people be wrong? That is the guarantee. If so many people say it is right, it must be right.
In fact the logic of life is just the opposite. If so many people are following a certain thing, be certain it is wrong, because so many people are not so enlightened and cannot be so enlightened. The majority consists of fools, utter fools. Beware of the majority. If so many people are following something, that is enough proof that it is wrong.
Truth happens to individuals, not to crowds. Have you ever heard of a crowd becoming enlightened? Truth happens to individuals -- a Tilopa, an Atisha, a Nanak, a Kabir, a Farid.
Truth happens to individuals.
Be an individual if you really want truth to happen to you.
Take all the risks that are needed to be an individual, and accept the challenges so that they can sharpen you, can give you brilliance and intelligence.
Truth is not a belief, it is utter intelligence. It is a flaring-up of the hidden sources of your life, it is an enlightening experience of your consciousness. But you will have to provide the right space for it to happen. And the right space is accepting yourself as you are.
Don't deny anything, don't become split, don't feel guilty.
Rejoice! And I say to you again, rejoice as you are.
The third question:
WHY DOES SO MUCH CONTROVERSY SURROUND YOU AND YOUR ASHRAM?
Krishna Prem, if it were not so, it would have been really a surprise, it would have been a miracle, it would have been unbelievable. This is the natural course. This is what was happening to Socrates. And what was his mistake? His mistake was that he was trying to tell the truth as it is. His mistake, his only mistake, was that he was not ready to compromise with the stupidities of the crowd. He lived in continuous controversy; he died because of those controversies.
Do you think Jesus lived a noncontroversial life? Then why was he crucified? A reward for a noncontroversial life? He lived continuously in controversy; it is bound to be so. So it was with Buddha, so it was with Bodhidharma, so it has always been, and it seems so it is always going to be.
Truth creates controversy, because it shocks people, it shatters their illusions. And they want to cling to their illusions; those illusions are very consoling, comfortable, convenient and cozy. They don't want to leave their dreams, they are not ready to drop their investments in all kinds of foolish projects -- and that's what truth requires of them.
They feel angry, they want to take revenge.
It's absolutely natural. I am going to live in controversy -- and this is only the beginning.
Wait for the day they expel me from the world! I am really enchanted: where will they send me? It will be worth it, worth all the trouble of going there and living out of the world.
This is only the beginning, this is just the spark. Soon the whole forest will be on fire, and this fire is going to spread all over the earth... because I am not fighting against Hindu fanaticism, I am not fighting against Mohammedan fanaticism, I am simply fighting against all kinds of fanaticism.
Socrates was only fighting against the lies that were prevalent in the small city of Athens; it was a very small place. Buddha was against the Hindu beliefs, Jesus was fighting the Judaic heritage. My fight is multidimensional: I am fighting with Jews, I am fighting with Hindus, I am fighting with Buddhists, I am fighting with Jainas, I am fighting with Mohammedans. My fight is not addressed to anybody in particular. Hence I am bound to create so many enemies, more than anybody has ever done.
But certainly I am also going to create just as many friends, more than anybody has ever done, because life keeps a balance. If you have so many enemies you will have as many friends, if you have so many friends you will have as many enemies. Life always keeps a balance, life never loses balance. So the more enemies there are, the more friends there will be.
The whole thing seems to be very intriguing, very interesting. And remember, you cannot satisfy all -- that is not possible, and I am not interested in it either.
Two thousand five hundred years ago, Aesop told this story:
It was a bright sunny morning in a mountain village. An old man and his grandson were going to the market in the large town in the valley to sell a donkey. The donkey was beautifully groomed and brushed and they set off happily down the steep path. In a while they passed some people lounging by the side of the path.
"Look at that silly pair!" said one of the onlookers. "There they go, scrambling and stumbling down the path, when they could be riding comfortably on the back of that sure- footed beast."
The old man heard this and thought it was right. So he and the boy mounted the donkey, and thus continued their descent.
Soon they passed another group of people gossiping by the wayside. "Look at the lazy pair, breaking the back of that poor donkey!"
The old man thought they were right, and since he was the heavier, he decided to walk while the boy rode.
In a little while they heard more comments. "Look at that disrespectful child -- he rides while the old man walks!"
The old man thought they were right, and it was only proper that he should ride while the boy walked.
Sure enough, they soon heard this: "What a mean old man, riding at his ease while the poor child has to try to keep up on foot!"
By this time the old man and the boy were becoming increasingly bewildered. When they finally heard the criticism that the donkey would be all worn out and no one would want to buy him after the long walk to the market, they sat down, dejected, by the side of the road.
After the donkey had been allowed to rest for a while, they continued the journey, but in a completely different manner. Thus it was, late that afternoon, that the old man and the boy were seen gasping breathlessly into the marketplace. Slung on a pole between them, hung by his tied feet, was the donkey!
As Aesop said: "You can't please everyone. If you try, you lose yourself."
I cannot please everybody, and neither am I interested in pleasing everybody. I am not a politician; the politician tries to please everybody. I am here only to help those who really want to be helped. I am not interested in the mob, in the crowd. I am only interested in those sincere seekers who are ready to risk all -- all -- to attain themselves.
This is going to anger many, this is going to create much controversy, because I am a very noncompromising person. I will say only that which is true to me, whatsoever the consequence. If I am condemned for it or murdered for it, that's perfectly okay. But I am not going to compromise, not an iota.
I have nothing to lose, so why compromise? I have nothing to gain, so why compromise?
All that could have happened has happened. Nothing can be taken away from me, because my treasure is of the inner. And nothing can be added to it, because my treasure is of the inner.
So I am going to live the way I want to live. I am going to live in my own spontaneity and authenticity. I am not here to fulfill anybody's expectations. I am not interested in being called a spiritual person or a saint either. I don't need any compliments from anybody, I don't want the crowd to worship me. All those stupid games are finished.
I am in that state where nothing can happen any more; it is beyond happening. So I will go on saying things which offend people. It is not that I want to offend them, but what can I do? If truth offends them, then it offends them. I am going to live life the way it is happening to me. If it is not according to their expectations, either they can change their expectations or they can feel angry, miserable, and go on clinging to their expectations.
I am utterly free from their opinion, it does not matter to me at all.
So, Krishna Prem, the controversies will become more and more. And because I am controversial, my people are bound to be controversial too. Because I am controversial, you will also be offensive, you will also have to suffer. You will also have to be ready to be persecuted in many ways.
But remember one thing. To live a life of compromise is worse than death. And to live a life of truth, even if it is for a single moment, is far more valuable than to live eternally in lies. To die for truth is far more valuable than to live in lies.
The last question:
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF HEAVEN?
There is no heaven and there is no hell. They are not geographical, they are part of your psychology. They are psychological. To live a life of spontaneity, truth, love and beauty is to live in heaven. To live a life of hypocrisy, lies and compromises, to live according to others, is to live in hell. To live in freedom is heaven, and to live in bondage is hell.
You can decorate your prison cell beautifully, but that makes no difference, it is still a prison cell. And that's what people have been doing, they go on decorating their prison cell. They give it beautiful names, they go on painting it, putting new pictures on the walls, arranging the furniture in new ways, purchasing more and more things -- but they live in prisons.
Your marriage is a prison, your church is a prison, your nationality is a prison. How many prisons you have created! You are not living in one prison, your prisons are like Chinese boxes: a box within a box within a box within a box, it goes on. You are like an onion: peel it, another layer, peel that, another layer. Destroy one prison and you find another inside. This is what hell is.
To reach the very core of the onion, where all layers have been dropped and there is only nothingness in your hands, that is freedom, nirvana, bodhichitta. The consciousness of a buddha, the pure consciousness of a buddha, that is heaven.
And my idea of heaven is not something far away, a heaven in the sky where only angels live.... Do you know that angels don't perspire? They don't need any deodorants. And do you know, in heaven there are no pubs, because pubs are not needed. There are rivers of wine, so you can jump into the rivers and drink to your heart's content. And there are beautiful women who never grow old, who are stuck at the age of eighteen. Centuries and centuries have passed, but they are stuck at the age of eighteen. They have golden bodies.
Just think of it! It looks more like a nightmare. Golden bodies? With eyes of sapphire?
No, that is not my idea of heaven. In that way, I am an old Jew....
The minister said to his friend, "Rabbi, I dreamed of a Jewish heaven the other night. It was very lifelike, and it seemed to me to just suit the Jewish ideal. It was a crowded tenement district with Jewish people everywhere. There were clothes on lines from every window, women on every stoop, pushcart peddlers on every corner, children playing stick-ball on every street. The noise and confusion were so great that I woke up."
The rabbi said, "By a strange coincidence, Father Williams, I dreamed the other night of an Episcopalian heaven. It was very lifelike, and it seemed to me just the ideal of Episcopalians. It was a neat suburb, with well-spaced English Tudor and manor houses, with beautiful lawns, each with its own flowerbed, with clean wide tree-lined streets, and all was suffused in warm sunshine."
The vicar smiled. "And the people?"
"Oh," murmured the rabbi, "there were no people."
My idea of heaven is not unearthly. Heaven is here -- you just have to know how to live it. And hell too is here, and you know perfectly well how to live it. It is only a question of changing your perspective, your approach towards life.
The earth is beautiful. If you start living its beauty, enjoying its joys with no guilt in your heart, you are in paradise. If you condemn everything, every small joy, if you become a condemner, a poisoner, then the same earth turns into a hell -- but only for you. It depends on you where you live, it is a question of your own inner transformation. It is not a change of place, it is a change of inner space.
Live joyously, guiltlessly, live totally, live intensely. And then heaven is no more a metaphysical concept, it is your own experience.
Enough for today.
The Book of Wisdom