Remember the middle
ONE NIGHT A MONK WAS RECITING A SUTRA BEQUEATHED BY KASHYAPABUDDHA. HIS TONE WAS SO MOURNFUL AND HIS VOICE SO FAINTING, AS IF HE WERE GOING OUT OF EXISTENCE. THE BUDDHA ASKED THE MONK, "WHAT WAS YOUR OCCUPATION BEFORE YOU BECAME A HOMELESS MONK?" SAID THE MONK, "I WAS VERY FOND OF PLAYING THE GUITAR." THE BUDDHA SAID, "HOW DID YOU FIND IT WHEN THE STRINGS WERE TOO LOOSE?" SAID THE MONK, "NO SOUND IS POSSIBLE." "HOW WHEN THE STRINGS WERE TOO TIGHT?" "THEY CRACK." "HOW WHEN THEY WERE NEITHER TOO TIGHT NOR TOO LOOSE?" "EVERY NOTE SOUNDS IN ITS PROPER TONE."
THE BUDDHA THEN SAID TO THE MONK: RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINE IS ALSO LIKE UNTO PLAYING THE GUITAR. WHEN THE MIND IS PROPERLY ADJUSTED AND QUIETLY APPLIED, THE WAY IS ATTAINABLE; BUT WHEN YOU ARE TOO FERVENTLY BENT ON IT, YOUR BODY GROWS TIRED; AND WHEN YOUR BODY IS TIRED, YOUR SPIRIT BECOMES WEARY; WHEN YOUR SPIRIT IS WEARY, YOUR DISCIPLINE WILL RELAX; AND WITH THE RELAXATION OF DISCIPLINE THERE FOLLOWS MANY AN EVIL. THEREFORE, BE CALM AND PURE, AND THE WAY WILL BE GAINED.
MAN'S whole misery consists in his being off-center. here is a maladjustment between the hub and the wheel. There is a maladjustment between you and reality, and that maladjustment manifests itself in a thousand and one ways. The farther you are away from reality, the more miserable. Hell is the farthest point from reality. The closer you are to reality, the more close you are to heaven.
When there is no maladjustment between you and reality, you are heaven itself.
It Is not a question of going anywhere, it is a question of how to get in tune with reality again. It is a rediscovery - because in the mother's womb each child is centered in reality. In the mother's womb each child is profoundly blissful. Of course he is unaware of it, not knowing anything about it. He's so one with his bliss that there is no knower left behind. Blissfulness is his being, and there is no distinction between the knower and the known. So of course the child is not aware that he is blissful. You become aware only when you have lost something.
Mulla Nasrudin was saying to his son one day, "You don't know what happiness is until you get married - and then it is too late."
It is so. It is very difficult to know something without losing it, because when you have not lost it you are so totally one with it. There is no distance: the observer and the observed are one; the known and the knower are one. Every child is in a profoundly blissful state.
Psychologists also agree with this. They say that the whole search of religion is nothing but a way to again find the womb of the mother. They use it as a criticism of religion, but to me it is not criticism at all. It is simply true. Yes, the search for religion is again a search for the womb. The search for religion is again a search to make this whole existence a womb.
The child is in absolute tune with the mother. The child is never out of tune with the mother. The child does not know that he is separate from the mother. If the mother is healthy the child is healthy; if the mother is ill the child is ill; if the mother is sad the child is sad; if the mother is happy the child is happy; if the mother is dancing the child is dancing; if the mother is sitting silently the child is silent. The child has no boundaries of his own yet. This is the purest bliss, but it has to be lost.
The child is born, and suddenly he is thrown off-center. Suddenly he is uprooted from the earth, from the mother. He loses his moorings and he does not know who he is. There was no need to know it when he was with the mother. There was no.need to know - he was all, and there was no need to know, there was no distinction. There was no 'you', so there was no question of 'I' The reality was undivided. It was ADWAITA, pure ADWAITA, pure non-duality.
But once the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut and he starts breathing on his own, suddenly his whole being becomes a quest to know who he is. It is natural.
Now he starts becoming aware of his boundaries - his body, his needs.
Sometimes he is happy, sometimes unhappy, sometimes he is fulfilled, sometimes not fulfilled; sometimes he is hungry and crying and there is no sign of mother anywhere; sometimes he is on the mother's breast, again enjoying oneness with the mother. But now there are many moods and many climates, and he will start, by and by, to feel the separation. A divorce has happened; the marriage is broken.
He was absolutely married to the mother; now he will always be separate. And he has to find out who he is. And the whole life one goes on trying to find out who one is. This is the most fundamental question.
First the child becomes aware of 'mine', then of 'me', then of 'you', then of 'I'. This is how it proceeds. This is precisely the procedure, exactly in this order. First he becomes aware of 'mine'. Watch it, because this is your construction, the structure of your ego. First the child becomes aware of 'mine' - this toy is mine, this mother is mine. He starts possessing. The possessor enters first; possessiveness is very basic. Hence all the religions say: Become non-possessive - - because with possession starts the hell. Watch small children: very jealous, possessive, each child trying to snatch everything from everybody else and trying to protect his own toys. And you will see children that are very violent, almost indifferent to others' needs. If a child is playing with his toy and another child comes you can see an Adolf Hitler, a Genghis Khan, a Nadirshah. He will cling to his toy; he is ready to hit, he is ready to fight. It is a question of territory, a question of domination. Possessiveness enters first; that is the basic poison.
And the child starts saying, "This is mine."
Now look - nothing can be 'mine' in reality, in truth. We come empty-handed, we go empty-handed. This whole business of 'mine' and 'thine' is just a dream.
But once the child says, "This is mine," now he is entering into a maladjustment with reality. So you will find that the more you have this idea of 'mine', the more you will be miserable, the more you will suffer. Everywhere: "This house is mine; this woman is mine; this man is mine," and EVERYWHERE you immediately claim and possess... and misery enters.
Two persons are in love. If it is just a beginning the 'mine' has not started - because if 'mine' has not started, the mind has not started. Once the 'mine' starts, the ego is on the way. The ego is the crystallized 'mine'. And once the 'mine' starts, love is lost. Love is beautiful only when there is no 'mine'. But it enters immediately, because that has become our very structure. That is our foundation in this world. We are wrongly based.
I have heard....
This playboy was six and he was playing with the girl next door who was five.
"Want to wrestle?" he asked. She said, "I can't wrestle. I am a girl."
He continued, "Want to play ball?"
She replied, "I can't play ball. I am a girl."
Finally he said, "Okay, wanna play house?"
She said, "All right. I will be the father."
From the very beginning, who dominates whom? who possesses whom? Hence all the religions - eastern, western - all the religions that have existed on earth emphasize non-possessiveness, non-attachment - because that will take the very earth from beneath your feet. If you become non-possessive the ego cannot exist.
If you become aware of this basic flaw of your being, this claim for 'mine', you will be surprised that all your misery can be dropped by dropping this single word. This is not just a word, it is your whole style of life. The wrong style of life is based on 'mine'; the right style of life knows no 'mine', no 'thine'.
Once we say 'mine' we are making ourselves separate from the whole. Now this separation will grow, and each step will take you farther away.
I have heard....
A small child was sitting with the family; the father and mother were quarrelling, as usual. Then the father became almost mad. Afraid he might hit the woman, or that he might do something wrong, he ran out of the house.
The small child was watching. He said, "Will daddy be coming back?"
The mother said, "Yes, within fifteen minutes he will be back."
The child said, "Oh nuts! I was thinking to have his dessert."
Once the 'mine' enters then you are a competitor with everybody. Once the 'mine' enters, your life will now be a life of competition, struggle, conflict, violence, aggression.
The next step of 'mine' is 'me'. When you have something to claim as yours.
suddenly through that claim arises the idea that now you are the center of your possessions. The possessions become your territory, and through those possessions arises a new idea: 'me'.
Once you are settled with 'me', you can see clearly that you have a boundary, and those who are outside the boundary are 'you'. The other becomes clear; now things start falling apart.
The universe is one, it is a unity. Nothing is divided. Everything is connected with everything else. It is a tremendous connectedness. You are connected with the earth, you are connected with the trees, you are connected with the stars; stars are connected with you, stars are connected with the trees, with the rivers, with the mountains. Everything is interconnected. Nothing is separate; nothing can be separate. Separation is not possible.
Each moment you are breathing - you breathe in, you breathe out - continuously there is a bridge with the existence. You eat, existence enters into you; you defecate, it becomes manure - the apple on the tree will become part of your body tomorrow, and some part of your body will go and become manure, will become food for the tree... a continuous give and take. Not for a single moment does it stop. When it stops, you are dead.
What is death? - separation is death. To be in unity is to be alive, to be out of unity is to be dead. So the more you think, "I am separate," the less sensitive you will be, more dead, dragging, dull. The more you feel you are connected, the more this whole existence is part of you and you are part of this whole existence.
Once you understand that we are members of each other, then suddenly the vision changes. Then these trees are not alien; they are continuously preparing food for you. When you breathe in you take oxygen in, when you breathe out you give carbon dioxide; the trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen - there is a continuous communion. We are in tune. The reality is a unity.
And with the idea of 'me', 'you ', we are falling out of the reality. And once a wrong conception settles inside, your whole vision becomes upside down.
I have heard....
The young New Yorker was in Texas for the very first time. Seeing a herd of buffalo, he asked his host what they were.
"They are just wild pigs," said his host. "Everything in Texas is big."
A little later the visitor saw a flight of eagles and asked what they were.
"They are just sparrows," said his host. "Everything is big in Texas."
Later that night the visitor went looking for the toilet and fell into the swimming pool. "For Pete's sake!" he cried "Nobody pull the flush!"
Once you have a wrong conception of things, then that conception will distort everything. If 'everything is big in Texas', then the swimming pool must be a toilet! It is natural - one wrong conception leads to another wrong conception and one small wrong conception leads to a bigger wrong conception. If you go on settling with this, one day you simply don't know what reality is. You are simply clouded by your own conceptions.
'Me', then 'you', and then as a reflection arises 'I', 'I' is the subtlest, the most crystallized form of the possessiveness. Once you have uttered 'I', you have committed sacrilege. Once you have said 'I', you are broken completely from existence - not really broken, otherwise you would die. But in your ideas you are completely broken from reality. Now you will be in a continuous fight with reality. You will be fighting your own roots, you will be fighting with yourself.
That's why Buddha says: Be a driftwood. You can be a driftwood only if you have dropped the idea of I - otherwise you cannot be a driftwood. Struggle will persist. That's why it becomes so difficult when you come to meditate. If I say to just sit silently, you cannot do that - such a simple thing. One would think it is the most simple thing; there should be no need to teach it. One should simply sit and be. But you cannot sit because the 'I' cannot allow you a moment of relaxation. Once a moment of relaxation is allowed, you will be able to see reality. Once reality is known, the 'I' will have to be dropped. Then it cannot persist. So the 'I' never even allows you a holiday. Even if you go to the hills, to the summer resorts, the 'I' never allows you a holiday even there. You take your radio, you take your tv set; you take all your problems and you remain occupied.
There, at a hill-station, you had gone to relax, but you continue your whole pattern in the same way. You don't relax.
The 'I' cannot relax. It exists through tensions. It will create new tensions, it will create new worries, it will constantly manufacture new problems, it won't allow you any rest. Even a minute's rest and the whole house of the 'I' starts toppling down - because the reality is so beautiful and the 'I' is so ugly. One continues to fight his way unnecessarily. You are fighting for things which are going to happen of their own accord. You are unnecessarily fighting. You are desiring things which are going to be yours if you don't desire. In fact, by desiring you will lose them.
That's why Buddha says: Float with the stream. Let it take you to the ocean.
'Mine', 'me', 'you', 'I' - this is the trap. And this trap creates misery, neurosis, madness.
Now the problem is: the child has to go through it, because he does not know who he is and he needs some sort of identity - maybe a false identity, but it is better than no identity. He needs some identity. He needs to know exactly who he is, so a false center is created. The 'I' is not your real center. It is a false center - - utilitarian, make-believe, just manufactured by you. It has nothing to do with your real center. Your real center is the center of all. Your real self is the self of all. At the center, the whole existence is one - just as at the source of light, the sun, all rays are one. The farther away they go, the farther away they are from each other.
Your real center is not only your center, it is the center of the whole. But we have created small centers of our own, homemade, manufactured by ourselves. There is a need... because the child is born without any boundary, with no idea of who he is. It is a survival necessity. How will he survive? He has to be given a name, he has to be given an idea of who he is. Of course this idea comes from the outside; somebody says you are beautiful, somebody says you are intelligent, somebody says you are so vital. You gather the things that people say. Out of all that people say about you, you gather a certain image. You never look into yourself, at who you are. This image is going to be false - because nobody else can know who you are, and nobody else can say who you are. Your inner reality is not available to anybody else except you. Your inner reality is impenetrable to anybody else except you. Only you can be there.
The day you realize that your identity is false, put together; you have collected opinions from people....
Sometime just think, just sit silently and think who you are. Many ideas will arise. Just go on watching from where they come and you will be able to find the source. Some things come from your mother - much; about eighty to ninety percent. Something comes from your father, something comes from your schoolteachers, something comes from your friends, something from the society.
Just watch: you will be able to divide from where it comes. Nothing comes from you, not even one percent comes from you. What type of identity is this in which you have not contributed at all? And you are the only one who could have contributed, in fact, the whole hundred percent.
The day you understand this, religion becomes important. The day you realize this you start seeking for some technique, some method to enter into your being; how to know exactly, really, existentially, who you are. No more collections of images from the outside, no more asking others to mirror your reality - but to face it directly, immediately; to enter into your nature, to feel it there. What is the need to ask anybody? And whom are you asking? They are as ignorant about themselves as you are about yourself. They don't know themselves; how can they know you? Just see how things are functioning, how things go on functioning, how things go on happening: one falsity leads to another falsity. You are almost swindled, duped. You are conned, and those who have swindled you may not have done it knowingly. They may have been swindled by others. Your father, your mother, your teachers, have been duped by others - their fathers, their mothers, their teachers. And they have duped you in turn. Are you going to do the same to your children too?
In a better world, where people are more intelligent, more aware, they will teach the child that the idea of Identity is false: "It is needed, we are giving it to you, but it is only for the time being, before you yourself discover who you are. It is not going to be your reality. And the sooner you find out who you are, the better.
The sooner you can drop this idea, the better - because from that very moment you will really be born, and you will be really real, authentic. You will become an individual."
The ideas that we gather from others give us a personality, and the knowledge that we come to know from within gives us individuality. Personality is false, individuality is real. Personality is borrowed; reality, individuality, your authenticity, can never be borrowed. Nobody can say who you are.
Your body can be seen by others. They can say whether your body is beautiful or not, and that too depends - because no criterion for beauty exists. That depends on the idea of the person, on what he thinks is beautiful. Two persons never agree. It is almost like 'like' and 'dislike'. You may fall in love with a woman and you may think she is the most beautiful woman in the world - and your friends may laugh at you. I'm not saying they are right, I'm not saying you are right. I'm simply saying that there is simply no criterion. You may think the woman is horrible and your friend is mad, but there is no criterion. There is no objective way to know who is beautiful, what is beautiful. It depends on your mind, your conditioning.
I have overheard....
A male elephant was watching a female elephant wiggle by. Said he, almost charmed, "Wow! A perfect Date: Fri, 250 by 210 00:00:00 GMT X-Location: by 400!"
For an elephant, of course, those are the proportions of beauty - not for a man.
And as you are laughing about the proportions, elephants laugh about your ideas of beauty.
In fact even a single individual's idea of beauty goes on changing. In childhood you have different ideas of beauty, in youth different ideas, in old age different ideas. And then it depends on your necessity, your need.
I have heard....
There was an advertisement in a farmer's magazine. The farmer had advertised that he wanted to meet a woman near about thirty years of age. He himself was forty-one. Object: marriage. But one condition had to be fulfilled: the woman had to have a tractor, and she had to send a picture of the tractor!
It depends on your need, on your ideas, on your philosophy, religion, conditioning, culture. Somebody can say something about your body; that too is not objective. Somebody can say something about your mind - a teacher can say you are very intelligent - but that too depends. Because there is no way to decide who is intelligent. The very idea of an intelligence quotient, measuring the intelligence, has failed. Psychologists were thinking that they would be able to measure intelligence, but it has failed. Now it is out of date. It does not mean much.
Who is intelligent? - a child who is efficient in mathematics, or a child who is very efficient in painting? Who is intelligent? - -a child who can compose poetry, or a child who can make an engine or a mechanism? Who is intelligent? There is simply no way to say. Of course, ordinarily, the mathematician, the mechanic, the technologist, will be thought intelligent - because he has more utility. A painting has not much utility. A poem has no survival value; you cannot merchandise it. In the marketplace nobody will bother about it. But if you can create a gadget, a mechanical device, many people will be interested in it. But how to decide?
In a different society.... For example: in ancient China, three thousand years ago, a man who could compose poetry was thought to be more intelligent than a man who could devise a machine - because the society existed on different principles.
Lao Tzu had said that machines are not needed; Lao Tzu had said that machines are a way to cheat nature, to exploit nature. They are aggressive. Man does not need any mechanical things; poetry, painting, sculpture, music, is more valuable.
So a child who was a born musician was thought to be more intelligent than a mathematician - because what will you do with a mathematician? Of what use is it? But in the modern world the mathematician is more useful, has more utility, has more market value.
But this is not going to be so for long. Sooner or later, even within this century, a few countries will come to such affluence that again they will need music, poetry, sculpture. People would like to listen to great music, would like to see dance, would like to enter into the realms of beauty, would like to go into deeper tune with reality. Who will bother about a mathematician, a technologist, an engineer? Sooner or later this is going to change. It depends on the needs of the society.
People can say something about your body, something about your mind, but that too is not of any value. Who can say anything about your soul? - not even your mother who has given birth to you, not even your father.
When Buddha became enlightened he went back home. The father was very angry, naturally so. It is very difficult to satisfy a father, because whatsoever you do will go against his ambitions. It is very difficult to satisfy a father. If you don't have any personality, if you don't have any individuality, if you don't have any unique intelligence, you are dull. You may be obedient, but then the father is not satisfied because of your dullness, stupidity. You are obedient, okay; but what is the point of your being obedient? You have nothing to give. If you are intelligent, unique, have something to give, then you cannot be obedient. Intelligence is always rebellious. Only dull and stupid people are obedient.
In the world today there is so much rebellion only because there has been an explosion of intelligence. Each generation is more intelligent than the previous one, hence more rebellion, more disobedience, more chaos in the world. You can watch it in your children. Just observe your children impartially. Were you so intelligent when you were a child? Now look at children; they are so intelligent.
You may not see it, because it hurts. You may not see it, you may deny it, but just watch - and it HAS to be so. It is natural that consciousness goes on evolving. So when a child is intelligent he's rebellious, and the father is not satisfied. When the child is obedient but he is not intelligent, then too he is not satisfied. It is difficult to satisfy a father.
Even a Buddha could not satisfy his father. Buddha's father must have thought that he had become a hippie. Maybe the term was not there, so he must have thought it in some other terms, but that's exactly what he was saying to Buddha when he came. He was very angry, annoyed, and he said, "What have you done?
You are a king's son, and you are moving like a beggar? Drop all this nonsense and come back home. I am your father. Though you have pained me, and you have been a pain in my neck, still my heart is that of a father: I can forgive you.
My doors are still open. You can come."
Buddha laughed. He said, "You don't know me at all. I have entered into a great kingdom." The father, of course, became more furious. He said, "Stop all this! I know you well. I have given you birth." Buddha said, "There you are mistaken, there you err. You have given birth to my body, but not to me; and you don't know me at all. Even as I am standing in front of you, you are not seeing me. You are so full of your idea that you are the father and I am your son. That idea is functioning like a barrier. Just look at me! The son that has left your house has not come back. That person is gone, that person is dead! I am a totally new being.
I come with a new identity, I come with a new realization: I come as awareness. I had gone as unconsciousness. I had gone as Gautam Siddhartha, your son. Now I come as Buddha, as enlightened, just enlightened. I had gone with a false identity, now I come with a real realization of who I am. Look at me!"
In fact, there is no way for anybody else to see your reality. You have to go into it yourself. It cannot be done by servants. you cannot pay somebody to do it for you.
A great Sufi saint was called by Calipha Omar to pray in his court. He went, but he said, "I cannot do it. There are a few things you have to do for yourself. You have to breathe for yourself; nobody else can do it. You have to make love to your woman yourself; nobody else can do it for you. And you have to pray for yourself; I cannot do it. Sorry." He said, "I can pray, but that will be prayer for myself. It will not be for you."
He had brought a great truth home; there are things which nobody can do for you. At least one thing can never be done by anybody else - that is, to give you the answer to who you are. No, you have to go, you have to dig deep into your own being. Layers and layers of identity, false identity, have to be broken.
There is fear when one enters into oneself, because chaos comes in. Somehow you have managed with your false identity. You have settled with it. You know your name is this or that; you have certain credentials, certificates, degrees, universities, colleges, prestige, money, heritage. You have certain ways to define yourself. You have a certain definition, howsoever workable - but it works.
Going in means dropping this workable definition... there will be chaos.
Before you can come to your center, you will have to pass through a very chaotic state. That's why there is fear. Nobody wants to go in. People go on teaching:
Know thyself; we listen, but we never listen. We never bother about it. There is a very certain idea in the mind that chaos will be let loose and you will be lost in it, you will be engulfed in it. Because of the fear of that chaos, we go on clinging to anything from the outside. But this is wasting your life.
The day you become courageous enough to enter into your being, you have become a sannyasin. Sannyas means: now you are taking your life into your own hands. Now you are trying to live the life that is yours, authentically. Now you are no longer playing roles. Now you will not allow anybody else to write the story of your life. Now you are ready to unfold that which you have always carried like a seed within you. Chaos is the problem; so when people become religious they begin to find some way to avoid the chaos. That has to be understood before we can enter into this sutra.
A certain identity is there. For example: you are rich, you have much money - that is your identity. When a person starts thinking, "How to know myself?" and when he comes to listen to the truths always explained by the sages: that 'mine', 'me', 'you', 'I', have to be dropped, he thinks, "Okay, so I will drop all my riches and I will become poor." He drops one identity - the identity of being poor - but he has moved to the other extreme. To avoid one wrong he has moved to its opposite wrong. And this is a fundamental thing: if you move against a wrong too much, you will again enter into another wrong. One wrong opposed by another thing cannot be corrected; the opposite is also wrong. Just in the middle, somewhere, is truth.
When you are rich you have an identity. You drop that, you become poor, you become a beggar; now you have another identity. The first one was borrowed from the society, the second one is also borrowed from the society. Now everybody will say that you have renounced the world, you are a great sannyasin, you have dropped out of the world, you are simply great. You were great because you had money; now you are great because you have renounced the money - but the identity is coming from the outside. First you were rich, now you are poor; now poverty is your richness. You were egoistic, you became humble; but now humbleness is your ego.
One can move from one disease to another disease very easily, just like the pendulum can swing from one extreme to another extreme.
Buddha says: Extremes are what wrong is. To be an extremist is to be in the wrong. Be in the middle, be balanced - SAMYAK - and that's where right is.
Just be in the middle, don't move from one polarity to another. That's what people are doing. Somebody is rushing after women, then one day he decides it is futile; he starts running away from women. But running continues. First he was chasing, now he's afraid some woman may be chasing him. And that's how it happens: if you chase a woman, she runs. If you start running from her, she starts chasing you. Life is very mysterious... but the running continues. It is a game. Only one can be the chaser and one has to be the chased. Either you are the chaser or the woman becomes the chaser, but the game continues.
Buddha says: Stop in the middle.
This sutra is part of a very famous story in Buddha's life The story is about a prince named Srona.
Srona was a very rich prince, and he lived the life of a super-Epicurean: eat, drink, be merry. He had lived as deeply in indulgence as possible. He had never known anything about discipline, he had never heard anything about awareness.
Women, wine - that was all, that was his whole life... confined to two words:
women and wine. The whole day he was drunk, and the whole night he was indulging in sexuality. He was a maniac. But by and by the extreme started tiring him. By and by he became alert to what he was doing to his life.
When you indulge too much, one day, if you are a little intelligent, you start feeling the whole futility of it.
One day when Buddha was passing through his town, he heard about Buddha.
He had been thinking for many days, "There must be another way of life, and there must be more to life than the way I am living it." Hearing that Buddha had come, he went to see him. He was an extremist. Seeing Buddha - his silence, his grace, his peace - he was touched. His heart was overwhelmed. He bowed down to Buddha and he said, "Give me sannyas this very moment!"
Buddha said, "Wait. Don't be in such a hurry."
"But," he said, "I cannot wait. I don't know what waiting is. When I want to do something, I want to do something. And enough is enough! I have lived the life of a debauch, and I have been simply wasting myself. It has been suicidal. Now I cannot go back home. You accept me."
Even Buddha's disciples said, "Why don't you accept him? You never say no to anybody. Why are you hesitating?" Ananda said, "Why are you hesitating? He is great prince, well known, and he is ready. He is ready to surrender totally."
Buddha said, "I am hesitating because I am afraid that this may be just another extreme. This man has been just indulgent. Now he may renounce and just move to another extreme - and renunciation is in the middle."
But Srona persisted; he wouldn't go. He was sitting there from the morning till the evening. He was a man of that type. The more Buddha said no, the more he became insistent. Next morning, Buddha accepted him as a disciple. This sutra is about Srona.
The story says that when Srona became a BHIKKHU, a monk, immediately he turned to the other extreme - the extreme that Buddha was afraid of, was apprehensive about. BHIKKHUS, Buddha's BHIKKUS, his monks, used to take one meal every day; Srona would take only two meals every week. The BHIKKHUS would walk, move from one town to another; then they would walk on the road. But this Srona would never walk on the path. He would walk in the forest, would get hurt. His feet would start bleeding; there were wounds.
Buddha's BHIKKHUS were very tranquil people, silent people - because the whole teaching is to remain in the middle. They were never indulgent and they were never ascetic, but this Srona became a great ascetic. When everybody would be sitting under the trees, he would stand in the hot sun. He had a beautiful body, he was a beautiful young man. He became dark, black, and within a few months it was impossible to recognize him. When people from his capital would come they would be surprised; he had changed so much. He had become lean and thin, his eyes had lost luster, his face had lost all grace; he had started becoming ugly. And he was always ill, because the body has a limit of tolerance to certain things. But he was not worried; in fact, he was enjoying it.
And all the monks started feeling that he was some great soul. Everybody started feeling that he was superior to them. Now a new ego was arising in Srona.
This sutra is about Srona.
ONE NIGHT A MONK WAS RECITING A SUTRA BEQUEATHED BY KASHYAPABUDDHA. HIS TONE WAS SO MOURNFUL AND HIS VOICE SO FAINTING, AS IF HE WERE GOING OUT OF EXISTENCE.
Of course he must have become very sad, he must have become very low and depressed, he must have lost all joy. He was torturing himself. He must have been a little masochistic. He was destroying himself and enjoying the violence.
He must have become very serious, a long-face; he must have become very deeply ill, all well-being disappeared. He was not a flowering. In fact, the tree was dying.
He was reciting this sutra given by Kashyapabuddha. When you recite a sutra you have to recite it in joy - otherwise it is meaningless. When you pray, if you cannot pray joyfully, it is meaningless - don't waste your time. Because your prayer never reaches God unless it rides on the horse of joy. Unless you can celebrate, your prayer is never heard. Only through celebration does it reach to God - because God understands only one language, and that is celebration; no other language - He does not understand English, He does not understand Sanskrit, He does not understand Arabic. He understands only one language: the language of flowers, the language of clouds, the language of peacocks, the language of the cuckoos, the language of joy, the language of greenery, of rivers rushing to the ocean, glaciers gliding down from the mountains. He knows dance, He knows what singing is. Words are not meaningful, only music. He understands sounds, He does not understand words.
Language is man-created, joy is from God. So whenever you meditate, you pray, you recite a sutra, or you recite the KORAN, do it in joy. Otherwise don't do it.
There is no need because it is just useless. You are wasting your time. And you may be bugging Him, and He may get annoyed, and you may repent later on. At least don't bug Him.
I have heard about a Sufi mystic, Hassan. He passed by a mosque, and a man was reciting the KORAN. His voice was so horrible, and he was doing it in such a terrible way, and he was so sad and so serious - as if all his laughter had dried up. His voice sounded like a ghost voice.
Hassan said, "What are you doing?"
He said, "For God's sake, I am reciting this KORAN."
Hassan said, "For God's sake, stop!"
Unless you do it in joy, please don't do it. For God's sake, never do it. It is better to be an atheist and not to believe in God than to do something in sadness, depression, than to do something ugly and call it prayer.
But you can do only that which you are. Joy you cannot manage suddenly.
Unless it is bubbling, unless it is welling up in your being, unless it runs like sap, you cannot manage it. And it is not a question of managing your face, because God is not looking at your face; God is looking at your heart... so you cannot deceive. Unless joy is in your being, it will not reach - your prayer will never be heard.
That's why I insist that if you can dance and sing, that will do. There is no need to actually verbalize your prayer: let it be exhibited in dance, let it be exhibited in singing. There is no need. You can play guitar or you can play on the flute - that will do. You are using something universal.
HIS TONE WAS SO MOURNFUL AND HIS VOICE SO FAINTING, AS IF HE WERE GOING OUT OF EXISTENCE. THE BUDDHA ASKED THE MONK, "WHAT WAS YOUR OCCUPATION BEFORE YOU BECAME A HOMELESS MONK?" SAID THE MONK, "I WAS VERY FOND OF PLAYING THE GUITAR." THE BUDDHA SAID, "HOW DID YOU FIND IT WHEN THE STRINGS WERE TOO LOOSE?" SAID THE MONK, "NO SOUND IS POSSIBLE."
When the strings are too loose, sound is not possible....
"HOW WHEN THE STRINGS WERE TOO TIGHT?" "THEY CRACK." "HOW WHEN THEY WERE NEITHER TOO TIGHT NOR TOO LOOSE?" "EVERY NOTE SOUNDS IN ITS PROPER TONE."
THE BUDDHA THEN SAID TO THE MONK: RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINE IS ALSO LIKE UNTO PLAYING THE GUITAR. WHEN THE MIND IS PROPERLY ADJUSTED AND QUIETLY APPLIED, THE WAY IS ATTAINABLE.
In fact, when the mind is just in the middle, neither too loose nor too tight; balanced, tranquil, still, neither moving left nor right; when the pendulum of the mind has stopped just in the middle, time disappears, the clock stops. In that very moment the Way is attainable. In fact, the Way IS attained. This is THE WAY: to be in the middle is the Way. You are missing the Way because you are not in the middle - and the Way IS in the middle. In life's situations, in every situation, one has to be alert not to go to the extreme. Otherwise, sometimes the strings are too loose and the music does not arise, and sometimes they are too tight and they crack. And instead of music they create just noise. Music is possible only when things are just in the middle. There is a point when the strings are neither tight nor loose.
You must have seen it: whenever Indian musicians play, first they try to bring their instruments to the middle. The drummer will drum his TABLA and will feel whether it is in the middle or not; otherwise he will tighten something or loosen something. The VEENA player will tighten or make loose his strings.
It happened once:
A viceroy was invited by a Nawab of Lucknow, and to welcome him he had asked his best musicians to play something for the viceroy. And of course, as it is done traditionally, the musicians started tightening and loosening their instruments. The Nawab asked the viceroy, "What type of music do you like most?" Just to be polite he said, "Exactly this music that is going on" - just to be polite! He could not understand what was going on. And then, just to be polite, the Nawab ordered the musicians to continue. For three hours they simply continued.
There is a point when the strings are neither loose nor tight - and only a master knows it. It is easy to play on a guitar; it is difficult to bring the guitar to that tuning where music is born, and naturally born, effortlessly born. A man becomes a master or a maestro when he can tune his instrument. Playing is not so difficult; tuning is more difficult - because for tuning you have to learn what the exact middle is. You have to be very alert, very sensitive. Your ear has to be very very sensitive. Only then can you fix where the middle is.
And Buddha says:
RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINE IS ALSO LIKE UNTO PLAYING THE GUITAR.
WHEN THE MIND IS PROPERLY ADJUSTED AND QUIETLY APPLIED, THE WAY IS ATTAINABLE. BUT WHEN YOU ARE TOO FERVENTLY BENT ON IT, YOUR BODY GROWS TRIED; AND WHEN YOUR BODY IS TIRED, YOUR SPIRIT BECOMES WEARY; WHEN YOUR SPIRIT IS WEARY, YOUR DISCIPLINE WILL RELAX; AND WITH THE RELAXATION OF DISCIPLINE THERE FOLLOWS MANY AN EVIL.
THEREFORE, BE CALM AND PURE, AND THE WAY WILL BE GAINED.
In every life situation, you have to remember it. This sutra is of tremendous import - because mind tends to move to the polar opposite. And if you move to the polar opposite you have again missed the middle, and you are as far away from the middle as you were before. Somebody is an egoist - he becomes a humble man.
The real man of awareness is neither an egoist nor humble. He does not know the language of humility and ego. Humbleness is also the opposite of ego. It is not really opposite; it is the same language. When you say somebody is humble, what do you mean? You say that he is not an egoist - that means that from the peak of ego he has moved into the valley of humbleness. But if you come across a Buddha you cannot say he is humble, you cannot say he is an egoist. He simply is. He has not dropped from the peak to the valley. He has just come onto plain ground. That is one of the most difficult things to understand.
A Jesus is not humble in the sense that other saints are humble. A Jesus is not an egoist in the sense that people are egoists. He simply does not know what ego and what humbleness are: he has dropped out of that duality. He simply is, and he responds out of his isness. Sometimes he will look very egoistic to you; that is your interpretation. Sometimes he will look very humble to you; that too is your interpretation.
For example: Christians will talk about those stories in which Jesus looks very humble - that he touched and washed the feet of his disciples... so humble. But they avoid a few other things in which he doesn't look so humble. He chased the money-lenders out of the temple with a whip in his hand. Somehow, they avoid that story - because there he was not humble at all. He was in a rage. He was a rebel, a revolutionary.
In fact, he's neither humble nor egoistic.
The same is true about ALL those who have attained. Krishna was working as a chariot-driver to Arjuna: that is his humbleness. Hindus talk about it very much "What humbleness" Anti-Hindus will not talk about it. They will say, "What egoism I He says to Arjuna, 'Forget all religions and come to my feet' What egoism What more can you ask? This is the peak of egoism." But in fact he is neither. If the situation demands, he can become a driver to his own disciple. He can take the horses to the river, give them a bath, wash them, massage them... the horses of his disciple I And then in another moment he can say to Arjuna, "Forget all I Drop all religions, drop all your ideologies. Come to my feet." Now, this is very paradoxical.
But a real man of realization is neither humble nor egoistic. Whatsoever the situation, he responds totally.
Remember, Buddha says: Whenever you are in the middle, you are on the Way.
Whenever you are leaning towards the right and left, you are going astray.
'Keeping in the middle' is what he means by being calm, because whenever you lean to the left or to the right, you become excited. So never be a rightist and never be a leftist. Just be in the middle and you will be nowhere, and you will be nobody - because in the middle all excitement is lost. One is simply calm.
And that's what he means by 'being pure'. When you lean to the left, the left corrupts you. When you lean to the right, the right corrupts you. When you don't lean, when you are simply in the middle, nothing corrupts you. You become incorruptible. You are pure.
THEREFORE, BE CALM AND PURE AND THE WAY WILL BE GAINED.
I told you that a child learns 'mine', 'me', 'you', 'I'. Now. you can move to the opposite and you can say, "Nothing is mine." And you can say that there is no ego in you, and you don't possess anything; 'me' exists not, and you are also a divine form, a form of the formless. But if it is just moving to the other extreme then nothing is gained. If it is an understanding from the middle, then something is gained. But from the middle you will not say, "I don't possess anything"remember it. This is possible only if you still think that something can be possessed. One day you think you can possess, another day you deny and you say, "I don't possess anything. I renounce." But in your renunciation also there is possession. How can you renounce the world if you don't possess it?
A real man of understanding never renounces anything. He simply understands:
"Nothing is there to possess, so how can I renounce?"
It is said about a Japanese Emperor that he renounced his kingdom and went to a Zen Master. He bowed down at his feet and said in tremendous humbleness, "I have renounced the kingdom."
The Zen Master said, "Then it is better that you go and possess it again, claim it again. It is better that you go."
The Emperor was very disturbed. He said, "What do you mean? I have really renounced it."
The Master said, "If you have really renounced it, then how can you say that you have renounced it? - because real renunciation is simple understanding that nothing belongs to you. There is nothing to renounce."
Renunciation is possible only if, in the first place, you accept that possession is possible. Non-attachment is possible only if, in the first place, you accept that attachment is possible. A real man of understanding comes to know that attachment is not possible. Attachment is false. Possession is false; it is not possible. It is impossible to possess. Then what is the point of renouncing? What is the point of becoming non-attached? Attachment simply disappears. If attachment disappears and there is nothing left behind, not even non-attachment, the idea of non-attachment, then you are pure and calm. If attachment disappears but now it is replaced with non-attachment, you have moved to the other extreme. When violence disappears, it is not that there is non-violence in you. What is the point of non-violence? Violence has.disappeared, and nonviolence with it. The dualities go together. Now suddenly you are left alone, pure. If you get into one, you get into the other too.
"Well, young man, I understand you want to become my son-in-law," said the father to his daughter's boy-friend, Mulla Nasrudin.
"No sir, not exactly," replied Nasrudin. "But if I marry your daughter, I don't see how I can get out of it."
The man had asked, "Well, young man, I understand you want to become my son-in-law"; and said Nasrudin, "No sir, not exactly. But if I marry your daughter I don't see how I can get out of it!"
If you marry someone's daughter you become a son-in-law too, at the same time.
It is not possible to choose one out of the two; they go together. In fact to call them two is not right. They are one phenomenon just looked at from two sides.
When you become violent, non-violence comes in. When you become non- violent, violence waits behind. They go together. All dualities go together. When sex disappears, celibacy disappears too - remember it. If you start claiming that you have become a celibate then sexuality still exists, and any day it can explode.
You are sitting on a volcano. When sex has gone what is the meaning of celibacy?
Then it is simply meaningless, the word is meaningless. 'Celibacy' can carry any meaning only in reference to sex.
Buddha says: When both dualities are gone you are simply in the middle - silent, calm, pure. The Way is attained. The Way is the middle Way.
Finally, to make you remember it always, let me condense the whole thing into one sentence: Whenever you are tired, frustrated, finished with something, remain alert - the mind will tend to go to the opposite.
When the strings are too loose, the mind will tend to make them too tight - and there, again you miss. And when the mind is too tight, the strings are too tight, one day you will get tired of that too because the music will not be coming out of it. Then the mind will tend again to make them too loose.
This is how life goes... one life after another, you go on moving from one pole to another. You become a volleyball - kicked from this side to that, kicked from that side to this. If you want to get out of this game, this game of SAMSARA, this game of the world, then be in the middle. Whenever a moment comes to decide, be very alert; never go to the other extreme. Remember to remain in the middle.
If you can learn to remain in the middle you have learned all that is there to learn, and all that is worth learning. Buddha's Way is called MAJJHIM NIKAYA, 'the middle Way'. He is one of the most penetrating seekers of truth. He has made something very profound, discovered something which you can use. It is not a ritual, it is not a prayer. It is something to do with your awareness. His whole field of work is awareness.
So remain in the middle. If you have been eating too much, don't start fasting.
That is very simple. That's how people go on. I know many people: the first two or three months they will fast and diet, and then they will rush into food. And then they will become obsessed; for two or three months they will eat too much.
Again, whatsoever the fast has done to their bodies is undone. Again they are ready to fast. This way they go on - volleyballs kicked from here to there.
Right food, right quantity, eaten with awareness, is enough. You need not eat too much, you need not fast.
Remember the middle and you will always be right.