The first question
I HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER TO YOU -- only nothing. But that is the greatest thing that can be given as a gift. My only advice to my people is to be nothing, to be nobodies, to be utterly nude of all the clothes that the society has given to you -- of thought, of religion, of philosophy -- utterly empty of all the conditionings that have been forced on you by others, utterly devoid of all the inhibitions and taboos that time has gathered around you like dust.
If you can be an empty mirror, then God is. In that empty mirror, God reflects -- and there is no other way.
I have nothing substantial to give to you, because all that is substantial is mundane. I have something intangible to give you, non-substantial, something that you cannot grasp with your hand, something that cannot be measured or weighed. It is called nothing, it is called meditation, it is called a state of consciousness without content.
But I can only point the way. I cannot give it to you. because it is untransferable. It is not a thing -- how can it be transferred? You cannot purchase it, you cannot steal it -- you can only allow it to happen. I am just a certain space, a certain context, in which this immensely potential nothing can happen. But all depends on you, not on me. All depends on you: if you allow it to happen, it will open doors into the divine, it will reveal to you the mysteries of life. It is not going to answer your questions, because life is not a question/answer thing, it is not a problem. It will dissolve your questions, certainly, although it will not solve them -- but you will be transformed. It is not knowledge that you will gain but knowing, eyes, insight.
But, Mrs. Ward, you say:
I AM ONLY HERE ON A VERY SHORT VISIT...
In such a hurry it is not possible. In such a hurry, you will not be able to relax, to imbibe.
An ancient Zen story says:
A young man came to a Zen Master to learn about meditation. The Zen Master said, "Are you capable of waiting?"
The young man, of course, asked, "How long?"
The Zen Master said, "That is enough for me to reject you. To ask 'how long?' means you are not ready to wait. If you can simply wait without asking 'how long?' then you are capable of waiting."
The young man understood the point. He bowed down, remained with the Master.
One year passed, and not a single word was said to the disciple. And two years passed...
and three years passed..."Now it is too much! Nothing has even been started, not a single lesson. How long can one wait?" Again the question became very prominent in his consciousness: "How long?"
He went to the Master and asked, "I have waited three years." The Master said, "So you have been counting? That simply shows you don't know how to wait. Counting?
Counting days with the Master?
"In one sense, each moment is an eternity; in another sense, eternity is just a moment.
You are unworthy! You will have to wait. You will have to learn how to wait. Be alert -- from tomorrow the lessons will start."
And the lesson was very strange: the young man was sweeping the floor; the Master came from the back and hit him hard with his staff on his back. Shocked, the young man said, "Is this the beginning of meditation? after three years of waiting?" The Master said, "Yes -- now be alert. I will hit you any moment, any time -- be watchful, be alert, be on your guard." And it continued for months. His whole body would ache in the night, because in the day many times it would happen: the Master would suddenly jump from somewhere... he was very old but he was really a cat.
But, slowly slowly, a strange awareness started arising in the young man. Just when the Master would be on the verge of hitting him, he would dodge -- even from the back; although he was occupied in his work a subtle awareness remained there. It was bound to be so; he was suffering so much. Pain is a must for growth, suffering is absolutely necessary for growth. Unless you suffer you cannot be aware. Suffering brings awareness, and voluntary suffering brings tremendous awareness. Willingly he was suffering! He could have escaped; nobody was preventing him -- it was his own choice.
HE had chosen the Master.
And now he started to understand why: "This is his teaching. This is how he is teaching meditation!" Now it dawned in his consciousness. He was immensely grateful.
The day the Master came from the back and, just before he was going to hit him, the young man jumped, dodged, and the stick of the Master fell on the ground, the young man was immensely happy. Something new had happened in his being. And the Master blessed him.
But from that day, things became even more difficult... the Master started hitting him while he was asleep. Now, this was too much. In the night, any time...! And the Master was very old; naturally, he could not sleep much, so whenever he felt awake he would go and hit the young man. But now the young man knew: "I may not understand the process of it, but the Master's hitting in the day has been of such immense benediction, has been such a transformation, that I accept this too -- without any question." He didn't ask, "This is absurd, this is ridiculous. It is okay that you hit me in the day -- I can at least protect myself, run away, escape, dodge -- but what can I do when I am asleep?" He didn't say it.
And the Master said, "This is a good sign. For the first time you are learning trust -- you have not asked the question."
And after two, three months of being hit in the night, the whole day the body would ache.
In the day he was able now to protect himself... but one day in the night it happened!
The Master entered the room and he opened his eyes. He said, "Wait! I am awake."
And it happened more and more. It became impossible to hit him. Immediately the Master entered into the room he would open his eyes -- as if he was not asleep at all. That was not so: he was fast asleep, but a part of his being was released from the metaphysical sleep, the tip of the iceberg, just a small part, but it went on like a lit candle inside -- watching, waiting.
The Master was very happy. The next day in the morning, the Master was sitting underneath a tree reading some old sutras, some old scripture. Suddenly -- the young man was sweeping the garden -- an idea arose in him: "This old man has been hitting me for almost one year, day in, day out -- how will it be if I try once to hit him? It will be worth seeing how HE reacts."
And the Master closed his sutras and said, "You stupid! I am an old man! Don't have such ideas."
Yes, the ultimate state of awareness where even the footprints, the step sounds of the thoughts are heard.
Mrs. Ward, you are in such a hurry you cannot relax. Meditation is not a hit or miss affair. It needs tremendous waiting; it needs love, trust. It needs a very unhurried approach. In fact, it needs a mind which is not goal-oriented at all. But if you are in a hurry, it will be impossible.
You ask me: I HAVE COME TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND...
UNDERSTANDING IS NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN TRY, it is not an effort.
It is not something that you can concentrate upon, contemplate upon. Understanding is not of the mind: understanding is of the heart. You will have to fall in love.
That's what sannyas is all about. Falling in love with a Master, for NO reason at all just for the sheer joy of falling in love with someone who has disappeared, who is no more, who has become a great nothing. Who has become a silence... of course, that silence is full of songs, and that silence is music, celestial music. That silence is not negatively empty. It is empty of noise but full of melodies. It is empty of thoughts but full of awareness. It is empty of darkness and death but full of light and life.
Unless one falls in love, the process of understanding cannot be triggered. You CAN be here, you can listen to me -- only words will reach you. Those words will become part of your memory; they will make you more knowledgeable. But to be knowledgeable is utterly futile; it doesn't help. To know about God is not to know God, because the word 'God' is not God. To know about love is not to know love, because the word 'love' is not love.
You will have to move into an experiential space. For that, waiting is needed, a relaxed, non-goal-oriented attitude is needed -- otherwise you will not understand a thing. You will only MISunderstand. The head only knows how to misunderstand. It is only the heart which knows how to understand. Love is the only way to know. Logic is a pretend: it only pretends that it knows; it befools you, it deceives you. It is only love that opens the eyes of knowing.
But see: the head goes on condemning love. The head says, "Love is blind." Only love has eyes! Without love, everything is blind. But the head condemns the heart, and the head is really very skillful in creating counterfeit phenomena. Instead of understanding, it spins and weaves knowledgeability. And knowledgeability is a false coin -- it is not understanding. Understanding means you have tasted, lived, loved, been, in a totally different space; you have visited the innermost core of your being.
Knowledge simply means you have heard somebody talk about it. Knowledge only goes on adding to your memory but not to your being. Understanding helps your being to grow, to mature.
If you are here to understand, then forget about going so quickly. Just see: so many people here had come only for a few days... then a few years have passed! And I am happy about my people -- they don't even count, and they don't go on asking me "How long is it going to take?" Now they know that it is not a question of 'how long?' It can happen any moment... it is only a question of your own openness, your own intensity, your own passionate desire to know, your own love.
It is unpredictable. It is not a commodity. Had it been a thing, Mrs. Ward, I would have given it to you very joyously. I am helpless -- I cannot give it to you. I am creating the space in which it can happen, but it happens indirectly. Understanding is not direct; it is very indirect. If you approach understanding directly, it is very shy, it escapes, it is very elusive.
You have to be very very alert, watchful, when you start moving towards understanding - - in indirect ways. ALL that is great in life happens only indirectly -- it may be understanding, or happiness, poetry, painting, sculpture; it may be art, it may even be a discovery of science -- all that is great happens indirectly.
Now it is a well-known fact that scientists go on struggling to understand something, and they fail again and again and again, and one day suddenly, when they are not struggling at all -- maybe smoking a cigar, or just resting in their bathtub. or digging in the garden -- suddenly it pops up! And they have been struggling so long and it was not coming.
There is a certain secret in it.
When you are too intent, too direct, you are aggressive, and life reveals its secrets only to people who are non-aggressive. When you are too intent, too aggressive, too violent, and you are trying to conquer some secret of life, you become very narrow. Your consciousness closes; you are no longer wide, open. And truth is so big that it cannot enter into a narrow consciousness.
When you are relaxed, the narrowness disappears, you are open from all sides -- maybe just playing with soap-bubbles in your bathtub.... That's exactly what Albert Einstein used to do: all his great discoveries happened while he was playing with soap-bubbles in his bathtub. You will be surprised to know that for hours together he would remain in his bathtub playing with soap-bubbles. His wife was very embarrassed to tell it to other people.
One of my friends went to see him and he had to wait for six hours -- because he wouldn't come out of the bathroom. And finally the wife had to tell him the truth: "He cannot be disturbed -- never when he is in the bathroom. He can be disturbed when he is in his lab, but not when he is in his bathroom -- because he becomes so utterly relaxed that all the great insights happen to him there. So nothing can be done. He may be playing with soap- bubbles, but playing with soap-bubbles he has come to know about stars, faraway, faraway stars." Playing with soap-bubbles, even stars, which are so far away that their light has not reached yet since the earth came into existence...! For millions of years the earth has been in existence; their light has not reached the earth yet. And light travels with terrific speed; greater speed is inconceivable.
Light travels one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second.... When the earth came into existence, since that day the light has been travelling from those stars; it has not reached yet. Einstein became aware of THOSE stars. Playing with soap-bubbles?!
Became aware of the greatest discovery of this age, the theory of relativity, in his bath- tub.
This is simply to say that life is ready to reveal itself when you are non-aggressive, when you are like a child playing with reality. All that is great happens in fun, in playfulness.
Mrs. Ward, you are too much intent. You say:
I AM ONLY HERE ON A VERY SHORT VISIT. I HAVE COME TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU HAVE HERE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD DOES NOT.
WHAT I HAVE HERE IS EVERYWHERE, but maybe you cannot see it somewhere else. You need a certain space in which you can relax -- that space is nowhere else.
Religion is very serious all over the world; religion here with me is a non-serious phenomenon. Elsewhere life is taken as a great problem, a theological problem. HERE it is thought to be a beautiful joke! Prayer is thought to be very sacred in other places. Here, just to be celebrating, ANYTHING... the whole question is just to be celebrating. If you are eating your food with celebration, it is prayer; if you are taking your bath with celebration, it is prayer. If you have joy in the heart, it is prayer. Prayer is not a ritual here; you need not repeat certain words, you need not move through certain gestures.
Prayer is a quality here, not an activity -- a flavour, a subtle dance of your inner energy.
Listening to the birds... and it is prayer! Seeing the trees, all their green and all their red and all their gold, is prayer. A bird on the wing, and you simply watching with great joy, with a certain relatedness to the bird, a certain affinity, empathy -- as if you are on the wing -- it is prayer.
Prayer is not something special here: it is the day-to-day ordinary life, with a new quality -- the quality of joy added to it, the quality of surrender and offering added to it. Any act offered to God is sacred. And if you can offer all your acts to God, everything is sacred.
There are thousands of churches and temples in the world; there are thousands of teachers, great teachers, very learned teachers.... I am not a learned man and I am not a teacher, because I have no teaching to impart. I am just a silent stillness; I am just love in my heart, a playfulness. If you can be here, without any idea of when you are leaving, if you can just be here, and you can imbibe the spirit of this Buddhafield, this energy-field, something is possible -- something impossible is possible, which may not be possible anywhere else. Because as far as I know, there exists no Buddhafield in the world right now except this.
Christians are there and Hindus are there and Mohammedans are there and Jainas and Buddhists -- there are three hundred religious on the earth, but all are hangovers of the past. Their Masters are long dead; they are traditions not religions, conventions not religions, conformities not revolutions.
Here it is not a tradition that I am making available to you. It has nothing to do with the past. It is a new beginning, and it is very fortunate to be at the beginning of something, to be at the very source of something.
The people who walked with Jesus were immensely fortunate -- they were at the very source, at the purest source. The people who walked with Buddha and lived with Buddha were immensely blessed, but now to be Buddhist is just meaningless. Twenty-five centuries have passed, and in these twenty-five centuries Buddhism has been corrupted so much that now it is almost impossible to sort out what Buddha said and what has been added to it and what has been deleted from it. It is almost impossible to say what has come from Buddha and what these twenty-five centuries have gathered around it.
It is like a snow-ball rolling: more and more snow goes on collecting around it; the original face is lost. You will even be surprised that the Buddhist statues have nothing to do with the real face of Buddha. The Buddhist statues have something more to do with the face of Alexander the Great -- because with Alexander the Great Indians became aware for the first time of the Greek beauty, and particularly of the Greek male beauty.
Greeks were not interested in female beauty at all, remember, their whole idea was of male beauty. If you look at ancient statues that the Greek culture left, you will not find statues of women -- you will find statues of men, statues of nude men. They were tremendously in love with male beauty, the male body. The female body was not thought to be beautiful in Greece.
They created beautiful statues of nude male bodies. Those statues and those Greeks who came to India with Alexander the Great, they gave the idea of how the Buddha's face should be made. Buddha's statues are not in ANY correspondence with his real face -- they are Greek in origin. And everything like that has been changed.
The day Buddha died, the monks started quarrelling -- about each and everything. Thirty- six schools immediately arose, thirty-six sects. One man they all have loved, one man they all have heard -- but they have heard according to their minds. And when a man like Buddha is there, he releases great power; and there are power-hungry people who immediately jump on it, exploit it. These power-hungry people are really politicians.
St. Paul who created Christianity is a politician. Christianity has nothing to do with Christ, and Buddhism has nothing to do with Buddha. Buddhism was created by King Ashoka, the great Emperor. He spread Buddhism all over Asia. It was he... and I don't think that he was a man of any great understanding or enlightenment; politicians never are. It became a new power trip. Somebody can spread his worldly riches more and more and more, somebody can spread his empire of political domination, somebody else can spread his religious empire -- but it is all the same! The desire is to dominate more and more people. Politicians are not very intelligent people.
Those thirty-six people who started quarrelling must have been politicians.
And this is something that is always going to happen; it is something in the nature of things -- it cannot be avoided. Those who were really in tune with Buddha remained silent. The shock was such -- Buddha's leaving the body -- that they were shattered, they were crying and weeping. They were missing their Master; their hearts were no more in their right places. They were not interested at all in creating schisms, sects, divisions, politics. But there were idiots, and they are always around -- seek one and you will find a thousand and one; they are always around. And when one idiot goes, another idiot takes his place, immediately.
Just now... the other day I was reading: in Uganda, Idi Amin is gone; he was known as 'Idiot Amin'. Now do you know who has succeeded him? -- a man called Lulu. One idiot goes, another lulu comes! It is a very strange world. You cannot get rid of idiots and lulus.
Once the Master is gone, the politicians are there immediately ready to grab the power.
And politics remains as long as ego remains; politics is the shadow of the ego.
So you can go to a Christian church or a Hindu temple, and you will go empty-handed and you will come back empty-handed. Unless you can find an alive Buddhafield, pulsating, streaming with life... and this is what is happening here.
Something is possible. I cannot promise you that I can give it to you; I can only say that the space is here, and the space is becoming richer and richer every day, more and more dimensional every day. If you are ready to dive deep into the world that we are creating here -- it is an invisible world -- something of great value is possible.
You ask me: CAN YOU HELP ME?
That's what I am here for. That is not the real question.... Can you take my help? -- that is the real question. Are you ready to take my help? Will you ALLOW me to help you?
Won't you resist? Will you open your heart for me to come in? And my coming in your heart is a great surgery. It is pain in the beginning, agony on the way, ecstasy only in the end.
The second question
TRUTH IS ONE. Even if it is said differently, it is the same truth. Languages may differ, metaphors may differ parables may differ, but if you really look a little deep, then al parables, all languages, all metaphors, culminate in one truth. TRUTH is one -- what can Buddhas do? Although each Buddha speaks in his own way, and his expression has HIS signature on it. His expression is just his and nobody else's. But still those who can see will always find that it is the same diamond -- maybe we have been shown only one aspect of it by Krishna, another aspect by Christ, still another by Mohammed, but those are aspects of the same diamond.
The diamond is one, this universe is one -- and all the Buddhas have been saying the same thing, in different languages, in different ways. Those differences come from their individualities, not from their experience. The moment of experience is wordless, the moment of experience is thoughtless. So when Buddha experienced it, it was the same purity of consciousness as when Jesus experienced it.
Two purities cannot be different; two impurities can be different. Two healths cannot be different; two diseases can be different. Two silences cannot be different; two noises can be different. The truth is known in silence, but you cannot utter It in silence -- you have to use words, language, noise. And immediately... when Buddha speaks, he speaks in Pali; that is the language that he knows, that is his mother tongue.
And Jesus speaks in Aramaic; that is his mother tongue. If Jesus and Buddha had met, they would not have understood each other's language at all, but they would have looked into each other's eyes and would have understood each other TOTALLY!
A Sufi story:
Mulla Nasruddin is sitting in the village square one evening plucking the strings of a sitar. Little by little, an expectant circle of villagers gathers around him. He keeps on playing just one note. Finally, one villager enquires, "That's a very nice note you are playing, Mulla, but most musicians use all the notes. Why don't you?"
"Those donkeys," retorts the Mulla, "they are searching for the note, but I have found it!"
Truth is one -- when you have found it you can go on repeating it, you can find different ways to repeat it, unique ways to express it, you can devise your own methods. And there are many methods devised -- because of the compassion of the enlightened ones. Strange methods, very contradictory to each other.
If you go to a Sufi saint, he will be very polite to you, he may even touch your feet -- because the Sufis respect God in all forms. That is their device. When a Sufi Master touches your feet... just think of that moment, contemplate over the moment -- a Bahauddin, or a Jalaluddin, or a Farid -- great Masters! diamonds of the purest water. A Bahauddin touching your feet, it is a device. In that moment when Bahauddin touches your feet, you are BOUND to fall silent, howsoever noisy your mind. Bahauddin touching your feet!? A great silence will descend on you. Bahauddin is giving you a taste of his meditation in this way; this is his device.
And a Zen Master is just the opposite: you go to him, you have to bow down seven times.
And you ask some innocent question... and he jumps on you, hits you on the head -- so unexpectedly. A very different device, but just think: a Bodhidharma, a Rinzai, a Bokoju, jumping on you, hitting on your head! For a moment all thinking stops... so unexpected.
And you had asked a simple question: "Is there a God?" and he became furious. And you cannot figure it out -- why? And he gives you no time to figure it out; he gives you no time to escape either.
It happened once that when Bokoju met his Master and asked something about Buddha, the Master took him physically and threw him out of the window... from a three-storey building. The poor fellow fell down on a rock, smashed, and the Master was looking from the window and he asked, "Do you understand now?" And the whole ridiculousness of it!
And the silence of the garden. And the silence of the accident. The shock. And the Master's smiling face, and those compassionate eyes, and his asking, "Now do you understand?"
And in that moment, Bokoju became enlightened. He said, "Yes, yes, Master. Can I come in and touch your feet in gratitude?"
"You are welcome," the Master said, "to have a cup of tea with me."
And they are sipping tea together.
Something immensely valuable has happened. In that moment, in that dangerous moment, when you are falling, it is almost as if you are going to die -- you are finished.
How can you think? In dangerous moments thinking stops. When you come across a snake, suddenly thinking stops. You don't decide to jump out of the way, remember -- you jump FIRST and then you decide, then you think it over, then you can afford to think it over. But you jump first!
Gurdjieff used to say that mind is very slow in action, and he is right. The body is far quicker. Mind is very lethargic; it goes on round and round in circles. So whenever there is some urgency, then your existence does not allow your mind to go round and round through logical processes to come to a conclusion, because then it will be too late. By the time you have decided.... For example, if a snake is passing by and you give it to the mind, then there is trouble. First the mind will say, "Ninety-seven percent of snakes are non-poisonous, so there are only three chances out of a hundred that this snake is poisonous. A hundred persons who are bitten by snakes, they don't all die; only five percent die, ninety-five percent are saved. And those five persons who die, maybe they were going to die anyway. So what is the hurry? Why bother? And one has to die one day."
And great philosophical ideas about death and the immortality of the soul.... And snakes don't care about these things! They are absolutely non-philosophical; they won't give you that much time. The snake may strike you before you have come to any conclusion.
Gurdjieff is right: he says whenever there is any urgency, the body immediately takes over from the mind; it does not give mind any chance to do -- it does it on its own. The body has its own wisdom: it jumps out of the way. It is almost an in-built response, so no thinking is needed.
That's what Zen people have been doing with their disciples.
One Zen Master had this habit that whenever he would talk of God, of Buddha, of the higher dimensions of life, he would raise one of his fingers towards the sky. It became so characteristic of him that one of his small sannyasins, a young boy -- must have been of the age of Siddhartha -- became very much interested in this one finger pointing upwards.
And he was always in attendance just to do something for the Master -- if he needs some tea, to run and bring the tea, or just to be by his side and to help him to get rid of the mosquitoes.
He learnt the trick, and playfully, whenever the Master was not looking at him, he would show one finger to the audience. The Master knew -- people would laugh, or smile and he would know who was doing the whole trick.
One day -- and this can be done only by a Zen Master -- he simply caught hold of the child when he was making the gesture of one finger pointing to heaven, and cut the finger with a sharp knife. Now, just think of doing such a thing to poor Siddhartha....
The child cried, screamed, and the Master said, "Stop! And put the finger up!" And his shout was such, it was such a thunderlike shout, that the child forgot all about his finger, that it had been cut and blood was oozing, and he showed the finger which was NO more there, because the Master had ordered.
And in that moment when he was showing a finger which was no more there, he became aware of the invisible; the Master was not pointing to something visible, but something invisible. And the child started laughing, and the Master took him into his embrace and said, "You have understood."
And it is said that small child had his first satori. Later on became a famous enlightened Master.
Different approaches... but the truth is one. The truth is silence -- the single note of silence. Be silent and know, and you will also know the same thing that Buddhas have always known and will always know: truth is eternal. It has nothing to do with time, it never changes.
RELIGION CANNOT BE TAUGHT to children or to grown-ups. It cannot even be taught to grown-ups, so how can it be taught to children? Religion as such cannot be taught: religion can only be caught. Maria, if you live a religious life... and by 'religious life' I don't mean the life of a Christian or a Hindu; by 'religious life' I mean a life full of love, prayer, celebration, joy, cheerfulness, gratitude. If you live a religious life, the children are bound to catch it. Teaching is needed because you don't live a religious life, so you tell them theories. Those theories are not going to help at all. When a child is thirsty, don't talk about H2O -- give him water. He needs water! Don't tell him, "H20 is the formula which contains water, which contains all the oceans -- don t be worried. Just remember H20 is equivalent to water."
But the child will say, "How can I drink H20?"
And then the ridiculous thing happens: the child will think if you repeat H20, H20, H20, H20, then maybe someday, by repeating it constantly, intensely, chanting it again and again, using it as a mantra, the miracle will happen....
People are chanting "Rama, Rama, Rama," "Ave Maria," "Jesus," "Allah" -- a thousand and one formulas. You can go on chanting... they are all H20, H20, H20. You are simply wasting your time -- not only wasting your time, you are destroying your intelligence too.
The man who gets into such a repetitive routine becomes stupid. He loses the sharpness of his intelligence. What are you going to teach to the children? What is religion after all?
Is there some way to teach it? Yes, you can teach Christianity, because Christianity is a doctrine; and you can teach Buddhism because Buddhism is a doctrine. A doctrine can be taught, but religion has nothing to do with doctrine -- religion is not a doctrine: it is an experience.
Maria, you cannot teach it, but you can create the context, you can live in such a way that the child slowly slowly imbibes the spirit. And children are very vulnerable, very flexible, and very attentive too! And they are always ready to learn. If something of immense beauty is felt by them, they Learn it, they drink it, they digest it.
But you teach them stupid doctrines. For example, that Christ was born of a virgin mother -- now the child will laugh at you, because now children know much more than you think.
A small boy gave the following summary of his Sunday school lesson:
"There were these Jews who had broken out of a prison camp in Egypt. They ran and ran until they came to a wide lake. The prison guards were closing in so the Jews jumped into the water and swam out to some boats that were waiting for them. The guards got in submarines and tried to torpedo the boats, but the Jews set off depth charges and blew up all the submarines and made it safe to the other side. Everybody called the Admiral by his first name, Moses."
The boy's father asked, "Son are you certain that is what your teacher told you?"
"Dad," responded the boy, "if you can't believe my story, you would never believe the one the teacher told."
Now, telling children stupid stories you are not helping the to become religious; on the contrary, you are helping them to become anti-religious. When they grow up they will know that all those religious doctrines were fairy-tales.
Your God. your Jesus Christ, all will turn into Santa Claus later on in the child's mind -- deceptions, fables, to keep children occupied. And once the children know that what you have been telling them as absolute truth is just lies and nothing else, you have destroyed something very valuable in their being. They will never become interested in religion at all.
My own observation is that the world is becoming more and more irreligious because of religious teaching. No child should be taught any religious doctrine.
Yes, when you are praying, let the child be present there. When you are dancing, let the child be present there. And the child will soon join you -- how can the child resist joining a dance? Let the child know that life has grace in it; let the child know that life is not only suffering but much ecstasy too. Let the child know that laughter is good, divine, that love is good, godly.
And these things are not to be taught: they have to be imbibed by the child. You have to create the vibe. And then sooner or later the child will start becoming aware of many more things which cannot be seen just by the physical eyes. Because you will have given him more sensitivity. Otherwise you can go on teaching him, and nobody even remembers. How much do you remember that was taught to you? Nobody even remembers; everything is thrown in the garbage.
Three Italians were driving fast on the expressway when their car collided with a truck and they were instantly killed. Finding themselves at heaven's door, they knocked and God answered. "What do you want?" God asked.
"We want to come in," they replied.
God said, "Before you can enter you must answer a question." He pointed to one Italian and said, "You, Vito, tell me, what is Easter about?"
Vito paused, then with an Italian accent answered, "Thatsa when there are lotsa parades alla over America! Fireworks are shot at night and the people go ona picnics. Itsa celebrated in July."
"Sorry, Vito," God said, "but you must go to hell."
Pointing at Pietro, God said, "You, Pietro, tell me what Easter is about?"
Pietro smiled and replied, "I know, God, thatsa when some time ina November the family gathers together and eatsa turkey, pumpkin pie, potatoes...."
"Sorry, Pietro," God said, "you must go to hell."
Looking at Giuseppe, God said, "You, Giuseppe, you have been an altar boy for ten years. You go to church every Sunday. You tell me what Easter is about."
Giuseppe replied, "Thatsa when the people who did not like your poor son and what he said hung him upa on a cross. For three hours your son he hang there before he died.
Thena his mother and friends, they take him down from the cross, wrap his body up and put the body in a cave and they roll a huge stone in front of the cave. For three days your son was in the cave and on the third day he wakes up from the dead, rolls back the stone, goes out of the cave. Hea no seea his shadow, so he goes back in for sixa more months."
You can go on teaching... nobody is listening. Children are helpless; they have to go to the Sunday school, so they go. They have to listen, so they listen -- but they are not there.
And later on they say and they know that all that was just nonsense. They may not say, but they know certainly that that was all nonsense.
Maria, this is not the way to help the world become more religious. This is the way we have tried for centuries -- and we have failed. Instead of the earth becoming more religious, it has become more and more irreligious every day. As the teaching has spread, as there have been more and more missionaries and more and more teachers and more and more people indoctrinating others, the world has turned more and more irreligious -- not only irreligious but anti-religious too.
It is time to understand that something IS basically wrong. This is not the way to teach religion; religion can only be caught and not taught. Yes, it happens with a Jesus, because Jesus creates the space where it can happen.
A disciple once asked Jesus, "What is prayer?"
Do you know what he did? He simply fell on his knees and started praying; tears started rolling down his cheeks. This is creating a space. Now he is creating PRAYER itself!
What is the need to say anything?
Seeing it, the disciple fell on his knees -- for the first time he felt the tremendous beauty of surrender, and a great joy in feeling grateful to God. Tears started flowing down his cheeks too. They were both crying -- in joy, in gratitude.
Finally, Jesus asked him, "Now do you know what prayer is."
And he nodded; he said, "Yes, Master. Now I know what prayer is."
This is the way to teach. Not giving theoretical answers, not giving absurd, outdated, metaphysical doctrines, which may have looked relevant one day, but now they look simply stupid. Now say to a child that God created the world just four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ, and the child will smile at you. And the child knows that "Either you are befooling me, or you are in utter ignorance."
THE WORLD HAS EXISTED for millions of years. In fact. there has never been a beginning. God is not the creator in reality but the creativity. To say to a child that God finished the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day because he was tired -- now, that means that since then he has not bothered about us at all.
A man went to his tailor and asked him, "How long is it going to take for my suit to be ready? You have been promising it already for six weeks, and you say again and again, 'Come again, come again...' And do you know? -- God created the world in only six days?
And in six weeks you have not been able to even create my suit."
And do you know what the tailor said? The tailor said, "Yes, I know -- and look at the world, then look at my suit, and you will see the difference. The world is in a mess. This is what happens when you create something in six days."
God is still creating. In fact, to think of God as a separate person from existence is not experiential. Those who have experienced, they say God is the very creativity of existence -- he is not a creator. Existence creates itself; it is a self-creating process. And it is unending and eternal.
And how are you going to describe God? -- a very very old man with a long white beard, sitting on a throne up in the heaven. And do you know what ideas come to children's minds? You will be surprised.
Carl Gustav Jung in his memoirs writes... he was the son of a clergyman, so he used to listen to the sermons about God sitting on the throne and watching everybody from there.
And Jung says, "The idea that always came to my mind was: if he starts urinating, then what will happen? Sitting on top... and sometimes he must feel like pissing, then what?"
Children are children! When you talk to children, be very alert. They have their own ideas... and he would start giggling at the whole idea, because the father knew nothing about it.
One day, the father asked, "Why do you giggle whenever talk about God sitting on the throne?" So he told the father. The father said, "Shut up! Never think such things!"
And Jung said, "This is nothing -- I think even worse things." And Jung relates that that idea persisted, persisted.... Even when he became older, once in a while whenever he would see in a church a picture of God up there, immediately the idea would come.
Your teachings cannot be of any help -- only your life. Live! If you really love your children, live in such a way that they start feeling that there ARE things which are not visible but still they are. You need not convince them. They don't ask for proofs, they don't understand proofs. They are not asking for arguments -- they are asking for existential experiences.
And they are always ready to go on any adventure -- more ready than you. You may be afraid for safety, security, and a thousand and one things -- children are never afraid.
Children are more fearless than you. They can have a more immediate contact with God than you can ever have.
But we give them so many rotten theories, and in the name of religion, too, we go on teaching them a kind of ambitiousness, competitiveness: "Be better than others! Be more religious than others! Be holier than others! Be purer than others, more virtuous, more righteous! Then God will reward you. And if you are not, you will be punished in hell."
This is psychological conditioning, making them afraid and making them greedy -- and you call this religion? To make a person fearful is religion? Religion is when a person becomes fearless. To make a person greedy for rewards in the other life is religion?
Religion is when there is no greed.
And you make them competitive: "Compete with others! Be more virtuous, more saintly.
Look at other boys, how well-behaved they are and how religious they are!" You are creating in their mind a subtle ego, a pious ego, so when the boy goes to the church he feels holier than everybody else. He looks all around -- he knows he is higher. He has risen on the ladder; soon the paradise will be his.
This is poisoning your children with competitiveness. This competitiveness is there in the marketplace, it is in the monastery too. In the marketplace it can be forgiven, but not in the monastery. When people are rushing for money, it's okay, understandable, that they will be competitive. But for virtue too, the same rush?
And once the goal becomes too important, then means lose all importance. When the end becomes all-important, then any means will do, fair or foul, but one has to attain to the end.
This is not creating religiousness. A religious mind is non-competitive, utterly unambitious. He has nowhere to go -- no hell to fear, no heaven to attain. He is RIGHT now in God, in THIS very moment. His this moment is all and all. And he never compares himself with anybody else. Your saints go on comparing: Who is higher? Who is a bigger saint? And all these so-called saints are just stupid children, still thinking in terms of what they have learnt in their schools, still not out of their teens. I have heard:
There was a deaf and dumb couple who had just got married and were on their honeymoon. They took off their clothes to have some fun when the wife signalled in sign language, "Did you bring the safes?"
"Oh no," replied the man in sign language, "I forgot."
And she said, using her fingers, "You will have to get dressed and get some because I am not going to do it without safes."
"But I am deaf and dumb," cried the man. "How am I gonna get the man at the drugstore to understand what I want?"
"Oh, that's easy," replied the wife. "You just go to the counter, lay down a ten dollar bill, take your prick out and lay it on the counter and the man will know what you want." The man went out and came back a half an hour later looking very sheepish.
"Well, did you get them, did you get the safes?" asked the expectant wife.
The man just hung his head and said no.
"Well, did you do what I said?" asked the now frustrated wife.
"Yes," he replied.
"So, what happened?"
"Well, I went to the counter and put down the ten dollars. Then I pulled out my prick and put it on the counter. Then the man behind the counter put ten dollars on the counter and pulled out his prick and put it on the counter."
"So, what happened?" asked the curious wife.
"Well," replied the husband, "his was bigger so he took all the money!"
Competition, competition, competition... everywhere competition. And this story is not just a story: if you ask Sigmund Freud he will say exactly this that that is from where Competition arises. Small boys become very much worried about their genital organs:
"Who has the bigger one?"
All competition is rooted there, originates there! And then it spreads all over your life. It is sexual basically. Then it takes many forms, many masks and facades: Who has the biggest car? It is nothing but the same story: Whose prick is bigger? Who has the biggest house? It is the same story again. These are different symbols for the same sexual competition.
And who is the greatest saint? -- the story is not different...