Dhyan Sagar, there is not only a strong connection between meditation and death, but they are almost the same thing -- just two ways of looking at the same experience.
Death separates you from your body, from your mind, from all that is not you. But it separates you against your will. You are resisting, you don't want to be separated; you are not willing, you are not in a state of let-go.
Meditation also separates all that is not you from your being and reality -- but the resistance is not there; that is the only difference. Instead of resistance, there is a tremendous willingness, a longing, a passionate welcome. You want it; you desire it from the very depth of your heart.
The experience is the same -- the separation between the false and the real -- but because of your resistance in death, you become unconscious, you fall into a coma. You cling too much in death; you don't allow it to happen, you close all the doors, all the windows.
Your lust for life is at the optimum. The very idea of dying frightens you from the very roots.
But death is a natural phenomenon and absolutely necessary too -- it has to happen. If the leaves don't become yellow and don't fall, the new leaves, the fresh and young will not come. If one goes on living in the old body, he will not be moving into a better house, fresher, newer, with more possibilities of a new beginning. Perhaps he may not take the same route as he has taken in his past life, getting in a desert. He may move into a new sky of consciousness.
Each death is an end and a beginning.
Don't pay too much attention to the end. It is an end to an old, rotten, miserable life style, and it is a great opportunity to begin a new life, not to commit the old mistakes. It is a beginning of an adventure. But because you cling to life and you don't want to leave it -- and it has to happen by the very nature of things -- you fall unconscious.
Almost everyone, except those few people who have become enlightened, dies unconsciously; hence they don't know what death is, they don't know its new beginning, the new dawn.
Meditation is your own exploration.
You are searching to know exactly what constitutes you: what is false in you and what is real in you. It is a tremendous journey from the false to the real, from the mortal to the immortal, from darkness to light. But when you come to the point of seeing the separation from the mind and the body, and yourself just as a witness, the experience of death is the same. You are not dying... a man who has meditated will die joyfully because he knows there is no death; the death was in his clinging with life.
You say, Sagar, I FEEL A STRONG CONNECTION BETWEEN DEATH AND MEDITATION. There is. In the ancient scriptures of this land, even the master is defined as death because his whole function, his whole work is to teach you meditation. In other words, he is teaching you to die without dying -- to pass through the experience of death, surprised that you are still alive; death was like a cloud that has passed; it has not even scratched you. Hence the fascination, and the fear. The fascination is to know the mysterious experience everybody has to pass through, has passed through many times, but became unconscious. And the fear -- that perhaps death is only the end and not another beginning.
It happened, just in the beginning of this century, that the King of Varanasi was to be operated on; the operation was major. But the King was very stubborn and he wouldn't take any kind of anesthesia. He said, "You can do the operation, but I want to see it happen; I don't want to be unconscious."
The doctors were puzzled. It was against medical practice... such a major operation was going to be too painful; the man might die because of the pain. Surgery needs you to be unconscious.
Perhaps the science of surgery has learned the art of anesthesia from the experience of death, because death is the greatest surgery. It separates you from your body, from your heart, and you have remained identified with all this for seventy years, eighty years. They have become almost your real self. The separation is going to be very painful, and there is a limit to pain.
Have you ever noticed? -- there is no unbearable pain. The words"unbearable pain" exist only in language -- all pain is bearable. The moment it becomes unbearable, you fall unconscious. Your unconsciousness is a way to bear it.
If he had been an ordinary man, the doctors would not have listened to him -- but he was a king, and a very well-known king, known all over the country as a great wise man. He persuaded the surgeons, "Don't be worried, nothing is going to happen to me. Just give me five minutes before you start your operation so that I can arrange myself into a meditative state. Once I'm in meditation, I am already far away from the body. Then you can cut my whole body into pieces -- I will be only a witness, and a faraway witness, as if it is happening to somebody else."
The moment was very critical; the operation had to be done immediately. If it was not done immediately, it might cause death. There were only two alternatives: either to operate and allow the patient to remain conscious, or not to operate, but follow the old routine of science. But in that case, death was certain. In the first case, there was a chance that perhaps this man could manage, and he was so insistent... finding no way to persuade him, they had to operate.
That was the first operation done without anesthesia, in a state of meditation. The king simply closed his eyes, became silent. Even the surgeons felt something changing around the king -- the vibe, the presence; his face became relaxed like a small baby, just born, and after five minutes they started the operation. The operation took two hours, and they were trembling with fear; in fact, they were not sure that the king would survive -- the shock might be too much. But when the operation was over, the king asked them, "Can I open my eyes now?"
It was discussed in the medical field all over the world as a very strange case. The surgeons asked him what he did. He said, "I have not done anything. To meditate is my very life. Moment to moment I am living in silence. I asked for those five minutes because you were going to do such a dangerous operation that I had to become absolutely settled in my being, with no wavering. Then you could do anything... because you were not doing it to me. I am consciousness -- and you cannot operate on consciousness, you can operate only on the body."
You say," WHEN I SIT WITH YOU, IT IS SOMEHOW SAFE." There is really no difference whether you sit with me or you sit alone -- it is just a mind security, the idea that the master is present so there is no harm to take the jump. If something goes wrong, somebody is there to take care of it.
In meditation, nothing goes wrong -- ever.
Without meditation, everything is going wrong.
Nothing goes right without meditation; your whole life is going wrong. You live only in hope, but your hopes are never fulfilled. Your life is a long, long tragedy. And the reason is your unawareness, your unmeditativeness.
Meditation looks like death, and the experience is exactly the same. But the attitude and the approach is different, and the difference is so vast that it can be said that meditation is life and death is just a dream.
But this is the function of a mystery school, where many people are meditating, where a master is present. You feel safe, you are not alone. If something goes wrong, help will be available immediately. But nothing goes wrong.
So meditate while you are sitting with me, and meditate in your aloneness. Meditation is the only thing with an absolute guarantee that nothing goes wrong with it. It only reveals your existence to yourself -- how can anything go wrong? And you are not doing anything; you are really stopping doing everything. You are stopping thinking, feeling, doing -- a full stop to all your actions. Only consciousness remains, because that is not your action, it is you.
Once you have tasted your being, all fear disappears, and life becomes a totally new dimension -- no longer mundane, no longer ordinary. For the first time you see the sacredness and the divineness not only of yourself, but of all that exists. Everything becomes mysterious, and to live in this mystery is the only way to live blissfully; to live in this mystery is to live under blessings showering on you like rain. Each moment brings more and more, deeper and more profound blessings to you. Not that you deserve them, but because life gives them out of its abundance -- it is burdened, it shares with whomsoever is receptive to it.
But don't get the idea that meditation is death-like, because death has no good associations in your mind. That will prevent you experiencing consciousness -- "It is death-like." In fact, it is a real death. The ordinary death is not a real death, because you will be again joined with another structure, another body. The meditator dies in a great way; he never again becomes imprisoned in a body.
An Italian missed a day at work and the foreman wanted an explanation.
"Where have you been?" he asked.
"It was-a my wife. She give-a birth to a wheelbarrow."
"If you can't do any better than that," said the foreman, "I'm gonna have to fire you."
"I think-a I got it wrong," said the Italian. "My wife, she's in-a bed having a push chair."
"That's it, wise guy," shouted the foreman, "You are fired!"
The Italian went home and asked his wife, "Hey, what was wrong with you yesterday?"
"I told-a you, I had-a miscarriage."
"I knew it was-a something with-a wheels-a on it."
There are misunderstandings piled upon misunderstandings in you. Some misunderstandings can be tremendously harmful. Getting the association of meditation and death identified in your mind is one of the greatest harms that you can do to yourself.
Although you are not wrong, your associations with the meaning of death are such that they will prevent you from getting into meditation.
That is one of the reasons I want to make death more and more associated with celebration rather than with mourning, more and more associated with a change, a new beginning, rather than just a full stop, an end. I want to change the association. That will clear the way for meditativeness.
And if you are feeling, here with me, silent and meditative -- still alive, more alive than ever -- then there is no need to be afraid. Try it in different situations, and you will always find it a source of great healing, a source of great well-being, a source of great wisdom... a source of great insight into life and its mysteries.
Pankaja, there are many things in your question. First, you ask, "When someone like Nietzsche or Gertrude Stein dies -- a genius who would probably have become enlightened if they had met a master -- what sort of consciousness do they carry into the next life?
The first thing to be understood is that consciousness has nothing to do with genius.
Everybody can be a Gautam Buddha. Everybody cannot be a Michelangelo, everybody cannot be a Friedrich Nietzsche.
But everybody can be a Zarathustra, because the spiritual realization is everybody's birthright. It is not a talent like painting, or music, or poetry, or dancing; it is not a genius either. A genius has tremendous intelligence, but it is still of the mind.
Enlightenment is not of the mind, it is not intellect; it is intelligence of a totally different order. So, the first thing to remember is that it is not only people, like Friedrich Nietzsche who have missed the journey towards their own selves; they were great intellectuals, geniuses unparalleled -- but all that belongs to the mind. And to be a Gautam Buddha, a Lao Tzu, or a Zarathustra is to get out of the mind, to be in a state of mindlessness. It does not matter whether you had a big mind or a small mind, a mediocre mind, or a genius; the point is that you should be out of the mind. The moment you are out of the mind, you are in yourself.
So the strange thing is that the more a person is intellectual, the farther he goes away from himself. His intellect takes him to faraway stars. He is a genius, he may create great poetry, he may create great sculpture. But as far as you are concerned, you are not to be created, you are already there.
The genius creates, the meditator discovers.
So, don't make a category of Nietzsche and Stein and Schweitzer separate from others. In the world of mind, they are far richer than you, but in the world of no-mind, they are as poor as you are. And that is the space which matters.
Secondly, you ask, "What sort of consciousness do they carry into the next life?" They don't have any consciousness to carry into another life. They have a certain genius, a certain talent, a certain intelligence; they will carry that intelligence into another life, but they don't have consciousness.
Consciousness is an altogether different matter. It has nothing to do with creativity, it has nothing to do with inventiveness, it has nothing to do with science or art; it has something to do with tremendous silence, peace, a centering -- they don't have it. So the question of carrying a certain consciousness into the next life does not arise; they don't have it in the first place. What they have, they will carry into the next life. They will become greater geniuses, they will become better singers, they will become more talented in their field, but it has nothing to do with meditation or consciousness. They will remain as unconscious as you are, as anybody else is.
It is as if you all fall asleep here; you will be dreaming. Somebody may have a very beautiful dream, very nice, very juicy, and somebody may have a nightmare. But both are dreams. And when they wake up, they will know that the beautiful dream and the nightmare are not different -- they are both dreams. They are non-existential, mind projections.
When an ordinary man meditates, he comes to the same space of blissfulness as Nietzsche or Albert Einstein or Bertrand Russell. That space of blissfulness will not be different, will not be richer for Bertrand Russell because he is a great intellectual. Those values don't matter outside of the mind; outside of the mind, they are irrelevant.
This is great and good news because it means a woodcutter or a fisherman can become Gautam Buddha. An uneducated Jesus, an uneducated Kabir, who doesn't show any indication of genius, can still become enlightened, because enlightenment is not a talent, it is discovering your being. And the being of everyone is absolutely equal. That is the only place where communism exists -- not in the Soviet Union, not in China.
The only place where communism exists is when somebody becomes a Gautam Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Lao Tzu. Suddenly all distinctions, talents of the mind, disappear. There is only pure sky where you cannot make any distinctions of higher and lower.
And you are asking, "What was it that in their previous lives allowed them to experience such a huge potential?"
You are growing every moment in whatever you are doing. A warrior will attain a certain quality of warriorness, a sharpness of the sword, and he will carry that quality into the next life. A mathematician will carry his mathematical intelligence to higher peaks in another life. That's why people are so different, so unequal, because in their past lives everybody has been doing different things, accumulating different experiences, molding the mind in a certain way. Nothing is lost, whatever you are doing will be with you like your shadow. It will follow you, and it will become bigger and bigger.
If Nietzsche is a great philosopher, he must have been philosophizing in his past lives -- perhaps many, many lives -- because such a genius needs a long, long philosophical past.
But the same is true about everybody. Everybody has a certain talent, developed or undeveloped; it depends on your decision, on your commitment. Once you are committed, you have accepted a responsibility to grow in a certain direction. Even whole races of people have developed in different directions, not only individuals.
For example, the Sikhs in India are not different from Hindus. They are only five hundred years old, following an enlightened man, Nanak. They became a different sect -- but they are Hindus. And for these five hundred years, a strange phenomenon has happened, which has not happened anywhere else in the world. You cannot find in a Jewish family that one person is a Christian; you cannot find in a Mohammedan family that one person is a Hindu. But for five hundred years it has been a convention that in Punjab, where Sikhs dominate, the eldest son of the family should become a Sikh. He still remains in the family. His whole family is Hindu -- his father is Hindu, his wife may be Hindu; he is a Sikh.
And the strangeness is that just by being Sikhs, the whole character of those Hindus has changed. Hindus have become cowards in the name of nonviolence; they are boiling with aggression within but, nonviolence is the ideal. Sikhs don't believe in nonviolence; neither do they believe in violence -- they believe in spontaneity.
A certain situation may need violence and a certain situation may need nonviolence; you cannot make it a principle of life. You have to remain open, available, and responsive to the moment. And there is no difference of blood -- the differences are such that one can only laugh at them -- but they have created a totally new race.
Any Hindu can become a Sikh, any Mohammedan can become a Sikh, because the change is very simple. You have to have long hair, you cannot cut your beard or mustache; you have to use a turban, and you have to keep a comb in your turban; you have to wear a steel ring, a bracelet, just to show that you are a Sikh, and you have to carry a sword. You always have to wear underwear.
How these things have changed people is a miracle, because the Sikh is totally different from Hindus in his behavior. He is a warrior; he's not cowardly. He's more sincere, more simple, more of the heart.
It happened... I was going to Manali, the mountainous part, and it had rained, and the driver of my limousine was a Sikh. He started becoming afraid. The road was very small, the limousine was very big. The road was slippery; there were water pools collected on the road. At a certain point it looked very dangerous. A great river was flowing by, thousands of feet down -- and just a small road. He stopped the car, went out, and sat there. And he said, "I cannot move anymore, it is simply going into death."
I said, "Don't be worried, you just sit; I will drive."
He said, "That is even more dangerous! I cannot give you the key."
I said, "This is very strange, because we have been traveling the whole night, twelve hours; now we are in the middle."
I tried to explain to him, "Even going back, you will have to travel twelve miles, twelve hours again on the same dangerous road. Whether you go backwards or you go forwards, it is the same."
He said, "It is not the same, because the road that we have passed, we have survived -- I can manage. But ahead it seems to be simply committing suicide -- I cannot go."
At that very moment, the inspector general of Punjab, who was coming to participate in the camp, came in his jeep. Seeing me standing there, and the limousine and driver sitting there, he said, "What is the matter?"
I said, "It is good you have come at the right moment; this driver is not ready to move ahead."
The inspector general of Punjab was also a Sikh. He came close to the driver and told him, "You are a Sikh. Have you forgotten this? Just get into the car."
And strangely enough, he immediately got into the car. We moved. I asked him, "What happened? I have been arguing with you...."
He said, "It is not a question of argument. I am a Sikh! I am supposed not to be afraid, and I had forgotten it."
Just a slight idea can change not only the individual, it can change the whole race.
We have seen how Adolf Hitler created in Germany a race of warriors as nobody has done ever before, just by giving them the idea that "you are the purest Aryans, that you are born to rule all over the world. "And once the idea got into their minds, he almost conquered the world. For five years, he went on conquering. People became so afraid that a few countries simply gave way to him without fighting. What was the point of fighting with those people? They were superhuman. These ideas also are carried from one life to another.
In India there are sudras, untouchables. For five thousand years they have been condemned, oppressed, as nobody else in the whole world. I used to go to their functions and they would not let me sit with them. I would tell them, "You are as human as anybody else, and in fact you are doing a service which is far more valuable than any prime minister or any president of any country. The country would be more peaceful without these presidents and prime ministers, but without you, the country cannot live.
You are keeping the country clean, you are doing the dirtiest jobs; you should be respected for it."
They would listen to me, but I could see that they were not ready to accept the idea that they are equal to other human beings. For five thousand years they have not revolted against such oppression, such humiliation -- just they go on carrying it from one life into another life; it becomes more and more ingrained.
Pankaja, you are asking, "Was it the idea of wanting to go their own way without a master?" No, they had no idea of the great experience that happens between a master and a disciple. They have never consciously decided to go on their own way.
In fact in the West, masters have not existed. There have been saviors. They are not masters; they don't help you to become enlightened, they help you to remain unenlightened. Just believe in them and they will save you, you are not to do anything.
The West has known prophets, messengers of God, but the West has not known masters.
It has known mystics, but the mystics have remained silent in the West seeing that they will not be understood.
It is the atmosphere of thousands of years in the East that has made a few people take courage, and say things which cannot be said. It was the long heritage that allowed a few mystics to become masters. The West has missed completely a whole dimension of life.
The East has also missed many things -- it has missed the scientific mind, it has missed the technological progress. It has remained poor, it has been invaded very easily by anybody, because its whole soul was devoted towards only one thing -- everything else was irrelevant: Who rules the country does not matter, what matters is whether you are enlightened or not. Whether you are rich or poor does not matter, what matters is whether you know yourself or not -- a single-pointed devotion. And because of this, the East has a climate of its own.
As you enter into the Eastern climate, you suddenly feel a difference. The West is more logical; the East is more loving. The West is more of the mind; the East is more of mindlessness, of meditation.
No, Pankaja, they have not missed a master; the very idea was non-existent to them. Even today, millions of Western people are unaware of the fact of masters, disciples, meditations. It is only the younger generation -- and that too a very small portion of it -- which has entered into the Eastern dimension, and has been shocked that the real richness is not of the outside world, the real richness is of the inside.
Ginsberg is dying. "Call the priest," he says to his wife, "and tell him I want to be converted into the catholic religion."
"But Max, you are an orthodox Jew all your life. What are you talking about? You want to be converted?"
Ginsberg says, "Better one of them should die than one of us."
People have lived as Jews, as Christians, as Mohammedans, but people have not lived as simply religious.
In the East also only, a very few people have lived in pure religiousness. But only those very few people have filled the whole of the East with a fragrance which seems to be eternal.
God asked Moses to choose whatever promised land he wished. After weighing several factors, Moses settled on California. But Moses, according to legend, had a speech impediment and he begin to answer, "C... C...."
Whereupon God said, "Canaan, that wasteland? Well, okay Mo. If you want it, you got it."
Poor Moses, because of a speech impediment got Canaan, which is now Israel -- its old name is Canaan.
But from the very beginning in the Western mind, the desire was for California. He could have asked for Kashmir where finally he came and died; he could have asked for the land of Gautam Buddha.
But the East has appealed only to those who are called by psychologists "introverts"; and the West has appeal for those who are known as extroverts. Going Eastward means going inward; going Westward means going outward.
For thousands of years, authentic seekers have been coming to the East. They have found a certain magnetic pull; where so many people have meditated, they have created a tremendous energy pool. Being in that atmosphere, things become simpler, because the whole atmosphere is supportive, is a nourishment.
I have been around the world, and I have seen how the West is absolutely unaware of the Eastern grace. How is it that the Western man is unaware of himself? He's thinking of the farthest star, but not about himself. The East has remained committed to a single goal -- to be oneself, and to know oneself. Unless you know yourself, and you are yourself, your life has gone to waste; it has not blossomed, it has not flowered. You have not fulfilled your destiny.
The Golden Future