Prem Agama, your story is everyone's story. Everyone has gone astray. Everyone has lost himself. Perhaps it is part of human growth to be lost, to forget the way back home, to search for it, because unless you go astray, there is no need for search. Unless you lose the way, there is no question of finding it. Unless you forget yourself, you will never realize yourself; hence it is not against your spiritual growth.
It is part, an absolutely intrinsic part, that you should be lost in darkness, in agony, in suffering. But there is no need to remain in the dark night of the soul. One need not make a house in suffering and misery, in ignorance, in dishonesty, in a false and phony life.
One has to use this opportunity. Yes, I call it a golden opportunity, knowing perfectly well that it is painful. But all birth is painful, and a spiritual birth more so.
You should not settle in suffering, in misery, in pain. You should continue to search. The question is not of finding the right way. Every way is right if your search is deep, your hope enormous, your trust infinite. Then wherever you are and whatever path you follow, you will reach the ocean -- just as every river reaches the ocean, passing through the mountains, through the valleys, through strange lands, strange people, without any guide, without any map, without anybody to indicate the right direction.
Every river, small or big, reaches to the ocean. It seems a deep thirst, an intense longing, makes every way the right way.
All ways are going towards the ocean.
You just have to be patient enough, trustful of existence.
And your remembrance will be of enormous value: one day you knew yourself, you were not yet gone astray, you had not moved on the paths of desire and ambition. You were still within yourself, sincere, honest and innocent. You know that the space you are searching for again is not imaginary. You have known it, you have been it; it is only a question of how to enter that space again.
The logical way is to find the right path. And there comes one of the greatest problems for every spiritual seeker, because every path leads you away from yourself. Every path indicates towards some goal, somewhere else.
Hence the question is not of finding the right path; the question is of finding the right consciousness, awareness. And strangely, immediately the whole problem changes.
It is a dream you can go far away, you can visit some faraway star. But when you wake up you will wake up in your own room, in your own home. The question is not to find a right path from the faraway star to come back home.
You are already there, you have just forgotten it.
That is the meaning of one of the most beautiful words -- which has been contaminated by religions. That word is sin; its root meaning is forgetfulness. If forgetfulness is the sin, then awareness is the only virtue.
You are asking, "There arises great darkness in me and I wish to trade in this intolerable Agama and start afresh, so that somehow I would not grow with my personality so inseparably glued to myself. I remember there was once innocence and I had a sense of myself. Try as I might, I can't recover it, can't separate off the witness, can't trust in my seeing. So long ago I took a shortcut and now I can't remember where I left the honesty and the innocence and the love, for the false, the trying, the stupid. How can I find my way back?"
Just by being awake! Shake yourself, slap yourself -- but wake up. Jump out of the bed -- but wake up.
Your suffering is a dream, your darkness is a dream, your going astray is a dream. That's the meaning of the word maya. Man lives in illusion. The way out of illusion does not exist, because the way out of illusion will be another illusion.
You have simply to wake up.
There is no way, no bridge.
One state is of unawareness, another is of awareness. And from unawareness to awareness the distance is nil... just a little effort, a little jogging.
A man walks into a bar and orders a glass of beer, which he swallows down in one gulp.
Immediately he orders another, and again swallows it down in one gulp. Still thirsty, he orders a third and a fourth. By this time he needs the bathroom. The bartender tells him, "down the corridor and first on your right." The man stumbles down the corridor, misses the turn, goes through another door and falls straight into the swimming pool. When he finally comes to the surface, he yells out to the surprised attendant, "Wait, for God's sake don't flush!"
Agama, you are where you have always been; you have not moved even an inch away from your innocence, or your being, or your sincerity. It is not possible in the very nature of things to go away from oneself, just as you cannot run away from your shadow. The faster you run, the shadow runs faster; the slower you go the shadow goes slower. But you cannot run away from it.
If this is the case with your shadow, what about your innermost being? How can you go away from it? Wherever you are, it will be in the innermost shrine of your consciousness -- always intact, uncorrupted.
So all that is needed is to sit silently, to close your eyes and to look into yourself. You will find again the same space, that you remembered with such great passion, with such great love. It is still there. And the same is the case with everybody else.
The philosophy of existentialism has given a few new words tremendous emphasis. One of those words is alienation -- to feel alien to oneself.
Man has always felt that he does not know himself. It is not something new; just the name is new and the emphasis is new. Twenty-five centuries ago Socrates was telling people, "Know thyself." He was saying, "You are a stranger to yourself. You don't know your being; you don't know all the dimensions of your being. You don't know, why you are here. You don't know from where you have come, you don't know where you are going. And most important, you don't know whether you are or not."
It happened... George Bernard Shaw was traveling from London to a small town in England. The ticket checker came into his compartment. He looked in all his pockets, in the suitcases, but he could not find the ticket. The ticket checker told him many times, "Don't get so worried. You are a world-famous figure, I know you. You must have forgotten the ticket somewhere. When I come on the next run, I can see it. There is no hurry."
He was trying to console the agitated George Bernard Shaw, but George Bernard Shaw was perspiring. Listening to his words he became very angry and shouted, "Shut up! I am not looking for the ticket for you. Now the problem arises, where am I going? Can you tell me?"
The man said, "How can I tell you?" George Bernard Shaw said, "Then don't talk nonsense. I am not worried about you; I am worried about where I am going. Now what will happen to me?"
Everybody is going somewhere, certainly. And nobody is going to ask for your ticket, but still... those who are intelligent are themselves bound to inquire "Where are we going?"
But all these questions are secondary. The basic question is "Who am I?"
This strangeness about oneself, this ignorance about oneself, if felt deeply creates in existentialist terms a nausea. One starts feeling nauseous. One is here, one is going somewhere, one is coming from somewhere... there seems to be no meaning in all this.
And there are so many worries, so much suffering, so much anguish to go through for what?
Existentialism is a negative philosophy. But the modern man needs it, just as a shock.
Existentialist ideas cannot be fulfilling; they cannot remove the nausea, they can only deepen it. They cannot destroy your alienation, they can only make it sharper. They cannot take away meaninglessness from your life, they can only write it in bold letters.
They can surround you with a feeling of sickness. If death is the end, then life is nothing but sickness -- sickness unto death. But existentialism can help intelligent people not to be satisfied with nausea, but to inquire.
There have been people who have found themselves. Their serenity is a proof of it, their fragrance is evidence of it, their rejoicing is an argument which cannot be refuted. A Gautam Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Chuang Tzu, a Bodhidharma -- nobody can deny their grace. Nobody can deny that these people have gone beyond worries, beyond anxiety.
These people have found something which fills their life with songs of joy. They have found some treasure which is inexhaustible and makes them dance in utter gratitude.
Their very presence has convinced millions of people that life need not be a sickness unto death; on the contrary life can become such a dance that death becomes the ultimate culmination of the dance. Life can be transformed so deeply that even death disappears as darkness and becomes a dawn, that even death is no more an end but a new beginning.
Existentialism has paralyzed immensely, terribly, the intelligentsia of the Western world.
The impact of the existentialists has been great. And the conclusion of their philosophy is nothing but suicide, which can relieve you from all nausea, all alienation, all meaninglessness, all anguish, all suffering.
There has never been such a negative philosophy in the whole history of man. There have been atheists, who denied God, but they denied God to support life. They denied God so man can be absolutely free, without anybody dominating him and dictating to him and giving him commandments. Atheists were humanitarians; they raised man as the highest value. To the theists they looked negative because they were negating God, but nobody has seen that they were affirming life.
In fact, compared to atheists the theists are negative, because they deny life, they negate life, they teach people to renounce life for a fictitious god, for a hypothetical god for which they don't have any proof, any argument. But theists have been thought of as positive thinkers, and atheists as negative thinkers. This evaluation is totally wrong, according to me. Atheists are very positive; theists are absolutely negative.
But the existentialists have far transcended the theists and their negativity; they were at least affirming a fictitious god. Atheism was denying only a fiction. Existentialists are denying the fiction of god and they are also denying the reality of life; not only denying, but giving it such condemnatory colors that it seems it is a calamity to be born, it is a punishment to be born... that life is not a joy, but simply another name of hell.
Existentialism has to be understood very deeply, because philosophically it may become the cause of the third world war. It has destroyed all that was beautiful in life. It has negated everything that was valuable -- love, silence, meditation, joy. It has erased them all. Life is only a sickness, and we are clinging to life because we are afraid to die. It is not that we love life; we hate it -- but at least it is known. Who knows, death may be far worse. It is better to remain with the known, although it is miserable.
They have created the philosophical background for people like Ronald Reagan to destroy the whole humanity. If existentialism is true, then there is no harm in destroying the whole humanity; in fact it should be taken as a blessing that all sickness disappears, all that is ugly disappears.
And all is ugly according to the existentialists. There is not even a single thing which can be appreciated.
Unless the West becomes aware of meditation, unless meditation penetrates the Western intelligence, there is a danger. The politicians are creating weapons to destroy, and the philosophers are creating readiness to be destroyed, willingness to be destroyed. It is the greatest conspiracy against life between politicians and philosophers.
And these existentialists.... One wonders! I have written letters to Jaspers, to Jean-Paul Sartre and they didn't even have the courage to answer. I asked them, "If your philosophy is right, you should commit suicide. Why are you living? For what? Waiting for death?"
According to them, life is nothing but a waiting room and the train that will come, its name is death.
Neither Jaspers nor Jean-Paul Sartre ever replied. All these philosophers, from Soren Kierkegaard to Marcel, were living perfectly happily, enjoying Nobel prizes and preaching a philosophy which is itself really sick.
Life is not sick. It is the wrong glasses they have on their eyes. Just today I heard some news. A man shot his wife in New York. The police came, and the man was absolutely unafraid. He said, "Yes, I have killed my wife." But his son said, "Father, she's not my mother and she's not your wife." He said, "My God, I forgot to put on my glasses!" He killed some other woman, thinking that she was his wife.
Existentialism is giving wrong glasses to people. It is the most anti-human, anti-life ideology ever preached.
Prem Padmini, you need not be caught into these sick ideologies. I am here to open new windows for you, and you can see with your own eyes the immense beauty of life, the great blissfulness of life... the tremendous silence which is a song without sounds, and a dance that goes on eternally in the trees, in the rivers, in the mountains, in the stars.
The whole existence is full of rejoicing; you just need to open your windows. Your darkness is your own creation, your alienation is your own creation; otherwise you are not a stranger to yourself. You are not a stranger to the trees, to the rivers, to the mountains.
It is our existence; we are part of it.
Our heartbeat is part of the universal heartbeat.
And it is not a dead universe; it is immensely intelligent, conscious, sensitive. It is divine in its every dimension. But you have to learn to participate in the dance.
You are sitting like a cripple, and because of your crippledness -- which is just your idea; you are not crippled, you have just been told that you are crippled, you cannot dance, you will fall, so sit silently -- you are not participating in the dance that is going all over the place.
The cripple automatically becomes a critic. He starts hating that which he cannot do. He starts calling the dancers stupid, mad, insane -- "What is the point of all this dance? what is the meaning of all these songs and music? It is just noise and nothing else.
So as not to see one's crippledness, one starts condemning those who are not influenced by crippled philosophies and religions.
Be a participant! In the beginning it may be a little difficult, but step by step start moving a little.
A husband asks his wife which she likes most, Christmas or sex. "Christmas," she says.
"Why is that?" asks her husband. "Is it more romantic?" "No," she answers, "but it happens more often."
Now, if Christmas happens more often, then life will look like a nausea, a sickness.
Participate in the small joys of life, and it will open its great treasures. It contains immense riches, but it needs you to explore them. It gives you challenges, because it is one of the parts of understanding that what you find with great difficulty you enjoy more.
That which is very arduous brings great rejoicing; that which is obvious, freely available, will not give you joy.
Life follows that principle, it keeps its treasures hidden. But it goes on challenging you, calling you. You have to become pilgrims, seekers, searchers. And all the doors are inside, so you don't have to go to the Himalayas. You have just to go inwards. The deeper you go in, the more you know that life is not alien; it is your very heart. You are not separate from it. You have always been part of it, in some form or other, and you will remain always part of it.
You belong to this eternal celebration.
Existentialism is one of the most dangerous approaches to life -- far more dangerous than your religions, because your religions are very poor in arguments. Existentialism is very rich in arguments, so convincing that once you are caught in its trap, you cannot escape.
Just remember one thing: not a single existentialist philosopher has committed suicide.
That destroys their whole philosophical approach.
Only once before in the past in Greece there was a great philosopher, Zeno. He was not teaching so many ugly things, and making man really feel nauseous, but he was certainly teaching that life has no meaning and only cowards go on living because they don't have the guts to commit suicide. He himself lived a long life of ninety years, and thousands of people committed suicide under his influence. When he was dying, one young man asked, "Just one question more: how come you managed to live ninety years while your followers, particularly young people, have committed suicide according to your philosophy?"
He said, "I had to live to teach the philosophy. It was such a suffering to live, but I had to suffer for the sake of humanity."
Philosophers can be very cunning. Now this is cunningness, pure and simple. But at least he accepted one thing -- that he lived to teach his philosophy. Jaspers and Jean-Paul Sartre and Marcel did not even answer my question. They could have at least said, "We are suffering greatly, but because we want to awaken humanity to the reality, which is nauseous, we are somehow managing to remain alive." Even that much they were not courageous enough to accept. And strangely enough, when Marcel was given a Nobel prize, he accepted it. Life is a nausea. What is a Nobel prize? A cancer? Happily, he accepted.
These are just intellectuals playing games with words, mind games; but they don't know anything of meditation. If they had known just a little bit of meditation not only would their life have been richer, they would have changed the whole West, particularly the Western youth, into a happier, a more radiant, alive generation.
But all that they have created is a subtle willingness for suicide, a deep acceptance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If life is such, then to destroy it is not evil; then Adolf Hitler is a great prophet and he helped six million people to be relieved from a life which was nausea. He was the greatest servant of the Jews: without him, six million Jews would still be suffering from nausea, anguish, anxiety, meaninglessness. Adolf Hitler is a great savior. And now he has come in a far greater form as Ronald Reagan. Perhaps Ronald Reagan will prove the greatest savior of humanity by destroying all life.
Existentialism has to be fought, it has to be destroyed by the roots, because it is in favor of death and against life -- and without knowing life. And to know life there is only one way, the way of meditation.
Ramaprem, it is unfortunate that your valleys are deeper than your mountains are high, but the responsibility is yours. You are digging your valleys every day deeper and you have not made any effort even to climb the mountains. To make them bigger is a totally different thing; you have not even climbed them. You are going deeper into your valleys, and digging them more and more. Most of the men in the world are gravediggers; they go on digging their own graves.
An old man was dying, a very rich old man. His four sons, who were all rich in their own right, had gathered to say goodbye to their father. They were sitting around him. The youngest son said "We should arrange a Rolls Royce to take him to the graveyard. That was his lifelong desire, to ride in a Rolls Royce, but he was so miserly, he could not manage it. At least we should give him a chance. He will be dead, but his spirit, his ghost, may enjoy the trip. And it is not very costly because it is one way."
But the second son, elder than the first, said; "You are forgetting our family heritage.
What difference does it make to a dead man whether you take him in a Rolls Royce or in a four wheel Ford truck? It makes no difference to him but to us it will make a difference.
At least I am not going to contribute if a Rolls Royce is brought; I will contribute at the most for a Ford truck. A dead man is a dead man. He knows nothing about where he is sitting. It will do, and we will take him in the nighttime, so nobody knows and nobody sees."
The third brother said, "You are all being too extravagant. What is the need of a Ford truck? Just a bullock cart... and one of my servants has a bullock cart, so we need not even pay anything. A dead body will enjoy the bullock cart and the open air more than any Rolls Royce."
The eldest brother said, "You all seem to have gone wrong, you have all gone insane; it is sheer wastage. We should put him, in the deep darkness in the middle of night, by the side of the road where people throw all their garbage, so in the morning the corporation truck will take him away. They do the same with all the beggars, and a dead man, whether he was rich or a beggar does not make any distinction. There is no problem; a dead man is a dead man, it is just a corpse."
Just then the old man tried to sit up. He was still alive and listening. He said: "My sons, just help me to find my shoes." They said, "What are you going to do with your shoes?
Are you going to die with your shoes on?" He said, "I have still a little life left. I can walk to the graveyard. In the night, who is going to see? And you are four; you can dig the grave and I will help as much as I can in my old age. Then you can take my shoes back, because they are almost new. I have used them only for ten years; they are good enough for you and your children."
You ask, why your valleys are deeper. Instead of digging your valleys, learn the art of climbing the mountains. Reach to the sunlit peaks of the mountains. Certainly valleys are more secure, more cozy, more comfortable, less risky. Climbing a mountain... if you really want to climb a high mountain like Everest it is dangerous. But the more dangerous it is, the more alive it makes you.
Friedrich Nietzsche used to keep a small card on his table. He had written on it himself, "Live dangerously!" Any visitor was bound to see it and ask him "What does it mean?"
He said, "That is my whole philosophy, because I have found that the more dangerously you live, the more deeply you live."
As you live more dangerously, you really live. A few moments of dangerous living, as if you are walking on a razor's edge, are more precious than a long life without any danger, without any risk, comfortable and cozy, everything insured, everything secure.
The way of the sannyasin is really the way to live life dangerously.
A young man asked his friend, "How come that old maid keeps getting the best-looking boys for each dance ?" "That is easy," his friend replied. "When she was young she gave it away, later she sold it, and now that she is rich, she is buying it back!"
She really lived, in every possible way. Most people are avoiding living.
George was a sprightly eighty-eight year old when he married Ruby, a lusciously ripe eighteen year old. As they prepared for bed on their wedding night he asked her, "Tell me, sweet child, did your mother tell you the facts of life?" Blushingly she murmured, "No."
"That's too bad," George said, "because I'm afraid I have forgotten them."
Now it is too long... eighty-eight years old, but still trying his best -- not accepting old age, not being worried about death, and although he had gone senile, still ready to live.
But most people, even when they are young, are living reluctantly, resisting life, afraid of life, feeling guilty to live because that's what they have been told, that's how they have been prepared. Their whole conditioning is so life-negative that even if they want to live, their guilt does not allow them to live.
As far as my people are concerned, my single-pointed, unconditional advice is to live as intensely as possible, as totally as possible, because that is the only way to know the godliness of life, to know its divine fragrance, its divine taste. And the most strange fact is, the people who live totally, fully, transcend the very desire to live a mundane kind of life. They move beyond the mundane to another dimension, another sphere: the sacred.
Live as a Zorba; then it will be possible for you to live as a Gautam Buddha. Zorba has to be the foundation of your life, and Gautam Buddha your highest peak. Live without any fear, because there is no god you have to be afraid of. And there is no heaven where your tortures will be rewarded, and there is no hell where your joys will be punished. This moment is all. Always remember in whatever moment you are that it is all.
Ramaprem, one day one of Mulla Nasruddin's friends asked him if he could borrow his donkey to carry some vegetables to the market. "No," said Mulla Nasruddin, "that's not possible, because my donkey is not here, and what's more, he is sick." At that moment, his donkey appeared from around the corner calling, "Heehaw, heehaw."
"You said your donkey is not here, and that he is sick," accused Mulla Nasruddin's friend, "and here he is and yelling `heehaw, heehaw,' as well as can be."
"Who do you believe, "asked Mulla Nasruddin, "my donkey or me?"
Ramaprem, if you believe me, then there is no problem; then the sunlit peaks are very close by. But if you believe religious donkeys of all kinds and all sorts -- hindu shankaracharyas and Ayatollah Khomeiniac and pope the Polack -- then I am helpless.
Then you have to go on digging your valleys deeper.
Just trust what I am saying, because I am not saying anything based on any scripture. I am saying only things based on my own experience; hence what I am saying has an authority -- which these shankaracharyas cannot have; they are only representatives, they don't have their own experience... these popes cannot have; they are only elected people.
It is a very strange world, where religious leaders are also elected, elected by all kinds of idiots, elected by the followers.
I am not elected by anybody; neither am I representing anybody. I am simply telling you what my experience is; hence I have an authority that these people cannot have. I don't want you to believe it; I want you to trust it. And I make the difference, because by believing you will remain just a follower; by trusting you will come to the same status and the same space in which I am living.
Believing is cheap.
To trust means you are accepting a challenge to climb the sunlit peaks of mountains.
The Golden Future