The essential proclamation of the Ishavasya Upanishad, the very meaning of its title, Ishavasya, is:
Everything is God's. All things belong to God. But our human mind tries to argue that it is all ours, and we live in this delusion throughout our lives. Something is mine. The idea is of ownership and possession - it is mine!
When everything is existence's, there is no place left for this 'I' of mine to stand. Remember, for its manifestation even ego needs a base. To endure, even 'I' needs the support of 'my'. If the support of 'my' were not there, it would be impossible to forge the 'I'. From a casual observation it appears that the 'I' comes first and 'mine' follows it. But the fact is quite the reverse. First, 'mine' has to be founded, and then the structure of 'I' is built onto it. If whatever you have which you call 'mine' is wrested entirely from your grasp, then your 'I' will not be spared. It will disappear. 'I' is nothing but the collection of 'mines'. 'I' is created from the fabric of 'mine' - my wealth, my building, my religion, my temple, my position, my name, my family, and so on.
As we go on throwing down each 'mine' the base of 'I' is simultaneously eroded away. If not a single 'mine' is saved, then there is no foundation on which the 'I' can stand. The 'I' needs a resting place, a shelter, a house of 'mine'. The 'I' requires a foundation stone of 'mine' otherwise the whole structure of 'I' will tumble down. The first proclamation of the Ishavasya intends to collapse the entire structure. The sage says, "Everything is of God." There is no place for 'mine'. There is no scope at all even for 'I' to say 'mine' for itself. If it can say 'I am', it is wrong. If it persists in saying 'I am', then it is a bewildered 'I'. It is necessary to understand this from two or three points of view.
The first is this: you are born, I am born. But nobody asks me whether I want to be born or not; no trouble is ever taken to find out my wishes. My birth is not dependent on my desire or on my acceptance. When I know myself, I know myself having been born. There is nothing like my being before my birth. Let us consider it in this way: you are constructing a building; you never ask the building whether or not it wishes to be built. The building has no will of its own. You are constructing it, and it is erected.
Have you ever thought that you also were never consulted before your birth? Existence causes you to be born, and you are born. Existence creates you, and you are created. If the building becomes conscious, it will say, 'I'. If it becomes conscious, it will refuse to consider its maker as its owner, as its master. The building will say, "The builder is my servant; he has constructed me. The materials are mine; he has served me. I was willing to be made, so he has made me."
But the building has no consciousness. Man has. And in fact who knows whether the building has consciousness or not? It is possible; it may be so. There are thousands of levels of consciousness.
Man's consciousness is of one particular kind, it is not necessary for all things to have the same kind of consciousness. A building may have consciousness of a different kind, stone may have of yet another kind, plants another. It is possible that they, too, live in their own 'I'. When a gardener is watering a plant, maybe the plant is not thinking, "The gardener is giving me life," but rather, "I am showing favor to this gardener by accepting his service. Through my grace I accept his services."
Nobody has ever approached the plant to inquire about its desire to be born.
It is absolutely absurd to call it my birth when it is caused without my desire. Where is the meaning in claiming as my birth, that about which I am never consulted before my birth? When death comes, it does not ask our permission. Death will not ask us, "What do you want? Are you coming with me or not?" No, when it comes, it comes of its own accord, just as birth comes without our knowing about it. Death comes without knocking, without our permission, without instruction, without forewarning, and stands quietly before us; and it gives us no alternatives, no choice. It hesitates not even a second, whatever we may wish. It is sheer idiocy to claim as my death that for which I have no desire or willingness in the least.
That birth is not my birth in which there is no choice on my part. The death to which my willingness is irrelevant, is not my death. So how can the life which lies between these two ends be my life?
How can the span between be mine, when both its inevitable ends - without which I cannot exist - are not mine? It is a deception - one which we go on strengthening, forgetting birth and death completely. But if we consult a psychologist in this matter, he will say, "You forget them purposely, because they are such sorrowful memories." When my birth is not mine, how poor and miserable I become. When my death is not mine, everything is snatched away from me; nothing is saved. My hands remain empty. Only the ashes remain.
We build a long bridge of life between these two ends, like a bridge spanning a river; but neither of the river banks is ours. Nor are the bridge's supports at either end ours. So think a little: How can the bridge spreading from one bank to the other across that river be ours whose foundation is not ours? Hence we strive to forget our birth and death - our foundations.
Man forgets many things intentionally. He tries not to remember, because remembering may smash all his ego and bring it all crashing down. "Then what will be mine?" So we refrain from thinking of birth and death, and this makes possible the great misconception that all we find in life is ours. But if we let ourselves explore and examine what we find, we discover with certainty that it is not ours.
You say, "I have fallen in love with somebody," without considering whether that love affair was your decision or not. Listen to what lovers say: "We do not know when it happened. We did not make it happen." Then how can that be ours which happened of its own accord? If it happens, it happens. If it does not happen, it does not.
We are so dependent, so regulated, as if somewhere everything is fixed and determined. Our condition is similar to that of an animal tied with a rope to a stake. The animal will go on circling round and round the stake on its rope and will live in the misconception that it is free because it is circling freely. It will forget the rope, because to remember it is painful; the rope tied to the stake gives us pain because it reminds us of our dependence. The truth is, that it tells us that we are not our true selves.
We are not fit to be even dependent, let alone consider the matter of becoming free. To be one's dependency - that is, to feel the rope's pinch - it is necessary to be aware of one's being; and that we are not. The animal roams around the fixed stake, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right and thinks, "I am free," and when it thinks, "I am free," the 'I' is there. Then, by and by, it must begin to persuade itself that "It is also due to my willingness that I am tied to a stake. I can cut the rope whenever I desire, but I am thinking of my welfare."
We create so much delusion in our lives. We say, "I became angry, I made love, I disliked, I hated, I made friends, I became an enemy..." but none of these doings is our decision. Have you ever become angry and been the doer of that anger? You have never done so. When there is anger, you are not there. Have you ever made love which is made by you? If you can make love, then you can make love with anybody; but the fact is that you are able to love someone and you are unable to love someone else. You are able to make love with someone even when you don't want to, and you are unable to make love with someone even though you wish to do so.
All the feelings and emotions of life come from some unknown quarter - they come just as your birth comes. You unjustly intrude on this happening and become the master, the doer of it. Yet what have you done? What is there which is done by you? The feeling of hunger comes; sleep comes; in the morning waking comes; and in the evening your eyes begin to close again. Childhood comes. When does it pass away? How does it pass away? It does not ask us, it does not enter into consultation and discussion with us, and it does not delay its passing a moment, even if we ask it to do so. Then youth passes away, and old age enters. Where are you? - but you go on saying, "I am young, I am old," as if youth depends on you. Youth has its own flowers. Old age has its flowers too; and they bloom as flowers bloom on a tree. A rosebush cannot say, "I cause roses to bloom." It could only say so if it were able to make sunflowers bloom!
Don't take any credit for all these happenings. If there is innocence in childhood, it is there without any effort on your part. And when sex and other desires catch hold of you in youth, they do so just as innocence holds you in childhood. You are neither the master of your childhood innocence nor of the sexual desire of your youth, and don't consider it your achievement when your mind begins to incline towards celibacy in old age. It is just like this: sex takes hold of you in youth, and indifference takes hold of you in old age. Nor have those who were never slaves to sex any control over that fact.
So don't pride yourself on the fact that you are not a slave to sex.
Examine every small atom of life and you will realize that there is no place for the I - the ego - to stand. Then why are we creating this illusion? How does it come about? From where does this deception come? It comes because we always feel that there is an alternative. For example, you insult me. Now I have two alternatives: I may insult you back; or I may ignore it, thinking the insult is not there at all. That is, I can choose to reciprocate if I wish, and if I don't wish, I can choose not to.
But are there really any alternatives? Do you suppose that the person who returns an insult could have chosen not to, if he had wanted? You will say: If he had not wished to do so, he need not have returned the insult. But you will have to go a little deeper to understand this. Is that desiring there already in him, or does he bring it from somewhere? Is that desire to insult or not to insult under his control?
Those who seek within say that what the depths reveal is only that the happenings go beyond our control. A man thinks to insult, and he insults. Another man decides not to insult, and he does not insult. But from where does this idea of giving or not giving abuse come? Is the idea yours? No, it comes from the place from which birth comes. It comes from where love is. It comes from where consciousness is. It returns to where death is. It is absorbed where the breath goes.
It is easy to deceive ourselves by saying, "It is in my hands, it is under my control. Had I wished, I would not have abused." But who told you, who asked you, to abuse? People like Buddha and Mahavira would not give abuse. Do you think that they can simply choose to feel abusive? No; just as you experience a fixed and unavoidable situation in having to abuse, so Buddha and Mahavira experience an equally unalterable situation of not feeling abusive. They cannot choose, even if they wish, to feel abusive. That desire itself is not created.
A man came to a Zen master early in the morning and began to ask him why he was so calm and quiet, while he himself was so agitated and disturbed. The master replied, "I am calm and you are agitated, that's all. The matter is over there. There is nothing more to be said."
The man insisted, "No, I want to know how you became so calm."
The master replied, "I want to know from you how you became so agitated."
The man replied, "Agitation comes of its own accord."
The master said, "That has happened exactly with me. Calmness came to me of its own accord, and I do not take any credit for it. When agitation was coming, it was coming. I could not do anything to stop it, and now, when calm has come to me, I cannot do anything to bring agitation even if I wish to bring it, so much am I bound by the situation."
The man said, "No, please show me the way to be calm and quiet."
So the master said, "I know only one way, and that is this: give up your illusion that you are able to do anything about it. If you become agitated, remain agitated. Know that you are disturbed and that you can do nothing about it. It is out of your control. Don't make any effort to be calm. Even those people who make an effort to be calm become agitated and disturbed. They become agitated, and in their efforts to become calm they create fresh uneasiness in themselves."
But the man persisted, "Your advice does not settle my mind; I want to be calm."
The master said, "Then you are bound to remain agitated because you wish for something. You refuse to leave this matter to God, while the fact is that everything depends on him; nothing is within your control. I became calm from the day when I began to accept willingly whatever happened, whatever came to me. I could not be calm as long as I desired and tried to become something."
But the man would not accept what the master said. "I am jealous of your calm," he said. "I cannot remain satisfied with your explanation."
Then the master asked him to wait and to ask his question when there was nobody in his hut, because he had many visitors. The man agreed, and when there was nobody in the hut he again requested the master to show him some way. Then the master, putting his finger on his lips, said, "Be quiet."
The man was greatly perplexed. He said, "When there are people here and I ask you for a reply, you tell me to ask when there is no one here; and when there is no one here and I ask you for a reply you tell me to keep quiet. How will my problem ever be solved?"
Evening came, the sun had set, and all the people had left. The cottage was empty, and the man again sought a reply. The master asked him to come outside. The full moon was shining. The master asked, "Do you see these plants?" Small plants were growing in front of the cottage.
The man replied, "I see them."
Again the master asked, "Do you see those trees far off, reaching high into the sky?"
The man said, "I see them."
Then the master said, "Those trees are great and tall. These plants are small and low. There is no conflict between them. I have never heard any dispute between them on this matter. These small plants never ask the tall trees why they are tall; they are satisfied with their smallness. The tall trees also never ask the small plants why they are small. Tall trees have their own difficulties, as they discover when there is a storm. The small plants have their problems too, but they are content with their smallness, just as the tall trees are content with their tallness. I have never heard of a dispute between these two; I have always found them quiet. So please leave me. I am what I am, and you are what you are."
But how can that man be satisfied with this analogy? And how are we to be convinced? The mind always desires to be something. Why does it behave so? It is because we have always taken it for granted that we can do something. "No," says the Ishavasya, "you cannot do anything. You cannot be the doer." This was the secret of that great idea called fate. Fate does not mean that you should do nothing. That would be to sit quiet - and fate says that you cannot even sit at your own will. If fate seats you, only then can you sit. Fate makes "I shall do nothing" impossible for you. If fate wishes any nondoing, then nondoing will happen.
Please bear in mind, there is not a single fatalist among all those who seem to be fatalists. They say, "Everything is in the hands of fate. What can we do? So we do nothing." The very existence of the idea that we do nothing means that the feeling of doing is still present. The concept of total fatality means that we are not. There is no way to do anything. It is existence.
When we cannot do anything, when we cannot be doers, then what my-ness, what of mine, will there be? To whom shall we say, "It is mine"? Can we say, "This is my son"? It looks so, because it appears that, "I have given him birth." Such an illusion happens even though nobody has ever given birth to any son. Sons are born, they find their way through you. You begin to love a woman. That love does not come from you, love makes its way through you. The sexual desire, the love, the yearning of your bodies to meet each other - that yearning is not yours. It is hidden in every particle of your body, in the smallest hairs on your body. It is compressed into each particle and it presses you, it urges you. Eventually, a child is conceived, someone becomes its mother and someone becomes its father. It looks as though they have brought the child into being. Destiny laughs at you!
It laughs uproariously at you. You have been made an instrument of birth: you have not given it. You have been just a passage. The mother is just a passage for someone's journey into life. Through her, fate gives birth. You have done nothing.
You construct a building and say, "It is mine." But do you observe birds also build nests for themselves? In this world even the smallest animal builds its place of abode. There are birds whose mothers fly away after laying their eggs. When the eggs are hatched, out come the young ones. They receive neither the mother's training nor the father's protection, they don't go off to school. And the miracle is that those birds make nests exactly like those their mothers made and their grandmothers before them. Nor is that nest an ordinary one; it involves great architectural skill.
It is so beautiful that if man desired to build such a nest he would have to learn how to build it, and even after learning, it would be difficult for him to construct it so skillfully.
How is such a nest made? Scientists call it a built-in program. They say there is a built-in program in each small cell of the bird's body. The whole process of constructing the nest is hidden in its bones, flesh and tissues. That this bird can build her nest is a certainty. She will seek out precisely the kind of grass and leaves which her mother looked for. Nobody has taught her; the mother has not even seen her, and she has not been to school. Yet she will pick up those leaves and those straws of grass and build the selfsame nest made before by her mother and her grandmother. Man also constructs; all kinds of creatures construct. There is no cause to say, "It is mine" - absolutely no cause.
About what can we say, "It is mine"? Can we make such a claim about wealth? All animals accumulate: they do so in various ways, and man is certainly not the cleverest at it. There are animals far more skilled than man in the act of hoarding. In Siberia there are white bears: it snows for six months of the year, and man has difficulty surviving during those six months, but the bear protects itself. Its method of accumulating is wonderful. It does not collect things, it collects fat - enough to last it for six months. It just goes on hoarding more and more fat in its body. It stores so much fat in its body that it can live on it for those six months during which it sleeps under the snow.
Your treasure is not so deep within you. Thieves can steal it from you; and to be useful to you, your wealth is dependent on many circumstances. You may have wealth, but it will be of no use to you if the stock-market collapses. That white bear is cleverer than you. It hoards its food within itself, and because - lying under its heavy blanket of snow - it is inconvenient for the bear to chew and swallow and digest and form new flesh and tissues, it stores its food as fat that can be peacefully absorbed.
The whole world accumulates. Don't think that it is only you who does so. It is a natural process.
When a mother breast feeds her child, the pride she feels is unfounded. No sooner is the child born than the mother's breasts become full of milk, her body begins to make milk. If the child refused to take milk, the mother would be in difficulty and feel very uneasy. It is a blessing that the child drinks the milk. The mother does not intentionally prepare milk. The birth of the child is a spontaneous process, and as a part of this process, milk is produced in the mother. As the infant grows older, the flow of milk begins to diminish, and when its need is over, the milk disappears.
All this happening is natural. The desire to accumulate is natural. That is why this sutra of the Ishavasya says, "Prakriti" - the Ishavasya calls it God: everything is of God. Nature, destiny, prakriti, are all mechanical words; and he is so huge, so full of mystery, so full of life and consciousness, that he cannot be mechanical.
Science also maintains that nature does everything, but when we speak of God in the language of science, we become pitiable; we become worthless and mechanical. When the Ishavasya says, "God does everything," on the one hand our ego is ripped down, and on the other we become God.
This is important; it is worth understanding. As science progresses, it emphasizes that man should give up the illusion that I am doing. Everything is happening. But the emphasis of science is on everything happening mechanically. Everything is happening as in a machine. The whole world behaves mechanically. And when everything is happening mechanically, man's position is pitiable.
His ego is certainly smashed, but nothing is revealed that gives him any meaning or validity.
True, man's pride, his ego, is a very insignificant and petty phenomenon, like a flame burning from the oil in a small earthen lamp. It is extinguished by science, and there is deep darkness all around; but there is no rising sun to take its place. That is why the proclamation of the Ishavasya is more valuable than that of science. On the one hand it extinguishes your dimly burning light and snatches away your petty ego, saying, "Be extinguished! You are not, and your fear is unnecessary!" and on the other hand it gives birth to a super-sun. In one moment, from one side it says, "You are not," and immediately, from the other side, it establishes you in the position of God. From one side it snatches you away and wipes you out completely, and from the other side it bestows upon you the whole. It extinguishes the earthen lamp of ego, the dimly shining flame of smelly, smoky kerosene oil, but it gives you instead the bright, shining light of the sun. It wipes out I, the ego, but establishes us in the highest I - God!
This is the difference between the dimension of religion and of science. Science affirms those same facts which religion affirms, but the emphasis of science is on the machine. Religion, discussing the same things, puts its emphasis on consciousness, on wisdom, on the living; and this emphasis is important. If Western science succeeds, man will finally become a machine; and if the religion in the East succeeds, man will finally become God. Both demolish ego, but science degrades man in the process.
Some hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago, science began to declare for the first time that man is a helpless animal. When Darwin said to mankind, "Forget that you were created by God; you have evolved from animals, from beasts," then man's ego was smashed for the first time - with a bang! Man had believed that he was God's son, God's creation, though he had no proof of it.
Then suddenly it turned out that the father was not God, but a chimpanzee! It must have been an immense shock. What a fall! One moment there was God, sitting on the highest throne, and we his sons, and the next moment we were proved the descendants of monkeys. This was very painful for man; it affected him greatly. So science declared for the first time that man should forget all about being a human being and consider himself as an animal, a beast. All man's efforts to nourish his ego were shattered.
But a journey once started, whatever the direction, does not end before it is completed; it searches for its end. It was difficult to stop at the level of the animal. First science declared that man is a kind of beast; then, after further investigations into the nature of animals, science found that animals are machines.
Watch a tortoise moving. You will see that when the heat increases, the tortoise moves into the shade. You will say it moved there because it felt too hot. Science rejects this. Science manufactured mechanical tortoises. They were kept in the sun, and there they stayed as long as the heat was not very great; but as the heat increased, they began to move. They moved into a bushy, shaded place.
These tortoises were only mechanical things - what had happened to them? Science calls it the condition of homeostasis - the means by which notice is given of any significant change in the temperature. There is no consciousness at all involved. You see a moth flying towards the flame of a lamp. The poet describes it as a mad, blind lover of the flame, sacrificing its life to its love.
The scientist will not accept this; for him there is nothing like madness in this happening. It is all mechanical. No sooner does the moth see the flame than its wings begin to incline towards the flame. They produced mechanical moths, and let them loose in darkness. Then they put on the light, and immediately the moths rushed towards it.
So science established that animals are machines; and its final conclusion was amazing. First scientists had established that man is descended from animals; then they established that animals are like machines: their final judgment is that man is a machine. Naturally, there is some truth in this argument. It is good that they smash man's ego, but having done so, they reduce man to the status of a machine - man degenerates into the mechanical. For man to think this way is dangerous, and has proved harmful. People like Stalin and Hitler could put millions to death because they looked upon man as a machine and so their hearts were unmoved by the slaughter.
Now consider this interesting situation. Krishna said in the Gita that man's soul is immortal, it does not die, so killing your enemies makes no difference. Stalin also could say that since man is a machine, without a soul, there is no harm in killing him. When Krishna said to Arjuna that the soul is immortal and will not die howsoever you try, the effect on Arjuna was that he became reconciled to killing his foes. But the results of these two actions are quite different. When the immortality of the soul is accepted, the question of death becomes meaningless. Stalin is pleased to put millions to death; but for him there is no such thing as soul at all, no wrong is done because man is only a machine.
There can be no objection to destroying a machine. If you strike a machine with a stick, even a nonviolent person cannot accuse you of committing violence. Outwardly, the results appear similar, but they are not, because the true significance of the results is very different and changes the entire meaning in each case. Science contends that nature does everything. Science not only smashes man's ego, but degrades man; when religion smashes man's ego it raises him to a higher level and sends him on an upward journey.
This sutra says your ego will disappear if you cease to call anything yours. Consider it all to be existence's. Don't entertain a desire for anybody's wealth. After all, why? When nothing can be mine, then neither can anything be yours. Be aware, because this sutra, "Don't covet; don't desire another's riches," has been greatly misinterpreted: so incorrectly has it been interpreted that one may become deeply puzzled.
Most of the commentators have explained it thus: "It is a sin to desire another's wealth, so don't entertain such a desire." But they appear to be stupid, because the first part of the sutra says that wealth belongs to nobody; it is existence's. The first part of the sutra says, "When it is not mine, how can it be yours?"
No. No, its true meaning is this - that you should not wish for another's wealth because the wealth which is not mine is also not yours. The scope for desire exists only when, since it can be yours, it can be mine also; otherwise the desire has no grounds on which to stand. The experts in the science of ethics have explained it as meaning that even to think of another's wealth is sinful; but since it cannot be mine, how can it be another's?
No expert of ethics can get at the real meaning of this sutra. It is subtle and deep. The moralist is anxious to see that no one steals another's property; no one should consider as his own what belongs to another. But his emphasis on another's property is just the converse side of his emphasis on what is his own. Remember, the person who says, "This is yours," is not free from the notion, "This is mine," because these two are different sides of the same coin. As long as the feeling persists, "The building is mine," its counterpart, "The building is yours," will continue: and when the feeling of 'my' building disappears, how can the corresponding feeling of 'your' building remain? Not to wish for another's wealth or property does not mean that the property belongs to another person, so to desire it is a sin; its real meaning is that property and wealth belong to none - wealth is existence's alone: it is because of this that desiring is a sin. Consider nothing as mine or yours, don't regard yourself as an owner, and don't try to steal from another - for that is to regard something as his.
We can neither steal nor keep anything. It is all existence's, and what is existence's we can neither obtain nor hoard.
How hilarious this idea of ownership is! I put a board on a piece of land claiming it as mine. That piece of land was already there before I was even born. Looking at my action, that piece of land must be laughing heartily, because many before me have also put up such boards claiming it as 'mine' - and a piece of land buried them all. They were buried where you are now sitting! There are at least ten graves under the spot where each of us is sitting. There is hardly an inch of ground on this earth which might not contain the graves of ten people. So many people have been born and have died in the world that there might be at least ten people buried under each inch of ground. That piece of land knows full well that other claimants also erected such boards on it. But nothing stops man; as he is, he will still go on putting up his boards, and he does not want to see that he is adding his name to an old board, painted and polished over. He does not want to see that someone else will have to take the same trouble tomorrow. In fact, all this ado is about nothing. That piece of land must be laughing!
So don't wish for another's property, because it belongs to no one. I don't mean simply that it is sinful to seize another's property with a view to making it your own. It is a sin in the first place to consider it either his or yours. It is a sin to look upon it as anybody's. It is certainly a sin to pretend ownership is anyone's but existence's. If you can comprehend this interpretation, then and only then will you be able to grasp the deep and subtle meaning of the Ishavasya. Otherwise the apparent meaning of these sutras is that each should securely possess his own property and, to protect his own interests, should propagate on all sides that no one should wish for another's property.
This is why Marx and others of his way of thinking were not wrong when they felt that all religions have given protection to the affluent and rich, because interpretations of such sutras have been misleading and incorrect. From these interpretations it seems you should not try to grasp from another that of which he is the possessor. This clearly determines that the owner may get the help of the police to protect his property. So its intention is to maintain law and order, the status quo and the idea of ownership. But this sutra does not intend this; the very first proclamation of the Ishavasya is that everything belongs to existence. Existence alone is the master. Neither I nor you are the master, and our idea of ownership is an illusion. It alone is the master who never came to proclaim, "I am the master." Before whom would it proclaim? To whom would it say, "The land is mine"? To say so it is at least necessary to have the other - and all is existence's!
Remember this when you inscribe your name over a piece of land. You do so for the other, so that he may know that it is yours. You don't put up boards in a jungle. And suppose you were living alone on this earth, I don't think you would be so crazy as to go on erecting boards at various places. If you are the only person living on this earth, the whole land is yours. There remains no purpose at all in bothering to say so.
Existence makes no such announcement because it is the master. Bear this in mind too; it is yet another meaning contained in this sutra of the Ishavasya: those who make announcements cannot be masters. There is no need for the master to announce. The master is the master, though unannounced. Only servants make announcements. If a person makes a forceful claim about anything, it is likely to create an equally strong doubt in the minds of the listeners. When someone declares vehemently that the property is his, then take it for granted that it cannot be his. Why is the claim made so vigorously? We always lay claim to a thing loudly to prove that it is ours when in fact it is not.
Existence makes no announcement. For whom should it do so? Why should it announce? The proclamation would be meaningless. The proclamation, on the contrary, would prove that it is not its. All this belongs to it who has never laid claim to it. To none who have ever claimed it does it belong. Don't wish for the wealth of another, because it belongs to no one - it is all existence's.
Don't consider it yours or another's, consider it as existence's: and be aware that this other, and you too, are all existence's - we are all its. So stealing and extorting is useless, meaningless and irrelevant. There is no skill or art in it. It is as good as labor lost. It is an effort like drawing a line on water.
There is still one more point: Enjoy them through renouncing them. It is said that if you renounce a thing, you can enjoy it. But no, that is not our belief. On the contrary, we believe that we can enjoy only that to which we hold fast. But this sage instructs us to do quite the opposite. He says that they alone can enjoy things who renounce them. The statement is very antithetical to our belief. They alone become real masters who refuse to be masters. Everything falls into the hands of those who have no desire to hold onto things.
A good analogy is the attempt to hold air in your hand. You can comprehend the real meaning of this sutra - renounce to enjoy - if you simply try to hold air in your hand. As soon as you tighten your grip the air escapes. The tighter you clench your fist, the less air you hold, until in the end there is no air left. Loose your grip and air will rush towards your open hand. There is always air in an open hand, but from the closed fist it flees. One who keeps his hand open has it always full of air; it is never empty, every moment the air is fresh. Have you ever observed this? An open hand is never empty, and a closed hand is always empty; and if a little air remains in the closed fist, it is stale and old and decayed. They alone are able to enjoy who renounce.
In this world, in this life, man gets as much as he is willing to give up and let go. This is paradoxical - but all the rules of life are paradoxical. They are not opposites; they are paradoxes. It only appears that they are opposites. The person who wishes for honor and respect in the world is sure to find dishonor and disrespect. A man desires to be rich, but when he begins to accumulate wealth, he becomes as poor and mean within as he appears rich without. He who thinks or dreams of immortality is worried about the fear of death twenty-four hours a day. Death never visits the house of the person who is willing to welcome it: one who is willing to meet death tastes nectar, while one who is afraid of death dies every hour of the day. He dies all the time because he does not know at all what life is. One who says, "I will become the master," will soon become a slave; and one who says, "I am willing to be a slave," will have infinite mastery. But these are contradictory statements so it is very difficult to understand them, and when we try to interpret them we do so in such a way that we are saved from the paradox in them - and hence we miss the point.
Thus people have misinterpreted these sutras. "Enjoy through renunciation" has come to mean that if you give charity, you will be rewarded with heaven. Give a paisa to a beggar sitting on the bank of the Ganges and you will be rewarded a thousandfold. Nothing else in this world is as badly treated as are sutras such as these, and similarly, nobody is as unjustly treated as are the sages - because it is difficult to comprehend them in their true spirit. Instead, we interpret them from our own perspective. We think we understand the sutra: if you give away something in charity, you will go to heaven after death. But pay attention: the sutra says, "He who renounces, receives." It does not say, "He who gives up with a view to getting, will receive." In fact, he who gives up with a view to getting, does not give up, because he is just working out how to get the reward.
The person who gives charity here in this world so that he may get the reward in heaven is not renouncing at all. He is simply tightening his fist for the future. If rightly understood, his action is not only a tightening of his fist in this world, but a tightening of it also for the next world. He is telling others by his action, "This action is not very important here, it is quite ordinary, but it is very important there in the next world." If he is quite sure, if he is a hundred percent certain that he will be rewarded in the next world for his good actions in this world, then he is prepared to make some investment.
He is prepared to risk some of his property if he is assured fully of his reward in the next world.
No, such a person has not grasped the meaning at all. That is not what this sutra is saying. It simply says, "He who renounces, receives." It does not say, "Renounce so that you may get in the future." A person whose eye is on the receiving end of something can never think in terms of giving up. When he apparently gives up, it is not renunciation but investment. He is simply shuffling his financial affairs to get more. If a person invests a million in a factory, can it be called charity? Certainly not.
He is investing with a desire to earn a million and a half. Then he can invest a million and a half. Is that charity? Thus he goes on, investing more and more so that he can have a tighter grip on his property. He wants more and more. The man who practices charity with a view to what he will get in return does not understand the meaning of charity.
This sutra makes a straight, simple statement that he who renounces, enjoys. It does not say, "Give up if you desire to enjoy." It announces that if you can give up, then you can enjoy; but if you are nursing the idea of enjoyment, you can never renounce.
This is a wonderful sutra. It proclaimed in the beginning that everything is of existence: this includes renouncing. What is there left to own and hold on to for one who has realized that everything belongs to existence? Nothing is left to take possession of. Renunciation is complete - and the person who has realized this, who has renounced everything and whose ego has disappeared, is existence itself; and to become existence is to begin to enjoy. He is immersed in supreme enjoyment, absorbed in supreme bliss. He begins to experience that supreme enjoyment from moment to moment. Every minutest particle of his life begins to dance. What remains to be enjoyed by one who has become existence itself? He begins to enjoy all. Everything! The vast sky, the blooming flowers, the rising sun, the stars at night, a smile and laughter - all become his objects of bliss. That supreme enjoyment has now spread itself on all sides for him. He is the master and possessor of nothing now, but in all directions lie the expanses of enjoyment, and from all around he drinks the divine juice.
Religion is enjoyment. When I say this - that religion is enjoyment - many people become restless because their notion of religion is that it is renunciation. Bear in mind, one who thinks religion is renunciation will commit that mistake of investment. Yet the essence of life is renunciation. Life is renunciation. It is sheer stupidity to hold on to anything in life. The great mistake is to grasp tightly; in doing so one loses what one would have got. In claiming that ,"It is mine," man loses what was his already.
Everything falls of its own accord from one who has realized that everything is existence's. Then there remains nothing for him to renounce. Remember, the act of renunciation is impossible for one who says, "It is mine." If a person says, "I am renouncing this," it contains the belief that the thing was his. The truth is that he who says so cannot renounce, because his notions about my and mine still persist. The only man who can renounce is the one who can say, "Nothing is mine; what can I renounce?"
Before renouncing something, a person must have possession of the thing. If I say, "I give you the sky," you will laugh at me and say, "Let it first be decided that the sky you are giving away is yours." Similarly I may say, "The planet Mars I give in charity to you." This is equally nonsensical; it must be mine before I can practice charity with it. This illusion of renunciation happens to one who is entertaining notions of my-ness. No, renunciation does not take place just by the act of giving something up. It takes place only in the realization of the truth that everything belongs to existence.
Then renunciation happens - it is not to be practiced.
Renunciation is the experience, the realization of the fact that all is existence's. Now nothing remains to be renounced. Now even you yourself, who struggled to renounce, are not spared. Now there exists no claim for anything which could conceivably be given up. Total bliss comes to one whose renunciation is of this nature. All the essence, all the beauty, all the nectar of life is now his.
Therefore the sutra says that he who renounces, attains to everything. He who empties himself, who surrenders even his I, becomes the master of infinite riches.
Enough on this sutra. We shall talk more tonight. Please take note of these few instructions about the morning meditation before we begin. The first point is this: Whatever I have been saying is all meditation. Keep your hand open and you will be filled with air. When you experience, when you recognize, that everything belongs to existence, you will be thrilled with the bliss within you.
This meditation will be of forty minutes. Keep your eyes and ears completely closed so that no light nor sound can enter. For the first ten minutes take deep breaths. Exert yourself to the full, so that all the energy of the kundalini may be roused. If your body begins to dance and spin and jump, let it do so. Don't worry about it at all. For the next ten minutes, with great joy within, relax your body completely. Your body will want to jump, dance, laugh, shout, cry, sing. Allow it to do whatever it wants; cooperate with it completely and fully. During the third ten minutes, continue cooperating with your body and at the same time keep asking yourself, "Who am I?" Keep asking, "Who am I?" as though you are chanting a mantra. Do this with pleasure, with joy. Then, during the fourth ten minutes, some of you will want to stand up, some will want to lie down, and others will want to roll around. Do whatsoever you like! Finally, during the last ten minutes, remain in silence, awaiting the entry of existence within. Keep yourself completely relaxed and without any resistance so that it can enter you. You will have to wait for that.
Before we start our experiment, put your hands together, and before existence make a solemn vow.
Close your eyes, put your hands together, think of existence as your witness, and repeat this vow three times: "In the presence of existence, I vow that I shall exert myself to the utmost in meditation."