A Milestone Marked Zero
THAT HIGHEST SPIRITUAL ELEMENT, THE ATMAN, IS UNALTERABLE BY NATURE, AND HAS A QUICKER MOTION THAN THE MIND.
THE SENSE ORGANS CANNOT REACH IT, FOR IT PRECEDES THEM ALL.
IN ITS STILLNESS IT SURPASSES ALL MOVING THINGS.
ONLY IN ITS PRESENCE DOES THE AIR GOVERN ALL THE ACTIVITIES OF ALL LIVING BEINGS.
In its stillness, the atman - the highest spiritual element - is the fastest among the fast. It surpasses the motion of sense organs and the mind because it is prior to both. It is, before either was created.
It is beyond both of them.
It is very necessary and useful for the seeker to understand this sutra. The first thing is that we are ignorant of this highest spiritual element; we don't have any knowledge about it. It is us, and yet we do not know it at all. It is the ultimate depth of our consciousness, from where our being is born and developed.
If you imagine yourself as a tree, understanding is made easy. The leaves on a tree spread out into the sky; behind the leaves branches lie hidden, and at the end of the branches is the top of the tree.
The tree also has roots below, hidden in the interior of the earth. It is not too difficult for a tree to believe that it is leaves only, because the roots are invisible; they are hidden deep in the interior.
So it is possible that the tree may think, "I am a cluster of leaves," forgetting that the roots are there also. But its forgetting them makes no difference. The roots will go on doing their duty in spite of that. Leaves cannot live long without their roots. It is interesting to notice that leaves cannot live without roots, but roots can live without leaves. Even if we cut down the whole tree, the roots will be doing their work and a new tree will sprout and blossom. But if we cut out all the roots, the leaves will simply wither, dry up and die. They cannot give birth to new leaves. The roots that are hidden deep below in darkness are the real life.
If we consider man as a tree, the things we call thoughts are nothing more than the leaves of the tree - and we look upon this sum total of thoughts as 'I am'. Roots lying in the depths are the real things, they are the highest spiritual element. But just as the roots of a tree are concealed deep underground and in darkness, so is our highest spiritual element, the atman, concealed in the primordial depth, in existence. From there we receive the essence of life, from there comes life itself.
From there flow the streams of life-energy, and up into our leaves. If those roots are not there, our leaves cannot be there. So on the day on which those roots shrivel, our leaves wither, our branches dry up, people say of us, "The man died."
As long as those roots keep on drinking and sucking in the juice of life-energy, the highest spiritual element goes on expanding, and we feel we are living. Our thoughts are like our leaves, our desires are like our branches, and our ego is born out of the union of these leaves and branches. This is a very small part of our existence. Our most important part, our basic essence, is hidden underground; it is called atman by the Upanishad, meaning the highest spiritual element. It is that which we can forget, but without which we cannot live. It is that without which we cannot achieve anything. But it is so deep underground, in such a depth of existence, that we can afford to forget it. The highest spiritual element is forgotten; we lose sight of it.
It is interesting to observe that the thing without which we can still exist is not very deep, it is well above the surface, visible, and can be easily caught hold of, so when we try to catch hold of ourselves, it is our profusion of thoughts that we think of as 'I'. We think that the mind is 'I'. But mind - the mental element - is only our mass of leaves. The highest spiritual element is our roots.
And bear in mind, one whose understanding does not reach to the very roots can never know that source from which the roots drink. Roots are the atman, and one who reaches to his roots will soon discover the earth that feeds the roots.
One who has come to know the highest spiritual element will also be able to know the supreme element - Paramatman - God. But we live in leaves and think that mass of leaves is 'I'. So when a small leaf withers away and falls down, we think we are dead, we are gone, we are lost. And when all leaves wither away, we think life itself is extinguished. We do not know what life is. We live in the belief that the outer covering of life is 'I'.
The Upanishad says that one who lives in this outer covering is a killer of the self. He is the knower of the self who goes deep within the covering, down to the very roots, to where existence makes its original springhead; there he discovers the source of life. The knower of this is the knower of the self. Only he who knows this finds the light; he achieves life. He achieves the essence of life.
Three things are mentioned about this highest spiritual element. The first is that it is always still, while all around it a great network of transformation is going on. It is of great importance to know the secret of stillness at the center. Wherever transformation is happening, the center will be inevitably still, just as the axle remains stationary when the wheel of a carriage is moving. The wheel can move because the axle is still. The secret of the moving wheel is in the stillness of the axle. If the axle begins to move, the wheel will not move. Then the carriage will be overturned and destroyed.
The revolving of the wheel depends upon the immobility of the axle.
How many miles has the axle traveled when the wheel has journeyed hundred of miles? The axle remains steady in its place. It is very interesting to see that the moving wheel needs the help of a motionless axle. The wheel of change moves on that which is unchangeable. So the first thing to remember is that everything in life changes; the leaves will be coming and going as long as transformation is there. They will sprout this spring and will fall next autumn. Nothing remains static even for a second. But there is some unknown element deep, deep somewhere within, which runs through the center of all things and carries the transformation around its own stillness.
Have you ever seen summer cyclones moving very fast through the atmosphere? Lifting a cloud of dust with it, the circular cyclone races up towards the sky. You will be very surprised to see the marks left by it in the dust on the ground. How fast it moves! At times it carries away fully grown people. You will marvel if you observe the marks made by it. There is a space the size of a pin, like the axle of a wheel, in the center of the cyclone. This space remains absolutely untouched. Even though the cyclone moves so violently there remains at its center a place which is untouched and undisturbed. An axis is produced there, and the entire cyclone revolves round that steady axis. As a matter of fact, nothing can revolve if there isn't a still center to it.
Life moves very fast; thoughts revolve very rapidly, desires hover about us in quick succession, and passions swirl with great force. Life is a fast-moving wheel. The Upanishads say there is a motionless element in its center. We have to seek it. A cyclone as powerful as life cannot run without the help of that element. This cyclone works around the support of that unmoving element.
That steady element is the atman. It is always still, it is immovable. It has never gone anywhere. It has never changed. Remember that we have not known what life is until we have encountered that unaltered and unalterable element. At present we know only those changes that occur on the outer circumference; we are not yet introduced to that highest spiritual element. Up to now we are familiar only with the spokes of the wheel; we have not yet seen the hub on which everything depends.
What does this phrase 'in its stillness' mean? Whatever interpretation we may give it, there is a total possibility of making a mistake. Most of the commentators of the Upanishad have committed this mistake. The phrase does not mean stagnant; it does not mean that it is like a pond whose water does not flow. When we say the highest spiritual element is still, it does not mean it is stagnant.
It is such a perfect element, it is so complete in all respects that there is no scope in it for any transformation. It is so overflowing, so great, so unconcerned, that there is absolutely no potential for any other change to take place in it.
That thing changes in which there is incompleteness - which is lacking in something. Transformation takes place where there is some scope for further adaptation, where there is some potential, some opportunity, to be something else. A child grows to be a young man, a young man grows to be an old man, because there is some room left for change; so change is continuously taking place. Leaves sprout, flowers bloom, they wither and fall, and new, fresh ones come again. The highest spiritual element is still. This means it is perfect, complete in all respects.
How can you change the perfect? In what part will the transformation of the perfect take place?
There is no further room for transformation. There is no further scope for change. 'In its stillness' means it is fully blossomed. There is now no room for further blossoming. Bear in mind it is not like a stagnant pond, it is like a fully opened lotus. It has blossomed so much that there are no more buds to open. So here steadiness, stillness, means perfection. Where would the petals bloom, even if they wish to bloom? - because the highest spiritual element is perfect to the maximum, to the highest degree possible. It is so perfect that there is now no room for the petals to open more, even if they wish to do so. Here, stillness means that the total potential has become actual. Whatsoever was concealed in the seed is totally manifested - nothing invisible is left behind. So, stillness here does not imply inertia or stagnation; it means total perfection. So think of a fully opened flower and not of a pond, and then you will comprehend its meaning.
The next point which this sutra of the Ishavasya tells us is that the sense organs cannot reach the atman, 'for it precedes them all'. As you are in front of my eyes, I can naturally see you. But I cannot see myself with my eyes because the I is behind the eyes. I see you because you are in front of my eyes. I cannot see myself with my own eyes because I am behind the eyes. If I lose my eyes, if I become blind, then I shall not be able to see you at all; but it will make no difference to my capacity to see myself. If I lose my eyesight, I shall not be able to see with my eyes. But I had never seen myself with my eyes, so in spite of becoming blind I shall still have the capacity to see myself. In this matter, two points are to be properly grasped.
Sense organs become media to see, to know those objects which are in front of them. They do not become the means to see those objects which are behind them. The word 'behind' here also has two connotations. It does not mean only behind - at the back - it also means preceding. When a foetus takes root in the womb for the birth of a child, life comes first and sense organs follow it. It is quite proper because, if life does not precede, who will create the organs? So life precedes. The soul enters the womb first; the whole of the soul enters and then the sense organs begin to evolve one by one as the body begins to evolve. Sense organs develop slowly over seven months in the mother's womb, and they take their complete shape in nine months. But some things do not become complete even then. For example, the sex organs do not develop fully. It takes another fourteen years for their full development, even after emerging from the womb. There are some parts of the brain which develop by and by, and continue to develop throughout life. Even the dying person is still developing, even then. But life comes first, the sense organs follow it, and other features appear later.
The master comes first and the servants are called in afterwards. Who usually calls the servants?
Who employs them? The master can know the servants but the servants, in return, cannot know the master. The soul can know the sense organs, but the sense organs, on their part, cannot know the soul, because it existed prior to them, before they came into being, and in depths to which sense organs have no access. They are on the surface. They too are coverings of life. So no one can know the soul with the help of sense organs, no matter how fast they run.
The mind is also a sense organ. How fast it runs! So, there is a contradictory statement in this sutra; even the mind which runs so fast is unable to reach the soul which is still. Such a fast-running mind fails to reach it. It is a very remarkable race. The competition is very puzzling: this racing mind cannot reach this unmoving soul! But this is what usually happens in life. The motionless things can only be had by remaining still, not by running after them.
You are walking along a road... there are flowers blooming by the side of road. They are still, rooted to one spot. The slower you walk, the more you will see of them, and if you stand still you will be able to see all there is to see of them. If you are in a car driving past them at ninety miles an hour, you will not catch even a glimpse of them, and if you are flying in an airplane over them you will know nothing about them. Just suppose, if a still faster vehicle is invented in the future, then you will never know whether flowers were there or not. An airplane flying at a speed of ten thousand miles an hour will miss the flowers growing on the side of the road. Although they are standing still, you will miss them because of your great speed.
The mind runs at a tremendous speed. Up to now we don't have airplanes or vehicles which can match the speed of the mind. Preserve us from such a vehicle, or from one which runs faster than the mind, so that our mind is left far behind as we race along! There would be great uneasiness, and great difficulty; man would find himself in great trouble. No, it will certainly not happen that an airplane can fly faster than our mind. By the time the plane had reached the moon our mind would have completed its journey to Mars. And when the airplane reached Mars, the mind by then would have entered another solar system. The mind races ahead of all airplanes, however fast their speed may be.
Yet the mind, with all its tremendous power of speed, can never reach that motionless atman. So what the Upanishads say is quite right. That which is absolutely still cannot be reached by running; it can be reached only by standing still. If the mind becomes totally quiet - absolutely still - then, and only then, will it be able to know that which is still. You also know this - that when the mind is absolutely quiet, it ceases to be. It is only there as long as it is running. Truly speaking, running is the other name of mind. To say the mind is running is a tautology. When we say the mind is running, we commit a slip of the tongue, just as we do when we say that lightning is flashing. In actual fact, that flashing is the lightning. It is not necessary to make two statements: "The lightning is flashing." Have you ever seen lightning which does not flash? Then why bother to say so? It is using words that creates the difficulty. We separate the lightning and the flashing when we express that phenomenon in words. Then we say, "Look, the lightning is flashing!" while the flashing and the lightning are really two names for one phenomenon.
We make the same mistake when we say the mind is running. In fact, that is called the mind which is always running. Running is the mind! Then a still mind has no meaning, just as nonflashing lightning has no meaning. If someone said, "The lightning is not flashing this time," you would say, "Then it is not there at all," because the statement, "The lightning is not flashing," has no meaning. When it flashes, it is there. If the mind is still, it ceases to be. A still mind becomes a no-mind.
Kabir calls this state of no-mind the state of tranquility. When it is still, it ceases to be. Mind is present only while it is running. This is why you will never be able to keep it still. If you become still, you will find that the mind is not. The mind can never know the soul, because the soul can never be known by running, and the mind is another word for running. Therefore the atman is known on that day on which there is no mind. We can know the whole world through the mind; only the highest spiritual element remains unknown. We are able to know that highest spiritual element only when the mind is not.
The mind has its own complete technology of restlessness. Because running without a purpose is not possible, the mind creates causes or purposes for its running. These are called desires. The mind says, "I desire that thing, so I will run after it." How can you run if you have no desire to achieve something in the future, or if there is no goal to reach? Therefore every day the mind decides to fulfill a particular goal in the future. Then the running begins, but by the time the goal is reached, it is found to be useless because it was all merely an excuse for the mind to run. The goal which is reached becomes worthless on fulfillment. Then mind seeks out another excuse, another goal to be achieved. After reaching that goal it will say, "There is no substance in this. Now I should try for that objective...." So it continues running, further and further.
This is why the mind is always in the future. It can never be in the present. One who wants to run will have to live in the future. Mind will always be ahead of you. It will not remain here where you are. To be here, where you are, the running will have to cease. The soul - the atman - is here where you are, and the mind is there where you are not - where you have never been. It is always ahead of you, and wherever the mind reaches it says, "This is useless, worthless. Go on!" It is like a milestone whose arrow always informs you to go on. But among these milestones we at times come across a stone with a zero marked on it, instead of an arrow.
Yesterday while going for a walk I saw a milestone with a zero mark on it. There was no arrow pointing this way or that way, because the zero means the destination. There is nowhere further to go; you have reached your destination. But the mind fabricates an arrow saying, "Go on." The stone with a zero mark is never seen on the mind's journey. And if at any time, any day, you come across such a stone, know that you have come to the place known as meditation. When you happen to see that stone on your journey, know that it is the realization of the atman. The soul is there where the zero is. So those who have known the ultimate have declared that you will not be able to know it through the mind; you will know it by the zero. Remember, what the realized beings call zero is no-mind.
I told you the mind creates excuses to chase things. When it begins to be fed up with all the worldly things, they are left aside. Mind says, "I acquired great wealth, I constructed many buildings, I bought many bodies for my enjoyment but got nothing substantial out of these things." Then it plays its last trick to keep it running: it begins to make arrows pointing to the next world, to heaven, salvation and God. Even then, it does not ask us to cease making arrows and to turn them into zero. No, it now says, "Try to achieve spiritual wealth. Worldly wealth I attained and found it useless, so let it go! Now let me try to achieve religion. I know I can do it. One way or another, I will make it!"
The urge to become persists. If the effort to get something continues, then the mind also will continue. Remember this: he is not a truly religious person who wishes to achieve something.
The religious person is one who has realized the truth that all activity aimed at getting is just mind; he has given up trying to achieve anything. "Now I am not trying to get anything. Now, finally, I am ready for stillness. Now, even if God asks me to go to him, to take only two steps towards him, I shall remain still. Now I am standing on the stone marked zero. I have no journey to make now." Be aware, the one who stands still, in his stillness finds God. The man who runs after God never attains to him because the running is of the mind, and that highest spiritual element can never be obtained by the mind.
When you are fed up with the search after worldly objects by the mind, you will fabricate new excuses for the mind - the atman, God, enlightenment. Buddha goes as far as denying the existence of the atman, because otherwise you will put all your effort into trying to find it. The mind is so clever, it will say, "Okay, if there is nothing else, at least there is atman, so I will pursue that! I will devote my energy to attaining that!" If it does not run towards the home, it will run towards the temple. Run it must - if not towards a material object then towards God; in any case, mind must run.
But only those who stand still find it. This is the declaration of this sutra. It is behind the sense organs and beyond the mind. Neither can help you attain to the atman. Then what should we do?
Since it is behind the sense organs, drop any notions that they can help you. Since it is beyond the reach of the mind, stop depending on your speed of mind.
I am telling you to put no faith in either the mind or the sense organs. When I ask you to close your eyes, it is, in fact, asking you to break your habit of depending upon a particular sense organ. I am telling you, you have seen more than enough with your eyes, and yet it was not seen. The eyes were active for many lives, but it could not be seen. Now let us see with eyes closed.
We tried hard to listen to its voice, but it could not be heard. We yearned passionately to hear its music, but our ears failed to catch it. Now, let us plug our ears. We thought and contemplated endlessly, but could never devise a sutra to get us there. We tried hard with the mind, we suffered many cares and anxieties, we did much reasoning and deliberating, and looked into many philosophies, many religions and many scriptures. We produced many books and established many theories and principles, but failed to find any trace of it. Now leave aside all these things. Let us give up thinking. Now let us enter the region of no-thinking. Perhaps here it may be found.
I use the word perhaps for you. It is certainly achieved here. But while it is still unattained, even genuine faith that in the region of no-mind it will surely be found is dangerous. So I use the word perhaps for you: often, keeping such beliefs becomes a hindrance to our progress. They persuade us that it is all right - that now we will get it, that now we have found the way for certain! So theories come to look like achievements. That is why I use the word perhaps, so that you may be induced to enter into the experiment.
It is certainly attainable, but the support of the sense organs has to be given up. The mind, running and racing, has to be discarded. Such is the nature of the highest spiritual element, which is already and always present within us, but which we continue to miss through our own devices and plans for life. It is never lost by us, it is simply forgotten. We simply forget it. But in forgetting it, our whole life becomes worthless, becomes a hell. In forgetting it, no flowers grow in life, only thorns. In forgetting it, life becomes a desert without rivers, with no flow of sweet water. All happiness disappears. Our life becomes a desert where, however much we seek, no stream of water can be found, and only the sands run through our hands. No matter how long we walk, no shade is seen, nowhere a shelter, nowhere a resting place.
Understand this: there is no shelter, there is no oasis in life, without that highest spiritual element, the atman. No ecstasy ever flowed without that highest spiritual element. It is all in all. It is the real essence. But those who are entangled among the leaves are not able to reach down to the roots.
The leaves may owe their sprouting to the roots, but those who remain entangled among the leaves never discover the roots. Give up the leaves. Go deep down within, beyond feelings, beyond sense organs, beyond thoughts. Move within and behind them, slowly, slowly, until you come to the zero point. It is within everybody. Spinning around it, we wander here and there, but without it there could be no wandering. Without that zero within, without that still perfect element at the center, this whole process of transformation, this huge circular network, could not go on. This running of yours like a storm, this whirling like a cyclone, all these depend upon the presence of that zero.
Let me make one last thing clear in this matter. There are two ways of describing that one thing:
as zero and as perfection. The Upanishads prefer the term perfection; they prefer to use the word perfect. When the Upanishads came into existence, when these sutras were first recited, man was only able to understand the meaning as perfect. This word expresses the meaning in positive language. To use the word zero is to express the meaning in a negative language. To understand the term perfect one must have the innocent heart of a child. The old are unable to understand this language, and man is moving further every day from the state of childhood.
Men, like children, understood the language of the perfect in the days when this sutra was composed. You will understand this situation if you have studied children, if you have followed their ways and behavior. Walking along the road a child asks all sorts of questions; all children do this. At times the questions are puzzling, but you give them simple easy answers to their questions, and they are pleased and become quiet.
Those questions are so difficult at times that older people have no answers to them. When a new baby is born in the house, the small child asks, "Where has the new baby come from?" The question is difficult. Now, the adults don't have the correct answer to the question; nor do those who know - the biologists - have the right answer. They say, "We are still investigating. We do not yet know definitely from where a new child comes. We can tell you as much as we have been able to find out, but life comes from far beyond that; we do not know anything definitely."
So even the researchers who have devoted their lives to the matter do not know. And those who give birth to children do not know anything at all about it, because it is not necessary to know anything about it in order to give birth to children. But the fallacious idea is created that the father of seven children ought to know where a child comes from, and since he also lives in this fallacy he will make a reply, he will find an answer. But observe minutely the reaction of the child. He asked such a difficult question - where do children come from? - that even science has not yet discovered the right answer; and as far as I see, science never will have it. But you at once reply that you have seen a stork bringing the child. The child believes you, and runs off to play. For him the matter is over.
He believed in you. His is a positive mind, unprotesting, undoubting up to now. He would not ask in protest, "How can a stork bring it? Where will it bring it from?" He is not raising any doubts now.
Later on he will do so. A day will come when that answer, "The stork brings it," will not do. Then he will ask many questions and express many doubts. Then you will know that the negative mind has come into existence.
There was an age when the whole world, the whole of mankind, was as innocent as children; people believed in what they were told. So the older the scriptures, the greater will be your surprise and perplexity. You will be confused by the lack of logic, and by the absence of clever arguments. There are only direct statements. Somebody approaches a sage and tells him, "I am very uneasy and worried. What should I do to attain peace of mind?" The sage says, "Repeat the name of Rama."
The questioner is satisfied and says, "All right, I will do it," and goes away. He does not even question what will happen or ask how he can be helped by repeating the name of Rama. He does not ask any questions. Bear in mind, nothing will happen by repeating Rama's name, but the condition of the man's mind is such that even if the sage had asked him to repeat "Stone, stone!" he would have been benefited.
Nothing happens by repeating either the word Rama or the word stone. But it is the positive condition of the mind, the innocent mood of acceptance, knowing no denial or disobedience, giving birth to no doubts, that makes it fruitful. That is why they used to say, "Go and repeat the name of Rama and everything will be all right." The man goes home, repeats Rama's name, and everything is all right. Remember, nothing happens by repeating Rama's name. It happens because of the positive attitude of the mind. If that sage had said, "Take this amulet," or if he had given him some water and had him drink it, the man would certainly have drunk the charmed water and it would have been fruitful. Anything would be effective. It makes no difference whether the remedy is this or that.
The important thing is the positive mind behind the whole affair. If that is there, the result is a sure success.
But now that positive attitude of the mind has disappeared. It had completely disappeared even by the times of Mahavira and Buddha. So both Mahavira and Buddha had to make use of negative language. Mahavira used it a little and declared, "There is no God!" - not because there was no God, but because now there was no man who would dance with joy on being told that there is a God. Such a man would not have asked, "Where is he?" He would simply have danced his way into ecstasy. He would have said, "If God is, I shall come to him, and the doors of heaven will be opened for me." And remember, there is no door which will not open for such a trusting and innocent mind.
No such people sat with Mahavira. When he told somebody, "God is," that person at once confronted Mahavira with numerous questions on the subject. Then Mahavira said, "There is no God." In fact, his first answer is true, but when someone starts to raise doubts the whole situation becomes absurd and worthless. There is no meaning in the answer if doubts are raised by it. That was the answer of the ancient sages. But people in Mahavira's times began to ask, "Who is God? Where is he?
How many heads has he? How many hands has he? How was he born? Where did he come from?
Where can we see him?" So Mahavira said, "He is not there at all."
The old answer was no longer any use. The answer from which questions begin to crop up is of no value. The purpose of an answer is to have the question concentrated in it. That is an answer which includes the question, so that the question drops. "God is!" was the greatest answer, but Mahavira was obliged to give it up. And Buddha had to go a step further.
Mahavira accepted the existence of the soul, the atman, for his mission. This distinction in the viewpoints of Mahavira and Buddha arose so quickly. There was not a great difference between the ages of Mahavira and Buddha, only thirty years in fact. Yet Buddha was obliged to say, "There is no such thing as soul." Mahavira had said, "There is no God, the soul is." Buddha had to say, "There is not even soul," because in Buddha's times people began to ask, "What does the atman mean?"
There was no answer to it. Buddha said, "It is zero; it is nothing." Remember, questions cannot be raised with regard to zero, because it means that which is not. What questions can be raised about it? Questions cannot be raised regarding the zero. And if you raise any questions at all, it means you have not understood. The meaning of zero is that which is not. Now, what more questions can you ask about it? We ourselves say, "It is not." Buddha said, "Zero. Nothing!" and instructed people to become united with it. The whole language is changed. But I tell you that the zero and the perfect are one and the same thing. The word perfect is the answer of a positive mind, and the word zero is that of a negative mind.
It is interesting to observe that we, in this world, have no experience of the perfect, other than that of zero. That is why the circle is made and accepted by us as a symbol of zero. It is the most perfect figure drawn by man. No other figure is perfect. It is also interesting to know that, among all the countries of the world, the figure of zero was first invented in India; and it was not invented for mathematical reasons but for Vedantic ones, for purposes of understanding.
The numbers one to nine were also formulated in India, but it is very interesting that all these numbers from one to nine are imperfect. Something can be added to them. To the number one, another one can be added, and that to which something can be added is not perfect, because its value increases by the addition. Something can be taken, deducted from it also, and that from which something can be deducted, thus lessening it, is not perfect. You can neither add anything to zero nor deduct anything from it. It is perfect. You cannot deduct anything from zero - how can you deduct from nothing? - nor can you add anything to zero. How can you?
Zero is the symbol, the image, of the perfect. It is a geometrical image of the perfect. We carry this zero, this image of the perfect, within us. If you can come to understand God through the perfect, that is fine. And if you can't understand through the perfect, then arrive through zero. It will make no difference to the final result.
Through our changing mental attitudes two paths have come into being, leading to the same destination. If your mind is positive and you feel you will not realize it through the zero, you should take the path of dancing, singing and being in ecstasy. And if you feel your mind is negative and doubting, then remain in silence, be quiet, be in zero, and get lost in zero. If you think your mind has a negative approach, then become united with zero. The final result will be the same.
That dancing, that ecstasy, will come through zero also, but it will come by being zero, and zero will come through dancing, by your becoming one with the dancing. One whose mental condition is for the perfect will dance, sing and chant prayers in the beginning and so disappear into the zero. When the dancing becomes fast and wild, then only his dancing remains, and when it becomes as frenzied as a cyclone, he begins to experience the zero within. He will feel someone is standing behind. The body will continue dancing and the zero, the atman, will stand, will be awakened within. The still point will begin to appear along with the revolving wheel.
Bear in mind that if the wheel is motionless, it will be difficult to know the still point because both will be still. It will be difficult to distinguish which is the axle and which is the wheel if the wheel is motionless. If the wheel is in motion, it will be easy to know the axle because it will not move when the wheel is moving. Immersed in ecstasy by becoming one with the perfect, some Chaitanya or some Meera is dancing. As the dancing goes on, the wheel spins faster and faster, and the centerpoint appears as separate in its stillness.
If you begin with the zero you begin to feel the void within. When everything within becomes void, the wheel outside begins to be seen revolving; thoughts are coming and going, samsara, the world, is going on.
The journey to the ultimate can begin from the axle or from the wheel. Both will bring us to the end of the journey. The highest spiritual element can be known either by becoming the perfect or by becoming the zero; but the sense organs cannot take us either to the perfect or to the zero - likewise neither can the mind take us.