Truth Is Absurd
THE HIGHEST SPIRITUAL ELEMENT IS MOVING AND IS ALSO NOT MOVING.
IT IS FAR AWAY AND YET IS NEAR.
IT IS CONCEALED IN EVERYTHING AND IS OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING ALSO.
The highest spiritual element, the atman, is not moving and yet it is moving. It is the nearest thing to us and yet it is far off. The highest spiritual element is within us. It is the inner soul, and yet is visible outside. This is one of the greatest sutras ever uttered in the history of mankind. It is very easy and at the same time very deep and profound also. There are no truths more deep and profound than all the simple truths of life. They appear so unambiguous, but they contain the mysteries, and paradoxical words have to be used to unfold them. If a logician were to study them, he would say they are entirely incorrect.
Arthur Koestler, a great thinker of the West, has made much fun of the Eastern way of looking at things. He has condemned it as absurd. What could be a more absurd statement than this - that the highest spiritual element is nearer than the near and farther than the far? Are you in your senses?
Whatever is near must be near; how can it be far away? This highest spiritual element is motionless and is also moving! What nonsense do you talk? There is no sense at all in what you say. It is deep within and pervades the outer too? If it is so, then what difference is there between within and without? If it is within, how can it be without? Or if it is without, how can it be within? If it is far away please say so, don't say it is near. And if you say it is near, then please stop saying it is far away.
This is how Koestler argues. If you are true to your own attitudes you will enjoy Koestler's opinions.
He is a very honest person, and I prefer his honesty to the alternatives, because ways can be found for such a person. Koestler says, "I consider such statements illogical. They come only from lunatics, but a lunatic, if he talks like this, can be pardoned." But Koestler does not know that even science has arrived at this position during the last years, and has begun to make similar statements. Even Einstein talks in such language.
Leave them alone! The sages may well be crazy people. They certainly do not claim that they are not insane, because no one in this world, except the madman, claims that he is not insane. The sages are so intelligent that they are quite prepared to be mad. Those who achieve the highest wisdom are content to be considered foolish.
Yesterday I was telling somebody that to claim wisdom is the only stupidity. Nobody but the stupid have ever claimed to be wise and intelligent. All the wise people born into this world have said, "We are great fools, we know nothing. We know this much: that we know nothing. As we began to know, we also began to realize that we are deeply ignorant."
Even Koestler cannot say that Einstein is crazy. But a difficulty has arisen in the last ten years - a difficulty such as the Upanishads had to face. Such a difficulty arises when some thought, some search, touches the highest mystery. When the sage of the Upanishads arrived at this highest mystery - the ultimate atman - he had to make use of paradoxical language. He said in the same breath that it is far away and it is also near; and he followed the one so quickly and immediately on the other that you cannot think it is far away. He said it is near, and immediately followed it by saying that it is also far away, so that you may not make the mistake of thinking that it is near. What was first said was immediately taken back in the next statement. Now the discoveries of science are approaching very close to that highest spiritual element.
Scientists were greatly puzzled when the electron was discovered. They had no word to describe it.
Man has words for all things, but the scientists were confused as to which word they should use for it. Should they call it an atom or a wave? The atom and the wave are separate and contrary things.
The atom cannot be a wave. The atom means a particle which is stationary. The wave means a thing which is moving. If it stops moving, it ceases to be a wave. Wave means a thing which is floating, which is flowing, is continually becoming, is continually changing its shape - a process.
The wave is a process.
And the electron, what is its status? Two scientists are studying it; one of them says, "It appears to be a wave to me." The other says, "It looks like an atom to me." Both say so at the same time.
Another scientist says, "It looks like an atom at one moment and the very next moment it looks like a wave. It is both at the same time." So there was great difficulty in naming it. There was no word in any language of the world which meant an atom and a wave at the same time - which could mean both simultaneously. So they coined a new word, quantum, for it. Quantum means both the wave and the atom.
Koestler would call Einstein, Planck and others like them madmen. He would consider them crazy.
Somebody asked Einstein, "What do you say to this? How can it be both an atom and a wave?"
He replied, "How can I decide that it is possible or not possible? I can only say, it is so."
The questioner said, "This statement of yours refutes all our laws and principles of logic. All the logical theory propounded by Aristotle is overturned."
Then Einstein replied, "How can I help it? If logic is to be refuted when confronted by a fact then it must be refuted. The fact cannot be discarded. You change your logical reasoning."
The fact is so. Aristotle is incorrect. The electron is simply not prepared to prove Aristotle right. You will have to change your way of reasoning, because the fact is as it is. Let Aristotle be in the wrong.
The electron is not about to become an atom just to oblige Aristotle; nor is it prepared to be simply a wave to prove Aristotle right. It is both. It doesn't worry about Aristotle. His logic says opposite things cannot coexist as one. What he says is right. How can a person be living and dead at the same time? But those who know the deep secret of life say that life and death are the two legs, left and right, of one and the same person. When you are living, you are at the same time also dying.
You do not die on one day; you are dying from the day on which you were born. At one end life is going on, and from the other end death is approaching. And you reach the end in seventy years.
This is interesting to ponder over: can a dead person die? To die, a living person is required. That is to say, it is absolutely necessary, unavoidable, to be living in order to die. This condition cannot be disputed. If one is not living, he cannot die. Now this becomes a totally contrary statement. It is an unavoidable condition to be living in order to die. Then this means that it is an unavoidable condition to be dying in order to live. The person who is not dying this moment, is also not living. Death and life are names of the same process. We are dying and living at the same time. We are being effaced and are becoming, simultaneously.
Aristotle says darkness is darkness and light is light; they cannot be united as one. Ordinarily, this seems correct. There is darkness where there is no light, and there is light where there is no darkness. But science tells us insufficient light is called darkness, and insufficient darkness is called light. The difference is of degree. Similarly, heat and cold are not two separate things.
This sutra of the Upanishad will be very easily understood if you perform this experiment. Warm one of your hands a little by a fire and keep a piece of ice in the other hand for some time. Then dip both the hands in a bucket full of water, and ask yourself whether the water is cold or warm. One hand will tell you it is cold and the other hand will tell you it is warm. Then you will have to say it is cold and warm if you do not want to make a false statement; you will have to give contrary statements.
According to Koestler this would be absurd. But the water is neither cold nor warm. There is simply a difference of degrees between the water and your hands, as you find when they make contact with it.
The Upanishad says the atman is near and far off also. It says so because no matter how far the leaves may spread, they are always near the roots. They are linked with the roots, or else they cannot exist. The juice comes from the roots. If we see rightly, leaves are nothing but the extended hands of the roots. It is extension - the roots extended and turned into leaves. There is no discontinuity anywhere in between. There is no place in between where you can say that here the roots are discontinued and from here the leaves begin to appear. The whole tree is united together.
The leaves are on that extremity and the roots are on this extremity. Nor are the toes of your feet and the hair on your head discontinuous with each other. They are joined, they are one. They are the two ends of the same thing.
See how very close the roots are to the leaves! They give them all their juice, all their life force. How can they be far away? And yet they are far away, very far away, and if the leaves want to know the roots, they will have to take a long journey.
Why do I say the roots are far away? They are far away in the sense that the leaves do not know even that the roots exist. The sun also appears to be near the leaves, although it is very far away, tens of millions of miles. But the leaves might feel the sun to be very near. They begin to dance in the morning when the sun rises. They are aware of the sun's presence every day, but they are always ignorant of the roots which are hidden under them and are a part and parcel of them. In this sense, the sun is very near, while the roots are very far away.
The highest spiritual element - the atman - is very near to us because we cannot exist without it, and it is very far away also because we are utterly unaware of it despite our search for it through innumerable lives. It is said that it is absolutely still, and yet all the movement of life is dependent on it. The axle does not move; the wheel moves, yet the axle also makes the same journey that the wheel makes.
Suppose you start on a journey in a carriage. Its axle will not move an inch; only the wheel will move. But when you stop after driving ten miles, the axle has also made the ten miles' journey, without moving an inch. Koestler will call this statement a foolish one. But the event - the journey - has happened. How can one dispute the fact? If Aristotle is proved wrong, let him be wrong; the fact cannot be wrong. The axle has not moved at all and yet a ten-mile journey was made.
The atman never walked, even for a moment, and never moved; and yet it has made a journey through innumerable births, stopping at innumerable camps and resting places, and traveling so far.
That is why the sage of the Upanishad says it does not move and yet is moving also. He says it is within and at the same time is without. In fact, within and without are temporary distinctions. When you inhale you say breath is going in, but before you complete your sentence it is going out.
Have you ever thought of this? You say, "Breath is going in - it is within." Before you can complete your statement, before you can get time to say so, it is already out; and when you say it is out, you immediately see that it has started to go in again. What is the difference between within and without in this case? It is merely that of direction, there is no other difference.
Is there an iota of difference between the sky which is outside your house and the one which is within your house? There is none at all. You constructed walls and thus encircled a portion of the sky. It is a part of that sky which is spread outside the house. The inner one is the same as the outer one, and yet there is some difference. When the sun is hot, we know the outer sky is different from the inner one. There is comfort inside while there is discomfort outside. The outer and the inner sky are one and the same, and yet they are different, separate. When we sleep under the inner sky at night we feel more at ease, more comfortable than if we sleep out.
Therefore, the Upanishads say, the same one is within as is without. And yet you will have to begin from within if you wish to know it. Only after knowing it within can you say that it is the same without.
Before knowing this, it cannot be said that it is without also, because if you do not know your within, you will have no idea of what is without.
How can those who have not known even the small sky of their own homes, know that huge, limitless sky without? Get acquainted first with this small one and then you will be acquainted with that limitless one without. Those who wish to know it will have to start from within. And those who reach the final stage of knowing, complete their journey without. The first step, self-knowing, takes place within and the final step, knowing the ultimate, takes place without. The journey begins with the atman and ends with the supreme spirit - with Paramatman.
This apparently very absurd, absolutely illogical and irrelevant statement is very profound - a great truth and full of reality. But those who stop at logical reasoning can never arrive at the fact. Only those who are brave enough to give up even reasoning are able to arrive at the fact, because the truth - the fact - does not respect your reasoning. All reasoning is man-made, and the facts never worry about that. Your reasoning may argue in any way it likes, but the facts, unperturbed, will continue to proceed in their own fashion.
Facts go on speaking for themselves, without the least anxiety about your reasoning. That is why reasoning has to be smashed to pieces when there is a dispute between facts and reasoning. That is why, when the wise men of the East arrived at life's truths, they gave up logical reasoning. They declared, "Reasoning cannot be of any use." That is why those who have become very proficient in reasoning find it difficult to know the truth. They stick to their reasoning. They go on saying, "How can water be hot and cold at the same time? Cold is one quality, heat is another and opposite quality!" But they are one and the same. They go on saying, "How can birth and death be one?" But they are!
The seeker of truth has to be daring enough to give up reasoning, even though it is the greatest daring. This sutra is beyond logic and hence it is great. As I told you, it is one of the greatest sutras uttered in the history of mankind. Now let us enter that great truth which is beyond logic. Don't try to reason out how dancing or shouting or weeping or laughing are going to help us. Don't think. Leave logic aside and take a jump!