At The Door Of Samadhi
NOW LET MY SPIRIT MEET THE ABSOLUTE PERVADING ALL THROUGHOUT THE VITAL AIR, AND LET MY BODY BE REDUCED TO ASHES.
O MY MIND FULL OF EGO AND DESIRES, NOW REMEMBER YOUR PAST ACTIONS, REMEMBER YOUR PAST DEEDS.
Let life merge into that from which it was born. Let the shape lose itself in that formlessness from which it was created. Let them be one in that pure consciousness of being. Let the body be mixed with dust, let it be merged into earth. In such a moment - and there are two such moments - the sage addresses his egoistic mind full of desires: "O my mind full of ego and desires, remind yourself of your past actions."
There are two moments when this prayer may be truly offered. One is the moment of death and the other is that of samadhi, deep meditation. The one is when a person is on the threshold of death, and the other is when he is at the greater death - samadhi - ready to merge himself like a drop into the ocean. Most of the people who have explained this sutra have interpreted it with reference to the first moment - that of physical death. They have assumed that the sage is saying this at the moment of death, when his whole existence is going to be merged into that from where he came. But as I see it, this remembrance is not made at all at the moment of death, but at the moment of samadhi.
It is not appropriate to the moment of death, because there is no precognition of death. You never know at what moment death will come. You know about it when it comes, but by that time you are already dead. As long as death has not come one does not know about it; and when it comes, the person who should know has already passed away.
When Socrates was about to die, his friends asked him the reason why he did not appear afraid, miserable or worried. Then Socrates said, "I think this way: as long as death has not come, I am alive; when I am alive, why should I worry about death? And who will be left to worry about death when it actually comes and I am no more? I shall be completely lost in death, nothing will be left behind, and if nothing of me remains beyond death, then there is no reason to be afraid of anything.
On the other hand, if, as some people say, I shall not die even after death, then there is no reason at all to worry about death."
As I said, this sutra is meaningful in two moments, either at the moment of death or at the moment of samadhi. But we have no idea at all of the moment of death - it is unpredictable, it cannot be foretold.
It comes all of a sudden, at any moment. It may happen any moment, there is no foreknowledge of that moment, and this prayer can be made only when there is foreknowledge; that is, when the sage knows, "I am about to die, I am at the door of death."
No, this is not a prayer made at the moment of death. It is made at the time of the great death - samadhi means great death. I consider mortal death an ordinary death because then only the body dies; the mind does not die. I consider meditation, samadhi, the great death because there is no idea, no remembering of the body at all in that condition; the mind dies too. Hence I say that this prayer is made at the time of samadhi, because the sage is asking his egoistic and desiring mind to remember its past actions.
The second part of this sutra has been much misunderstood. The fact is that such things as these are usually interpreted for us by pundits - by our self-professed wise men. However intelligent their interpretations and explanations may be, they commit a fundamental error. They understand the words and principles of the scriptures correctly, but they do not understand at all that which is hidden unsaid behind the words and principles. The hidden essence is never contained in the actual words of religions. It is to be understood from the gaps between the words. The meaning is not in the lines but in the spaces between the lines. So those who are unable to understand the spaces, those who read only the printed words, cannot correctly interpret these great sutras.
There is a movement called Krishna Consciousness in the West. I was just looking at a book on the Ishavasya Upanishad by Swami Bhakti Vedant Prabhupad - the leader of this movement. I was very much surprised to read his interpretation of this sutra. The way he explains it is: "I am on the point of dying, I am standing at the door of death. Therefore, O God, please accept the sacrifices and renunciation I have made for you: remember the actions I have performed for you."
Not only is he unable to read the spaces between the words, he seems unable to read even the words themselves, finding other words instead. The sage is addressing his egoistic and desiring mind - there is no question here at all of bringing God in. Nor does the sage say, "Remember the actions which I performed for you, remember the sacrifices I made for you." But our business mind loves to interpret it in this way. It will say at the moment of death, "O God, remember, I have given a lot of money to charities, I have built a temple for you, I have built a dam for the village, and so on.
O God, my time is over, now give me a fitting reward for all the actions and sacrifices I have made for your sake."
"My egoistic and desiring mind...." Will is the channel of our desires, of the longings of the mind. It is necessary to understand what will is so that the discussion may be easily followed. Desires arise in the minds of all of us, but desire does not become will till the ego is linked with it.
Egoistic desire becomes will. All people have desires, but these desires remain mere dreams as long as they are not linked with ego, as long as they do not become actions. To be translated into actions, a desire has to be linked with ego. Then it becomes will. Vanity - ego - is born to perform, to be. A desire to be the doer arises. You become the doer as soon as ego is united with desire.
The sage says, "O my mind full of ego and desires, remember the actions done by you." Why does he say this, and not just once but twice? Why? What need is there to remember this at the moment of samadhi or at the moment of death? The sage is just making a joke. He is just laughing at himself. At the gate of samadhi everything is passing away: the mind is evaporating, the body is passing away, the spirit is disappearing - everything is being absorbed. "O my mind, what happened to all that you were thinking about? I did this - I did that. Where are all those ideas that you were absorbed in, all those lines you were drawing on water? Gone!"
Remember, all that you have done is passing away - even you are passing away. Have a look back into the past, and remember with what pride and vanity you thought, "I have done this!" With what dreams you planned to do that! Remember all the footprints of your countless births and travels. No trace of them is seen today, and today you are also going to be nothing; no trace of you will remain.
Today all the elements will be absorbed in themselves. Today your entire journey will be over.
So have a retrospective look, just once, and understand how great an illusion you have been living in, what dreams you have been dreaming in your madness, what hardships you have undergone for them, and how, lost in anxiety, you have lived for the sake of these dreams. And when any of your dreams were not fulfilled, think of the anguish and frustration you passed through. And remember how overjoyed you became when a dream of yours was fulfilled. Today all dreams and all achievements have disappeared, and you too are about to pass away. Looking backwards, remember all these things once more.
In great jest and joking the sage thus addresses his own egoistic will, his vain mind. That is why, I tell you, this is not said at the time of death but at the time of samadhi, because only the body perishes at the time of death; the egoistic mind does not. You travel with your mind even after death.
That mind is the current of your countless births. The body falls here, the mind travels on with you.
Desires accompany you. Ego travels with you. The memory of past actions goes with you. The desire to accomplish those things you could not do goes with you. Your entire mind goes with you.
Only the physical body dies. Mind leaves the body and catches hold of a new body - this mind that has already caught hold of countless bodies in the past and will go on doing so.
This is why those who know do not consider death to be real death - because nothing perishes in it, we merely change our clothes. Understand this well: the body is no more than clothes, no more than an outer covering. Ordinarily we think that the body is born first and then the mind is born in it. This is wrong. During the last two hundred years Western thinking and belief has spread the illusion that the body is created first, and that the mind is then born in it, as a by-product, an epiphenomenon, as simply one quality, one attribute of the body. It is similar to what the ancient Charvakas used to say - that if you separate the ingredients that are blended to make wine, and eat or drink them separately, there will be no intoxication. The intoxicant is a by-product of the contents being mixed together. It does not come from somewhere of its own accord, it has no separate existence. It is produced by mixing a number of things together. If the ingredients are separated it disappears. So the ancient Charvakas used to argue that the body is composed of five elements and mind is produced by the union of these five elements. Mind is a by-product.
Western science is at present also in a state of ignorance in this matter, believing that the mind comes after the body, as a shadow. But in the East, those who have searched deeply into this subject maintain that the mind is first and the body comes like a shadow after it. Let us understand it in this way: what comes first in your life, the action or the desire? First comes the desire in the mind, and then it is turned into action - the action follows. But if anyone sees it from outside, he will see the action first and will have to guess about the desire behind the action. Suppose anger arose within me and I slapped you: first came anger, first came the mind, then the hand was raised and the body performed the action. But you will see my hand and the act of slapping first. Even so, you will no doubt reason that I must first have become angry. The bodily action is seen first, and as a result you start guessing what is going on in my mind. But still those workings of my mind came first, and the action of the body follows.
When a child is born we also see the body first, but those who know deeply say it is the mind that comes first. That very mind causes the body to be conceived and born. That mind creates the outline, the form of this body. It is a sort of blueprint, it is an in-built program. When a person dies, his mind goes on its journey with a blueprint, and that blueprint maps itself into a new womb. And you will be surprised to know this: we commonly believe that a body is produced when a man and a woman make love, and then a soul enters the body, but on looking deeply into this phenomenon it becomes evident that when a soul desires to enter a womb, then both the man and the woman become eager for sexual activity. Again, it is the body that is seen first, and we have to guess about the mind. However, those who have looked deeply into this matter say that when a soul desirous of entering a womb begins to wander around you, then there arises a longing for sexual enjoyment.
The mind is busy getting a body ready for itself. You might not have thought of this happening.
When you lie down to sleep at night - when sleep begins to descend upon you and has almost caught you - bring your consciousness to the last thought in your mind, then go to sleep; and when you wake up in the morning and are ready to leave your bed, look back and find your first thought on waking. You will be very surprised by the result. The last thought of the night becomes the first one in the morning. In the same way, the last desire at the time of death becomes the first desire at the time of birth.
In death, the body disintegrates but the mind continues its journey. The age of your body may be fifty years but that of your mind can be five million. The sum total of all the minds born in all your births is there in you even today. Buddha has given a very significant name to this happening. He was the first to do so. He named it the storehouse of consciousness. Like a storehouse, your mind has stored all the memories of all your past births - so your mind is very old. And it is not that your mind is the storehouse of only human births: if you were born as animals or as trees, as is surely the case, the memories of all those births are also present within you.
People who have conducted profound inquiries into the process of the storehouse of consciousness say that if all of a sudden the feeling of love swells in the mind of any man on seeing a rose, the reason is that there is a memory deep within him of himself being a rose in the past, which is rekindled on feeling its resonance in a rose. It is not accidental if a person loves dogs very much.
There are memories in his storehouse of consciousness which make him aware of his great kinship with dogs. Whatever happens in our lives is not accidental. A subtle process of cause and effect is working behind these happenings. Though the body perishes in death, the mind continues its journey and goes on collecting memories. This is why sometimes you see forms in your mind of which you would say, "They are not mine." Sometimes you do certain things that cause you to feel strange and say, "This has been done in spite of me." Suppose a person quarrels with somebody and bites him. Afterwards he thinks, "How strange that I could bite him! Am I a wild animal?" He is not today, but once he was; and a moment may come when his hidden memory becomes so active that he behaves exactly like an animal. All of us behave like animals on many occasions. That behavior does not descend from the sky, it comes from the store within our mind.
Our death is the death of our body only. Our mind full of ego and desires does not die then, so there would have been no opportunity for the sage to joke in this way if he were simply facing physical death. This sutra is said at the time of samadhi. There is one distinguishing feature of samadhi:
its arrival can be announced beforehand. Death surprises, samadhi is invited. Death happens, samadhi is planned. Progressing step by step in meditation, man reaches to the state of samadhi.
Understand the great significance of the word samadhi. At times the word samadhi is also used to mean a grave. The grave of a sage is called a samadhi. It is rightly called so. Samadhi is a kind of death, but a profound and remarkable one. The body remains here after death, but the mind within is destroyed. At this moment of the mind's destruction the sage says, "O my mind full of ego and desires, remember the actions done by you in the past." He is saying this because the mind has deceived him in the past again and again; but today this very mind is being destroyed.
"Depending and relying on my mind I lived my life. Through victory and defeat, happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, hopes and disappointments, I believed it would be always with me; but now I see it was deceiving me. Leaning on it for support I made such a long journey, but today I find that my support is perishing - disintegrating forever. I thought it to be a sturdy boat, but today I find that it is itself water merging into the river."
In this moment the sage is addressing his mind: "O my egoistic mind, remember the actions done by you, and actions desired and intended by you. Remember the promises you made, consolations you offered. Remember how much I confided in you. Remember what you induced me to do. Remember the illusions you created in me. Remember the dreams you gave me. Remember the follies you led me into. Now you yourself are going away, and I am entering a region where you will not be. Till now you have always persuaded me that where ego is not, where will is not, there is no being. But I see today that you are going away, yet my being remains."
The mind always says, "If there is no will you will perish. You will be unable to stand up against the conflicts of life. If there is no ego in you, you will perish; you will not survive!" The mind always instigates action, determination and fight. "If you don't fight you will be wiped out." Surely, it is only natural for the sage on this day to make fun of his mind, to say to the mind, "You yourself are perishing today while I am intact. You are departing, I am not. Until now you have deceived me, telling me that I shall not be saved if you are not. But today you are leaving and I am not."
The sage makes use of this moment to joke and jest for two reasons: one is for his own mind, and the other is for the minds of those who have not yet reached the door of samadhi and are busily occupied in a thousand and one activities, whose minds are inducing them to do this and to do that, whose minds still tell them, "Your life is wasted if you fail to accomplish this, if you fail to build this palace," whose minds tell them, "You are worth nothing if you fail to accomplish this mission, this adventure."
To such people the sage is addressing his joke. He warns them to think again, because the mind is the greatest deceiver. All our deceptions are created by the mind. Each and every one of us lives in a dream world, and the mind is so clever that it does not allow us to see deep enough to reveal its deceptions. The mind is ready with a new deception before we are able to see through the previous one. Before the previous one is destroyed, mind fabricates another structure of deception and entices us, saying, "Come in here, take rest here."
If a desire were fulfilled and the mind were to allow you a single moment's interval, you would be able to see that nothing was really achieved through the fulfillment of your first desire, for which you endured so much trouble and anxiety. What did you really get? Less than rubbish! But the mind does not allow even that much interval, that much chance. The mind begins to plant the seeds of your next desire before the last one is fulfilled. When a desire is fulfilled, it is found to be useless and the interest is lost, but the mind immediately raises the germ of a new desire. The race begins again: the mind never gives you an opportunity to rest, to stop so that you can see what deception you are in. When the ground disappears from under your feet, the mind does not allow you to see the hole in its place, but offers you instead a new piece of ground on which to stand.
I will tell you a short but interesting story which Buddha used to narrate. You may have heard it, but you may not have interpreted it in this way.
A man was running through a forest. Now, a man runs for one of two reasons: either something in front attracts him, or else something from behind is pushing him. This man was running for both reasons. He was running in search of diamonds, because somebody had told him there was a diamond mine in the forest. But he was running very fast at this moment because a lion was after him. He had forgotten diamonds for the moment and was thinking of how to save himself from the lion. He ran without losing heart, but eventually reached a dead end. There was no road ahead, only a deep and dangerous pit, and no way to go back - no way to turn back, either through the forest or along the road. This is how you run, in pursuit of diamonds or to save your life, and there is no going back! All past time is gone forever. You cannot step back even an inch into the past.
This man, pursued by the lion, was also unable to return, and the road ahead was a dead end.
Greatly afraid and seeing no way out, he did what a desperate person would do. Catching hold of the roots of a tree, he swung himself over the edge of the pit, thinking to climb out when the lion had gone away. But the lion, standing near the mouth of the pit, began to wait for him. The lion also has his desires! He thought, "The man will have to come up in the end." When the man saw the lion waiting for him, he looked below for a way to save himself, and there, roaring in the pit below, was a mad elephant.
We can imagine how pitiable and miserable his condition was - but not yet pitiable enough. The trials and tribulations of life are without number. No amount of conflict and upset can exhaust life's potential to create more. Suddenly he realized that the root he was clinging to was slowly, slowly giving way. He looked up and saw two rats busy gnawing away at the roots. One was white and the other black. Buddha used to liken them to the days and nights which go on shortening man's life.
We can understand how great a danger his life was in now, with no escape possible. But no, the desires of man are amazing, and his mind's tricks of deception are wonderful. At that moment he saw a honeycomb above the root, from which drops of honey were falling, one by one. He put out his tongue, and a drop fell on it. He closed his eyes in great joy, and said to himself, "How blessed I am, how sweet it is." At that moment there was neither the lion above nor the elephant below, neither the rats cutting the roots nor any fear of death. In that moment he forgot all his fears, and could only feel, "How sweet!"
Buddha used to say that each person is in this predicament, but the mind goes on dripping drops of honey one after another. Man closes his eyes and says, "How sweet!" This is the situation all the time. There is death above and there is death below. Where life is, death is all around. Life is surrounded by death, and the roots of life themselves are being cut every moment. Every day, every moment, life is being emptied. Just as the sand in an hourglass slips away from one moment to the next, so our life is slipping away. But even so, if a drop of honey falls we close our eyes and begin to dream of hopes. The mind tells us, "See, how sweet it is!" When one drop is finished another is ready to fall. The mind continues to sustain us with deception, drop by drop.
So the sage says, "O my egoistic and desiring mind, think of the deceptions you have practiced upon me. Now remember this: all your past actions and all your future plans - you were the instigator of those actions, but today you meet your doom. You are at the gates of destruction, you are about to be rubbed out." At the gates of samadhi the mind becomes a void; thoughts cease to come, doubts and uncertainties of the mind disappear, the waves of the mind become calm. There is absolutely no mind. When there is no mind, there is samadhi.
I have told you that one meaning of samadhi is a grave - the grave of a saint. The second meaning of samadhi is the condition of doubtlessness, where doubts do not exist. It is worth knowing that where the mind is, there are doubts and doubts and doubts; there can never be doubtlessness. Mind is the great alchemist of doubt. As leaves sprout on a tree, doubts sprout in the mind; doubtlessness never sprouts there, it is there only when the mind is not. So when a person approaches me with a request to make his mind free of doubts, I tell him, "Don't bother about that; you will never be able to make mind free from doubts. Leave aside your mind and you will have doubtlessness."
A friend was asking me this evening, "How can I be free from greed?"
I told him, "You can never be free, because you yourself are greed. As long as you are, you can never be without greed. If you are not, greed will not be there."
Doubtlessness in the mind is never possible; it comes only when the mind is not. That is why no- mind is called samadhi - there is no doubt at all. As long as the mind is, it will go on creating doubts upon doubts. If you solve one doubt, it will give rise to another, and if someone gives you a solution, the mind will create ten doubts out of that solution.
A friend had informed me by letter that he was going to attend the meditation camp. He saw me two days ago. He had written to me that his mind was full of restlessness. After three days in the camp his restlessness has disappeared. "After three days," he told me, "my restlessness has gone away, but is the restfulness I now feel not a deception?"
I asked him, "Did your mind ever tell you that restlessness is a deception?"
He said, "The mind never said so."
I asked, "How long have you been restless?"
He replied, "I have always been restless."
His mind never questioned whether this restlessness was not a deception. And now when he has become restful for the last three days, the mind asks, "Is this peace real? Is it not a deception?"
The mind is amazing! Even if God meets you, your mind will raise a doubt: "I cannot say definitely whether he is the real or an artificial one." As long as mind is, doubt will surely arise. So as long as you keep your mind you will remain in great difficulty. Even if bliss comes, the mind becomes suspicious and doubts its presence. The mind creates doubts, raises suspicions and uncertainties, and gives birth to worries and anxieties.
In spite of all this, why do we hold on to the mind so tight? If the mind is the root of all these illnesses - as those who know tell us - then what is the reason for clinging so tightly to it? For the answer, look to the sage's challenging remarks. The reason we cling to it so tightly is that we are afraid that if the mind is not then we also shall not be. In fact, intentionally or unintentionally, we have identified ourselves with it. We have come to believe, "I am the mind." As long as this is our understanding we will continue to cling to all those illnesses.
You are not the mind! You are that which knows the mind, which sees it and which is fully conversant with it. To realize this you will have to move a little away from it, you will have to stand off a little from it, you will have to raise yourself a little above it. You will have to stand on the shore to see the flow of the mind and to recognize it. How can you leave it as long as you identify yourself with it? That would be suicidal. To leave the mind means to die. So you will not be able to leave it. He alone can give it up who knows, "I am not the mind."
The first step into samadhi is this experience: "I am not the mind." This experience becomes more and more profound till it becomes so clear and secure that the mind disappears completely. It disappears like the flame of a lamp whose oil is finished. Even if the oil in the lamp is finished, the wick will continue to burn as long as there is a little oil in the wick - but now it will not burn for long.
The sage is in a similar condition. He has realized, "I am not the mind," but the flame continues burning now from the little oil remaining in the wick. The sage is addressing this flame in its last burning moments, "O my egoistic mind, you promised me to be always with me and to give me light.
But you are on the point of being extinguished. I see now that the oil is finished, so I ask you how long can you last now? You are completely finished, and yet I AM." So he is telling his dying mind, "I was always separate from you, but I always identified with you. It was my delusion - samsara, maya - the great delusion!"
The sage is addressing himself, and as I told you, he is addressing you also. Perhaps you can also realize it. Go back to your childhood and remember how anxious you were to be top of the class: how you lost sleep at night, how much the load of examinations weighed on your mind, how you believed everything depended on them! But today there is no examination, there is no class.
Go back and check up: what difference did it make whether you came first, or second or third - or failed? Today you remember nothing of these happenings. Go back and see. You picked a quarrel with someone: you thought it was a matter of life and death. Today, after ten years, that quarrel looks like lines drawn on water. Someone insulted you in the street and you struggled with the problem of how to protect yourself from his abuse. Just look: you were not destroyed. The abuse is not there now. Today you remember nothing of it. Go back and see how much importance you attached to it then. Is it that important today? No, it has no importance at all now.
Remember, the thing which you value today will be worthless tomorrow, so do not give it much importance today. Learn from your experience of yesterday, and withdraw all this value you place on the things you do now. The sage is telling his egoistic mind, on the strength of all his experiences in life, "I considered you so very important, but I tell you very definitely, at this moment of bidding you farewell, that you practiced deception throughout. It was my foolishness not to see that I was and am separate from you."
When the mind vanishes everything vanishes, because it is the nucleus to which everything is linked.
The wheel of our entire life revolves on it. Therefore the sage declares that the five elements in the body will absorb themselves in their sources and everything will vanish, because the mind - the nucleus joining all together - is disappearing today.
When he attained to the ultimate knowledge Buddha said a wonderful thing. When his mind was destroyed for the first time and he entered that state of void, he said exactly the thing which the sage of the Upanishad has said. He said, "O mind, now I bid you farewell. Till now you were needed, for I wanted to have a human form. But now I do not need the human body so you can leave. Till now, needing the body, I needed its architect, the mind, too. Nobody can be created without it. Now I have my supreme abode. Now I have reached my destination. Now I have reached that uncreated house, that dwelling in my self. Now you can depart."
Such sutras are very important for seekers of truth. There is no benefit in committing them to memory. They are beneficial only if kept in the heart. If they are memorized and repeated every day they become stale. By and by their meaning is lost, and only dead words remain. But if this fact - that the mind is nothing but a deception - is clearly understood by you, then a new revolution will enter your life. I am not speaking on these sutras with a view to your memorizing what I say and becoming a pundit. No, you are already a pundit even before hearing me: there is no need to increase the bulk of your knowledge. I speak on them to give you a true picture of the realities of life.
If remembering happens, let it be through the awareness that these sutras bring in throwing light on the way in which you live.
Chuang Tzu was a Chinese master. One evening he was passing with his disciples through a cremation ground. A skull knocked against his foot. He picked it up, touching it often with his head, and begged its pardon. His disciples asked him, "Why are you doing this? We always thought you were a man of wisdom. What is this madness showing in you now?"
Chuang Tzu replied, "You don't understand. This cremation ground is reserved for VIP's. Only the most important people of the town are cremated here."
They said, "Whoever they may be, high or low, death is the great leveler."
Death is a great communist - it puts everybody on the same level. But Chuang Tzu said, "No, I have to beg its pardon. Suppose this man was alive now, what would be my position?"
The disciples said, "This man is not alive now, so why should you worry about him?"
But Chuang Tzu took the skull home and kept it near his bed. Whoever came to see him wondered why the skull was kept there. Chuang Tzu would say, "Unintentionally my foot knocked against it.
As the man is no more, I have no opportunity to beg his pardon, so I am in a difficulty. To solve the problem I have brought the skull home, and I go on begging its pardon in the hope that one day I may be heard."
Hearing this, people used to say to him, "What nonsense you are talking!"
Then he would say, "The other reason I brought it here is for it to be my constant reminder that sooner or later my skull will also be lying in a burial ground and people will kick it here and there. I do not mind that, but I am sorry I shall not be in a position to forgive anyone who begs my pardon.
So a great understanding about my skull has come to me since I brought this skull home. Looking at it I shall remain calm and unagitated even if someone kicks my skull!"
This is existential understanding, it is not intellectual. The understanding has borne fruit, the person is transformed. In the same way, if this sutra reaches your heart it will bear fruit when you are doing something and your mind is urging you this way or that.
For example, this sutra should be given to a man like Morarji Desai, whose mind is constantly planning to do this and to do that. The mind goes on working like this until death, though it gets nothing from its activity. Starting his career as a deputy collector, he has risen to the position of deputy minister, but he has achieved nothing. Even if he rises further, nothing fruitful, nothing worthwhile, is ever going to come of it. The mind always keeps you in difficulty, whether it wins or loses. The mind is like a gambler. If it loses, it thinks, "Let me play once again - I may win." And if it wins, it thinks, "Now my luck is in, I must not miss it; let me play once again." If he is winning, the gambler becomes more hopeful, and goes on playing. If he loses, his mind balks at the prospect of going away defeated: "Play once more, you may win. Try again!"
So remember this sutra when the mind, like a gambler, urges you on, win or lose! And address it thus: "O my mind full of ego and desires... remember your past actions." The result of this remembering will be that your great attraction to a particular action will be lessened. Your stupidity in thinking of yourself as a doer will be smashed, and you will move closer towards samadhi. You will deepen the intensity of your meditation. Bear in mind, unconsciousness or unawareness will not do. If you go on remaining unaware and insensible to the workings of the mind, then your mind will repeat what it did yesterday.
Perhaps you do not know this, but your mind never does anything new or fresh. It simply goes on repeating what it has done before. You were angry yesterday, you were angry the day before yesterday; and after your anger the day before yesterday you repented and vowed never to be angry again. Yesterday you did the same again, and here you are again doing the same thing today. Your anger is old, and your repentance is also old. Day after day you are repeating this sort of behavior.
If you are unable to drop anger, at least leave aside the repenting for it; break one of your old habits at least! But you will not do this; your anger and your repentance go hand in hand.
Man's entire life is a repetition. It is no different from that of a bullock working in a sugarcane mill.
The bullock may think it is walking a great distance because its eyes remain closed as it continues walking round and round. It may think it has traveled all the earth and must be nearing its destination.
Like the bullock, the mind travels in a circle. If a person keeps a daily diary, he will have to consider whether he is anything more than a machine: the same activities, the same daily routine, repeated over and over. After twenty years living together, the wife knows what her husband will say when he comes home late in the evening; she has twenty years' experience. The husband also knows how his wife will react to his excuses. Even so, both of them will go through the same questions and the same answers.
Absorbed thus in the mechanical process of the mind, the man who lives in unawareness misses all the opportunities he meets with in his life - and the opportunities are not few, but we are so clever in missing each of them. Every day there comes a fresh opportunity to be new by not repeating the old - but we repeat the old. This happens because we do not bear in mind this sutra... remember your past actions. Before you get angry tomorrow, tell your mind, "O mind, remember all the occasions you have become angry before." First, stop for a couple of seconds and remember the occasions of being angry before, and then be angry. And I tell you, you will be unable to be angry then.
Whenever the mind becomes full of desires and passions, address your mind thus: "O my mind full of ego and desires, remember the desires you have cherished in the past." Keep your old experiences in mind before embarking on a new journey, then you will not start on yet another journey through the old. Your desire will stand amazed and puzzled! This much awareness is enough to break the mind's mechanical way of working.
Gurdjieff has recorded in his memoirs that his father's last advice changed the entire course of his life. He was a small boy then, the youngest in the house. His father, who was on his deathbed, called all his sons and said something to each of them. When the youngest was called the father said, "Come near me and bend your head towards me, I want to tell you something which you should bear in mind throughout your life. I have nothing else to give you. I want you to make me one promise - that whenever an opportunity arises to commit an evil deed you will wait for twenty-four hours. Of course, you may do it, but wait for twenty-four hours before you do it. Give me this promise. If you want to be angry, be fully angry; I do not forbid you, but do it after twenty-four hours. If you want to murder someone, do it with all your heart, but wait for twenty-four hours."
Gurdjieff asked, "What is the purpose of this?"
His father said, "By following this advice you will be able to do the deed in a better way. You will be able to plan it well, and it is my life's experience that there will be no mistake in your planning. My gift to you is this experience."
Gurdjieff has written, "This one piece of advice changed the course of my life, because no one can do an evil deed if he waits even for twenty-four seconds, let alone twenty-four hours."
When you become angry, look at your watch and tell yourself, "I shall be angry after one minute."
When the second hand completes one circle, put down the watch and begin to be angry. You will not be able to be angry because the glimpse and reflection of all the past occasions of becoming angry will return to your mind during the sixty-second interval. All the past repentances, all the vows taken by you, all your decisions not to do that again, all these things will reappear in front of you, and you will be unable to become angry.
But we do not wait in committing an evil deed; we only wait in doing a good deed. A friend came today and expressed his desire to be initiated into sannyas on his birthday, two or three months from now. No one waits till his birthday if he wants to be angry! I asked him, "Is it certain? How do you know where you will be on your birthday? It may even be the day of your death!"
Even the next moment you cannot trust, what to say of two or three months' time! We postpone a good action, but the evil one we do immediately in case we miss the opportunity of doing it. No, postpone the evil, and do the good immediately. You cannot trust the next moment; it may come, it may not come. If you miss the moment of doing good, the opportunity may not come again, and if you wait - even for a moment - to do an evil deed, I tell you, you will not be able to do it. One who is strong enough to wait for a moment will be unable to do an evil deed. To wait for a moment requires great strength. It is the greatest strength in this world to wait for a second when the eyes begin to turn red with blood and the fists begin to be clenched in anger.
The sage has created this sutra in order to make fun of himself - to laugh at himself as well as at all of us. Enough for today.
Try to understand a few points about meditation before we begin. The first thing is never to postpone it, not even for a second. Don't think, "I shall begin tomorrow." It is to be practiced now.
I have to say something about those who are sitting behind me. I had asked them to sit; it seems they thought they had simply to sit there. When I turned back and looked I found that hardly eight or ten people were participating in meditation; the rest were sitting idle. You will get nothing by sitting idle. I am puzzled to see them at times sitting idly, doing nothing, when so many around them are totally in it, inspired by it, dancing and jumping. Have you a stone instead of a heart, that nothing moves you? Are you not stirred at all, seeing so many in rapture, in ecstasy? You are very intelligent - you control your feelings so that they cannot be affected. Please let yourself go! Do not sit here rigid like stone, where so many are dancing with open hearts and minds and have become as innocent as children. Let your stiffness go; be stirred!
One more point to remember: some of you think, "We shall do it when it becomes possible for us."
Ninety percent do it of their own accord, ten percent do not. But they themselves will have to break the barrier. So I tell you, those who think they cannot do it themselves should start doing it. They will have to make an effort for a couple of seconds only; it will become spontaneous from the third moment. When once the spring of water bursts forth, then water begins to flow down in a natural way. Now only one day is left, so I wish none to remain unaffected. Let all participate!