The Lifting of the Veil
[NOTE: This discourse is in the process of being edited for publication. It is for reference use only.]
"YOU ARE THE ONE OBSERVER OF ALL, AND IN REALITY ALWAYS FREE. YOUR BONDAGE IS THIS: YOU SEE THE OTHER - NOT YOURSELF - AS THE OBSERVER.
"'I AM THE DOER,' THUS HAS THE BLACK SERPENT OF EGO BITTEN YOU. 'I AM NOT THE DOER,' DRINK THIS NECTAR OF TRUST AND BE HAPPY.
"'I AM THE ONE PURE KNOWING,' THUS HAVING BURNT THE FOREST OF YOUR IGNORANCE WITH THIS FIRE OF CERTAINTY AND BEING BEYOND SORROW, BE HAPPY.
"THIS IMAGINARY WORLD IS PROJECTED LIKE A SNAKE ON A ROPE. KNOWING THIS YOU ARE BLISS, ULTIMATE BLISS, THUS WANDER HAPPILY. HE WHO CONSIDERS HIMSELF FREE IS FREE, AND HE WHO CONSIDERS HIMSELF BOUND IS BOUND; BECAUSE IN THIS WORLD THE PROVERB IS TRUE: 'AS YOU THINK SO YOU ARE'.
"ATMA IS THE WITNESS, ALL-PERVADING, PERFECT, ONE, FREE, CONSCIOUS, FREE FROM DOING, NONATTACHED, DESIRELESS, PEACEFUL. BECAUSE OF ILLUSION, IT LOOKS LIKE THE WORLD.
"'I AM AN INDIVIDUALLY PROJECTED LIFE,' DROP THIS ILLUSION AND ALSO THE FEELING OF INNER AND OUTER, AND AWAKEN IN THE THOUGHT THAT YOU ARE THE UNCHANGING, CONSCIOUS, NON-DUAL ATMA."
The first sutra: Ashtavakra said, "You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free. Your bondage is this: you see the other - not yourself - as the observer."
This sutra is extremely important. Understand each and every word correctly. "You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free." Ordinarily we perceive our lives through the eyes of others. We use the eyes of others like a mirror. We forget the observer and become the observed.
And it is natural. A child is born: he does not know anything of himself. Only by looking into the eyes of others will he know who he is. You cannot see your own face, you will have to look in a mirror.
When you look at yourself in the mirror you become the observed, you are no longer the observer.
How much do you know of yourself? As much as the mirror reveals.
The mother says, "My child is beautiful"; so the child thinks he is beautiful. The teacher in school says, "You are intelligent," and you begin to believe yourself intelligent. If someone insults you, if someone condemns you, its tone penetrates you deeply. That is why our knowledge of ourselves seems to be so confused - because it is made of many voices, of many conflicting voices. Someone says, "You are beautiful," and someone else says, "You? Beautiful? Look at your face in a mirror!"
Both voices are taken in - duality is created. Someone says, "You are very intelligent, and someone else says, "I have never seen such an idiot!" Both voices are taken in, both are collected. A great uneasiness arises, a deep split is created.
This is why you are not certain about who you are. You have collected such a crowd of opinions.
You have looked in so many mirrors, and each one has given you a different message. Mirrors have no message about you, their message is about themselves.
You must have seen mirrors in which you become tall, mirrors in which you become fat, mirrors in which you become extremely beautiful, mirrors in which you become extremely ugly, you become an Ashtavakra. The reflection in the mirror is not of you. The reflection is the mirror's nature.
Conflicting opinions go on accumulating. You begin to believe that you are this accumulation of conflicting opinions. That is why you are always shaking, always afraid. How deep, this fear of public opinion! "What if people think bad of me? What if they should think me a fool? What if they think I am immoral?" We become worried because we have shaped our being according to others.
Gurdjieff used to tell his disciples, "If you want to know your soul, you will have to leave other people alone." He was right. For centuries masters have been saying this. If you want to know yourself you will have to stop looking for your image in the eyes of others.
As I see it many seekers, explorers of truth left society not because it is impossible to know truth while remaining in society, but because it is very difficult to know one's own face correctly while living in society. Here people go on giving feedback as to who you are. Whether you ask or not, images of who you go on pouring in from all sides. And by and by we begin to live by these images.
I have heard: a politician died, and no sooner had he died, than his wife - who had died two years earlier - welcomed him at the gate of the other world. But the politician said, I won't enter yet. Let me go to the national burning ground along with my bier."
The wife said, "What is the use now? The body is lying there - it is clay."
He replied, "It is not clay. Let me see how many people have come to bid me good-bye."
The politician and his wife began to walk with the procession. No one could see them, but they could see.... There was a huge crowd. There were news reporters and photographers. Flags had been lowered. Flowers were heaped on the bier, which came on a military truck. Great respect was being demonstrated. There were guns in front and behind the bier, and soldiers accompanied the procession. The politician was deeply moved.
The wife asked, "Why are you so happy?"
He said, "If I had known that so many people would come when I died, I would have died earlier. I should have died much earlier; why did I wait so many years? But I lived so that such a large crowd would come when I died."
People live for the crowd, people die for the crowd.
What others say has become so important that you do not even ask who you are. You collect cuttings of what others say and make your self-image. This image is bound to be very unsteady, because people's minds go on changing. Not only do people's minds go on changing, their reasons also go on changing.
Somebody comes to you and says, "You are a very virtuous person." This is nothing but flattery.
Who considers you a virtuous person? No one here considers anyone besides himself virtuous.
Just think about yourself: Do you consider anyone else virtuous? Sometimes you have to say it.
There are needs, life problems, and you have to assert a lie as the truth, call an evil man good, praise an ugly person as beautiful. You have to resort to flattery. This is exactly why flattery is so valued.
Why do people fall into the snare of flattery? Even if you tell the most idiotic person that he is a genius, he does not deny it, because he has no idea about himself. He listens to whatever you say, he becomes whatever you say.
So reasons go on changing. One says beautiful, one says ugly. One says good another says bad - this goes on accumulating. And on the basis of these opposing opinions you fashion your being.
You are riding on a bullock cart that has bullocks pulling it in all directions, and the cart tries to move in every direction at once. Your very bones get tired. You are only dragged. You reach nowhere, you cannot move.
Today's first sutra says: "You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free."
The individual is the observer, not the observed.
There are three types of people. Those who have become objects to be seen, performers - they are in the deepest darkness.... Second are those who have become spectators. They are a little better than the first, but there is not much difference. Third are those who have become the observer. It is good to understand these three distinctly.
When you become the observed, you become a thing; you have lost your soul. It is difficult to find a soul in a political leader. It is difficult to find a soul in an actor. He has become an object to be seen, he lives to be an object to be seen. His whole effort is to impress people: how to look good, how to look beautiful, how to look the best. It is not an effort to be the best, but an effort to appear the best. One who becomes the observed becomes a hypocrite. He covers his face with a mask. He presents a good outward show but is rotting inside.
Second are those who have become spectators. They are the vast crowd. Naturally the first type of people needs the second type; otherwise, how can people become performers? Someone becomes a politician, he gets a crowd to clap for him. There is great harmony between them. A leader needs followers. If someone is dancing, spectators are needed. If someone sings, listeners are needed; hence some busy themselves as performers and some remain spectators. Spectators are the vast crowd.
Western psychologists are very worried because people are becoming mere spectators. They go to the movies, switch on the radio, or sit in front of the television for hours. In America the average person spends about six hours a day watching television. If there is a football game, they watch it; a wrestling match, they watch it; a baseball game or the Olympics, they watch that. Now they have become mere spectators, spectators standing at the side of the road: the procession of life passes and you go on watching.
There are some who have joined the procession. That is harder. There is much competition. To join the procession is not so easy. A lot of fighting and aggression are required. But spectators are also needed to watch the procession. They stand on the sides and watch. If they are not there, the procession too will disappear.
Imagine, if followers did not come, what would happen to the leaders? Alone shouting, "Let our flag fly high!," they would look like great idiots, they would look insane. But spectators are needed, a crowd is needed; then even madness looks right. Imagine a cricket match is going on and no one comes to watch it. The match will be dead. The juice in the match is not in the match itself, it is in the thousands of people who gather to watch it.
Man is wonderful! He even goes to see horse races. The whole of Koregaon Park is full of horse- race enthusiasts. It is very strange - no horse would go to watch men run. Horses run and men come to see it. Man has fallen even below horses.
Life is spent watching, just watching. Spectators.... You do not love, you watch love-making in films.
You do not dance, you watch someone else dance. You do not sing, you listen to someone else sing. Is it surprising if your life becomes impotent, if all life-energy is lost? There is no movement, no flow of energy in your life. You sit like a corpse. Your sole function is to go on watching. Someone goes on showing, you go on watching. These two types are abundant in the world, one bound to the other.
Psychologists say there are two poles to each illness. There are people psychologists call masochists; they torture themselves. And there is another type which psychologists call sadists; they take delight in torturing others. Both are needed. So, when these two get together, it becomes a scene of great merriment.
Psychologists say you can't find a better couple than where the husband is a sadist and the wife a masochist. The woman enjoys torturing herself, the husband enjoys torturing others - a wedding made in heaven! One is blind, the other a leper - well suited, a perfect fit. Every illness has two polarities. The performer and the spectator are two poles of the same disease. Usually women like to be watched and men like to be spectators. In the language of psychology women are exhibitionists.
Their whole interest is in ostentatious display.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was swatting flies. There were too many around and his wife had asked him to get rid of them. He was standing near the mirror swatting them. He said, "Look at these two she-flies sitting here."
The wife remarked, "This is too much! - how do you know whether they are male or female?"
He replied, "They have been on the mirror for the last hour - they must be female. What would a male do on the mirror?"
Women cannot live without a mirror. When they see a mirror it pulls them like a magnet. Their whole life is spent in front of it: trying on clothes and dresses, trying on jewelry and adorning themselves.
And the surprising thing is that when the woman goes out, totally dressed up, if someone pinches her she becomes angry! If no one harasses her then too she is unhappy - because so much preparation was made to be provocative, to provoke harassment. Otherwise, what was the need?
Women do not bother to dress up in front their husbands. They remain perfect hags in front of their husbands because with him, chasing and seduction have long stopped. But if she has to go out, she will take a lot of time to prepare. She will have spectators, she will be on stage.
Psychologists say man is a voyeur. His whole focus is in viewing, his whole interest is to see.
Woman is not interested in seeing, she is interested in exhibiting herself. That is why a man-woman pair fit each other. Both sides of the illness are there simultaneously. And both states are unhealthy.
Ashtavakra says man's nature is to be a seer, an observer; it is neither to be a performer nor a spectator.
Never confuse these two again. Many times I have seen people make this mistake: they think they have become the observer when they have become a spectator. There is a very fundamental distinction between these two words. The dictionary may not show the difference. There spectator and observer may have the same meaning. But in the dictionary of life there is a great difference.
A spectator is one whose eyes are on others.
And the observer is one whose eyes are on himself.
When the eyes are on the object you are a spectator, when the eyes are on the seer you are an observer. It is a revolutionary distinction, very fundamental. When your eyes stop on the object and you forget yourself, then you are a spectator. When all objects of vision have departed, when you, and only you, are there - only awakening remains, only alertness remains - then you are an observer.
When you are a spectator, you become completely oblivious. You forget yourself completely, your attention gets stuck there. You go to the movies and for three hours you forget yourself, you don't even remember who you are. You forget all worries and anxieties. This is why crowds rush there.
There is so much worry, anxiety, trouble in living - a method of forgetting is needed. People become completely one pointed. Only at the movies is their total attention is focused. They see... actually there is nothing on the screen, just shadows go on flickering, but people are all attention. They forget their illness, their anxieties, their old age, and even if death comes they will forget that.
But remember, you have not become an observer in the theater; you have become a spectator.
You have forgotten yourself, you have no memory of who you are. You have lost all memory of the energy of seeing which is within you. You have stopped at the object in front of you, you are totally drowned in it.
To be a spectator is a kind of self-forgetting. And to be an observer means now all objects of observation have disappeared. The screen is empty, now no film moves on it. No thoughts remain, no words remain; the screen becomes absolutely empty, blank and shining, white. Nothing left to see, only the seer remains. And now you take a plunge into the seer. You become the observer.
Performers and spectators: humanity is divided between these two. Very rarely an observer is born - an Ashtavakra, a Krishna, a Mahavir, a Buddha.... Very rarely someone is awakened and becomes the observer.
"You are the one observer of all...."
And the beauty of this sutra is that no sooner do you become an observer than you know that the observer is only one, not many. Objects are many, spectators are many. It is the nature of objects and spectators to be many: it is a web of lies. The observer is only one. For instance the moon is out, a full moon. In rivers and puddles, in pools and ponds, in the ocean, in streams - everywhere it is reflected. If you wander the earth counting all the reflections there will be trillions. The moon is one, reflections innumerable. The observer is one, performers are many, spectators are many. They are only reflections, they are shadows.
When a person becomes free from being a performer or a spectator, has no desire to exhibit and be seen, and has no desire to see, when he knows that the trap of seeing and showing is false - no longer interested he attains nonattachment, freedom from desire. Now there is no desire for anyone to say you are beautiful, you are good, you are virtuous. Even if you inwardly wish people to think you virtuous, then know that you are still caught in the same old web. If you wish in your heart that people know you are religious, then you are still caught in the same web. The world is still with you.
It has assumed another shape, taken a new mode, but the same old trap continues. The same old pattern continues.
What will you get by seeing? You have seen so much. What did you get? What will you get by exhibiting? Who can give you something real for your display?
Putting aside these two, putting aside this duality and plunging into the observer, one finds that there is only one. This full moon is only one. In these pools, puddles, ponds, lakes it looked numerous.
They were separate mirrors, so there seemed to be many moons.
I have heard that a king built a whole palace with mirrors. He put mirror after mirror inside and it became a looking-glass palace. Once, a dog - the king's own dog - was shut in at night. He was left inside by mistake. You can understand that dog's condition - it is the same as man's condition.
He looked all around and saw nothing but dogs. A dog in every mirror. He barked - he freaked out!
When a man is afraid he wants to make others afraid. He thinks perhaps his fear will be less if others are also frightened.
The dog barked, but naturally as there were only mirrors there, in mirror after mirror dogs barked back. The sound returned to him - it was his own echo. He barked all night, ran, charged the mirrors, and became covered in his own blood. No one else was there, he was alone. He was found dead in the morning. There were blood stains all over the place. His story is the story of man.
There is no other here. The other does not exist.
Whoever is, is unique.
Here one is. But this will not be understood until you have caught hold of that one within you.
"You are the one observer of all, and in reality you are always free." Ashtavakra says: "... in reality free." Do not think this just a fantasy. Man is very strange: he thinks the world is real and these statements of truth, just fantasies. He considers unhappiness to be real, and if a ray of happiness descends he considers it a dream, a deception.
People come to me and they say, "We feel great joy, but the doubt arises that perhaps it is an illusion."
They have lived in misery for so many lives that they have lost the confidence that there can also be joy. Joy begins to seem impossible. They are so used to weeping, so used to unhappiness, so familiar with the thorns of life that they do not trust their eyes when they see flowers. They think, "This must be a dream - an unreal sky flower; it cannot be, it should not exist."
That is why Ashtavakra says: "... in reality free." One is not bound. Bondage is impossible, because only God is, only one is. There is nothing that binds, nor anything to be bound. "... In reality always free." This is why a man like Ashtavakra says, if you wish you can be free this very moment - because you are already free. There is nothing preventing freedom, there was never any bondage - you only believed you were bound.
"Your bondage is this: you see the other - not yourself - as the observer." There is only one bondage:
you consider the other, and not yourself, as the observer. And there is only one liberation: to know yourself as the observer.
Begin trying this experiment. You are looking.... You are sitting near a tree, you are looking at it.
Then gradually, continuing to look at the tree, begin to see that one who is looking at the tree - just a little adjustment. Ordinarily the arrow of consciousness moves towards the tree. Let this arrow move in both directions. Let it bear fruit in both directions - it should see the tree and at the same time try to see the one who is seeing. Do not forget the seer.
Catch the seer more and more. You will miss again and again - it is an old habit of many lives. You will miss, but try to catch the one who sees again and again. And as the seer comes into your grasp, sometimes only for a moment - in that moment you will feel an emergence of unknown peace. A blessing has rained down. An auspicious ray has descended. If it happens like that for a moment, in that moment you will enjoy the ecstasy of liberation. And this ecstasy will transform the flavor of your life, change the flow of your life. Words are not able to change your life stream, scriptures do not transform.
Experience transforms, the taste transforms.
You are listening to me here.... One can listen in two ways. While listening, if your attention is fixed only on what I am saying, and you forget yourself, then you are not an observer, not a listener, not witnessing what you hear. Your attention gets stuck on me and you become a spectator. You can become a spectator not only with the eyes, but with the ears also. Whenever your attention gets stuck on the object you become a spectator.
While listening, listen to me and at the same time keep looking at that one too, catch hold of him, keep touching him - that one who is listening.
Certainly you are listening, I am speaking. But don't notice only the speaker, keep track of the listener too. Remember him again and again continuously. Gradually you will find that the moments you were in touch with the listener are the only moments you heard me; the rest is useless. When you listen in touch with the one who is listening then you will hear exactly what I am saying. And when you listen out of touch with the one who is listening then who knows what all you will hear; something neither Ashtavakra nor I have said. Then your mind will weave all sorts of webs. You are unconscious: in unconsciousness how can you understand words of consciousness?
These are statements of consciousness. These are words of another world. When you listen in sleep, you will weave dreams around these words. You will spoil the color of these statements. You will cover them over with cow dung mix. You will stretch their meanings in your own way. You will comment on them, and in your very commentary these very unique words will become corpses.
Your hands will touch only Ashtavakra's corpse - you will miss the living Ashtavakra, because to touch the living Ashtavakra you will have to touch your observer. There is the living Ashtavakra.
Think about it. You are listening to me. As you go on listening, listen also to the one who is listening.
Let the arrow be double: towards me and towards you also. There is no harm if you forget me, but you should not be forgotten. And a moment comes when neither you remain nor I remain... a moment of such deep peace, when two do not remain, only one remains. You are the one speaking, you are the one listening. You are the one seeing, you are the one being seen. This is the moment that Ashtavakra is indicating: "... the one observer of all, and in reality always free."
Bondage is dreamlike. Tonight you will sleep in Poona, but during your sleep you may be in Calcutta, you may be in Delhi, in Kathmandu - you may be anywhere. When you wake up in the morning you will find yourself again in Poona. If you went to Kathmandu in your dreams, to return you won't need to travel by air, nor catch a train, nor come back by foot. You won't need to travel at all. In the morning your eyes will open, and you will find yourself in Poona. In the morning you will find that you never went anywhere. You went somewhere in your dreams but is going somewhere in dreams really going?
"Your bondage is this: you see the other - not yourself - as the observer." There is only one bondage:
we are not conscious of ourselves, we are not conscious of our observer.
This is one meaning of the sutra; another meaning is also worth considering. Whosoever has written on Ashtavakra has usually given it a different meaning so it is necessary to understand the other meaning too. The second meaning is also right. Both together are right.
"Your bondage is this: that you see the other - not yourself - as the observer."
You are listening to me; you think the ears are listening. You are looking at me; you think the eyes are looking. How will the eyes see? If you think the eyes are the observer you are mistaken. The one who sees is behind the eyes. The one who hears is behind the ears. If you touch my hand, you will think your hand is touching my hand. It is wrong. The one who touches is hidden within the hand; how will the hand touch?
If you die tomorrow the corpse will be lying there. People will sit holding the hand but there won't be any touch. The corpse will be lying there, the eyes will still be open; it will look like everything is being seen but nothing will be seen. The corpse will be lying there... there may be music, a band playing, sound waves strike the ears, vibrations will reach you, but nothing will be heard. He who used to hear, he who saw, he who touched, he who tasted - that one has gone.
The sense organs do not bring experience, someone hidden behind the sense organs....
The other meaning of the sutra is to know yourself as the observer not as the body, not as the eyes, the ears, the sense organs. Know only the inner consciousness as the observer. " 'I am the doer,' thus has the black serpent of ego bitten you. 'I am not the doer,' drink this immortal nectar of trust and be happy."
" 'I am the doer,' thus has the black serpent of ego bitten you." Our belief is everything. We have fallen into dreams of belief. We become whatever we believe about ourselves. This idea is very thought-provoking. This is the very essence of the eastern experience: Whatever we have believed about ourselves, we become.
If you ever see a hypnotist giving a demonstration, you will be amazed. If he hypnotizes a man, then under hypnosis tells him, "You are a woman - stand up and walk," the man starts walking like a woman. It is very difficult for a man to walk like a woman. For that, a certain body structure is needed. To walk like a woman a belly with an empty space for the womb is needed; otherwise one cannot walk like a woman. Or one can do it only after long practice. But when a hypnotist puts a man to sleep and tells him under hypnosis, "Stand up! You are a woman, not a man - walk!," he walks like a woman.
Or he may hand him an onion and say, "Here's an apple - go ahead eat it." He eats the onion. And if you ask him how it tastes he says it is very good! He doesn't even suspect that it is an onion - he can't smell it.
Hypnotists have experienced this, and by now it is scientific fact. There has been much experimentation in it. Lift the hand of an unconscious, hypnotized person and put an ordinary rock in it. Tell him it is a hot coal, and he will throw it away with a jerk, shouting, "I am burnt!" It would be okay if it only went this far, but a blister forms on his hand!
You must have heard of people who walk on fire. This too is a deep state of hypnosis. If you believe you won't be burnt, the fire doesn't burn you. It is a matter of belief. If there is the slightest doubt, there will be trouble - you will be burnt. There have been many incidents where people have felt courageous and simply walked on fire: "When so many people are walking, then we can too." But if the worm of doubt is inside anyone, he is burnt.
An experiment was done on this at Oxford University. Some Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka were invited to fire-walk. Every year on the Buddha Full Moon they walk on fire in remembrance of the Buddha. This is absolutely right. To walk on fire in remembrance of the Buddha is right because Buddha's whole teaching is that you are not the body. If we are not the body, then how can fire burn us? In the Gita Krishna has said, "Neither fire can burn you nor weapons pierce you." So, many monks walk on fire on the Buddha Full Moon in Sri Lanka.
Some of them were invited to Oxford and they walked on fire there too. While they were fire-walking at Oxford one monk was burnt. About twenty monks walked - one was burnt. It was looked into, to find out how it happened. The monk had come only to see England, he had no trust that he could walk on fire. His intention was something else, he had come only as a tourist; he only wanted to see England. And he thought, "These nineteen people are not getting burnt - why should I burn?" But inside there was a worm of doubt and he was burnt.
There was another incident that same night. A professor, an Oxford University professor, was sitting watching. He had never seen, had never heard about fire-walking. He watched and felt so much trust that he got up and started walking on fire. He was not a Buddhist, not religious - he didn't know anything. He just watched so many people walking and he felt - the feeling came from such depths, the trust became so strong that he got up in deep ecstasy and began dancing on the coals.
The monks were shocked because they had the idea that Buddha was protecting them. This man was no Buddhist. He was English, and he wasn't even religious. He didn't go to church so Jesus wouldn't bother about him. He had nothing to do with Buddha, he had no master at all... just trust.
In deep trust, trust fulfills itself.
" 'I am the doer,' thus has the black serpent of ego bitten you. 'I am not the doer,' drink this nectar of trust and be happy." Listen to this statement: Ashtavakra says again and again, "Be happy." He is saying it can happen this very moment!
"I am the doer." This is our projection and we create our ego in accordance with this projection. The doer means the ego. "I am the doer" - we create the ego out of this, so the bigger the doer, the bigger the ego. If you have never done anything special, how can you have a big ego? You have built a big house - your ego becomes as big as the house. You have created a great empire so the limits of your ego extend to its limits. Because of this, some mad people have set out to conquer the world. Try to conquer the world? Who has ever conquered it? People come and go - who has been able to conquer the world?
But people try to conquer it, making claims that their ego is so vast, it is bigger than the whole world: "I will surround it. I will make the borders, I will define the whole universe." Alexander and Napoleon, Tamerlane and Nadir Shah - all mad people - attempted to conquer the world. This desire to conquer the whole world is the desire of the ego.
You may have seen someone... when he became a minister or chief minister, do you see his stride?
Then when he is out of office look at him: out of office he gets into such a bad state. The man is the same, but his strength is lost. The poison of the ego which gave him that quickness, gave him that high, which brought a lightness to his step, which kept his head high and his back straight - this is all lost. What happened? A moment before he looked so powerful, the next moment he has become so feeble. Once they are out of office politicians do not live long. They remain strong as long as they are winning elections, but as soon as they are defeated they lose strength.
Psychologists say people die earlier if they retire than if they hadn't. There is a difference of ten years, more or less. A man who would have lived to be eighty, if he is retired at sixty he dies at seventy. The single cause of early death is that he is no longer in power; no more a collector, a commissioner, a police inspector or even a constable or school teacher. A school teacher too has his arrogance. He has a realm of his own: he holds sway over thirty or forty boys. He keeps them in submission - he is emperor of the classroom.
It is reported that when Aurangzeb put his father in prison, his father told him, "I don't feel at home here. Can you do something for me? - send me thirty or forty young boys so I can open a school."
It is said that Aurangzeb remarked, "My father may be in jail but the old pride of being an emperor remains. Now he will have dominion over just thirty or forty boys."
Even the most insignificant school teacher is king in the world of thirty or forty children. The mightiest kings never have so much power over their subjects. When the teacher says, "Stand up!" they stand up and when he says, "Sit down!" they sit down. All are in his hands.
Just a school teacher, a collector, a deputy collector, a cabinet minister, anyone whatsoever: as soon as he retires he becomes weak. No one greets him on the streets anymore. He doesn't seem to have any purpose anywhere. He seems to be superfluous, as if thrown onto the rubbish heap, or put in the junk yard. Now he is not needed anywhere. Wherever he goes people endure his presence, but from their expressions he understands them to be saying, "Just move on. Why have you come here anyway? Excuse us - now let us do our work."
The same people who used to flatter him, avoid him. Those people who used to massage his feet have disappeared. Suddenly the balloon of his ego is shrinking, as if the balloon has burst; air has escaped, it is punctured. He begins to shrink. There doesn't seem to be any reason in living. The wish to die starts coming to him. He begins to think of dying because now life has no meaning.
People die sooner after retirement because the whole strength and juice of their lives was in the area of their work. Somebody was a head clerk, so he had five or ten clerks he used to torture. It doesn't matter who you are - even if you were just a peon, you have your pride. When you enter an office, look at the peon sitting there. He sits in the hall on his stool, but look at his arrogance when he says, "Stop! Wait!"
Mulla Nasruddin was working as a policeman and he stopped a woman for speeding. He quickly pulled out his papers and started writing. The woman said, "Listen, don't waste your time writing - the mayor knows me." But he went on writing. The woman said, "Did you hear or not? The chief minister knows me too." But he just went on writing. Finally the woman placed her last stakes. She said, "Can you hear or not? Indira Gandhi knows me too."
Mulla said, "Stop talking nonsense. Do you know Mulla Nasruddin?"
The woman replied, "Which Mulla Nasruddin is that? What do you mean?"
He said, "My name is Mulla Nasruddin. If I know you then something is possible. Whosoever else knows you... even if God himself knows you, this report is going to be written and you will be prosecuted." Everyone has his pride. The policeman too has his arrogance; he has his own world, his own realm. If you are caught inside it he will harass you.
The ego lives within the boundaries of what you can do. You can see that an egotistical person feels very helpless in saying yes.
Examine yourself carefully. I am not giving you a yardstick with which to check others. Use it for self-analysis. To say no gives pleasure because one feels powerful in saying no.
When a child asks if he can go and play outside his mother says no: "No!" There is no harm in playing outside. If the child cannot play outside where can he play? And the mother also knows he is going to - he will raise an uproar, he too will show his strength. There will be a clash of wills and politics will be used. He will scream and shout; he will throw things. Then she will say, "Go and play outside!" But when she is the one saying, "Go and play outside," it is okay. Then he goes, obeying her orders.
Mulla Nasruddin's son was creating an uproar and Mulla told him again and again, "Sit down and be quiet! Do as I say. Sit down and shut up." But the boy was not listening. What son listens? Finally, becoming angry, Mulla said, "Make as much mischief as you like. Now let's see if you disobey my orders. Now it is my order: Make trouble! Now let's see if you disobey my orders."
"No" comes easily. You keep it ready on your tongue. Look carefully: ninety times out of a hundred there is no need to say no, but you don't miss any opportunity to say it. When you get a chance to say no you seize it immediately. You feel helpless when you have to say yes. You feel insignificant when you have to say yes. To say yes means you have no power.
Therefore the very egotistical become atheists. To be an atheist means they have said the final no.
They have said that even God is not, forget about anyone else. An atheist has made the final, the ultimate denial. The theist has accepted the ultimate, he has said yes, God is. To say God is means, "I am not." And to say no to God means, "Only I am. No one is above me, no one is beyond me. No one can set limits on me."
Our doing gives strength to our ego. Keep this sutra of Ashtavakra in mind: " 'I am the doer,' thus has the black serpent of ego bitten you." You are uselessly disturbed and miserable. This misery is not coming from somewhere outside - we ourselves have created the unhappiness we suffer. The bigger the ego, the greater the misery. Ego is a wound, and the slightest puff of air gives pain.
It is impossible to make an egoless person miserable. And it is impossible to make an egoist happy.
The egoist has made a decision not to be happy - because happiness comes from a mood of yes, from a mood of acceptance. Happiness comes from realizing, "I am nothing - I am a drop in the ocean. A drop of the ocean - and only the ocean is. What is my being?" To same extent that one's experience of non-being deepens, showers of happiness begin to flood over a you. He who becomes void is filled, he who stands proudly is made void. " 'I am not the doer,' drink this nectar of trust and be happy."
"I am not the doer'" - Ashtavakra calls this feeling immortal nectar. " 'I am not the doer.'" This is ambrosia.
You should understand another meaning also. Only ego dies, you never die; hence ego is death, poison. The day you know there is no such thing as ego, there is only God inside of you: all is his one expanse, it is his one ray, his one drop. Then there is no death for you, then you are immortal.
With God you are deathless. With yourself you are going to die. With yourself you are alone - against the world, against existence. You are engaged in an impossible battle in which defeat is certain. With God everything is with you. In him defeat is impossible, victory is assured. Take all with you when you start the journey. When it can happen by cooperation, why struggle? When it can be attained by bowing down, why try to take it by fighting? When it can be attained by simplicity, by innocence, why uselessly cause trouble?
" 'I am not the doer,' drink this nectar of trust and be happy." Janak has asked, "How can I be happy? How can happiness happen? How can liberation be attained?" Ashtavakra is not giving any methods. He does not say do this or that. He says look in this way, let your looking be like this. It is all a matter of looking. If you are unhappy it is rooted in wrong looking. You want to be happy, then right looking....
"... Drink this nectar of trust and be happy." This definition of trust needs to be understood. Distrust means you do not accept that you are one with the whole. From this, doubt arises. How can there be distrust if you accept you are one with the whole? Wherever existence takes you, it is good. We didn't come here through our own wish, we don't go through our own wish. We don't know why we are born nor do we know why we die. Before birth no one asked us whether we wanted to be born.
Before death no one will ask us whether we want to die.
Everything is happening here. Who asks us? Why should we uselessly bring ourselves into it? We shall disappear again into that one from whom life has emerged. And God has given life, how can we distrust him? How can we distrust the source from which this beautiful life has emerged? He in whom these flowers bloom, these lotuses bloom; he behind this moon and stars, this man, these animals and birds. Here there is so much song, so much music, so much love - why should we distrust him?
Trust means we do not consider ourselves separate, we are not foreigners. We know that we are one with this existence. With the very declaration of this oneness life is showered with happiness.
"... Drink this nectar of trust and be happy." Be happy right now. "... Drink this nectar of trust and be happy." Be happy this very moment.
" 'I am the one pure knowing,' thus having burnt the forest of your ignorance with this fire of certainty and being beyond sorrow, be happy." Go beyond misery right now. All unhappiness disappears when you realize this, that "I am pure knowing, I am only the witness, I am only the observer."
The disease of ego is the only disease. I have heard, once Mulla Nasruddin participated in a poetry festival in Delhi. When the festival was over the master of ceremonies distributed the prizes to the poets. Mulla was not pleased - he expected a bigger prize than he got. He was very angry and he said, "Do you know who I am? I am the Kalidas of Poona!"
The master of ceremony must have been clever. He said, "That's great. But tell us which neighborhood in Poona you are the Kalidas of?" Each neighborhood has its Kalidas, each street its Tagore. Each person thinks he is unique, that he is incomparably brilliant.
In Arabia there is a saying that when God makes a man, he whispers in his ear, "Never has a better man than you existed." And he says it to everybody. This joke is very deep. And every person lives with this idea in his head, "No man greater than me has ever existed, I am the highest being ever created. Who cares whether anyone believes me or not? - that is their problem. But I am the highest in creation."
A man who lives with this conceit makes himself miserable. Expectations that can never be fulfilled arise from this false idea. His expectations are infinite - but life is very small. One who lives in expectations is bound to be unhappy.
There is an art to live this life in a quite different way - void of expectations, without demanding anything, filled with gratitude for whatever one has, in thankfulness. This is the technique of one who trusts.
What you have is so much... but only when you see it.
I have heard: a man went to the river to end his life. A Sufi fakir was sitting on the riverbank and he asked, "What are you doing?"
The man was just about to jump in. He said, "Don't stop me. It's too much! This life is nothing, everything is meaningless. I never got anything I wanted, I always got what I wanted to avoid. God is against me, so why should I continue this life?"
The fakir said, "Wait, stay one more day - then you can die. What's the rush? You say you don't have anything?"
The man replied, "Nothing at all. If I had anything, why would I come to take my life?"
The fakir said, "Come with me. The king of this place is my friend." The fakir took him to the king and he whispered something in the king's ear. The king said, "I can offer you a million rupees." The man heard only this, he couldn't hear what the fakir had whispered. The king said, "I can give you a million rupees."
The fakir went to the man and whispered in his ear, "The king is ready to buy both your eyes for a million rupees: will you sell them?"
The man said, "What do you mean? I? Sell my eyes! For a million rupees! Even if he offers ten million I am not going to part with them."
The fakir again consulted the king, and then he said, "Okay, he can give you eleven million."
The man said, "Drop the whole idea. I am not doing this kind of business. Why should I sell my eyes?"
The fakir asked, "Will you sell your ears? How about your nose? The king is ready to purchase any part of your body, and at whatever price you ask."
The man said, "No. I won't participate in this business. Why should I sell anything?"
The fakir said, "Look, you are not ready to sell your eyes even for eleven million rupees, and last night you were going to kill yourself. You said you didn't have a thing."
We cannot see what we have. Just think about these eyes. What a miracle! The eye is made from skin, it is a part of the skin, but the eye can see. How crystal clear it is! The impossible has become possible. These ears can hear music, the sweet songs of birds, the murmuring of breezes, the roar of the ocean. These ears are made from skin and bones. Look at this miracle.
You are! This is such a great miracle. Can you imagine a greater miracle? In this body of flesh, bones and blood the lamp of consciousness is burning. Just assess the value of this lamp of consciousness.
No, you have no eyes for it. You say you need a job paying a hundred rupees, but you get one at ninety rupees and you are ready to commit suicide. Or you wanted to be a minister, but you could only become a deputy minister so now you are suicidal. Or you wanted to have a big house but you got a small one and it seems life has no meaning. Or you go bankrupt, your bank account empties, and you say "Why go on living?" Or you loved a woman and couldn't get her, or loved a man and couldn't get him. Now you want to die.
The more you desire, the more unhappy you are. The more you see how much you receive without desiring, the more indescribable gifts will shower on you, uncaused. What do you deserve? What have you done to deserve the life you have been given? What have you done that you can dance in the sun's rays for a moment or talk with the moon and stars? On what basis? What claim can you make?
On what basis do you claim the right to touch gentle breezes, and to sing sweetly, to be bubbling with joy, or to be able to meditate? What have you done for these gifts? All this has come to you - pure grace - and still you are miserable. Still you are complaining, still you are sad. Certainly this disease of the ego is consuming us. Everyone is infected with it.
I have heard about a family who all worked in the movies. Once the father went to the family doctor and said, "Doctor Sahab, my son is suffering from a contagious disease, scarlet fever, and he thinks that it is from kissing the maid."
"Don't worry," the doctor advised. "In youth, blood is passionate."
"You don't understand Doctor," the man said, becoming more uneasy. "The fact is I also kissed the girl later."
"Then things are certainly getting complicated," the doctor agreed.
"But there are more complications Doctor Sahab. After that I also kissed my wife, twice."
Hearing this, the doctor jumped up from his chair crying, "Then we are finished! I must have caught this infection too" - because he had kissed the man's wife. A disease like this goes on spreading.
Ego is a contagious disease. When a child is born, he has no ego. He is absolutely egoless, innocent. He is an open book in which nothing is written - a blank book. Then letters are gradually inscribed, then the ego is gradually created. Parents, family, society, school, university: all go on strengthening the ego. All our methods of education, our culture, our society and civilization give birth to this one disease, give birth to the ego. Then this ego pursues us like a ghost our whole life.
If you want to know the real meaning of religion, it is this: religion is nothing but the medicine for the disease given to you by society, culture, and civilization.
Religion is anti-society, anti-culture, anti-civilization. Religion is rebellion. Religion is revolution.
The whole meaning of the religious revolution is to drop what has been given to you by others, to drop what has been taught by others. Do not cling to it: it is your misery, it is your hell. Besides ego there are no burdens in your life. Besides ego there are no fetters, no chains.
" 'I am the one pure knowing,'" thus having burnt the forest of your ignorance with this fire of certainty and being beyond sorrow, be happy."
Ego means mixing one's consciousness with something else. A man says, "I am intelligent"; now he has added ego to his intelligence. His consciousness becomes contaminated.
Have you noticed? When someone adds water to milk, we say the milk has become contaminated.
If he says no, he has added only the purest water, still you would say it is contaminated. Whether the water was pure or impure is not the question: water was added. It does not make any difference that you added pure water; the milk has still become contaminated. If you look a little closer, you will see that not only has the milk become impure, but the water has also become impure. Separately, water and milk were pure; mixed, both are contaminated. Confusion arises from the mixing of opposites, from the mixing of different types.
No sooner is consciousness added to something different that itself.... You say you are intelligent.
Intellect is a mechanism - use it. Do not become an intellectual. This is real intelligence - not becoming an intellectual. When you say you are intelligent, then the difficulty has started - water in the milk. Then it doesn't make any difference how pure your intelligence is: when you say you are a person of character, water is added to milk. It doesn't make any difference how pure your character is: bad character or good character, both have egos.
I have heard an old story: in Russian during the time of the czars three criminals were imprisoned in Siberia. The three always argued among themselves who was the greatest criminal and they also argued who would be jailed the longest. This usually happens in jail - people inflate their crimes when they talk. It is not only you that talk of a greater bank balance than you have. When a guest comes you borrow furniture from your neighbors and carpets to spread on your floor. It is not only you who deceives others. You are not the only one who seeing others begins reciting "Hari Ram, Hari Ram." Or when someone comes you spend a longer time praying and ring the worship bells louder. But when no one comes you finish everything quickly. It is not that you are the only one doing this. If a guest is in the house, you go to the temple to give an impression that you are religious. In jail, prisoners do the same thing.
Those three prisoners used to argue among themselves. One day the first prisoner said, "When I was sent to prison in Siberia, when I reached this jail, there were no motor cars."
The second one said, "So what's so great about that? When I was jailed, there weren't even bullock carts."
The third said, "Bullock cart? What's a bullock cart?"
They were trying to prove who had been jailed the longest. Ego exists there too.
I have heard, a new criminal arrived at a jail. There was an old gangster already in the cell he was sent to. The gangster asked him, "How long are you going to stay?"
He replied: "I was sentenced for twenty years."
He said, "Then stay near the door. You will be leaving early. Set up your bed just by the door."
Criminals have egos too. In doing wrong one inflates one's ego; in doing good one also inflates it.
But in both conditions consciousness is contaminated.
Ashtavakra says, "I am pure knowing. I am neither intelligent nor of great character, nor characterless; I am neither beautiful or ugly; I am neither old nor young; neither white nor black; neither Hindu nor Muslim; neither brahmin nor sudra. I have no identification - I am the one who sees all of these."
When you light a lamp in your house, its light falls on the table, on the chair, on the wall, on the wall clock, on the furniture, on the cabinet, on the carpet, on the floor, on the ceiling - it falls on all. If you are there, it falls on you too. But the flame is neither the wall nor the roof, nor the floor, nor the table or chair. Everything is illumined by its light, but the light is separate.
Pure consciousness is your light, is your awareness. The light of that awareness falls on your intellect, on your body, on your actions - but you are not any of these. As long as you identify yourself with anything, ego will arise. Ego is the identification of consciousness with some other thing. As soon as you drop all identification - you say I am only pure knowing, I am pure awareness, I am purely a buddha - then you begin to return to your home. The moment of liberation is coming closer.
Ashtavakra says, " 'I am the one pure knowing,' thus having burnt with this fire of certainty...." What is this certainty, this trust?
This trust will not take happen through listening.
This certainty will not happen through intellectual understanding - you have understood it many times, and still you forget it again and again.
This certainty comes from experience.
If you experiment a little, trust will come. When experience comes, trust comes. And when trust comes, the revolution happens.
"... Having burnt the forest of your ignorance with this fire of certainty and being beyond sorrow, be happy.... This imaginary world is projected like a snake on a rope. Knowing this you are bliss, ultimate bliss, thus wander happily."
There is no reason for unhappiness here. You uselessly live in a bad dream and go on getting disturbed. In nightmares, have you noticed? - someone sleeps with his hand on his chest, but in his sleep he thinks a ghost is sitting on him. He put his own hand on his chest, it is his own weight but in sleep that weight creates an illusion. Or in putting his own pillow over his chest, it seems that a mountain has fallen on him. He tries to scream and shout - the scream won't even come out. He wants to move his hands and feet - his hands and feet won't move. He falls into such a panic. And when his sleep is broken, he finds that he is drenched in sweat. When sleep is broken, when he wakes up, he understands there was no enemy, no mountain has fallen on him. He had put his own pillow on his chest, he had put his own hand on his chest. His heart is still pumping wildly, as if he has run for miles. The dream is broken, but its effects still continue. The sufferings we call worldly sufferings are only misunderstandings of our awareness.
"This imaginary world is projected like a snake on a rope." Some time you must have seen a piece of rope lying on the road in the dark, and immediately the idea of a snake comes. When the idea comes, a snake is projected onto the rope. You run, you scream and shout. You might even fall over while running and break a limb. Later on you will find out that it was only a rope. But what use is that now? - the limb is broken. But if you have even a small lamp of awareness, a little light, then even in the darkest night you can see that a rope is a rope, not a snake.
In this very awareness bliss and ultimate bliss are born, "... Thus wander happily." You have the key - you have the light. You have kept the light covered wastefully. Take the cover off! Kabir has said, "Open the curtain of the veil." Push aside the curtains of thought, of passion, of expectation, of fantasies, of dreams. These are the veils. Push them aside. Look with unveiled eyes.
People sit veiled head to foot, and because of those veils they cannot see anything. They are pushed here and there, and they fall into ditches.
"This imaginary world is projected like a snake on a rope. Knowing this you are bliss, ultimate bliss, thus wander happily." Understand this knowing; grasp it, be acquainted with it. Then move happily.
This existence is ultimate bliss. This existence doesn't know unhappiness. Unhappiness is your creation.
It is difficult to understand this. We live in such misery, how can we believe that misery does not exist? The one who ran when he saw a piece of rope won't believe there is no snake. The one who was sleeping with a pillow on his chest and thinks that a mountain has fallen on him cannot believe in that moment that a mountain has not fallen on him. This is our situation.
What can we do?
Move a little from the observed toward the observer.
See everything, but do not forget the one who sees.
Hear everything, but do not forget the one who hears.
Do everything, but remember you are not the doer.
Buddha used to say, "Move on the path and remember that within no one is moving. Within, all is unmoving." And this is how it is. Have you seen the wheels of a moving vehicle? The axle remains still, while the wheels move. In the same way the wheel of life moves, but the axle remains still. You are the axle.
"He who considers himself free is free, and he who considers himself bound is bound, because in this world the proverb is true: 'As you think so you are.'"
This is a significant sutra: "He who considers himself free is free...." He who knows that he is free is free. For freedom nothing else has to be done. Just to know that you are free is enough. Freedom will not come from your doing, freedom comes from your knowing. Freedom is not the result of action, it is the fruit of knowing. "He who considers himself free is free, and he who considers himself bound is bound...." He who thinks, "I am in chains," is in chains. He who thinks, "I am liberated," is liberated.
Try it and see. For one day decide that during these twenty-four hours it is true: you are free. Try remaining free for twenty-four hours. You will be surprised, you won't believe it yourself. If you think you are free, there is no one to enslave you, and you are free. If you think you are enslaved, then everything binds you.
I had a friend, he was a professor with me. During the Holi festival he drank bhang - a hemp drink - and created a disturbance in the street, he made a scene. He was a very gentle and simple man. There is danger in a gentle person; such a person has much repressed within. He was not a troublemaker. Even his name was Bholeram, "simple hearted." He was honest and simple.
There is a danger in such a nice man - he should avoid things like bhang. The bhang washed off his superficially sweet temperament and all the repressions lying beneath, which had been unexpressed his whole life, came out. He went out in the street and raised an uproar and created trouble. He harassed some woman and was arrested and locked up at the police station. And he was an English professor!
At around two in the morning, someone came and informed me that my friend had been arrested and he wanted me to get him out before morning, otherwise it would be a big mess. With difficulty we got him released just before dawn. We got him out, but he was so upset - such a nice man - he was so disturbed that everything became impossible. For three months he suffered much.
Whenever a policeman appeared on the road he would hide, thinking, "He is coming to arrest me."
We lived together in one room. If he heard a police whistle at night, he would dive under the bed. I would ask what he was doing: he would say they were after him.
Eventually his condition deteriorated so much that he could not sleep, nor would he allow me to sleep. He would say, "Wake up! Did you hear? - those people.... There are voices in the air. Those people are sending out messages on the radio, inquiring where Bholeram is!"
I would say, "Bholeram, go to sleep."
He would reply, "How can I go to sleep? My life is in danger! They will arrest me. They are keeping a file against me."
Finally, I was so harassed and not seeing any way out.... He stopped going to the college, he took leave and stayed at home. Around the clock he had this one obsession, becoming what psychologists call paranoid. He created everything out of his fear, his paranoia.
He was a good man, and I had never thought that this could happen. But now I experienced what imagination man is capable of. "The walls," he would say, "have ears. People are listening everywhere!" If he saw anyone walking near the house then he thought he must be looking for him.
If anyone was standing around laughing, he must be laughing at Bholeram. If people were talking among themselves they were conspiring against him. The whole world was against him.
I could see no other way, there was only one possibility: I had a friend who was a police inspector. I explained everything to him and asked him to come one day with Bholeram's file.
He said, "If there were a file on him I would bring it, but there is no file, not even a record. This man has never done anything, he took bhang once and created some sort of scene. The matter is finished - there should not be any fuss about it now."
I told him, "Bring any file, even fill it with blank papers, but it should be thick because he says it is a big thick file. And remember, it should have Bholeram's name printed on it. Don't worry about it, just give him two or three slaps, and put him in handcuffs too. Refuse to let him go until I give you a ten thousand rupee bribe. Then too, only 'perhaps' he should be released." The police came, bringing everything with them. They slapped him two or three times and Bholeram was very happy to get slapped. He said to me, "Look! Is it happening like I told you it would or not? Here is the file:
'Bholeram' is written in big letters on it. Tell me, where have all your wise explanations gone now?
Now this.... I am in handcuffs! Bholeram is finished! "
But in a way he was happy, and at the same time miserable. He was crying, but he was happy to see that his projection proved right. Man is so insane! If your projection of suffering proves right, your ego gets satisfied, you are proved right. He felt that everyone else was proved wrong, that all those who were trying to advise him were not right; finally, he alone proved right.
With great difficulty I pleaded and persuaded the inspector. I had already told him not to agree with what I would say too soon; otherwise Bholeram would suspect that we were in conspiracy.
The inspector said, "It cannot be done. He should be sentenced for life." He continued talking like this and looked at me to see how he was doing. With great difficulty I finally persuaded him, and with folded hands I requested him to accept the bundles of bills as a bribe. Then he burnt the file in front of us. From that day Bholeram was free of fear - he was okay now. The whole episode ended there.
This is your situation, more or less.
He who considers himself free is free, and he who considers himself bound is bound, because in this world the proverb is true: 'As you think so you are'.
What happens is what you have thought. You thinking has created your world. Change your thoughts. Wake up! See in a new way. Everything will remain as it is, only your way of seeing, of thinking, of knowing will change - then everything will change.
"He who considers himself free is free, and he who considers himself bound is bound, because in this world the proverb is true: 'As you think so you are.'
"'As you think so you are.' "
"Atma is the witness, all-pervading, perfect, one, free, conscious, free from doing, alone, desireless, peaceful. Because of illusion, it looks like the world.
"... the witness, all-pervading, perfect.... " Listen to these words. Ashtavakra says you are perfect.
You don't need to become perfect. Nothing can be added to you. However you are, you are complete. You don't need any improvement. You don't have to climb any ladder - There is nothing above you. You are perfect; you are God, all-pervading; the witness; one - free, consciousness.
You are free from doing, alone. No one binds you. You have no companion, you are alone; you are in supreme aloneness. You are desireless.
You don't have to become all these.
This is the difference in Ashtavakra's message.
If you listen to Mahavir, he says you have to become these things. Ashtavakra says you already are.
This is a great difference, no small difference. Mahavir says you have to be nonattached, you have to become desireless, you have to become perfect, you have to become all-pervading, you have to become the witness. Ashtavakra says you are all these, you just have to wake up. You have to open your eyes and see.
Ashtavakra's Yoga is a very natural Yoga. As Kabir says, "Oh Sadhu, the natural samadhi is best."
" 'I am an individually projected life,' drop this illusion and also the feeling of inner and outer, and awaken in the thought that you are the unchanging, conscious, non-dual atma." What you have believed until now are nothing but reflected projections. It is only your belief, your opinion. Moreover, people around you share the same beliefs. In this way your opinions are strengthened. Ultimately man borrows his opinions. You learn from others. Man imitates. All are unhappy here, so you also become unhappy.
There was a rare buddha in Japan: Hotei. As soon as he was enlightened, as soon as he woke up he began laughing. And he continued laughing his whole life, traveling from village to village. In Japan they call him "The Laughing Buddha." He would stand in the middle of the marketplace and laugh. And his name spread far and wide. People use to wait for Hotei's arrival. He had no other message than standing in the middle of the marketplace and laughing. A crowd would collect and they too would begin laughing.
People used to ask him, "Please tell us something more."
He would reply, "What more is there to say? You are unnecessarily crying. You need a fool to make you laugh. This is my only message: Laugh! There is nothing missing, just have a good belly laugh.
The whole existence is laughing: you are unnecessarily crying. Your crying is absolutely private.
The whole existence is laughing: the moon and stars, flowers and birds all are laughing, you go on crying. Open you eyes and laugh! I have no other message."
He laughed, and went on wandering from village to village. It is said he made all of Japan laugh. And people gradually began to get glimpses from laughing and laughing with him. It was his meditation, his very samadhi. People began to experience that they could laugh, they could be happy - without any cause.
The very search for causes is wrong. As long as you look for a reason before you laugh, you will never laugh. If you think you will be happy when there is a reason for it, then you will never be happy.
Looking for reasons one becomes more and more unhappy. Cause belongs to suffering, happiness is your nature. Cause has to be created, suffering has to be created. Happiness is. Happiness is already present. Just let happiness manifest. This is what Ashtavakra says again and again: "...
Thus wander happily. ... Being beyond sorrow, be happy. ... Drink this nectar of trust and be happy."
Man is perfect, he is one, he is free.
His projections are the only barrier.
" 'I am an individually projected life,' drop this illusion and also the feeling of inner and outer, and awaken in the thought that you are the unchanging, conscious, non-dual atma." Becoming free of the feeling of outer and inner... Your being is neither outside or inside. Outside and inside are only mind distinctions. Being is outside, being is inside - All outside and inside are in being. Only being is.
"... Drop... the feeling of inner and outer, and awaken in the thought that you are the unchanging, conscious, non-dual atma."
This translation is not right. The original sutra is: "... Drop... the feeling of inner and outer, and awaken in the feeling that you are the unchanging, conscious, non-dual atma." "Thought" is not a correct translation. "Awaken in the feeling that you are the unchanging atma."
Know that you are, feel that you are. Awaken to such a feeling. Thought is again becoming intellectual. Thought makes it only superficial. It cannot come from the head, it can only come from the heart. This experience is like love, not like mathematics. It is not like logic, it is like a song, whose singing goes on sinking deeper and deeper, and touching the innermost life energy makes it vibrate.
"... Awaken in the feeling that you are the unchanging atma." You are not this revolving wheel of live, you are the axle in the middle. The axle is unmoving.
As long as you think you are on the earth, you are on the earth. But the moment you are ready, the moment you dare to fly into the sky, that is the very moment you can start flying.
"Clouds hugging the earth floating petal upon petal. I fly up beyond the clouds, a marvelous world opens before me. Asleep in some vast dream, I wake up. Where does the ocean of time fly away?
Fish aflash in pulsating streams I had buried in frozen waters of the blind valley. I drown into the foamy twilight. The sun encircled for miles by red red rings, rainbow spilling over onto my wings.
Springs of color bursting here, bursting there! Somewhere an unmoving river, somewhere bridges flowing over. Stream upon stream restless, impatient. The earth melting away and flowing into the sky. Village after village of white cement jungle. From whose endless breathing are these trees sprouting? The sky made into another earth. Clouds hugging the earth floating petal upon petal I fly up beyond the clouds. A marvelous world opens before me. Asleep in some vast dream, I wake up."
You have seen plenty of dreams - now wake up.
Awakening is the key.
Nothing else is to be done - not any sadhana, not any Yoga, not any yoga postures. Just wake up.
Hari Om Tat Sat.