Misery is nothing but choice

Fri, 10 May 1986 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
The Path of the Mystic
Chapter #:
pm in Punta Del Este, Uruguay
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Question 1:





One has to remember not to choose one part from a complementary whole. You are choosing half the circle and when the other half comes - which is bound to come - it will create misery.

Misery is nothing but choice.

You choose the experience of love, the feeling of ecstasy, but by choosing you are going to be caught in a natural process. You will cling to these feelings, and they are not permanent; they are part of a wheel which is moving. Just like the day and the night - if you choose the day, what can you do to avoid the night? The night will come. The night does not bring misery. It is your choice of the day, against night, that is creating misery. Every choice is bound to end up in a miserable state.

Choicelessness is blissfulness.

And choicelessness is let-go. It means the day comes, the night comes, success comes, failure comes, the days of glory come, the days of condemnation come - and because you have not chosen anything, whatever comes is all right with you. It is always fine with you. Slowly slowly you will see a distance growing in you; the circle will go on moving but you are not caught in it. It doesn't matter to you whether it is day or night. You are centered in yourself. You are not clinging to something else; you are not making your center somewhere else.

You must have come across stories in books for small children in which some monster has put his life into something else, for example into a parrot. Now the monster cannot be killed; whatever you do will be useless. The monster has become absolutely protected unless you know the key: that his life is in the parrot. Then you need not kill the monster, you have simply to kill the parrot. And as you kill the parrot the monster goes through tremendous suffering. As the parrot is killed, the monster is killed.

In my childhood I always wondered about this kind of story, and I could never take it as just a story.

I harassed my parents, my teachers, that there must be some meaning in it. And they all said it is just a story, an entertainment for small boys. There is no meaning in it.

But I was never convinced. I simply thought that they had never pondered over the matter. And I was right, because later on I found this phenomenon - everybody has put his life into something else. Those stories were not ordinary stories. They were immensely significant, because it is not a question of one person, everybody has put his life into something else.

Your clinging means you are putting life there. And your clinging cannot stop the wheel of existence moving - it will move. And you will have to fall into the opposite. Then there is misery, anguish, as if existence has consideredly destroyed your love, your ecstasy, your joyful experience.

Existence has not done anything to you. Whatever is happening in your life, you and only you are responsible for it. If you had not been clinging, the wheel would have moved. You would have enjoyed without clinging, and you would have also enjoyed when it had gone.

It is just a little bit subtle. You are enjoying a very ecstatic moment, but however ecstatic it may be, even ecstasy is going to be tiring. You cannot be ecstatic for twenty-four hours. You will be utterly exhausted. Even love has its limits.

I am reminded of a Sufi story. A king was in love with a very beautiful woman, but the woman was already in love with a servant of the king. And the servant was far more authentic an individual than the king. The king was a hypocrite - as usual. But it was very offensive to the king that he should be rejected and that the servant, his own servant, should be the winner.

He asked his advisers, "What can be done? - because I cannot take this defeat by my own servant easily."

The advisers suggested an idea and he followed it. The woman and the servant were caught.

Naked, they were forced to embrace each other and they were tied in that position to a pillar in the palace. A few in the king's court could not believe it: "What are you doing? You wanted this woman and you yourself are giving her to your servant." But the king had understood the psychological idea of the advisers. To embrace your beloved in private, in your aloneness, is one thing, and to be in her embrace tied to a pole in an open place where hundreds of people are moving is another thing.

Soon it became disgusting. It was hot and they started perspiring. Twenty-four hours they were together, and the experience became so horrible that when after twenty-four hours they were let go, they both escaped from the palace and from each other. They never met each other again; everything was finished. The whole romance of meeting the beloved, of being embraced by her, had turned into a nightmare. Tied together to a pillar for twenty-four hours... it became an ugly experience.

The king rewarded the adviser and said, "You really understand human mind."

Something may be significant for a moment - you kiss someone, but if you continue to kiss the person for one hour, two hours, three hours, do you think the joy of kissing the person will be increasing as time increases? It will be decreasing. As the time increases the joy will be decreasing, and at some point it will turn into a terrible experience. You would like somehow to get rid of the beloved. Perhaps the horrible experience will leave such a deep impression on you that kissing that woman again, even for a single moment, will not bring joy to you but only the memory of the nightmare.

If you enjoy ecstasy without thinking that it should be for always, then there is no problem. When ecstasy comes, enjoy it, and when it goes, enjoy that it has gone - because if it remains forever it won't be ecstasy anymore. It will become agony.

Existence is wiser than you. It takes things away from you before they lose all significance for you.

And it is good that beautiful things should happen and then there should be a gap, a rest. One needs rest from love too. One needs rest from ecstasy too. One needs rest from everything. Don't take that rest as against your ecstasy, it is really in favor of it. It creates the background that tomorrow again you will be able...

One of the great poets of India, Rabindranath Tagore, has written a book. THE LAST POEM is the name of the book, but it is not a book of poetry; it is a novel. The hero and heroine are in deep love, they want to get married, but the uniqueness of it is that the heroine has agreed to marry him only on one condition: that they will not live in the same house.

They are very rich people and the woman suggests, "You can make a house on the other side of the lake. We will not invite each other; we will be meeting accidentally. Once in a while I may be boating, you may be boating; or I may be walking around the lake or you may be walking, but I want it to be accidental - and once in a while, not every day. I want to long for it, I want to wait for it, and I don't want to destroy it by having too much of it. I love you."

The man cannot understand. He says, "This is nonsense. If you love me... what you are suggesting, no lover has ever suggested. Lovers don't want to be separate even for a single moment. And what kind of love is this? - that I will be living far away on the other side of the lake. It is miles distant and you cannot invite me, I cannot invite you. We are married but we have to meet like strangers once in a while by chance, not by arrangement."

The woman said, "If you cannot understand it, then I am not for you."

What the woman is saying is perfectly true. If every lover had understood it, life would have been a very joyful experience. But lovers cling; they want to be together twenty-four hours a day. And they destroy something beautiful because they don't give a rest. It becomes a burden rather than a joy.

They don't allow a gap for longing, for waiting.

So all lovers who get married soon find that the only mistake they have committed is the marriage. All love marriages fail - without exception. The only successful lovers are those who, by circumstances, by society, by parents, were not allowed to meet, to marry and to be with each other. They are the only successful lovers. They love each other to the last moment of their lives; their longing goes on growing. They are unhappy, they are miserable that they cannot meet the person they want to meet.

But they don't know reality and its way of functioning.

I have heard... two men were trying to commit suicide. It was a rare phenomenon: two men, by chance, arrived at the same rock from which they were going to jump into the river. They looked at each other and they said, "Strange. Have you also come here to commit suicide?"

They both said, "Yes." So before committing suicide, there was a little conversation which changed the whole thing. The suicide never happened. They asked each other, "Why are you committing suicide?"

One said, "I loved a woman and I could not get her because she loved somebody else, and I cannot live without her." He described the woman, he told the name of the woman, and the other man was shocked.

He said, "What are you saying? I am committing suicide because of this woman! I got married to her, and I cannot live with her. You cannot live without her; I cannot live with her. Fate has played a great game to bring us both here to this rock. Now what shall we do? Committing suicide now seems to be absolutely meaningless." Both were right. One could not live without her. He had missed her, he could not get her. The other got her, and soon everything failed.

We are responsible for it. Everything that was beautiful turns ugly. Something that looked very charming turns out to be very bitter.

The whole problem is whether you can live without any choice. Whatever comes, enjoy it. When it goes and something else comes, enjoy it. Day is beautiful, but night is beautiful in its own way - why not enjoy both? And you can enjoy both only if you are not attached to one.

So only a choiceless person squeezes the juice of life in its totality. He is never miserable. Whatever happens he finds a way to enjoy it. And this is the whole art of life, to find a way to enjoy it. But the basic condition has to be remembered: be choiceless. And you can be choiceless only if you are alert, aware, watchful; otherwise you are going to fall into choice.

So choicelessness and awareness have different meanings in the dictionary, but not in existence.

They have the same meaning. Either be choiceless or be aware - it is the same thing. Then you can enjoy everything. When success comes you can enjoy it; when failure comes you can enjoy it.

When you are healthy, you can enjoy it; when you are sick you can enjoy it - because you don't have any attachment to anything. You have not put your life into anything - your life is free movement, moving with time, moving with the wheel of existence, keeping pace, never lagging behind.

Life certainly is an art, the greatest art. And the shortest formula is choiceless awareness - applicable to all situations, all problems.

Question 2:






You have taken note of three things, but actually four things are happening and the fourth is the most important. The one that is missing in your counting is that a certain part in you is aware, is watching.

That part takes note of all these three things: that dreams go deeper into the unconscious; that you wake up every time you become aware that it is a dream; that there is a certain part in you which enjoys dreaming. All these three are true, but not so significant as the fourth - the one who has noted these three.

So you go on doing what you are doing, just become aware of the fourth, too. Pay more attention, give more juice to the fourth, because that is the only real thing in you - the watcher.

All these three things will slowly disappear. First, the dreams will slip deeper into the unconscious, but if you continue they will come to the rock bottom of the unconscious. Then they cannot escape anymore, and they will have to face you.

If you go on doing the exercise, you will wake up every time because you will become aware that this is a dream. It is significant that as your exercise becomes more and more solid the number of times that you wake up will be less and less, because dreams will be there less and less.

Thirdly, as times goes on, you will see the one part which enjoys dreaming is really an unfulfilled part of your waking life which you have been not allowing. There are so many things to enjoy - many of them look childish, and you don't enjoy them because what will people say? Everybody in his bathroom enjoys a few things which he will not enjoy in public: making faces before the mirror...

If you allow this part of your mind which wants to enjoy... it simply means it is a repressed part from your very childhood that has been forced to be serious. No child is born serious. Every child is full of joy, and very ready for any entertainment. But the grown-up society wants him to grow up as soon as possible - if not in years, then at least in manners.

This repressed part enjoys your dreams. If you allow it in waking time - the enjoyment of small things, without caring what the world thinks about it... The opinion of others means nothing. You have to live your life according to your own inner sources, not according to anybody else's opinion.

If you allow this part, it will disappear from the dreaming world. It had to enter there because there was no other way to get fulfilled.

Pay more attention to the watcher who is just behind the whole scene, seeing all these things happening. Soon the day will be there that only the watcher remains; and the day you can watch your own sleep... And remember that watching the sleep does not disturb the sleep. Watching is not an activity. The word gives a wrong connotation; it is not an activity, it is just like a mirror. Now a mirror mirrors things, but mirroring is not an activity. It is just the nature of the mirror, that whatever comes before it is reflected.

Exactly this is the situation of your witness; it is just a mirror. It can reflect your waking, it can reflect your sleep, and it never disturbs anything. It is one of the beautiful experiences to see yourself asleep, and this will become a foundation to see yourself awake.

Ultimately this will be helpful for seeing yourself dying. The watcher is eternal, it is immortal: it can see you sleeping, it can see you dead.

In India Alexander the Great threatened a mystic. He pulled his sword out of its sheath and said, "If you don't come with me to Greece I will cut off your head! Within a second your head will be on the ground."

The mystic said, "Don't wait, do it. You will see the head on the ground, I will also see the head on the ground."

Alexander became a little puzzled. He said, "What do you mean, you will see the head on the ground? Your head will be on the ground!"

He said, "Yes, my head will be on the ground, but my reality is far bigger than my head or my body.

You can cut my whole body into pieces but just as you will be seeing it, I will also be seeing it. The only difference will be that you will not be able to see me, but I will be able to see you cutting my body into pieces. This is the whole secret of mysticism.

"So rather than waiting, cut off the head! Anyway, it is of no use anymore. I have used it, and I have come to the point when it is no longer needed. And you can also cut any other piece of the body. If you enjoy cutting, go on cutting as much as you want - in hundreds of pieces. But remember, you cannot threaten me, because death means nothing to me."

It is difficult, difficult even for a man like Alexander, to hurt this kind of man. He withdrew his sword and said, "Just forgive me. I don't know what Eastern mystics are like. Just my teacher," - his teacher was Aristotle - "asked me to bring a sannyasin from India when I come back. And I could not disregard his request. I have talked to many sannyasins but they did not look to me worth taking.

You are the man that Aristotle will rejoice in seeing, but you are not willing to go. I am ready to give you anything you want. You will be a royal guest. You will live in the palace and everything will be provided for your comfort."

But the mystic said, "There is no way. I never follow anybody's orders. You committed a mistake in the beginning. You ordered me. If you had asked me I might have come, but now it is too late. And you threatened me. Now I cannot come with a person who is incapable of seeing with whom he is talking. You are just blind!

"In the East nobody threatens a man like this. You just tell your teacher that if he wants to meet real sannyasins, he will have to come here. That's the only way. No real sannyasin is going with you for the simple reason that these people live in freedom; they cannot become prisoners, even in golden cages. But give the message to your teacher. And tell him also that he has not taught you anything significant; he is only a teacher, not a master."

From far away, just looking at Alexander and his behavior, the mystic deduced a very valid conclusion about Aristotle - he was really a teacher, not a master. He was only a logician. He was not a man who knows.

After seeing this mystic, Alexander even lost interest in Aristotle. It was bound to be so, because he knew that Aristotle was greedy, afraid. When he was a child, Aristotle used to come to teach him, but Alexander would tell him, "Just become a horse. I don't want any teaching today. I will ride on you." And Aristotle would become a horse and Alexander would ride on him.

Now Alexander has seen a different kind of man. You cannot even threaten him with a naked sword.

And he challenges you to cut off his head. And what he has said... "I will see too." The seeing, the witnessing, is totally apart from the body, from the mind.

The most important thing is that you continue the exercise, so slowly slowly dreams disappear, and your waking again and again will disappear with it. While waiting, enjoy every kind of thing howsoever childish it looks - at least here with me, nobody is going to judge you.

This is going to be one of the basic things of the mystery school - no judgment about anybody.

Everybody has to do whatever he feels to do, loves to do, enjoys doing. Then only witnessing remains. That is the source which, from every angle, I want you to reach.

Question 3:




It is perfectly good. Listening to me has to become meditation, at least to my people. It is not just a lecture, the way you listen in the university or the way you listen to a sermon in a church. Its purpose is totally different.

Its purpose is to create a silence in you and a rhythm which is in tune with my rhythm. And slowly slowly it starts happening by itself. You are not to do anything. You have just to be available, and then it will be almost like meditation. It may be Kundalini, it may be Dynamic, it may be Vipassana, it may be any meditation, but it will be the cream of it.

Only one man, Mahavira, is unique in this respect. In all of history he alone has said that if the disciple listens totally then he has nothing else to do - no meditation, no discipline, no yoga, nothing else. So he has said that there are two ways: one is the way of the monk and one is the way of the shravaka.

Shravaka means the listener. And certainly, according to him, the way of the listener is far higher. If you can listen so totally, so intensely, that it becomes a meditation in itself, that you don't need to do anything. The monk has to do much. But what a strange fate: even in Jainism the monk is higher than the shravaka.

Nobody has bothered to look into the phenomenon that the shravaka is naturally higher, superior, because he needed to do nothing. He simply listened with his whole heart and became transformed.

But in the world the person who is doing ascetic practices, fasting, torturing himself... even in Jainism he became higher.

There is a second reason also: the listener disappeared with Mahavira. Then there was no other with whom he could have attained just by listening. Every follower of Mahavira is called shravaka now, and the monk still has the prestige because he works so hard. Perhaps the Jaina monk is the most ascetic of all religions, the most self-torturing, more than anybody else. Naturally he became higher.

And the word shravaka completely lost its meaning - first because there was nobody to whom he could listen, no man of the quality of Mahavira. And secondly, even if he listens to these monks nothing happens. So naturally these monks are higher, he is lower. When I raised the question for the first time in a Jaina conference saying that the shravaka is higher than the monk, it was a shock because for twenty-five centuries nobody has said that.

Shravaka has lost its meaning; it has simply become the follower, the believer. Its meaning is the listener. Shravan means listening and shravaka means the listener, the right listener. But a master is needed. Or, if a man is intelligent enough he can listen to the wind passing through the pine trees - and the same will be the effect. Or the sound of water, the ocean waves continuously coming and splashing on the bank...

If one sits silently there and listens to their eternal coming, or one just sits outside and listens to the birds, or anything that is happening... even in a crowd. If he simply listens to the crowd, without any judgment, as if he is listening to his master... It is not a question of what you are listening to, it is a question of whether you are simply listening with your total being. Then it will bring a meditative state.

Question 4:



The trance-like state is always lower than the conscious. It is always unconscious. It is a very significant question, because for centuries it has been avoided and not discussed.

There have been people like Ramakrishna who used to go into a trance very easily. Ultimately Ramakrishna became enlightened, but he became enlightened when he met a master who taught him witnessing. Before that he was not an enlightened man. But he was a very simple, very spontaneous, very loving person, and he would go into a trance just by seeing something.

For example, he was passing by the side of a lake. It was evening time, the sun was setting, and there was a black cloud - the rains were just going to come. And as he passed by he disturbed almost two dozen cranes that must have been sitting by the side of the lake. Because of Ramakrishna's coming there, they suddenly flew away - against the black clouds, the two dozen white cranes in a row and a beautiful sunset underneath. Then and there he fell suddenly into a trance. He had to be carried back to his home. It took three hours for him to come back. Just the beauty of it was enough. But it was not a superconscious state. It was tremendously relaxing, but it was below consciousness.

There are Mohammedans in India... You will be surprised to know that India is not a Mohammedan country, but India has the largest population of Mohammedans in the whole world; no other country has a bigger population of Mohammedans. They have a certain festival every year in which they believe that the saints can be called back in a trance-like state in people. So in every place where there is a grave of a saint, many people will go into trance. And sometimes a few people will start speaking in trance. You can ask questions and they will answer, and it is thought that those answers are being given by the spirit of the saint.

I never believed it for the simple reason... in the first place whatever I had heard about the saint did not convince me that he was a saint. Simple qualities which are needed just to be human, even those were not there. For example, Mohammedans are all meat eaters. And they become saints if they convert many Hindus - even at the point of the sword, even if they kill to convert people. They have many wives, and most are Hindu women forcibly brought to their house - and Hindus are in a totally different world. If a woman has spent the night in a Mohammedan's house, she cannot be accepted back; she has fallen. So there is no way for her other than to become a Mohammedan or commit suicide. Her family's door is closed.

So whatever I had heard about a saint in my birthplace, I didn't feel that there was anything saintly in it. And moreover, Mohammedans, just like Christians and Jews, believe only in one life, and I cannot accept that because it is my own experience that lives are continuously coming one after another.

You don't have one life; you have many, hundreds, thousands. So when a person dies, whether he believes in one life or not doesn't matter, he will have to be born into another life. So after three hundred years, who is going to come?

I was very young. I must have been ten years old when I became interested in this phenomenon of trance, in the people who were going into trance and answering. And people were worshipping them, bringing fruits and sweets, and rupees and clothes. I would just sit by their side with a long needle and go on jabbing the needle, and they would go on trying hard to keep me from doing that - and they are in trance! They are replying and in the middle of the reply they will just... because my needle was there!

They have a certain... They bring the coffin of the saint out of the grave and the one who goes the deepest in trance, he takes it on his waist - they have certain arrangements - he holds it. There are ropes, four ropes; four other people are holding those four ropes and he dances. And I would go on doing my work, because it is a crowd thing. And certainly he would dance more; he would jump higher than anybody else. He would be angry with me, but he would get more sweets and more rupees and more clothes, and more people would be worshipping him. In fact he would become the topmost person, the one who has gone deepest into the trance.

And afterwards he would meet me and he would say, "It hurts, but no harm. You can come..."

I said, "In fact you should share. Those things have come to you because of my needle, not because of your trance. And if you don't share, I can change people; I can go to any other. There are fifteen people dancing."

"No, no," he would say. "Don't go. You can take your share. Without you I cannot manage."

It became... others became also aware, what is the point? Wherever this boy is, only there the spirit comes. So others asked me, "What is the reason that wherever you are the spirit comes?"

I said, "I am a spiritual person. If you want to have a taste, I can give it in your side. People will come. But don't get angry at me."

None of them was in trance. I tried all of them. None of them was in trance; they were all pretending.

But thousands of people believe.

One can go into trance but it is really a kind of deep hypnosis. It can't do any harm to you, but it has nothing spiritual in it. And it is never a superconscious state.

I became so much known to these people that one day before the festival they would start coming to me: "Please help me. Don't go to anybody else. I promise, half and half we will share. But you have to promise to come to me."

I said, "Don't be worried. I will see, because I have many other clients. Who is going to give me more and who is strong enough because this needle... for one or two hours I have to go on giving injections. An ordinary man may break down and may simply shout, ?I don't want all this. Stop! This needle is too much.' "

A few of them came to me and said, "Can't you bring a smaller needle?"

I said, "No, this is a special needle. Without it I cannot work."

My father said, "Why do these Mohammedans come to you? - and just before their festival?" That day he had been watching. He said, "I have seen almost ten persons come to you and I don't see the point. Why?"

I said, "You don't know." I showed him the needle.

He said, "I cannot connect."

I said, "This is their trance."

He said, "My God, so you are doing this business!"

I said, "They are doing business. I am just a partner. And my work is very simple. I just have to keep the person dancing higher than others, giving him more and more energy with the needle. Naturally more people are attracted towards him. Others by and by slow down, seeing that nobody is coming to them. He becomes the center of the whole festival. And if they offer me half of their share...?"

He said, "You are strange. I have been telling you to come to the temple. You won't come, and you have started going to the mosque to do this business. And this business... if somebody comes to know about it, it can create a riot in the town - that you are disturbing their people who are in trance."

I said, "You don't be worried. Nobody can say this, because I know all of them, and they are all dependent on me. Their trance is dependent on my needle. Before I entered into this business, they were just jumping slowly because the dead body is too much of a weight. They need some energy."

My father said, "I don't understand you. You call this needle energy?"

I said, "You should come and see" - and he came. He saw me, and he saw that it was true that the person I was with had the most presents and he was jumping high, higher. He could see on his face... each time I had to use the needle his face would go - because it was a big needle. But it was a question of competition, too. Those fifteen people... and nobody said anything to anybody else, because then they would be exposing themselves - that they were all fake, nobody was true.

In all the Mohammedan countries around the world this goes on happening every year, and millions of people are befooled - there is no trance.

Trance is possible but for that you need a certain training in auto-hypnosis. Or, you may have a natural tendency of falling unconscious. You may have a very thin layer of consciousness, and anything that affects you very deeply - like Ramakrishna - may make you go unconscious; otherwise you need a training. But the training will lead you to the unconscious - it is not a spiritual growth.

You have to be conscious, more conscious. That's why my process is to first reach to the highest point of consciousness, then turn backwards. Now go down with the light that you have, the insight that you have, into the deeper, dark parts of your being. Now you will be going with light, and wherever you are, there will be light.

Your unconscious has treasures, your collective unconscious has treasures, your cosmic unconscious has treasures, but you need light and you need alertness. If you yourself are unconscious, how can you find any treasures in the three layers of your deep unconscious mind?

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