Enlightenment is not a device

Fri, 2 June 1987 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
The Rebel
Chapter #:
am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
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Question 1:






Anand Somen, enlightenment is not a device. All devices are for enlightenment, but enlightenment itself is an absolute reality. You think it is now miles away while before it used to be just around the corner. That was a device - to make you feel that it is just around the corner. It is certainly miles away, but those miles are very relative - they depend upon the intensity of your longing. They can be longer, they can be shorter; you can go on for lives searching for it, and you can find it today.

You have to understand the idea of relativity. Those miles are not a reality in themselves - they depend on you. If your longing is just lukewarm, then those miles are very long - perhaps too long.

Perhaps it may not be possible for you to reach it. But if your longing is a flame in your heart and you are afire with it, it is a question of life and death, then those miles miraculously become very short - sometimes so short that a master can say, "You can have it right here and now," and they disappear completely.

But the problem is to have a longing so deep, so total, so intense that it becomes your very life, your very heartbeat; that you are surrounded by it twenty-four hours a day, that you breathe it in, you breathe it out. Whatever you are doing does not matter, an undercurrent of a deep search continues.

Even while you are asleep, the undercurrent of the search does not stop. You go to sleep with the longing, you wake up with the same longing; and between these two points you may have been asleep, but the longing has continued in your unconscious.

I have been telling you that enlightenment is just around the corner; that is certainly a device. For most of you it is not just around the corner, but a few of you can make it just around the corner by how much you love it....

There are so many categories: somebody is simply curious, he has no longing, he has become curious because others are searching for it. He starts thinking that there must be something in it if so many people are searching, but no bell rings in his own heart, nothing clicks within his being.

Then it is millions of miles away. A few are just students - they are studying it as subject matter to increase their knowledge, to become more knowledgeable. They don't have a desire to achieve it, they don't have a desire to become pilgrims. They want to know everything about it - perhaps sometime it may be useful.

One great sage in Sri Lanka was dying. All his disciples... and they were in the thousands because the man was over a hundred years old; he had lived long, he had been a man of charisma, and he had attracted many. Hearing that he was going to leave the body, they had all gathered from different parts of the country to have his last darshan, to be in his presence for the last time, to feel that silence, that celebration, that fragrance that was always around him.

Before dying, the old man opened his eyes and said, "You have loved me, and you have loved whatever I have been teaching you. Now I am leaving the body... if somebody wants to come with me, he can stand up." Masters are crazy and strange people. Now everybody started looking at each other, thinking, "He is a very old disciple - perhaps he wants to go," but everybody was looking at each other, and nobody was standing up.

And the old man said, "The one who will be ready to go with me will go enlightened. He will not go in his ordinary consciousness; he will go fully conscious." But there was such a great silence over that crowd of thousands of disciples. Finally one man raised his hand, but he was afraid that he might be misunderstood so he said, "Please don't misunderstand me. I am not standing up, I am simply raising my hand. I would like to know what is this enlightenment, what is death?"

The old man said, "I am ready to take you with me; you can have the experience yourself of both enlightenment and death."

He said, "I would have liked to come with you very much, but there are so many things incomplete.

My wife is sick, my children are not grown up, my daughter is going to be married; so just now it is not possible for me. But I want to inquire so that I can remember, and when it becomes possible for me, I can follow the way."

The old man laughed. He said, "You have been with me for almost forty years, and all these forty years I have been talking about nothing but enlightenment, in different ways, from different aspects.

And in forty years you have not been able to complete your things... how many more years will you take?"

He said, "Forgive me. In fact, I'm only a student. There is no longing in me to become enlightened; I don't want to take such a risk - and that, too, with death. But I'm very interested in knowing about it. You can trust my sincerity as far as knowing about it is concerned." This is a category.

Then there are people who really want... who are not just students, who are disciples; and nobody can doubt their intentions, but they want enlightenment to be given to them. They are waiting for some savior. They themselves are not ready to travel the path; that seems too arduous. Why not wait till the savior comes?

Millions of Buddhists are waiting for the savior, millions of Christians are waiting for the savior, millions of Hindus are waiting for the savior. That, too, is a very tricky strategy of the mind to postpone; neither does the savior come, nor do you have to go through a dangerous experience.

It is beautiful to talk about it, it is beautiful to read about it, it is beautiful to know about it; it is also beautiful if somebody else can simply give it to you. But enlightenment is not one of those things that can be given - you have to get it, you have to move, you have to evolve, you have to grow.

You cannot remain as you are and become enlightened. You have to deserve it.

You have to purify your consciousness, you have to deepen your meditation, you have to make your lovingness unconditional. And you have to move beyond the mind, beyond the body, to a point within yourself which is the center of your being, which is going to become enlightened. For that a very deep desire is needed, a desire for which you can risk everything, a desire for which you can be ready to die.

Then enlightenment is just by the corner... even the corner is too far away. Perhaps to the man of total longing, enlightenment is just within him; hence I say it is a relative phenomenon, it is very elastic. Those miles can be long, those miles can be very small - ultimately it all depends on you.

Anand Somen, you are saying, "I see you here every day, so radiant, so full of light, so far away from the everyday reality of my life."

Don't take it for granted, because one day you will not see me. And then you will repent for all those old days when I was alive and available, and could have helped you in every possible way. It is a strange thing about the human mind that you become aware of things only when you have lost them.

When you have them, you tend to forget them - they become too obvious.

You are saying, "You are a shining beacon showing the way, and the possibility of something more that can happen in me."

How long are you going to see me just as a shining beacon showing the way? It is time. You should walk on the way; otherwise, what purpose is my beckoning, my shining, my calling you forth, if you don't move a single inch? Just don't get lost in enjoying my presence; it has to become your experience too, and for that, you have to walk the way. Gautam Buddha is reported to have said, "Buddhas can only show the way, they cannot walk for you." Nobody can do that. It is just not part of the nature of things.

You say, "Years ago, here with you, I used to feel that enlightenment was just around the corner..."

You were new, and for the new people I have to be seducing. Unless I say, "It is near the corner, by the corner," they are not going to be bothered about enlightenment. They have too many things to do in life... futile, but in their consciousness in this moment they seem to be very significant. But if I say, "It is just by the corner," even a man who has no great desire to be enlightened may think, "What is the harm? Just have a look... it is just by the corner."

But once you have moved that much, things start changing. Just a slight movement in your consciousness, and then you cannot stop because new experiences start exploding.

Enlightenment may not be by the corner, but there are things which are tremendously beautiful, peaceful, silent, very fulfilling. And by the time you reach to the corner, you will experience all those things and you will forget your past engagements, occupations. A great desire is bound to arise to go a little more, a little deeper; perhaps things are more juicy - and things are juicier the deeper you go.

And as the taste becomes your taste, not just my word, then it takes you. Even if the goal is miles away, a slight taste of evolving consciousness is enough seduction to follow the path.

But even when it was just around the corner, you did not explore the corner. On the contrary, you accepted the idea that it is just by the corner so what is the hurry? We can continue to be as we are. Any time, any day, when you don't have anything else to do - when the girlfriend has escaped, when you have been thrown out of your job, when there is a strike in the office - you can have a look by the corner. But that moment never comes; one girlfriend leaves, and before she has even left the other has already arrived.

Mulla Nasruddin's wife was dying, and Mulla asked, "Is there anything that I can do to make you happy in the last moments of your life?"

She said, "Yes, promise me that you will not marry that bitchy woman, Fatima."

Nasruddin said, "Don't be worried. Moreover, your clothes don't fit her."

He has already decided about Fatima. He's just working out how to make his wife's clothes fit her because she was fat, and Fatima is not fat - she's young.

One problem leaves, and ten others are standing in a queue by your door. You were thinking that there will be some time left to inquire into enlightenment, but these problems go on growing - they are unending. Even when you are dying, you will have to leave things half done - many problems untouched. And now, because I cannot go on telling you that it is by the corner... sooner or later I have to tell you the fact that it is a long journey, long because of you. Seeing your approach, it is millions of miles long.

You can bring it back to the corner, but you have to create the passion. People are running after power, money, prestige - and they devote their whole lives to it. And things like enlightenment they want to get free. They don't want to pay anything for them - not even a little walk.

Now you are saying, "It does not seem to matter really anymore, each day seeing you again is enough in itself."

That is a very dangerous conclusion, because one day certainly you will not see me. I cannot help it. I would love to remain with you forever, but that is not how things happen. Today I'm with you, tomorrow is uncertain, and the day after tomorrow it is certain that I will have to leave.

You can be nourished by my presence, you can drink me, you can allow yourself to be showered by me; but all these things should create a passion to reach to the same state in which I am.

Otherwise, you will not be able to console yourself - your misery will be great because you have made me something ultimate.

My presence is momentary. We are together for the moment - for a few moments at the most - and then we have to depart. And this departure cannot be canceled. So enjoy it, but don't be contented with it. The enjoyment of my presence and your love for me should be shown by your passionate search for enlightenment. There is no other way.

And just to console yourself, you are asking, "Is this whole idea of 'enlightenment' just another device?"

You would love it if I were to say to you, "Yes, Somen, it is only just a device. Relax, you don't have to go anywhere, you don't have to grow." But I cannot say that to you. I love you; that's why I cannot say anything just to console you, just to make you happy for the moment, and destroy your possibilities for the future.

Enlightenment is not a device. Every device is for enlightenment.

You are saying, "I don't really know what to believe anymore. You, your presence, and the tears in my eyes are all I have."

You are not expected to believe in anything, because I am not here creating believers; I want inquirers. I am not here creating obedient followers. I want rebellious seekers, not people who are incapable of saying, "No!" - because to me unless you are able to say no, your yes is meaningless.

Unless you can doubt, you cannot find authentic trust. It is only through doubt, and the dark night of doubt, that you reach to a state of finding something which is indubitable. Then trust arises. There is no need to be worried about what to believe anymore.

It is good that you say, "You, your presence, and the tears in my eyes are all I have."

That is your knowledge, superficially. If you go deeper into your being, into meditation, you will have much more. You will not lose my presence; in fact it will become deepened. You will be able to feel it in many more dimensions than you are doing now. You will be able to see it with more clarity, with more understanding, and it will be more nourishing.

And your tears will become more and more of joy, blissfulness, gratitude. They will become finally your prayers, because unless a man knows how to pray with tears, he does not know what prayer is.

Prayers made of words are not prayers, because words come from the head and the head has no understanding of gratitude. Tears come from a deeper source, from your heart; and they say much more, they contain much more.

Words are empty, tears are immensely significant. Your tears will become more and more joyful, more and more musical, more and more full of songs, more and more a dance unto themselves.

But don't stay in the same place: where the morning finds you, the evening should not find you; you should have moved. Where the evening leaves you, the morning should not find you there; you should have moved.

Life is small and the journey is tremendous, with so many treasures. And unless you make it your only passion, you will not be able to reach to enlightenment. But anyway, it is by the corner.

Question 2:



Milarepa, not only have you seen him; Kaveesha has seen the same man sitting on a chair reading the newspaper, and because of the newspaper nobody could see his face. People could see only the legs, the shoes, the socks, the hands and the newspaper; nobody has seen his upper body and his face - and nobody has dared to go in there. When Kaveesha saw it she shrieked - and Kaveesha is a great occultist, a hypnotist, a knower of witchcraft and black magic; and if she shrieks it means something really substantial!

I have seen it too because when I passed after the discourse, the fellow was reading the newspaper.

In fact I have suggested to Anando... because the ghost that lives in that room goes on knocking and disturbing Anando's sleep. Now she has got an air conditioner and she keeps it on full speed, so noisy that she does not hear him, but still this fellow knocks loudly. I have told her to talk to him, he is not a bad fellow. Many people have lived in that room before, and it has happened to everybody.

Slowly, slowly, they become accustomed and because he is a nice man... just talk to him. So she has been talking but no answer was coming.

I said, "You go on talking." Finally the man said, "I want the newspaper;" so she managed the newspaper. He was sitting in the middle of the room in the night - she could not sleep because he was sitting in the middle of the room with his newspaper, so she pushed the chair into the bathroom.

And in the middle of the night she must have gone to the bathroom and had forgotten about the fellow - and he was there, still reading the newspaper. So she shrieked herself! And then she remembered that "this is the same newspaper, no harm; it is the same man."

So Milarepa, what you have seen is not your imagination, it is a reality. Now Anando has trouble.

Every day she has to bring the newspaper for the old man, but he is such a nice person... and it is natural that living in a ghost world, he must be interested to know what is happening in the world, so he just wants a newspaper.

Next time I will tell Anando that everybody can have a little look, just from outside the door because he may feel embarrassed. His shoes are very old, very ancient, his socks have holes in them, his pants are very old fashioned, but these must have been the clothes in which he died. And there is no laundry in the ghost world, no tailors, no Gayan and her department. I will tell Anando, "You can make a few better clothes for the old man; give him a nice shower, put new clothes on him and don't be afraid of him."

You have seen rightly - that ghost has lived long; he is the oldest inhabitant of this house. This house used to belong to a royal family, a royal family of Rajasthan. Mount Abu was their estate, and when they donated this house to me they especially brought me into the room to tell me, "Whoever lives in this room, assure him not to be worried because the old ghost belongs to the royal family; he is a gentleman and has never misbehaved."

But it will be a joy for all of you to see, so Anando can make arrangements and persuade the old fellow again to sit in the chair. But just look from outside the door, don't go in; he may feel embarrassed. Ghosts don't like crowds, and ghosts don't like to be seen. It is a great concession to Anando that he was willing to sit cross-legged on a chair.

But he was clever enough; he must have remembered the old habit every husband knows - how to read the newspaper so he can avoid the wife. Neither can the wife see his face, nor can he see the wife's face, because once they look at each other, immediately trouble starts. So every husband as he enters into the house, the first thing he does... he opens the newspaper. He may have read the same newspaper in the office, in the restaurant, in the railway train; he starts reading it again just to avoid his wife.

And ghosts are more sensitive, so you can see... Anando can arrange it today - perhaps he is still reading in the bathroom.

Maitreya is laughing because he is also a great reader of newspapers, he is a collector. He goes on collecting old newspapers. Perhaps he reads them or... what does he do with those newspapers?

But he goes on piling them up, he enjoys them. Just before he became a sannyasin he was a politician, he was a member of the parliament; it's just an old habit he still continues. Anando can introduce Maitreya to that old fellow; they will enjoy each other's friendship.

Question 3:




Shunyo, in meditation you pass through spaces which are very like the spaces that you experienced with alcohol or under the influence of drugs. And they are so alike that to discriminate between them is almost impossible. Even a genius like Aldous Huxley understood that the space he reached through LSD is the same as what Patanjali, in his yoga sutras, calls samadhi; what Gautam Buddha calls nirvana; what is known in Japan as satori. And he wrote a very significant book, HEAVEN AND HELL, in which he described his experiences of taking LSD. He tried to prove that through LSD one can reach, scientifically, to the same great experience of samadhi which yoga tries to reach by old primitive methods - which take years to practice.

What was really happening? Those states have some similarity, but the experiences of alcohol, LSD, marijuana or hashish stop at a point where you become unconscious - a kind of oblivion - while meditation goes on beyond that oblivion. For a moment you feel lost and then suddenly a fresh awakening, a fresh awareness becomes available. And this will happen at every interval; each time you move to a deeper state of awareness, there will be an interim period which will look like fainting, oblivion, unconsciousness. But if you go on you will pass through it, and suddenly a more conscious, more alert, more joyful state will become available to you.

So Shunyo, it is not that you are a seeker simply out of a desire for oblivion. You have to go beyond the state where you start feeling faint or passing out. Don't be afraid - pass out, faint, go into it, let it overwhelm you. For a moment all will be lost, but only for a moment. And then suddenly - the dawn; the night is over.

This will happen many times at each turning point in awareness, but that does not prove that you are a seeker simply out of a desire for oblivion. It simply shows that you don't yet have a clear-cut understanding of the differences. The whole of humanity has lived in the past with this misunderstanding.

After he had finished his sermon, the rabbi remonstrated with the member of his congregation who had walked out in the middle of it. "Please, rabbi, forgive me," said the man, "but I have a problem."

"Ah," said the rabbi, "what is it?"

"I walk in my sleep."

In churches, in synagogues, people enjoy a beautiful morning's sleep, and because he has the habit of walking in his sleep he does that in synagogues too.

Shunyo must have been taking all those drugs. The whole new generation, particularly in the West, has gone through that phase. Now the situation has worsened; even school-age boys and girls are taking drugs; six-year-old, eight-year-old boys and girls, in the millions, are taking drugs. No government can prevent it - all the governments are trying; no politicians can succeed in preventing it because they themselves are all drinking alcohol, which is a far worse drug than marijuana.

Marijuana is innocent: it does not have all those bad after-effects that alcohol has. But it is a strange world - alcohol is available and marijuana is prohibited.

And if we really want people not to be destroyed by drugs and alcohol, we are absolutely capable of making synthetic drugs like LSD and taking all the bad effects out of them. There is no need for any prohibition. They can even become supportive to health, to better sleep, to better appetite.

Everything can be done, but because of our old mind we go on trying to enforce old, stupid prohibitions. Now thousands of young people are suffering in jails for no crime at all, just because they had been taking marijuana.

My feeling is that this widespread influence of drugs all over the world in the new generation is very significant. It shows that man is not satisfied with his ordinary consciousness, that he is fed up with it, he is bored with it, he wants new spaces, new experiences, new consciousnesses.

Drugs can give you a slight glimpse, but soon you are back to your old consciousness. The younger people will graduate from drugs to samadhi automatically because the drug, on the one hand, is very superficial - it gives only a few hours. Secondly it has some bad effects: you become addicted to it, the governments are against it and if you are caught you have to suffer in jail unnecessarily.

Samadhi costs nothing. You just have to learn the art of meditation and it can become a permanent state of cheerfulness, of joy, of blissfulness. My feeling is that the great revolution that is going on through drugs in the new generation is going to introduce that generation to meditation. There is no other way, because no drug can fulfill, in depth, the desire of the drug takers. Only meditation has that capacity.

An ancient story... God visited the earth and approached the Babylonians. "I have a commandment for you," he said. "What is it?" asked the Babylonians. "Thou shalt not steal," said God. "We don't want it," the Babylonians replied.

So God approached the Egyptians, and offered them the same deal. But the Egyptians said, "No, thanks."

And then God saw Moses wandering in the desert. "I have a commandment," he said.

"How much does it cost?" asked Moses.

"Nothing," answered God. "It is free."

"Okay," said Moses, "in that case I'll take ten."

The East knows only one commandment - and that is samadhi. Its beginning is meditation, its ultimate flowering is enlightenment.

Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Beloved Master.

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