Confess to the stars

Fri, 11 June 1987 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
The Rebel
Chapter #:
am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
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Question 1:




Prem Taranga, every question is a confession. You may be aware of it, you may not be aware of it.

Your question brings you out in the open. It is not good to say that it is a confession because that word, confession, has Catholic associations, and those associations are ugly; otherwise, confession can be a tremendously helpful device.

The moment you open up your heart and allow all the secrets that you are hiding behind you to come into the light, you become weightless. Those secrets make you feel burdened. You are always afraid of being caught - those secrets make you afraid. Confession can free you from those burdens, those fears; and confession also accepts your humbleness, your sincerity, your being a human being.

It is human to err, and it is also human to forgive... to say that it is divine to forgive is a dangerous statement. It prevents people from forgiving each other because they think they are only human beings. Forgiving is not for them; revenge is for them, punishment is for them. Hence, I would like to repeat: to err is human, to forgive is even more human.

But the Catholic conditioning has misused the device of confession. In itself, it is tremendously psychological and significant. What the patient is doing on the couch of a psychoanalyst... just because you don't call it confession, do you think he's doing something else? He's making deeper confessions than are being done before any priests. He's opening up all his wounds - even bringing up his dreams hidden in the unconscious.

But the secret of life is: if you bring your unconscious into the light, those hidden secrets which are functioning like wounds, like burdens that are heavy on you, evaporate. You need not do anything else - all that you need is a loving heart to listen to you.

The world has come to a point where nobody has the time or inclination to listen to anybody else.

At most, people hear, and they avoid even that, too. Bertrand Russell, in one of his statements, has a prediction for the future: that in the future people will become so much strangers to each other, so closed to each other that nobody will have time to waste listening to your garbage. And listening is not a simple process; you become unburdened, but the other fellow who has been listening to you - he becomes burdened.

Bertrand Russell says that the time will soon be here... you will have to go to professional listeners.

They will take their fee and listen to you; whatever you want to say, without any condemnation, without any evaluation, without saying it is good or bad - a pure listening, a professional listening.

And people will pay for it because that man is wasting his time.

In fact, that has already started happening - by the name of psychoanalysis because "professional listener" will not look like a very grand name. If you put a board on your house that says, "I am a professional listener and this is my fee - fifty rupees per hour," people will simply laugh at you - you must have gone mad. But that's what psychoanalysts are doing.

And the couch is one of the greatest inventions of Sigmund Freud. The patient is lying down... Your position, whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down, makes differences in what you say. You cannot sleep standing - for sleep you need to be lying down. But what actual process is happening - why does lying down help? And if you are lying down without a pillow, sleep will be difficult; you need a pillow too, to keep your head a little higher than the rest of your body. Then the flow of blood, the circulation of blood moves through the head very slowly - otherwise, it will keep you awake.

Secondly, when you are lying down, you are again in the same position that all animals are, horizontal... more simple, more humble, less cunning, innocent. You can say things lying down which you cannot say standing up because standing up you are vertical, different from all the animals of the world; and this verticalness is your own discovery, it is not natural. That's why standing or sitting you get tired. Lying down you feel restful, relaxed; in the morning you are fresh, rejuvenated, because lying down you have dropped the artificial position that you have created: the standing up.

While standing up, very little blood moves through your mind because it is going against gravity.

Less blood moves in the mind... the mind becomes more clever, more efficient, more cunning, more intellectual. It starts thinking about what it is saying, what will be the consequences, whether it is to be said or not - all these things. But lying down you are in a relaxed situation, and your mind too is relaxed.

And the psychoanalyst sits behind the couch, you cannot see him. It makes a difference when somebody is watching you, you are more alert and more cautious: how to be, how to behave, what to say, what not to say? But when nobody is watching, and you are talking almost to yourself....

In fact, people are idiots to go to psychoanalysts and pay their great fees; and psychoanalysis is now the most highly paid profession. You can do this lying down on your bed alone, but the difficulty is that you think talking alone looks like you are mad - you need somebody to listen to you. But do you think the psychoanalyst is really listening to you? If he goes on from morning till evening listening to many insane people, what will be the outcome for him? Will he be able to sleep in the night? His life will become a nightmare.

I have heard about one young psychoanalyst who was a novice under Sigmund Freud. They were coming out of the office when the young man said, "You are so old... I am wondering. I'm young and healthy, but I get tired listening to all kinds of nonsense - and we are not supposed to interrupt. So we have to just be there, and they go pouring all their garbage on us, one by one; this goes on the whole day. You are old and you have done this work your whole life. I wonder... what stamina you must have?"

Sigmund Freud said, "Forget all about stamina. Who hears? The moment they start talking, I start thinking of my own theories, taking notes about my own theories just to avoid them. Let them... they are simply talking to themselves. I'm only an excuse - I'm just present, they feel they are talking to me. But it is tremendously helpful because when they go out they are fresh, they have thrown out much rubbish. They are freed from many unconscious wounds; they are cleaner, as if they have just taken a shower."

But in the whole world there is not a single man who is completely psychoanalyzed - for the simple reason that you may unburden yourself twice a week, and give a tremendous amount of money, but in the remaining five days what are you going to do? You will again collect the same junk.

Your questions come out of the junk that you have collected in your mind. It is a different way of confessing: neither God is brought into it, nor is the forgiveness of God brought into it because those are absolutely fictitious - and I don't want you to be dependent on any fiction. I want you to be absolutely independent and to be yourself. That's why instead of confessions I ask you to bring questions. And a confession has to be very long and is unnecessary. A question can contain the essence of a long conversation.

My effort here is not to answer your question, but to destroy it. So it is a totally different thing than whatever is happening elsewhere in the world. People answer a question to solve it - I answer a question to dissolve it, to get rid of it, to destroy it so that it never bothers you again.

Taranga, you are right: it is not just your conditioning that makes you feel as if you are confessing when you start writing the question. It is certainly your conditioning that reminds you of confession, but every question is a confession - whether you are a Catholic, or a Protestant, or a Hindu, or a Mohammedan, or a Buddhist, it does not make any difference. Your question shows your ignorance.

People hide their ignorance, and by hiding they collect their ignorance. By collecting and hiding the ignorance, you cannot get rid of it; you go on becoming more and more ignorant.

As you grow older you become more ignorant because you become aware of areas of which you don't know anything. The child is the least ignorant - he's innocent. He has not entered on the path of knowledge, or ignorance - which is the same path. As you grow older, you start accumulating knowledge to hide your ignorance. You borrow knowledge to hide it, to cover it up; but the covered ignorance does not make you wise - it simply shows your stupidity. Your so-called wise people are full of nothing but ignorance - covered with beautiful, borrowed knowledge.

The authentic wise man is one who gets rid of all ignorance, and never allows himself to be burdened by borrowed knowledge; he gathers knowledge through his own experience. Your questions are tremendously helpful to get rid of your ignorance.

I want you to again become childlike, innocent, because from there you have taken a wrong route. I have to bring you back to the same crossroads from which you took the wrong road. Once you start feeling deeply in your heart that "I know nothing," you are finished with ignorance.

Now you can start searching for the truth which is part of your being. Now you can start searching for existential experiences of love, peace, silence, beauty, joy - which are all part of your own being.

You don't have to go to any library, and you don't have to go to somebody wiser. You have simply to go to your own innermost source from where your life arises, from the same source that your light will also arise.

You are asking, "It seems that I have an expectation that by telling you, you can free me."

By telling me, you are freed. I cannot free you, I am nobody's savior. That old crap about saviors, prophets, messengers... I don't belong to that rotten lot. By simply asking it, you have taken the first basic step of getting free of it. My work will be to destroy your question so that you don't allow it to enter in you again, so that you can say, "Enough is enough. Now get lost! You have tortured me enough."

Life does not consist of questions, life consists of mysteries which cannot be questioned and cannot be answered. Hence, it is available only to the innocent. The knowledgeable one is as far away from life's mysteries as his knowledge is great. The humble, the simple, the innocent person is close to the source of life and light because there is nothing to take him away from it.

And you are also worried that you are "... abdicating responsibility by asking in this way? Perhaps it is not authentic asking?" Every asking is authentic if the question means something to you. If it does not mean anything to you, then even if the question is borrowed....

Once a professor came to me and asked, "One of my friends has fallen in love with a woman who is not of his caste." In this country, the caste is such a problem. "Now, what do you suggest?"

I looked into the eyes of the man and I saw that he was trying not to look directly into my eyes. I said, "It will be better if you send your friend. He can ask the question for you."

He was very much shocked. He said, "How did you know it?"

I said, "This is my whole business. The way you are asking it - you seem to be emotionally involved, but you are being clever. One of your friend has fallen in love... YOU have fallen in love, but you don't even have the courage to ask the question. Forget all about love because one who cannot even ask the question - how is he going to marry a woman who is not of his caste? And do you think these problems are like one of your mathematics problems: some friend is suffering, you take the answer from me, give the answer to him and everything is clear? You bring your friend."

He said, "Forgive me. I was telling a lie. I simply wanted to know the answer."

I said to him, "No question unrelated to the person and the context can have a right answer."

This is an example of an unauthentic question. The question is not the way he is proposing it.

He wants to know the way, in somebody else's name. Or sometimes people start asking just to show their knowledge: their questions don't come from their ignorance, but from their knowledge.

They have accumulated knowledge from books, from libraries, from universities; and that knowledge creates questions.

I was staying in a small village in the government guest house, because that was the only place in that village - it was deep in the forest. Two old men came to me and they said, "We are childhood friends" - they looked to be nearabout eighty years old - "and we have been quarreling all our lives.

We are neighbors as well as friends. The problem is that I'm born into one religion, and he's born into a different religion: I'm a Jaina and he's a Hindu. He believes in God and I don't believe in God. Hearing that you are staying here, we thought it is better... we have quarreled our whole lives: arguments, scriptures, quotations - nothing solves it. Neither one becomes victorious. So we thought we should go to you and ask."

I said, "Your question is not authentic. Neither the Hindu knows there is a God - it is bookish knowledge, hypothetical - nor does the Jaina know there is no God; that too is the same kind of knowing. You are not different. Your conflict is absolutely futile.

"Your scriptures say there is no God, his scriptures say there is a God. He believes in that hypothesis, you believe in this hypothesis; but if you look deep down, you both believe in hypotheses. You don't belong to different religions - you both belong to the religion of those who believe in hypotheses.

You should have inquired, do you really have any experience, either one of you? Has the Hindu seen God? Has the Jaina seen that there is no God? Have you explored the whole universe and found no God?"

They looked at each other, and then they looked at me and they said, "Then we wasted our whole lives. You are right: he had no experience of God, I don't have any experience of no God. His hypothesis is different, my hypothesis is different; but we are both hypothetical."

Now, hypotheses are just fictions. A question becomes unauthentic when it comes out of your knowledge. A question is authentic when it comes out of your ignorance. But from wherever it comes, what I'm going to do is the same: I'm going to destroy it, dismantle it. I'm not going to give you the answer so that you can be free of the question, I'm going to shoot the question so that you will be free of the question.

You just need a clear analysis of your question: from where does it come, who has put it in you? It is not yours; but if it is yours, is it existential and not hypothetical? Either way it has to be destroyed.

There have been two processes going on in the world, since the very beginnings of humanity, to demystify existence. Science is doing this work in a more pragmatic, practical way; religion was doing the same work in a more hypothetical, fictional way. But both were trying to find answers for all questions. This I call demystification.

There has been a small current of different people, the mystics, who are neither scientists nor part of any organized religion. To me they are the most precious people the world has produced.

Their whole effort is to not let anyone demystify existence because all demystification is false. Let existence remain a mystery because you can enjoy a mystery, you can sing songs in a mysterious world, you can love, you can dance.

In a demystified universe there will be no poetry, no songs, no dances, no love, no beauty, nothing to explore - just go to the library, or go to the computer; ask the question and find the answer. There will be no self-realization, there will be no enlightenment, there will be no more Gautam Buddhas, any Chuang Tzu, any Kabir, any Jesus, any Pythagoras. All that is beautiful will disappear.

And moreover, the demystification, the very process, is based on wrong notions. You cannot demystify anything.

D.H. Lawrence, according to me, is one of the mystics of our contemporary world. I don't confine the word mystic only to the people who are religious. An irreligious person, an antireligious person, an atheist, it makes no difference: if they are in favor of the mystery of existence they are mystics. D.H.

Lawrence was walking in the garden with a small child. He was asking questions, just as children go on asking question after question; and questions which even great philosophers cannot answer, and parents go on hushing them up, "Don't ask this question. When you grow up you will know the answer."

Once this was said to me by one of my father's friends. He was thought to be the most learned man in that area. He was a great scholar, indeed. Whenever I asked him anything, he would say, "Wait!

Don't be impatient. When you grow up, you will know."

I went on growing up. The last time I saw him he was dying. I said, "Now I'm grown up, and you are fully grown up. Are you ready to answer my questions? If not, then at least confess your dishonesty...

that you were cheating a small child because you didn't know; by growing up I have not come to find any answers. And you have become completely ripe, the fruit is just going to fall at any moment.

You just tell me, have you found?"

Death makes people sincere. He opened his eyes, and he said, "Forgive me. It was just to protect myself and my reputation as a wise man. I had no answer for it. The truth is there is no answer about anything. All answers are created by clever and cunning people to pretend that they are wise and to reduce others as ignorant."

I said, "I'm happy that at least at the time of death you have confessed the truth. This makes you a wise man. Your whole life's learning has not made you wise, but this sincerity, this innocence at the moment of death certainly makes you wise. You lived in ignorance, but you are dying in innocence."

The little child asked D.H. Lawrence a strange question: "Why are trees green?" Now science can give a temporary answer; temporary, I say, because it is not really an answer but only postpones the question further. They can say, "Trees are green because they have a certain chemical, chlorophyll.

Because of chlorophyll, they are green." But this is not the answer. Now the question will be: "Why do the trees have chlorophyll?"

It is the same question in a more technical jargon. The child was asking a simple question without jargon, "Why are the trees green?" And you think you have answered by saying that it's because they have chlorophyll. But why do they have chlorophyll in the first place, and not something else?

Mystery is not destroyed, only pushed back. The whole of science has pushed the mystery back. It has not been able to demystify it. Neither have all the religions of the world been able to demystify existence; they have found answers for everything, but all their answers are pseudo.

D.H. Lawrence was certainly a mystic. His answer to the child has made me immensely respectful towards the man. He said, "Listen, trees are green because they are green. Understand?"

The child said, "That's the right answer. They are green because they are green!"

The mystery remains the same. D.H. Lawrence had not tried to deceive the child by giving some phony answer. If he had been a scientist, then chlorophyll; if he was religious, then God made them green. But why did he make them green? Is he mad? Could he not make blue trees, yellow trees, red trees - the whole spectrum of colors? And the gardens would have looked far more beautiful.

This is very monotonous - just green! Was he short of other colors - was there too much green with him? So he painted all the trees green, and since other colors were in smaller quantities he painted flowers yellow, red, black... there are black roses, blue. He used all the colors for flowers, and that simply shows that the quantity of other colors was not enough to paint all the trees - only green did he manufacture in a great quantity.

And he goes on painting, for century after century - green.

The religious man would have answered, "God created them green." And there it ends. He has demystified the greenness of the trees. But the real, authentic, sincere people have not tried to demystify existence. On the contrary, they have made the mystery even deeper. They have made it miraculous.

Poetry confers on existence more mystery, painting confers on existence more mystery, music confers on existence more mystery, dancing confers on existence more mystery. To me, anything that makes the existence more mysterious is the only true spirituality.

So don't be worried, Taranga, about asking questions. If they are confessions, it is good. They will relieve you, it will be a tremendous relief. If they are borrowed questions, then too it is better to get rid of them.

Man has to come to a state of consciousness where there is no question left. This state is the answer. There is no answer as such. This consciousness without any questions is the answer, because this consciousness is the most mysterious thing in the whole of existence amongst all its mysteries.

It is good that you have not been brought up in the Catholic church; it is a great blessing. But then you must have been brought up by other fools. It is very difficult not to be brought up by fools in the world, because every fool has taken some stand: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Mohammedan.

Now poor children have to be born somewhere - they cannot just jump from the sky onto the earth and declare that "I have come!" And because they had to be born out of mothers, and they have to live with the parents and the priests and the teachers before they can even start any conscious effort to know themselves, their whole mind is conditioned.

Confession can be a great psychological device. The Catholic church has misused it.

Just a few months ago, the pope declared that to confess to God directly is a sin. Strange, he has not supplied any reason, any argument, any proof for why man cannot confess to God directly. On the other hand, they go on calling you children of God - and the children cannot confess to their father directly?

But it is a question of business. If people start confessing directly to God, who is going to go to the confessional booth in the church to confess to the priest? - because the confession to the priest has many, many implications. First, he will fine you - that puts ten dollars in the box for charity, for the poor. Secondly, he knows your secrets, your private life; you cannot leave the fold, otherwise he will expose you. You are being caught up in a psychological slavery. Thirdly, he reduces you into a subhuman existence. He takes away your pride, he destroys your dignity.

I have heard, that a priest had a great friendship with a rabbi and they had decided one Sunday that, after the church work was over, they would go to play golf. The rabbi came and waited outside in his car. Finally, he entered the church and asked, "What is the matter? Why are you being delayed?"

There was a long line of people who were waiting to confess - that was the reason why the priest was delayed. So the rabbi entered from the back door into the booth and said to the priest, "This line will take the whole day!"

The priest said, "Let us do one thing: let me get ready for the golf game; meanwhile you sit in my place." There is only a small window, a hole, so that the person does not feel too humiliated. He confesses from the other side. The hole is there so his voice can be heard, his name can be heard, and the priest can talk to him and tell him how much fine he has to pay.

But the rabbi said, "I have never done such a thing, and in our religion there is no such thing."

The priest said, "It is very simple. You just wait and watch what I do; you do the same thing."

A man came and he said, "I raped a woman; I am very sorry. Pray for me to God to forgive me."

And the priest said, "Yes, my son, you will be forgiven; just put ten dollars in the poor box, and never do such a thing again."

The rabbi said, "Then you can go and get ready; now I have got the idea. It is a business thing - nothing to be worried about."

The next man sat down, and he said, "I have committed two rapes."

The rabbi said, "My son, no need to worry; you put thirty dollars in the charity box."

The man said, "But that is too much! Last time I had raped a woman I was asked to put in ten dollars, and just in front of me you have told another man to put in ten dollars, so for two rapes - twenty dollars. Why you are raising your rates?"

The rabbi said, "Don't be worried, but put in thirty dollars; ten dollars in advance - you can commit one more rape and no need to come to confess."

Business is business.

The Catholic church has used confession, not to help people, but to strengthen the church. In this way they collect money, in this way they keep a hold over people because a person who has committed three rapes cannot now go to another fold; otherwise the Catholics will immediately expose him, that he is a rapist. And the priest knows everybody inside and outside - that gives him immense power.

But confession in itself - confession to the trees, confession to the stars - just talking out your heart completely, saying everything that you are hiding from the world, will have a tremendous, psychologically healing effect. This is called a sin by the pope, and I call it a virtue.

What he calls a virtue is simply business. It is exploitation of poor victims who have first been made to believe - by the sermons of the priests, and the Bible - that "You are sinners if you do such and such thing." So first you make them guilty, then bring them to the confessional, then take money for it. And there is no God to pray to.

But talk to the universe, open your heart without anything held back, and you will feel a tremendous relief, a sense of cleanliness, purity, innocence. So if your questions feel like confessions it is perfectly good; don't feel guilty about it. Each question is a confession of your ignorance. And any confession of ignorance is good.

I am not going to make you knowledgeable, I am going to make you so ignorant that you can say, "I don't know anything." At that point, ignorance transforms into innocence, and innocence is the highest peak from which to be in communion with existence.

The teacher left her class alone for a few minutes and, on her return, was stunned to find that the students were all silent.

"Well, children," she beamed, "this is a pleasant surprise!"

"Well," volunteered a small boy, "you said that if you came back and found all of us sitting perfectly still and making no noise, you would drop dead."

Children have an innocence, and there is no higher quality than that.

Mr. Smith, the new teacher, was walking down the school corridor when a teenager called to him, "Hey, Smitty!"

Smith grabbed the youth by his coat, and said, "How dare you! In the first place, hey is for horses; and in the second place, I am a teacher in this school, and you should have the consideration and courtesy to call me Mr. Smith."

The youth looked dumbly at the teacher.

"Don't tell me," continued Mr. Smith, "that you don't know what consideration and courtesy mean."

"I did not even know," said the youth, "that hey was for horses!"

Just be so simple and so innocent...

The sage comes back, full circle; he again becomes a small child and looks at the existence with the eyes of a small child. And then everything takes a mysterious aroma.

That mysterious aroma is the only godliness there is.

Question 2:



Ramarshi, even if the soulmates can only be nothing but cellmates, that is a great achievement.

They are intimate enemies.

Ordinary love is nothing but the other side of the coin: on one side is hate, on the other side is love.

And the coin can be turned at any moment - in the middle of the night. In twenty-four hours it turns many times. There are no soulmates, because to be a soulmate you first have to understand what the soul is; you don't even know that 'hey' is for horses!

It is so clear that for our experiences of life we have learned only words - love, soul, friendship - but we don't know their meaning as experience, only as given in the dictionaries. And unless you know their meaning in experience, you are simply carrying empty words, dead words. Their corpses start stinking very soon.

About a soulmate... Joe, a gangster, all bandaged up and on crutches, meets his friend. "What happened to you?" Joe's friend asked.

"I was in a train wreck," explains Joe, "I collected fifty grand, and my wife collected twenty-five grand."

"How badly hurt is your wife?" his mate asked.

"Ah," says Joe, "she was not hurt a bit, but even in the excitement of the wreck I had the presence of mind to kick her in the teeth."

These are the soulmates.

It is a very insane world in which we are living; where no education is given to people about the art of life, the art of love, the art of friendship, the art of silence, the art of meditation, and finally the art of death. These are the most essential things, and we are wasting almost one-third of people's lives in teaching them about a history which is just shame and nothing else. We are teaching them about geography, which is mostly man-made: nations and their boundaries, which are ugly.

We are not teaching them anything that can make their lives a search for truth, that can make their lives a rejoicing, that can fill their beings with so much fragrance that they will have to share it. Only in that sharing is there friendship, is there love, is there compassion. But we are keeping people from knowing this.

Our whole education is rotten. It certainly makes you clerks, stationmasters, postmen, police commissioners. It gives you a livelihood, but it does not give you life, and it does not give you love.

And just a livelihood is not enough to call yourself alive. I am reminded of Jesus, who says, "Man cannot live by bread alone." But your whole education teaches you nothing else but "bread alone"

- nothing more, nothing above, nothing beyond. Hence, you see so many accidents all around the world - in every home. And it is because of our own stupidity that we go on allowing the society to do this harm to each individual.

This will be one of the significant things for all rebellious spirits - to transform the whole educational pattern. One-third of our education should be concerned with livelihood; one-third of our education should be concerned with our well-being - body, health, ways to stay younger and live longer. And one-third - the last and the most important - should be concerned with love, with death, and the secrets of life itself.

Only then will we have a wholesome education. And through that education, we can create a man and a society which will be healthy, youthful, loving, soulful, overflowing with joy, always ready to share with anyone - because nobody is a stranger on the earth; the whole earth is one family.

Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Beloved Master.

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