These Letters Have No Meaning
A MAN WHO HAD SPENT MANY YEARS TRYING TO PUZZLE OUT MEANINGS WENT TO SEE A SUFI AND TOLD HIM ABOUT HIS SEARCH.
THE SUFI SAID, "GO AWAY AND PONDER THIS - IHMN." THE MAN WENT AWAY. WHEN HE CAME BACK, THE SUFI WAS DEAD. "NOW I SHALL NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH!" MOANED THE PUZZLER.
AT THAT THE MOMENT THE SUFI'S CHIEF DISCIPLE APPEARED. "IF," HE SAID, "YOU ARE WORRYING ABOUT THE SECRET MEANING OF IHMN, I WILL TELL YOU. IT IS THE INITIALS OF THE PERSIAN PHRASE 'IN HURUF MAANI NADARAND' - WHICH MEANS, 'THESE LETTERS HAVE NO MEANING.'"
"BUT WHY SHOULD I HAVE BEEN GIVEN SUCH A TASK?" SAID THE PUZZLING MAN.
"BECAUSE, WHEN A DONKEY COMES TO YOU, YOU GIVE HIM CABBAGES. THAT IS HIS NUTRITION, NO MATTER WHAT HE CALLS IT. DONKEYS PROBABLY THINK THAT THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN EATING CABBAGES."
RELIGION IS NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL ENTERPRISE; it has nothing to do with mind. Religion has no problems to be solved. It is not a question of thinking, it is a question of living. It is a question of going deeper into your being. It is not a question of intellectual thought process but existential deepening in your own self. Religion has no question-marks as philosophy has.
Philosophy is questioning, religion is a quest the difference is great. If you think, you go on moving on the periphery. Thought has no profundity, thought is always superficial. It is like waves on the surface of the ocean. Waves cannot exist in the depth of the ocean, they can only exist on the surface.
Thinking is like waves on the surface of consciousness, and the question is to know the depth. You can go on chasing the waves, you will not attain to anything. Your life will be a sheer wastage.
But why does man go on thinking? When it is a question of getting into one's own being, why does he keep clinging to the surface? It is out of fear; depth needs courage. You will have to dive deep.
Who knows what there is in the depth? You may disappear, you may not be able to come back again, you may melt. And the depth is dark, very dark. On the surface there is light, and on the surface there are many people just like you; you are not lonely. In the depth you will be alone. The deeper you go the more alone you will be. At the very center of your being there is just aloneness and nothing else. There you cannot take your friends, crowds, people. Unless one is ready to go on this lonely pilgrimage, one continues thinking.
Thinking is a substitute, a substitute for something which is totally different - deepening. Thinking needs talents, deepening needs only courage. In the world of thinking you can prove your ego very easily. If you are articulate, a little logical, cunning, clever, calculating, you can become a great man.
But in the depth no talent is needed; all that is needed is immense courage to be alone.
That's what meditation is all about. Meditation is just the diametrical opposite of thinking. Meditation is not thinking at all, it is a state of no-thought.
Philosophy is a substitute for religion. Those who go into philosophy are lost to religion, and those who want to go into religion, they have to drop all kinds of philosophizing.
Out of fear thinking arises - it keeps you occupied; out of the fear of being alone - it keeps you engaged. And certainly you can always rationalize that your engagement in thoughts is of great significance. If you are thinking about God, naturally you can believe that you are thinking about something great. But whether you are thinking about God or about cabbages, it makes no difference at all - thinking is thinking. The object does not make any difference.
The only transformation happens when you drop thinking, when suddenly you are in a state of no- thought, no-mind. There are people who think about money, and people who think about power, and people who think about success; and there are people who think about God, prayer, meditation - but there is no difference at all. The object of thinking does not change the process of thinking - let it sink deep into you - otherwise people simply go on changing their objects. If somebody is thinking of money we say he is a worldly man, and if somebody is thinking about God we say, "Look, what a religious man!" Both are worldly. The man who is thinking about God is also as afraid of no-thought, of aloneness, as the man who is thinking of money; no difference at all.
Your gods and your ghosts, all are created out of fear. The people you find in the temples and churches and mosques praying, bowing down to the statues they themselves have made, are not in prayer, they are simply trembling with fear. It is out of fear that they have created the temples, it is out of fear that they have created a God. God is their ultimate companion. They want never to be alone, so they say, "When I die, the wife will leave me, the husband will leave me, the children will be no more with me, the whole world will leave me - but God will be with me." At least they can hope that, that "God will be with me. But I will not be alone." And religion starts happening only when you gather courage to be alone.
There is something like God, but that happens only to people who are ready to be alone. Aloneness brings you to your own divinity. Beware of the gods that you have created out of fear !
Three men went up to a haunted house because they had heard there was a fortune there.
The first man went in while the two others remained outside. He saw some money on a table and started to put the money in his pocket, when he heard a voice say, "I am the ghost of the Holy Navel, put the money back on the table !" The man ran out the back door.
The second man entered because the first took so long. He also saw the money on the table. As he started to put the money in his pocket, a strange voice said, "I am the ghost of the Holy Navel, put the money back on the table!" This man also fled out the back door.
The third man got tired of waiting, and he went inside. He saw the money. As he began to put the money in his pocket, a strange voice said, "I am the ghost of the Holy Navel, put the money back on the table!"
But instead of running away, the man said, "I am the ghost of Davy Crockett, and I will put the money in my pocket!"
The ghost disappeared, and the man went out the front door a rich man.
The fear is the root cause of all your gods and all your ghosts. The fear is the root cause of how you have created heaven and hell.
The other side of fear is greed. Wherever fear is, there is greed, wherever greed is, there is fear; they are two aspects of the same coin. So you have created ghosts and gods - ghosts out of fear, gods out of greed - and you have created hell and heaven. If you look deeply into your theologies, you will not find anything else but the psychology of fear and greed.
The true religion makes you free of fear and greed. And the only way to be free of fear and greed is to be able to be alone, is to be able to go in, into the darkness of your inner being, to move to the center.
We remain on the periphery, and the center is not far away, and you have not to travel long to reach the center. It can happen this very moment - because it is your center. You may be keeping your back to it; just a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn and it is there. It has always been there, but you have not yet gathered enough courage to face yourself. So you get involved in so many things: in relationships, in business, in power politics, in ambitions. You go on getting involved in something or other just to avoid one single fact - and that is you. This creates a double-bind. Because you are avoiding yourself you start creating a false self. One cannot live without a self; at least a nominal self, a nominal center is needed, otherwise you will fall apart, into pieces. Because you avoid the real self you have to create a false self; that is the ego.
The ego is a make-believe illusion, but very utilitarian. It gives you some idea of your being centered, although that idea is very chaotic. The ego cannot really give you the idea of being centered. In the first place it is only a combination of many opinions that have been expressed about you by others.
Somebody has said you are very great and somebody has condemned you. Now both the ideas are there. Somebody has said you are beautiful and somebody has said that you are ugly; now both the ideas are there.
Your ego is a patchwork: all the opinions that have been expressed about you, good and bad, favorable, unfavorable, are collected there. Out of these ideas you have created a kind of person in your mind, an image: "Who am I?" This image is very hotch-potch; that's why your life remains a chaos, a mess. And because this image has come from the outside, from people who don't know your center - can't know our center, because even you don't know your center, how can they? it is always something which is opposite to your real center - you become two persons instead of one.
You become a duality. You are something and you believe yourself to be something else. You do one thing; you think you are doing it because of this motivation, but there is some other motivation of which you are completely unaware. You can never become integrated. You will go on becoming more and more schizophrenic.
I have heard...
There is a story about a spinster who had a habit of checking under the bed to see if it was safe to go to sleep. For years she went through this ritual of checking to make sure nobody was hiding there. After many years of doing this, one day she looked and, lo and behold, there was a man hiding under her bed.
She screamed from excitement and said, "So finally you are here! "
On the surface you are one thing, in the depths just the opposite. On the surface you may be a saint, in the depths a sinner. On the surface you may be very moral and deep down you may be carrying all kinds of immoral desires. On the surface you may look always very happy, smiling, and deep down you may be just despair and nothing else.
This distance goes on growing and becomes bigger and bigger as you grow in life and in experience.
By the time you die you don't die as one man, you die as a crowd. The child is born as a single individual, but by the time he is eighty and ready to die, certainly he will be two persons. More possibility is that he will be more than two - three, four, five, six, ten - nobody knows. He can be a crowd.
You just watch yourself and you will not find a single self in you but many selves. You are multi- psychic, you have many minds, and each mind is fighting with your other minds. There is great competition inside, continuous quarrel. And in that quarrel, in that conflict, you are dissipating energy; and when you dissipate energy in constant civil war you lose zest for life. You lose all possibilities to be ecstatic, you lose joy.
William Blake is right when he says, "Energy is delight." That's a very profound statement. Yes, energy is delight, and the greater the energy you have the greater will be your delight. It is energy that becomes delight; overflowing energy is delight, overflowing energy becomes celebration. When the energy is dancing in you, in unison, in a deep harmony, in rhythm and flow, you become a blessing to the world.
But how can it happen if you are continuously fighting and your whole energy goes into fight? And nobody is going to win, because all those selves are false. Only the true can win. Only truth is ever victorious, lies can never win; yes, small battles maybe - one lie can win upon another lie - but the ultimate war can never be won by any lie. It is won only by the truth. But we go on choosing this lie and that lie, and we never move towards the truth.
This is a very strange situation man finds himself in, and this is everybody's situation. And because we start thinking about life, life's problems, life's mysteries, we get trapped in scriptures, doctrines, theories - because from where else are you going to get the answer? If you ask, "Who created the world?" now how are you going to find the answer to who created the world? You were not present there when the world was created - if it ever was created. How are you going to find the answer to who created the world? One thing is certain - nobody could have been present, because if somebody had been present then the world would have already been there. Nobody could have been present, so nobody could have been a witness. And once you ask such a stupid question, which looks very, very intelligent: who created the world? - almost every religious person goes on asking this - then you are bound to fall into a trap. Then those cunning and calculating people who can answer it - and all their answers are false because nobody can be a witness to it, and all their answers are contradictory to each other...
Mahavira says the world was never created. Now how to believe whether he was right or not?
Christians say the world was created exactly four thousand four years before Jesus Christ was born... on the first of January, on Monday, in the early morning, at six o'clock. Now this is patently stupid, because now we know, enough proofs are there, that the world has existed - at least this earth has existed - for millions of years. If the world was created four thousand four years before Jesus, that means the world has existed for only six thousand years. But the ruins of Harappa are seven thousand years old; it is scientifically proved. And we have found bones of animals which are millions of years old. But you will be surprised at what Christians say.
There was one Christian thinker who said that God can do that - he made the world exactly four thousand four years before Jesus; but God is omnipotent - he made bones that look millions of years old. And why did he make these bones? - just to test your trust. Those who are really trusting, they will trust, and those who doubt will fall into hell. Cunning people can always go on finding explanations.
To ask a question means you are ready to receive some answer from somebody. And whenever you receive some answer from somebody you are falling more and more away from the truth, because truth can never be borrowed. Neither can the Vedas give it to you, nor the Koran, nor the Bible.
Neither can Buddha give it to you, nor Mohammed, nor I. Nobody can give it to you.
Truth has to be discovered by everybody in his own being. You are truth! "Ana el haq!" Mansur, the great Sufi, declared "I am truth!" But how can you declare this unless you have reached to the very core of your being? Because we ask such questions, we are supplied with answers.
There is one economic law: wherever there is a demand there will be a supply. Ask a stupid question and you will get a thousand and one stupid answers. And because you have asked the question, the question creates irritation; you cannot be satisfied unless you receive some answer.
The question goes on haunting you, so you are bound to fall into the trap of some dogma, doctrine, scripture, priest, philosopher. You are bound to fall into somebody's trap, and it is because of a wrong question.
The only right and religious question is one: that is, who am I? Because nobody can answer it, that's why it is the only valid question - only you can answer it. Nobody can say who you are, only you; and you too only when you go deep into yourself, beyond all the labels that are sticking on your surface:
that "I am a doctor", that "I am an engineer", that "I am a businessman", that "I am a professor"; that "I am a Christian", that "I am a Hindu", that "I am a Catholic" or a communist, socialist; that "I am Indian", or German or Japanese.
When you start penetrating all these labels that have been stuck on you - they are many, layers upon layers; if, you throw away one layer of labels you will find another layer of labels there - you will have to peel all these labels off. Man has become almost like an onion: you have to peel all the layers off, and then only one day you reach to the center. That center is nothingness. Sufis call it fana: all is gone, all that you had believed in, all that you had trusted in, all those labels gone.
You are no more a Hindu and no more a Mohammedan. You are no more a communist, no more a socialist. You are no more this or that - neti-neti, neither this nor that. You have abandoned all those labels. You are not even a man or a woman, because consciousness cannot be man or woman.
You are neither white nor black, because that is only the pigment in the body. You are not the body either. Why? - because you can be conscious of the body. I can See my hand; that means the seer must be separate from the seen. I can observe my thoughts, so I am not my thoughts. I can watch my feelings, so I am not my feelings either.
You go on, "I am not this thing, I am not that thing." You go on and on, then a moment comes: all things have been dropped. You are a no-thing; that means nothing.
Nothing is not a state of emptiness. Remember, nothing is not a state of emptiness, nothing simply means no-thing. You are a consciousness, not a thing. And the consciousness cannot be reduced to anything whatsoever. It is irreducible. The consciousness cannot be made an object, it always remains your subjectivity. The deeper you go, the deeper you will find it is standing beyond and beyond and beyond. It is always the beyond, the transcendental.
So it cannot be identified with anything: the body, the color, the race, the language, the religion, the church, the philosophy - no, not at all. All those things are borrowed. You have been told that you are a Hindu, so you believe that you are a Hindu. Just think: the day you were born, if you had been removed from your family and you had been brought up by a Christian or a Mohammedan, would you have ever thought that you are a Hindu? And who knows, exactly the same thing may have happened: you may have been brought up by a Christian, but you may not have been born to a Christian family. You would not have ever been able to find it out, there would be no way. You will always think that you are a Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu, or whatsoever is told to you. You are born as purity, a mirror, then things are imposed on you.
The religious person has to unburden himself.
I am reminded of a minister who so thoroughly bored the members of his congregation that they finally asked him to leave.
"Give me one more chance," he pleaded.
The congregation turned out in force the next Sunday and heard him deliver, to their surprise and delight, the most inspired sermon heard for years.
After the service, everyone shook his hand warmly. One man, an elder of the church, said, "You must stay, with an increase in salary, of course."
The minister accepted. Then the elder said, "That was the greatest sermon I have ever heard. But tell me one thing. As you began to speak you raised two fingers of your left hand, at the end two fingers of your right hand. What was the significance of those gestures?"
"Those," answered the minister, "were the quotation marks."
Just look at yourself: whatsoever you are, whatsoever you think you are, is within quotation marks.
You have been told. You are quoting others when you say, "I am a Hindu." Your Hinduism is within quotation marks. When you say, "I am a communist," you are again quoting others. You can believe in the Bible, or in DAS KAPITAL, it doesn't matter; you are a believer. Then you are not a true person. You have not yet known who you are. You are clinging to some information fed from the outside by others.
To discover oneself means to drop all quotation marks, to be utterly naked in the sun. Then only one becomes religious, then only one knows one's true center and being. But people are wasting their energies in unnecessary questions. You ask one question, you will get a thousand and one answers for it, and you will become more and more confused. If you believe in any answer that answer is not going to satisfy either; it will create new questions.
For example, if you believe that God created the world, then the question arises: why? Nothing is solved. You were thinking, "My question, 'Who created the world?' will be solved if I can trust and believe that God created the world," but now the question arises: why? Why did he not create it before! What was he doing before he created the world? For eternity, just think... what was he doing! And why did he suddenly create the world four thousand and four years before Jesus? Why so suddenly? What happened, what motivation? Maybe some answer can be given to it; that is not going to help. New questions will arise. That is one of the indications of a false answer: it does not solve the basic question; on the contrary, it creates more questions.
Then the question arises, "Okay, he created the world for a certain reason, but why did he create such an ugly world, with so much suffering, with such poverty, illness, death? Why such an ugly world?" Some answer will be supplied: that he had created a beautiful world, but Adam created the original sin and that's why we are suffering. But why did he create Adam in such a way that he was capable of committing the original sin? Ultimately he must be responsible for it. The tree is judged by the fruit; God has to be judged by his creation. If he has created this world, then he doesn't look like much of a God. He looks more like a devil. Why did he create Adam with such desire, with such disobedience? And even if he had created Adam, why did he create the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden? At least he could have destroyed it, or not created it. Problems and problems...
And for thousands of years man has been writing, thinking, puzzling about these things.
Sufis say this is all nonsense, and only mediocre minds become interested in it. The real, intelligent person simply gets out of all this rubbish.
But people go on asking in a kind of unawareness, not knowing why they are asking, not knowing what answers they will get, not knowing that each answer is going to create new problems. And the more problems you have, the more mediocre you become.
Everyone may not be as unaware as the owner of a large furniture store who was in Denmark to buy some stock - but still, everyone is unaware. While on his business he happened to meet in a hotel elevator a beautiful girl who gave him a friendly smile. The furniture store owner tried to become acquainted, even though neither could understand a word of the other's language. He drew a picture of a taxi and she nodded her head in agreement, so they went for a ride in a taxi.
While riding in the cab he drew a picture of a table in a restaurant and again she nodded her head in agreement, so they went to a fine restaurant for dinner. After dinner he sketched two dancers and she was delighted. They went to a nightclub and had a lovely time.
Then the girl indicated she would like to use the pencil and paper, which he gave to her. She drew a picture of a four-poster bed. The fellow was dumbfounded. As he said to a friend later, "You know, I never could figure out how that girl knew I was in the furniture business. "
Now you can go on figuring it out your whole life.
People are mediocre; not that they are born mediocre. Every child is born utterly intelligent, absolutely intelligent, but We destroy intelligence. That's wh+at we do with our children in the schools, colleges, universities. These are the factories where we create machines and destroy human beings. These are the factories for mis-education, where we go on throwing more and more information into the child without ever helping him to become more aware, more meditative, more silent. We never teach the child how to be silent, how to be alone, how to sit by a tree sometimes and just be still - just still, watching the green of the trees and the red of the trees and the gold of the trees, and the sun, and the birds on the wing - just simply being there, utterly silent, not doing a thing, not thinking, just being, breathing in great joy, in great gratitude. We never teach children how to be open to existence.
All that we do in the schools and the universities is we go on pouring necessary and unnecessary information into their heads. And it is no wonder that when a person returns from the university he comes home a mediocre person. It is very rare to come back from the university and still be intelligent, very rare. Very fortunate people can escape from a university without being harmed by the university. The university creates computers, not human beings. Its whole effort is how to make you useful as a clerk, as a collector, as a stationmaster. It has no concern with your heart, with your being; it has no concern with your life. All that it teaches is how to earn your living - but to earn your living is not equivalent to being alive.
To be alive needs something more, something deeper, something more profound. To be alive needs more awareness, more meditativeness, more consciousness, not more information.
Intelligence is intrinsic to every human being, and not only to every human being, to everything that exists: in trees - trees are utterly intelligent; of course they have a different dimension of intelligence - and so are the animals and the birds. And in a way, their intelligence remains pure, it is not contaminated. Man's intelligence becomes contaminated.
By the time the child is four years of age he has lost the real zest for life, love for life, joy of life. He has lost something immensely valuable. It has been replaced by plastic things. He is now being forced to become a parrot. He will simply repeat; now his whole life will be a repetition. He will be a gramophone record.
Two men who had been boyhood companions were reunited after many years. One was a preacher, the other a sailor. Each was the proud owner of a parrot. In the interests of science, the two birds were placed in the same room, and the preacher's parrot immediately asked, "What must we do to be saved?"
"Man the pumps, and work like hell or we will all go down with the ship," replied the sailor's pet.
This is how you are doing things, not a little bit differently, just exactly like that. The preacher's parrot has been listening again and again to the preacher, the priest: "What must we do to be saved?" He has learned it. He does not know the meaning of it, he cannot know the meaning of it; but he can repeat the words. And the sailor's pet answered, "Man the pumps and work like hell or we will all go down with the ship." He has also heard continuously, "Man the pumps and work like hell or We will all go down with the ship." Both are simply repeating without any meaning.
Watch yourself, how you go on repeating what your parents have told you, what your teachers have told you, what your priests have told you, what your politicians have told you. Watch! And if you really want to become intelligent - and you will not be really alive if you are not intelligent - then drop all those repetitions. It is better to be ignorant than to have borrowed knowledge, because ignorance has a beauty of its own; it is innocence. Knowledge is ugly if it is borrowed; it makes you a gramophone record - "His Master's Voice". You go on repeating your whole life. Even parrots are not that unintelligent.
An old maid, who enjoyed the companionship of a profane parrot, was in the habit of receiving a visit from her pastor each Monday. Before the reverend gentleman arrived, the maiden lady would throw a cloth over the parrot's cage. It happened after one such visit that the preacher had occasion to call again the following day. Seeing him on the porch, the old maid hastily threw the cloth over her pet's cage.
As the minister entered the room, the parrot remarked, "This has been a damn' short week!"
Even parrots are not as unintelligent as your so-called knowledgeable people are.
Intelligence is a mirror-like quality in your consciousness; it reflects that which is. It has no past, it has no future, it has only present. Intelligence lives in the present; knowledge lives in the past and hopes for the future - and goes on missing the present. No mirror can reflect the past - or do you think it can reflect the past? The mirror cannot reflect the woman who was looking in the mirror yesterday. It is gone and it is gone. The mirror cannot reflect what is going to happen tomorrow; that which is not yet, is not yet. The mirror only reflects this moment, whatsoever is.
Intelligence reflects whatsoever is, knowledge goes on repeating the past and fantasizing about the future. It is because of knowledge that you are missing your life.
Sufis call these people donkeys. Why do they call them donkeys? - because a donkey can carry all the scriptures and yet will remain unaware of what he is carrying. He will not know the meaning. A donkey can carry the Koran, the Veda, the Geeta, the Bible. You can load all great scriptures of the world on the donkey and the donkey will carry them, and may even feel very egoistic: "Look! I am no ordinary donkey, I am carrying all the great scriptures of the world" - but the donkey is a donkey.
He does not know any meaning.
That is the situation of a pundit, of your so-called learned people. Sufis call them donkeys. In a subtle way they are carrying the Vedas, the Korans, the Bibles, but they don't know the meaning, because the meaning cannot be known through study, the meaning cannot be known through words.
The meaning can only be known by experience. You cannot know the meaning of Jesus' words by studying the Bible and all the commentaries on it. You can know the meaning of Jesus' words only when you attain to Christ consciousness, when you become a Christ. And remember, to become a Christian is not to become a Christ. Christian means a plastic flower, Christ means a real rose. The Christian is an imitation, an imitation of Christ. That is the title of one of the most famous Christian books, Thomas A. Kempis' IMITATION OF CHRIST. How can you imitate Christ? And if you imitate you will not be Christ, certainly you will not be Christ; you will be only a carbon copy. You will not have any authenticity, you will not have any original experience of your own. You will be a parrot, a gramophone record, "His Master's Voice".
You can understand the Bible only when you have become a Christ, because those words were uttered in that state of consciousness. Unless you attain to that state of consciousness you w ill not be able to know the meaning - and by "meaning" I am not meaning the dictionary meaning.
Dictionaries are there and you can look into the dictionaries and you can find the meaning, but that is not the real meaning. Those are only synonyms; they replace one word with another word.
For example, what is the meaning of love? You can go into the dictionary and you can find many meanings of love - profane love and sacred love, and the love of the mother for the child, and the love of the husband for the wife, and the love of the disciple for the Master - you can have all those meanings in the dictionary. But unless you taste something of love, unless you fall in love yourself, unless you become soaked with love, unless your heart throbs with love, your heart sings with love, unless you feel the dance of love happening within you, you will not know the real meaning. The meaning has to be existential.
A MAN WHO HAD SPENT MANY YEARS TRYING TO PUZZLE OUT MEANINGS WENT TO SEE A SUFI AND TOLD HIM ABOUT HIS SEARCH.
Every single word has to be meditated upon.
A MAN WHO HAD SPENT MANY YEARS TRYING TO PUZZLE OUT MEANINGS...
There are many people - and they are very respectable people, because people think they are doing something great; philosophers, thinkers, theologians - they are simply wasting their life, and wasting it to no purpose. They go on seeking and searching for meaning in words, they become very very skillful about words, but all that they know are words. Their words are empty.
THIS MAN HAD SPENT MANY YEARS TRYING, TO PUZZLE OUT MEANINGS...
Once a man came to me. For thirty years he had been searching into the lives of Buddha and Mahavira for only one single thing - who was older? They both were contemporaries, and the records are puzzling and confusing because the people of those days were not much interested in records. They were not interested in the so-called history at all. Their interest was far deeper. They were not interested in the personality of Buddha, his body, where he was born, the exact date, et cetera. They were more interested in what had happened in his consciousness. Their records are very accurate as far as Buddha's enlightenment is concerned, but their records about his physical birth, his physical death, how long he really lived, are just very confusing.
So is the case with Mahavira: there are records which say Mahavira was older; and it can be proved that he was older because he never mentions Buddha. But Buddha criticized Mahavira many times.
That means Mahavira must have been very old, already respected, recognized. Buddha must have been very young and he had to fight his way. He must have criticized Mahavira. Mahavira must have kept silent, because who bothers about a young man? Let him speak, it doesn't matter. But there are books which say that Buddha was older and Mahavira was younger; they can also prove it.
Proofs are very easy. The same thing can be used to prove just the opposite, and the same thing has been used.
Those who think that Buddha was older say that he was angry with Mahavira because he was younger and was trying to convert his disciples; that's why he was angry and he criticized Mahavira.
Mahavira did not bother. Who bothers about an old man? "He will be here just a few days, and gone." He went on working on his own. And he had all to gain, because he had no disciples that Buddha could take away, but he could take away Buddha's disciples. Buddha must have been angry.
That is how people go on thinking. Both kinds of people miss. They don't understand either Mahavira or Buddha, because neither could Mahavira be angry nor could Buddha be angry. And neither of them could be interested in converting others' disciples. But this is how scholars think. That is their mind that comes in. It says something about the so-called scholars and the historians.
This man who came to me, for thirty years - he was a well-known man, had written many books, particularly on Mahavira and Buddha - his whole problem was how to decide who was older. He asked me, "Can you shed some light on this problem, who was older?"
I said, "That is just rubbish to bother about. Why should I waste my time on who was older? And how does it matter in any way? It is not going to affect what Buddha was, whether he was three years older than Mahavira or ten years younger. Neither is it going to affect Mahavira's vision. But why have you wasted thirty years? Your thirty years have just gone down the drain. And if some day you come across Buddha and Mahavira, they will laugh. They will say, 'You are a fool! Why have you wasted your thirty years? And you are getting old; any day you will die - when are you going to become a Buddha on your own?'"
He was shocked, because nobody had been so hard on him. For a moment he could not speak a single word. But he was an intelligent man, he recognized the truth. He said, "Perhaps you are right.
But nobody ever told me this; everybody appreciated my work, that I am doing some great research.
You are the first person who has been so hard with me. But I can see the point - my thirty years are lost."
And from the day he saw me, just within six or seen months he was dead. So his whole life gone, and he was thinking he had been doing great research.
And there are millions of people; your universities are full of such people - they strut about and brag about how many Ph.D.s and D.Litt.s they have, and how many papers they have published in great academic journals. But if you look into their work you will be surprised: it is just trivia, utterly meaningless.
This man must have been a philosopher. HE HAD SPENT MANY YEARS TRYING, TO PUZZLE OUT MEANINGS... WENT TO SEE A SUFI AND TOLD HIM ABOUT HIS SEARCH.
Now, a Sufi is just the opposite of a philosopher. A Sufi is one who is not concerned with words at all. A Sufi is one who is not interested in scriptures at all. A Sufi is one who is interested in going into existence itself. He does not want to bother about the word "beauty", he wants to experience beauty itself. He is not concerned about the word "water", he is thirsty and he wants to drink water.
His interest is in drinking, his interest is existential.
HE TOLD HIM ABOUT HIS SEARCH. The Sufi must have laughed inside himself. This is not a search at all! The search has to be inwards; the search has to be into reality, into that which is, not into words and puzzles. All that search into words and theories keeps you away from the real search.
THE SUFI SAID: "GO AWAY AND PONDER THIS... IHMN."
The man must have felt very happy - so now he had got a real puzzle from a real Sufi. He must have really rejoiced. He must have pondered over it.
It was just a koan, just as Zen Masters give koans - "Go and ponder over the sound of one hand clapping," or "Go and meditate on the original face that you had before your parents were born." Now what kind of face did you have before your parents Were born? Not even you, but your parents...
even they were not in existenCe. Then, what face did you have? That is your original face. Go and ponder over it. Absurd... you cannot figure it out. The whole point is to give you something absurd, to make you aware that all your life you have been doing such absurd things and thinking that you are doing some great research or search, that you are a spiritual seeker.
Now see the point: the Sufi says, "Go away and ponder this - IHMN. " And that man did not even ask what it is!
That's what he had been doing his whole life. It must have fallen in a harmony with his mind. He must have been intrigued, tremendously thrilled: "Now this is a real puzzle and I will show this Sufi that I can find out the answer to it. "
THE MAN WENT AWAY. WHEN HE CAME BACK, THE SUFI WAS DEAD.
Remember, if you come across a Master, don't miss the opportunity, because the next time you come the Master may not be there. Life is fleeting.
He missed a great occasion. He was face to face with a Master who could have guided him into the innermost mysteries of life, but he became satisfied with a toy, a meaningless thing. He could have become a disciple. Instead of becoming a disciple he was perfectly satisfied with something utterly foolish, and he did not even ask what it was. That would have been against his intellectual ego; he would find out himself.
There are people who come here, but they would not like to get involved in the experiment that is going on here. They remain outsiders, spectators, because they believe that they can work it out on their own. Why should they get involved? They should watch from the outside, find a few clues, and then escape. Those clues will all be rubbish - they will be like IHMN. A few people come here, and then they become very scared.
Just a few days ago a famous Dutch actor, writer, a well-known person in Holland, came, and started becoming afraid. He had come with the idea of becoming a sannyasin, not exactly knowing what it meant. He must have thought that it was just a formality. Watching here, seeing sannyasins committed, devoted to a great inner search, he became more and more afraid. He had come with a friend; the friend is now a sannyasin.
When his friend took sannyas he was there, and in that darshan, two, three times, he started weeping. When his friend was taking sannyas tears were flowing from his eyes: a great turmoil - to be or not to be, to take the jump or not; a constant hesitation. His innermost core wanted to get involved, but his worldly-wise mind was afraid, thinking, "What will happen back home? Moving in orange in Holland? People will think that I have gone mad." And he is well-known.
That is the trouble when you become well-known. When you are famous you are more of a prisoner than you are a free man, because then you have to look at what people will think because your prestige is at stake. It is good to be a nobody; you can move into the search easily. When you are somebody, then the fear arises.
The fear was not spiritual, the fear was very worldly.
For two lectures he was here, crying, weeping, and then he even became afraid to come to the lectures. And then yesterday suddenly he escaped from Poona; gone to Nepal. And this is just out of fear. He seems to be an intelligent person, but is using his intelligence in a wrong way.
The day he was at darshan I could feel his heart. He has the heart; the heart is not dead yet. Just a little caring, just a little watering, a little better soil - that sannyas could have provided easily - a little meditation, and he would have become a totally transformed person. He would have been on the wing. But he has missed. And I know he will have to come back.
But then, who knows? I may be here, I may not be here. But this opportunity he has missed. And he is not a young man; he is getting old. Maybe I will be here; he may not be able to come back, he may not be here tomorrow. Life is very precarious.
To come across a Master and to miss the Master is the greatest accident, very unfortunate, that can happen to a man.
And remember, this has been happening to all of you, because many of you were there when Buddha was on the earth, and many of you were there when Jesus was crucified, and many of you were there when Lao Tzu was alive, and many of you must have come across many Masters, because you are not new ones. You have been here as long as the existence has been here; you are ancient ones. But you have missed.
And one can always find explanations for missing.
Now, this man is really to be pitied. He was so close to the flame. A little more courage and he would himself have become aflame, but he missed. He went with a toy - IHMN... so foolish, but that's how it happens.
You go to a Master and you want something without risking anything at all. And nothing can be attained without risk. You have to pay for everything. And when you want truth, you have to pay with your totality, with your whole being.
THE MAN WENT AWAY. WHEN HE CAME BACK THE SUFI WAS DEAD. "NOW I SHALL NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH, " MOANED THE PUZZLER.
AT THAT MOMENT THE SUFI'S CHIEF DISCIPLE APPEARED. "IF," HE SAID, 'YOU ARE WORRYING ABOUT THE SECRET MEANING OF IHMN, I WILL TELL YOU. IT IS THE INITIALS OF THE PERSIAN PHRASE 'IN HURUF MAANI NADARAND' WHICH MEANS, 'THESE LETTERS HAVE NO MEANING.'"
Sometimes - and it happens to almost all - you become puzzled by such stupid things that later on you will laugh at yourself. You will find it very ridiculous - why had you become so interested in such a thing?
Just watch your own questions. How many of them are just useless? and why do you go on pondering over them? and why do you go on feeding them with your energy? Why do you go on carrying their load? Just watch for twenty-four hours, take note. You will be surprised - ninety-five percent of the load can be dropped right now, and you will feel such great freedom.
But the problem is that the ego always wants some problems. It exists through problems. If there is a problem to solve, the ego has some work to do. If there is no problem to solve, the ego has nothing to do; and when there is nothing to do the ego starts dying. The ego is a great doer.
That's why all real Masters in the world have been telling you: meditation is nothing but a state of non-doing, a state of passivity. Sitting silently, doing nothing, and the spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. Meditation is not something which you have to do, it is something which you have to be. It is a state of non-doing, it is a state of utter receptivity. Only then, the ego dies.
That's why ego is not interested in meditation. It is perfectly interested in chanting a mantra, and that mantra will be nothing but IHMN. It is perfectly happy just with something to do; give it something to do and it is perfectly happy. And it creates mountains out of molehills. It makes small problems very big. It is a very great magnifying glass; just ants start looking like elephants. Then you have much work to do - because if there is only an ant, what work is there? And the ego is not much interested in the ant, it needs elephants. It makes mountains out of molehills.
I have heard...
Mrs. Smith's husband was of a nervous disposition and somewhat inclined towards hypochondria.
From time to time he would be taken with strange ailments which for some reason or another never developed into anything fatal.
But one morning, just at breakfast time, it appeared that Mr. Smith's time had come. He staggered out of his bedroom with ashen face and terror-stricken eyes. His body was bent forward in the shape of a parenthesis.
"Ah, Carrie! " he wailed, "it has come just like expected. I am due to be an invalid the rest of my days."
"Henry!" shrieked Mrs. Smith. "What on earth has happened?"
"It came on while I was dressing. All of a sudden I found that I could not lift my head. I could not straighten up. Now I feel that I am actually being drawn double."
"Are you in great pain?"
"No, no pain at all - it is probably paralysis! Run for a doctor! "
Mrs. Smith flew. In a few moments she was back with the family physician, and entering the room where her husband lay, she stood by wringing her hands while the doctor made an examination.
Suddenly the doctor's shoulders began to quiver and heave.
"Ah, doctor, is there any hope?"
"Why yes, Mrs. Smith, there is," said the doctor presently. "In fact, his condition should improve rapidly after he has unhitched the third buttonhole of his vest from the top button of his trousers. "
All your problems are like that. Sometimes a very small problem is magnified by your ego, because the ego always likes big things. It lives on big things, it is not interested in small things.
The chief disciple said, "Don't be worried. "
"IF YOU ARE WORRRING ABOUT THE SECRET MEANING OF IHMN, I WILL TELL YOU IT IS THE INITIALS OF THE PERSIAN PHRASE 'IN HURUF MAANI NADARAND' - WHICH MEANS, 'THESE LETTERS HAVE NO MEANING AT ALL.'"
"BUT WHY SHOULD I HAVE BEEN GIVEN SUCH A TASK?" SAID THE PUZZLING MAN "BECAUSE, WHEN A DONKEY COMES TO YOU, YOU GIVE HIM CABBAGES THAT IS HIS NUTRITION, NO MATTER WHAT HE CALLS IT DONKEYS PROBABLY THINK THAT THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN EATING CABBAGES."
The Master had to give something stupid to this man, because this man could not have understood anything better than that. You get only that which you deserve, because nothing more can be absorbed by you.
Remember it always: you have to be worthy to get something better. The Master is always just. He is ready to give you as much as you can take, but he cannot give you more. You will not be able to understand it; in fact, you will misunderstand it. You may misuse it. You may harm yourself with it, because anything that you cannot absorb, cannot digest, becomes poisonous to your system. The Master has to be careful to give you only that which you can absorb. If you can eat only cabbages then only cabbages will be given to you.
The disciple is one who prepares himself, who prepares to receive more. He does not demand, because demands cannot be fulfilled. You can demand anything which may not have any relevance to your being. The donkey can demand anything - which may not prove nutritious, which may not be nourishing, which may even be poisonous. But the Master has to give only that which you need in a particular moment.
If you need a shock he will give you a shock; if you need a good beating he will give you a good beating; if you need love he will give you love; if you don't need love in a certain moment he will ignore you, he will completely forget about you, as if you don't exist at all. But whatsoever is your need, the Master fulfills it. He does not fulfill your demands, remember.
And the person who fulfills your demands is not a Master. He is dangerous - beware of him, because he does not know your real needs. He cannot be any help to your growth. It is a long journey, a perilous journey too, hazardous. The path is an uphill, mountainous track; there is every possibility - a slight mistake and you will fall into the ditch, or you will disappear into the valley. It is a narrow path. It is a razor's edge.
The Master has to be very careful to give you only that which you are capable of absorbing. If you absorb it, more will be given to you. You will never be loaded. The Master gives nourishment, not weight, because the weight will become a hindrance to your progress. He does not give you knowledge, he gives you only hints; then you have to work upon those hints. But you always receive that which you need, never less, never more.
If you are blind the Master will not talk about light; that will not be of any help to you. If you are deaf the Master will not talk about music and will not play his flute; that will be useless. First your eyes have to be opened. And remember, nobody is blind; people are only blindfolded, so the blindfold can be removed.
The real Master will not talk about light but will try in every way to remove the blindfold. Rut the problem is: you may resist, because you may think that your blindfold is a protection to our eyes.
Your ears may be blocked but you may think that it is a safeguard, that it doesn't allow unnecessary sounds to enter you. You may have the idea that sounds are dangerous or light is dangerous.
People are living with so many misguides, with mis-education, with so many false ideologies, but still they have many opinions. It is very rare to find a man who has no opinions.
The Master first has to take all misguidance, all mis-education, all opinions, away from you. Those are your blindfolds. Otherwise it is playing music to a deaf person or bringing light to a blind man. It is utterly futile, and no Master ever engages in any futile activity.
A young lady sat next to a distinguished bishop at a church dinner. She was some-what modest and diffident, and was rather awed by the bishop's presence. For some time she hesitated to speak to him, waiting for what she considered a favorable opportunity. Finally, seeing some bananas passed, she turned to him and said, "I beg your pardon, but are you fond of bananas?"
The bishop was slightly deaf, and leaning forward, asked, "What did you say?"
"I said," repeated the young lady, blushing, "are you fond of bananas?"
The bishop thought a moment and then said, "If you want my honest opinion, I have always preferred the old-fashioned nightshirt."
If you are talking to a deaf person, remember not to use words like bananas; he may think you are talking about pyjamas.
You have to take every care - with whom you are talking, what you are saying, what it is going to become in him; because what you say is not the point, what will be heard is the point. What you give is not the point, what will be received is the point. And it is not necessary that whatsoever is given will be received. In this very exchange, things change. One thing is said, another thing is heard; one thing is given, another thing reaches.
The Master is very careful - he gives only that which can reach you. The first thing is to make a contact with you.
And this man missed from the very beginning. If he had been a little alert, the first thing, the first intelligent thing to inquire about would have been, "What is this IHMN?" He simply went away and started pondering over it. He relied too much on his own ego. He must have thought, "I have been working so many years thinking about puzzles, riddles, problems. I will solve this." He was not even anxious to know what exactly it was.
A great Sufi parable is:
A king wanted to appoint a prime minister. Four great thinkers of the country were called. They were put into a room and they were told that the door was going to be locked and the lock was not an ordinary lock, it was a mathematical puzzle: "Unless you solve the puzzle you will not be able to open it. If you solve the puzzle you will be able to open the lock and come out."
He went out, closed the door. Three persons out of the four started immediately working. They had brought papers and they had brought a few guidebooks, and they started working hard. There were a few numbers written on the lock; they watched the numbers, they noted down the numbers. They started working out the problem, what the problem was.
The fourth simply sat in the corner. The three others thought him to be mad: "What is he doing?"
He was sitting there with closed eyes. After a few minutes he stood up, went to the door, pushed the door - and it opened! and he went out!
And all those three were engaged, continuously engaged. They didn't even see what had happened, that the one man was already out.
When the king came with the man, he said, "Now stop your activity. The examination is over. I have chosen my prime minister. This is the man. " They could not believe their eyes. They said, "What has happened? He was not doing anything, he was just sitting in the corner. How could he solve it?"
And the man said, "There was no problem. I simply sat there, and the first thing, the basic thing, was to know whether the lock was locked or not. The moment I came to feel it, I simply meditated silently.
I just gathered my consciousness together, I became completely quiet. From where to start? The first thing an intelligent person would ask was whether there was really a problem or not. If there was a problem it could be solved; if there was no problem how could it be solved? And if you start solving, now you are going into an infinite regress; you will never be out of it. So I went just to check whether the door was really closed, and it was not closed."
And the king said, "Yes, that was the trick: there was no lock. The door was not closed, it was left open. I was waiting for the man who would ask the real first question. You accepted the puzzle and you started solving it; that was where you missed. You could not have solved it even if you had worked for your whole life. This man knows how to be aware in a situation. He asked the right first question."
This seeker, the so-called seeker, missed. The right first question was to ask, "What is this IHMN?"
and the whole story would have been totally different; but he went to solve it.
Now the disciple said, "There is no problem. It simply means 'These letters have no meaning', and you were searching for meaning."
In fact, no letters have any meaning. Meaning is in life, not in words. Meaning is in living, not in scriptures. Meaning is in love, not in the word "love". Meaning is in loving.
Change the gestalt: that is the message of the story. Change your mind from words to life itself.
Become more existential. Had he asked the right question he would not have missed the Master.
Now he asks the disciple: "BUT WHY SHOULD I HAVE BEEN GIVEN SUCH A TASK?" CRIED THE PUZZLING, MAN.
"BECAUSE WHEN A DONKEY COMES TO YOU, YOU GIVE HIM CABBAGES."
"You were a donkey and nothing more. You were a very scholarly, learned man, knowledgeable - you were a donkey."
That is the Sufi meaning of the word "donkey": one who carries great weight of knowledge.
"The Master knew you, he recognized you immediately, he respected your donkeyhood. He simply gave you cabbages. That's how a donkey has to be received. This was just a cabbage. "
THAT IS HIS NUTRITION.
"And you were happy, and you went away with great gratitude towards the Master."
NO MATTER WHAT HE CALLS IT...
"You called it a great puzzle given by a great Sufi Master, but it was simply cabbage. You meditated over it, but it was nonsense. One cannot meditate over it, there is nothing to meditate over."
That is the meaning of a Zen koan: there is nothing to meditate over in it.
Sometimes it has happened: the Master has given the koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" and the seeker simply slapped the Master. And the Master laughed. He said, "There is no need for you to meditate over it. You already know the answer! "
This is the answer: when a Master gives you the koan, go and meditate... what is the sound of one hand? This is the answer, but you cannot imitate it. If you just imitate it you will be caught. If it happens spontaneously - "What nonsense!": and the seeker simply slaps the Master, and he says, "What are you trying to do with me - making a fool of me? Stop playing games with me! I have come here really to seek" - that is the beginning of a right disciplehood. He is not hitting the Master out of disrespect, not at all. He is simply saying to the Master, "Don't play games with me. Don't befool me. I don't need cabbages, I am not a donkey. These cabbages may have worked for other donkeys but these will not work for me. I need real nutrition."
"DONKEYS PROBABLY THINK THAT THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN EATING, CABBAGES."
That's what the donkeys in the universities and the colleges and research centers and great academies think - that they are doing something great. They are simply eating cabbage; that is their nutrition. They are struggling, fighting about small matters: who was older, Buddha or Mahavira; whether Krishna ever existed or not; whether Jesus is a myth or a historical person. This is all nonsense.
The real thing is one: when am I going to become authentic, true, original; when am I going to know myself; when will I be able to answer the question, "Who am I?" That is the only religious question; all other questions are false. And if you have asked the one question, the basic question, the answer is hidden in the question itself.
If you go on asking deep inside yourself, "Who am I?" and you don't accept any false answer given by the mind, from the labels attached to you - that you are this or that, a Hindu, Mohammedan, communist, Catholic, man, woman, beautiful, ugly, old, young, body, mind - if you don't accept any answer given by the mind and you go on asking and asking, and the question penetrates your heart like an arrow and goes deeper and deeper to the ultimate core, there, suddenly, is the explosion.
Not that you will hear a voice saying who you are; there is nobody. But you have come to your source; you have tasted it, you have known it, you have experienced it. And with that one question solved, all questions disappear. That one experience is the experience of God. It liberates. It is truth.
Truth is in your being, but you can find it only by becoming a quest, an intense, passionate longing to know yourself.
Drop all other unnecessary questions. Only one question is relevant: Who am I?