A ZEN STORY...
Just before the Zen Master, Ninakawa, passed away another Zen Master, Ikkyu, visited him. "Shall I lead you on?" Ikkyu asked.
Ninakawa replied, "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered, "If you think you really came and you are really going, if you think that you come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
With his words Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled, and without saying a single word, nodded and passed away.
This is a beautiful story. A few things have to be understood about it; they will help you to enter into the sutras of Lu-tsu.
First: to a man who is in search of truth, even death is an occasion. To the man who is not in search, even life is not an occasion to learn. People live their lives without learning a thing at all. They pass through life but without gaining any maturity through it. They remain almost asleep. People live like sleepwalkers. They remain drunk - they don't know what they are doing, they don't know why they are doing, they don't know from where they come, they don't know to where they are going. They are simply like driftwood, at the mercy of the winds. Their lives are accidental; remember that word 'accidental'.
Millions of people live only accidental lives, and unless you take hold of your life and start changing it from the accidental to the existential, there is going to be no transformation.
That's what sannyas is all about: an effort to change the accidental into the existential, an effort to change the unconscious life into a conscious life, the effort to wake up. And then life is learning, and so is death. Then one goes on learning. Then each moment, each situation, comes as a gift.
Yes, even suffering is a gift from God, but only for those who know how to learn, how to receive the gift. Ordinarily even blessings are not gifts for you because you don't know how to receive them, you don't know how to absorb them. Your life is lived in a robotlike way.
I have heard...
A man came home very late in the night. The excuse that he gave to his wife for coming home too late was this...
In fact, the poor man had imbibed a bit too freely and told his angry wife that he had taken the wrong bus.
His wife said, "That's easy to understand - considering the shape you are in - but how did you know you were on the wrong bus?"
The husband said, "Well, it seemed strange when I stood on one corner for a couple of hours, but what finally convinced me was the fact that people kept coming in and ordering hamburgers and coffee."
It was not even a bus!
The life that you are living is not even a life; it can't be. How can it be life if there is no light in you?
How can it be life if there is no love in you? How can it be life if you function mechanically? Only with consciousness does life arrive - not by birth but by consciousness. Only a meditator starts beginning to live. Others are befooling themselves; they are not really living. They may be doing a thousand and one things. They go on doing; to the very end they go on doing: accumulating wealth, achieving power, fulfilling this ambition and that. They go on and on, but still the total, the sum-total of their lives is nil.
Interviewing the sixty-year-old rodeo champion in Austin, Texas, the New York newspaperman remarked, "You are really an extraordinary man to be a rodeo champion at your age."
"Shucks," said the cowboy, "I am not nearly the man my Pa is. He is still place-kicking for a football team and he is eighty-six."
"Amazing!" gasped the journalist. "I'd like to meet your father."
"Can't right now. He's in El Paso standing up for Grandpa. Grandpa is getting married tomorrow.
He's a hundred and fourteen."
"Your family is simply unbelievable," said the newspaperman. "Here you are, a rodeo champion at sixty. Your father is a football player at eighty-six. And now your grandfather wants to get married at a hundred and fourteen."
"Hell, mister, you got that wrong," said the Texan. "Grandpa does not want to get married. He HAS to."
This way life goes on and on to the very end. This is not real life. You are just a victim - a victim of your unconscious instincts, a victim of biology, a victim of physiology, a victim of nature. This is the bondage. To be free of all this unconsciousness is liberation. To be free of the bondage of your body chemistry, to be free of the bondage of the program that nature has put in your body cells, to be free of all that is unconscious in you, to be on your own, to be a conscious light - that is the beginning of real life. Count your age only from the moment when you start living consciously, fully alert, meditatively. When each act has the flavor of consciousness, then you are coming closer to home. Otherwise you are going farther and farther away.
And life gives you many opportunities to wake up. But rather than waking up, rather than using those opportunities, you start searching for even deeper drugs to drown you in unconsciousness.
When suffering comes that is an occasion to wake up, but then you start searching for a drug. The drug may be sex, may be alcohol, may be LSD; the drug may be money, may be power-politics; the drug can be anything. Anything that keeps you unconscious is a drug. Anything that keeps you engaged in the non-essential is a drug. Drugs are not only sold at the chemist, drugs are available everywhere. Your schools, your colleges, your universities sell drugs because they create ambition, and ambition keeps people unconscious. Ambition keeps them running, chasing shadows, illusions, dreams. Your politicians are the greatest drug-peddlers: they continuously go on creating a powerlust in you, a hunger, a greed for power; that keeps you occupied.
To be ambitious, to be competitive, is to be alcoholic. And this is a deeper alcohol. The ordinary alcohol can be prohibited. This alcohol is so tremendously available from every nook and comer - from parents, from priests, from politicians, from professors. Your whole society lives in this drugged state. If you have something to run after, you feel good. The moment you have nothing to run after, you feel lost. You immediately create some new occupation.
The observation of the Buddhas down the ages is that when suffering comes it is a hint from God that it is time - "Wake up". But you drown the suffering in a drug.
Your wife dies - you start drinking too much, or you start gambling. It was an opportunity to see that this life is not going to last forever. This house is made on the sands, this life is a paper boat; it will be drowned any moment. Any whim of the winds and the life will be gone. Wake up! Your wife is dead, you are going to be dead because you are standing in the same queue, and the queue is coming closer and closer to the window called death.
But you don't wake up; you start searching for another wife. You go bankrupt but you don't wake up.
You are defeated but you don't wake up; you start searching with more vigor, with more vengeance.
A woman went to one of those health clinics where they have about seven doctors. After twenty minutes in one doctor's office she ran screaming down the hall. Another doctor who finally got the story out of her called the first doctor. "What is the idea of telling that patient she is pregnant? She is not! You nearly frightened her to death."
"I know," the first doctor said, "but I cured her hiccups, didn't I?"
If you listen, if you watch, you will see that every suffering that happens in your life is a blessing in disguise. It can cure you of your hiccups. It is a shock... and you need shocks! - because you have grown many buffers around yourself, you have grown many shock absorbers around yourself. They have to be broken. Unless they are broken you will live in a dream. And remember, in a dream the dream looks real. And you know it perfectly well; you dream every night: in a dream the dream looks absolutely real. And you can always find reasons and logic to support your dreams. Even when the dream is broken you can find reasons to support the dream which was absolutely false.
I have heard...
A man woke up one morning in a state of shock. He woke his wife and said, "Darling, I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamt I was eating a ten kilo marshmallow, and on top of that, I can't find my pillow anywhere."
Even when you wake up you may find some support. You may look around, and you can ALWAYS find support. Your mind is very cunning. Your mind plays many games upon you, many tricks upon you, and it can look very logical. It can appear very convincing.
A Frenchman came home and was startled to find his son in bed with his grandmother...
Now it can happen only in France!
..."Son," he said, "how can you do this?"
"Well," said his son, "You sleep with my mama, I sleep with your mama. C'est logique."
You can prove things are logical, even absurd things. Be alert. Your mind is all in favor of dreams.
Your mind is the source of dreaming, hence your mind has a duty, an obligation, to support those dreams. If you are not very alert you will be deceived and tricked and trapped by your own mind again and again, in the same stupidities that you have come across many times and you have repented for many times and you have decided many times, taken a vow, "Never again!" But the mind will come with subtle allurements.
The mind is the greatest salesman. The mind is very persuasive. And because the mind is always helping your unconscious desires, the body also supports the mind.
The effort to wake up is really arduous. This is the greatest challenge that a man can encounter in life - and only a MAN can encounter it, a courageous man. It needs guts to accept the challenge to wake up. This is the greatest adventure there is. It is easier to go to the moon, it is easier to go to Everest, it is easier to go to the depths of the Pacific Ocean. The real problem arises when you go into your own self The real problem arises when you start waking up; then your whole past is against it. Your whole past then hangs around your neck like mountains - it pulls you down, it does not allow you to fly into the sky, into the infinite, into eternity, into God, into NIRVANA.
This is a beautiful parable, that one Master is dying and another Master comes to say goodbye to him - but what a way to say goodbye! The opportunity of death is used. Yes, only very conscious people can use the opportunity that death makes available. Death looked at unconsciously is the enemy, death looked at consciously is the greatest friend. Death looked at unconsciously is just a shattering of all your dreams, of all your life patterns, of all the structures that you have been raising, of all that you have invested in - an utter collapse. But death looked at consciously is the beginning of a new life, a door to the divine.
Ninakawa is dying and Ikkyu asks, "Shall I lead you on?" He is saying that death is a beginning, not an end. "Shall I lead you on? Do you need my help in any way? You are going to learn a new way of being, a new vision is going to arise; you are entering into a new dimension, a new plenitude - shall I lead you on? Is my help in any way needed?"
Ninakawa replied, "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Yes, we come alone and we go alone. And between these two alonenesses we create all the dreams of togetherness, relationship, love, family, friends, clubs, societies, nations, churches, organizations.
Alone we come, alone we go. Aloneness is our ultimate nature. But in between these two, how many dreams we dream! One becomes a husband or a wife, a father or a mother. One accumulates money, power, prestige, respectability, and knowing perfectly well that you come empty-handed and you go empty-handed. You cannot take a thing from here - still one goes on accumulating, still one goes on becoming attached, more and more attached, more and more rooted in this world from where we have to leave. Use this world as a caravanserai, don't make a home in it. Use it, certainly, but don't be used by it. There is no point in possessing anything because the moment you start possessing something you are possessed by it. The more you possess the more you are possessed. Use! - but remember to be watchful that death is coming, it is always on the way. Any moment it may knock on the door and you will have to leave EVERYTHING as it is. And it is ALWAYS in the middle that you have to leave. One cannot complete anything in life.
Ninakawa replied perfectly well: "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?
How can you help me in death? Maybe in life we can have the illusion of being helped, of being helpers, but how in death?"
He's telling a great truth, but there are truths and truths and greater truths.
Ikkyu answered with an even higher truth.
Remember this: the conflict is not between the untrue and the true. The real conflict is between the lower truth and the higher truth. The untrue is untrue; what can it do, what harm can it do to truth?
The problem is never of a choice between the untrue and the true. The problem is always between a lower truth and a higher truth.
What Ninakawa said is a GREAT truth - that we come alone and we go alone. But there is still a higher truth.
Ikkyu answered, "If you think you really come and go, that is your illusion."
Who comes? Who goes? All is as it is. Coming and going is also a dream.
For example, in the night you fall asleep, a dream arises. In the morning the dream disappears. Do you think you had gone somewhere and you have come back? You find yourself in the same room, on the same bed, and all that dreaming! You may have travelled to faraway places - you may have visited the moon, the planets, the stars - but m the morning when you wake up you don't wake up on a star. You wake up in the same place where you had slept.
Life is a dream! We are where we are. We are that which we are. Not for a single moment have we moved, and not a single inch have we moved from our true nature! This is the ultimate statement of truth.
Yes, Ninakawa was saying something significant, very significant - "Alone we come, alone we go" - but Ikkyu is stating something even far more profound. He says, "What going? What coming? You are talking nonsense! Who comes? Who goes?"
Waves arise in the ocean and then disappear in the ocean. When the wave arises in the ocean it is still the ocean, as much as it was before it had risen. And then it disappears back into the ocean.
Forms arise and disappear, the reality remains as it is. All changes are only appearances. Deep, at the deepest core, nothing ever changes; there it is all the same. Time is a peripheral phenomenon.
At the center there is no time, no change, no movement. All is eternal there.
Just see the point of this dialogue happening at the moment when Ninakawa was dying. These are not the things to be discussed at the time of death. At the time of death people try to help the person, console him, "You are not dying. Who says you are dying? You are going to live." Even when they know - the doctor has said, "Now all is finished and nothing can be done anymore" - then too the family goes on pretending that you are not going to die. The family goes on helping the dream to remain a little longer, and the family goes on hoping some miracle will happen and the person will be saved.
This dialogue is immensely beautiful. When somebody is dying, it is better to make him aware that death has come. In fact it is better to make everybody aware, whether the death has come today or not. Whether it is going to come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow doesn't matter; it is going to come. One thing is certain: that it is going to come. In life only one thing is certain, and that is death, so it is better to talk of it from the very beginning.
In the ancient cultures every child was made aware of death. Your very foundation should be made on that awareness of death. The man who is aware of death will certainly become aware of life, and the man who is unaware of death will remain unaware of life too - because life and death are two aspects of the same coin.
Ikkyu said, "If you think..."
But remember, he uses the word 'if' because he knows; he knows this man, Ninakawa. He can see through and through, the man is transparent. He knows that he has arrived. Maybe he is just provoking Ikkyu to say something beautiful, to say something of truth. Maybe his provocation is just a trick, he is playing a game. That's why he says, "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
What is that path on which there is no coming and no going? Yes, there is a place inside you; that is your eternal home, where nothing ever happens, where nothing ever changes - no birth, no death, no coming, no going, no arising, no disappearing. All is always the same.
With his words Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled, nodded and passed away.
It can't be said in a better way - that's why Ninakawa didn't utter a single word anymore. But he smiled... because that which cannot be said can be smiled, that which cannot be said can be nodded, that which cannot be said can be shown. He showed it with his face. He recognized, he nodded, he said to Ikkyu, "Right, absolutely right. So you have also come home."
The dialogue between two Masters is very rare, because when two Masters meet, ordinarily they remain silent. There is nothing to say. But whenever it happens that two Masters say something to each other, it is a great play. There is a playfulness. It is not an argument, remember; it is a dialogue. They are provoking each other to say it in a better way. And Ikkyu has said it. Ninakawa is satisfied, utterly satisfied.
What has Ikkyu said? - that the life that we think is, is not, and we have not looked at that which is at all. We have become too occupied with the illusory, and we go on remaining occupied with the illusory to the very end.
I have heard...
A man was very worried about his widowed mother-in-law. The widow was eighty-two years old and in much agony. One night, just to get her out of the house, the man arranged a date for her with a man who was eighty-five years old. She returned home from the date very late that evening and more than a little upset.
"What happened?" the man asked.
"Are you kidding?" she snapped, "I had to slap his face three times!"
"You mean," asked the man, "he got fresh7"
"No!" she replied. "I thought he was dead!"
But even up to that point people go on making dates. If there are really ghosts, they must be doing the same things you are doing... the same things. And it continues life after life.
I have heard about a couple. They were in deep love with each other and they were both spiritualists; they believed in Christian Science. Just one day, talking to each other about death and profound subjects like that, they decided that if one of them died he had to contact the other on the thirtieth day after death, and the other would be open, receptive and would call on the thirtieth day at a particular time.
As it happened, the man died in a car accident. The woman was eagerly awaiting. The thirtieth day came, the right fixed time came. She closed the doors, put the light off, and asked, "John, are you there?" half believing, half not-believing. But she could not believe it when she heard John's voice.
John said, "Yes, darling. I am here."
The woman asked, "How are you? Are you happy there?"
And he said, "I am very, very happy. Look at this cow - how beautiful she looks."
"Cow?" the woman said, "What are you talking about?" "Yes," he said, "such a beautiful cow. Such big tits, such a beautiful, young body, such proportion."
The woman said, "Have you gone mad?! I am dying to hear something more about heaven and you are talking about a foolish cow!"
And he said, "What heaven are you talking about? I have become a bull in Koregaon Park, Poona!"
It continues - the same stupidity, life after life. Unless you become conscious you will go on moving in this wheel, and this wheel goes on mercilessly repeating itself. It is very boring, and it is utterly stupid to continue it.
But to become aware needs great effort. To become aware, you will have to go into a long struggle with your own sleep, with your own unconscious states. You will have to fight your way. The struggle is hard and arduous and the path is uphill.
Now the sutras... these sutras can immensely help you to awaken.
Master Lu-tsu said: IF YOU ARE NOT YET CLEAR, I WILL MAKE IT CLEAR TO YOU THROUGH THE THREEFOLD BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATION OF EMPTINESS, DELUSION, AND THE CENTER.
The compassion of the Master is infinite. He makes things clear again and again, knowing perfectly well that your sleep is deep. You may not have heard the first time; he says it again. You may not have heard the second time; he says it again.
Buddha lived for forty-two years after his enlightenment, saying the same thing morning, evening, day in, day out, for forty-two years, the same thing continuously - because one never knows in what moment you will be able to understand. One never knows when you may be receptive. One never knows when a small window will open in your heart and the guest will be able to enter and the ray of light will penetrate you.
In twenty-four hours' time you are not always the same. Sometimes you are very hard and it is very difficult to penetrate. Sometimes you are very deaf - you hear and yet you hear not. But sometimes you are a little more open, more vulnerable, more loving, more capable of listening, less argumentative. Sometimes you are soft, feminine; sometimes you are masculine and hard.
It is a rhythm that goes on changing. You can watch it, and you will soon become aware that there are moments when you are more understanding and there are moments when you are less understanding. You are not the same for twenty-four hours. You are constantly changing, you are in a flux, hence the Master has to go on speaking. One never knows when the right moment for you is, so he goes on repeating. Whenever the right moment comes the transformation will happen. A single hit in the heart and you will be a totally different person after that. You will never be the same again.
Lu-tsu has been speaking...
We are coming closer and closer to the end of this beautiful book, THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.
Again he says, "If you are not YET clear..."
He has made everything clear, but, IF YOU ARE NOT YET CLEAR, I WILL MAKE IT CLEAR TO YOU THROUGH THE THREEFOLD BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATION OF EMPTINESS, DELUSION, AND THE CENTER.
And what is clarity?
Clarity is a state of mind when there are no thoughts. Thoughts are like clouds in the sky. And when the sky is full of clouds you cannot see the sun. When there are no clouds in your sky, in your inner sky, in your consciousness, there is clarity.
Clarity does not mean cleverness, remember. Clever people are not clear people. To be clever is easy because to be clever is nothing but another name for being cunning, a good name for being cunning. Clever people are cunning people but they are not clear people. To be an intellectual is not to be intelligent, remember. To be intellectual is easy: you can gather information, you can acquire knowledge and you can become a great intellectual, a scholar, a PUNDIT - but that is not clarity and that is not intelligence. Intelligence is just the opposite. When there is no knowledge moving in the head, when there is no cloud passing in the inner sky, when there is no calculation, no cleverness, no cunningness; when you are not thinking at all but you are just there like a mirror reflecting whatsoever is - that is clarity. Clarity means a mirrorlike quality. And to be clear is to face God.
God cannot be known by knowledge, God is known by clarity. God is not known by cleverness, not by cunningness, but by innocence. Innocence is clarity. That's why Jesus says, "Unless you are like small children, you will not enter into my kingdom of God." What does he mean? He simply means that unless you are as clear as a small child whose inner sky is yet unclouded, whose mirror is Still without any dust on it, whose perception is absolutely pure... He can see things as they are. He does not distort them, he has no investment in distorting them. He does not project, he simply sees whatsoever is the case; he is a passive mirror - that is clarity.
Lu-tsu said: IF YOU ARE NOT YET CLEAR, I WILL MAKE IT CLEAR TO YOU THROUGH THE THREEFOLD BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATION...
This threefold Buddhist contemplation is one of the greatest devices of meditation. Remember, it is a device, it is not a philosophy. If you think it is a philosophy you have missed the point totally.
And that's what has happened: down the ages great treatises have been written on Buddhist philosophy, and that is just nonsense because Buddha is not a philosopher. He has not taught any philosophy at all. He was really very anti-philosophical.
It was his usual procedure, whenever he would enter into a town, that his disciples would go in front of him declaring to the people, "Please don't ask philosophical questions of the Buddha." He had made a list of eleven questions; in those eleven questions the whole of philosophy is contained:
about God, about creation, about reincarnation, about life after death and all that. In those eleven questions the whole possible philosophy is contained. You cannot ask any question if you look at that list of eleven questions. That list was declared in the town: "Please don't ask those questions of the Buddha, because he is not a philosopher, he is not a metaphysician, he is not a thinker! He has come here as a physician, not as a philosopher. If your eyes are blind, he has some medicine.
If your ears are deaf, he's a surgeon."
Buddha has said again and again, "I am a physician", but great philosophy has arisen in his name, and the words that he used as devices have become philosophical tenets. For example, emptiness:
now there are Buddhist schools which say that this is a fundamental principle - that all is empty. It is simply a device. It says nothing about existence, it simply says something about your mind. It helps you to become clear, that's all. Buddha is not concerned about existence, Buddha is concerned about your clarity. He says, "If you are clear you will know what existence is." And what is the point in talking about existence? It is utterly futile. It is as if you are talking about light and colors and the rainbows and the flowers to a blind man. It is utterly absurd. You cannot talk about the sunrise to the blind man and you cannot talk about the silver light of the moon in the night to a blind man. You cannot tell him that trees are green, because green will make no sense to him. He will hear the word - just the way you hear the word 'God', he will hear the word 'green'. Neither you understand nor does he understand. Just by hearing the word again and again don't get the idea, the stupid idea, that you understand what God is. God has to be seen to be understood; there is no other way. And green has to be seen to be understood; there is no other way.
Ramakrishna used to tell:
A blind man was invited by his friends. They prepared KIHR, a delicacy made out of milk. The blind man loved the KIHR very much and he asked, "What exactly is it? And how does it look?"
Sitting by his side was a great philosopher, and as philosophers are prone to - they cannot miss an opportunity to teach, to philosophize - he immediately started telling the blind man how the KIHR was made, how it looked. And when he said, "It is pure white", the blind man said, "Wait! That word does not make any sense to me. What do you mean by 'pure white'? Will you be kind enough to explain it to me?"
And as philosophers go, without ever seeing that the man was blind, he started explaining what pure white was. He said, "Have you seen white swans, white cranes? Yes, it is just like a pure white crane, or a white swan, or a white flower."
"Crane?" the poor blind man said, "You are making it more and more mysterious. I don't understand what white is. Now the problem arises: What is this crane? I have never seen it." And still the philosopher was not aware that this man could not see, so whatsoever he said was going to be irrelevant. And he started explaining what a white crane was. And then he invented a device: he gave his hand to the blind man and told him to touch it. And he said, "Look, the way my hand is bent, this is how the neck of the crane is."
And the blind man laughed joyously and was very happy. He thanked him from the very bottom of his heart and said, "Now I understand what KIHR is - like a bent hand? Now I understand. I'm so grateful to you."
Then the philosopher became aware of what he had done.
You cannot explain whiteness to a blind man; there is no way at all. Yes, you can help him, you can treat his eyes. You can send him to Dr. Modi's eye camp - Dr. Modi sometimes comes here - he needs surgery. The day he's able to see, no explanation will be needed; he will know what white is, what green is - so is the case with God, so is the case with existence.
So remember, the first thing is that this is just a device: emptiness, delusion, and the center. This is not a philosophical statement. Buddha is not saying that "I am proposing a system of thought." He is simply saying that "I am creating a device."
Another story so it becomes clear to you:
A man came home from the market. Suddenly he saw his house on fire. His children were playing inside, small children. He shouted from the outside because he was afraid to go in himself. He shouted, "Children, come out! The house is on fire!" But the children were so engrossed in their games, they wouldn't listen. Then he devised: he shouted loudly, "Do you hear me or not? I have brought many toys for you from the market!" and they all rushed out. He had not brought a single toy, but those children had told him, "You are going to the market, so bring some toys for us." Outside, seeing no toys, they said, "Where are the toys?" The man started laughing and he said, "It was a device to bring you out of the house which is on fire. Tomorrow I will bring toys for you."
These are devices. Remember, a device is neither true nor untrue. A device is either useful or useless, but never true or untrue. Those words are not relevant to a device. The meditations that you are doing here are all devices - neither true nor untrue. They are useful or useless, certainly, but there is no question of truth. I'm giving you toys so that you can come out of the house which is on fire. When you are out you will understand. Even those children understood: when they saw the house on fire they forgot all about toys and they understood the love of the father. He must have loved those children immensely; that's why he could even lie. It was a lie.
You will be surprised to know that Zen Masters have been saying down the ages that Buddha was the greatest liar. But his compassion was such that he lied. He created devices. This is a device - three things to be contemplated: emptiness, delusion, and the center.
Emptiness means: this whole world outside, the objective world, is utterly empty. Think of it as empty. Contemplation it as empty and you will be surprised - the moment you start getting into this idea of the emptiness of the whole world, many things will start changing of their own accord. You will not be greedy - who can be greedy when things are empty? You will not be ambitious - how can you be ambitious when things are empty? If you know that the president's chair is just empty, who bothers? Because you give it too much substance, you make it too real, you become ambitious.
When you know money is empty, who bothers? One can use it, but there is no question of worrying about it.
Start thinking that all this world that surrounds you is empty... forms and forms, like dreams.
Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples, "Walking on the street, remember that you are in a dream, and the people that are passing you are just dream phenomena. The shops are dreams." And meditating on this for three months it starts happening. A GREAT explosion happens: suddenly everything becomes empty. Shops are there, people are walking, people are purchasing and the people who are passing you by are there. Nothing has changed on the surface, but suddenly you see just empty forms.
You go to a movie house and you know perfectly well that on the screen there is nothing but empty forms, but you are befooled by those empty forms. Sitting in a movie house you pass through all kinds of emotions. Some tragedy is happening and you start crying. Maybe that's why a movie house has to be kept in darkness, otherwise it would look so stupid and silly. If somebody - your wife, your friend sitting by your side - comes to know that you are crying, they will laugh. They will say, "What are you doing? There is just an empty screen, nothing else, and a projected film, just a game of white and black" - or maybe it is technicolor - "but it is all shadows." But one can become so involved in the shadows that the shadows start looking substantial.
Just the other way round is the device of the Buddha. Buddha says: These people who are looking so substantial to you, just think that they are a dream, empty. And one day you will be surprised: the whole world has become a white screen and only shadows are passing. And when only shadows are passing you will find a great detachment arising in you. You will be aloof, far away. Then nothing matters.
The second is delusion.
When you see, when you meditate, contemplate continuously that the whole world is empty, just a dream, the second phenomenon will start happening. Just by thinking that it is a dream it is not going to disappear, remember. Don't fall into that fallacy. Don't think, "If I think for long that the world is a dream, it will disappear." It is not going to disappear. You can go on knowing perfectly well that the film on the movie screen is just a projection, but still it continues. Just by your thinking, it will not disappear. It is not possible for the meditator sitting in the movie house that the film will disappear, that others will be able to see and he will not see, that he will see only the white screen, no. He will also see the film but with a difference: knowing that it is a dream. The world does not disappear; the world remains but its significance is gone, its substance is gone.
It is like when you put a straight stick into water. The moment it enters into the water it looks bent.
You take it out, you know it is not bent. You put it in again, but in the water it looks bent. Now you know perfectly well that this is a delusion - it only appears bent, it is not bent. But just by understanding that it is a delusion, the bentness will not disappear.
So the first thing is to meditate that the world is empty. Then the second thing will arise: the world still remains but now it is a delusion. Now it has no substance in it, it is the same stuff dreams are made of. The first unconscious perception of the world looked very substantial - it was very objective, it was THERE. After meditating on emptiness, it is still there but it is no longer substantial, it is only a mind game. It is like a dream.
That's what Hindus mean when they say, "The world is maya."
It does not mean that for the saint it disappears. It simply means: now there is no value in it; it has become valueless, UTTERLY valueless.
And the third thing is the center.
When the world is no longer substantial, the objective world disappears and becomes subjective delusion, then a new experience arises in you. For the first time you become substantial. Ordinarily you are projecting substance in the objective world. When you take it away from there, you become substantial. When the world is real, you are unreal. When the world becomes unreal, you become real. Let me explain it again through the movie.
If you become aware that there is only screen and shadows passing by, you will suddenly become aware that you are. Those shadows are false but you are real. When you become completely lost in the shadows you become unreal, you forget yourself completely. In a dream, you forget yourself completely; the dream becomes real. Your whole reality is exploited by the dream. The dream takes all the reality and leaves you just hollow. When you have taken away the reality from the dream, you become real; a center arises in you, you become integrated. This is what is called individuation, crystallization. Either the world can be real or you can be real; both cannot be real together. Remember it... both cannot be real together. It is a change of gestalt. When you take reality out of the world, you start becoming real - you attain to being. And there are only two types of people: the people who are interested in having and the people who are interested in being.
The people who are interested in having believe that the world is real - have more money, have more power, have more name, fame. They are unreal people. They have lost their center completely, they don't know who they are, the self has become a shadow. And the other kind of people, whom I call the religious people, are those who take the reality from the outside world and put it back where it belongs. They start gaining substance, they start gaining being. They have MOTE being. And whenever you come across a person who has more being, you will feel a magnetic force. If Buddha attracted thousands of people it is because of this substantial being.
You can see it. If you look into the person who has political power you will find him just hollow, stuffed with straw and nothing else. The man who has much money and thinks that he has something - look into him and you will find just a black hole. A poor man is hiding behind, a beggar.
When a man has being then he may be an emperor or he may be a beggar - he's always an emperor.
He may be a beggar like Buddha or he may be an emperor like Janak, it makes no difference; he's always an emperor WHEREVER he is. His kingdom is of the within, he has become substantial. He IS! You are not. You have things, you don't have being. And you are using things as a substitute.
The more things you have, the more you can believe that you are; hence, the hunger, the greed, the ambition. Have more and more and more, because that is the only way you can deceive yourself that "I am somebody."
But the person who has being is unconcerned. Having is not his game. That does not mean that he leaves the world and renounces the world. If somebody renounces the world that simply shows that he still thinks the world is very real. Otherwise why should you renounce? You don't go shouting around the neighbourhood in the morning after you get up, saying "I have renounced my dreams. I was a king in the dream, and I have renounced the kingdom." People will think you have gone mad; they will inform the police. They will tell you to go to a psychiatrist, that you need some psychological treatment: "Are you mad? If it is a dream, how can you renounce it?"
Buddha renounced because he was living in a dream, thinking it very substantial. He became enlightened in the forest. Remember, when he renounced he was ignorant. Had he become enlightened before renouncing the world, he would never have renounced; there would have been no point. Janak became enlightened when he was a king in the palace, hence he never renounced it; there was no point. Krishna never renounced; there was no point. How to renounce something which is a shadow? Buddha renounced, Mahavira renounced - because they were not yet enlightened.
What I am trying to say is this: people have renounced the world only in ignorance. Even a Buddha, when he was ignorant, renounced the world. When he became enlightened he came back into the world. He had to come, because he knew that there were many other people who were fast asleep and thinking that their dreams were real. He had to wake them up.
The center arises only when you have taken all the reality from the outside world. You have given your reality to things, you have poured your reality into things. You can watch it - people are in deep love with things. They have poured their souls into things and they have completely forgotten who they are. They are lost in their things.
Come back home. Take your reality back. Things are only as real as you make them, it is your projection. Otherwise they are empty, just white screens, of no significance at all, neither to be indulged in nor to be renounced. Both are irrelevant.
EMPTINESS COMES AS THE FIRST OF THE THREE CONTEMPLATIONS. ALL THINGS ARE LOOKED UPON AS EMPTY. AND THEN FOLLOWS DELUSION. ALTHOUGH IT IS KNOWN THAT THEY ARE EMPTY, THINGS ARE NOT DESTROYED, BUT ONE ATTENDS TO ONE'S AFFAIRS IN THE MIDST OF THE EMPTINESS.
Listen to it deeply, because the people who are miserable in the world almost always start thinking or renouncing the world - as if the world is the problem! The world is never the problem, YOU are the problem, and wherever you go you will create the problem. You are the projector. You can renounce the world, the world is just a white screen; but the projector is within you. You can go anywhere and you will start projecting your film there, onto something else. It may not be a palace; then it may be a small hut - but that hut will become your kingdom. It may not even be a hut.
Wandering in the Himalayas I have come across many people. Once I came across a saint - a so-called saint - who had lived for at least thirty years in a cave. I liked the cave and I had two or three friends with me, so we stayed overnight in the cave. He was very angry. He said, "What do you mean? This is MY cave!"
I said, "But you have renounced the world. How can this cave be yours?"
He said, "This is MINE! I have lived for thirty years here."
"You may have lived here for thirty lives. But what is the meaning of renunciation? Why did you leave your wife? Why did you leave your house? What was the problem there? The problem was 'mine'. Now this cave is yours. Now the problem has come with the cave, now the possessiveness has become attached to the cave."
It doesn't matter where you go; it is not so simple to change your life. You have to change your perception, your gestalt, your very being. You have to change the inner mechanism.
Lu-tsu said: THINGS ARE NOT DESTROYED, BUT ONE ATTENDS TO ONE'S AFFAIRS IN THE MIDST OF THE EMPTINESS.
One knows that all is empty but one continues to attend to one's affairs. There is no need to go anywhere. Where can you go? The whole world is empty! The Himalayas are as empty as the shops on MG Road. And the trees and the animals in the Himalayas are as much shadows as the people that live in Poona. It does not make any difference. The difference has to happen in your center, in your inner being.
BUT ALTHOUGH ONE DOES NOT DESTROY THINGS, NEITHER DOES ONE PAY ATTENTION TO THEM....
This is the change: one does not destroy, renounce; but one does not pay attention to them, one takes away one's attention. Attention is food; that's how you become attached to things. If a woman attracts you, you want to look at her again and again and again. You are feeding, you are projecting.
If you love a thing, you pay attention to it. By paying attention you become attached to it. Attachment is through the bridge of attention. There is no need to renounce anything, just cut the bridge. Live in the world without paying attention to things. Go on moving as if you are moving in emptiness.
... THIS IS CONTEMPLATION OF THE CENTER.
And if you can do this, a center will arise in you. If you can live in the world as if you are not in it, if you can live in the world as if the world is just a dream, then suddenly a great energy will crystallize in you - the whole energy that was being dissipated. In a thousand ways you have been dissipating your energy. In every direction, you are leaking. Your attention is a leaking point. When you are not leaking anymore, when your attention is no more moving, when your attention is gathering inside, accumulating inside, crystallizing inside, the center arises.
WHILE PRACTICING CONTEMPLATION OF THE EMPTY, ONE ALSO KNOWS THAT ONE CANNOT DESTROY THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS, AND STILL ONE DOES NOT NOTICE THEM.
One knows that this dream has to continue. This is a beautiful dream too; there is nothing to be worried about in it. No need to renounce, no need to destroy, no need to fight with it. You don't fight with your shadow - you know it is a shadow. You don't want to destroy it either because you know it is a shadow. You are not worried about it because it goes on following you, it never leaves you alone, because you know it is a shadow. To know that the world is a shadow... a reflection of the real but not the real itself... the moon seen in the lake but not the moon itself - then one is at home even in the world. Without taking any notice of the world one goes on doing one's duties, goes on doing one's work, goes on living in a very detached way.
IN THIS WAY THE THREE CONTEMPLATIONS FALL TOGETHER.
Then the three contemplations are no longer three; it becomes one single contemplation. You are gathering at the center and you become aware of the center. This is what Gurdjieff calls self-remembering and Buddha calls SAMMASATI, mindfulness, and Mahavira calls VIVEK, discrimination. Now you have seen what is unreal, you have discriminated the unreal from the real.
Now you have seen what is shadow and what is substance.
You have seen the real moon and you have seen the reflection in the water. Now... the reflection continues! Just by knowing that it is a reflection it is not going to disappear; it continues. And there is no problem - it is beautiful! You can sit by the side of the lake and see the reflection - it is beautiful, there is no problem out of it, but you know it is not real.
BUT, AFTER ALL, STRENGTH IS IN ENVISIONING THE EMPTY.
But remember, the whole integration, crystallization, arises out of envisioning the empty. That is the beginning of meditation.
THEREFORE, WHEN ONE PRACTICES CONTEMPLATION OF EMPTINESS, EMPTINESS IS CERTAINLY EMPTY...
Now you will have to go into a little more depth. When you know that all is empty, there is a problem.
You may start thinking that emptiness is something very real - that is the problem, because the mind always gets caught in words.
There is a small story in the beautiful book ALICE IN WONDERLAND:
Alice reaches to the king. The king is waiting eagerly for some love-letter to arrive. He's asking everybody, "Have you seen the messenger?" He asks Alice also, "Did you see some messenger coming towards me?"
Alice says, "Nobody, sir," and the king thinks she has seen somebody whose name is Nobody.
The king says, "But it seems Nobody walks slower than you, otherwise he would have reached.
Because I have been hearing the news again and again: many people have arrived and they all say 'Nobody, sir,' and Nobody has not reached yet! So it seems Nobody walks slower than you."
And naturally Alice thought, "What is he saying? - nobody walks slower than me?" She retorted back. She said, "Nobody walks faster than me!" She felt offended.
And the king said, "Nobody walks faster than you? Then why has he not arrived yet?"
Now Alice became aware of what the problem was. She said, "Sir, Nobody is nobody."
And the king said, "Of course. I know Nobody has to be Nobody. But where is he?"
And in this way it went on.
Even emptiness can become a thing. That's what happened in Buddhist philosophy. Philosophers started talking about emptiness as if emptiness were God, as if emptiness were the very substance of life. They started talking of nothing as if nothing were something. Nothing is only a word. In nature, no does not exist. No is man's invention. In nature, everything is yes. In nature, only the positive exists, the negative is man's invention.
For example, this chair is just a chair. In nature the chair is just a chair - it is what it is - but in language we can say, "This is not a table. This is not a horse. This is not a man" - and all those statements are right, because the chair is not the table, and the chair is not the horse, and the chair is not the man. But these are just linguistic negatives. In nature, in existence, the chair is simply the chair. In nature the negative does not exist, but only the positive. But in language the negative exists, and because of the negative great philosophies have arisen. Nothingness becomes a thing in itself. Absence is talked about as if it were some kind of presence, so beware of it.
To make you alert, Master Lu-tsu says:
... Remember, EMPTINESS IS CERTAINLY EMPTY, BUT DELUSION IS EMPTY TOO!...
Don't start thinking that delusion is real at least as a delusion. The delusion is also empty, just nothing in itself For example, you see a snake in a rope: when you look, it is there, when you bring the light it is not there. Now the question can arise, "Where has the snake gone? From where had it come?" It never came, it never went away, it never existed; in name the rope was always a rope. It was your illusion. You created, you projected the snake; it was just a mind phenomenon.
Remember, emptiness is empty, DELUSION IS EMPTY TOO AND THE CENTER IS ALSO EMPTY.
This is the greatest contribution of Buddha.
The Hindus say: The world is illusion. The Jainas say: The world is illusion, the mind is also illusion.
Buddha says: The world is illusion, the mind is illusion, and the center too. His insight is tremendous.
He says if the seen is illusion, how can the seer be a reality? This is the profoundest statement of NIRVANA: if the dream is illusion then the dreamer is illusion too. If the dance is illusion, then the dancer is illusion too.
What is he trying to say? He's trying to say: first leave the world, then leave the illusion of the mind, and then leave the idea of the center too, of the self too. Otherwise ego will persist. In a new name, in a subtle way, ego will persist. Let that too be gone. Let everything be gone. Let there be simply emptiness, nothingness, and in that nothingness is all. In that utter absence is the presence.
Buddha never talks about that presence, because he says that has to be known. That should not be talked about because mind is so cunning - if you talk about that presence it starts becoming greedy for that presence. If you talk about God, the mind starts thinking how to attain to God. Buddha never talks about God; not that God is not - who else can know that God is other than a Bud&a? But he never talks for a very certain reason: the talk of God can create desire for God, and if desire is there you will never attain God. All desire has to disappear. Only in a state of desirelessness, God arrives.
IT NEEDS GREAT STRENGTH TO PRACTICE CONTEMPLATION OF DELUSION; THEN DELUSION IS REALLY DELUSION, BUT EMPTINESS IS ALSO DELUSION, AND THE CENTER IS DELUSION TOO. BEING ON THE WAY OF THE CENTER, ONE ALSO CREATES IMAGES OF THE EMPTINESS.
These images of emptiness are just helps. First, to take you out of the world Buddha says the world is empty. Now the delusion becomes true. Then he says the delusion is also empty. Now the center becomes true. Now he says the center is also empty. All has disappeared with no trace, utter silence - and in that utter silence is benediction, is God.
ONE PRACTICES ALSO CONTEMPLATION OF DELUSION, BUT ONE DOES NOT CALL IT DELUSION, ONE CALLS IT CENTRAL. AS TO WHAT HAS TO DO WITH THE CENTER, MORE NEED NOT BE SAID.
And what will happen when all has gone - the world, the mind, the self? Master Lu-tsu is right. He says, "More need not be said" - because to say more will be dangerous. To say more will be giving you an object to desire. And the desire comes, and the whole world comes in.
This is a great device. If you can meditate over it, you will attain to the infinity, to the eternity, to the timeless, to the real life.