There is a tantra method in which one does exactly the same exercise as you are describing from your childhood. For children it is easy, but for grown-ups also, it is not impossible. It is simply an exercise of the imagination. But that does not mean that what you experience is unreal.
First, let me tell you about a tantra method. It is for all ages. It has to be done in the dark, because in the dark you cannot see things, so it is easy to imagine that they have disappeared.
Lying down is the most appropriate posture for it. Because man became man, attained a little bit of consciousness by standing up on his two feet - he became vertical - the blood stream now reaches less to his head than when he is lying horizontal. Lying down, the blood reaches in a greater quantity with more speed just because of gravitation. When you stand up, the blood has to go against gravitation; its flow is slowed down, its quantity is cut.
That's why no other animal has a conscious mind. Even when walking, a cow, a horse, a buffalo - they are horizontal. Their heads are receiving as much blood as any other part of the body. They cannot grow the very subtle, very small cells which enable man to think.
But there is a possibility - and as far as I am concerned it is a certainty - that animals do imagine.
They don't have a conscious mind, but they do have an unconscious mind.
Watching a dog you can see it. A dog is sleeping nearby; you can just watch: once in a while he will try to catch an imaginary fly, a fly which is not there. What is he doing? He imagined it. That catching of the fly which is not there must have been to him a reality in his imagination. And, of course, dogs think of flies just as men think of women.
Nobody has tried to explore the unconscious of the animals. We are not even finished with man, so the question of animals does not arise. They are far back in the queue, standing and waiting. But the wisdom of people has always attributed a certain intelligence to animals.
Aesop's fables are fables about man, but all the actors are animals. panch tantra, the ancientmost book of stories, has fables which talk about man because they are written by man, but the actors, participants... everybody is an animal. And in every country there are ancient books in which animals are taking part, just like man. For example, in one of Aesop's fables, a little goat - a kid - is drinking water from a mountain stream, and the king of the animals, the lion, comes by. It is breakfast time, and the kid is just a perfect breakfast. But even animals have to find excuses first, so the lion says to the goat, "Kid, you are very arrogant; you see the emperor of the whole animal kingdom, and yet you are muddying the water which I am going to drink."
The poor kid says, "Uncle, the stream is going this way. I cannot make the water muddy for you; you are standing above me. The stream comes first to you and then to me. This is too much."
He was right. The lion becomes very angry and he says, "You don't know manners - how to talk with elders. The same was so with your father. Yesterday he was talking with me and he misbehaved. I was engaged in some political work, but I am searching for him."
The kid says, "Forgive me, uncle, my father has been dead for a few weeks; he could not have insulted you yesterday."
Finding no excuse, the lion still catches the kid and tells him, "You talk against your elders? I will teach you a lesson - and the lesson is a good breakfast."
A story about animals but not about animals, it is about man, his inhumanity to those who are weak, powerless, poor. But still, for manners' sake, you have to find some excuse.
These stories have always been interpreted as parables for children, but my feeling is there is something more to it. It indicates that animals may not be thinking, but they still dream - because dreaming does not need anybody to stand erect.
For dreaming you also have to lie down, to be in a horizontal position, so the conscious mind cannot function. It needs only a very small quantity of blood; with a greater quantity it goes to sleep. If an even greater quantity comes, it becomes dead. But the unconscious mind goes on working. Of course its language is not alphabetical; its language is of pictures.
So a small child lying down on his bed can very easily visualize that the walls are disappearing, the room is disappearing, the bed is disappearing, the trees outside are disappearing. Everything is disappearing and the world is fading... only he is left in his total aloneness in this beautiful dark deep silence.
But this is a method prescribed by tantra scriptures that anybody can do - and it will be helpful for meditation.
It is an unfortunate thing that parents are unaware of the whole heritage of man. In different directions man has been working to develop consciousness. If all that is available to the parents, perhaps they will not think you are going crazy; they will rejoice, they will help you, they will reward you. They will try to help you so you can go deeper into the experience.
You have found, accidentally, a right door. And the child can have from the very beginning a taste of meditation, and he can go on helping it grow every day. By the time he is a young man he will have a mature meditativeness. Then there is no need to lie down on the bed. He can sit or stand, and he can go into the same silence - even with open eyes. It is just a question of going more and more into the same experience so it becomes easy, simple.
But all the societies have condemned everything that can help your being to evolve. They don't want it. If you had told anybody, you would have been condemned as mad: "Stop it; otherwise you are risking your sanity." And in fact by stopping it you risked your sanity.
That's why I say that every father, every mother, should go through a certain training in which they are taught how to be a father, how to be a mother; where they are made aware that the child is very potent, and that he can manage many things that you cannot, and that this is the time. If you stop him, later on it will become more and more difficult.
Your experience, Premda, was good, immensely good. And if you try it again, perhaps you may be able to enter the same space without any trouble. We are here together to go into all these experiences; these are different ways of touching your own being.
The method is imagination. The walls don't disappear, and neither do the trees or anything else.
That is only a device. But if you can visualize their disappearing, naturally, only you are left, which cannot disappear whatever you do. No imagination is possible to make you disappear; the watcher is beyond imagination, beyond mind. What has remained is a watcher, a witness - and that is your pure consciousness.
So don't be worried that what you have used as a strategy was imagination. It doesn't matter, because you were not interested in walls disappearing; that was just to create a space in which you are freed from everything - whether it is there or not - and you come to the beautiful aloneness of your being. Just a moment of it is an eternity.
And this is a prescribed tantra method, well established for centuries. You cannot go mad. In fact, anything that could have led you into madness has disappeared; now only pure consciousness is there. Pure consciousness has never gone mad.
So what happened in childhood was good. It would have been better if you had continued, but you can start again - because anything that has happened once, leaves a certain mark in you; you can start from there again. It may take a little trouble, it may not be so easy, but it will come - in one day, two days, it will come. And if it doesn't come, then you go to Kaveesha.
With every experience of this kind you will feel a certain sadness coming to you. The sadness is:
"Why does this experience not remain forever?" The sadness simply signifies your deep longing for this state to become stable. And it is a natural phenomenon: whenever you feel something that is of immense beauty and peace, you would like to remain in it forever, to feel there is nothing that can bring you out of it. But one has to come out of it - and that brings sadness.
But don't take that sadness in any negative way. It is a good indicator. It simply shows that you should practice it more - go deeper - and one day it becomes a natural phenomenon. Twenty-four hours a day you are surrounded with a fragrance, with a light, with silence within. Twenty-four hours a day you are relaxed, there is no tension in your body, in your mind. But before it comes, many times you will feel sad - "Why is it not a permanent state of my being?"
It is simply a longing that is becoming sadness. The window opens, you see the sunset; and before you have even seen it and the beauty has been absorbed, the window closes. And there is sadness:
"The window could have remained open a little more." But the window opens only according to your capacity. Whatever you have earned, the window remains open only for that long. Beyond that it can be dangerous.
So don't feel bad about sadness; it is a safety too. Even in experiences of oneself, safety measures are needed. But nature has them already prepared for you. You will have a glimpse only for that much time and to that much depth - as much as you deserve - neither less nor more. And it is good, because if you get more you will not be able to absorb it.
Everybody who is meditating comes to a point when he starts feeling, "Why does meditation not continue the whole day?" But he does not know that he is not capable of handling the world and its affairs with meditation running as an undercurrent. He will be in difficulty. He may be in great danger: the world has no need of meditation. You will have just as much as you deserve, and you should feel thankful for it. It will be growing... with your gratitude it will be growing.
But sadness can become a barrier, because each time you come to the window you will have sadness; they will become associated. And the law of association is really a difficult law. Then it will become more and more difficult to get rid of sadness.
So simply don't pay any attention to sadness. If it comes, take it in the natural way. It is natural; you had a beautiful experience, and it has gone. Sadness is simply its going away, a friend departing.
But don't give more importance to it. Ignore it; accepting it as natural, ignore it.
You know about Pavlov, one Russian psychologist, who in the beginning of this century proved the law of association - which is his great contribution. In Russia you will not hear the name of Freud, Adler or Jung - only Pavlov. He has developed a totally different psychology - Pavlovian psychology. And because it fits with communism, they have rejected all other psychologies; there is only one psychology, and that is Pavlovian. It is not a complete picture of the human psyche, but this law is certainly true.
He used to give his dog... all his experiments were with dogs... he had seventy dogs. Even after the revolution when private property was dissolved, the communist government allowed him to have private property - because how could he manage his seventy dogs and a big lab with strange kinds of instruments? But his psychology was proving in some way that communism should be allowed.
He was the only man in the Soviet Union who was allowed to remain exactly the same way as before the revolution.
He would feed the dog, and while the dog was eating he would go on ringing a bell. Now, a bell has nothing to do with food; you can ring a bell before any dog and he will not take any interest. He will think that you are a little crackpot: "What are you doing ringing a bell before a dog? What is the point?" He may even turn away just to avoid listening to your ringing bell.
But you could not have expected what happened to Pavlov's dogs. After fifteen days of feeding the dog and at the same time ringing the bell, on the sixteenth day there was no food, just the ringing of the bell - and the dog was ready for food, his tongue hanging out. And this was done with not one dog but seventy dogs. He was a scientist: one dog cannot prove anything, you need to have enough evidence - seventy dogs. As the bell was ringing, their saliva was dripping, their tongues were hanging out. Nobody could believe that with the ringing of a bell this could happen. This he called the law of association.
While he was eating, the dog was also listening to the ringing of the bell. The eating of the food and the listening to the bell became associated in his mind. They became locked, so much so that not only when you rang the bell was the dog ready for food - although there was no food - but he was perfectly ready to eat. And vice versa: when the food was there, he was waiting for the bell to ring and he would not eat.
That was a surprise to Pavlov himself. He was thinking that the first thing was okay - that the bell became associated with food. But food is associated with hunger and biology.... The dog would look at him as if to say, "What are you doing? Ring the bell!" - because it had become locked. Without the ringing of the bell, the dog would not feel that the food was juicy. It became a kind of music that helped him to taste the food better - and not one dog but seventy dogs were behaving in the same way.
So always remember this law. When you are entering inwards, don't get associated with anything that can become a hindrance.
For example, when you feel some beautiful, blissful experience, sadness is bound to come - because that experience will go. But don't pay too much attention to the sadness, just think that it is natural: "It only shows my longing that the experience should continue." Otherwise, if you pay too much attention to sadness you are creating an interlock system in your mind, so that whenever you have a beautiful experience, immediately your mind will produce sadness - whether it is now necessary or not.
Emphasize the positive, be grateful for the positive, rejoice in the positive - and ignore the negative that is bound to follow like a shadow.
When your friend leaves your home, departs, do you pay much attention to his shadow? You don't even take note of it. In the same way, remember: anything beautiful happening to you will have a shadow to it, until you come to a stage when the twenty-four hours of your day are lit up and there is no shadow possible.
That happens - that will happen - but you have to keep these things in your awareness. When sadness comes, thank sadness too: "You are simply my longing for the beautiful experience." In this way you are cutting the roots of sadness, you are not making it a polar opposite to your experience.
You are changing the whole arrangement. You are saying to it, "I know you are my longing for that beautiful experience; but it will come, and it will be coming more and more."
In this way, even through sadness you are emphasizing the beautiful experience, its longing. You are not making sadness a separate entity, in itself important. If it becomes a separate entity, it will become associated; then you can't have a twenty-four-hour-a-day, waking, sleeping meditativeness, you will have only fragments... alternating, a beautiful moment and sadness. And as the beautiful moment will become deepened, the sadness will also become deepened; it is its shadow.
So on the one hand you will be earning ecstasy; on the other hand you will be suffering again - and the whole fault will be yours. From the very beginning, be careful. Don't give it any independent existence. Thank it: "You remind me of the beautiful experience; you remind me that the beautiful experience should be continued." And soon it will happen.
So make it secondary, just an epiphenomenon. And as your aloneness will be deepening, the sadness will not be deepening, because you are not giving juice to it; it will remain shallow. And soon a day will come: you will come out of your meditation and you will not find sadness. Now, you have accepted that there are moments of meditation and there are moments of no-meditation; but there is no question of sadness. You have dropped the desire and the longing which were creating the sadness, and you have not paid any attention to it. It has died of its own accord.
Attention is food.
We are not aware of many things which we are living.... In one scientific experiment, two baby monkeys are fed the same food, given the same medical care, the same comforts... everything is the same. Just one thing is different for one baby monkey: the doctor gives him attention - pets him, sits with him, plays with him. And with the second he simply does his duty - no communication, no human warmth, no attention. The monkey that is given attention survives; the monkey that is not given attention dies. The same experiment has been done on other animals; the result is always the same.
Now it is to be accepted that attention is some kind of nourishment. By giving attention to anything you are pouring your warmth, your love, and you are saying, "There is somebody for whom you have to exist, there is somebody who will miss you."
The other baby monkey, he lives, but there is nobody for whom he lives; there is no meaning in his life. Nobody pays attention to him, nobody communicates with him. It does not matter whether he lives or not. If he dies nobody is going to shed a single tear for him. That idea itself kills him. But it is the idea - "If I die somebody will miss me, somebody will come and sit by my cradle and weep" - that revives the spirit.
So, attention is a very psychological nourishment, a psychological vitamin. And the same is true about your emotions, your feelings, anything that you are doing.
Remember the rule: whatever you want to save, give attention to it, pour your love on it, appreciate it. And whatever you want to disappear from your life, ignore it... at the most thank it: "You remind me of the positive and the beautiful feeling." That is a sure killer.
One of my friends married a woman... he used to love another woman, but he could not marry her.
She was of a high-caste Hindu brahmin family, and he was of a low caste. She was rich, he was poor. And in India it is very difficult - an intercaste marriage - because you then become an outcast.
You will not get a job, people will not like to talk to you, you will not get a house for rent - a simple boycott. And you cannot live if the society boycotts you completely.
But finally he married another woman.
I asked him, "What are you doing?"
He said, "She looks exactly like the woman I wanted to love."
I said, "That's true. But she is not the woman you loved, she only looks like her. And the moment she discovers it - and she's bound to discover it as you cannot hide it - it will kill her."
He said, "No, how she can find out? I have confided only in you, and I know you are not going to tell her."
I said, "I am not going to tell her. You, yourself, with your behavior, will tell her twenty-four hours a day."
And within two years the woman was badly sick. I went to see her. She was a young woman just two years before. I could not believe how she had withered away. I asked, "What has happened?"
She said, "Nobody can understand, but perhaps you can. He has married me because I look like the girl he loved. But he does not love me; he only pretends. But his pretending cannot satisfy me.
I don't want to be anybody else's substitute, I want to be myself. My sickness is not of the body, my sickness is of the soul. I will never say it to him because he has suffered much. The first woman he loved, he could not get. And now I should not make more suffering for him. It is better I should die."
I said, "This is nonsense - you have your own life."
She said, "I don't; I am only a substitute. When he hugs me I know whom he is really hugging. He does not give me any warmth. When he loves me I know whom he is really loving, and suddenly I become cold."
Within two months she died, and I told the man, "You are a murderer because you don't understand a simple fact of life - that people cannot live by bread alone. They need something more: they need attention, they need love."
And attention and love are very invisible nourishment. But the same is true about your emotions, so never feed any negative emotion. Pour all your love, all your energy, into a positive experience.
And the day will not be far away when the experience will start spreading as an undercurrent into the twenty-four hours of your day.
Everybody goes through the circle; it is normal. Only one thing you are doing wrong - which will make you take longer to get rid of the misery - and that is: when you feel these negative emotions about yourself, don't try to watch them. It is not yet the ripe time. Simply live them.
It is watching that is giving you the idea of a schizophrenic or split personality - because on the one hand you have these negative feelings about yourself, and on the other hand you are trying to remind yourself that you are just a watcher and these are just images which will fade away. You are cutting yourself in two.
The first thing I suggest is: don't cut yourself in two.
I would have suggested to you to be watchful, but the time is not ripe, you cannot be. Before you can be totally one with watchfulness, you have to go through the hell of all your negative emotions; otherwise they will be repressed and they will erupt at any moment, at any weak time.
So it is better to get rid of them. But getting rid of them does not mean you have to be watchful.
First, forget about watchfulness. Live each emotion that you feel; it is you. Hateful, ugly, unworthy - whatever it is, you be actually in it. First give them a chance to come up totally into the conscious.
Right now, by your effort of watchfulness you are repressing them into the unconscious. And then you get involved in your day-to-day work and you force them back again. That is not the way to get rid of them.
Let them come out - live them, suffer them. It will be difficult and tedious but immensely rewarding.
Once you have lived them, suffered them, accepted them, that this is you, that you have not made yourself in this way so you need not condemn yourself, that this is the way you have found yourself - once they are lived consciously, without any repression, you will be surprised that they are disappearing on their own. Their force on you is becoming less, their grip on your neck is no longer that tight. And when they are going away, there may be a time when you can start watching.
In the East they have a parable: an elephant passes through a door... the elephant has passed, but his shadow is still inside the door and it looks almost like the elephant. This is the time when the elephant has passed and only the shadow has remained. That you can watch - because shadows cannot go into the unconscious; shadows don't have any existence. If you are watchful, aware, the shadow will die, disappear. But first let the elephant go.
You are keeping the elephant in. You can hide the elephant inside, but for how long? And you will be carrying the elephant and its weight all the time. In each of your actions it will have some influence.
You will do things but there will be anger, you will do things but there will be hatred, you will do things but almost like a zombie - because that elephant is too heavy.
And you are not responsible for it. In fact, nobody is responsible for it. God used to be responsible, but he is dead; that was his only function. You can call the society responsible, you can call the parents responsible, but that does not help. That may give you a kind of solace, but it is not a solution. Remember, nobody is responsible; this is the way you have found yourself.
And I don't see that there is anything abnormal in it; everybody passes through it more or less. One thing has to be remembered: the bigger the elephant you are carrying within you, the bigger will be the release and freedom. So everything is balance. Your suffering may be great, but your blessing will also be great. So don't be bothered by it. What is wrong in it?
Just live it.
For you, for the time being, the only way is to live it totally, so that the elephant can come out unafraid:
"Now I am ready to live; there is no problem to hide." And once everything comes into the conscious mind it disperses, and when only the shadow is there, that is the time to become aware. Right now it will create schizophrenia; then it will create enlightenment.
And never be worried about big problems. All our problems are small. We are small - how can there be big problems? Secondly, whatever the depth of the problem will be the depth of your freedom, of your benediction when the problem disappears. So you will be perfectly balanced.
But remember not to repress. Your idea of being watchful right now is nothing but repression.
I will tell you one day - you will ask me one day - "Now it is the time to start being awake." Just a little patience... and we all can afford it.
Milarepa, I am pulling everybody's toe, but nobody is crazy enough to confess it. Everybody knows it... because do you think I come here to speak? I come here to pull your big toe. And everybody knows - but nobody tells it to anybody else!