These moments of devotion, of love, are the moments of enlightenment - just glimpses... as if you see, from a faraway place, the sunlit peak of a mountain. Although you are still far away, this is the peak where one day you have to arrive.
You don't have to go away from me, so there is no question of any conflict between being with me and seeking and searching for enlightenment. You are with me for enlightenment; otherwise, there is no purpose in being with me. The only purpose is to have a little feeling of that great experience, because without this little feeling the word enlightenment remains empty for you.
These small moments will start filling the word enlightenment with meaning, with a certainty, with a guarantee that it is not just a word but a reality to be realized; that just by being in the presence of a man who has found it, you can be touched by its reality. Time can stop, and for a moment you are transported to another level of existence, where in a sense you are, and in a sense you are no more - and both are true at the same time.
Enlightenment is not something philosophical, it is very existential. It is something to live, something to be, something to experience, something to share. It is almost tangible.
Looking into my eyes, you are looking into your own silence. Your eyes also have the same silence - you have never allowed it to happen.
Being in deep devotion comes as a surprise the first time, because it is so difficult for people to feel even love, and devotion is the highest form of love... just the essential fragrance of love. If love is the flower, then devotion is just the fragrance. You cannot catch hold of it. You can feel it, you can smell it, you can be surrounded by it, you can be drowned in it, but you cannot catch hold of it. It is not that material.
If these moments are happening to you, you are on the right path. There is nowhere to go, no need to go. You have found the place from where the pilgrimage begins - it has already begun. You should feel blessed by it.
Otherwise, people are simply wandering into words, theories, philosophies, theologies, religions, and all kinds of gymnastics of the mind; and nobody bothers that the ultimate reality is beyond mind.
You can go on for lives searching into the mind and you will not find anything except empty words.
Mind is a desert where nothing grows.
But if you can move just a little above the mind, the whole sky opens up for you... a little courage, and you can open your wings.
To be with the master is simply to see someone who has opened his wings and is on the wing in the sky. And he reminds you - not only by his words, but by his very being - that the same is possible for you, that you have wings but you have forgotten it. You don't have to achieve anything, you only have to remember. And these moments, by and by, push you to that remembrance.
That remembrance is freedom from all cults, from all beliefs, freedom from all kinds of stupidities, superstitions. And not only freedom from.... Remember this: freedom from superstitions is good but not enough, freedom from beliefs is good but not enough. Freedom for truth... freedom from beliefs and freedom for truth; freedom from superstitions and freedom for reality. When freedom comes with both wings - from and for - you are coming back home.
Plato's allegory is of slaves who, working in a cave, see only their shadows on the walls and believe that what is happening on the walls is the only reality. They don't know of any other reality except those shadows... they don't even know that those shadows are their own. They know nothing about the outside world, outside their cave; it doesn't exist for them.
This is one of the most beautiful allegories - of tremendous importance. It is our allegory. Translated into our life, it means we are living in a certain cave and we are seeing shadows on a certain screen and we know nothing else about the screen. We know nothing about there being a world beyond the screen; we know nothing about these shadows on the screen, even that they are our own.
Looked at rightly, it is the allegory of our mind.
What do you know of the world? Just a small skull is your cave; and just the screen of your mind...
and the things which you call thoughts, emotions, sentiments, feelings, are all shadows - they don't have any substance in them.
And you get angry, you get depressed, you are in anguish - because you have learned to be identified with those shadows. You are projecting them; they are your own shadows. It is your own anger that is projected on the screen of the mind. And then it becomes a vicious circle: that anger makes you more angry, more anger projects more anger, and so on and so forth. And we go on living our whole life without ever thinking that there is a world of reality beyond the mind, on the outside, and there is also a world of reality beyond all these sentiments, feelings, emotions - beyond your ego. That is your awareness.
The whole art of meditation is to bring you out of the cave so that you can become aware that you are not those shadows but that you are a watcher.
And the moment you become a watcher, a miracle happens: those shadows start disappearing.
They feed on your identity; if you feel identified with them, then they are there. The more you identify with them, the more nourished they are.
When you are just a watcher - just seeing, not judging, not condemning - slowly, slowly those shadows disappear, because now they don't have any food. And then there is such a tremendous clarity, perceptivity, that you can see the world beyond - the world of sunrise and the world of clouds and the world of the stars; that is your outside. And you can become aware of your inside, which is far more mysterious.
The outside world is so beautiful, but the inside world is a thousandfold more beautiful.
Once you are somehow capable of getting out of the cave you become part of a universal consciousness. Inside, you have the whole eternity; you have been here forever and you will be here forever. Death has never happened and cannot happen. And outside there is a tremendously beautiful existence.
And now to call them 'outside' and 'inside' is not right; those are the old words when the skull was dividing them in two. Now it is one. Your consciousness and the beauty of a sunset and the beauty of a starry night, your consciousness and the freshness of a rose - they are no longer separate because the principle of separation is no longer there. It is all one cosmic whole.
And I call this experience the only holy experience. To experience the whole is the only holy experience. It has nothing to do with churches, temples, synagogues; it has something to do with you coming out, slipping out of the clutches of the mind. And it is not difficult, it is just that you have not tried it.
One Japanese professor has been training small children to swim. His idea has been that in the mother's womb the child is in a certain liquid which is exactly the same as the ocean water, with the same constituents. And the child floats in that water.
It is well-known that whenever a woman becomes pregnant, she starts eating more salty food.
She needs more salt because the child needs ocean water. And this has given the idea to the evolutionists that man must have first been born in water. And if you look at the child's growing stages - in a photograph every day for nine months - you will be surprised: he begins by being a fish.
In the Hindu religion God's first incarnation is a fish. It cannot be coincidental, because even to conceive of God as a fish would have looked condemnatory. But for thousands of years Hindus have believed that God originated first as a fish. And to them God is life; they are just different words.
This Japanese professor thought that if life was first born in water, then swimming should be intrinsic; it has not to be learned. To prove his point he started working with small babies, and he has been immensely successful. Six-month-old babies can swim. And now he is trying with three-month-old babies - and they are swimming. And his expectation is that one day he will be able to show to the world that the just-born baby can be put in a tub of water and he will be swimming.
Swimming is not an art which has to be learned, it is something that we already know. But how many people know swimming? - Not very many people. Although it is something intrinsic we have the capacity to ignore it, to forget it.
The English word 'sin' is very beautiful. I love it because its original meaning is forgetfulness. It has nothing to do with the crimes we call sin. It is concerned with only one crime, and that is forgetfulness. We have forgotten ourselves; the remedy is remembrance.
Plato's allegory rightly depicts the situation which we are in. But Plato never went further than that.
Plato himself was never a meditator; the allegory remained a philosophical idea.
If he had interpreted this allegory and had given it a turn towards meditation, the whole Western mind would have been different. This allegory would have changed the whole Western mind and the history that followed Plato - because Plato is the founder of the whole Western mind.
Socrates never wrote anything; he was Plato's master. Whatever we have about Socrates is from Plato's notes of him talking with others - the famous Socratic dialogues. As a student he was just taking notes on them. Those notes have survived. In those notes is this allegory.
It is difficult to know for what purpose Socrates was using the allegory, but it is certain that Plato misused it - he was not a man who was in search of truth, he was a man who wanted to think about truth. But to search for truth is one thing and to think about truth is totally different: thinking keeps you within the cave. It is only non-thinking that can take you out of the cave.
So be silent, be still, whenever you can find the time. Allow silence to settle in you like a lake, so silent that there is not even a ripple - no thought in your mind - and suddenly you are out of it. And only then will you understand that the allegory is not for philosophical purposes; it is for authentic search, it is for realization.
Plato never gave that interpretation. So the whole Western mind followed Plato - he was a genius - and philosophy remained only a thinking about truth.
What can you think about truth? Either you know it or you don't know it. Sometimes even geniuses can do such stupid things that it looks unbelievable. How can you think about truth? - It is almost like a blind man thinking about light. What can he think about light? - he does not even know darkness.
Ordinarily, people think that blind people are living in darkness. You are wrong, because to see darkness you need eyes - as much as you need them for light. So don't be in a misunderstanding.
Because you close your eyes and there is darkness, that does not mean that a blind person sees darkness. You see darkness, because you can see light and you can see its absence. The blind man cannot see light, so he cannot see its absence. What can he think about light? And whatever he thinks is going to be wrong. He needs not a philosopher but a physician.
And Gautam Buddha has actually said, "I am not a philosopher, I am a physician. I don't want you to become great thinkers, I want you to become great seers."
And if you can see, then it is not a question of thinking; you simply know it. And the way to see is to learn the simple art of non-thinking.
In the beginning it will be difficult because you have become so accustomed to it. It has become such an old habit that it goes on by itself; it has its own momentum. Even if you don't want to think, it goes on and on. But if you are a little patient and you just watch the mind going on with its routine, without giving it any energy anymore, just seeing it as if you are seeing a film on a screen, remaining aloof, alert, watchful, without getting identified - soon the mind disappears.
And the disappearance of the mind is your coming out of the cave. For the first time you see the world that is surrounding you - its beauty, its tremendous silence. And you can see your own being - its immense light, its great blessings, its ultimate benediction.
If every person were to remember his experiences which were extraordinary... you would be surprised to know that by just finding those experiences, you would be able to find all the methods that have been developed for transforming man.
This is one of the old methods; it is greatly helpful. Just feeling that your head is becoming bigger and bigger, that you are not in the room but the room is within you... and then your head goes on becoming bigger and bigger. And the garden outside is not outside you but inside you, and the moon and the sun and the stars are not outside you but everything is inside your head, and your head becomes the circumference of the whole existence.... It is imagination; it is not that it is really happening.
But the very imagination gives you a key, and that key is: your mind is your servant. You can make it do things - and it is a very obedient servant. But for your whole life you have listened to it as if it is the master.
These experiments will give you the idea - the most important idea - that you are the master; the mind has to do anything you want it to do.
And also, while you are visualizing expansion, thoughts will disappear - because your whole concentration will be on the expansion, on the mind becoming bigger and bigger - and there will be a great silence. In that silence perhaps you may become aware of your awareness - that you are just a watcher, that you are not the mind. The mind can become big, the mind can become small - both exercises are as ancient as man's search for truth.
Another method is: you start thinking that your mind is becoming smaller, very much smaller. Finally it disappears and you don't have any head. That, too, is perfectly good. It is not that your head disappears - it will remain where it is - but you will learn one thing: mind is nothing but a faculty of imagination, so through mind you can never achieve reality.
The people who are trying to achieve reality through the mind are simply imagining things.
Somebody is seeing Jesus Christ, somebody is seeing Krishna, somebody is seeing Hazrat Mohammed - and they don't know that this is only their imagination. These people are not there, but their minds are capable of focusing on a certain subject and making it almost appear real. Many religions have been befooled and have been befooling others through such exercises.
I say it is good if these exercises help you to become alert - you are separate and mind is just a game of imagination. But almost all the religions have used these tricks to deceive millions of people. Sitting every day in front of Krishna's statue, praying, hoping that one day he will appear - and one day Krishna does appear... but it has nothing to do with Krishna. It is your own game; you have played a trick upon yourself. All so-called cults, which depend on prayer, are really based on imagination - and all the religions have done that.
Real religion is to know that your mind is a faculty of imagination. You can create any kind of hallucination you want. If it is something difficult, then there are ways to help, which scriptures have provided. For example, if you fast for twenty-one days, then any hallucination becomes easier, very easy. When you are well fed and healthy, that hallucination will not be easy. Sometimes when you have a fever, lying on your bed, you may see that you are rising up from the bed, or perhaps your whole bed is rising. Beyond a temperature of one hundred and five degrees you start hallucinating all kinds of things.
In isolation hallucination is easy. Go to a mountain cave at night, alone, with all the wild animals.
Fear, death, darkness, all force you; your mind is compelled. Whatever you want... if you want to hallucinate that Krishna is with you or Christ is with you, it will be easier than in your own house where your wife is, your children are, the neighbors are. These people - Krishna and Christ and Rama and Zarathustra - are very much afraid of coming; they always come when you are alone and in a faraway place.
It created in all the religions the idea of renouncing the world, because when you renounce the world and go to the mountains, the realization of God is very easy. On the mountain, Sinai, Moses encounters God. Why could he not encounter God with all his fellow Jews? What was the need that he should go alone? At least he should have kept a secretary and a few journalists with him to report to the world what really happened. Now he is the only person; whatever he says you have to believe.
All the people who have experiences of God or his incarnations have always done so in privacy. Why don't these people do it in public? The reason is: when fasting, when in darkness, when in the forest, in the desert alone the mind has more flexibility to imagine; then, you can visualize anything that you want. In that way this kind of experience has been exploited by religions. The people who realize God in this way become saints, great prophets, saviors - and they are really simply victims of hallucinations.
But the method itself can be used for better purposes. If you use it to be aware that you are the master and the mind is only a servant, you can give the orders and it has to follow.
Your experience was good. It stopped because you became grown-up and you must have started thinking to yourself, "This is childish, this is something crazy." Your rational mind must have been creating antagonism towards it. That's why it stopped.
If you want it to begin again it can begin very easily, because you have experienced it. You can use it, but use it to remember your mastery, because whatever is happening - either expansion or shrinking - both are imagination; they have nothing to do with reality. But to give you the sense of mastery is great, because that sense can be then used to stop thinking. If you can manage to expand your mind to the very limits of the universe, you can say to the mind, "Now, stop thinking!"
and sit silently and let thinking stop.
This was the original purpose for which these kinds of exercises were used - not to help your imagination but to free you from the grip of the mind.
Everything in existence is trying to tell you something - not only trees. The mountains, the ocean, the rivers, the sky, the clouds - everything is telling you something. It is telling you that existence is eternal, that forms change but the essence always remains. So don't get identified with the form, get in tune with the essence. Your body is your form, your mind is your form; beyond both is your reality. And that reality has everything.
This existence is poor before that inner reality of yours. The tree has many things, the mountain has many things but your inner reality has all those things plus. And this plus point is awareness.
The tree is, but it is not aware that it is. And unless you become aware that you are, you are just a walking tree; you have not evolved. Evolution is trying, through humanity, to reach to the ultimate peak of consciousness.
A few people have reached; they are proof enough that everybody can reach - just a little effort, just a little sincerity, just a little search. Everything is telling you that the way you are living is not enough, the things you are doing are not all. Your mundane life is only the superficial; your real life remains, in most cases, untouched. People are born, they live and they die - and without knowing who they are.
The whole existence is silent. If you can also be silent you will know who this consciousness is within you; and knowing this, life becomes a joy, a moment-to-moment rejoicing, an unending festival of lights.
And then trees will feel jealous of you rather than you feeling jealous of trees - because you can grow flowers of consciousness. Those trees are poor; they are very far back on the way. They are also travelers; some day they will reach where you are today. Some day you must have been in their place.
Gautam Buddha has told many stories of his past lives. One of his stories is that he was an elephant, and once in the middle of the night the forest caught on fire. It was so wild and the wind was so strong and the fire was spreading so fast... all the animals were trying to escape but were not finding the way.
The elephant was tired of running, so he stood under a tree looking all around to see where he could escape. Just as he was about to move - he lifted up one of his legs - at that very moment a small animal came and sat under his foot. His feet were big enough, and the animal must have thought it was a good place for shade. But the elephant was in a difficulty: if he put his foot down the animal would die, and if he did not put his foot down then he would die - because the fire was coming towards him.
But Buddha said that the elephant decided that it didn't matter: "One day, one has to die, I should not lose this opportunity. If I can save one life... as long as I am alive I will protect this creature."
It was difficult to stand in that posture for very long. The elephant fell to the side where the fire had moved to. He was burned and he died. But his decision to save some life, his reverence for a small creature was the reason he was born in his next life as a human being.
We are moving; those trees are also moving. It depends on what we do, it depends on what consciousness we live with; that is what takes us to a higher step.
It is beautiful to enjoy the trees, to enjoy the whole existence; but remember, right now you are at the highest peak - and your basic work is not to miss the opportunity of human life but to find the center of your being.
That finding will make you part of the universal soul; then there is no need for any other form. And to have a formless existence is the greatest freedom. Even the body is an imprisonment, the mind is an imprisonment. When you are pure consciousness, one with the whole, your freedom is total - and that is the goal.
Milarepa, what is the difference between me and you? That's exactly the difference between being really enlightened and just imagining to be enlightened!