The number is really vast. Buddhism in itself became a world of philosophy - not just a philosophy, but a source of many philosophies because it spread all over Asia, meeting with different cultures, different people, different philosophies.
In Tibet it came to a different kind of flowering which is rare. It is pure mysticism and is founded on a school method. Hundreds of lamaseries developed all over Tibet in the deep Himalayan mountains, where people devoted their whole lives in search of truth. It became almost a convention that every family should donate one or more members for these lamaseries, these mystery schools.
And what has happened in Tibet has not happened anywhere else. The whole country turned towards a single search devoted to a single goal. It certainly developed its own methods, the seeds of which are in Buddhism, in Gautam Buddha; but in the seeds you cannot see the flowers. When those seeds blossom, only then do you become aware of the fragrance and the color and the beauty.
Tibet has given many awakened people; and their methods are as far removed from Zen as they can be. There is no meeting ground. Their source is the same, but they developed in different atmospheres, were developed by different kinds of people, came to the same conclusion but moved on different paths - as if on one mountain you can move from different directions on different paths and still can reach to the same peak. They meet at the peak, but on the way there is no meeting, they are completely unique and separate.
In Thailand, Buddhism has taken a different form, a different shape.
In China, meeting with Tao, it absorbed completely the whole spirit of Tao.
Buddhism has a very big heart. It is not like Christianity or Mohammedanism, confined to a very limited area; it can absorb so many things, apparently looking even contradictory.
Tao has no method. Tibet is all method. Tao is no-method, simple spontaneity - living life according to nature with no fight. Every method is a fight, every method is to define yourself. Tao's work is how to become undefined, how to become one with the whole; and absorbing Tao, Chinese Buddhism came to have a different taste, totally different.
And the same has happened in Korea, in Mongolia, in Sri Lanka, in Burma, in other small countries of Asia - because it became the religion of the whole of Asia. And it became a great religion, influencing different races, different cultures, different countries, without any fight. It is something unique in history.
Christians have been converting people, Mohammedans have been converting people. Buddhism has never converted people; it has simply allowed itself to be open, available. It has opened its own heart and helped other people to open their hearts, and there has been a meeting - but the meeting was not the victory of anyone. It was simply a merger.
In India itself, Buddhism has a totally different characteristic - more philosophic, more logical - because in India, Buddhism had to survive amongst many Indian philosophies which had reached to a climax of understanding. To survive amongst them, Buddhism developed great philosophies.
Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Dharmakirti - such philosophers are unique in the whole world in their logical penetration.
But in Thailand Buddhism is completely non-philosophic: it is devotional. In Japan it is neither philosophic nor devotional; it is pure meditation. In Tibet, it is all methodological. In China, it is no method, no effort, no action.
But the beauty is that Buddhism - mixing with so many different philosophies, cultures, viewpoints - still retains its basic character. It is not lost. It has a tremendous vitality to survive. It adapts to any kind of situation without fighting, and slowly, slowly absorbs the situation into itself.
And in those days, twenty-five centuries ago, spreading a totally new vision to a whole continent just by sheer intelligence and discussion was a miracle. Not a single man has been killed, not a single stone has been thrown. And all these people have contributed and made Buddhism richer.
Ordinarily religions like Christianity or Mohammedanism are afraid that if they allow somebody to come too close, they may lose their own identity. Buddhism was never afraid, and it never lost its identity.
I have been to Buddhist conferences where people from Tibet and Japan and Sri Lanka and China and Burma and other countries were present, and that has been my one experience - that they all differed with each other, but they were still connected with a single devotion towards Gautam Buddha. About that there was no problem, no conflict.
And this was the only conference - I have attended many conferences of other different religions, but this had something unique about it, because I was using my own experience in interpreting the teachings of Buddha. They were all different, and I was bringing still another different interpretation.
But they listened silently, lovingly, patiently, and thanked me, "We have not been aware that this interpretation is also possible. You have made us aware of a certain aspect of Buddha, and for twenty-five centuries thousands of people have interpreted it, but have never pointed this out."
One of the Buddhist leaders, Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan, told me, "Whatever you say sounds right. The stories that you tell about Gautam Buddha look absolutely true, but I have been searching into scriptures - my whole life I have devoted to the scriptures - and a few of your stories are not described anywhere."
I asked him, "For example?"
And he said, "One story I have loved. I looked again and again in every possible source - for three years I have been looking into it. It is not described anywhere; you must have invented it.
The story I have told many times. Gautam Buddha is walking on the road. A fly sits on his head, and he goes on talking with Ananda, his disciple, and mechanically moves his hand and the fly goes away. Then he stops, suddenly - because he has done that movement of the hand without awareness. And to him that is the only wrong thing in life - to do anything without awareness, even moving your hand, although you have not harmed anybody.
So he stands and again takes his hand through the same posture of waving away the fly - although there is no fly any more. Ananda is just surprised at what he is doing, and he says, "The fly you have brushed away from your face long before. What are you doing now? There is no fly."
Buddha said, "What I am doing now is... that time I moved my hand mechanically, like a robot. It was a mistake. Now I am doing it as I should have done, just to teach me a lesson so that never again anything like this happens. Now I am moving my hand with full awareness. The fly is not the point. The point is, whether in my hand there is awareness and grace and love and compassion, or not. Now it is right. It should have been this way."
I had told that story in Nagpur at a Buddhist conference. Anand Kausalyayan heard it there, and three years later in Bodhgaya - where there was an international conference of the Buddhists - he said, "The story was so beautiful, so ESSENTIALLY Buddhist, that I wanted to believe that it was true. But in the scriptures it is not there."
I said, "Forget the scriptures. The question is whether the story is essentially characteristic of Gautam Buddha or not, whether it carries some message of Gautam Buddha or not."
He said, "It does, certainly. This is his essential teaching: awareness in every action. But it is not historical."
I said, "Who cares about history?"
And in that conference I told them, "You should remember it, that history is a Western concept. In the East we have never cared about history because history only collects facts. In the East there is no word equivalent to history, and in the East there was no tradition of writing history. In the East, instead of history we have been writing mythology.
"Mythology may not be factual, but it has the truth in it. A myth may have never happened. It is not a photograph of a fact; it is a painting. And there is a difference between a photograph and a painting.
A painting brings out something of you which no photograph can bring out. The photograph can only bring out your outlines.
"A great painter can bring you out in it - your sadness, your blissfulness, your silence. The photograph cannot catch hold of it because they are not physical things. But a great painter or a great sculptor can manage to catch hold of them. He's not much concerned about the outlines, he is much more concerned about the inner reality."
And I told the conference, "I would like this story to be added to the scriptures because all the scriptures were written after Gautam Buddha's death - three hundred years afterwards. So what difference does it make if I add few more stories after twenty-five centuries, not three centuries. The whole question is that it should represent the essential reality, the basic taste."
And you will be surprised that people agreed with me; even Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan agreed with me. This kind of understanding and agreement is a Buddhist phenomenon, it is a speciality which has happened in different branches of Buddhism.
And I am not even a Buddhist. And they went on inviting me to their conferences. And I told them, "I am not a Buddhist."
They said, "That does not matter. What you say is closer to Gautam Buddha than what we say - although we are Buddhists."
You cannot expect that from Christians or Mohammedans or Hindus. They are fanatics.
Buddhism is a non-fanatic religion.
Just now when we were in Nepal - Nepal is a Buddhist country - the chief of all the Buddhist monks used to come to listen to my lectures. And I came to know that he was going round meeting ministers, and the prime minister, and other important people and telling them, "You should come.
Don't decide by reading nonsense newspapers. Come and listen to him."
He used to sit just in front of me - an old man - and whenever I said something which was very close to Buddha's heart, I could see that old man's head nodding. He was not doing it knowingly.
He was just so much in tune that he felt it; this was the purest thing that he has heard. And I was not talking about Buddha; but the taste he understood.
The whole day he was moving around Kathmandu, forgetting his own work as president of the monks of Nepal. He was telling people that they should come and listen to me, and saying, "Don't be bothered what newspapers say. When the man is here, why should you miss him?" And he brought many people by and by.
You cannot hope for this with a Hindu shankaracharya, or the head of the Jaina monks, or a Catholic pope. It is impossible.
Buddha has left a tremendously meaningful legacy, and his impact is still alive. No man has left such an impact on humanity; no man has made man so humble, so receptive, so intelligent, so unprejudiced.
So thousands of people have thrown their spices in the Buddhist pot, but nobody has been able to change its basic essence.
That is the greatness of Gautam Buddha - that great philosophers merged with him, great cultures merged with him, but his essential truth remained unaffected. It is still the same.
It has taken all the beauties from everywhere, it has collected all the juice from all possible sources, but it has not lost its own identity. It is so certain of its own identity that it is not afraid of mixing with anyone, everyone.
This certainty is possible only if the truth is your own experience. You are not a prophet, not a savior, not a messiah, you are not a postman bringing a message from God - this certainty is possible only if the truth is your own.
The basic problem is not love. Love is never a problem. The basic problem is that you don't have any self-respect, any individuality. You are made up only of the opinions of others.
So if a woman loves you, you feel great because the woman gives you the sense that you must be beautiful. You don't have any sensibility about yourself - your beauty, your intelligence. You are very much dependent. That's where the problem is. And because the woman's love makes you feel great, beautiful, approved, appreciated.... You are not really in love with the woman, you are using her love for something else that you are missing - your self-appreciation. And you are becoming dependent.
If the woman stops loving you, again you will be ugly, again you will lose the small support that you had found, again you will start drowning in the ocean.
And because the woman gives you the sense of greatness and beauty and a certain individuality, other women also become attracted to you. Then you feel even more a hero.
You love to be loved. But you don't know what love is.
You are not sensitive about love, so immediately you don't miss the chance of using the other woman's love to make you feel greater. But then the first woman slips out of your hands. That makes you feel guilty, that makes you feel ugly; all your greatness disappears, all your charm disappears. It was borrowed, it was just a reflection. It was given to you by that woman, and she has dropped you.
Soon the other woman also leaves you.
It is not a question of love at all.
You are trying to make it a problem of love.
The question is that you don't have any identity, that you have never loved yourself, that you don't have any appreciation for yourself. Perhaps you condemn yourself, perhaps you hate yourself, perhaps you feel you are a nobody. In this big world there are great people, talented geniuses. You stand nowhere.
This is your problem, and unless you change this, nothing is going to help you. And to change it is so simple, because it is just your idea.
Everybody is in the same boat. Just a few people are intelligent enough to appreciate themselves - because whatever nature has given to you, you have not earned it; you have to be thankful for it, you have to be grateful for it - whatever you have got. And whatever you have got, you have to use it creatively.
Everybody has some talent. If he uses it creatively it will bring an identity to himself, and that will not depend on anybody else. You will be independent. And if then somebody falls in love with you, you will not feel great for it, you will feel grateful for it. It won't make you a hero, it will make you rather humble.
And not being dependent on the person who loves you, you will not be deep down angry - because nobody likes to be dependent on anybody else, everybody hates it. So the person who makes you great - you hate that person and you are just looking for an opportunity to show your hate. That's why soon the other woman appears; that is the chance to show the first woman "it is not only you that love me. There are thousands of others."
But this is basically ugliness, insensitiveness, and it arises out of your dependence. Any person who is independent, who is perfectly happy alone - it doesn't matter whether anybody loves him or not, he is enough unto himself. To love such a person is a joy because that person is not going to hate you, that person is not going to resent you, that person is not going to take revenge on you: he is an independent person, he has no complaint against you.
So even if he falls in love with some other woman, this will not be a revengeful act. He will apologize to the first woman. He will make it clear that "the love that used to exist between us has disappeared.
I am helpless. You are helpless. I feel sorry, but there is nothing that I can do about it. Anything done will only be pretension, hypocrisy; and I cannot be a hypocrite to someone I have loved. It is better to say clearly that love is over - in sadness, but we have to part.
It will not create any guilt in you because you have not hurt anybody. It will not create any ugliness in you because you have not used anybody. And the reason does not exist for the other woman to leave you. And even if she leaves.... One should never take life for granted - everything is in a flux and changing. And who knows, a better woman may be available; but first this woman has to pass.
If you are an independent person, you will take all the changes in life as a great situation for learning, for maturing, for graduating.
All these love affairs are momentary. They don't have any insurance, any guarantee with them. They come like a breeze and they go like a breeze.
If you are afraid of change, then it is better to be as far away from these love affairs as possible because love is the most changing phenomenon in existence - because it is the most beautiful flower. In the morning it opens, in the evening it is gone. But tomorrow other flowers will open, they have always been opening. So just rest for the night.
It is good between two women to have a little time for rest - or don't you want any rest? Then you will kill yourself. So, sometimes in love, sometimes not in love, is a perfectly good rhythm. You just have to be independent.
Your love should be just love. It should not give you anything else that can be taken away. So when it comes it is good, when it is gone it is good; you remain the same.
I have seen in my life every kind of situation. But I never look back. I have always found that it was good that it finished: now something new is possible. Otherwise, you would be still playing with toys, teddy bears. Things come and go. You remain; and you go on maturing with every change.
Every change is beautiful.
Make it as much of a celebration as possible. Don't hurt anybody, and don't let anybody hurt you.
Just remain human. We are not stones. Things will be changing; there are good days and there are bad days, but if you have a certain integrity, you can pass through good days, bad days, just the same. It does not make any difference to you. On the contrary, everything contributes to your growth.
But you have to remember first to find out exactly where the problem is; otherwise people go on solving problems which are not their problems. So they do much work to no purpose.
It is not the ego, as you are thinking, that is the problem.
You have simply remained from your childhood dependent on other people's opinions, what they say about you. And you have been collecting those opinions; and files of opinions are surrounding you - that's what you are.
One of my friends - he was an old man, but by chance he came very close to me - he was India's oldest member of parliament, Seth Govind Das. He was known as the father of the Indian parliament.
He had been a member, without any break, for sixty-five years.
His son died. His son was acquainted with me, and he was a minister. And just to console the father, I went to see him - for the first time - and he was sitting in his beautiful luxurious palace. He had a palace. His father had the title of raja. And as he saw me, immediately tears came to his eyes.
And I said, "You have seen life much more than me, and you know that death is bound to happen, and when it will happen nobody can say."
And he was crying, and he pushed a pile of telegrams towards me - from the prime minister, from the president, from the governors, from other state ministers, and this and that, vice-chancellors of universities.... I said, "That's okay. That's perfectly good, they are all sending their consolations."
He said, "But the chief minister of this state has not sent anything."
I was shocked, that his son is dead... and they were once friends - the chief minister used to live with Seth Govind Das in his own palace. But he was a cunning man, a cunning politician. He used Seth Govind Das and his popularity, and his power and money, to become the chief minister.
And once he was in power, he did not want it to appear to anybody that it had anything to do with Seth Govind Das. So slowly, slowly they turned into enemies. And even when Seth Govind Das's son had died, he did not send a telegram of consolation.
But I told Seth Govind Das, "That does not matter. It won't help in any way to revive your son. But it seems you are more interested" - he had all the cuttings of the newspapers in which the news of the death and his son's photos and biographical sketches appeared - "in the publicity than in the death. I don't see that you are really shocked by his death. There seems to be something else."
He said, "What do you mean?" He was offended, and it was our first meeting.
I said, "I mean he was only a deputy minister of education, and you must have been ambitious for him - that he will become the minister of education, then the chief minister; and then you will take him to the federal government... and you must be hoping in some way for something that you could not be."
He was one of the oldest fighters of the freedom movement, but he could not get any post after the freedom. He was a simple man, not cunning, not a politician. He had sacrificed much. But who cares about sacrifice, who cares that he has been in jails many times and he has gone against his family - because his father was a very staunch supporter of the British government. And the father had threatened that he would disown him if he did not stop that nonsense that he was doing.
Against his father, he went on fighting with the British government. He was hoping that he would get some big post. And he got nothing. And I know that he was not capable of any post. He was such a simple person. To fight for freedom is one thing, and to become a prime minister or to become a governor is another thing - different qualities are needed. So he was hoping....
I told him, "You were hoping."
He said, "But how" - all his tears disappeared. And he said, "How could you find that out, because you have met me for the first time?"
I said, "Seeing all these cuttings and telegrams, it seems you were ambitious. Your own ambitions are unfulfilled and you were hoping that through the son you will be able to fulfill your ambitions. And now the son is dead. You never loved the son, because you have a second son also, and I knew both your sons.
"You don't take any note of the second son because he's not in politics. Your whole love is for ambition. The son was simply a means. You wanted to use him, and now he is gone. Don't be worried: use the second son. Politics is not such a big thing. Idiots are succeeding, and you have every power, influence, connection - push the other son."
And he forgot all about his first son. He said, "That's right, I didn't think about it."
And he pushed the second son. In the place of his first son, he pushed the second son. He became the deputy education minister. But by a strange fate, the second son also died before the old man.
He also could not even become a fully-fledged minister.
When I went to see him, I said, "Now I am really sorry, because you had only two sons. Now there is only one way."
He said, "What? It was you who suggested it, and I did it. And things were going well. I had forgotten the first son. What can you do against God's will? But now he is dead."
I said, "What about your son-in-law?" - because he had a son-in-law - "force HIM!"
He said, "But even now, forcing him, I feel a little afraid. What if he dies too?"
I said, "Then we will see. Somebody else we will find. First you force him. Because if you die, then nobody from your family can enter into politics. You have all the connections, although you don't have any actual power. But all the great leaders of the country are connected with you, are friends with you. You can force it."
He said, "It is worth trying. At the most he can die. What else can he do?"
And the son-in-law was not ready at all. Seeing two sons had died in the same post, he had become afraid. He even came to me, saying, "Please don't suggest anything. That man is dangerous. Now he's after me; and the same post is vacant because again the son has died, and I am very much afraid. And I'm not a politician."
I said, "It is just a coincidence. And you are not his son in the first place, you are his son-in-law. You just get into it and see what happens." Fortunately he survived!
But the old man died. And once the old man died, nobody cared about the son-in-law, and in the next election he was thrown out. He could not even get the ticket to stand in the election. It was all the old man's influence.
So when he met me, he said, "Even worse has happened. If I had died, even as a deputy minister, at least with government honors, with great publicity.... But something went wrong. The old man died before me, and now I am nowhere. He destroyed my business. I closed the business and went into politics, and now the politics is finished. Because I don't have any connections or any relationship with those people, I could not even manage to get a ticket to be elected to the assembly."
I said, "You should thank God that you are alive. Just open your shop again and forget all about politics."
That old man was threatening, at the time when his first son died, that he will kill himself. His wife was very much afraid. She told me, "Somehow, prevent him. He says that he will jump, he will kill himself."
I said, "Don't be worried. A man who is carrying a load of telegrams, all the cuttings of the newspapers, he is not going to jump. This type of person doesn't commit suicide."
She said, "Are you certain?"
I said, "I am absolutely certain. Don't be afraid of him. He's perfectly alright, and I have given him the solution."
The death was not the problem. But he was thinking that the death is the problem: that his son has died and he loved him so much, that he cannot live without him.
I said, "That is not the problem. The problem is that you loved your ambitions, and he was just being used for your ambitions - and you cannot live without ambitions. Just look at the real problem and things will be immediately clear." And he understood. And he became a great friend to me. And he was eighty years old.
But he said, "Nobody suggested it to me. Everybody thought that the death of my son is the problem."
I said, "If you had remained with that idea, you would have remained miserable because that was not the real problem. And the real problem was your ambitions - just put forward the second son."
And as the second son became the deputy minister, he was happy again. He forgot the first son. It was not a question of who, but that somebody should carry his ambitions.
Always remember whenever you are facing a problem, first to find out what exactly is the problem.
Don't be too much worried about the solution.
Your most important work is to find and pinpoint the problem. The solution is very easy. But if you have missed the problem, then the solution is impossible - whatever solution you bring will not work.
So ego is not your problem.
Love is not your problem.
Your problem is that you have not been able to accept yourself, to stand on your own feet, to be respectful to yourself, to do something so that you can feel that you have some worth.
Your worth should be within you, not donated by somebody else. A borrowed worth is dangerous; the person can take it back. And this goes on happening in so-called love affairs.
Only an independent person can love and can be loved. And love will not create any problem for him.