The story is almost factual; it is a parable. On the way to truth one comes across many spaces which can stop the seeker because the joy, the pleasure, is really hallucination. One has to be continuously aware of beautiful experiences on the way, because no experience is of the truth.
Truth is not an experience.
Truth is when all experiences have passed away. It is pure isness.
There are moments in meditation when one feels as if one has arrived - now there is no further to go. It is so fulfilling and one has never experienced anything like this before. It is inconceivable that things can be better than this, that there can be more pleasant, more blissful experiences.
One of the most famous books, and one of the first ones that appeared in the West on Zen, was Christmas Humphreys' ZEN BUDDHISM. He really wanted to give it the title GO ON. He mentions it in the introduction, but it didn't feel very appealing, GO ON, so he changed the title. But GO ON was more appropriate.
Gautam Buddha's constant use of it makes it emphatically significant. Whenever somebody would come to Gautam Buddha and would describe his experience of his meditation - how beautiful it is, how joyous he is feeling, how blissful he is - in the end Gautam Buddha would say, "Go on, don't be stuck by it; there is much more ahead."
And this was a constant thing, whatever you would bring to him he would say, "Go on. Don't stop.
I know you want to stop because you cannot conceive what more there can be, but I know there is much more." And one day would come when the disciple will approach Gautam Buddha, touch the master's feet, sit silently by his side. And Buddha would ask, "How is the experience going?"
And he would start laughing and he would say, "You pushed me and pushed me and pushed me.
Now there is no experience at all, just a pure isness. The beauty of it, the benediction of it, is qualitatively different.
"You cannot say ten thousand times more, that will not be right; no quantity will be able to describe it. It is qualitatively different, and I have come just to thank you for your patience - I went on coming with experiences, and you went on sending me back with only the same one sentence, 'Go on. Don't stop.'"
Because of Gautam Buddha's "Go on," Christmas Humphreys wanted to use it as the title to his book, but he finally changed it, thinking that it would not appeal in the market. And perhaps he was right; "Go On" seems to be very flat for a book title.
This parable, Homer's story, has not been understood in the West the way it has to be understood. It is the story of spiritual growth. You will come many times to stages which give you the feeling that the time has come to stop - because the experience is so much that it is beyond your comprehension that there can be anything more.
So the mind which has always been telling you, "More, more" - for everything was asking for more - suddenly stops. It cannot comprehend there is more. And that is the point when the master wants you to go on: "Don't be addicted to any experience, howsoever beautiful, don't become a lotus- eater; otherwise you will be unconscious - blissfully unconscious, blissfully asleep." But you had not started the journey for this. You were going to reach yourself, fully awake.
The parable is simple if understood in the right way, but the parable must have reached Homer from the East. That's why in the West there is no explanation for it: it is just a story, a beautiful story.
It is an actual existential, experiential factuality of human growth towards the ultimate meaning of life.
So remember only one thing: Go on, until there is nowhere to go, until there is no one to go, until you have exhausted everything - the road, the goal, the traveler, all have disappeared - and there is just pure silence of isness.
No, it is not like that. According to the Eastern psychology, there are four stages of mind; not just two, as it is according to the Western philosophy - conscious mind, unconscious mind. In the context of the Western division between conscious and unconscious, your question is very relevant.
But the truth is that mind has four states: the waking state, which is comparable to the conscious mind; the sleeping state with dreams, which is parallel to the unconscious mind; third, the dreamless sleep which the West has yet to find; and the fourth, the real waking state.
The first is only the so-called waking state, and the fourth is real awakening. The second is sleep with dreams, but sleep with dreams is a disturbed state. In an eight-hour night, six hours you are dreaming and for only two hours are there no more dreams. Those two hours belong to the third state, which is not yet recognized in the Western psychology; it has not come across it yet.
Those two hours are not in one solid block, but a few minutes here, a few minutes there; in total in the whole night of eight hours sleep, you have two hours of the third state - which is dreamless sleep, which is really the rejuvenation, revitalization.
That's why in this state dreams stop, there are no dreams because there is no suppression.
Suppression only goes up to the second, the unconscious state, so the dreams remain only in the unconscious state. The third is deeper than the unconscious; it is unconscious, but far deeper, so that even a dream is not possible.
And these two hours are the most valuable because there is no disturbance at all. The body functions absolutely naturally. Everything is relaxed, suspended. Time disappears. You are as if you are dead.
And it is also beautiful; it gives you rest. If you miss it, in the morning you will feel you have been sleeping - but you get up more tired than you had gone to bed, as if sleep itself has been tiring.
Because dreams are just like worries, pictorial worries, pictorial tensions.
And this third is also important because just below it, deeper than it, is the real awakening.
This very morning I was saying to you that before the morning the night gets very dark. Don't be worried about the darkness. The darker the night gets, the closer the morning is.
The third state is the darkest, the most unconscious.
If you are a meditator, then you can go from this third stage to the fourth. If you are not a meditator, then from the third you come back to the second, from the second back to the first, and your daily routine goes on. And the fourth just remains there in the underground, which is your basic reality.
The meditator starts watching with the first stage, the so-called waking stage. And then slowly he starts watching the second stage - when there are dreams he is also there watching. Now he is not a part of the dreams, he is standing alone and the dreams are on the screen.
As he becomes more skillful in watching, he can slip even deeper, to where there is all darkness, nothing to watch except darkness, but it is tremendously peaceful, immensely silent, its depth is unfathomable. And the watcher goes on watching it: it goes on becoming darker and darker, thicker and thicker.
This has been called by the mystics "the dark night of the soul."
If one becomes afraid - because one has never seen such darkness, one has never seen such deafening silence, one has never entered into such an unknown, unfathomable space - one can go back to the second or to the first.
But if one goes on, remembering one thing, that when the night is the darkest, the morning is very close.... These are the moments when the master is helpful; otherwise it will be very difficult - it is only for a very few rare courageous people to enter into such a cave. One knows not whether it ends anywhere or not; you cannot see any end to it, it is endless.
But if the master is there and he says, "There is nothing to be afraid of. This is one of the most restful, most nourishing life-giving forces. You should go without any fear. It is your home."
And if you can go without any fear, soon suddenly you see on the horizon the sun rising - and not just one sun. According to the mystics of all the ages, it is as if thousands of suns are rising all over the horizon; the light is so much one cannot believe that one was carrying so much light within oneself under these dark layers.
So when the dreams stop, it is not that the repression is working, that only a little steam is allowed to go off. No. You are moving into a third stage which is more necessary - the second is only a passage. But we are so much full of rubbish that six hours are wasted in the second stage just on the bridge, moving here and there, not landing on the other side.
And even when we land we remain there only for two hours, and that, too, not in one block - just a few minutes here, a few minutes there, and again we are back on the bridge shuttling between dreams.
As your meditation grows deeper, the second space disappears because dreaming stops. As your thinking stops in meditation, in sleep your dreaming stops.
Dreaming is like thinking; the difference is that thinking is linguistic and dreaming is pictorial.
Dreaming is like Chinese, Japanese, the ancient languages; and thinking is like more contemporary languages. But both are the same.
Once you are able, by watching, to stop thinking, you will be able to stop dreaming; then the second stage disappears. From the first stage you enter into the third directly.
And because thinking and dreaming have stopped, your third stage will not last long either, because your first stage is becoming closer and closer to the fourth, it is becoming thoughtless awareness.
So finally, the second disappears first, then the third disappears, and then the first changes its character totally and becomes one with the fourth. And only the one stage remains, the fourth.
In the East we have called it turiya. Turiya simply means 'the fourth'. It is a number; it is not a name.
We have given names for the other three. First is jagruti, 'so-called awakening'. Second is sopan, 'dream'. Third is sushupti, 'dreamless sleep'. But for the fourth the East has not given any name, it is a nameless reality because you can never get rid of it.
All those three were not part of your nature, they were imposed layers; but the fourth you bring with your birth, and when you die you take the fourth with you. The fourth is you. Those three were three rings of experiences surrounding you - the fourth is the center.
It is a different way of saying the same thing that reaching the fourth you become enlightened, you become the awakened one.
It is one of the most significant differences. In the Western philosophy there are few names which are more important than the name of Descartes. Descartes' whole philosophy is based on the single statement, "I think, therefore I am."
But it is obviously very childish because you are not thinking constantly, still you are; you are not thinking while you are asleep, still you are; you may be in a coma, you are not thinking, still you are.
"I think I am, therefore I am." Thinking seems to be the most significant part. It is a conclusion of thinking that "I am," but when you are not thinking, what happens?
In meditation there will be no thinking. And those who have meditated for thousands of years, their experience has to be compared. They say, "When thinking ceases, then I am;" just the opposite of Descartes - because thinking is a disturbance. And when you are engaged with thoughts, you are engaged with something objective, and you are not an object.
When all thoughts have disappeared and you are sitting silently doing nothing, the East says, "For the first time you know you are - because now there is no object to distract your consciousness.
Your whole consciousness is settled at the center, in the heart."
And it is not a conclusion; it is not "therefore..." What Descartes is saying is "my existence is a logical conclusion: I think, therefore I am." It is not an existential experience, it is a logical conclusion.
The East says, "When there is no thought, you experience that you are." There is no question of "therefore..."
Descartes can be refuted because it is only a logical conclusion. It is so simple to refute him, and he has become the father figure of Western philosophy! It is so simple to refute him because when you are asleep, you are - and you are not thinking. Even when you are just going for a walk, you are not thinking.
If Descartes is right, then a person will be in a continuous trouble; he will have to think continuously, "I am thinking," to keep himself alive. The moment he forgets thinking, he is finished.
It would be rather more mature to say, "I am, therefore I think. I am, therefore I dream. I am, therefore I meditate." Then every possibility is open. Then you can do many things, everything: "I am, therefore I am silent."
I can be simply in my amness, doing nothing. There is no need for anything to prove it; my existence is self-evident. That's what Descartes is missing. He's trying to prove one's self.
It reminds me of a Sufi story I have told many times to you, but those stories are such that they have so many aspects, so many implications.
Mulla Nasruddin is sitting in the coffee house and bragging as ever about everything - that there is nobody as generous as he is.
Somebody said, "Mulla, we go on tolerating your bragging about everything, but about this generosity - we have never seen any proof of it. For years we are friends. You have been drinking coffee, and you have never even paid the bill, other friends are paying. We have invited you many times to our houses for dinner; you have never invited us even once. Even a miser would have thought of it. And still you have some nerve: 'I am the most generous man in this city.'"
He said, "Then come on, all of you, the whole coffee house - everybody is coming for dinner at my house. Close the coffee house. The owner, the servants, everybody is coming."
A procession of about fifty or sixty people went towards Mulla Nasruddin's house. And he was just ahead, going along with strong willpower. And as he was coming close to home, he started staggering a little. He hesitated.
Just in front of the house he said to the people, "Listen, please. You are all married and you know...
I have also got a wife. In the morning she sent me to purchase vegetables, and I have not returned home. The whole day I have been gossiping here and there. I have eaten with friends, and then I was in the coffee house with you.
"I had completely forgotten about the vegetables. And she must be angry. And you know I am a simple man. And now seeing that sixty persons are invited for dinner - and in the house, I tell you truly, there is nothing. So you just wait. First let me go in, so that I can console her. And then I will take you in. Just a few minutes... be kind."
They said, "We understand wives. You go in. It is perfectly right. In front of sixty people, getting insulted is not good. You go alone and first settle with your wife. We are waiting."
He closed the door, went in, and told the wife, "The whole coffee house has come, they were so insistent, for dinner. And you know that we are poor people. And I have not even brought the necessary things that you had asked, because I had no money. How can you manage? So I have thought of a way. You simply go and ask them, 'Why are you waiting here? What are you doing here?' And don't be afraid."
The wife said, "But they will say that you have invited them for dinner."
He said, "You forget about it. You simply say that I am not in the house."
The wife said, "But they have seen you - they have come with you, and they have seen you enter in the house. They are sitting on the steps, and you entered the house and closed the doors."
Mulla Nasruddin said, "You don't be worried. You just do what I am saying. You simply insist that I am not in the house; since the morning nothing has been heard about me."
The wife said, "If that is the only way, I will go." And she also had to agree; otherwise, from where to produce a dinner for sixty people? And she said, "I will see you later on. First I will go and finish with them."
She opened the door and asked really strongly, "What are you doing here? Who are you?"
They said, "We are Mulla Nasruddin's friends."
She said, "Whoever you are, your friend has not turned up at home the whole day. From the morning he has been missing. Go and find out where he is."
They said, "This is too much. He came with us. He told us to wait here, and went in just to make a settlement with you about the dinner."
She said, "Nobody has come in."
But they said, "We are not leaving like this, because that man goes on bragging about everything, and this is too much. We had to close the coffee house. He had brought us here. And now this is insulting. We will go inside the house and search for him." The poor woman could not think what to do, because they were too many, and she could not prevent sixty people.
Mulla Nasruddin was hiding upstairs, looking from a small window at what was happening there.
And when he saw that "those idiots are coming in the house to search for me, and they are going to find me," he opened the window and shouted, "Listen! He may have come with you, but he could have gone from the back door." He himself is saying it! "And don't you feel ashamed? - arguing with a poor woman whose husband has not come home since the morning? You should feel ashamed!
"And it is simple logic. He may have entered through the door. You may be right. And who knows whether you are right or wrong? For argument's sake, you may be right that he entered into the house, but there is a back door; he may have gone back out again. Find him."
Those sixty people looked at each other, "What kind of man is this? He himself is saying 'I am not in the house.'"
Descartes perhaps never came to know the Sufi story. He is also doing the same, saying the same thing. He is saying you have to prove that you are in the house. And he is trying to prove "I think, therefore I am". "I am" is secondary; thinking is primary. Thinking is a proof.
But he does not know that the whole East has been making the effort not to think. And thousands of people have succeeded in coming to the state where thinking disappears. And their experience is that when thinking disappears, only then you are. Before that it was illusory: You had not really tasted your existence; you had seen yourself as if in a mirror, a reflection.
If you ask me, I will say: "I am, because there is no thinking. I am, only when there is no thinking."
Thinking is a barrier, not a proof.
But the Western philosophy is a process of thinking, and the Eastern way is a process of getting free of thinking. They have moved in diametrically opposite directions.
The West has produced great thinkers, but not a single Buddha.
And thinkers who are great - Immanuel Kant, Hegel, or Descartes - if you look at their lives, you will find them just like you - no peace, no silence, no compassion, no sensitivity, no awareness. Nothing of the essential has happened to them. They are great thinkers, but they are not great beings.
In the East they have been trying to get rid of thinking, so that the being can have all the scope, the whole space.
Gautam Buddha may not be a great thinker, but he is a great being.
And who cares about thinking? It is like thinking about food - you are a great thinker about food - but you are sitting hungry. And somebody has eaten delicious food and does not think at all about food. Why should he think about it? The essential thing is not thinking about food, but eating food.
These great philosophers have been thinking about love, but they have not loved; they have been thinking about peace, but they are as angry as anybody else, as violent as anybody else; they have been thinking about silence, but they don't know any taste of it... they have had many thoughts about it.
So one thing has to be remembered: Thinking about something is one thing; and to be that which you have been thinking about, is quite another. And that is the real thing: to be.
So I would like you to remember - forget Descartes - never to make your existence secondary to any logical argument. It is self evident. It needs no proof, for or against. And it reveals itself totally when there are no thoughts, no emotions, no feelings - when the whole inner sky is absolutely empty of all the junk and furniture that you call thinking.
In that silence, in that serenity, you become a shrine, you become holy.
For the first time you know your godliness.
Kaveesha, that's certainly true. I have missed what you have got without any effort. Those who understand will feel they are blessed. Most will take it for granted; they are unfortunate.
It is part of human nature that whatever you get without any effort on your part, you tend to forget all about it. You don't feel any gratitude for it. This is one of the great miseries of the human mind.
But you are awakening out of this misery and are feeling the blissfulness that only a disciple can feel. I have never been a disciple. That experience certainly I have missed.
You have it, but remember that it will be more penetrating if you don't take it for granted, if you continuously keep reminding yourself that out of the five billion people in the world, suddenly you have come close to a master - just stumbled upon, accidentally.
If you feel grateful to existence for it, it will make the experience deeper, more valuable, immensely transforming. There is no need to do anything - if you can be in tune with the master, that is enough to be enlightened - just merging in his presence, just melting in his silence, just dropping the duality between you and him, just feeling oneness. And that feeling will take you to new dimensions of life.
It will help you to transcend the small mind and will open up the whole sky with all the stars for you to explore.
No, I don't have any choice any more. I am in a choiceless awareness. I don't have to be aware. I am simply aware. Now it is just like my heartbeat or like my breathing. Even if I try not to be aware, it is not possible; the very effort will make me more aware.
Awareness is not a quality, a characteristic; it is your whole being. When you become aware, there is no choice left to be otherwise.
These techniques - and not only these, but all the techniques that have been developed - are based in human experiences.
Many of the techniques are based in the innocent child and his experiences. You have to regain that innocence to make the experience possible.
It is through centuries that people with keen insight into human affairs have been watching themselves and others, and finding methods. But all methods are based on certain experiences that naturally happen. But nobody takes care of them; on the contrary, the society tries to repress those experiences, because those experiences will certainly make the individual rebellious.
For example, Jalaluddin Rumi became enlightened with a very strange method that he had remembered from his own childhood, whirling.
All children like whirling because ordinarily your being and your body are fixed, settled. But when you start whirling and you go faster and faster, the body goes on whirling and at a certain speed your consciousness can't keep pace with it. So your consciousness becomes a center of the cyclone:
the body moves and the consciousness remains unmoving.
All over the world small children do that, but parents are afraid they will fall, they may break a bone, get a fracture, they may have sickness, nausea. So they are stopped because their parents don't have any idea, they never inquire of the child, "Why you are whirling and what you are getting?"
Jalaluddin, from his very childhood, retained the capacity for whirling and enjoyed it immensely. And because people were preventing him, he would go into seclusion in the desert and whirl there. And the desert is the best place to whirl because even if you fall you don't get hurt; you can go with as much speed as you want.
He was not aware that he is experiencing something spiritual, but he was seeing changes happening. He was becoming a different person. He was not easily irritated, annoyed, humiliated, insulted. His intelligence was becoming sharper.
And he was not behaving like other children, he was becoming a separate individual. He was not interested in their games. While they were playing, he was whirling somewhere far away in the desert. It was so blissful and so peaceful, but he was not aware that this is spiritual or that this is something to do with enlightenment. There is no way he will be able to describe it as spirituality.
When he became a young man, many masters were interested in him - seeing his qualities. He was a rare individual. He was just on the verge of enlightenment, and he was not aware of it - he was not even a seeker after truth. Just one thing he was doing and that was whirling. That he continued.
And one time he decided to whirl to the uttermost to see what happens. These beautiful experiences are happening - what happens if he goes on whirling as long as possible? He whirled for thirty-six hours non-stop, day and night. And when he fell, after thirty-six hours, he was a totally different man, radiating a new light.
He made a tradition, which has remained for twelve hundred years, of the whirling dervishes. They have only one technique - they don't have anything else. They don't have any scripture, they have Rumi's poems - he was a poet of a great caliber. They have Rumi's poems and one technique, whirling. And just with one technique, many people in these twelve hundred years have reached to the ultimate. And it was found by Rumi - who was not even seeking anything.
All the techniques of the world - I have looked into every technique possible, to see how it must have come. Because they are not inventions, they are based on some human experience which was already happening. It just had to be made more acute, more sharp, more methodological, more clean and more clear, so that the person is not doing it on any biological basis or physiological basis for some small gain, but was searching for the ultimate truth through it.
All methods have happened that way.
I have not come across a single method which is not based in human experience. It seems that nature provides you already with everything to transcend the ordinary mind and to reach to the superconscious. But unfortunately we don't use it, we don't even understand it.
But there have been people who have collected all the possibilities, made them clean, short, simple so everybody can use them.
It will be really a great job. If I have time I would like to go into explaining every technique used throughout the world, from which human experience it has arisen.
But one thing is certain, that there are no techniques for spiritual growth which can be artificially enforced on a man. Nature has already provided - you can purify it, make it better, make it more refined. But there is no way to make an artificial method work.
With nature, no artificiality is going to help.
And when nature itself is ready to help you, it is simply stupid to go for artificial methods.