The happening of enlightenment cannot be described in prose. Prose is too mundane. And the happening of enlightenment is too poetic.
It is the ultimate romance in existence.
The problem is how to put the wordless happening into words.
No trees blossom out of season. No flowers are showered from the sky. No deities dance around the enlightened one. But still, all these are true. It is as if trees blossomed out of season. Remember 'as if'; as if gods danced around the enlightened one, as if the whole existence became a celebration.
It becomes a celebration, but it is so silent and so peaceful; and it is so far away from language that to say it we have to use fictitious phenomena. In other words, trees should have blossomed out of season - although they did not; flowers should have showered - but they did not.
You have to understand the poetic way of saying that whenever somebody becomes enlightened it is not only his enlightenment - because he has disappeared, that's why there is enlightenment - it spreads all over existence, it is being felt through every fiber of life.
And with each single individual becoming enlightened, the whole level of consciousness of humanity goes a little higher. Whatever man is today, it is not due to his own effort; the credit goes to those few enlightened people around the world. They can be counted on fingers. But each disappearing, becoming pure light, has given a tremendous push to the whole sleeping humanity towards a better state of consciousness.
Wherever we are, we owe tremendously to people we don't even know.
But with poetry there is a difficulty. One difficulty is, if you explain it it becomes prose, it loses its poetic quality. Secondly, the believers, the faithful, think that it is not poetry; whatever is said did actually happen, it is history - not fiction but factuality. They get angry if you call it poetry - although poetry is a far higher expression than prose.
And this kind of poetry has been used for all enlightened people around the world.
It happened, the first time I had come to Bombay - it must have been in 1960 - to speak at the birthday celebrations of Mahavira. And Bombay is the stronghold of the Jainas.
I was absolutely unknown to them.
They had two speakers. I was introduced to them by a very eminent person in India, a very simple and humble man; but by chance he was the general manager of Jamnalal Bajaj in Wardha. Jamnalal Bajaj was one of the richest men in India who sacrificed his everything for the freedom struggle. He had made a big guest house, at least five hundred people can stay there at a time, and continually there were conferences for the freedom fighters. And finally he persuaded Mahatma Gandhi also - who was the leader - to come to Wardha, and he made an ashram for him nearby, outside the city.
And this old man, Chiranjilal Badjatya, was in charge of taking care of all the guests. These guests finally became president of India, governors of all the states, chief ministers, cabinet ministers - all the great posts after freedom came into the hands of these people, who had been guests in Jamnalal's guesthouse - and Chiranjilal Badjatya was taking care of them. So he was intimately connected with all India's well-known leaders, not a single man of any eminence was unknown to him. And they all respected him - because he was an old man, and he served them so lovingly.
Just by chance again, he came across me.
In Jabalpur there is a very beautiful complex of Jaina temples in the mountains. And the stones in Jabalpur have a speciality - they're all round. Big stones, huge stones but all round, egg-shaped, which has proved that the earth in Jabalpur has come out of the ocean first. Those big boulders have been rolling in water for millions of years - that is why the roundness.... And not one - millions of boulders. It is a strange mountain. It is not an ordinary mountain, just those boulders upon boulders - it has its own beauty.
And there was a celebration. I had gone to speak there, and as I was coming out this old man was standing by the side of the road. It was a cold morning. He had a blanket around himself. He simply threw the blanket on the ground and asked me to sit there, but I said, "Your blanket will get dirty."
He said, "Don't be worried about the blanket."
I said, "You are old. You may get cold. "
He said, "Don't be worried. You just sit. Just sit with me. And I cannot tell you to sit on bare earth."
He said, "I have listened to all the great speakers of this country - from the lowest up to the highest, Mahatma Gandhi - but the way you said things, nobody has touched my heart in this way. I have just one request, please don't refuse an old man."
I said, "First you tell me what you want." I had no idea who he was.
He said, "On a certain date this year I invite you to Bombay. I want to introduce you to prominent people. Otherwise, just as I was unaware of you they will remain unaware."
And Bombay is the real capital of India for intelligentsia, for industrialists; even the politicians from Delhi are under the thumb of the people of Bombay because for elections they need money and all the money is in Bombay.
You will be surprised that Bombay has only a population of ten million - in a country of nine hundred million - but it has half of the wealth of the whole country. Ten million against eight hundred and eighty million people are holding half the wealth of the country. Certainly they have a power.
So he said to me, "I don't want these people to miss you."
I said, "You are inviting so lovingly. I will come. But I don't know anybody there. Nobody knows me."
He said, "I will be there, and I will make arrangements that people will recognize you."
And it was hilarious because when I arrived I was standing at the air-conditioned compartment door waiting, and almost fifty people were running from here and there looking. And they will look at me - somehow convinced that this is the man, and somehow unconvinced. And they will go on. The whole train was emptied. Only I was standing there, and those fifty people who had come to receive me. Now there was nobody else.
So finally they asked me, "What happened? Are you not wearing your Gandhi cap today?"
I said, "Who told you that I have ever been wearing a Gandhi cap?"
They said, "Chiranjilal Badjatya, who has invited you here."
I said, "He is an old man, and his whole life he has lived with people who were all wearing Gandhi caps" - that was the symbol of the freedom fighters - "So everything else he has described perfectly well, he just added the Gandhi cap."
And they all will look from down upwards - everything was right, and just the cap was missing - so they will go on, "This is not the man."
And Chiranjilal Badjatya had got caught in some traffic so he arrived late, when they had already discovered: "I don't wear it and I am the person you are looking for. I know that you are looking for me and you have been running from here and there."
And Chiranjilal came huffing, whuffing, an old man. And he said, "Listen, I have forgotten one thing.
That Gandhi cap he does not wear. It is just I have seen so many people my whole life wearing Gandhi caps that somehow I imagined or perhaps what happened, just a slip of the tongue, and I told you."
These people were completely unaware of me, of my ideas or anything. So they were a little suspicious, but because Chiranjilal Badjatya was a very important person they requested me and they invited me.
But they also invited the most famous Jaina monk in Bombay, Chitrabhanu.
And naturally everybody was interested in Chitrabhanu, to listen to him; he was the most prominent Jaina monk in the Bombay area.
So he spoke first. And as he ended and I stood up, people started leaving their seats. An unknown man, who knows, it may be just a sheer waste of time. I had to shout at those people and I told them, "Just wait for five minutes, and after five minutes you can leave - but not before that. So sit down! Back to your seats!" They had never thought that somebody will do that.
And I said, "This is absolutely uncivilized. You should listen at least five minutes and then you are free, then you can go. Whoever wants to go will not be prevented, but for five minutes nobody can leave."
So they all went back to their seats, a little afraid. Seekers are not of this type.
And I started criticizing Chitrabhanu point by point, and after five minutes I asked them, "If anybody wants to leave now he can leave. After this, nobody will be allowed to leave until I am finished." Not a single person left because in those five minutes what I had said was enough to convince them that Chitrabhanu is just an idiot.
Because in Mahavira's story the same kind of poetry comes in different ways, and Chitrabhanu was trying to prove that it is real happening.
For example, Mahavira is bitten by a snake on his feet and milk comes out of his feet, not blood. And he was trying to prove that this is actual fact, that when Mahavira moves - he was naked, barefooted - on dusty roads, if there is a thorn on the road, the thorn immediately moves out of his way because Mahavira has finished all his evil karmas, now existence would like not to give him any pain. So even the thorn is so sensitive that it immediately moves out of the way. And he was trying to prove that these are actual facts.
And I started criticizing him, "This man, Chitrabhanu, whom you listened to with such respect, is just an idiot." There was a shock. A few of the people at that meeting are still my sannyasins, and they say that they thought that there was going to be a riot. Chitrabhanu was so much respected by the Jaina community, and this man starts calling him an idiot. And they were not even aware who I am. Certainly I am against Jainism. And I said, "This man cannot understand the difference between prose and poetry. Poetry has a truth but it is not factual; it is true, but it is not factual. It has a meaning, a significance, which cannot be said in any other way."
Mahavira was the first man to bring non-violence as the basis of a religion - non-killing, not giving any kind of pain or suffering to anybody.
Now existence must respect this man. I don't think that a thorn will understand Mahavira, even man doesn't understand, even this Chitrabhanu does not understand - he is worse than the thorn. No thorn has ever moved out of his way.
But this is simply a way of saying that existence respects Mahavira's sensitivity to such an extent that if it is possible it will remove the thorn from his path.
The intention is there, but the fact is not there. And the fact is meaningless.
The real thing is that the whole existence intends, respects, loves this man's tremendous contribution to humanity.
Now from a snake bite on the feet milk cannot come out. There are only two possibilities. Either Mahavira is filled with milk - a milk bottle! He has no blood because there was no guarantee that the snake will bite only on a certain place. He could have bitten on any other place, so he must be filled with milk. But milk is a different problem. Soon it becomes curd, and then Mahavira must be stinking of curd! And butter may be oozing out from his pores! It is nonsense to make it a fact.
Or another possibility is, a woman can transform blood into milk, but then she has a certain mechanism in her breast. So the other possibility is that Mahavira has breasts all over his body.
But the truth is that it is poetry, and this idiot does not understand poetry. It is simply a way of saying that the man was so full of love - like a mother - that even though the snake is biting him, he cannot give anything else than milk to it.
And snakes love milk very much.
In India there are snake worshippers. Every year they have a certain day for snakes, and snake charmers bring snakes from all over the country and people bring milk. And snakes drink milk so joyously.
So I said, "It is simply poetry, that it is what the snake loves most - milk. Although he gives poison to Mahavira, Mahavira can only give milk to him."
It is not fact. It cannot be a fact.
And I said, "I challenge this man to prove on what grounds he says it is a fact. I say it is more than fact, it is truth itself. But to say it, you will have to use language in a poetic way, not in the ordinary mundane prose way."
And when I said to people, "Now, anybody who wants to leave, stand up and leave immediately - because after this I will not allow anybody to stand up and disturb the meeting," there was such silence, nobody left.
I said in my talk to the people that Mahavira is really two persons. Mahavira is not his name, 'mahavira' means a great warrior. That's why he is called 'Mahavira the Jaina'. 'Jaina' means conqueror, one who has fought with all that was wrong in him and conquered, and is victorious.
But he was not always 'Jaina'. His original name was Vardhamana. That too is significant because 'vardhamana' means one who is evolving. In that way everybody is a Vardhamana, evolving to higher states.
But the day he achieved, Vardhamana died and Mahavira was born.
That Chitrabhanu was going mad because of what I was saying to the people - and they were his audience for years, and I was just an intruder. Nobody knew me. And he was trying to find something he could criticize. Seeing this, that I am saying Vardhamana and Mahavira are two persons he immediately stood up and he said, "This is wrong. Vardhamana and Mahavira are one person."
I said to the president, "You keep hold of this man. He's not in his senses. Again he cannot understand poetry. I am also saying that Vardhamana was his old name, but a day came that the old died and a new life began. To symbolize the new life he was given a new name, Mahavira.
Mahavira is absolutely discontinuous with Vardhamana. So if you can understand poetry then there is no problem, there were two persons - one who was and is no more, and one who was not and is now; but if you don't understand poetry, it is your problem."
And as I ended up, the president stopped Chitrabhanu and said, "You are in anger and you don't understand. The man is saying simple but significant truths."
It became such a problem for Chitrabhanu - because I was continually coming to Bombay. More and more of his people started belonging to me. He even tried - these are non-violent people....
I was coming from Poona and a phone call came, "Don't bring him in the car because on the way Chitrabhanu has put a few dangerous people, paid murderers, who can do anything. So we are sending a plane, bring him by plane." But a few of my people went by car and their cars were stopped. And they looked for me - a gang of eight persons. You cannot believe! On the one hand people talk about non-violence.... His whole life he has been a monk, a learned monk; and then because he cannot cope with me intelligently, he thinks to murder me.
And I told the meeting on that day that this has happened. Certainly there were people because the cars were checked. And the people who were in the cars could see the type of people who stopped the cars - they put big rocks on the road so there was no way for them to move, they had to stop.
And they were puzzled that I was not there. And I said to these people, "People like Chitrabhanu - just because they have a certain scholarship, a certain articulateness - should not be so easily accepted. If he can commit violence, then his celibacy is suspect, then his whole personality is that of a hypocrite."
And that's what happened. He escaped with one of the richest men's girl to New York. Now he is in New York, married to the girl. And New York was chosen because the girl's parents had a big business in New York. So he is living in all luxury now - against which he was preaching his whole life.
To experience something and just to borrow other people's words are so distant from each other that one should always be aware whether you are listening to a parrot or a man who has experienced.
You have asked me what happened at the time of my enlightenment. Everything that is described in Buddha's enlightenment. One feels like flowers are showering. One feels a strange fragrance.
One feels as if divine forces are dancing all around. But it is one's feeling, just a by-product of enlightenment, but it is not factual. And it will be very difficult for you to think of something as truth which is not factual.
Poetry has a truth, but it is not factual.
Art has a truth, but it is not factual.
Facts are mundane things. Only newspapers collect them, and ultimately the same newspapers become history.
Truth is a totally different thing.
Let me explain to you. Jainas have twenty-four masters. If you go in a Jaina temple - and they have the best temples in the world, the most beautiful, the most simple, the most serene, and they have always chosen the mountains so their temples are on high mountains - there you will find twenty-four tirthankaras, statues in white marble or black marble. One thing is bound to strike you, that they all look absolutely alike, there is no difference. Even the priest of the temple cannot tell the difference, who is who. So finally Jainas have decided to make small symbols underneath the statue; for example, underneath Mahavira, because his name is 'the great warrior' there is a line, that is his symbol. So each statue has a symbol, and according to the symbol they can say whose statue it is; otherwise they are exactly alike.
Now this cannot be fact. Twenty-four persons spread over thousands of years cannot be exactly the same.
But it is a truth, because these twenty-four persons experienced the same truth, saw the same light, felt the same bliss. To signify that their experience was exactly the same, how you can manage to show it in marble? Marble has its own poetry, and they have managed it perfectly well; their statues are made exactly the same. That shows now that the body does not matter, the figure of the body does not matter. Now what matters is the inner experience; how to show its similarity? And in stone?
So those twenty-four statues exactly similar have a poetic truth about them.
And whenever anybody becomes enlightened, all these experiences happen. He feels the whole existence celebrating - the trees blossoming out of season, the birds singing although it is not morning. In this mood of festivity, all rules are put aside.
That is the meaning, that in the mood of festivity all rules are put aside.
And the greatest phenomenon in existence is enlightenment, and certainly it should be rejoiced by the whole existence.
But I repeat: remember, it is poetic experience, poetic expression of something which cannot be brought to words. But it exists.
It is reality, there is just a little confusion - which is natural. I have said that with awareness imagination disappears but the reality remains. You saw me absent or empty and I said this is real.
Then you tried to see me empty again but you forgot one thing, that while you are trying you cannot be aware.
So it is not that my emptiness was your imagination. Just be aware and you will see the emptiness again, but don't try - because for the first time when it happened you were not trying, you were simply sitting silently here listening, and out of nowhere you felt the emptiness. It will come in the same way, without even knocking on your doors. With effort you cannot bring it.
It is not imagination.
But the other half you have forgotten. In the silence you were aware without any effort, and once you have seen it you started trying to see it again and now it is not coming, hence the confusion.
You think it must have been imagination; it was not.
But this happens to everybody. Any experience of the beyond first happens without your effort. You were doing something else. You were listening to me, you were not concerned about the beyond, and suddenly a door opens.
And in the day you see the stars. It will leave an impact on you forever. You will never be the same again.
But remember not to make an effort. That is a trouble, that the mind says, "Such a beautiful experience. Make some effort, do something so that you can find it again." But any doing is undoing, you will not get it.
You simply forget all about it; just as it has come uninvited, it will come.
And once you know the secret - that these great experiences come uninvited, you cannot pull them down - then whatever happens, you relax into it, you drown yourself in it, and when it is gone you don't feel that you are missing something. You feel grateful - not a despair that it disappeared. Feel grateful that it appeared to you and you had not asked for it, it came on its own, uninvited; and slowly, slowly you will get the knack of it, that it is not within your power, within your hands. In fact, you, your hands, your effort, are all barriers.
So when sometimes, doing anything, you are so totally absorbed, these tremendous moments will come to you and they will go on changing you; each time they come they will go deeper in you.
One day it happens that the moment comes and never leaves you.
No. No knowledge - esoteric or otherwise - plays any role on the path except that of hindrance.
Innocence helps, knowledge hinders.
Be a child - full of wonder, without knowing anything.
One Indian saint was very much respected in India. There were only two men in India who were called mahatma. One was Mahatma Gandhi - 'mahatma' means 'the great soul' - and the second was Mahatma Bhagwandin.
This second man used to stay with me whenever he passed the city I was living in.
I used to go for a morning walk, for a night walk, and he was also very much in love with going for a walk. He was an old man, but immensely knowledgeable; he knew the names of all the trees - Latin names, Greek names - all the flowers. He was almost a walking encyclopedia.
I told him, "You have wasted your whole life. What is the point of remembering all the names of all the trees in the garden, all the flowers? You are so much concerned with knowledgeability that you cannot enjoy the beauty. I don't know any of the names of these trees and I don't have to - because they don't talk, I don't have to call them. What is the point of knowing their names? You are not a botanist. You are not a physician" - because he knew what flower, what leaves can be used for what disease.
I said, "These things are for experts. You are considered to be a spiritual man, and these things I don't think belong to spirituality."
He was very angry. He said, "Everybody has appreciated my knowledge. In fact, everybody feels awe at my knowledge of things around the world. You are the first person who has insulted me."
I said, "I have not insulted you. I have simply been trying to make you aware that now you are seventy, soon death will be coming and death will not ask all these names. Death will ask, 'Can you be aware or not?'"
But at that time he was very angry and he wouldn't listen.
And after eight years he died. Before he died, just two days before, I passed through his city - he used to stay in Nagpur. So I went to see him, hearing that he is very sick. He was very sick. He had become almost a skeleton. It was sad to see that man. And I said, "What happened?"
He said, "What you have said that day, it seems it is going to happen. Death is coming. I can hear the footsteps. Life is slipping out of my hands. And please forgive me for my anger. You were right.
All my knowledgeability is of no use. Had I listened to you, even eight years was enough time to meditate, to become aware, and this time I would not have been sad that death is coming, I would have been excited that the greatest experience in life - death - is coming close and I am going to watch it. But I don't think I can. I will become unconscious. I am already losing my consciousness, I am becoming more and more sleepy."
I said to him, "Just try to remember in the next life at least, don't get too much bothered by unnecessary knowledge - just to impress people. The essential is very small, and if you can understand the essential your life has been that of a glory, a victory."