One Becomes Three

Fri, 5 December 1974 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Osho - The True Name, Vol 2
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am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
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In the quest for God we have to travel along the same path by which God descended into the world.

As God has become the creation, so we, His creation, have to work our way in the reverse direction and become God. The path is the same; only the direction changes.

You have come here from your house; while returning you will cover the same route. The road will be the same, you will be the same, your legs will be the same, the energy to walk is the same; only the direction will be different. When you arrived here, you had your back towards home; while returning you will be facing home.

You have to return to God along the same path as God descended into creation. While coming you had your back towards Him; while going you will be facing in His direction. Therefore, indifference is the way to enter into the world and eagerness towards God is the way to approach Him. The ladder is the same, the path is the same; only the direction changes.

In this sutra Nanak tells us how God became creation. Whoever has sought Him and found Him followed just the way that Nanak describes here. Not only religious seekers but also scientific researchers agree on this.

Religion looks at the creator; science looks at creations. Religion seeks from one end, science from another. Science conducts its search where man stands; religion conducts its search where man came from and returns to. Religion seeks your beginning and your end, whereas science probes into the middle.

One of the most valuable discoveries of science is that there is just one force, one energy, that is holding together the whole universe. All the world can be broken down into smaller and smaller bits and pieces, into atoms. The chair, the trees, the stones, the flowers are all made up of the same basic elements; and these atoms have a relationship to one another. Either they come together by attraction, what Nanak called unions, or they push apart, repulse one another; Nanak called it separations. What is pushing apart or pulling together is energy, and all is caused by electric charges, the same electricity that makes the lamp to burn, that makes everything move in our cities.

The same energy is the force that holds the world together. Science calls it energy or electricity.

Religion refers to it as God.

It is only a difference of words; but the difference in words creates a great deal of difference to us, for how is one to worship electricity? How can you make love to electricity? How will you call out to electricity? How can you build temples to it?

The word electricity remains only in the head; it cannot be related to the heart. But God is the name of this same energy. The name makes all the difference. At the very mention of the word God it becomes a matter of the heart; it has no longer anything to do with the head. In matters of the heart, relationships can be established. The intellect breaks things down; the heart joins them. It is through the intellect that we break away from people and things, for it is the mind that creates differences.

At heart we are one, for the heart has the quality of undivided oneness. Here all boundaries and definitions fade away; they are not created.

As soon as religion declared this energy to be God, we gave it an individuality. Now relationships can be established with it, and everything depends upon this relationship. If you cannot become related you cannot bring about a transformation in your life. Science can make use of energy but it cannot worship it. It is this very energy that religion worships. A scientist can electrify villages, create atomic energy and discover new means of destruction, but will remain untouched by this energy; no flowers will ever bloom in his life. A religious man will not be able to carry electricity to the villages or make atom bombs, but he can illumine each and every heart; and this light is tremendous. He can fill each heart with song and dance, and thus fill life with brightness.

These two, science and religion, agree that it is only one energy working. They agree on another point also: when the One breaks, it splits into three. Science says that each atom breaks up into electrons, neutrons and protons. From these three elements the whole world is formed.

In the Hindu religion the One becomes the trimurti, what Christians call the trinity. The Hindus created Trimurti, one person having three faces. Each face attaches to the same body. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the names of the three faces. When the One descends into creation, He becomes three.

Another very astonishing fact is that the meaning given to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva by the Hindus coincides with the meanings the scientists have given to electron, neutron and proton. In the whole process of creation, birth is necessary and also a giver of birth. Then the one who is born must die, so death is necessary and also a giver of death. Then there is bound to be a period of time between birth and death, so there should be a protector or guardian, also. So Brahma is the birth factor, the creator, Vishnu is the protector, and Shiva the destroyer. Electron, neutron and proton have the same qualities: one of them protects, through another there is birth and the third brings about destruction.

The One is divided into three, and then into infinity. Now if we wish to reach God, we shall first have to reduce infinity to three; and the three are then to be infused into One and ultimately become One.

This is the reverse journey, like traveling the Ganges to Gangotri - towards the fundamental source.

So from the many we have to concentrate on the three. The three are the intermediary destination.

After three the one remains.

The ordinary man wanders in the many. How many desires, how many expectations! Can you count them? And each desire is intertwined with so many other desires, like so many leaves on a tree.

They are endless - man's hopes and dreams. There is no way to fulfill them. How many things he possesses! So many arrangements and so much equipment he gathers! And even if you obtain all that you desire, you are not satisfied. The more you attain the more you wander in the multifarious objects of the world and the further you go from the One. And the further you go from the One, the greater becomes your suffering. It is as if, going further and further away from the source of light, darkness increases proportionally till ultimately you find yourself in total darkness.

To go into the many means that there is a great distance between you and the One. We are all in the many. He who has come into the three from the many, we call a seeker. He is in between. And he who has progressed from the three to the One, we say he has attained. He has reached the place where God originally was.

Let us try to understand this further. How will you reduce the many into the three? The method to do this is the method of witnessing. If you observe your desires and do not become the enjoyer of them, you are the witness. If you experience desires as the doer you will lose yourself in the many.

By witnessing alone you can reduce the many into the three. Whatever you do, do not be involved in your actions. Observe everything in a detached manner, and one fine day you will suddenly discover that the three have arrived! One is the observer, the other is the multifarious world of objects, which now is like a gigantic screen on which everything moves. The many is no more. And between the two is seeing. So there is that which is seen, the observer or witness, and the seeing. You have reverted from the many to the three.

As soon as the witnessing is cultivated, you have become a seeker. This is the state of the sannyasin. To revert from the many to the three is sannyas. Whatever you do, keep the witness alert; when walking on the road, eating your meals, putting on your clothes. Even in illness or pain, or when you win the lottery - whatever the situation, keep the witness alert inside. Never lose sight of it within.

There are two ways of losing the witnessing state: if you become the enjoyer you lose it, or if you become the doer you lose it. At the moment you say, "I have done this," the witness is lost, and the drug of arrogance begins its work. You are no longer the same person.

One day I asked Mulla Nasruddin, "Mulla, every day I see your servant taking two glasses of wine on a tray to your room. Since you are always alone, for whom is the second glass?"

Nasruddin replied, "Once I take a glass of wine I am no longer the same person. I become a different person altogether. Don't you think it is my duty to offer my hospitality to this other person?"

As soon as you are intoxicated you become a different person; you can never be the same. Being under the influence of intoxicants is the only difference between a sannyasin and a worldly man, for what is the most potent intoxicant but the drug called the ego.

All other intoxicants wear off after a while, but the effect of the ego goes on from birth to birth. You try your best to get rid of it and still you find it standing right in front of you. You try to run away from it, but it follows you like a shadow. You devise a thousand tricks and yet you find it tagging along with you. You practice humility, but there it is stirring inside you.

The ego is the subtlest of all intoxicants. If witnessing is awakening, the ego means you are asleep.

As soon as you become the doer, as soon as you become the enjoyer, you fall asleep slumber overtakes you. As soon as you become the witness, awakening occurs and consciousness returns.

As soon as consciousness dawns, the many are lost and only the three remain: that of which you are conscious, the one who is conscious, and the connection between the two. This the Hindus refer to as triputi. The one whose triputi is awakened is a sannyasin; he begins to delve into his spiritual practice. As you dwell more and more in the three your wanderings in the many diminish until you reach a stage when the many will no longer form, and there will be only the three; then you are permanently in the witness state. You suddenly find that the three have faded away when the mind becomes still. You discover that the observer, the observed, and their connection are all one and the same.

This is why Krishnamurti says again and again, "The observer is the observed."

But this is the ultimate state. first, through long practice all ways of forming the many are closed, the world is no more and only the three remain. Then gradually you come to realize that the three are one. When you know that, the one who sees is that which is seen. Then the connecting link is also lost, for the relationship between the observer and the observed exists only as long as they are separate. But when only one remains, how can there be any relation? The intermediary connection is thus broken.

This is the journey - the return journey to again become one. You become God. When you became many, you were the world. The trimurti stands in between. This is what Nanak means in these sutras.




The descent is from one to three, and from three to many; but however far away you are from the One, you cannot step outside His edicts, His orders. No matter how much you disintegrate, how much divided you are in the many, He is present within you. If He is not, you cannot be. You may wander far, far away. You may go astray, but you cannot go so far that there is no point of return; there is no such point of no return.

Therefore no person is unredeemable. Even if a person has fallen into the lowermost depths of sin, he is not beyond cure. In terms of spiritual knowledge, there is no illness that is incurable, that cannot be remedied. All spiritual diseases can be cured. You cannot go so far that you cannot return.

Wherever you go, He is present. However far you go, it is He who takes you. Even in sin you need His help, because it is He who breathes within the sinner, it is He who beats within the sinner's heart.

We can go far, very far. We can forget Him, but there is no way of losing Him.

So when you ask, "How are we to seek Him?" your question is not correct, for you have never lost Him. Even if you wish to, you cannot lose Him for He is your very nature. Were He apart from you, you could have lost him, forgotten Him somewhere, but you cannot do this even by mistake, because He is you.

Then what happens? You merely forget. There is also a way to forget oneself. Man can forget himself, forget his very nature. And yet his nature stands within him.

I have a friend. He is a lawyer, but a more forgetful person is hard to find. He forgets almost everything. On occasions he even forgets whom he was representing in court, who had engaged him to fight the case. But he is a very important lawyer. Once he had to go to another town to fight a case. When he reached there he found to his horror that he had forgotten the client's name. He sent a telegram to his secretary, "What is his name?" The secretary wired back the lawyer's name thinking he had forgotten that this time.

There is every possibility of forgetting one's own self also. The whole world is proof that one's own self can be forgotten. And what is the way to forget? The way to forget is the same as the way to remember.

How can forgetfulness be remedied? By meditation! When you become too much object-oriented, you forget yourself. For through concentration alone one remembers, and through concentration alone one forgets. Wherever you apply your attention, that is what comes to mind.

Whatever you remove your attention from is what you forget. When your attention is directed towards an object, your concentration shifts to the object and illuminates it. You begin to see the world and you forget your own self. You are so enrapt in what you see that you are lost to yourself. The only one way to get out of this and awaken is not be so absorbed in viewing. However beautiful or enchanting the object, shake yourself into remembering yourself.

But you are bound to forget reality. Even when you go to see a movie you forget the simple reality that it is only an empty screen in front of you, that the film is merely a play of light and shadow.

People cry in the theater over the tragedy on stage. When you see them after the show you would imagine someone in their family had died. If it is an action film, they sit upright in their chairs, ready to fling themselves into the action, into the fray. And it is not only the simple-minded who forget themselves; even intellictuals get carried away.

There is just such an incident in the life of Ishmarchand, who was a great intellectual in his time. He was given the title of Vidyasagar, Ocean of Knowledge. Once he went to see a play in which there was a character who was supposed to be a rogue, a libertine. He harassed people in many different ways, like waylaying a woman and pestering her. Ismarchand was the honored guest, so he was seated in the front row. He became so angry he jumped onto the stage, took off his shoe and began beating the actor with it.

The actor turned out to be wiser than Ishmarchand. He took the shoe in his hand and holding it to his heart said, "I shall not return this shoe to you, for it is the highest prize I could ever receive for my acting. Never before has anyone been so overpowered by my skill." Vidyasagar later regretted his mistake. He could not understand how he got so involved with the play. He also never got his shoe back.

Whenever something seizes your attention so intensely, you commit this same mistake. In the course of time you forget the seer and the object begins to mean everything to you. When this happens you lose yourself in the mirage, you go astray. If this habit becomes deeply ingrained in you, everything you see becomes real for you.

This is why dreams seem true, just because of this habit. Whatever you see seems true to you.

Dreams appear true when you sleep. In the morning you discover they were not. Again when you sleep, dreams look true again... and in the morning you realize they were false. This goes on and on. If someone comes to kill you in the dream you scream and your sleep is broken. You awaken and find your heart beating faster. If someone dies in a dream you cry. You wake up in the morning and find the pillow wet with your tears. How many times have you dreamed? Yet you forget that a dream is a dream in the course of the next twelve hours. How is it possible? It is because you have developed a habit of taking everything you see as true.

There is an old tantric method for this. Unless you know the dream to be false while it is in progress, you will never be able to know that the world is false. This is the reverse of what we know. We still believe samsara to be real; therefore even dreams appear real. Tantra says that unless you realize dreams to be false while they are happening you will never understand the ephemeral quality of maya. Tantra has evolved very subtle methods to know a dream to be a dream, and not reality.

You may experiment with this. Decide on something before you fall asleep: for example, decide to raise your left hand with a jerk. Or decide to put your palm over your eye as soon as you begin to dream. You will have to practice this auto-suggestion every night for three months before falling asleep. At the end of that time or sooner, if you do it very regularly, your remembrance will become so intense that it penetrates your unconscious. Then as soon as you begin to dream, your left arm will shoot up with a jerk, or your palm will cover your eyes - whatever you have practiced. As soon as this happens, it will come to you that this is a dream, for these two are connected in your auto-suggestion.

Another tantric method: whatever you see in your dream, concentrate your attention on one object.

Let's say you see a marketplace. There are lines of shops loaded with various articles and many people are moving about. Now focus your attention on something, perhaps on one shop. You will be astonished to find that as soon as you fix your attention on this one shop, the shop disappears - because it was never there. Then fix your gaze on other things one by one and you will find them all disappearing in the same manner. If you become adept at watching dreams, dreams will be lost.

As soon as dreams are lost, you go into meditation even in sleep; you reach samadhi.

Begin with dreams and you find that the whole world is a dream. The world is a dream seen with open eyes because our habits die hard - we get involved in the things we see. This involvement is so intense that we forget ourselves, forget the observer. Our consciousness works in only one direction.

Gurdjieff used to tell his disciples, "When the arrow of your consciousness becomes double-pointed, when your consciousness begins to flower at both ends, you will become an enlightened being."

Gurdjieff's efforts in directing his disciples were all to this end. "When you look at someone, look at him, but also keep trying to look at your own self: 'I am looking, I am the observer.' Then you are sharpening the other edge of the arrow of your consciousness. One end is directed towards the object you see; the other points toward you, the seer."

Here you all sit listening to me, and you have lost yourselves in me while listening. You forget the listener entirely - but then you err. The listener should also be remembered while listening. So as I sit here talking to you and you sit there listening, you are also conscious of the fact that 'I am listening'. When you go beyond the listener, a transcendence occurs. The witness is born.

As soon as the witness is born, the person steps from the many into the three. You have reached the confluence of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Then it is easy to merge into the One from the three, for it is only one more step forward. Similarly, the confluence of great rivers is considered auspicious.

Prayag is a unique pilgrimage place because of the confluence of three rivers. Two rivers can be seen, the Ganges and the Yamuna, but the third, Saraswati, lies underground and cannot be seen.

Whenever you focus your attention on something there are two elements: the subject, you, and the object, what you are observing. These are both apparent, but the connection between the two cannot be seen. This is symbolized by the river Saraswati at Prayag. However, all three rivers meet at Prayag, and they naturally become one.



There is only one temple dedicated to Brahma in all of India. Brahma is worldly. His only work is to give birth to samsara, the world, so he is not considered worthy of worship.

Shiva's temples are found everywhere. No other deity is worshipped as much as Shiva. In every village, in every lane you will find a Shiva temple. Under trees you will find stones that are revered as Shiva. This is because with Shiva the world comes to an end. He is the deity of death, and hence worthy of worship. Brahma gives birth to the world, Shiva destroys it. India's keenest desire was always how to be rid of samsara, how to attain liberation. Therefore we find Shiva temples abounding.

There are temples dedicated to Vishnu also. Many among us are afraid of annihilation. They worship Vishnu. The shopkeeper worships Vishnu for Vishnu is the treasurer, the keeper of the stores. He is in between Brahma and Shiva, and so he is the Lord of Laxmi, the deity of wealth. So those who lust for wealth worship Vishnu.

This is worth pondering over; if you want to approach a man it is best to go through his wife. Not only in ordinary matters of the world does this method apply, but even in matters of the spirit. The rule is: please the wife and the master is bound to be pleased. Please Laxmi and Vishnu is pleased.

Vishnu looks after the world; therefore, those who want to live in the world worship him. Shiva is the end. He is the supreme death. He is the deity of the sannyasins. Therefore there are so many temples of Shiva. The smallest village is not without its Shiva temple. And because it is the temple of the sannyasin it has to be made as cheaply as possible. You do not need great funds for a Shiva temple. find a rounded stone and it becomes the Shivalinga, the symbol of Shiva. You do not even need flowers; a few leaves off the woodapple tree, that is all. Temples to Vishnu are elaborate affairs that a millionaire can afford, but who is to erect temples in honor of the lord of death? Certainly not those who cling to life and the world, so Shiva's temples had to be cheap constructions.

These three deities are the three threads of life: birth, life and death. Remember, birth has already taken place, so what need is there to worship Brahma? What has already happened is a closed chapter; there is nothing more to do about it. Life still is; therefore some are absorbed in the worship of Vishnu. But these are not very wise people, for life is ebbing away every moment. Unless the knowledge of death descends into your life, sannyas cannot enter your life; you will remain a worldly man.

What is the difference between a sannyasin and a worldly man? A sannyasin understands that all life ends in death; all being ultimately ends up in nonbeing; that which is formed also decays and disintegrates; that which is decorated becomes desolate one day; the house that is built falls one day. A sannyasin is one who has become aware of death, who has begun to remember death. He is one who knows that this world is a campground where we pitch a tent for a short while. When the knowledge of death dawns a transformation takes place.

Except for man there is no religion, for among the birds and animals there is no knowledge of death.

They also die, but they are not aware of that fact because consciousness is needed to see death; this they do not have.

Also, among human beings you are just an animal if you do not have a clear perception of death.

As you become aware of the end, what you value in life changes. What was important until yesterday seems worthless today. What was meaningful up to now becomes meaningless as soon as awareness of death occurs. Many dreams were dreamt, many hopes were pinned on the rainbow of desires, but when death knocks at the door these fall like a house of cards.

Death gives the first knock the very day you are born. The day Brahma started his work, Shiva started his also, but we are not aware of it. If you do become conscious of this fact, the very awareness brings about a conversion within you: you turn back towards your source, your direction changes. Then you do not aim towards samsara for you see nothing but death there. Instead you turn towards yourself, and to proceed towards one's own self is to walk in the direction of God. The shock of death reminds you of God. God is forgotten to him who does not remember death. Many times you have died, many times you have been born, but you are still oblivious of death.

Remember death. Make it your focal point in life, for there is nothing more certain than death.

Everything else in life is uncertain. Keeping this certainty at your core, set out on the journey of life and you will find that you have begun to proceed from the many to the three.

Nanak says that God directs the three according to His own will and order. Remember, whatever you do, good deeds or bad, sin or virtue, whether you go closer to God or further away, whether you follow the path or go astray, you cannot step outside His boundaries.

If this remembrance is with you then there is a way to step away from sin too. You also step out of the virtuous life for with this remembrance you come to understand that I am not the doer; He is the director. I am only the means, a medium. I do what He directs; nothing is of my doing. Then why the arrogance, and why the ego? It is He who gives birth, it is He who gives life, it is He who takes life. Then why should I strut about? Why should I be conceited and proud?

You must have heard the story of the fly that sat on the wheel of the chariot. The chariot was raising a lot of dust for it was drawn by many horses. The fly looked around and said, "Today I am raising a great deal of dust!" You too are sitting on a chariot wheel and thinking the same thought. There is the gigantic wheel of samsara but the dust raised is not on account of you. The day you understand this you will be filled with great peace. For all restlessness pertains to the ego and the ego has the habit of taking everything upon itself; it even shoulders the burden of things you are not doing, things you have nothing to do with.

The day it dawns on you that you are no better than the fly on the wheel and the dust is raised by the enormous wheel of samsara, you will attain supreme peace. Then you will feel: I am nobody, nothing. Why should I be restless? Who is to be restless? As long as the illusion persists that I am, you will be restless.

People come to me and ask how to become tranquil. "Help me to find peace." I say to them: You cannot be tranquil as long as you are; as long as the you exists, you cannot be given peace. Your not being is peace. Put yourself aside; you are a falsity, a dream. If you understand fully, you will know that you are a dream within the dream.

You do not exist even in dream. You must sometimes have dreamed a dream within a dream. You dream that you are going to bed, you have fallen asleep and you are dreaming a dream.

There is an old Chinese story: A woodcutter was cutting wood in a jungle. He was tired, so he came down from the tree and fell asleep. He dreamed that nearby lay buried a great treasure of diamonds and gold in huge pots that were lightly covered with dirt. In his dream he thought that he would come at night and remove the treasure quietly. If he removed it in the daytime he might be caught. He was a poor man and the treasure was worth millions. When he awoke, he buried a stick to mark the place and returned home.

When it became dark, he went back to the spot. He found the stick in place but the pots had been removed. He went back and told his wife, "I don't understand whether I dreamed about the treasure or actually saw it. The stick is there all right, and there are holes where the pots were, so it is certainly not just a dream. But someone has removed the pots."

His wife replied, "It must be a dream. You must also have dreamed that you went out at night and saw the stick in the ground, and that there was an empty place where the pots were supposed to be. So go back to sleep and sleep in peace."

But it happened that another man also dreamed that he saw these very pots buried in the same place, and that a woodcutter had buried a stick to mark the place. When he got up from his sleep he ran to the place. He found the stick in the ground and also the vessels underneath! He removed the pots and brought them home. He told his wife, "I cannot understand whether I dreamed a dream or I actually saw a vision. Whatever it is, I have brought the pots home. They are proof that it is not just a dream. I must actually have seen the woodcutter burying the stick and therefore I knew where the treasure was."

His wife said, "The pots are here. That much is clear. But if you actually saw the woodcutter marking the spot, it isn't right that we should keep this treasure. Take the pots to the king and let him decide."

He was an honest man, so he took the pots to the king's court where the woodcutter had already lodged a complaint. The king was perplexed. finally he told them, "It is very difficult to decide whether you were asleep or awake, so I shall divide the treasure equally between you both, for the pots are very much there." So he divided the treasure between them.

That night the king told his wife, "A very strange thing happened today: Two men dreamed the same dream. Now it is difficult to decide whether they dreamed or whether they really saw the treasure.

But the pots of treasure were actually there, so I divided them equally between them." The queen said, "Go to sleep, you must be dreaming."

For thousands of years this was discussed in China - did they dream it or not? Who actually dreamed? But this is what happens by the time we reach the end of life. All of life seems like a dream. It is difficult to decide whether the stick was really there and whether the pots were really buried; whether the wife and children ever existed, or friends and foes; whether there was poverty or riches; whether there was conflict and competition; whether we really lost or won, were successful or unsuccessful. At the time of death all events pass before a man like a dream. Did we really live, or was it only a dream?

Those who have known say, "This is a dream dreamed with open eyes." It is a dream because it has no relation to that which is. This is an intermediary state of imagination; it is merely a thought. It makes no difference whether you saw it when asleep or when awake. The characteristic of a dream is that it is here one moment and gone the next. At the time of death all is lost.

Within this dream you see another dream that is called the ego. You consider yourself the doer, the author of the dreams. You are filled with conceit, which all the world can see; only you do not see it.

Everyone else is in the same state, never seeing their own, but seeing everyone else's ego.

People come to me saying so-and-so is very egoistic. Then that very person tells me the same thing about others.

Mulla Nasruddin used to say, "I can eat ninety-nine cookies at a stretch." Once I told him, "Mulla, why don't you eat one more and complete the hundred?" He was very annoyed with me; "What do you think? Do I have a stomach or a warehouse?"

Through ninety-nine the Mulla has no sense of a warehouse, for that is all his. But if another person adds even one more, the warehouse suddenly appears - stark and clear! We are blind to ourselves If the other were not there to make it clear we would be oblivious to everything. Therefore the others are a blessing.

And the seeker is very much aware that if the other is not present you cannot be aware of your ego, you will not recognize your ailment. Thus, in the last moments of his life, the seeker thanks all those who reminded him of his ego, all those who fractured his dreams. This is why Kabir says, "Bring the critic and keep him with you. Make a thatched cottage for him in your courtyard, for he can see your ego when you cannot."

As long as the witness is not awakened within you, you are stone-blind. It is a dream within a dream that I am. Samsara is maya. The object world is illusion. And within this illusion you have the feeling of I-ness. The dream also has a dream and that is the difficulty. The day you encounter death, the I is the first casualty.

How will you stand with regard to death? How will you save yourself? If the breath stops what will you do? All your power, your strength, fails before death. This is why we make such efforts not to remember death. If we do remember death our conceit cannot stand up. It falls limp when we confront ourselves helpless before death. Our arrogance cannot accept it. I - a helpless person? I, who am so strong, so powerful; how can I be helpless? So it is best to suppress the fact of death, and then the ego is not hurt! The wise man remembers death.

In the face of death one is always defeated, even the greatest conquerors: not Hitler nor Alexander nor Napoleon has won against death. Therefore we try to hide the fact of death. We hold on to the ego, which is false, and forget death, which is a reality. If you are determined to go towards the one, remember death, for death is a very great truth, and the powerful effect of this truth is that the ego falls away.

Chuang-Tzu was returning home one night. His way led through the royal cemetery. The night was dark and his foot struck against a skull. Chuang-Tzu picked up the skull and said, "Forgive me, I did not mean to insult you. I must ask your forgiveness because this is just a matter of time. Had you been alive today I do not know what I would have done after this affront." He brought the skull home.

The disciples pleaded with him and argued that it should be thrown away. Who keeps a skull in the house?

Why don't we keep a skull in the house? We should give it a place of prominence. What better relic can there be? Nothing is more effective than a skull to remind you of death. Keep it on your dressing table so that you can see your face in the mirror and the skull on the table.

Chuang-Tzu kept the skull with him all the time. He might forget everything else, but never the skull.

People objected and asked why he kept such a morbid thing with him.

"Why does this skull bother you so much?" Chuang-Tzu would ask. "How does it harm you? I keep it with me to remind me that one day my skull will also be lying somewhere. Perhaps it too will be kicked about by beggars and no one will care even to ask forgiveness, and I shall be unable to do anything about it. The skull is very much there in my head. I keep this skull so that even if you beat me on the head with a shoe, I shall not look at you but at the skull. Then I shall smile, for I know this was to happen one day. This was bound to be. How long shall I save my skull?"

When death becomes an absolute fact the ego is dissolved. Remembrance of death is like poison to the ego. As long as ego persists you cannot awaken. No sooner does death become visible, the ego breaks, because then you understand that all happens according to His will, that you are not the doer.



Nanak says God sees Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, but they are not capable of seeing Him. This is a choice statement. The seeker should keep it in mind. You see the whole world with your eyes. The observer within you can also see your eyes, but your eyes cannot see Him. You can touch the whole world with your hands; the observer within you can also see your hands, but your hands cannot touch Him.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the three eyes or the three faces of God. These faces can see the object world, but they cannot turn back and see God; for that which is hidden within is beyond their reach. Therefore you can see Him only when your external vision is completely closed off. Your physical eyes cannot see Him. With this face you cannot see Him; only when this face is completely forgotten will you recognize Him. If you wish to go within, all external modes of travel have to be discarded. They are useless for the inward journey. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva are for the object world.

The Trimurti is on the outside, and that which is hidden with the three is beyond their reach.

There is a delightful Indian story - and there are many such stories - in which, whenever a person attains buddhahood, Brahma himself comes and sits at his feet and begs him to impart knowledge.

Nanak is hinting at this idea, for a buddha is higher than Brahma; he is higher than all the deities.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are left far behind for they were merely faces of the three. He who has known the One becomes higher than those who know the three. Even Brahma himself comes and bows at his feet and asks for knowledge.

The fact is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are still there, but through them the One cannot be known.

Only when the three are dropped can the One be known. In this context, the Hindus have written wonderful stories that are unequaled to this day, but it is very difficult to understand and interpret these stories.

The story I was talking about begins when Brahma created the earth. The earth is thus Brahma's daughter, but as soon as he created her, he was enchanted by her beauty and began to run after her. She took various forms to save herself from him. Whatever form she took, Brahma assumed the corresponding form and ran after her. When she became a cow he became a bull.

When the West first read this story they were uncertain - what kind of a God runs after his own daughter? But these stories are wonderful, for Hindus believe that the deities are also worldly. They are also outward oriented. Thus Brahma can be enchanted by his daughter, meaning by his own creation.

Do we not do the same? Are we not enchanted by our own creations, our own dreams? And don't we run after them? We run after the very desires we create - this is the meaning of the story. The very desire becomes our lifelong involvement. We pursue our desires in many forms. The deities are as involved and as much captives as man. Therefore Brahma also came to Buddha in search of knowledge.

Nanak says that it is a wonder of wonders that God sees the three but He is invisible to them. It is a matter for wonder and yet not so surprising. The wonderment is if the One can see the three, why can't the three see the One? And it is also not so astonishing, since how can the three see the One unless they look back? But as soon as they look back into themselves they become One.

Understand it this way: I always keep telling you that you cannot meet God, for the day you meet Him you will no longer be you. You have to annihilate yourself before meeting Him. As long as the I in you is present, God cannot be. When you are not, God is. How can the meeting take place?

The same happens to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. When they turn inwards within themselves, the One remains, the three are no more. As long as the three remain as three, they cannot turn inwards.

Therefore it is a wonder and also not a wonder.

Remember that this is not a discussion of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, but concerns you! The three are merely a symbol.


Nanak says: Why bow to Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva? They cannot even see Him. He alone can see them, so bow to Him if you must bow.




Bow to Him, the everlasting one. Seek only Him who is the primal One; who is the beginning of everything, but who is Himself without a beginning; who is the very first, and before whom there is nobody and nothing; and who will be in the end and after whom there is no one! Bow to such a One only. If you bow to a lesser form you will wander.

But we cannot muster the courage to bow to the One, for we bow only to serve ourselves. We have to drop all self-interest in order to bow to the One.

If you want to satisfy your own ends, bow to the deities, for they are like you. You have desires, so have they. Ask them for gifts, they will gratify your wishes. There are comparable values between them and you. They may be more powerful than you but they are not different from you; as you have hopes and expectations so also have they. So sing their praises, worship them and all your worldly wants will be gratified; however, whatever you ask them will pertain only to the world. If this be your end, then you should worship Vishnu.

You can ask for the One only when you are prepared to leave the world. Remember, whatever is attainable is through the One; all else is mere wandering. Whoever has attained has attained through the One; all else is mere wandering. Whoever has attained has attained through the One.

You see people toiling so hard to attain worldly gains and they gain nothing, yet your eyes do not open to this fact, yet your understanding is not awakened. There are so many who seek worldly wealth; some achieve it but find they have attained nothing. Those who lose are the losers, but here even the winners are losers.

Two men were sitting at a table in a restaurant. One was young, the other somewhat older. A beautiful woman came in. Seeing her the young man said, "Whenever I see her my heart misses a beat. I am so mad for this woman that I won't be happy until I have her. Without her I know no peace. I don't know what to do."

The older man said, "When you have succeeded in seducing her, let me know."

"What do you mean?" the lover asked.

The other man replied, "She happens to be my wife. I have lost all peace of mind since I married her and I shall regain my peace only if you manage to entice her away from me!"

Those who do not get, complain, and those who do get also complain. Complaint is the way to being in this world. You find the rich and the poor, the successful and the unsuccessful, the defeated and the victorious, all crying and complaining. In one respect there is a great similarity in all walks of life - all are unhappy.

Only by attaining the One can one attain something. This One has no temple. Brahma has one temple in his honor, Vishnu has many, and Shiva has innumerable. But there is no temple dedicated to the One; there cannot be.

The name Nanak gives to his temple is very beautiful - gurudwara. It is not a temple to God, but the entrance of the guru. Through it you can reach the One, but in itself it is only a door through which you have to pass. It is no place to tarry. He who terminates his journey in the gurudwara is a foolish man. We have to pass through the guru's door towards the One who resides beyond the door.

And, says Nanak, if the feeling of obeisance has really and truly arisen within you, then bow your head to the One. He is seated on the throne of the visible and the invisible and therefore there can be no temple to him.





All that is relevant to the Lord - whatever it be - is truth. Whatever is relevant to you is false, for your very being is false. Truth cannot grow from untruth. Whatever you create will be merely a house of cards - a slight wind, and it will fall. Whatever you make cannot be more than a paper boat that will sink as soon as it sets sail. You cannot travel in it. Whatever is created by the ego is false, for the ego itself is false. Whatever belongs to God is true.

The day this truth dawns on you, you will stop wasting your energy in creating untruths; instead you will begin to utilize it to know truth. Samsari involves a person who is busy creating untruths. You do not realize the falsity of the world for you are wrapped up in it. Stand a little away and observe your world - how frightening its falsity is!

A man hoards currency notes. He does not realize that these notes are mere bits of paper, only a means of transaction. If the government changes and the new government decides to cancel this currency, they become just paper! So this man is actually gambling on an assumption that cannot be relied on.

There is a hotel in America. During the depression of 1930 when the economy of America crashed, the owner pasted the walls with useless bonds that formerly had been worth tens of millions of dollars. Millions upon millions of dollars turned into useless paper.

On the other hand, there is this man amassing currency notes. He has no other interest but to hoard money. He fills his safe, but he does not know that for each banknote he is selling his own life, for each moment is precious. The energy he could have utilized in attaining God he wastes in gathering the banknotes.

In Mexico pebbles and stones were once used as coins, for it is only a matter of general agreement; you use paper to represent money, but surely stones are more valuable than paper! Gold is gold for we have agreed to its value. If tomorrow the wind changes, iron will be valued in place of gold, and gold will lose all importance. Then jewels and ornaments will be made of iron.

There are tribes in Africa who value bones and not gold. They wear ornaments, necklaces, etc. of bones. Gold has no value for them. They will not exchange it for their bones.

It is all a game of values, and for these values you sacrifice your life. You are willing to sacrifice anything so that people may honor you. What is the meaning of this honor? Who are those people whose recognition you crave? They are the same ones hankering for your honor. What is the value of their respect? What do you gain by being honored by fools? And the crowds of the foolish in this world cannot be counted.

Winston Churchill went to America. He spoke at a meeting before a huge crowd; the hall was filled to capacity. After the meeting a woman came up to him and said, "You must be delighted to see so many people come to hear you. Whenever you speak the hall is packed."

Churchill replied, "Whenever I see a packed hall I say to myself, 'If it was my execution fifty times more people would have come.' How can one trust these people? They hear me and they clap. If I were being hanged, they would still clap. So whenever I see a hall filled with people I remind myself that these very same people would turn out in large numbers and enjoy the sight if I were executed."

The same people will acclaim you when you rise, and applaud even louder when you fall. Where do you want to reach by gathering this crowd and getting their votes? What companionship do you get when they are with you? And how high do you hope to rise by riding on their shoulders? But man wagers his life for these paltry gains - how to win acclaim from people, how to rise in their esteem.

Nanak says that whatever is born out of the ego is false; it cannot but be false. All this is a quest of the ego. The politician comes to your door, folds his hands, bows his head and asks for your vote.

You give him the vote; he gets you the position. This is mutual ego gratification.

It happened once: There was a man who used to strike the hour in a clock tower in a town that also had a small telephone exchange. Every morning at nine o'clock the telephone exchange would get a call asking for the time. Now the exchange people would hear the clock tower strike nine and set their clocks by it. This went on for a long time until one day the operator asked the caller who he was and why he asked the hour at exactly nine every morning. The caller answered, "I am the man in charge of the clock tower." You can imagine the state of affairs: this man depends upon the exchange and the exchange depends on him - totally reciprocal!

This mutual interdependence exists in all our dealings. I look at you, you look at me; I respect you, you respect me; you nourish my ego, I nourish yours. Such is this vast network of falsity.


Seek truth first. Do nothing before that. For whatever you do before that is bound to be false. Only one thing is worth doing: recognize truth! Then you may do anything. For once you know truth, it begins to act from within you.





Remember this: He is the changeless, always the same form. Whatever changes is maya, illusion; it is samsara, it is falsity, it is a dream. What is eternal, what never changes, is God. If you grasp well the meaning of this sutra, you will one day seek out the changeless One within you.

You may perhaps have observed, or perhaps not, that within you too there is a factor, an element that is changeless. Anger comes but it is not with you all day long. Anger is maya. Sometimes love comes but that too does not remain all the time. Love also is maya. Sometimes you are cheerful, sometimes sad; but all these are passing phases, therefore they are illusions.

Then what is with you all twenty-four hours? It is the witness within - whether you are aware of it or not. Who is it who sees the anger? Who is it who sees the greed? Who sees your love? Who watches your hate? Who knows you are sad? Who knows when you are cheerful? Who is it who tells you: I am ill, I am well? Who is it who knows that you did not sleep well last night, that dreams troubled you?

All day long there is one who knows you inside. He is forever awake, while all else comes and goes.

Catch hold of this One, for in this alone can you get a glimpse of Him.





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"All I had held against the Jews was that so many
Jews actually were hypocrites in their claim to be friends of
the American black man... At the same time I knew that Jews
played these roles for a very careful strategic reason: the
more prejudice in America that could be focused upon the Negro,
the more the white Gentile's prejudice would keep... off the

(New York Magazine, 2/4/85)