The Mines of Meditation
HAVING MADE NIGHT AND DAY, THE SEASONS, AND THE DATES; AND AIR, WATER, fiRE AND THE UNDERWORLDS; HAVING MADE ALL OF THIS, HE ESTABLISHED THE EARTH AS A DHARMASHALA.
IN IT HE CREATED COUNTLESS CREATURES OF MANY COLORS AND FORMS.
THEIR NAMES ARE INfiNITE.
EACH IS CONSIDERED ACCORDING TO HIS OWN DEEDS.
GOD IS TRUE, AND ALL HIS COURT IS TRUE.
ONLY BEFORE THE LORD IS EACH ONE TESTED; EACH IS RANKED BY HIS GLANCE.
THERE THE RAW IS SIFTED FROM THE RIPE.
NANAK SAYS, ONE WHO IS RAW WILL DISSOLVE AWAY.
Some things have to be understood before going into these sutras.
He who takes life to be the goal wanders. Life is only an opportunity and not the goal. It is not the destination but a path; we have to reach somewhere by way of it. Do not assume that the very fact that you are alive means you have arrived. Life is not an accomplishment but only a process. If you pass through it well you arrive; if not, you go astray.
He is an atheist who takes life to be everything. He is a theist whose goal lies beyond life; for him life is a transient camp. Nanak calls the world a dharmashala, a traveler's bungalow. It is like an inn or rest place where you have to stop for a while before you proceed onward, but you shouldn't make your home in it. He who makes it his home denies himself the authentic home. You had set out to attain something, but if you took a way station as your abode how would you reach the destination?
Who will continue to travel once he has made a home?
Samsara is not a home. Those who make a home of it we call householders. A sannyasin is one for whom samsara is a waiting room, not a house. Both stay in the same world - where else can they go? They stay in the same house, but their attitude towards the house is different. The worldly man thinks his home to be his haven; the sannyasin takes it to be a resting place. He has somewhere else to go, and he never forgets his destination - this is surati, remembrance.
One who keeps this remembrance alive, who does not lose the thread of remembrance, will stay in dharmashalas, but will keep moving on. No inn will lure him to stay on. He will stay in the world and out of it. You are what your destination is; where you go, that itself is you. You are not where you physically are, you are where your mind is. This has to be understood.
The majority of people - barring very few - take what they have obtained as the ultimate. Actually, it is not even the beginning, it is not even the door or even the steps leading to the door of your destination. You are still on the path; the steps are yet to come. When the steps begin to appear, know that religion has arrived within you. Those on the path are the worldly people. Those in whose lives the steps have appeared are the seekers; and he who has already entered the mansion of the Lord is an enlightened being. You are still on the path; the steps are far away, for you have not even begun your spiritual practice.
The deep-rooted cause for this illusion is that you are contented with what has been given to you.
Remember, a religious man is absolutely contented in one sense; but in another sense it is difficult to find a more discontented person than he. He is contented in that he has no complaints against God. He is discontented in that he is very dissatisfied with himself.
An irreligious person has a thousand complaints against God: You have not given me this, You have not given me that. He has no complaints about himself. He is satisfied with his own self. That is his grave because how can you then develop, how can you progress? How will you open your wings to touch the skies? Instead you will remain a prisoner in your own nest, and will die in your cage.
You should feel contented with God and discontented with yourself, but things are reversed. We are deeply satisfied with ourselves and thoroughly dissatisfied with the world. Only we appear to be right, all the rest of the world is in the wrong. This attitude is the very thing that is wrong with us.
Except for man, there is no mistake or miscalculation anywhere in existence. All the world flows in peace and joy except for man. There is no obstruction anywhere; only within you is there something clogged somewhere.
A religious man has a deep sense of dissatisfaction with himself. He feels as if he is not worthy of God, that he is not fit to worship or adore Him. He is apprehensive whether God will accept him as he is. One thought keeps hammering in his brain: I must make myself worthy of Him, I must be a worthy recipient of His acceptance. I must raise a throne within my heart that befits His majesty. I must be so qualified that He accepts being my guest.
So a religious person is critical of his own self. Gradually a moment comes when he evolves to such a degree, he has cleansed himself sufficiently, that he becomes a throne for the Lord. God is bound to knock at his door - if not today, then tomorrow. Then there will not be a moment's delay.
No sooner are you ready than He knocks at your door. The delay lasts only as long as you are not prepared to receive Him. Screaming and shouting, weeping and wailing is of no avail. What is needed is your preparation.
And preparation means transformation. You will have to change yourself in many, many ways. If you search within yourself, you will find that not only God but you yourself would not be prepared to step inside you - as you are now. Had you to love a person just like yourself, you would refuse.
Therefore, deep down nobody loves his own self. You are not fit to love your own self, and that is why people are afraid to be alone. If you have to stay alone for an hour or two, you become restless.
You look for a friend or go to a club or cinema or market, or play the radio, or watch the TV, or read a paper. How can one sit all by oneself doing nothing you ask. You are bored with yourself. You are not good company to your own self, and yet you desire the company of God? If you yourself are not prepared to stay with yourself, who else could be ready to stay with you?
God is a faraway prospect! To attain God means that the most profound peak of existence enters within you; but then you have to create a space for Him within yourself. You are so shallow that a small thing causes a storm within you. A slight movement and you tremble, a slight insult and you burn within, a little suffering and you feel all hell is let loose on you. You are affected by little, little things; there is no depth in you. Someone throws a pebble and a storm rages in you. You are not a deep ocean.
The ocean is so deep that even if the Himalayas fall into it, the waves will be blissfully oblivious of the happening. So many rivers pour into the sea, but the waters of the sea do not rise by even an inch. The ocean stays the same, whatever may happen.
You desire God. Have you ever thought what your state would be if He were suddenly to descend on you? You will be in a dilemma. Where will you seat Him? How will you welcome Him? You will be so shaken the only thing to do is run away from home.
You have no throne befitting Him. Were it to be made of gold and precious stones perhaps you could have had one made, but you have to make a peacock throne of your own heart. You have to fashion a throne of love. You can buy gold in the market, but where can you buy love?
Were a palace required to be made, that would be easy. Then God would already have descended to some king's palace. But you have to build a palace within, a palace of emptiness, a palace of meditation. That is a very difficult task; the journey is long.
If you take as your home the place where you find yourself, you are a worldly mortal. If you take this world as only a dharmashala where you rest for a while and then start again, then you are a sannyasin.
There is a very old Sufi story: A man went to a Sufi fakir asking the secret of attaining God. The fakir proceeded to recount the following tale:
A woodcutter went every day to the forest to cut wood. Each day he would gather wood, carry it to town and sell it. Whatever he got would be barely enough to give him a meal. Sometimes he managed to buy a little food; at other times he went to sleep hungry.
A fakir who used to stay in the same jungle watched him every day. He was filled with pity for this miserable man who barely managed to keep alive. One day he told him, "Every day for the last so many years I have been watching you. You are such a foolish fellow. Why don't you go still further into the jungle?" The wood-cutter asked, "How will that help?" The fakir replied, "Whoever went deeper within became wealthy. Go in, and you will find mines of copper."
The man went a little further and he found the copper mine. He began to sell copper. Once again he met the fakir who said, "Foolish fellow, go still further. There are mines of silver there." The man went and found the silver mines. He now began to sell silver and became very rich.
One day he met the fakir again who said to him, "Had you any sense you would have taken the hint by now. You have failed to understand. Go still further, you fool, for there are gold mines there!" The man penetrated deeper into the forest and found the gold, but he got totally involved in the gold.
He must have been a man like us, this woodcutter. Wherever we go we get involved. We don't think of getting up from where we sit. The fakir felt sorry for this man. One day he went to him again and said, "You really lack intelligence. So many times I goaded you to go onward to go still further, and you have not understood me. Now you are outwardly very rich, but within you are as miserable a wretch as before. Go still further, there are mines of diamonds." The man went further in.
Then, after some years, the fakir happened to meet him again. He rebuked him as before. Even though he was the owner of huge palaces and all that wealth could buy, the fakir was sorry for him.
"You are as poor as ever within," said the fakir. "All this gold and silver and diamonds are on the outside. Go still further.
"Now where?" asked the man. "Why don't you leave me in peace? Why are you goading me on and on? Now what is left to be attained after getting these diamonds?"
The fakir replied, "Beyond that is my ashram and only I can give you the genuine diamonds. They are diamonds of meditation. Until now you sought the mines outside, now your search for the mines within must begin." And though the man had heard about the jewels within, he was not ready to seek them. Besides, he claimed that this talk was beyond him, so he begged to be allowed to stay where he was.
The fakir said, "As you wish. But remember, these mines within will not remain forever - today I am, tomorrow I may not be. The mines you dig now will remain. They always were, they always will be."
The mines of meditation manifest rarely - sometimes once in a thousand years. Sometimes some person discovers it and becomes an entrance to it. Such a person is the guru, and Nanak refers to his temple as gurudwara, guru's door - a beautiful name for a temple. He who comes upon the mine of meditation during his lifetime becomes an opening for others, but he does not live forever.
And you? You are so blind that you go past the door and do not see it! Your eyes are fixed on the visible wealth and not the true wealth that is invisible.
Remember this maxim: Still further. Until you reach God you should hold it always to your heart. If you halt before that, you will wander.
Therefore the thirst, the dissatisfaction of the sannyasin knows no bounds. His thirst is satisfied only when he drinks God. Lesser waters will not do for him. This is exactly why Nanak refers to this world as a dharmashala.
HAVING MADE NIGHT AND DAY, THE SEASONS, AND THE DATES; AND AIR, WATER, fiRE AND THE UNDERWORLDS; HAVING MADE ALL OF THIS, HE ESTABLISHED THE EARTH AS A DHARMASHALA.
IN IT HE CREATED COUNTLESS CREATURES OF MANY COLORS AND FORMS.
THEIR NAMES ARE INfiNITE.
So the first thing is that the world is only a resting place. The deeper you take in this fact, the more useful will it prove that you must not stop where you are, that stagnation is death and that you have to go further and still further... till you reach His door. You may rest if you are tired, but do not make a home out of the inn.
You are bound to get tired, for the journey is long and the destination far away. You will also wander time and again, for it is not a path that is marked out, a highway! Man has to walk himself and carve out his route. Therefore the road to His abode is very long. As birds fly in the air and leave no trace behind, so the enlightened one walks in His path and reaches but leaves no marks behind. The space is as empty as ever.
When you set out, you cannot walk on the footprints of others. There is no loan system in the realm of truth. No one else can give you truth; others can merely suggest, give hints. Love you can get, also the guru's grace, but truth you will have to find yourself. His grace can lend strength to your feet to continue walking but cannot give you the path. His compassion can offer up confidence and encouragement, but not draw a map for you. His compassion can give you the strength to carry on and be persistent in your effort so that you do not waver, you do not give up. But you must walk the path alone.
And the path is such that it is formed only if you begin to walk. It is not a carved-out route marked on a map. There is no ready-made device to take you to God. Each person has to find his own way himself.
This is the difficulty, and this is the dignity of purpose. For if it were a well-beaten track that thousands had trodden before, the joy and fulfillment in reaching and attaining God would not have been so special.
Whenever a person attains God he finds Him new, fresh, and original - as if you are the first one He has met! As if this happening has never taken place before. It is not a stale affair, it is not as if others before you have met Him - that you find millions of footprints leading to His door. No, it is as if you are the very first person He meets. He is like a virgin waiting for you. God is always a virgin. Had He been married many times before there would be nothing of interest left in Him.
His virginity is eternal; He is an eternal bachelor. Whoever reaches Him finds Him fresh, new and chaste, unspoiled as a virgin - just as the morning dew or the first rays of the rising sun.
There is no map that can be handed over to you, for life itself is a constant change. Everything changes every moment. The way I reached will be of no use to you; it was my special way. You will have to find yours.
For Nanak says God has made infinite creatures, infinite souls. He has cast in millions and millions of colors and forms. Each one is unique. If each person is unique, unparalleled, no one person's path can be of use to another. My understanding can be of use to you but not my path. My insight can help you to find your way but your way will be entirely your own personal way. It shall bear your imprint just as your thumbprint can be only yours. There are millions upon millions of people in this world, but never will your thumbprint be repeated. If existence has caused your thumb to be unique, how much more original will your soul be! Imagine it.
New research has involved itself in very deep issues. Science now declares that the internal organs of each individual are peculiar to that person. No two people have kidney, heart or liver exactly the same as another person. Not only the thumbprint but every cell of your body is specially made and designed for you, and you alone. You are incomparable. God creates you, makes each cell, each atom in your body just for you. He never creates another to match you. So your path of attainment will also be unique. This produces a sense of helplessness and many difficulties, but it is also the grandeur and dignity that you have reached by a route that is absolutely new, untrodden; it cannot be stale for you.
If this is understood well, you will know that we are talking of the soul, the atman. We can produce machines in tens and thousands. There are millions of Ford cars whose parts fit one another very easily. Sometimes it is impossible to distinguish between two cars, so much alike are they. Not so the soul; no two souls are alike. Each atman is unique.
This means, were we to use the language of poet, saint or devotee, the atman cannot be machine- made. It seems that God makes each and every atman with His very own hands. This is why He is called the creator. If you tell a painter to make another painting to match one he has already done, he will be unable to do so. He cannot make an exact copy of the original. There will be a difference.
With the passage of time the painter himself changes; his moods change. He is no longer in the same state of heart and head as when he made the original.
A friend came to visit Picasso when he was making a picture. He was so lost in his work that the friend thought it best not to disturb him. When the painting was put up for sale the friend bought it; it was worth millions of rupees. One day he took the painting along with him when he visited Picasso and asked him to authenticate it. Many fake copies were sold in the market as Picasso's own works, but this one the friend had seen him paint with his own eyes. Picasso replied, "I have made it all right, but it is not genuine." The friend was puzzled, for an authentic painting according to him was one that the painter paints himself. "It is authentic," explained Picasso, "in the sense that I have made it, but it is inauthentic insofar as it is only a reflection of my earlier paintings. I was copying my own style. The creator in me was not present at the time."
"What do you mean by the creator in you?" asked the friend.
"I am the creator when I make a unique painting, when I am totally original."
Therefore poets, painters, sculptors are closest to God when they produce something really original; they are as near God as a saint or devotee. A sculptor carving the images at the caves at Ajanta or Ellora was as close to God when he created these as even Buddha was.
Whenever you create something that is not a copy, not an imitation, there is no prayer that is greater.
For you are nearest to God; in fact, in the moment of creation you are like Him! You too are a creator. Therefore creativity gives so much joy. How happy and satisfied you feel when you create something, however small, however insignificant.
A small child makes a house of cards and tells everybody, "I have built a house." Another builds a sand castle that he knows will be blown away by the breezes, but how happy he feels! He dances with joy. All moments of bliss in life are moments of creativity. Whenever you make something you get pleasure out of it. And those whose lives pass without any creativity find nothing but sorrow and suffering.
Why is it so? Why do you feel happy when you make something? Because in the act of creativity you get a glimpse of the creator. He is the creator but you too are a creator of sorts in that moment.
You plant a seed in your garden. When the plant appears and bears leaves and flowers, how much pleasure it gives you. This joy is the same joy that God feels when He sees the earth bloom. There is only a difference of quantity, not quality.
Nanak says, He has created lives in many colors and forms; and their names are many, infinite. If you were only able to recognize this creativity, this expanse of creation that spread to eternity! But it is difficult to recognize God. He is forever hidden, but if you can recognize His visible performance then you have made the first acquaintance; the first step is taken. Look at the universe. It is filled with a deep and profound arrangement. The moon rises, so does the sun. The stars revolve, seasons come and go, the morning comes and flowers open, the birds sing. The brooks bubble down the rocks, rivers rush to meet the sea. Clouds gather and pour down the waters that rise by evaporation into the skies. The water goes back again to the stream. It is all a well-organized arrangement. The world is a cosmos, not a chaos... if you understand this significant arrangement of nature.
The more you begin to understand this order of things in the world, and the more you begin to perceive the flow of this order, to the same extent will you begin to remember the hand that directs all things in this world. For no arrangement works without a source of direction, and the hand that directs this vast arrangement must be infinitely vast and powerful. This is why the Hindus say: He has a thousand hands. He has an infinite number of hands, for this is no small work. The infinite existence can be guided only by infinite hands.
Nanak says, He made the day, He made the night. He made the seasons, the air, the water, the fire, the earth and the netherworld. He has made all - All! And in the midst of it all He made the earth for you to rest awhile in your journey to the infinite.
This earth is a resting place only. Do not make your house in it. People make all kinds of houses, forgetting it is a resting place. Imagine if a man puts up in a traveler's bungalow for the night, and in the morning he forgets and takes the place as home, takes all its involvements upon himself, all its worries. Weighted down with sorrow and suffering, he goes about asking the way to peace and quiet.
If he is asked, "Why have you made a home of your dharmashala?" he replies, "It is difficult to leave so abruptly. I also understand having made a mistake, but it will take me time. I shall leave gradually."
The question is not of leaving gradually. The question is not of leaving at all. It only requires right perception, and that takes time. You can perceive in a moment if you are ready and willing. You can see clearly that where you stand is no more than a waiting room, for you were not always here.
Where were you before birth? Where will you be after death? This is a fancy fete that lasts only a few days. In this short span you have clung so tightly to things that are and also to things that are not. A man clings to his wealth or possessions but he also clings to his desires, his dreams of the future.
Mulla Nasruddin built a house for himself. He took me to see it. He had laid out a big garden. As we walked along we came to an artificial pond. "This is the hot-water pond for us to bathe in in winter,"
he informed me. We went a little further and came upon another pond. "And this is the cold-water pond for us to bathe in in summer." Then pointing to a third pond which had no water he said, "This is for the days when we do not wish to bathe."
Man makes arrangements for bathing as well as non-bathing. He arranges for what he has and for what he does not have. You are already weighted down by the harassment of your possessions, and also obsessed with the anxiety of things that might have been or might come to be. Look into your mind: you will find it is filled with past anxieties that no longer exist. Some incident that took place twenty years ago is still revolving in your mind. Now this is long past and nothing remains of it. Or you are thinking of something that may happen twenty years from now. You increase your anxieties a thousand-fold this way.
And for whom do you worry? For an inn along the road? You begin to be anxious and worry about those who also happen to stay in this inn while you are there. There is the husband, the wife, the son, the father, the mother, and all of them you just happened to meet in the dharmashala. You have involved yourself completely in them, and taken upon yourself all sorts of anxiety for them, while you have completely forgotten that you have a destination to reach. You have all the concerns except the real one, to reach home!
IN IT HE CREATED COUNTLESS CREATURES OF MANY COLORS AND FORMS.
THEIR NAMES ARE INfiNITE.
EACH IS CONSIDERED ACCORDING TO HIS OWN DEEDS.
Whatever you do in this world is very significant, for your ultimate destiny is based on your actions.
The world is a rest-house where you tarry for a while and then move ahead. But you get involved in so many things. The inn is taken away from you one day but the web of your actions remains with you. You will die, the world will no longer be for you, but what you did in the world will follow you like a shadow. Your actions will hound you for infinite births, and the last judgment will be based on the sum total of all your actions.
Now this is worth pondering over. If the thought remains in your mind that this world is but a resting place where you have pitched a tent for a short while, then many actions will disappear immediately.
Will you shout at your wife when you know that this togetherness is but for a short while? What meaning will your anger have? You consider your wife so much your own that you quarrel with her.
But when death comes you go alone; she does not go with you. While she is left behind, your anger towards her, the pain you inflicted on her, the words you spoke in displeasure to her, they will go with you. Your dreams likewise will remain behind, but all that you did in your dreams goes with you. In this bargain things turn out to be expensive, for nothing comes to hand save loss and defeat. Man attains nothing from samsara, he only loses everything.
Nanak says that if you keep constantly in your mind that this world is only a resting place, almost all of your actions will stop by themselves. On a railway platform or in a waiting room, what is one's attitude? If someone steps on your toes you tend to overlook it, for you know that such things are inevitable in a crowd. You do not get angry.
Mulla Nasruddin didn't marry until late in life. When he reached fifty his friends asked him why he was afraid to marry. This is what Mulla said: "Once, while coming out of a cinema house, I happened to step on a woman's foot. She immediately whirled around and pounced on me. Her eyes were raining fire, her face was flushed. I tremble even now as I am narrating this. I was sure she would kill me, squeeze the very life out of me with her bare hands. But the next moment she cooled down.
'Sorry,' she said. 'I thought it was my husband.' That very moment I decided never to marry. A stranger she was ready to forgive. She was ready to concede it was a mistake only because it was a stranger.
We forgive others but fail to forgive our very own. Is it not astonishing? We forgive strangers but not those near and dear to us. What is the difference? A stranger is a stranger. He is a fellow traveler in the dharmashala. The one near you is no longer a stranger. We are under illusions about him; we create a homelike relationship with him.
He who considers the whole world as a temporary inn - for him, everyone is a stranger - and he is! Just because your wife has been with you for the past thirty years, do you think she is not a stranger? You are wrong; this is mere delusion. Long association is no criterion.
Nobody can be your very own in this world. There is no way to make someone your own - except God. God alone can be yours, yet you do not seek Him! You have taken strangers to be your own. Because a son is born to you, you take it for granted that he is no stranger to you. Life will prove otherwise. A father can do nothing regarding his son's life. You want him to be one thing; he becomes another. You want one thing; he wants something else. Your expectations are one thing; his desires are something else. What father is ever satisfied and totally accepting with his son? The son is born to you, but he is still very much a stranger to you. No father can predict what turn his son's life will take. There is no way to find out. Husbands fail to reform their wives, and wives fail to change their husbands. Who can reform whom? We cause more harm, more damage than anything else.
We are all strangers, living according to our own actions, each traveling his own path. No one can reform us or change us. It can be that we meet for a while at the crossroads. We take this meeting so seriously. Can you make a woman your very own merely by walking around the fire seven times, as in the Hindu wedding ceremony? Seven rounds or seven thousand rounds make no difference.
Nothing changes. You remain where you were.
In the mundane world no matter how hard you try, you cannot get rid of the other, who must remain the alien. No matter how close you get to a person, there is always a distance. This is the bane of all lovers. The lover wants to come so close to the beloved that there is no distance between them. But the closer he comes, the more he realizes that the differences still persist. When they were far apart there was the hope that closeness would make the separateness disappear, but on coming closer and closer he realizes that the distance can never be eradicated. There is no way to do so. You can sit very close to one another: you bodies will be close, but the distance between you remains the same. You are in your own thoughts, your beloved in hers. You have your own mind; your beloved has hers. How can the two ever meet?
All unions in this world are false meetings. Separation is true. Meeting is but a dream. Your only union can be with God. This is the only possible union; therefore Kabir, Nanak, Dadu kept singing, "I am Rama's bride!" Kabir says, "One thing I have understood, and that is enough - that one can only be the bride of Rama." Only there is the union complete; all distances fall away and there is no without and no within. There alone will your thirst be quenched, where all is one and there are no two. There alone shall we meet Him who is our very own, and then the anguish of separation will end. Before that the worry, the unrest will continue.
No matter how many wells you drink from, no matter how many shores you walk on, there is only one river that can actually quench your thirst, and we are not in the least worried about this. All that you do in your state of wandering, gathers around you. The collection of these actions determines your future... every day. If you get up in the morning and you are angry, an impression, an imprint is created. If again you get up the next morning and are angry, this impression becomes more pronounced. If you again are angry on the third day, this impression forms a deep furrow within you. Now there is every likelihood of your losing your temper on the fourth day, for man lives by his impressions till he attains buddhahood. Then habits no longer affect him; he lives in full consciousness. You live by your habits. What happened yesterday is repeated today. What is happening today is sure to happen again tomorrow. So all your actions create your habits.
The doctrine of karma is very scientific. It has nothing to do with philosophy. It is a straight and simple psychological fact that whatever you do and keep on doing, increases your tendency to do the same thing, again and again. Whatever you are not in the habit of doing, increases your tendency to not doing it. Doing becomes a habit. You do things mechanically. Go back into your own past and you shall find that your life is nothing but constant repetition. You do the same things every day.
People come and tell me, "I don't want to be angry, but anger happens." Then I ask them, "Then what do you do after you are angry?" They say, "I feel terrible remorse and I repent. I know I should not have been angry and then I feel so miserable."
I tell them, "Forget about your anger, but stop the worrying. Give up repentance. This at least you can do. I know you cannot control the anger." They are nonplussed. "What kind of advice is this? If despite repenting the anger doesn't leave, how can you say not even to repent? How will I get rid of anger that way?"
I say to them, "Look back at your lives. You've repented a thousand times and yet your anger is unchanged. Just carry out this experiment and see! Do not repent! You must make an effort to break one half of your habit at least. Anger and repentance together make one complete habit. It is not so difficult to do. The need to get angry will be there, which you won't be able to give up, but the repentance is your personal affair. It has nothing to do with anybody else.
Anger always involves the other. If someone calls you names how can you not be angry? If you are not angry what will people think of you? If you let him go the news will spread around town like wildfire, and others may turn around and indulge in the same sport with you. Anger is a collective affair, whereas repentance is simple and doesn't concern anyone else. You repent in privacy. Please just give this up."
The man who had sought advice returned and said to me,"It is as difficult to give up repenting as it is to give up anger."
A lady comes to me whose husband is addicted to alcohol. They were married twenty years ago, and ever since then she has been after him to leave off drinking. He keeps drinking and she keeps reprimanding him. One day she said to me, "For heaven's sake, do something! This man of mine will not stop drinking. I've tried my best. Please make him see sense." I told her, "Stop nagging him! Say nothing to him about it for three months, then come back to me and I shall do whatever is necessary for him. Alcohol affects the chemistry of the system, so it won't be possible for him to give it up so soon. It has permeated his every cell. Anyway, do as I say and then I shall take care of him."
On the third day she returned. "It's impossible. I just can't do it! It's totally habitual to reproach him every time he fills his glass."
I said to her, "Now you can understand how hard it must be for your husband. You can't give up mere speaking, and what kick is there in only talking? For twenty years you have been telling him, now for three months give up saying anything to him about it. If you give me proof that you have broken your habit, I shall take your husband in hand." But she, poor thing, can't complete the three months! And I am adamant. "I won't say anything to your husband until you have completed three months," I tell her.
Now she understands what a difficult task it is. She can't keep quiet for even a day. Her husband drinks twice a day, and she taunts him ten times - that is her drug. All habits are drugs and when repeated they get into your system.
The doctrine of karma says only that when you do a thing, the possibility of your doing it again increases. When you do not do a thing, the possibility of your not doing it increases accordingly. If you put up in a dharmashala and behave as if it is your house, you are forming a wrong habit. The rest-house will one day be no more for you, but what you do in it will stick to you even after death, for that is entirely yours. Nothing but your actions go with you when you leave the world. Remember this and act accordingly.
You picked up a diamond you found along the way. This diamond does not go along with you; it shall remain here, but your act of picking it up and pocketing it goes with you. Your actions are the only possessions you take along with you. If you do wrong, you give a wrong direction to your future; if you act right you give a right direction to your future.
And if you live in full awareness you are preparing for liberation. For the more a person develops his awareness the more his habits break. Then he does not live by habit but by awareness. In every situation he makes decisions in full consciousness and not by sheer past habits.
A man swears at you, you stand up at once, your fists clenched. During a plane flight, the pilot and a passenger got down to hot words. The situation got worse and they began to abuse each other.
The other passengers said, "Hey, what are you doing? Can't you see there are ladies in the plane?"
The angry passenger replied, "The ladies can leave the plane. I am determined to see this through."
In his anger he doesn't even realize what he is saying, suggesting that the ladies can get off the plane in mid-air.
He is not in his right senses. He doesn't know what he is saying, but the fight has to take place because it is beyond his control. How can one who is not conscious be in his senses? And you are all like that. Whatever you do, you go on doing mechanically without ever pondering on what you are doing and why.
Wake up a little. first of all, wake up to the fact that this world is not so valuable that you should be so anxious and worried about it. If a man swears at you, remember, neither he nor his abusive words are so important that you should be so upset about it. Nor is your ego so important that you create an uproar for its sake. This is but a resting place; if someone treads on your feet, do not be upset.
Mulla Nasruddin was coming out of the auditorium during the intermission. He stepped on another man's foot. The man was almost writhing in pain, but considering that it was dark and the lights had just come on, he thought that Mulla just did not see his foot, so he did not say anything. Mulla reentered the hall and went up to the man. "Brother, was it you whose foot I stepped on?" The man thought he had come to apologize. He said, "Yes." Mulla looked back and called out to his wife, "Come this way. This is our row!" He had stamped on the man's foot just so he would be able to identify his own row.
The man who abuses you has his own reasons. There is no need for you to get upset about it. The world is a marketplace filled with crowds and crowds of people, and each is busy searching on his own. You have nothing to do with anyone, nor has anyone anything to do with you. As each one is playing his own game, you are bound to bump into one another at times. It is inevitable with so much traffic on the road.
If you can keep this in mind, your anger will disappear, and so will your hatred, jealousy, envy - and all the actions that spring from them. The day such actions disappear you will feel pity for people, for each man is in a state of unconsciousness. The day before, anger invaded you, and on this day it is replaced by pity and kindness. Each man has gone astray. People live in darkness. It is nobody's fault that they are asleep. If in their sleep they jabber insults and abuses, would you say anything to them? You would note they are asleep and dismiss the incident.
If a drunk hurls abuse at you, you think he is not aware of what he is saying, but, alas, this is the state everybody is in. They have been drugged through infinite births, and are profoundly asleep. If your awareness has developed even to a slight degree, you will feel pity for them - how much they suffer, these people all around you! They have taken the rest-house as their ancestral home and fight in the courts over possession of it.
When you begin to feel pity for others, the shape of your actions will change accordingly. Where your deeds were evil, they will now be good; where you planned and contrived to harm others, you will go all out to help them. You won't even hesitate to help those who revile you, for you will be filled with compassion for them.
What is critical here is the relationship between knowledge and kindness. Knowledge means awakening. Kindness means the qualitative change in your actions due to this awakening. When there is ignorance within, there is violence without; when knowledge is within, compassion is without.
They are associated with one another, but knowledge, discernment and intelligence must be based on actions.
This is a funny situation: you think of all the good things in the world and do all the bad. Your thoughts turn to the good, while your actions are bad. But what you think is of no account; only your actions will be your testimony, your measure. Even criminals think great and noble thoughts. Ask a murderer what he thinks and you will find his thoughts soaring into the skies. High thinking is a trick for committing evil deeds.
Understand this subtlety: when a man does evil he is always repentant within. When a man insults someone or is hard on someone, he is filled with remorse. He feels that this should not have happened, so he thinks good thoughts of kindness, of forgiveness, of pity. Next time, he promises himself, he will be kind and understanding. Thus he strikes a balance, enough good thoughts to match the evil deeds, to hide his bad deeds from himself. People who are evil, vile, always think great, noble things.
The reverse is also true. Those who do good deeds have bad thoughts. To the aware person, both these states are wrong. Thieves always think of doing charity; they are very generous. It is they who think of building temples, feeding the poor or clothing them, all because the sting of thieving is with them. They steal a million rupees and give a thousand in charity. In this way they strive to achieve a balance. A sinner bathes in the Ganges, distributes a little here and there to the destitute, and feels he has atoned for his misdeeds. He comes home relieved of his guilt. But what does he do now that he is unburdened of his sins? Exactly what he did before, but now he will do it with an easy mind.
This is even more dangerous, this feeling of unconcern.
A woman visited a psychologist. She was in the habit of dropping things, which made her very nervous and restless. She felt herself to be in great trouble. After six months of treatment the doctor asked her how she felt. "I still drop things, but it no longer makes me feel nervous."
A man does a few good deeds and on the strength of these he is unperturbed about his actions.
He feels he has balanced his bad deeds with the good, and now he is ready to indulge in more evil.
Now he holds the key to the situation: whenever you do wrong, counteract it with good deeds.
No country is as sinful as India today. It happened when we discovered the device of good deeds.
The Ganges flows in this country and it can wash away all sins. Commit a sin, then go and make an offering in the temple; or do evil, and offer a coconut to Hanuman, the Monkey-God. Poor Hanuman!
He has nothing to do with your evil; it's not his fault that you sinned. He has no share in your misdeeds, and yet you make him a partner in it. Make your mistake here, atone for it there; and you are ready for fresh misconduct. Whenever you sin you negate it with a good deed so that the sting of misdeeds is eradicated. Thus you repair the harm done to your image of yourself as a good and righteous person.
What you think will hold no water. Your destiny is determined by your actions and not your thoughts.
The astonishing fact is that you always put off a good deed, postpone it for tomorrow, but you never say the same when it comes to sin. Then you are eager for it this very moment. If you want to kill someone you kill immediately, for you know that a little delay and you will never be able to do it. When you want to be angry you become angry at once. Have you ever heard anyone say, "All right, I shall come tomorrow and be angry with you. Right now I'm busy." Abuse him and he will drop everything to retaliate, even if he were fetching medicine for his wife on her deathbed. In effect he is saying, "Let her die if she will. She has to die anyhow, but now I have to settle this score." You know very well you won't be able to settle it later.
When his father died Gurdjieff was nine years old. His father's last advice to him was, "Whenever you are incited to anger, let twenty-four hours pass before you retaliate." So whenever anyone abused him, he would say he would reply after twenty-four hours. He had promised his father when he was still a child and understood nothing, but he kept his word.
Because of this promise, Gurdjieff writes, his whole life changed. Can anyone still be angry a whole day later? In that time the futility of anger becomes obvious, the stupidity of the whole affair! And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we come to realize that what the man said about us was correct:
he didn't abuse me, he described what I am. If that man called you a thief, after a day's reflection you realize he is right - you are a thief! If he called you dishonest you will come to realize that you are dishonest. This is not abuse but an accurate description of what you are, an eye-opener!
Many a time Gurdjieff would go back to the person concerned and thank him, for what he said was absolutely true. As for his anger, he would say that was of no account. He was thankful for his pointing out the fault in him. "What I could not see, you have shown me." He who diagnoses your illness is a doctor; so he is no enemy.
Or, after twenty-four hours his attitude would be: "I have pondered all day over your words but I found they do not apply to me at all. And since they don't apply to me why should I be angry? I have nothing to do with them. Perhaps you were talking about someone else." Or if he found that the epithet applied to him he would thank the person. If it did not apply there would be no need to retaliate.
Whenever you are angry, you are angry because what someone has told you strikes a note of truth.
Have you ever thought about this? If you are not a thief this accusation does not bother you.
But the reverse is the case: you are a thief, going about as a holy man. You go to the temple, tell your beads and practice all kinds of camouflage. Now this man has caught on to your authentic character and he calls you a thief. You feel the blow. Remember, truth always hurts, untruth never.
For untruths have no strength, no power of their own.
We indulge in bad deeds immediately, and postpone the good ones for later. A Marwari was once sitting behind a vetiver screen, writing his accounts. It was a hot summer's day. A beggar came along and asked for a coin. The Marwari told him to move on; there was no money there.
The beggar said, "Then give me some bread." The Marwari said rudely, "There is no bread."
"Give me some old clothes," the beggar persisted, as beggars usually do. "Get lost!" shouted the Marwari, "There is nothing here."
"Then what are you doing here, sitting behind the screen?" the beggar asked. "Come with me, join me. Whatever we get we shall share between us."
If someone asks you even for two paise or a piece of bread you put him off. You postpone doing good, but you gird your loins that very instant when some evil has to be done; for that you are ready and waiting.
Stop the evil and don't defer the good, and your life will change for the better. To evil say, "Tomorrow,"
the good, do immediately, for who can trust the morrow? If this becomes the thread of your life, you will be incapable of doing evil. Now you act like the Marwari, postponing the good and doing the evil immediately. But then tomorrow never comes for you to do good, whereas evil happens through you every day! The whole chain of your actions becomes a chain of thorns; no flowers ever bloom there.
EACH IS CONSIDERED ACCORDING TO HIS OWN DEEDS.
GOD IS TRUE, AND ALL HIS COURT IS TRUE.
Remember, only if you are true can you gain entry to His court. You may deceive the whole world but can you deceive your own self? You know what you are. The whole world may hold you in awe and reverence, but you know for yourself what you actually are. The existence that is hidden within you is God Himself. How can you cheat Him? Before Him you stand in all your nakedness. Everything is open there, nothing is covered. Therefore, only if you are true can you enter His court.
People ask, "How is God to be attained?"I say they should ask, "How is one to be true?" They shouldn't say, "God cannot be seen," but should ask, "Why can't God be seen?"
False eyes cannot see God. True eyes are needed to see God. A true heart is required to experience truth; for only the like can recognize the like. As you stand now, you are absolutely false. False does not mean only that you do not speak the truth: your very being is false. Your appearance is false, your dealings are false. You say one thing, you think another; while what you do is contrary both to what you say and what you think. Your word, your being cannot be trusted. You yourself have no faith in what you do. Are you doing what you want to do? Are you thinking exactly what you say?
But then the the thought is very frightening! For if you begin to be authentic, the house you made within the resting place will begin to crumble. It is but a halt in your journey; that you have made it your permanent abode is the biggest lie. You have set out in a paper boat to sail across the sea of existence. How will you sail? You will have to remain sitting on the shore, for it is too dangerous to lower such a boat into the water. No sooner does it touch water than it will be no more; the paper will dissolve.
People come to me worrying that life will become difficult if they begin to be authentic. Yes, it will!
Because you have based your lives on falsity. It will be really difficult in the beginning. If you do not change, then too it is difficult; for what happiness have you attained in your life, what flowers have bloomed in your life, what fragrance have you experienced? What is there in your life, on the strength of which you can say that your life has been worth living? There is nothing. And you know it.
Life as it is is no less difficult, but you have become addicted to it. When you turn towards truth, your old habits will break. Right now when a person you detest visits you say, "Welcome. I am so pleased that you have come." But inside yourself you curse the day for bringing such a person to your door.
Now your day is ruined.
If he is even a little intelligent, a little aware, he will see the lie behind your words. No matter what your lips pronounce, your eyes give you away. Your face, your movements will be very different from your words. They will have nothing in common. When a person is truly happy he does not go about declaring his happiness; every pore of his body is filled with joy and cheer. You can make out a person who is really happy. But alas, the other man is also asleep. You think you really mean what you say. This is why flattery pays in the world. The listener can always detect the deception in your words if he listens carefully.
The English poet Yeats was given a Nobel Prize. He was a genuine person, simple and artless. His works were filled with his authenticity. When a meeting was held to congratulate him on winning this much coveted prize, the usual occurred for such a meeting: people began to praise him and his works very profusely. Even those who had criticized him before were now singing his praises.
He was very disturbed and perplexed to see the sham, for he knew that all that was being said was never meant. He began to shrivel up in his chair.
When the speeches were over he was sitting in his chair, cowered and shrunken as if all this was beyond his endurance. The chairman shook him and said, "Are you asleep? Did you hear what I have just announced?" A purse of 25,000 pounds was offered him as a gift by his colleagues. Yeats replied, "I am not asleep, but had I known all this would happen I would not have come. To have to listen to such blatant lies for two full hours for the sake of a mere 25,000 pounds, I would never, never have come!"
If you have cultivated even the slightest awareness, no one will be able to flatter you, for you shall see the falsity in his expression. But you lack awareness; people all around you pronounce lies and you are not the least aware of it. You yourself are speaking untruths without any awareness of what you are doing. Then you get caught in a thousand difficulties. In your moment of unawareness you tell a woman, "You are so beautiful; I am in love with you." - and land in trouble. Perhaps at that very moment you know that it was a lie but now a whole series of problems begin. You regret it the very next day.
One day Mulla Nasruddin's wife complained to him, "It was you who was running after me and not I.
And now look at you, and your ways! If this is how it was to be, why did you run after me?"
Mulla said, "What you say is one hundred percent correct. Have you ever seen a mousetrap run after a mouse? The mouse gets himself trapped. Your statement that I ran after you is absolutely correct."
Women are very clever in this respect. No husband can accuse his wife of running after him. No woman ever makes this mistake, for she knows this problem is bound to arise sooner or later. It is always the man who falls into the trap. The woman watches quietly; at most she nods her head. All the initiative is taken by the man. Nasruddin is right; men walk into the trap of their own free will.
Mulla Nasruddin was on his death bed. His son asked, "Tell me something of your experiences in life." Mulla said, "I have learned three things in life. One: if people are a little patient the fruits ripen by themselves and fall. You need not climb the tree in order to pluck them. Two: if people are patient people die by themselves. There is no need to wage wars in order to kill them. And three: if people are really patient women will run after men on their own accord; there will be no need to run after them." This is the quintessence of Mulla's life experiences. But who profits by the experience of life?
Do you know what you are saying? Do you know what you are doing? If you become aware, ninety-nine percent of your actions that you use to create a house will fall away. Only one percent will remain, which is enough for a dharmashala, and enough for the life of a sannyasin. What is inevitable is what will remain; all that is unnecessary will be cut out. It is the superfluous, the inessential, that causes problems in a householder's life. How many needless things you buy and keep in your house!
I was once a guest in a house so full of things that it was well nigh impossible to move about. They were rich people, but there would be more space to breathe in a poor man's hut. Anything new that came to market was promptly bought; whatever was advertised in the papers had to be in the house.
It was so full, it was impossible to live in it. I asked my host, "Is this a house or a museum or some exhibition ground? Most of the things you have collected are useless. Get rid of them. It is space that makes a house. It is impossible to stay here. If this state of affairs continues, soon you will have to sleep outside."
You, too, gather junk in your home. You store useless things, hoping that one day they will be useful.
Even things that are broken are stored away for future use.
Eskimos observe a rule that would bring great peace and happiness to the world if it were observed universally. Every New Year's Day they distribute all that they have and start life anew. Everything is got rid of until the house is literally bare. Nowhere are houses as clean as the Eskimo houses. As it is, Eskimos have very little. When they start anew there is a freshness to life. The Eskimo never collects useless stuff for he knows he has to give it away at the end of the year. Imagine, if you had to do likewise, how many non-essentials you would find in your house - things you should never have bought at all.
It is not only household articles that you collect, but also useless thoughts: someone says something and you keep on listening. You read the newspapers mechanically. Have you ever asked yourself whether you want to store all this stuff in your head? Have you ever told someone, "I really have no use for such talk." Someone sits next to you and gossips about other people. Do you ever tell him, "Why are you filling my head with this junk?" It is easy to fill it up, but difficult to empty the head.
Ask those who meditate. When they try to remove those thoughts they cannot do so easily; they have firmly struck root. Actions also are gathered like useless articles in the house. Gradually you become a dumping ground of rubbish. There is no difference between the ragman's shop and your life. Become a little more aware!
Nanak says that each action of yours sets the pattern of your life, so think a great deal before each act. Only a genuine person can gain entry to His court. The great, the best, the most authentic - only these can reach, and His compassionate eye will then cause such a person to see His hand in all things. As truth begins to enter your life, you will find proof of His benevolent eye. You will get a hint, a symbol of Him in each and every place. Right now you get no hint of Him. As yet you do not recognize Him. As soon as you begin to become authentic you will feel His commands coming in.
Then, in every grain of sand, in every leaf and bud, you will begin to see Him.
He wants to lead you on the path. He wants to guide you in what you should do and what you should not, but you do not have the required emptiness within you. Your own tumult and noise is so much that you cannot hear His voice. Every day you find signs of His grace, His compassion. Right now you get no signs. You are living on your own supports, and is your own support worth the name?
No sooner does your life begin to become authentic than you begin to live by Him. Then life takes on a new momentum, a new dimension.
Nanak says that the test begins only after having reached:
ONLY BEFORE THE LORD IS EACH ONE TESTED; EACH IS RANKED BY HIS GLANCE.
THERE THE RAW IS SIFTED FROM THE RIPE.
NANAK SAYS ONE WHO IS RAW WILL DISSOLVE AWAY.
Each is examined to determine whether he is ripe or raw. What is meant by ripe and raw? He who disintegrates before God is raw; he who remains integrated before Him is ripe. Make this your touchstone: whatever you do, ask yourself, "Will I feel right to produce this act before God, or will I be afraid to show Him?" If you are afraid and want to hide, do not do it, for nothing can be hidden from Him. He can see you through and through. Nothing is hidden or can be hidden from that mirror.
Before doing any act weigh in your mind whether you can bring it before Him, just as a goldsmith tests the gold before he does anything with it. If it passes that test do it with an easy mind. If there is fear or doubt, don't do it!
Then you will ripen. The potter fires his pots. The raw ones dissolve in the rain; the fired ones hold the water. You go to the market and buy a water jug for two paise. You sound it in several places to be sure it is strong. The sound of a well baked, strong pot is very different.
So too, as you ripen, the music of your life begins to change so that you can hear the internal sound.
You will get hints and signs of this internal music. Its indications are: you become more peaceful, you are happier, you find yourself filled with joy. A profound contentment envelops you from all sides and you feel grateful, for no apparent reason. Bliss dances softly in you.
Sahajobai was a well known mystic. She said, "There are no clouds and yet it rains." You are happy, cheerful, every hair on your body smiles, every pore overflows with joy - all for no reason. No treasure has been discovered and yet the heart is weighed down with gratitude. These are the signs.
As you begin to ripen more and more, as you get more and more established, the rainwater will fill you. His bliss is pouring, the showers fall every moment, but you are still raw; therefore you melt in it. Because you aren't ready, God's bounty becomes a curse for you. The moment you mature, the moment you are established, the moment you ripen, then what seemed a curse before is clearly seen as a blessing in disguise.
The final test takes place after reaching there. But don't wait until that time, because you are evolving, being constructed every moment. Start this very day and perhaps you will be able to stand before him; perhaps you will be able to reveal yourself to Him. You have lost enough time; don't waste another moment. Live always with God in your mind; for He is the destination, He is the abode. The world is but a resting place.