Patience is the Goldsmith

Fri, 10 December 1974 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Osho - The True Name, Vol 2
Chapter #:
am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
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Self-restraint means giving direction to life, giving it vision and a goal. A man without restraint runs in all directions, not knowing where to go or what is to be attained; he has no aim, no goal in life. He is like a blind man shooting an arrow. A life of restraint is one in which a person is well aware of his goal; he knows exactly where to let his arrow fly. An arrow that is let fly haphazardly cannot possibly hit the target. No power is attained without restraint and moderation.

So the first quality, self-restraint, involves having a direction, a goal. Once you decide upon a goal then you have to let go of everything that does not further your goal. If you want to achieve one thing you have to let go of a thousand others. He who tries to attain everything ends up with nothing; you have to make a choice.

Now you have come to listen to me here. You had to practice some restraint in choosing to hear me: you left some work half done, or you could have put this much time to some better use, or you could have done some profitable business in the time you spent here. You could have done many things, but once you made the decision to come here, you renounced all the other possibilities for this period of time.

Each moment carries infinite possibilities that can carry you in a thousand directions. A man chooses going to a house of prostitution instead of the temple; another goes to the temple who could also have gone to the prostitute. Both have practiced restraint in not taking the other choice or a thousand and one other possibilities.

You take one step and you leave thousands of steps behind. Only that person requires no restraint who does not walk at all. Whoever walks will have to direct each step of his with the utmost awareness and understanding.

So - direction, path and goal. When these three are in complete harmony you attain self-restraint and balance. Nanak says that is the oven, the furnace where gold is purified and all waste matter burns off. Choose your goal in full awareness, then your life becomes an arrow proceeding in a particular direction, rather than tumbling and fumbling from one corner to another like a blind man; neither are you being jostled about by the crowd, moving helplessly wherever it takes you, nor prodded and kicked from here to there by your own desires.

This is the basic difference between the man of restraint and the desire-ridden man. A man torn by desires runs in a thousand directions simultaneously. It gradually drives him insane trying to do a thousand things at the same time. When he is taking his meals his mind is involved in his shop; when he is in the shop his mind is busy with a hundred other things. Had he a thousand hands, a thousand legs, a thousand eyes, a thousand bodies, you would see the actual state of his mind: his thousand bodies would all go in different directions, with no likelihood of their meeting again.

However, this is your internal state: your mind travels in a thousand directions without any hands and feet, tearing you into fragments. Unless and until you become an integrated whole, you are not fit to be offered at the feet of God.

Many doctrines have been formed since ancient times with regard to the integrity of man. In Islam there is the concept that if a man has any part of his body maimed - whether a finger is cut off or he has undergone an operation - he is unfit to reach the feet of God. Therefore the Muslims are very fearful of operations; if they have to have one they feel guilty and fearful of becoming unfit for God.

In Pakhtoonistan if a limb has to be removed it is severed and preserved until the person dies, and is then buried along with him so that, when he approaches God, he is not incomplete. It is a very significant idea to be a fully integrated whole before approaching God, but here, as elsewhere, a wrong interpretation is being followed.

The Hindus also have this same concept. You must have heard the old stories: when a man had to be burned in a sacrificial fire care was taken that all his parts were intact. If even the slightest defect was present, say a bit of the small finger was chopped off, then he was disqualified.

The finger of a prince got crushed and broken in a door of the palace. Being a devotee who believed and trusted in God, he turned around and said to his attendant, "God be praised! I could have died."

The attendant was surprised. "Your devotion is beyond my understanding. Your finger is broken and you are bleeding badly, yet you thank God. That is carrying devotion too far. You are only fooling yourself by thanking God for this." The attendant was a man of reason.

The prince replied, "Wait awhile, for time will tell." Faith cannot be explained by reason, because faith has no proof.

The prince and the attendant went hunting one day. They lost their way in the jungle and were captured by avdhoots, a group of ascetics who were looking for a human being to sacrifice. first they caught hold of the prince, but found that all his parts were not complete - the one finger was missing. He would not do, so they seized the servant and found his body intact. As they were preparing him for sacrifice the prince reminded him, "Didn't I tell you God's grace is on me? I am saved from death." The test, the authenticity of faith, takes time for proof.

Human beings were offered as sacrifice, but this too was a misunderstanding. The sages preached that only he who is total within himself can gain entrance to the Lord's assembly. The lack of a finger does not make you incomplete; even if the head is cut off, a man is not incomplete.

But when consciousness is cut off and his mind falls into fragments, then he becomes incomplete.

Your mind is like mercury: let it loose and it breaks immediately into a thousand pieces that cannot be gathered together; touch one small pellet of quicksilver and it will break into ten more. That is how your mind is, broken into thousands of pieces, with each piece going its separate way. If and when you become at all awakened and look within yourself, you will find one part of your mind heading East, one to the West, one to the North, one to the South. One part wants to earn money, another wants to follow the spiritual path, and so on.

Mulla Nasruddin set out to get a beautiful wife. When he married and brought home his wife, his friends were shocked at how ugly she was. They asked Mulla what had happened.

"I was in a terrible fix," he tried to explain. "The girl's father had four daughters and he described the dowry position of each. The youngest was twenty-five years old and very beautiful. For her he had set aside twenty-five thousand rupees as dowry. Feeling the dowry to be rather low I asked about the other daughters. The second youngest is thirty years old and he had provided thirty-thousand rupees for her. The third is thirty-five and he provided thirty-five thousand rupees for her. He was reluctant to mention his eldest daughter but I told him not to worry but just state the facts. She is fifty years old and has a dowry of fifty-thousand rupees. I don't know what came over me then, but here I am stuck with a fifty-year-old hag. I only realized my foolishness on the way home."

The mind is fragmented, so never trust it. One part wants beauty, another wants wealth; you go to fetch one thing and you return with something else; you came on earth to get one thing, but instead you take something very different when you return. Do not trust your mind or you will get nowhere; you will fragment into many pieces like a drop of mercury.

If you do not listen to your mind but instead heed the witness within, you will be able to remember what you have come into this world for, what you have come to buy from the marketplace of samsara.

That remembrance will become your goal, then you will gain the ability to throw off the fragments that besieged your mind. To practice self-restraint involves the ability to leave the chaff for the wheat, to let go of the useless and worthless in favor of the useful and worthwhile.

The worthless has no value; it serves no purpose in life, brings no peace or joy. It is not designed to reveal the truth, but it has its own attraction, its own temptation and excitement. You can tell yourself:

What harm is there in leaving the road to pick some flowers? I can always get back again. But when you take the first steps off the road towards the flowers, you see so many flowers up ahead, and your journey changes course as you shift a little this way or that to savor a little of the fascination of things that are perishable. Lean a little towards them and you are gone!

There are thousand of paths on which to go astray, but only one to reach the right place; therefore you need a very strong memory - uninterrupted remembrance is required. There are many devices and tricks for losing the path, but only one way to reach the destination. There are millions to lead you astray, but only one who can lead you right. If you want to go astray and wander, go ahead. You can err for lives on end. That is what you did, and that is why you are here now, and that is what you still are doing. But there is one path.

Always remember: truth is only one, not many; untruths are infinite, countless. Only the one is worth attaining; the untold others are only worth discarding. It is like a children's maze with many, many paths, but only one exit; the paths all look as if they lead somewhere, but ultimately they arrive at a dead end.

Life is such a puzzle. Whereas children's puzzles are small and contained on a single piece of paper, life's puzzle is endless. It has no beginning and no end; therefore the need for a guru. If you try to solve life's mystery and persist in walking on your own, you will wander for millions of lives.

There is the danger that you might feel that there is no way to get out of the rut of the mundane world; you have tried so many times that you may be disheartened. You might become so despondent you will give up all hope. There is another danger, that you get habituated to wandering. When we do something so many times we become quite efficient at it. Then it doesn't matter what the work is; you've become such an expert wanderer that even if you come across the right path you will shun it.

Guru only means a person who has found the door and can stop you from wandering. He will warn you from treading a path that may seem very attractive and very promising but is only a pseudo-path.

You may attain wealth - untold wealth, but what will you gain in the end? Where will you reach?

You will find yourself smack against a wall. What will you attain through position? Ultimately you will find the path is lost. Protect your reputation as you will, but what does it yield in the end? Those who respect you have nothing themselves, so what will they give you? What value is the opinion of worthless people? From whom do you seek honor and respect - from those without eyes to see?

Even if they pay homage to you, what is it worth? It is like a bubble; no sooner do you get it, it bursts into thin air.

SELF-RESTRAINT IS THE FURNACE; He has used the word furnace after long deliberation. For restraint is not a bed of roses; it is fire.

The mind would crave a bed of flowers, and find all logical excuses for non-restraint. The mind refers to non-restraint as enjoyment and it calls self-restraint suffering; whereas the reality is just the opposite.

Enjoyment is suffering because the more you enjoy the more you rot. Every sense-enjoyment leads you ultimately to gloom and dejection. After each enjoyment you find yourself a little more broken in body and in spirit, a little uglier and more deformed. You had hardly anything to call your own, but whatever little you possessed is lost, and you are left a beggar, wanting more. And still the mind urges you on for more and more pleasures telling you that time is running out. Who knows whether this opportunity will come your way again?

The mind never says: "Practice restraint! Who knows whether this moment will come again in this lifetime, or not?" It never urges you forward on the path for fear of time running out, because the mind always hankers after pleasure.

Try to recognize how the mind always yearns for happiness, but instead always gets unhappiness.

It seems as if on the door to happiness is written: Sorrow and Suffering, and on every door of unhappiness is written: Happiness. Seeing the sign the mind enters, but it is deluged by suffering and sorrow.

Kahlil Gibran has written a very nice story. He says when God created the world He created a Goddess of Beauty and a Goddess of Ugliness. He sent them both to earth. Since the road from heaven to earth is very long, they were both tired before they reached halfway. They looked at their clothes so covered with dust that they could hardly make one another out. So they halted beside a lake and decided to take a bath and wash their clothes. There was no one around so they removed their clothes and stepped into the water without fear. The Goddess of Beauty loved the feeling of the cold, soothing waters. She swam far out. The Goddess of Ugliness grabbed the opportunity and quickly came ashore, put on her companion's clothes and disappeared.

After some time the Goddess of Beauty, having had her fill and realizing it was getting late, decided to come ashore. To her surprise her companion was missing and so were her clothes. What was she to do? The people from the village were arriving. She was obliged to put on the ugly one's clothes.

Gibran says, "Ever since then ugliness masquerades on earth in the clothes of the Goddess of Beauty, while the latter moves about in her clothes."

This is exactly what has happened. Suffering goes about in the garb of happiness; untruth masquerades as truth, and the mind is deceived by it. It fails to see what is behind the mantle.

Self-restraint requires first that you begin to see the suffering. You will experience great difficult initially. How difficult it is to get up at five o'clock in the morning. The whole body revolts, the mind refuses and offers excuses: "It is too cold to get up today, and you need the sleep. You can get up early tomorrow." You gain nothing by sleeping that much longer, but the mind coaxes you into thinking how lovely it would be.

You have no idea of the happiness outside: the sun is rising, birds are singing, flowers are opening, dew is on the leaves - all the beauty hidden in the early morning! There is no more beautiful time of the day, no moment so refreshing. Missing the morning, you can never regain that freshness during the day, but the mind whispers otherwise: "Stay and rest a little longer in that world of oblivion."

Waking seems so difficult, but only by awakening does one reach happiness; asleep, a man only loses.

Therefore Nanak says that self-restraint is a furnace where the gold is purified. But you must be prepared to pass through the fire. Only by going through the difficulties and troubles does a person attain the supreme happiness. You also pass through suffering and sorrow, but you resent it; then it is not restraint. When you pass through suffering in full awareness, when you accept the anguish and pain it brings, and when you look upon it as the path, the inevitable furnace of life through which you must pass in order to be purified, then the whole alchemy of suffering changes.

Everyone passes through pain and sorrow, be he in the world or a sannyasin. The worldly man weeps and wails and misses. He who passes through suffering with full awareness, with the attitude of acceptance, makes his suffering a stepping stone and goes beyond suffering. To practice restraint is to accept the suffering as the spiritual path. One should not be vanquished by it, but on the contrary, make it a stepping stone and rise above it. Therefore, it is like a furnace.

... PATIENCE IS THE GOLDSMITH; When gold is thrown into the furnace, one has to exercise great patience. He who is impatient fails; he who is patient is successful. If you hurry, become impatient, it means you have not accepted suffering and are eager to be done with it. In that case you have not understood the glory of suffering. You do not know that as you suffer you are being cleansed and purified and absolved from all that is worthless and useless. You have not recognized suffering as a friend yet. It is only at that point that you attain to self-restraint. He who recognizes suffering as a friend is in no hurry. He can maintain his patience, and God is attained only through patience - infinite patience. To attain God is not a paltry thing to be instantly attained.

You plant a seed. Seeds of seasonal plants take two to three weeks to sprout. By the sixth week they begin to flower, and at the end of twelve weeks their life cycle is over. When you plant a cedar tree it lives for one hundred years, or perhaps two, three, or even four hundred years. There are trees in America thousands of years old. They take such a long time to grow that the seed remains under the soil for years before it sprouts.

The baser pleasures of this life are quickly attainable, but they vanish as quickly. Remember the equation: the quicker attained, the earlier lost. If you want to attain God you will have to practice infinite patience.

And remember another fact: the more patiently you observe, the earlier you attain. The more you rush the later you attain. You are the cause of the delay. Why does this happen? Because the more patient you are, the deeper inside you go. Impatience is characteristic of a shallow person; it is a sign of childishness. When little children plant a mango seed, after an hour they take it out to see whether it has sprouted yet. Then they put it back in the soil. Again they remove it to see whether it has sprouted, and again they return it to the soil. That seed will never sprout.

You must have noticed the patience and tranquillity of the villager. The city shopkeeper has little patience. The further into the countryside you go, the more peaceful and tranquil they are, because they have learned to be very patient with nature. You plant the seeds today, but you can't gather the harvest tomorrow. Long association with nature and observing the law of patience, and they become tranquil. But he who wishes to reap the harvest of the infinite must sow and toil in the field of God.

Nanak's father was always after him to do something and not be idle. "At least plow the fields," he would tell him.

"That I do, father," Nanak would reply.

"What field did you ever plow? What harvest have you ever gathered? What money have you ever earned? I always see you sitting home dong nothing."

Nanak answered, "You are right, father. You see me always sitting at home.The field I plow is of a different sort, and whatever I earned is all within me. May He pour His compassion on you so that you may have the eyes to see what I have attained. I have earned a great deal and harvested much, but it is so subtle that the ordinary eye cannot see it."

He who has walked on the path of religion has desired to reap the harvest of the infinite, for which unlimited patience is required. It only means having no expectations. You must not ask when it will happen. Leave it to Him; when it happens is His will. Whenever it happens, be ready to accept. Let aeons pass but never complain: I have been waiting so many years.

There is a very ancient Hindu story: Narada, the heavenly messenger, was once going to Heaven to see the god Vishnu. On the way he met an old sannyasin and asked him, "I'm going to meet God.

Is there any message you would like me to give?"

The old sannyasin replied, "When you meet Him please ask Him how much longer I shall have to wait? I have been a sannyasin the last three births."

Narada said he would surely give the message. He went a little further and found another sannyasin sitting under a tree. He was young and lost to this world as he sat playing his one-stringed instrument. Nanak asked him jokingly, "Well, brother, have you any message for Him? I'm on my way to Vishnu's abode." The young man kept singing, his eyes closed. Narada shook him by the shoulder and asked again.

He answered, "No, brother, I have nothing to ask. His grace is boundless; whatever my wants He has already provided. Don't trouble Him on my account. You needn't even mention my name because I have everything I could wish for and more. If possible just convey my gratitude to Him."

When Narada returned and met the old sannyasin, he told him, "Forgive me, brother, but Vishnu said, 'As many leaves as there are on this tree, so many births will this man have before attaining.'

The old sannyasin was filled with rage. He tore the book he was reading, threw away the mala, and shouted in anger, "What injustice! For three births I have done penances, tortured myself, and still so many births to go! It cannot be!"

Narada then approached the young man under the second tree. "You didn't request it, but I asked God on your behalf how long it will be before you attain, and He said, 'As many leaves as there are on the tree where he sits, so many births must he take before attaining.'"

The young man jumped up with his instrument and began dancing with glee. "So soon? How high has He rated my worth! Look at the ground! There are so many leaves. Look at the other trees covered by leaves, but He has counted only the leaves of this tree for me. Only so many births?

How wonderful! I am not worthy of it. How will I bear His grace? And how will I express my gratitude to Him?"

He was mad with joy and danced round and round the tree, and danced around Narada. He could not contain his joy. The story goes that thus dancing, he attained samadhi. His body fell away. What was to have happened after infinite years happened immediately. For him who has such patience, attainment does not take a moment longer to come.

... PATIENCE IS THE GOLDSMITH; INTELLECT IS THE ANVIL; KNOWLEDGE IS THE HAMMER; We can use our intellect in two ways. We have already made use of it as a knapsack, but not as an anvil. We fill it with information, just as a ragman fills his bag. We hear scriptures and listen to sadgurus. Whatever we get, no matter what its source, we dump into this bag, this beggar's sack.

It contains everything: scriptures, masters' teachings, newspapers, Vedas, radio advertisements, movie songs. If someone abuses you, you tuck away the abuse in the sack. If someone gives you a mantra to recite, you store it there. Your mind is a sack in which the mantra mingles with foul words.

Vedas are lost in everyday news. And such a bag we constantly drag behind us.

This we call memory. It is not knowledge, just rubbish. Genuine knowledge is that which is attained from our own experience. The intellect is filled with borrowed knowledge; everything is stale. Nanak says, however, that intellect is the anvil and knowledge is the hammer.

Nanak says knowledge is the blow of the hammer. Whenever you attain knowledge, howsoever infinitesimal, every hair of your body trembles with its impact. This is why we avoid knowledge, because we don't want to bear the shock of it. Instead we merely gather information, because this gives no shock. You read in the shastras, "God is the ultimate truth." What shock is there in that?

You read, "Meditation is the way." You have learned it by heart; you even tell it to others. What impact does it have?

A little girl was playing in her courtyard when her mother called her from the top of the stairs for her bath. The little girl didn't want to leave her game. Her grandmother, who was herself sunning in the courtyard, told her daughter many times, "Let her play. You can give her a bath later on." But the mother was adamant. At last the child left her playing and began to climb the stairs. When she saw her mother she said to her, "How strange that you always tell me to 'listen to your mother' but you don't listen to your mother at all."

Do you ever heed the advice you give others? No, it's just stale stuff that you pass on to others.

Once you give it away you are free of it. There's no more to it. It never did anything for you; nor will it for others.

Advice is given so freely, and taken so rarely. People feel so free to distibute knowledge, but who takes it? On the contrary, you avoid such people because they bore you. They fill your sack of intellect with all the trash that lies in their sack. The joke is they have never put it to any other use.

Real knowledge carries an impact; it is born out of life's experience, the friction of life. When you take a jump into existence, knowledge is born - not through scriptures and words. Experience is a blow, so we try to avoid it to save ourselves.

Gurdjieff used to compare our knowledge with the buffers of a train or the springs of a car. Both are shock absorbers. When there is an impact they absorb the shock, whereas authentic knowledge is a shock in itself.

When someone close to you dies, you say, "The soul is eternal." This knowledge has never shaken you in your life. You use it merely as a shock absorber. The sages who have declared this truth of the immortality of the soul, have practiced self-restraint. They have passed through many furnaces and fires. This knowledge has been like a hammer of the anvil for them. This knowledge has completely crushed them; it has broken their skulls open, so to speak. Their ego has been reduced to dust. It has severed all their connection with the body. This knowledge has caused their whole world to reel and fall to pieces. This is the knowledge that initiated them into sannyas. This knowledge has made them as good as nobodies in the mundane world. It has uprooted them completely from samsara.

It came as a hurricane and swept them away completely.

What has your knowledge done for you? It is like a lullaby. When you do not fall asleep you hum your knowledge, and so fall asleep. When someone dies, you use it to absorb the shock, because you are afraid of death. It could also have been possible for a death in your family to become a full-fledged experience for you, by which you attained knowledge. In that case, the event of death becomes the hammer and you are the anvil; and when the hammer fell on you, the blow would have awakened you.

No one ever awakens in this world without a blow; you have placed shock absorbers all around you so you are safe inside. Nothing can affect you.

Someone dies, and you say, "The soul is immortal." You see a beggar on the road and say, "Poor man. He is paying for his past actions." You are loathe to give him a paltry two paise! You really have to believe he is suffering from past actions or you would consider yourself partly responsible, which would be a blow to you, so you create a shock absorber. You say, "Poor man, he suffers because of his own actions." And you go on your way. His plight creates no anxiety in you, no worry, no food for thought.

You are very efficient. Your cunningness knows no bounds. The sages attain knowledge by the impact of events, and you use that very impact as a shock absorber. Whatever happens you save yourself. You take great care to protect your ego, the very thing that needs to break.

INTELLECT IS THE ANVIL; KNOWLEDGE IS THE HAMMER; But where is the hammer to descend - on whose head? Only if you place your own self between the anvil and the hammer can knowledge be created in you. Only when you break into fragments - only then! But you save yourself in a thousand ways.

One day, early in the morning, I called on Nasruddin. The poor man had a bad cough. His tongue hardly remained in his mouth; he was panting for breath. Doctors had told him time and again to give up smoking but he just would not. "Why don't you give up smoking, Mulla? You see how ill it makes you."

He told me, "Since you asked, and since you are my good friend, I must tell you what actually is my reason for not giving it up." He drew closer to me and whispered, "Last time I gave up smoking the second World War started that very day. Do you really think I wouldn't otherwise give it up?"

Look at the ego of this man! He has the power to start world wars. You devise methods for your ego. You think the whole world is at your beck and call; you are the ruler, and if you die the world will die with you. How can the world go on without you? Wars are started or stopped by your smoking habits! Look around and you'll discover many similar stories about yourself.

Nanak says that knowledge is the hammer. Don't use your intellect as a sack or else the sack will grow and grow, while you get smaller and smaller, until one day you'll get lost in your own sack. You will die beneath its weight; that's how pundits and scholars die, crushed under their own knowledge.

Make your intellect into an anvil and its shine will improve with every experience of life. Each blow will cleanse and polish it. If you ask a goldsmith or blacksmith they will tell you that hammers often break as they strike, but the anvil remains intact. The anvil even begins to shine more and more as the hammers break.

Lao Tzu asked why the anvil does not break. He answered that it is because it bears the blow, and the hammer breaks because it attacks. Aggression always breaks by itself. You need not worry about it, just develop the ability to endure; then every situation that is aggressive, that shakes you up, will make you all the stronger. Ask the goldsmith and he will tell you how many hammers he has broken on his anvil, while the anvil remains intact. Though you would think that the anvil should break after so many blows, what hits breaks itself, while what bears the impact is saved. The secret lies hidden in the anvil.

Nanak says the intellect is the anvil, so the intellect will not break. Don't be afraid, but make it vulnerable to the blows of experience. Let the blows fall - as many as life lets fall on your consciousness, so shall you be purified. Make life an adventure. Don't run away from where you think the blows will fall. He who flees is defeated already; he has not accepted the challenge. His anvil will get rusted even if he sits in the Himalayas. Don't be a coward or a deserter but stand up to the challenges of life!

Therefore, I don't call him a sannyasin who has run away from life. He has run away from the hammer, his anvil is sure to get rusted. Look at our sannyasins sitting in the Himalayas and you will not find the shine of intelligence; they look rusted. If you have eyes to see you will find that their understanding and intelligence are almost nonexistent; they are as if dead. The lamp of life does not shine in them as it should; everything is dull, despondent inside them. Struggle and friction is necessary for the flower of life to burn, because that is its food.

INTELLECT IS THE ANVIL; KNOWLEDGE IS THE HAMMER; Whenever the hammer falls on the intellect, the impact produces a moment of knowledge, just as on a dark night the lightning flashes. Don't miss it although you are afraid and trembling. The flash will light things around you for a great distance and all the roads will appear clear for a moment.

Each blow of knowledge is a flash of lightning. When there is friction in the clouds, lightning is formed. Similarly, when there is friction in life the flash of knowledge appears; so don't run away from any situation in life. Stop; go through it. That gives you maturity and wisdom, and only that gives rise to understanding.

Nanak never told his disciples to run away from samsara, because that would be running away from the hammers, where all knowledge is born. If you run away from your wife you remain childish; there is growth and maturity in the friction with her. Run away from your children and you will fail to develop the art of extending your strength, your firmness.

Have you ever realized how a woman changes once she becomes a mother? Not only is the child born, but the mother is born along with it. Before she was an ordinary woman; now she has a special quality that a childless woman can never know. When a child is born, a young man, who had been a mere boy until then, becomes a father; there is a maturity, a firmness in being a father. The thought of being a father, the state of fatherhood, is the beginning of an altogether new experience. Don't run away from it. Make use of all the doors that life has opened for you.

This is why Nanak never advised his disciples to run away to the jungle, but exhorted them to remain in the mundane world to allow all the blows of the hammer to fall on their anvil. They were not to fight shy of it.

FEAR IS THE BELLOWS; AUSTERITY IS THE fiRE; You can make use of fear in two ways. The one you use now is to run away when there is fear.

You believe in the logic of the ostrich and bury your head in the sand. How will you progress if you run from fear? Fear is an opportunity. The basic fear is that you might not exist! And if you are not prepared to annihilate yourself, how can God happen within you?

There is no fear except death: Perhaps I might die and be no more! He who is unprepared to die cannot go into God or enter into prayer.

The other possibility with fear is to surrender. Accept the existence of death; do not turn your eyes away from it. The day you encounter death with open eyes, you will see death disappear into oblivion. You had never come face to face with death, and therefore it existed for you. All fears of life flee in this manner if you face them in full awareness.

Nanak says that fear is the bellows. Don't be afraid of it, because the more you flee from danger the more you fear it; your life's austerity and fire will dwindle to that extent. Wherever there is fear, accept the challenge and enter into it. This is how a warrior is born. He enters wherever there is danger. Where death stands lurking, he accepts the invitation. Where there is danger he walks right into the heart of it. The further you penetrate the fear, the more fearless you become; the more you run away from it, the more fearful you will become.

He who learns the art of using fear, for him fear becomes like a bellows. And every moment of fear ignites the flame of austerity yet more. There is fear in the devotee, but he has transformed his fear into devotion. Now he fears only God, so that through the fear he can maintain restraint and balance in his life. With the help of this fear, he can regulate his life so that it is kept from going on the wrong path. This is not an ordinary fear. Ordinarily, when you fear someone you make an enemy of him; but the fear of God is wonderful, unique. The more you fear Him, the more you fall in love with Him.

You are anxious not to miss Him for a fraction of a moment. Only your fear shows the possibility of your going astray. "Do not let me go astray, O Lord! May your remembrance never leave me. Only your grace can keep my remembrance constant. I search for You , dear Lord, but without your help, how can I?" This fear reflects his helplessness, his state of poverty.

The devotee converts fear into prayer. He does not run away from it. Every fear, every danger he turns into prayer. Whenever fear takes hold of him, he utilizes it as an occasion for prayer.

Nanak says austerity is the fire. Whenever you complete a work you have started in all earnest and resolve, a wonderful heat is created within you. Then it doesn't matter how small or unimportant the work. This is the meaning of austerity.

Suppose you have decided to fast today. It is not that you want to do it to go to heaven; if this were possible, going to heaven would be an easy matter. You are not fasting because you want to perform a good deed. Your fasting involves a process of austerity and resolve. You have resolved not to eat today. The body will make its daily demands when the mealtimes come. You will hear its hunger cries without letting them pass unheeded. You will not deny the hunger, but say to the body: I agree that you are hungry; it is time for your food, but I have decided to remain hungry today. Sorry, but you'll have to go without food.

You will not abandon your resolve for the sake of the body. This requires a good deal of awareness.

The body's demand is not wrong, but today you are going to live by your resolve. What does this mean? It means you are placing yourself above the body. You are becoming bigger than your body; you are making the body obey you. The mind will think of food, but you say: That's all right. You may think what you please, but I shall only witness it, and not join in. I abide by my decision; that is my resolve. Then you will experience a heat, a kind of fire, an energy being born within you, an energy you have never known before. This power comes by the mastery of resolve. You are now your own master.

Then you will get up the next morning in quite a different way. You will find you can rise above your body. A new experience - you can rise above the mind. You will get a new experience that you are apart from both body and mind. You will get a faint glimpse of this experience.

This is austerity. It is neither for gaining salvation nor going to heaven. Austerity is meant for knowing that one's life and consciousness is beyond the body and the mind. But he who thus raises himself above the mind and body invariably finds the door to beatitude opened wide for him.

What Nanak means when he says that austerity is the fire and fear the bellows, is that one should not run away from anything; rather find some use for it. Each thing has its proper use. There is nothing in life that cannot be put to use: sex energy turns into celibacy, anger turns into compassion, fear becomes prayer, suffering becomes penance. What is required is an artist with the necessary skill.

This life which can be a king's domain for you becomes a prison otherwise. Everything depends on you.

Everything is already present within you. All you need is the proper art of putting them together well.

This putting together is what is known as self-restraint. You have everything within you, but you have never put them together with the proper system, proper tuning and music. They all lie inert within you, but you don't know what to do with them. A stone lies in front of your house and you think it a nuisance. Another man uses it to cross to the other side; for him it becomes a stepping stone.

Everything is within you. God has given everything complete to man, but the freedom to gather himself together to make use of the gifts God has given him lies entirely with man.

If you observe well you will find exactly the same qualities in a criminal or thief or a sinner as you find in a virtuous, good man. The only difference is the arrangement and use to which it is put.

A thief enters somebody's house at night. It is not an easy job. He also has to transform his fear. He enters a house where he is a complete stranger as if he couldn't care less! He makes a hole in the wall and breaks in. He does it so efficiently and quietly that there isn't the slightest sound. Then he enters, in full awareness. It is someone else's house, where he is not welcome, so he has to move in the dark and be so alert and concentrated lest something fall and the people awaken.

Zen fakirs say: "If you want to go to the house of God, you must learn the burglar's art." You need as much alertness as the thief uses. You also must transform your fear and enter like the thief, as if it is your own house.

There is a Zen story: There was a very well known thief who was considered number one in the hierarchy of thieves.

He was so adept at his art that he had never been caught, yet everyone knew he was a thief. The news even reached the ears of the king who called him, and honored him for his wonderful efficiency and skill.

As he became older his son said to him, "Father, it is time for you to teach me your art, because who knows when death may come?'

The thief replied, "If you wish to learn I shall teach you. Come with me tomorrow night."

The next night both father and son set out. The father broke through the wall as the son stood watching. His absorption in breaking in would have put any artist to shame. He was lost in his work as if he were lost in prayer. The son was awed by his father's proficiency. He was a master thief, the guru of so many thieves.

The son was trembling from head to foot, though it was a warm night. Fear arose again and again, chilling his spine. His eyes darted everywhere, watching all directions, but his father was lost in his work and didn't lift his eyes even once. When they entered through the hole the son was trembling like a leaf; never had he felt so afraid in all his life, but the father moved about as though the place belonged to him. He took the son in, broke the locks, opened the lock of a huge wardrobe filled with clothes and jewels, and told the son to get inside.

No sooner did the son enter but the father closed the cupboard, locked it, and taking the key with him, left the house shouting, "Thief, thief!" and returned home. By then everyone had awakened.

The son was caught in the worst dilemma of his life. What was he to do? He was worried about the footprints and the hole in the wall. At that moment the servant come right up to the wardrobe. The poor boy was at his wits end, his mind completely blank. At such a time the mind does not work, because it is full of stale knowledge and doesn't know how to deal with fresh situations. He had never heard of such a thing arising in the whole history of thieving. His intellect became useless.

At the moment the intellect became useless, the consciousness within was awakened. Suddenly, as this energy caught him, he began making a noise as if a rat was gnawing at the clothes inside the cupboard. He was shocked at himself; he had never done such a thing before. The woman servant brought a bunch of keys and opened it. He immediately puffed out the lamp she was holding and, giving her a push, ran out of the house through the hole in the wall. Some ten or twenty people gave chase. There was a great deal of noise, because the whole village was awake. The thief ran for his life - ran as he had never run before. He had no idea it was he who was running. Suddenly, as he reached a well, he picked up a big stone and threw it in the well - all this without the slightest idea of what he was doing. It seemed to him it was not he but someone else directing him. At the sound of the stone falling in the water the crowd gathered around the well, thinking the thief had fallen in.

He stood behind the tree to rest a bit, then continued home muttering to himself. When he went in he found his father fast asleep with the blanket over his head. The son pulled off the cover and said, "What are you doing?" The father continued snoring away. He shook him hard. "What did you do to me? Did you want to see me killed?"

The father opened his eyes for a minute and said, "So you have returned? Good. I'll hear the rest in the morning," and appeared to fall back asleep.

The son pleaded with him, "Say something, father. Ask me what I went through or I shall not be able to sleep."

The father said, "Now you are an expert; you don't need to be taught. Anyway, say it if you must."

After the son recounted all that had happened the father answered, "Enough! Now you know even the art that cannot be taught. After all you are my son! My blood flows in your veins. You know the secret. If a robber uses his intelligence he gets caught. You have to leave your intelligence behind, because each time it is a totally new experience, a new moment; each time you are entering a different person's house and every house is new. The old experience never comes of use. Use your intelligence and you land yourself in trouble. Rely on your intuition and you succeed."

Zen masters always mention this story. They say the art of meditation is like house-breaking - you need as much awareness. Intelligence should be put aside and awareness should come into play.

Where there is fear there is bound to be awareness. Where there is danger you become absolutely alert and all thoughts stop.

Nanak says fear is like the bellows, so make use of fear. If there is fear, awake! Don't protect yourself from it. But what do we do? We take precautions whenever we sense danger: we take a sword or a gun along to the trouble spot, or we take a few servants along to protect us, or we build high walls so that no one can come in. We protect ourselves form fear.

This depletes our consciousness even more. As it is, we are well nigh unfeeling, insentient, and this will make us more so; therefore, the more protected a people the less intelligent they are. It is rather difficult to find an intelligent person among the rich. The rich man has all the arrangements for protection, therefore he doesn't have to use his brains. Others serve him; what his intelligence should be doing is instead done by others.

Thus you often find the children of rich families tend to be dullards. At best they will be mediocre.

You will not see the luster of consciousness in them or the sharpness of understanding, and never the brilliance of genius. Their servants need to be brilliant, but what need is there for the master to be clever?

Nanak says to make fear the bellows. Wake up in fear; it is a wonderful state. Your whole body trembles; each hair of your body stands on end. At that time, when the whole body trembles, your consciousness should be stable and unmoving like a steady flame. Then fear becomes the bellows.

Austerity is the fire. Wherever there is suffering in life, take it as an exercise in austerity. Accept your suffering fully and openly, and be resolute. When you fall ill accept the illness. Do not fight against it. Then you will find that not only does the body get well but also the mind attains a new kind of health. When you fall ill, don't fight the illness; rather look it straight in the face and accept it: You have come? Welcome! Don't quarrel with it; don't avoid it. Don't involve your mind in other things, or you will miss the opportunity. Each condition in life that we encounter can become a path that leads to Him. Remember this: each event is a step towards His gate. If you know this you will make use of it.


Nanak specifies not thoughts but feeling. Feeling is the consciousness beyond your thoughts.

Thoughts flow in your mind; emotion is the force of the heart. Feeling is not logic; it is love, and so it is within the heart. It does not fit any calculations. It is a state of intensity, ecstasy, exhilaration.

When you are emotional you are united with the depths of the universe. Thoughts are your most superficial layer, like the outer fencing of your house. It is not even part of the house, only an outer limit to keep away outsiders. This is not you. You are your emotions.

But we become frightened of our emotions. Gradually we have clogged our emotions, if not cut them off completely. We don't listen to our hearts at all. We heed only the intellect, and act according to our reasoning. And where does your intellect take you? It is the shallowest thing within you, so it guides you only towards superficial things. That is why you are out to amass wealth - you gather all the trash - and why you are so concerned about your honor and position.

Stand a little away from your thoughts and drown your feelings. It is difficult. How do you drown in emotion? In olden days the Hindus would get up in the morning and bow to the rising sun.

They would accept the grace and kindness of the sun in all humility. They would pray to him in thankfulness that he had come yet once again and given them one more day of light; and with it the flowers will open, the birds will sing and the story of life will go on. They would bow with both hands and thank him for his kindness to them. As they stood with hands folded they drank in the light of the sun, and a feeling of gratitude would thrill their hearts.

When they went to the river they would bow to it before stepping into the waters; thus they would establish an emotional relationship with the river. Truly the river washes the body, but something else gets cleansed inside as well. The river is pure and it belongs to Him - this feeling gets intensified internally.

When they sat down for meals they would remember Him first, set His plate apart, and eat only after first offering to Him. The Hindus have called grain Brahma because it gives you life. They have turned everything into the remembrance of God. From everywhere and every place, they have taken care to see that the impact of His remembrance falls on us. Therefore when they sit, when they sleep, when they stand or walk or work, or do anything - His remembrance!

We have turned around and denied all of this. We say: What is this bathing in the river? It is only water, mere H20. Where is God in it? You bow to the sun! What is the sun but a ball of fire? To whom are you bowing? If the river is only water and the sun is only fire, then where will you find God? Then what is your wife, your son - only a collection of flesh and bones. Then how will you awaken your emotions?

To awaken the emotions is to know that the world is full of consciousness. Whatever is seen does not end there; there is much more within, deep within. Emotions means the universe has an individuality, a soul. Granted that the child is a collection of flesh and bones, but within the child something has incarnated. Within him, God has descended. He is a guest in this house.

The tree is a tree - that is true - but there is something within the tree that is growing and developing.

Within the tree there is also someone, something, that feels joy, that feels sorrow. The tree also has different moods, different emotions and experiences. Within the tree there is even sleeping and waking. The latest discovery of science is that trees feel, much as human beings do, and their experience is deep and their knowledge too. They are also sensitive like human beings, as are also rocks and stones.

Everywhere there is sensitivity. Man alone has lost his sensitivity and his emotions; therefore the world is so sad and gloomy. Without gaiety or mirth it seems a useless place. As soon as your emotions awaken, the world becomes transformed. In fact, the earth is the same, the people are the same, everything is the same - nothing changes, except you.

Feeling is the only vessel into which the nectar is poured. If you have no feelings you will remain bereft of God. The only obstruction to awakening feeling is that emotion is absolutely the reverse of intellect - totally different from it. In samsara intellect is of great use, and not emotion. If you want to amass wealth you cannot afford to be emotional or you will be ruined. If you want to succeed in politics, you cannot use your emotions, because you need the utmost heartlessness and hardness to be in politics. You need excessive, aggressive thoughts; peace and silence will be of no value.

You have to forget completely that there is something called a heart within you.

I have heard: It is said that in the very near future all parts of the human body will be readily available, just as we now get spare parts for our cars. Already there are blood banks and eye banks and kidney banks.

So it once happened, in this story of the future, that a man's heart was not working very well, and he wanted to change it. He went to a heart bank and asked to be shown some hearts. There were many kinds of hearts: one belonged to a laborer, another to a farmer, yet another to a mathematician, and there was one of a politician. The last one was the most expensive. "Why?" asked the customer.

The shopkeeper replied, "It is brand new. It has never been used."

Thinking his customer could not afford much, the shopkeeper took out yet another heart and said, "This is the cheapest I have. You see it is secondhand and quite worn. It belongs to a poet who has used it to the maximum."

The politician has no use for such a dangerous organ.

Begin to use your heart gradually - and it can only be done gradually. Remember only one thing:

put aside thoughts for a while and bring in feelings. Sit near a tree, look at a flower without thinking it a rose or gladiolus. What does it matter, the name? Don't think of its bigness or smallness. What has that to do with you? There is an invisible beauty around every flower. Drink that beauty in but don't think about it. Just sit silently beside the flower and be a witness to it.

Soon you will discover that the process that has now started within your heart has stopped the process of thoughts within your mind. This is because energy can work in only one direction. The thrill you feel in your heart only you shall know; no one else can ever know it or be told about it. It is like a mute eating a candy; how can he tell the taste to others? The heart has no language for communication.

Sit next to the flower and hear the song of the birds. Rest your back against the trunk of a tree and feel its roughness. Lie down on the soil and feel its cool touch. Sit under a waterfall and let the water flow all over you. Let its lovely feeling go deep within you. Stand facing the sun, close your eyes and let its rays touch you everywhere.

You have only to feel. You need not think about what is happening. Whatever is happening, let it happen; allow your heart to thrill with ecstasy. You will soon discover a movement starting within your heart as if a new mechanism that had been lying dormant has begun to functon. A new melody now begins to play in your life. Your life center changes, and it is on this new center that nectar pours.


What Nanak means by the Word is Omkar. As truthfulness fills your life, Omkar will begin to be molded within you, and you will be immersed in it. You harm others with lies, but the greater harm is that untruth prevents you from being the mint of truth where Omkar is molded, where the highest experience of life will form.


Nanak reminds us after every couplet to remember, when the event takes place, when grace descends, it will not be because of you. Don't be filled with pride that "I am a great devotee," or "My heart is so sensitive," or "My austerity is great!" No, this does not help. Only he who is fortunate to receive His grace can do this work.





Nanak's symbols are invaluable. They have been chosen with great feeling. He says the guru is like the wind. He cannot be seen, only experienced. Those who try to see him will miss, because who can see the wind? You can only experience it and feel its touch, but you cannot bind it in your fist.

The guru cannot be held captive; the guru who is willing to be enclosed in the disciple's grasp is no guru. Most gurus are like that, directed by their disciples telling them what should be done, what shouldn't be done. There are assemblies of disciples who run the holy men. They decide which holy man is worthy and which is not. The association decides which should be worshipped and which should be kicked out. How topsy-turvy this world of ours! We direct our gurus: how they should sit, how they should walk, what they should say. Remember, such gurus are not real.

You will not find true gurus in our ashrams and monasteries; you will find fakes masquerading as gurus. A true guru cannot be held captive. You cannot direct a Mahavir, a Buddha, a Nanak. They obey only their own will. The wind blows where it will. Where it does not blow, there is nothing you can do. If you try to gasp it in your fist, whatever little was there, that too will go out. Those who liberate others cannot be taken captive. How can you bind the very person from whom you seek liberation or beatitude?

WIND IS THE GURU; WATER IS THE FATHER; THE GREAT EARTH IS THE MOTHER; Your body cannot exist without the earth; the mother is absolutely necessary. No birth can take place without the earth, but the earth is the grossest of matter. Birds and animals have mothers but no fathers. Fatherhood requires a higher level of culture and conditioning. The mind is the father, the body is the mother; wherever there is a body, there is mother. The father begins where the mind is born, so the institution of fatherhood is a very new happening.

Only man has fathers, and they too are not very ancient if you measure human history. Before that there was no father, because the woman was a possession of society; she was wife to many men so it was difficult to name the father. The state of man was just like the animals. You will be surprised to know that the word uncle appeared earlier than father. This was because those who were big and capable of being fathers were all uncles; it was impossible to trace the individual father of any child.

Father came much later because father is the mind, the impressions of previous lives, the culture.

Therefore father is a social achievement, not a natural phenomenon. In nature there is no way to recognize the father. When the society develops to a great extent the father steps in.

Therefore Nanak says the mother is like the earth. No one can be without her. It is the grossest form of matter. Father is more fluid; his relationship is not as fixed, as material, as the mother's. To show the fluidity of the father relationship, Nanak compares it to water.

These are the three steps: mother is symbolized by the earth, which is very gross, material; therefore woman is called prakriti or nature. Over this, one stage higher, is the relationship of father, representing culture, society and past impressions. The third stage is still higher, where the relationship with the guru begins; it involves religion, yoga and tantra.

If you stagnate at the level of the mother you remain virtually an animal. If you stagnate at the level of the father, you remain a mere man. As long as you do not reach the guru level, your spiritual state does not form. These are the three steps in life. All animals reach up to the level of the mother.

All men reach up to the level of the father. There are very few who reach up to the guru. And as long as you do not reach the guru, you will not attain your full stature, because the mother is the body relationship, the father is the mind relationship, whereas the connection with the guru is the relationship of the soul.

This latter relationship is the greatest of all; there is no connection deeper or higher. Those who are without a guru are as if incomplete. With a guru your journey of this world ends and a new journey starts. The guru is the end of this world and the beginning of the next. He is the gate; therefore, Nanak called his temple, gurudwara. Dwara means gate. This side of it is the world, that side is the other world. The guru is in between.


The whole universe is a game involving time. There are two kinds of players: one has turned the servants into masters, and the other has understood the servant to be a servant.

Time is not your master but your slave. Make use of it, but do not let it use you. The state of affairs as we see it is just the opposite: time uses us.

People come to me and say they want to meditate but have no time. You have no time for meditation?

Is time your servant or are you time's slave? People complain they don't know how to pass the time, but when it comes to meditation, where has the time gone? And it is the same people! They have a lot of time - watching television, going to movies and clubs - and yet there is no time to spare. The question arises how to spend it.

On holidays people do not know what to do. They get very tired doing nothing. On Sundays they don't know what to do, so they go for a long drive or go to the beach or climb a mountain. One day in the week they get to rest and relax and this is how they spend it; ultimately they get so tired that they look forward to going back to work. On Mondays they are happy again as they head towards the office. It is said in America that people get more tired on holidays than on working days.

Time is using you. If you are the master you have all the time at your disposal. If you are a slave, you have no time at all. What can a slave possess? His time is not even his own.

Nanak says all the world plays with them. There are two types of play going on: in one, he who is the master utilizes his time to find the path to the one beyond time, which is meditation; the other is to be consumed by time.

I have heard: A beggar went to a grain shop and told the grocer, "I have no money today. You will have to give me grain on credit."

The grocer was a kind man. He gave him some grain, but at the same time he said, "Look, brother, I have given you grain on credit, but I hope you will not sell it to buy a ticket for the circus that is in town!"

The beggar laughed and said, "You needn't worry. I have already bought my ticket."

For the useless you have already saved enough time. For the meaningful it is difficult to find time.

Be the master of time. Then alone will you be able to go beyond time.


God is near everybody. For Him you are neither near nor far. He is equally near to everybody. It is you who are either near or far from Him. Your actions take you either closer to him or further away.

If your actions are such that they make you insensitive and unfeeling, then you are standing with your back towards Him. The sun is the same whether you face towards it or away from it. If your actions are such that it has filled you with consciousness, awareness, wakefulness, then you are facing the sun. You are the same; the sun is the sun. The difference is wrought by the direction you choose.

God is consistently near you, Nanak says. No one is high, no one is low in his eyes; no one is worthy, no one unworthy. If you are unworthy you are the cause of your unworthiness. Bring about a little change within yourself and you shall become worthy. For there is only one difference between you and the worthy; the worthy person stands facing towards God, while the unworthy stands with their backs to Him.


Nanak says whenever a person becomes liberated many others are liberated by contact with them.

Liberation is such a great and superb occurrence and it is such a beatific occasion - even a single person's liberation - that whoever comes near him is filled with his fragrance, and his life journey changes. Whoever comes near him is filled with the resonance of Omkar; infected by the flavor of liberation, they get a taste of it, which, though very little, can bring a complete change into a life that has until now been mundane and worldly.

A light shines within them. Look with love at such a person and you will see it. If you see with a worshipful eye, you will soon recognize it. A light shines within them and its rays spread out from within them to everyone around. This is why the faces of the saints and incarnates have been depicted with halos around their heads. This aura cannot be seen by all; it can be seen only by those who have faith. And those who can see this aura light their own darkened lamp with the lamp of such a one; whenever a single person attains salvation, thousands who stand within his shadow are also liberated. Liberation never takes place for one single person, because when this supreme moment arrives he becomes a gate for many others.

Keep awakening your faith and your feelings so that you can recognize the guru when he comes.

He who has recognized the guru, has discovered the hand of God; he has recognized that which is beyond the universe. He has found the gate, and once the gate is found, everything is attained. You have never lost anything, everything is intact within you, and when you pass through the gate you recognize your own being. You reawaken to the light, the brilliance that is yours. What treasures you always held within you are now unfolded. The guru acquaints you with the self that you always were, and which was not for a single moment lost.

The story is very sweet: Kabir said, "The guru and God are both standing before me. Whose feet should I touch?" Kabir is in a fix. If he bows to the guru, God will be insulted. If he bows to God, the guru will be insulted. What a dilemma! Whose feet should be touched first?

When the guru saw Kabir's dilemma, he told him, "Touch His feet, because I only existed till here."

The story is so very endearing. The guru signals to Kabir to touch His feet. "I no longer exist for you.

The Lord is before you waiting for your greeting."

But Kabir falls first at the feet of the guru: "It is your glory, my guru, that you brought God down to meet me." If there is faith in you, you will recognize it. All that is required is faith, feeling; thoughts and the intellect have never helped anyone to reach. Don't expend that useless effort, wasting you time, trying the impossible. You cannot be an exception.

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