I am "That"
SOHAM BHAVO NAMASKARAH
"THE FEELING OF I AM THAT - SO-AHAM - IS THE SALUTATION."
EXISTENCE is one, or rather, Existence is oneness. Al-Hillaj Mansoor was flayed alive because he said, "I am the Beloved; I am the Divine; I am That which created the world." Islam was totally unacquainted with this type of language. This language is basically Hindu. Wherever man has contemplated, man has come to duality: God, the Creator, and the world, the created. Hinduism has taken the boldest jump by saying that the created is the Creator and there is no basic difference.
To Islam or to other dualistic thinkings, this looks like sacrilege. If there is no difference between God and the world, between man and God, then for dualistic thinkers it appears that there is no possibility of religion, no possibility of worship, no possibility of salutation. If you are the Divine, then who are you going to worship? If you are the Creator, then who is superior to you? Worship becomes impossible.
But this sutra says that this is the only worship, this is the only salutation: "The feeling of I am That - SO-AHAM - is the salutation." Ordinarily, this sutra is absurd, contradictory - because if there is no higher power than you, if you are the highest, then whom are you going to salute? To whom are you going to pay your respects? This is the reason Mansoor was murdered, killed; this is heresy. He was thought to be a heretic, a nastik - an atheist. If you say that you are God, you deny Godhood.
Then you are the Supreme.
To the dualistic way of thinking, this is egoistic. The division must be maintained. You must come nearer and nearer, but you must not become the flame itself. You must become intimate with the Divine source, but you must not become one with it. Then respect is possible, worship is possible.
So you can reach to the Divine feet, but you cannot become one with the Divine flame. How can the created become the Creator? And if the created becomes the Creator, that means the created was not the created at all. And if the created becomes the Creator, that means there is NO Creator.
This is one type of religious thinking - the dualist type. It has its own reasoning and it appeals to our ordinary minds. So, really, even those who are born Hindus are not Hindus unless they can come to conceive of this attitude - of being one with the Creator. One may be born a Hindu, but there is no basic difference between a Hindu, a Mohammedan and a Christian attitude. Theirs is our basic attitude - the attitude we learn and the attitude by which we behave.
A Hindu is really a deep absurdity, because he takes the impossible jump: the created becomes the Creator. And this sutra says, "This is the only salutation." If God is there high above and you are here low down, if something in you is not already Divine, there is no bridge possible. You cannot be related to the Divine. You can be related to Him only if you are already related; otherwise there is an unbridgeable gap. God remains God and you remain just the created.
Because of this, a third attitude develops - the attitude of the Jains. They deny God altogether, because they say if there is a God as a Creator and we are just created beings, we can never become Gods. How can something created by you become you? The created will remain the created, and the Creator will always have the capacity to destroy you, because "Creator" also means the capacity to destroy, the capacity for destruction. If God has created the world, he can destroy it this very moment. He is not responsible to you. You cannot ask why because you have never asked why He created the world. So at this very moment, if there is just a whim in the Divine mind, the world can be destroyed. With all your holy men, with all your sinners, the world can at this very moment be destroyed.
So if there is a God, Jains say, then man is not really a spirit. He is just a created thing, not a soul, because then he does not have any freedom. If God is the Creator, then man is not free and then everything becomes meaningless: whether you are good or bad, it is meaningless. God remains the supreme power. He can do anything, He can undo anything. And He is not responsible to you. If you have created a mechanical device you can destroy it: you are not responsible to your mechanical creation. A painter creates a painting; he can destroy it. The painting cannot say, "You cannot destroy me." And if God is the Creator and man is just a created thing, how can the created thing evolve and become Divine? That is impossible. So Jains say that there is no God. Only then can man become Divine, because only then is man free. With a God we are slaves; with no God we are free.
Nietzsche has said, without knowing that Mahavir has said this before him, "Now God is dead and man is free." The same was the problem with Mahavir. If God is there, then man is not free. God's being is man's slavery, God's non-being is man's freedom. So Mahavir says that there is no God and that only then can you become Divine. Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, they say God is, man is, but man is just a created being. He can worship the Divine and come nearer. The nearer he comes, the more he will be filled with Divine light, bliss, ecstasy. But he cannot become one with the Divine, because if he can become one with the Divine that shows that potentially he was already one with the Divine; because nothing can happen in the world which is not already in the seed.
A tree evolves because the tree was in the seed. If you can become Divine, you were already Divine.
So Jews, Christians and Mohammedans say that if you are already Divine, then evolving becomes meaningless. If you are already Divine in the seed, then there is no real evolution, then there is no growth, and whatsoever you do or do not do, you will remain Divine. Christians, Mohammedans and Jews say that religious growth is possible only if man is man and God is God. You come nearer and nearer, and that coming nearer is a growth.
It is your choice. You may not come near, you may go far away - this is your freedom. But if you are already Divine, say Jews, Mohammedans and Christians, then there is no real growth. The whole growth becomes just illusory, just a dream growth. You were bound to become Divine because in the seed you were Divine already. So the whole thing becomes hocus-pocus, they say. The whole evolution becomes meaningless.
Hindus take a standpoint just in between these two standpoints. They agree with Jains that man is Divine and they agree with Christians, Mohammedans and Jews that there is God as the Creator.
And Still, they say, there is growth, there is evolution. Not only that: they say only then is growth possible. But to them growth means just unfoldment. A seed grows, and the growth is real, authentic, because a seed may not grow and may remain a seed forever; there is no inner necessity to grow But a seed grows only to be a particular tree because that tree is already potential in it.
Man can remain man, man can even fall down and become an animal, or man can grow to be Divine. This is choice! This is freedom! But miS possibility, that man can become Divine, shows that somewhere deep down in the seed form man is already Divine.
So it is an unfoldment. Something hidden becomes actual, something potential becomes actual, something that was just a seed becomes a tree. In a way, the Hindu God is totally different from the Mohammedan and the Christian God because for Hindus man can become God. And they say that if you cannot become God, then even the concept of coming nearer and nearer is false - because if you cannot jump into the flame, what does it mean to come nearer and nearer? Then what is the difference between you and someone who is not near? If you can come nearer, then the logical conclusion will be more near, more near, more near, and ultimately you become one.
If you cannot become one, then there is a limit, a boundary, and beyond that boundary and limit there will be a gap between you and the Divine. That gap cannot be tolerated. And if there is a gap which it is not possible to bridge, the whole effort is useless. Hindus say that unless you become the Divine itself, the urge will not be fulfilled. The nearer you are, the more you will feel the gap and the more you will suffer. And when you come on the boundary line from where no growth is possible, you will stagnate and you will die, and the suffering will be unbearable, absolutely unbearable.
Man can become Divine because he is already Divine, and Hindus say you can only become that which you are already. You cannot become that which you are not; you cannot grow to be something else. You can only grow to be yourself.
This attitude has many dimensions. One is God the Creator: we can think of Him as a painter, but Hindus have not thought that way. They say the Creator is not a painter but a dancer: that is why there is the concept of Shiva the dancer. In dance the dancer is creating something, but the creation is not something separate from the Creator. In painting the painter and painting are two things, and the painter can die and the painting can remain. And the moment the painting is complete, it is independent of the painter completely. Now it will take its own course.
Hindus say God is a Creator like a dancer. A dancer is there dancing; the dance is the creation - but you cannot separate it from the dancer. If the dancer dies the dance will die, and if the dance continues the dancer will be there.
One thing more which is basic and important: the dance cannot exist without the dancer, but the dancer can exist without the dance. Hindus say this world is a creation in this way. God is dancing, so whatsoever is created is part and parcel of it.
Another thing: a painter paints; he can complete the painting and then go to sleep. But a dance is a constant creation. God cannot go to sleep. So the world was not created on a particular day; it is being created every moment. Christians think the world was created on a particular day and date, and before that there was no world. They say in a week - in exactly six days - God created the world, and on the seventh day he rested. Now, even if He is, He is no more needed. He may have died meanwhile. The painter can die and the painting can continue. The painter may have gone mad, but the painting remains as it was.
Hindus say not that the world was created but that it is being created every moment. It is a constant flux of creation; it is a continuum. It is a constant flux of creation; it is a continuum of creation. So really, if you look at things in this way, then God is not a person: God is energy. Then God is not something static: God is movement. He is dynamic because a dance is a dynamic movement. You have to be in it every moment: only then can it exist. Dance is an expression, a living expression, and you have to be in it continuously.
The world is a dance, not a painting, and everything is part of this dance, every gesture is Divine. So Hindus say a very beautiful thing. They say if not everything is Divine, then nothing can be Divine. If not everything is holy, then nothing can be holy. If not everything is God, then there is no possibility of any God. This is one dimension - to look at this oneness. They never say there is oneness.
They always say everything is non-dual, because Hindus think that to say that the world is one, that Existence is one, gives you a feeling that "one" can exist only if something else also exists.
One is a number. One can exist only if other numbers exist - two, three, four. If there are no other numbers, one becomes meaningless. Then what do you mean by "one"? Because there are nine digits, from one to nine, one is meaningful. It is meaningful in a pattern of digits, of numbers. If there is only one, you cannot say it is one. Then numbers become meaningless.
Hindus say that Existence is non-dual, not one. They mean it is one, but they say it is non-dual. They say it is not two. This is a non-committal statement. If you say "one", you have made a commitment, you have committed yourself in many ways. If you say "one", you are saying that you have measured it. If you say "one", you are saying that Existence is finite.
Hindus say it is non-dual. They mean it is one, but they say it in a roundabout way, and this is very meaningful. They say that it is non-dual - that it is not two. Thus, they only indicate that it is one. It is never said directly, but only indicated. They say only that it is not two.
This is very meaningful, because when we say that the dancer and the dance are one, then there will be many difficulties. If the dance ceases, the dancer will cease - if they are one. Hindus say instead that they are not two. Then the dancer will be there even if the dance ceases, but the dance cannot be there if the dancer ceases.
This non-dualness is hidden; the duality is manifested. "Manyness" is manifest; oneness is hidden.
But this many-ness can exist only because of that hidden oneness. Trees are different, the earth is different, the sun is different, the moon is different, but now science says that deep down everything is related and one. The tree cannot grow if there is no sun, but we have come to know only this one- way traffic. We know trees cannot grow and flowers cannot flower if the sun ceases to be. Hindus too say trees cannot grow if there is no sun, but they say also that if there are no growing trees, the sun cannot exist. This is a two-way traffic; everything is related.
Jains say if there is God, then man will be a slave. Mohammedans say if man declares that "I am God", then God is dethroned and the slave pretends to be-the master. Hindus say there is neither independence nor dependence: Existence is an interdependence. So to talk in terms of dependence and independence is meaningless. The Whole exists as an interdependent whole. Nothing is high and nothing is low because the high cannot exist without that which you call low.
Can the peak exist without the valley? Can the holy man exist without the sinner? Can beauty exist without that which you call ugliness? And if beauty cannot exist without ugliness, then it depends on ugliness. And if the peak cannot exist without the valley, then what is the meaning of calling the peak something high and calling the valley something low?
Hindus say the lowest is the highest and the highest i5 the lowest. By declaring this, they mean that this whole world is a deeply interdependent pattern and all religions are arbitrary. They are good for thinking, for analyzing, for understanding, but basically they are false. And this is the longest jump.
The rishi says, "SOHAN. BHAVO NAMASKARAH - the feeling of I am That is the salutation." Unless the lowest can feel that he is the highest, he cannot be at home in this universe. But this is not a declaration: this is a feeling. You can declare that "I am God" and that may not be a deep feeling at all. That may be just an egoistic assertion. If you say that "I am God and no one else is God", then you have not felt it. When it is a feeling, it is not a declaration on your part - it is a declaration on the part of the whole Existence.
The rishi says, "I am God, I am That." He is saying that everything is God, everything is That. With him, the whole Existence declares. So it is not a personal statement. Al-Hillaj Mansoor was killed because Islam could not understand this language. When he said, "I am God," they thought Al-Hillaj was saying, "'I' am God.," It was not Al-Hillaj at all. It was simply that Al-Hillaj became vocal on the part of the whole Existence. It was the whole Existence speaking through Al-Hillaj, declaring.
Al-Hillaj was no more - because if he was, then this declaration becomes personal. So this is the second dimension.
Man exists in three categories. One is when he says "I am" without knowing who he is. This is the ordinary existence of everyone, the feeling of "I am" without knowing "who I am". The second stage is when he comes to know "I am not" - because the deeper you ponder over this am-ness, the more you dig, the more you will find that you are not, and the whole phenomenon of "I" disappears. You cannot find it. So there is no question of making it disappear. You simply do not find it; it is not there.
If you exist without any search, you feel that "I am". If you begin to search, you will come to know that you are not. This is the second state: when man comes to know that he is not. First he was probing deep into the phenomenon of "I am"; now he will have to probe into the phenomenon of "I am not".
This is most arduous. The first is difficult, very difficult. Even to come to the second is a long journey.
Many stay at the first. They never probe into "Who am I?" Only very few go into a deep search to know who it is that says "I am". Then, among those few, very few will go again on a new journey to know what this "I am not" is, what this feeling of "I am not" is. With "I am not", still I am, but now I cannot say "I am"; I feel as if there is a deep emptiness.
Hindus have said that the first is "I-am-ness"; the second is simply "am-ness". The "I" is dropped, but my existence is there. Even if I am empty, nothing, still I am. This is called "am-ness". The first they call ahankar - ego; the second they call asmita - am-ness. If someone goes deep into ahankar, the ego, he comes to asmita, amness. And now, if someone again goes deep into this am-ness, he come to Divineness. Then he says, "I am That; aham brahmasmi - I am God." Through emptiness.
one becomes all. Through nonbeing, one becomes the very ground of Being. Dissolving, one becomes all.
This sutra, "SOHAM BHAVO NAMASKARAH," is the feeling of the third state. When man has dissolved completely, ego has disappeared. Even am-ness is not a finite thing now. One has come to the very source, as if one is just a gesture in a dance just a gesture in a dance! He has probed deep, and now he has come to the dancer. Now the gesture of the dance is that "I am the dancer".
This is going in. First you go in yourself, but you are relative to the universe. So if you continue, then you are stepping down into Existence. If you go on continuing, then from the periphery you will one day come to the center.
Even a leaf in the wind has its own individuality. If the leaf begins to travel inwards, sooner or later it will go beyond itself; it will enter into the branch. If it goes on, then sooner or later it will not be the leaf, it will not be the branch: it will become the tree. If it goes on, sooner or later it will not be the tree: it will become the roots. And if it still continues, sooner or later it will become the Existence: it will go beyond the roots.
But the leaf can remain itself without moving in. Then the leaf can think, "I am"; this is the first stage.
If the leaf moves, sooner or later it will find, "I am not the leaf. I am more: I am the branch." Then, "I am not the branch. I am even more: I am the tree." And then, "I am not even the tree. I am still more: I am the roots, the hidden roots." And if the journey goes on, from the roots also it will take a jump - it will become the whole Existence.
This is a feeling, a realization. And this is the more difficult part because intellectually your ego would like to declare that you are God, you are Divine. Intellect tries always to be high, at the peak.
The very effort of the ego is to be something supreme. So this can appeal to you, this can appeal to the ego. It can say, "Okay this is right: I am God."
But this sutra says this is the salutation, and salutation is a deep humility, a humbleness. It is not to put yourself on the peak, because then there is no one whom you can salute. This was the problem with Islam when Al-Hillaj declared. He declared himself God and Islam felt: "This is not humbleness - this is the climax of being egoistic!" So those who killed him felt that they killed him very righteously, in good faith: this was the peak of ego!
This sutra is contradictory. It declares that you are That, and this is the salutation. If this is felt and realized, then the peak will salute the valley - because now there is nothing else but the Divine, and now the peak will realize that it is dependent on the valley. Then light will salute darkness and life will salute death. because everything is interdependent and interrelated. At this peak of realization, one becomes humble - because this declaration of "I am That" is not against anyone. It is for all.
Now, through me, everything is declaring its Divinity.
Many people were there when Al-Hillaj was killed; many were throwing stones. He was laughing, he was prayerful, he was loving. There was a sufi fakir also present in the crowd. The whole crowd was throwing stones, and the sufi fakir, just to be one with the crowd, just in order not to let them feel he did not belong with them, threw a flower. He could not throw any stone, so he threw a flower just to be one with the crowd - so that everyone would feel that he was with them, that he belonged to them.
Mansoor began to weep. When the sufi's flower hit him, he began to weep. The Sufi became uneasy.
He came nearer and he asked Mansoor, "Why, when they are throwing stones, are you laughing, praying for them? And I have thrown only a flower!"
Mansoor said, "Your flower hits me more because you know. This is not a declaration for me. I have declared for you and you know, so your flower hits me more. Their stones are just like flowers because they do not know. But this has been a declaration for them. If Mansoor can be Divine," said Mansoor, "then everything can be Divine. If even Mansoor can be Divine, then everything can be Divine!" Mansoor said, "Look at me! I was no one and yet I declare I am Divine. Now everything can be Divine."
This is a declaration not from the ego: this is a declaration from a non-ego realization. When one begins to feel that one is nothing, only then can one come to this. Then it is humble; then it is the most humble possibility. It becomes a salutation - a salutation to the whole Existence. Then the whole Existence has a Divinity.
Mystics have denied temples, mosques, churches, not because they are meaningless, but because the whole Cosmos is a temple. Mystics have denied statues, not because they are meaningless, but because the whole Existence is the image of the Divine. But to understand their language is difficult. They appear to us as antireligious - denying statues, denying images, denying temples, churches, denying scriptures; denying everything that we believe to be religious. They are denying only because the Whole is Divine. And if you insist on the part, that shows you do not know about the Whole.
If I say, "This temple is Divine," just by saying this I have said that the whole universe is not Divine. If this temple is just part of a greater temple, then it is a different thing. But if this temple is against the Whole, against other temples - not only against other temples: if this temple is against any ordinary house even, if this temple says that houses are not holy and only temples are holy, it is a denial of the Whole.
For the Whole, mystics have denied the parts. But for us there is no Whole; we do not know anything about the Whole. So even when the part is denied it is uncomfortable, because that is all we know.
If someone says there is no temple, it is enough for us that he is not religious. He may be saying this: that because everything is a temple, do not make anything in particular a temple; do not say anything in particular is Divine, because everything is Divine. This is the salutation.
We are also worshipping. We go to the temple, to the mosque, to bow. We bow down, but the ego remains standing. It is only a bodily movement. The inner ego remains unmoved. Rather, it may become even more straight because you have been to the temple, because you have been to the teerth - because you have been on a holy pilgrimage - because you have been to Quaba. Now you are no ordinary person! You are "religious" because you bowed down, but it was a bodily gesture.
Your ego has become more strengthened by it; it has been a food for your ego. Your ego has been vitalized; it is not dead.
That is why so-called religious persons will always be more egoistic than ordinary worldly persons.
They have something mo)re that you do not have. They are "religious": they do prayer daily! When you go to a cinema hall your ego may not be strengthened, but when you go to a temple it is strengthened, because in a temple you can never feel that you are guilty. You may feel in a cinema hall that you are guilty; you may feel in a hotel that you are guilty, but you can never feel that you are guilty in a temple. You feel superior; you become more respectable; you gain something in terms of ego.
Look at the faces of persons coming out from temples. Observe them! Their egos are more strengthened. They are coming out with some gain; this has been a "vitamin". You can bow down without bowing down at all - and that is the problem. Bowing must be inner. And if then the body follows, it is a deep experience. Even in the body it is a deep experience - if you are bowing inwardly with the feeling that because everything is Divine, then wherever you bow down you are at the feet of Divine. If your body moves with this feeling, then your body also will have a deep experience, and you will come out of it more simple, more innocent, more humble.
What to do? Man has invented many things, but they have not helped. And man's ego is so subtle and cunning, and it can deceive you in such subtle ways that you cannot defeat it. If there is a God somewhere in heaven you can bow to Him, and you can still behave egoistically with the whole Existence because you feel that this world is not Divine. Your Divinity, your God, is somewhere high in heaven. To this world, you can go on behaving as you were behaving, and you can behave even more badly because now you are related to the Supreme Authority. Now you have a direct link. You can dial any moment to the Supreme Authority; you can tell Him to do anything.
Jesus was passing through a village. The village was antagonistic. They would not shelter the disciples of Jesus; they refused. They would not give any food, not even water, so they were having to move to another village. The disciples said to Jesus, "This is your moment. Show your miracles:
destroy this village! Such irreligious people should not exist." These are the disciples who later on created the whole Christianity. They said, "Destroy this village this very moment. This is the time!
Show your miracles!" They are asking Jesus to prove that he is the Son, the only begotten Son. They are saying, "Now tell your Father who is high in heaven to destroy this village this very moment!"
Why this arrogance? Why this anger? And they were prayerful people. They were praying daily; they were living with Jesus. Why this arrogance? There were simply some ordinary people in the town. They had only refused to give food. This is not a sin. This is up to them. If I come to your house and you refuse me food, okay - it is up to you. Why this arrogance? And not the whole city had denied them. There were small children and old men, they had not denied them: only a few people had. But the disciples said, "Destroy this whole city. This whole village must be destroyed this very moment."
The trees had not denied them shelter, but they were asking Jesus to destroy everything that belonged to the village. Why? Through prayer, through salutations, through worship, they have become more arrogant. They are not humble people; humility is far from them. And if they are not humble, how can they be religious? Why did this become possible? Because God is "in heaven."
Then they could feel that "The person who has denied us food is not Divine; the village is not Divine.
God is somewhere in heaven and we are God's chosen people. These people are anti-God, so destroy them."
Real humility is possible only when God is not far away. He is your neighbour every moment.
Wherever you are, He is your neighbour. To put God somewhere else, far away. is very easy, convenient, because then you can behave as you like with your neighbour and God is "always on your side."
I was reading something: One French general was talking to an English general. It was after the Second World War. The French general said, "We were continuously defeated and you were not defeated. Why is this so?"
The English general said, "This is because of prayer. We pray before we start any fight. We pray!"
The French general said, "But that we also do."
The English general said, "That is okay, but we pray in English and you pray in French. From where did you get this idea that God knows French? He cannot know it."
This is how the so-called religious mind becomes arrogant. Sanskrit is the "only sacred language"; you can laugh at the anecdote, but can you laugh at this? You think Sanskrit is the only sacred language and that the Vedas are the only scriptures written by God Himself. You think: "The Koran?
How is it possible! From where did you get the idea that God knows Arabic? He knows only Sanskrit!" Then you say, "God is always on my side. If He insists on not being on my side, I can change my God. That is always within my capacity." So because of that fear, "He always remains on my side. He is my God; He has to follow me."
This attitude is created because for you the whole Existence is not Divine. If the whole Existence is Divine, then God even understands the language of trees - not only Sanskrit and Arabic, but even the language of the stones. And then it is not a problem of language at all. Then language is irrelevant. It is not prayer which is meaningful now: it is a prayerful mind. And a prayerful mind is something totally different from a praying mind.
This sutra says that this is the only salutation, the only humbleness possible, but in a very paradoxical way. "I am God": to feel this is the salutation. We would have liked to say, "You are God," and then it would have been easy to salute. But this sutra says, "I am God. This is the only salutation." Then we will ask whom to salute. There is really no need to salute. There is no need to salute! It is not an activity; it is not something you have to do. If the whole Existence is Divine, then whatsoever you are doing is a salutation.
Because Kabir continued to work as he was working before his Enlightenment, he was asked about it. He was a weaver; he continued weaving. Disciples would come from far, very, very faraway places, and they would say, "Why? You are an Enlightened One; you are now a Buddha. Why do you continue weaving?"
Kabir would say, "This is the only prayer I know. I was a weaver, so I only know how to salute Him in this way."
Someone said to Kabir, "But Buddha, when he became Enlightened, left everything."
Kabir is reported to have said, "He was a king. He knew only I know only this way. This is my prayer, and when I am weaving these clothes I am weaving them for the Divine."
And then Kabir would go to the market to sell them. So someone said to him, "But you go to the market to sell them. You say these are for the Divine, so why do you not go to the temple and lay them at the Divine feet?"
Kabir said, "I always lay them at the Divine feet, but my gods are waiting there in the market. My Ram is waiting there, and I believe in living gods."
This attitude does not need any salutation. Now it is not an act to be done; rather, it is a way to live.
your prayer can be just a part of your act - just one act among many. But to persons like Kabir it is not an act. It is a way to live. So Kabir said, "Whatsoever I am doing is prayer." It can be, but then the whole Existence must be Divine. Then whatsoever you are doing, if you are eating, it is prayer because it goes to the Existence. Then it is not you who are eating, but the Existence through you.
Then, when you are moving or walking, it is prayer because it is the Existence moving through you, walking through you.
When you are dying it is prayer, because it is the Existence taking back that which was given. That which was made manifest is now becoming unmanifest. Then you are not in between. You are no more. You are just an opening, just an opening for the Existence, a window. Existence moves through you, in and out. You are nowhere in between at this moment of nothingness. Man can say, "AHAM BRAHMASMI - I am the absolute; I am That."
This is not an egoistic assertion: this is one of the most humble of assertions - but it looks very paradoxical. Life is such a complexity that if you have to assert simple truths you have to be paradoxical. If you are asserting complex truths you need not be paradoxical; you can be very logical. This has to be understood: only very simple truths are difficult to express - because the more simple they become, the more non-dual. And when it comes to the very center, then the statement has to imply all dualities.
Look at it in this way: the Upanishads say, "God is near and God is far away." If you say, "He is only near," it is false; if you say, "He is only far away," it is false, because that which is near can become far and that which is far can become near. You can move; you are already moving. "He is everywhere":
this simple truth has to be expressed in a very paradoxical way. He is the nearest and the farthest; He is the minutest and the greatest; He is the seed and the tree; He is birth and death - because if He is life, then He must be both birth and death.
Why not simply say that He is life? Because in our minds, life is against death, so this simple truth - that He is life - cannot be asserted in this way. It has to be asserted in a paradoxical way: "He is birth and He is death; He is both." He is life only because He is both. He is the friend and the foe, because the foe can become the friend and the friend can become the foe. He is both! We would like Him to be the friend and never the foe, but our likings are not truths. Really, unless our likings and dislikings cease, we cannot come to the Truth. We cannot come to it because we go on choosing and projecting.
This statement is again a paradox. The first part of it, "The feeling that I am Divine, I am That," is the peak; and the second, "... is the salutation," is the valley. It is the valley and peak both. First there is the most egoistic assertion possible - "I am That." And then, falling down unto the feet of everything, the assertion, "... is the salutation." These are two extremes, two polar opposites, and many things are implied.
If you feel that you are inferior and then you bow down, it is not a salutation. It is just part of your inferiority. If you say, "I am superior," and you cannot bow down, then you are not really superior - because one who cannot bow down is dead. He cannot be superior. And one who cannot bow down is still afraid somewhere of his superiority - afraid that "If I bow down I will not be superior." Only one who is at ease with his superiority can bow down; only one who has gone beyond his inferiority can bow down. And this is the highest peak possible - "I am That" - and then from there you bow down.
Buddha has given his past-life memories. In one, he says. "I was just ignorant." Buddha says, "I was just ignorant. Then a Buddha, a person who had become Enlightened, passed through my village.
I went to touch his feet. I touched his feet, but then suddenly I became aware that he was doing something. He was bowing down and then he touched my feet. I became afraid and I said,'What are you doing? I should touch your feet; that is as it should be. But why are you touching my feet?'"
That Enlightened One said to Gautam Buddha, "You are touching my feet because I am a Buddha.
I am touching your feet because you are a Buddha also."
Gautam Buddha, in his past life, said to him, "But I am not. I am ignorant; I am no one."
The Enlightened One said to him, "Because you do not know what you are, you do not know what you can become. You are bowing to a present Buddha; I am bowing to a future Buddha. I have become manifest; you will become manifest. It is only a question of time."
This bowing down of an Enlightened One is the secret of this sutra. He was a peak, and he is bowing down to an ignorant man. Now from his peak he can see another peak which is hidden in ignorance.
It is not hidden for him; to him it is as clear as anything.
You can bow down to this ordinary Existence only when you feel that you are That! To say it in another way: unless you become God you cannot be humble, unless you become God you cannot be innocent. That innocence is expressed through this sutra. Salutations we know. We know about God, we know about salutations. But this sutra is very difficult. It is impossible to conceive of it. It makes you the God and it makes this being the God a basic condition for salutation.
To us, one must always salute to the higher, to that which is higher than us. But this sutra makes you the highest, and that is the basic condition for salutation. Whom to salute? You are the highest, so now salute the lowest. The salutation from the lower to the higher is just ordinary. There is nothing in it. It is the ordinary mind working - the political mind, the ambitious mind. It is working to salute the higher. But you are the highest. Now the mind will say that you need not salute anyone. Now the whole Existence must salute you. You are the highest. Now let the whole world come to you to salute; now let the whole Existence bow down to your feet.
This will be your feeling. If you take it as you are, if you begin to follow this sutra, this will be the feeling: "Now let the whole world come and salute me." But this sutra says that this is the basic condition for you to salute the Divine.
When there is no one whom you can ask, the ego feels starved. When you feel inferiority, you want someone to salute you. This is a hunger - a hunger for food. This shows that you are still just at the first stage of the mind: "I am." And below this stage there is nothingness, so whatsoever you put into this "I am" goes deep into the abyss, and the "I am" remains always vacant.
One day a seeker came to Mulla Nasrudin to ask him how to find Truth. Nasrudin said, "There are many conditions to be fulfilled before I can accept you as a disciple. So come with me; I am going to the well to fetch some water." He went there. On the way he said to the future disciple, "Do not ask any questions because I have not accepted you yet as a disciple. When I accept you, you can ask.
Just observe; do not ask anything. If you ask anything before I am back at my home, you disqualify yourself."
So the future disciple thought that it was not such a difficult thing to just go to the well, fetch a bucket of water and then come back. "I will remain totally silent," he thought. So he kept silent. But Mulla was doing such absurd things that it was impossible to keep silent. He had two buckets - one bucket to pull water from the well and another, a bigger one, to fill with water. But the bigger one had no bottom, so he would pull the water and throw it into the bigger one with no bottom. The water would fall out, and then he would drop the bucket again.
So the future disciple said, "What are you doing?"
Mulla said, "Now you disqualify yourself. Now no more questions. Leave me! It is not your business.
Who are you to ask me?"
The future disciple said, "I am going! And there is no need to tell me to go because there is no need for me to stay with you. I am leaving, but I have one piece of advice for you. You can labour on this bucket your whole life, and it will never be filled."
So Mulla said, "I am concerned with the surface, not with the bottom. I am looking at the surface.
When the surface is okay; I will go back to my home. To consider the bottom is irrelevant."
The future disciple left, but in the night he could not sleep. "What type of man is this?" he wondered.
He began to brood. And as sleep began to come, he wondered, "What could be the secret of it?"
And he began to think of many, many clues. Then, by and by, he thought, "It may be just that he was examining me, testing me, just seeing whether I can keep silence in a situation where it is impossible to be silent."
So in the morning he ran back to Mulla Nasrudin and said, "Pardon me; excuse me. It was sheer fault; it was my fault. I should have kept silent. But what was the secret of it?"
The Mulla said, "Because I am not going to accept you as my disciple, I can let you know the secret.
The secret is this - that the bucket was nothing but the first state of man's mind. You go on filling it, but it will never be filled. But no one is concerned with the bottom. Everyone is concerned with the surface. You go on filling it with prestige, respect, wealth and everything else. You are only concerned with the surface. One day your ego will be found. But no one is concerned with the bottom - whether this bucket has any bottom at all."
The disciple began to weep and said, "Accept me! You are the right man."
Mulla Nasrudin said, "It is too late. This bucket is so helpful to me. Whenever someone turns up with a mind to be a disciple, this bucket disqualifies. And it has disqualified many and it has saved me much labour. But this bucket will not disqualify a person only if he has come to feel that his mind is a bucket without a bottom. Then he is qualified to be my disciple, because all discipleship is from 'I am' to 'I am not'."
To drop from the bottom to the abyss, to the second layer of the mind, is what every discipleship is for. Then there is nothingness, and beyond that nothingness is the feeling of "AHAM BRAHMASMI - I am That".