The mysterious Tao - beyond ignorance and knowledge
CHAPTER 1: SUTRA 4
UNDER THESE TWO ASPECTS, IT IS REALLY THE SAME; BUT AS DEVELOPMENT TAKES PLACE, IT RECEIVES THE DIFFERENT NAMES.
TOGETHER WE CALL THEM THE MYSTERY.
WHERE THE MYSTERY IS THE DEEPEST, IS THE GATE OF ALL THAT IS SUBTLE AND WONDERFUL.
The One alone resides within the two.
Wherever the intellect sees duality, the Existence is yet one alone.
We might say that the intellect has the habit of breaking into two whatever it sees. As soon as the mind alights upon something, it cannot help breaking it into two. There are reasons for this. The mind rejects the irrational. The mind cannot contain the opposite, it leaves aside the contradiction.
The mind looks at life but it is impossible for it to see death in life. Death seems just the opposite of life. It has no relationship with life's reasoning. It looks as if death is the end of life, the enemy of life.
It looks as if death is outside of life, an assault on life. It is really not so. Death is not a happening outside of life. It happens within life. It is a part of life. Death is the completion of life.
Life and death are like the in-going breath and the outgoing breath. The same breath that goes in, comes out. The breath that goes in at birth, comes out at death. Life and death are one in Existence. But when the mind begins to think, it can accept the apposite but not the inapposite.
From the rational point of view, life and death become two separate happenings.
But Existence accepts the irrational also. It accepts the opposite, the contradictory also; Existence finds no difficulty in growing the flower and the thorn on the same branch. It finds no difficulty in working light and darkness together. The fact is, darkness is a dim form of light and light is the less dense state of darkness.
If we remove light from the earth, the intellect says, only darkness will remain. But the fact is. if light is removed, there will be no darkness also. To explain more simply: If we remove heat altogether from the world, the intellect will say, only cold will remain. The fact is, what we know as cold is a part of heat. Therefore, if heat disappears, cold will also simultaneously disappear. If we banish death completely, life also will end. Existence is together with the opposites.
The mind throws out the opposite. The intellect is a very small thing. Existence is very vast. It is beyond the mind to understand that the opposites are one and the same; that life and death are the same, that love and hate, darkness and light, hell and heaven are one and the same. The intellect cannot visualize happiness and sorrow as two names of the same thing. How can it understand for it says, happiness is quite different from sorrow and pain. We have to strive for happiness and save ourselves from pain. We have to shut out pain and invite joy.
But Existence says, "He who calls happiness, invites unhappiness also and he who tries to escape unhappiness, has perforce to forego happiness also." The opposites are one in Existence.
And Lao Tzu says: "UNDER THESE TWO ASPECTS, IT IS REALLY THE SAME."
That which is within the named and that which is within the unnamed, are one and the same.
Lao Tzu in the beginning vehemently affirms that the Path that can be trodden is not the Path and the Name that can be named is not the Name. And now Lao Tzu says: "That which is within the named and that which is within the unnamed are one and the same" - they are in actuality, the same. It is again the duality of our own intellect that says that this is the world of objects and that is the world of Existence; that this is the world of names and that is the world of the un-named; that this is the world of forms and that is the world of the formless; that this is the world of the individual and that is the world of the non-individual. Lao Tzu says, "No, they both contain the One in actuality."
The Un-named also resides within the one we name and the one we call un-named, we have given a name already! What difference does it make if we call it Un-named?
We have named it Un-named!
This will be rather difficult to understand as Lao Tzu has said most expressly in the beginning that these to are absolutely apart. "Give no name," he has said, "for as soon as you name it, it becomes a falsity. Do not express. it, for the very expression deforms it. Walk not on it, for it is a changeless path. THE PATH CANNOT BE TRODDEN" - and now, soon after, he says. "It is the one and the same that resides in both. It is One alone."
It is hard to follow Lao Tzu's logic, for this statement is even more profound than the previous ones.
The same is in name, the same is in form. When I look out of my window, I see the skies in a particular form but this very limited form of the skies become boundless as soon as I step out in the open. Then will I say the sky I saw from the window was different? The difference is definitely there.
When I saw through the window, it was bounded within the frame-work of the window. Now when I see in the open, there is no frame-work, no lines to bind it. Appa-rently the difference is definitely there; but deep within, where is the difference?
What was seen from the window was the formless and no other. The error lay not with the sky but with the window. And how can a window give shape to the skies? If a small thing like a window can give shape to the vast skies, it would be mightier than the skies. So, that which the mind has known by giving a name is the same as that, which the wise have know by going beyond the mind, as without a name: 'Name-less'!
Lao Tzu says, "You cannot reach there by travelling on this Path, you have to halt." He who halts reaches, whereas one who journeys keeps plodding. There is no difference between the two, no distance.
Lao Tzu has dealt a heavy blow to dualism with this short statement; a final blow, in which he has tried to contain the opposites in one. It should be understood once for all, that all dualities are the creation of the mind. Existence is unfamiliar with it. Existence has never known dualities. The most opposite and conflicting things are united and joined in Existence. Nay, they are one and the same.
We have to use the terms, joined and united, for it is our mind that is in the, habit of breaking and seeing things. It cannot see otherwise.
We see two sides in a coin and both these sides are together, joined. Can we separate the two sides of a coin? Can we keep one side of the coin and throw away the other? Do what we may, there will always be two sides to the coin. One side of the coin is the same coin and the other side also is a part of the very same coin. Yet, when we look at a coin, we cannot see both the sides at the same time. When we see one side, the other is hidden and vice versa.
Berkeley, the great philosopher of the West used to say: "When you step out of the room the things in the room, disappear in the void. When you step back into the room, the things appear again.
And when there is no one in the room, there are no objects in the room." He challenged any one to dispute his statement. No one did, for it is impossible. One has to be within the room, in order to investigate and Berkeley says, "Things appear as long as the seer is present and disappear when the seer is absent. Without the seer, the seen cannot be. If you make a hole and peep in the room, the viewer becomes present and things appear."
What Berkeley is trying to say is that there is an intimate connection between the seer and the seen.
It is certainly not true that things are not the same, in the absence of the viewer, as they are in his presence.
Now Physics admits the fact, that when you leave the room, the objects within it lose colour. All things within a closed room become colourless. Then what does the painting in your room look like?
It is a painting no longer. The contention of Physics is, that colours are formed in collaboration with the eyes. If I can see that the colour of your clothes is white, it is not dependent on the colour of your clothes. It is my eyes that see them white. If there were no eyes in the room, your clothes would have no colour. Colour is directly connected with the eyes.
It is not necessary that things have the same shape as you see them because, form also is connected with the eyes. If objects however, are still present in the room when we are out of it they cannot be retaining the same shape as we see them and we cannot ever see them in the form they assume in our absence.
Emanuel Kant, the German thinker, used to say: "Things cannot be known in themselves." We can only know things as we can see them and in no other way. In fact, whatever we know depends directly on our ability to know. It is not that there are only those present who have gathered here today. There might be a spider somewhere in this room, a lizard on the wall, a worm on the floor or a fly; and all these see this room from their own angle of vision. It is possible that the spider experiences things we have never experienced or the insect on the floor hears sounds we can never hear. It is also absolutely certain that all these creatures are unfamiliar with what we see, hear and know.
The seer is invariably present in whatever we see. The intellect gives shape and pattern to whatever it sees. The most deep-seated framework of the intellect is the pattern of duality. The first thing it does, is to break things into two at the very outset and separate the opposites.
Everything is formed by both the opposites. I may say, I am never angry, I can only be forgiving but without anger there is no forgiveness. Or can there be? If you have not been angry, how can you forgive? It is necessary to be angry first, in order to forgive. Forgiveness comes in the wake of anger, it comes as the latter part of anger. Without anger forgiveness is not possible. But we see these two apart from each other. We say, "So and so is a wrathful man" or "So-and-so is very forgiving". We can never bring ourselves to say that anger in itself, is forgiveness.
The intellect breaks all things on all levels of existence. And Lao Tzu says that the One is hidden behind all these sections and fragments. No matter how many parts the intellect tries to make, the One remains indivisible and whole - always. No matter how many lines we draw, it remains boundless. Whether we name it, or do not name it, it is still One. So the first thing that Lao Tzu says is: "Within the entire duality and divinity, it is this One alone, that resides."
Here we are sitting within this room. There are these four walls around us that have separated the space within the room from the space without. Have you ever thought how you can break space?
No sword can break it and no wall, for the wall itself has to be within space. The space is filled in every pore of the walls. The outside space and the inside space are divisions created by us, and do not exist in reality. It helps us in our day to day existence. It would be difficult to sleep in the open space outside but we sleep comfortably within the space of our room. So the difference is there. It is raining in the space outside but we sit safe within the space of our room without a care. All the same, it is we who have divided the space into two.
We cannot divide space. It is one invisible whole. Within and without are our own make-shift arrangements. The same that is within, is without and the same that is without is within. These two words - without and within - are also creations of the duality of our mind or else, there is nothing that is within and nothing that is without. One alone is and it is this one only that we sometimes say is within and sometimes without.
The duality mentioned by Lao Tzu, Buddha, is very superficial. Within, at the very core, in the profound depths of Existence, there is only One just as when a tree emerges from the soil, it is only one, in the beginning. Then soon the branches begin to shoot out and these keep multiplying. So Lao Tzu says "As Evolution proceeds, as there is further expansion, the many are born and myriads of names come into being."
The Hindus had visualised life as a tree, some 5,000 years ago, and Liberation as a tree, upside down. Samsara (the material life) is a tree that is born of one and becomes many. At first there is one branch, then many appear; then each branch further gives rise to many other branches and these in turn spread into a number of leaves. Liberation is just the opposite. Here we journey from the many branches, to less and less branches till we ultimately reach the trunk of the tree. Then from this one, we travel downwards to the seed form which everything was born and from which everything was developed.
Lao Tzu says that as soon as unfoldment occurs, as soon as development begins and things start appearing, they become many. The seed is always one, but the tree that comes out of it develops and divides itself into so many branches and leaves. Then on these numerous branches, countless seeds are formed - all from a single seed. In exactly the same manner, Existence is One and is without Name (Anam). Then many branches of names spring out of it. Truth is One - 'Wordless'.
Then many leaves and branches of words spring out of it. Lao Tzu says, "Yet That which is in One is the very same that which is in many." That which is in the seed is also in the leaves. How can it be another? There is no way for it to be another. There is no other.
In the second part of the statement it is said that as expansion and development proceeds, people begin to call it by different names but it does not diversify in actuality. I have said, "The tree is one in the seed and becomes many in the branches". This, however, is also so in the eyes of the beholder who is looking at it from the outside. The tree feels its roots and branches to be one and the same.
Within there is the same flow, the stream of the same essence.
Do you feel your toes, your head, your eyes or your fingers as different and apart from each other?
On closing the eyes, one sees the continuous flow of the same energy, in which all forms fade.
To one who sees you from without, your eyes and your fingers are different and apart from each other. But within? If the finger is broken, the eyes are not damaged but this too is from without only. Within, the broken finger causes the eyes to weaken and the loss of the eye leaves the fingers helpless. Within there is the same stream of energy. that flows everywhere. There is no the slightest difference.
If we ask the physiologist he will tell us the same. Many a rare thing the Physiologist says and the latest research is re-establishing the very old secrets once more.
The modern Biologist says that our eyes and our feet are formed of the same kind of cells. There is no difference in their composition at all. The only difference is that the older cells have specialised in one particular function. The substance of the body is the same. It is only that a particular part has specialised in seeing, another in hearing, yet another in the field of touch. But these are only specialisations. The fundamental composition, the life-principle, is one and the same. There is not the slightest difference. The delicate pupil of the eye is also a part of the skin. It is the skin of the eye which has specialised in the sensitive art of seeing. The scientists claim that the skin of any other part of the body if trained, can develop the quality of seeing, tor both are made of the same elements.
When a child is conceived in the mother's womb, it has neither eyes, nor ears, nor nose nor limbs. In the early stages of conception there is nothing save the cells. The initial cell divides and re-divides.
Therefore all these cells cannot be different in composition from the initial cell. Then gradually some specialise and form the eyes, others form the ears, yet others form the heart and so on.
It is the same cell that spreads and causes the differentiation evident in the body. The tree is one but the branches seem different and apart. The life-stream is one, but each thing as it unfolds, looks different and apart. The cell that is formed in the mother's womb is initially closed. Then when it opens, it will break through, unfold itself and spread. As it spreads, its needs increase and according to each need its various parts begin to function in various ways. Then when they begin to perform various tasks, they shall have various names. This we can understand better by an example:
The Hindus have always said that this world also has been formed from a single cell, just like the human cell and that the life-principle is only one, Then as things develop and unfold, they begin to diversify and fall apart from each other. Lao Tzu is saying the same thing. He says: "People call it by different names." As I too, have been telling you: "Truth is One but those who have known, have known it in different ways." The Secret is One but the sages have called it by different names. It is only the names that can be different, but because of them the delusion of separateness forms within our minds. Then the error is committed of viewing things as distinct from each other. It is only when the delusion breaks that we can conceive of the 'Indivisible', the Absolute.
Lao Tzu says, "The Conception of such an Indivisible is the Absolute itself." It is recollected by different names, yet it is one and the same. It is this multitude of names that is the secret - the mystery. What is the mystery of this world?
Science does not accept mystery but Religion does. This is the only difference between Science and Religion. Science believes that there is no secret in the Universe. The mystery lessens with each discovery. In other words, lack of knowledge is the only mystery. According to Science the meaning of mystery is ignorance. What we do not know, we consider a mystery. The mystery ends as soon as we know. And what does Science do in order to know?
If we understand correctly, we shall find that Science says just the opposite of what Lao Tzu says.
What does Science do? It goes about giving names to things. As soon as it is able to name a thing, it considers it has known it fully. It gives a technical term to whatever it discovers and feels it has known all about it. This is why Science is becoming more and more specialised day by day.
There was an age when Science was one. Then it began to diversify. Then the various branches of science began to diversify in greater details and these details in turn began to diversify.
There was a time when all science came within the single fold of Philosophy. This is why even today our universities confer the degrees of Ph. D. even on those who have nothing to do with philosophy.
Now a man carries out research in Chemistry. He is also given the degree of Ph. D. This is a thousand-year old habit. A man is given the degree of Doctor of Philosophy when he has not the remotest connection with philosophy!
But a thousand years ago, Chemistry was a part of Philosophy. Aristotle wrote a book, two thousand years ago. Today, the heading of each chapter of his book, has become a science in itself. The most interesting fact is, that the chapter on Physics, is followed by a chapter on Religion. This is why the West looked upon Greek Religion as Meta-Physics. Meta-Physics means the chapter following Physics. Even today, the old board on the Physics Department of the Oxford University bears the caption: 'Department of Natural Philosophy'. A thousand years ago, Physics was Natural Philosophy.
Later on, the divisions followed.
Science is bound to be divided because the more we want to know, the more organised methods we employ to know a thing, the narrower will be the field of our research. The more we want to know about a thing in its entirety, the lesser the number of things we shall have to choose. Therefore, the definition of science is, 'To know more and more about less and less'. When we reduce the number, things will begin to contract. Now Physics is also not one whole subject - it is divided into several parts. Similarly, Chemistry has several divisions also, of which Organic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry are the two main divisions. And these will again be broken more and more into lesser fragments. Science is thus now reaching from the roots towards the leaves, thus going further and further away from the Mystery.
Lao Tzu says: "To be the One that is between the name and the nameless, is the mystery. That is called the mystery." In fact, he who journeys towards the 'Indivisible', travels towards the mystery and he who travels towards the 'Many', goes away from the mystery. Therefore, Science is gradually revoking the mystery. It says, "There is no mystery. We shall know all there is to know." Yet the mystery stands where it was.
The method of knowing employed by Science is such that it shall be deprived of the knowledge of the Mystery. Therefore, as Science advanced, man's attitude towards the mystery receded.
The greatest damage done by Science to religion is the lessening of man's disposition towards the mystery.
Now there seems to be no mystery. Everything is known. You look at a flower. Someone says, "It is beautiful." You say, "Non-sense! Where is the beauty? It has such and such colours, it is made of such and such elements." You can get it analysed and the Scientist will tell you what all it consists of. Nowhere will you then find beauty in the flower. As soon as we begin to know all the facts of a particular thing and give it names, the Indivisible that resides within the thing, disappears. It gets lost and with it is lost all the mystery.
Lao Tzu says: "That which has been given countless names by us and which still is One, that alone is the mystery. That which is One inspite of being the many, that alone we call the Mystery. That which appears as several and which is yet One alone, that we call the mystery. That which looks divided in duality but which yet, is undivided, that we call the Mystery."
Understand well the meaning of Mystery. Mystery means: 'That which we know and yet remains unknown'. In the language of Religion this meaning of mystery is: That which we know also and yet we cannot know. That which we recognise and which yet remains unrecognised. Let us try to understand this by an example.
You love a person and you have spent fifty years with him. Can you say that you know him? You are very well acquainted with him. If in 50 years' time you are not familiar with him, when will you be?
You are well acquainted with him. You seem to know everything about him. Yet can you say, you know every nook and corner of his personality? You are well aware of his habits and disposition; yet can you say he is predictable? Can you tell exactly what he will do tomorrow morning? No, the unpredictable element is present within him. That is the mystery - this 'unpredictable' about which we can make no forecasts. This is what makes the thing we know, yet unknown. Let us see from another angle:
Someone asks St. Augustine, "What is Time?" He replies, "As long as no one asks, I know very well what Time is but when someone asks, there is a lot of confusion." You too know what Time is. You know very well. You get up on time - how could you if you had no knowledge of Time? You go home on time. If you did not, how will you reach home in time? How will you have known it is time to go home? You know very well what Time is. But Augustine is right when he says he knows as long as no one asks but as soon as someone asks, everything is lost. Not the brightest of geniuses has up to now been able to answer this question, whereas the most ignorant of persons also makes use of Time. The most foolish simpleton is living within Time and yet the wisest are unable to define it.
Leave this aside, Time is a difficult matter. Life is not at all intricate. We all live. In fact we have lived enough. Those who know say, we have lived thousands of lives. Be that as it may, let us consider our present life. Say we have lived 20, 40, 50 years of this life. We know life for this period of Time.
Yet if someone asks, "What is life?" we are stumped! What is the reason? When we have lived our lives for a number of years, we should know what life is and be able to tell.
Lao Tzu says, "It is this very thing what we call 'The Mystery'." We know and yet we do not know. We know everything and yet find that everything is unknown. Existence is present all around us, within, without, in every pore of our being, in every breath - yet it is unknown. What have you known?
The waves have lapped the shores of the ocean since time immemorial, yet they know nothing of the shore; nor do the shores know anything about the waves. Leave aside the waves, you yourself will know nothing more of the shores than the waves even if you walked them a thousand years!
What do we really know? There is only a superficial acquaintance and this cursory acquaintance, we call knowledge.
To know this shallow acquaintance as knowledge causes many illusions, which deprive us of the knowledge of the Mystery. Lao Tzu says, "Do not call this superficial acquaintance, knowledge.
Rather know it as cursory information. Then you will experience the presence of the Mystery all around you, every minute of the hour. The Mystery is; and no matter how much we know, it is limitless."
Now Science has also become a little profound and deep. It has cast off its childishness. It is not long since Science came into being, whereas there are relics of Religion, that are 20,000 years old.
So if religion has said 5,000 years ago that life is a mystery, it is after the experience of 15,000 years. Science is only 300 years old and so comparatively, a mere child. One thing is certain: When Science becomes 15,000 years old, it too will say with just as much emphasis that life is a mystery.
our time in the field of Science. This man when he died made a very revealing statement. He said, "In my youth I thought Truth can be known. Now I think otherwise; now I think, Truth is unknowable and will always remain unknowable." It is certain that man will come to know a great deal, yet there will be still as much that will remain unknown. Our knowing will make no difference. It will be just like our collecting a handful of water from the ocean. Perhaps a handful of water may diminish the ocean-water by that much, but in the Ocean of Existence, that is all around us, no amount of knowing will make even a fraction of a difference.
That which Religion calls, 'The Mystery', always remains to be known. It remains always unknown, unfamiliar. It is forever present in the same quantity.
To understand the meaning of RAHASYA (Mystery) you have to know three things. There is one - Ignorance or lack of knowledge. Ignorance is not mystery. Science believes that mystery is the outcome of ignorance. This is a mistake. Ignorance is not mystery. In ignorance we know nothing.
Then how shall we have any knowledge of mystery? We shall have no knowledge of anything.
The second is Knowledge. Even knowledge is not the mystery, for in knowledge we are aware of something. Rahasya (Mystery) is the happening beyond knowledge. Knowledge occurs beyond ignorance and the mystery occurs beyond knowledge, He who steps into knowledge from ignorance becomes wise and he who goes beyond knowledge and knows, becomes a mystic.
Know these three steps :. The first step is that of ignorance, the second step is knowledge. From the world of no-knowing, the world of knowing starts. If you stagnate at the step of not-knowing, you will remain ignorant. If you stagnate likewise, at the step of knowing you will remain simply a man of knowledge. But if you go still further, the world of mystery begins. Then in that state, having full knowledge, you will still have a complete knowledge of ignorance. Knowledge and ignorance, become one in Rahasya (Mystery).
So Lao Tzu says, "Within both these sides there is the One." He experiences Rahasya, who experiences the One both in knowledge and in ignorance and who Knows that there is not much difference between the wise and the ignorant. The ignorant suffer from the illusion that they know nothing, while the wise suffer from the illusion that they know everything. The mystic knows that there is no possibility of knowing. The mystic does not say, "Do not search to know." He says, "Strive your best to know." Know! Go so deep within knowing that you go beyond it. Then this knowing will not be a limitation or a bondage. You have risen above ignorance, now rise above knowledge.
The Ishavasya Rishi says: "The ignorant do go astray in darkness but what can we say of those knowledgeable ones, who are wandering in pitch-darkness?" Which wise man can this be? We have always been told that the ignorant go astray and never the wise! Then what does this Rishi of Ishavasya say? It is definite he knows what Lao Tzu knows. He says, "The ignorant goes astray for he does not know but the wise go astray for they think they know. And remember," the Rishi says, "the ignorant wander in darkness but the pseudo-wise wander in utter darkness." He who knows he does not know has a sort of humility within him but he who is confident he knows, loses all humility.
His ego becomes strong and intense.
Mystery is the transcendence of both Ignorance and Knowledge.
Rahasya, is knowledge of the fact - know and yet you will never know. Strive hard to know but you will fail. Strive, search, discover but in the end you will only discover that life is a bottomless mystery.
Its base is forever unknown. The One that is the actuality within both, is what we call 'the Mystery'.
That which is the same in birth and death, that which is the same in light and darkness, we call Rahasya.
Now the line that follows is very wonderful.
This very conglomeration of names we call Rahasya. Where the density of the Mystery is highest, there lies the subtle and wonderful opening to its entrance. Where the density of the mystery is highest - density of Rahasya! What can this mean? We shall have to go back.
The ignorant is aware of the fact that he does not know. His ego is small, weak but it still is, for it knows that 'I do not know'. The learned one knows that 'I know.' The 'I' is strong, solid. The ignorant man has a feeling of the mystery because of his ignorance. He sees many wonders. Many things appear queer and mysterious to him for he does not understand anything.
When lightning flashes in the sky, he thinks perhaps Indra is angry. When it rains, he thinks the Gods are pleased with the world. When the harvest is ready, he thinks it to be the reward of his past good actions. If the harvest is poor or if there is an earthquake, he takes it to be the fruit of his sins.
He thus makes his own calculations. The element of mystery is present though, conditioned by his ignorance and less experienced. But ignorance quickly gives its own interpretations of Rahasya.
The lightning becomes Indra, the rains become the reward of good actions and then happiness, pain, justice, actions, each become a doctrine in itself. So the ignorant cooks up some theories of his own and his ego strengthens in proportion to his interpretations.
The man of knowledge knows the facts. The more he knows the stronger his 'I' becomes. As the 'I' gets stronger, so the attitude of Rahasya becomes more and more rare, its intensity fades.
In the third step, where the wise man is neither wise nor ignorant, when he knows and yet knows that he does not know, the 'I' drops completely. And when the ego is lost, the mystery deepens. So these two things are there: the ego and the mystery. When the ego is dense the Rahasya is thin, when the ego is small, the Rahasya is more emphasized. If the ego is accentuated fully, Rahasya disappears completely. When the Ego is silenced completely, and is absolutely zero, the Rahasya appears in its full intensity and strength.
It is only at the centre of the Ego that it can be decided whether the Rahasya is rare or dense.
Therefore, all mystics stress the annihilation of the ego. Drop the ego and you will know the mystery.
How does the 'I' (ego) hinder?
The ego blinds us and does not allow the mystery to be seen. The very meaning of Rahasya is, "My will is naught, my power is of no avail, by myself I can never know. I have no competence to know.
I am helpless." When this feeling becomes intense, the knowledge of mystery dawns on us. This is why we find that children are always surrounded by this feeling of wonder and mystery, whereas elderly people are not. Children live in the world of mystery - why?
Their ego is as yet not very strong. Now when they see a butterfly flitting on the flowers, it seems like a beautiful dream. When they see a flower bloom, it feels as if the Infinite has opened its doors to them. When the sun comes out they feel bathed in the effulgence of the Supreme Light. When the waves lap the shores, the heart is thrilled and dances with joy. Now the pebbles on the road-side appear like jewels to them. The 'I' is not so strong yet, so the Rahasya appears all around. So a child's life passes entirely in fantasy - its life is like a poem.
Therefore little children cannot differentiate between dreaming and waking. A child is quite likely to get up in the morning crying for the doll that was lost in his dream. However hard we may try, it is hard to convince him that it was a dream. This is because there is no clear-cut line of demarcation between sleeping and waking in the consciousness of the child. The child as yet, dreams in the day. As yet the only difference between day and night is the difference of closing and opening of the eyes. Everything within the child is as yet fluid; the feeling of wonder and mystery is as yet very intense.
Then as the ego strengthens, the mystery begins to fade. As the child grows, is educated and begins to stand on his own feet, as he begins to display his own capabilities, the 'I' is strengthened and stands out clear and the mystery lessens and fades in the same proportion.
The mystery that surrounds the child, is the mystery of ignorance. The mystery that surrounds the saint, is the mystery of knowledge. Before knowledge, there is the mystery of ignorance and after knowledge, is the mystery that is not of ignorance.
This is the difference between a poet and a Rishi (sage).
The poet lives in Rahasya but it is born out of ignorance. The sage also lives in poetry - but in the poetry that is beyond Knowledge. The meaning of Rishi, is also - a poet, - but he is a poet who has eyes, who has seen. The Rishi lives in poetry. The world is a poem to him and not prose. The world is not a dry and brittle composition for him. To him the world is bound in song and verse and filled with music and dance. But the Rishi is one who has become a poet after attaining Knowledge. This is the difference between the two. This is why we cannot call the Rishis of the Upanishads as mere poets, though their poems are unsurpassed; and our poets as Rishis, for their work is born out of the wonder of ignorance.
Our poet is a child that has never grown up! He grows in body but in whom there is no dividing line between his dreams within and the world without. He is a mere child and therefore it is not strange when he acts like one. That is why a poet appears immature in his dealings. Many a time we cannot understand them and so their behaviour appears immoral at times.
Now Picasso loves a woman. He loves her madly. Very few can love as Picasso loved. Then one day this love flew away. Then he began to love another woman in the same fashion. Everywhere he was scandalized for his immoral behaviour. The simple reason was, Picasso was absolutely childish, - just as a child loves a rag-doll and holds it to his heart night and day and then one day he is fed up so he throws it into a corner and never looks at it again. We never call the child immoral for we know he is only a child but Picasso would be maligned for his behaviour. We might accuse him of faithlessness whereas that is not the case. When he loved, he loved as passionately as the child loves his doll. He did not let go of her night and day. So intense was his love. But now it is gone!
Just as the child forgets the doll, he forgets this woman and is now preoccupied with another. This is bound to look unethical in the eyes of the world.
The fact is, the immorality that is evident in the lives of musicians, poets and painters is due to the fact that though they grow in body, their minds remain immature and childlike. Deep within they are still children. This is the reason why they can write poems but for this very reason their actual lives are so disturbed and chaotic. Therefore they can paint a beautiful picture but their lives become veritably ugly; they can compose beautiful songs but are crude in themselves as far as their own lives are concerned.
A Rishi is a different personality altogether. His childhood is the childhood re-attained. It is a childhood regained - and this is not immaturity or childishness. This is the simplicity and innocence attained after complete knowledge and perfect maturity. Therefore we see child-like behaviour in Saints also. But there is no non-ethical behaviour in a saint. The Saint has the innocence and guilelessness of a child but not the undisciplined impertinence of the poet. In his innocence, in his supreme freedom, there is a law, a regulation, a discipline. In his spontaneity also, there is an intrinsic discipline. Behind all this child-like actions runs the stream of the Prime Experience. And yet, he is outside of knowledge and experience. And yet, he is above knowledge.
Lao Tzu says, "This is what we call the perfect mystery." If this mystery deepens and becomes more intense, it opens the magic doors of life. It becomes dense only in proportion to the extinction of the ego. We can say: 100 per cent ego = 0 per cent Rahasya; 90 per cent Ego = 10 per cent Rahasya; same energy resides in the ego as in the Rahasya, so when the ego lets go a certain proportion of the energy, it quickly enters the Rahasya.
The Life-Energy has two optional directions: Pride and wonder; 'I' and 'You'. The 'You' here, is God, the mystery. If the 'I' becomes stronger, the 'you' becomes weaker to that extent.
Our Age has denied God for no reason.
Our century is the most egoistic age. And the most interesting fact is, that the ego is born out of knowledge. Our century is the most intellectual century. This might seem contradictory but if you have followed what I said before, you will be able to understand. The knowledge attained in our century, is the highest ever attained by the world. As a result, it is the most egoistic century.
Therefore, it follows, that it is completely devoid of Rahasya. The more our knowledge increases, the more our libraries swell and the more our universities become the trustees of knowledge. The more intelligent our children become, the more will the Mystery fade away. Then a moment may come, which will be the most suicidal moment for man. When a culture becomes so filled with knowledge that no secret of the mystery remains, then there is no other remedy save death.
Because we can live only with wonder, not with ego. We, the so-called egoists also live in Rahasya alone. It is impossible to live with complete ego; only death is possible; suicide is possible. If we come to know that we know all, then nothing is left to be known except death!
This is why as we look back in time, we find man more filled with savour towards life. There were less suicides in days gone by. It is interesting to note that uneducated societies do not commit suicide. An intense ego is required for suicide which they do not possess. A very dense and solid 'I' is required to die - an ego so strong that it denies all the mystery of life and enters into self destruction. A very strong quality of conceit is required to end one's life. That is why the older the society, the less educated and primeval, there is almost no incidence of suicide. The adivasis do not know of self-destruction. They are unfamiliar with it, they can never think of it.
There are many languages even today in the world, in which there is no word like suicide, because those people could think of no reason why a man should take his own life. But for us, conditions have changed.
Albert Camus has written a book, in the very beginning of which he says: "The only philosophical problem is suicide". That a philosopher should start a book thus and that too a philosopher of the calibre of Albert Camus who is considered among the world's wisest men today! He has not discussed God at all in his book. God is not the subject of philosophy. He has discussed only suicide which he considers the basic problem of philosophy. If man has to live, what for should he live? His question is plausible. If there is no mystery, what is the cause for life? Do we live to eat?
Do we live to dwell in the houses? Do we live to produce children? And for what should the children live? Is it for producing more children? What is the purpose of all this? We build houses. roads, aeroplanes - but why?
If you say you live for love then you enter the world of mystery. Camus will say. "Where is love? I searched everywhere and I found nothing but sexual-desire." Love is a mystery sex is a fact. If you try to catch hold of it, you will be able to lay your hands on sex but not on love. If someone says one should live for joy, then bliss also is a mystery. The realities, the facts, are the so-called happiness and non-happiness; and behind each happiness, hides unhappiness. So Camus asks, "What for should we live?" He is right - we have seen happiness, experienced it once!
Nasruddin was sitting in the tea-house. A man came up to him and asked news of his village. He is a stranger. Nasruddin asks him: "Do you play cards? If you do, I shall be pleased to play a game with you." The stranger replied, "No, I played once and found it to be a useless pass-time." "Do you play chess? Let us have a game of chess," said Nasruddin. "No," said the stranger, "I played it once and found it very boring." "Then how shall I entertain you?" asked Nasruddin. "Do you like music?
Shall I play a tune?" "No!" exclaimed the man, "I heard it once and I did not like it." "Then would you care to go fishing?" Offered Nasruddin and to his disappointment the stranger replied, "I will not go but you can take my son."
Nasruddin says: "Forgive my impertinence but he must be your only son? Like everything else you must have experienced love and sex just once and no more, for you must have found it useless too!"
There is in fact, no reality of life which is worth a second look. If something is worth seeing again, it cannot be a fact, it must be a mystery. It must be something that has to be known over and over again and still remains a mystery. There is no question of knowing again a thing that is already known. It is only when a thing is not known in its entirety that we try again and again and yet again and inspite of knowing it a thousand times, the urge to know it remains a thousand-fold, because the unknown, the unfamiliar still remains to be known.
Camus is right when he says if there is no other problem left then suicide is the only philosophical problem. Knowledge is utmost in our age and therefore there are bound to be the highest number of suicides. It is filled to the brim with ego, therefore it says, "There is no God, there is no religion, there is no mystery."
Lao Tzu says, "He who attenuates his ego and intensifies Rahasya, for him are open the subtle and wonderful gates of life." These two words: Subtle and wonderful, are to be understood properly.
What we understand by 'subtle', is not the meaning that people like Lao Tzu take. When we say subtle, we mean less gross, less massive. We say, the wall is massive, solid and air is subtle but air also is solid - it is less solid. The difference between a wall and air is not very much for there is a quantitative difference and not a qualitative distinction.
A Wall of air can be created and you can be thrown down from it with a greater force then any ordinary wall. There are chances of your survival in case of the ordinary wall, but not so in case of the atmospheric wall. Air has weight as much as the wall, and it is even more. We do not feel the weight of air as its pressure is distributed equally all over our body. There is otherwise, the pressure of thousands of pounds of air on us. If this pressure is distributed in any other way, we would die of the weight of atmosphere. When there is a strong wind, you feel it is the wind behind you that pushes you in front. It is not so. The wind behind pushes the air before you, thus creating a vacuum which makes you fall. The atmosphere has its own solid form.
What things do we call subtle or rare? All that we call subtle is a transformation of the solid.
When people like Lao Tzu make use of the term 'subtle', they mean that which is well beyond the grasp of the five senses. It is important and necessary that you understand the right meaning of the word 'subtle'. The eyes do not see the air but the hands feel it. So it is within the grasp of our senses and hence not subtle. Subtle means: that which is beyond the grasp of the sense-organs. Have you known anything you have seen with your eyes, if you have heard anything it is through your ears, if you have smelt anything it is through the nose, if you have touched, it is always with your hands.
There is no experience of the subtle in all your experiences.
We can give it this definition: What can be known by the sense organs, is gross, what cannot be known through the sense-organs and can still be known, is subtle. This way you can understand otherwise our measure of distinction is the faculties of perception only.
We hear a loud noise, we say it is gross. When the sound is very thin and low, we say it is subtle.
Actually there is no difference in the sound. It is the different variation of the same sound - and both are caught by the ear. If these sound-waves are not caught by the ear but caught by the radio, even then they are not subtle. They are gross. It only means, that a more sensitive ear (radio) has caught it.
Now there are pictures passing over here that only the television can grasp and not our eyes. But even these are not subtle for the television is a very gross thing - only its eyes sharper than ours.
The ears of the radio have a keener sense of hearing than our ears. There is only the difference of magnitude, quantity. Therefore all that can be grasped by the faculty of senses, is gross. I wish to add something more to this definition, which the Rishis of yore did not, for they did not know and that is: "Whatever is grasped by the senses and whatever is grasped by the mechanisms invented by the senses is all gross." The instruments invented by the senses both in past and in future, will never be capable of catching the subtle.
The instruments created by the senses are merely the extensions of the senses and nothing more.
What are binoculars? It is an extension of our eyes. What is the radar? It is an extension of our eyes. What is the gun? - an extension of our hands. Where we threw stones previously with our hands, the gun helps to throw bullets at a greater distance. So it is nothing more than an extension of the hand. We are occupied in extending our senses. What are the knives and the swords? They are our nails - extended. The wild animals use their nails to kill their prey, we make use of iron-nails.
Whatever comes within the grasp of the extensions of our senses, is all gross.
Subtle is that which never comes within the grasp of the senses and can yet be grasped. Remember, if it cannot be grasped, you will never be aware of it. Therefore, it is necessary to understand one more thing: Come within your grasp it must but not through any faculty of the senses. There should be an immediate grasp, there should be no mediator. If I can see you without the eyes, hear you without the ears. if I touch you without the use of my hands, - then this is subtle. There is nothing in-between then - neither my hand nor any instrument - no mediator. If my consciousness gets a direct experience, that is a subtle experience.
So Lao Tzu says: "He whose knowledge of Rahasya becomes intense, opens the door to the subtle."
When the feeling of Rahasya reaches its peak, the ego falls. Then we have no use for the faculty of senses. Really speaking, Ego is that which works through the senses. If the ego falls, the senses become useless. Then the non-sensory experiences begin; and these are known as the subtle experiences. You also get a glimpse of such experiences at times.
In some moments at certain times, in certain conditions your ego melts and then you get a sudden glimpse of such experiences. But the ego condenses again and the experience is lost. Then no matter how hard you try, you can never understand it. The ego cannot understand such an experience.
You have heard sounds that you have yourself turned down later as false. You yourself will have said: "No, no, I could not have heard. How could I? There was nobody?" You have seen such forms at times that you turn down later as hallucinations. Many a time you come suddenly to the brink of such possibilities which later you yourself cannot believe! When the experience is gone and the ego is once again strengthened, it refuses to believe in the validity of such experiences for they are beyond its grasp. It cannot conceive of any experience minus the senses.
There is a friend of mine. His father died. The day his father died, this poet friend had set out for another town by the evening bus. When he left, at about 6 P.M., to take part in a gathering of poets, his father was hale and hearty. In the bus he sat, lost in his poetry and when someone loses himself in his art, his ego begins to melt and he becomes like a child. Then he enters his old world of childhood again. He flirts with the butterflies, laughs with the flowers and Sings with the birds.
He drops into this world of fantasy and talks with the brooks and converses with the trees. Then messages flash in the clouds above - for the ego has almost faded.
So this friend was drowned in his world of poetry. Then suddenly at about 9 P.M. he felt a terrible fit of depression that was beyond his understanding. All this time, he was filled with joy, he was happy, songs were pouring out of him. What had happened? Wherever he turned, he saw clouds of despair and sorrow and there was no earthly reason to explain. This made him all the more restless. The strain of music snapped within him and he was engulfed in anxiety and gloom. For three hours, till he reached the town, he was in this condition. He went to his room and tried to sleep but he could not.
At 2 o'clock in the night he heard a knock on the door. Someone called: "Munna!" He was startled for none except his father addressed him thus!
He opened the door and looked out. There was no one. There was no question of his father being there. No other man called him by that name. He again opened the door, the wind rushed in.
The night was dark and there was no one about. Everyone in the hotel was fast asleep, there was absolute stillness all around. The street below was empty. He was on the 2nd floor, no one could come accidentally. He closed the door and thought perhaps he was dreaming.
He went to sleep. After five minutes or so, he heard the same knock and the same voice calling out to him! It was even more clear now! And this time he himself was awake. The voice was so familiar, it could be nobody's but his father's. Again he opened the door but there was no one. Once again the cold wind rushed in. Now he could not sleep. He became restless. At 3 A.M. he went down and rang up his house. He was told his father died. Exactly at 2 A.M. he breathed his last and exactly at But my friend does not yet believe. He still thinks it was an illusion of the mind. He is an intelligent person and he still thinks over it. To this day he says that the incident took place but he still does not believe it was his father's voice. It must be a mistake, he feels. It may be a play of his own mind, some coincidence that his father did at 2 A.M. in the night and he may have thought of him just then!
So the subtle peeps into our lives at times. And because we do not understand, we brush aside these experiences as hallucinations. But when the Rahasya intensifies, then the subtle does not only peep; rather, we are deceived in the subtle. Then we live in the subtle. Then the subtle begins to happen all around us for all the twenty-four hours.
Lao Tzu says: "The door of the subtle opens and of the wonderful and the miraculous!" What is the miraculous? - Let us understand. Ordinarily, what we look upon as miraculous is also something.
We call a happening a miracle, for we do not understand how it happens. When do you say it is a miracle?
A man dies. Jesus puts his hand on his head. The man comes back to life. We call this a miracle - why? A man is ill, he bows at the feet of somebody and he is cured! We call it a miracle - why?
Buddha passes under a tree that is dry. Suddenly it sprouts into bloom! We say this is a miracle - why? What is the reason for calling it a miracle?
There is only one reason. Ordinarily we understand, that happening which takes place outside the precincts of cause and causality is a miracle. Normally, all trees give new off-shoots but then, there is always a time, a regulation. There is a reason why they sprout into new buds. But a tree that is dry since years and which had no cause to bloom, suddenly breaks into new leaves when Buddha passes under it. Now there is no connection between the two happenings - Buddha's passing and the tree blossoming. What connection can there be between the two happenings? A man is dead. If he becomes alright with treatment, we say perhaps the heart's pace had slowed down and with the medicine it is restored. Then it is no miracle to us. Why - because the medicine is the cause and his becoming well is the causality.
But if you bow your head at the feet of a person and become well, there is no causality. Then it is a miracle. Miracle means - where the rule of cause and causality does not apply. Where you cannot find the cause and the causality. Jesus places his hand on the head of a corpse and it springs to life there is no connection between the two. What is there in Jesus's hand? But if the man has become alive then it is a miracle.
Generally what we understand as miracle. is that happening. the cause and causality of which we do not understand.
But there also, there can be cause and causality. There is. Therefore that which we look upon today as a miracle, science might prove some day that it is not a miracle. It is only a matter of finding cause and causality. As soon as these are discovered. the miracle is lost. If a man comes and bows at my feet and gets well, it is not miracle - but it looks so because we cannot find the relationship between the cause and causality.
It is possible that that man does not really suffer from any illness. He may just be suffering from a mental delusion. If he in all reverence and faith, bows at my feet then the faith which had strengthened the illness will melt before this faith of his and it will be destroyed. It will seem a miracle but is not so for cause and causality are behind it. The illness was created by his own faith and destroyed by his own. My feet had nothing to do with it they can do nothing. It is not at all a miracle.
If a dead man comes to life, even then it is no miracle. Some day in the near future we shall unfold the mystery of his death and coming back to life. If illness can be mental, cannot death also be mental? It is absolutely possible. Death can be mental. Not all die of a physical illness, intellectuals die often of mental illness.
If you are thoroughly convinced that you are dying, you are dying, then you will die. Your physical mechanism is absolutely alright and can still work. Only your consciousness within has contracted.
The hand of Jesus can loosen the contraction of the consciousness. It is not a miracle. The magnetic power of the hand of Jesus can bring up the buried consciousness to the surface once again.
This living magnetism of the body has its own science. It has its own cause and causality. Then it is possible that bowing at someone's feet even without faith may prove beneficial. Then it is possible that the living magnetism of this man, enters your body. Just as electricity enters the body by a mere touch and gives a shock, so also the magnetic principle enters and changes the other person. So it is not a miracle when the cause and causality can be traced.
The miracle Lao Tzu talks about, is something quite different. That miracle is there where the ego is zero - a complete naught. When the ego is completely destroyed, a rare phenomenon takes place and that is we see no difference between the cause and the causality. Then the causality becomes the cause as the cause becomes the causality. The seed becomes the tree and the tree becomes the seed. And in that state a man can see the seed and the tree simultaneously. But then this is a real miracle! Try to understand this. It is rather involved and intricate.
We look at the seed but at the same time we cannot see the tree. We shall have to wait twenty years to see the tree. Then we will see the tree but then, the seed will no longer be. We see a babe being born, we do not see the old man in him. We shall have to wait, 70 years to see the old man and by the time we see the old man, the child will have long disappeared. We shall never be able to see them both together. That Lao Tzu calls a miracle when the ego is reduced to naught and the mystery becomes intensely deep. Then the old man becomes visible in the babe and death in birth.
The whole tree becomes visible in the seed, together with all the flowers that are yet to bloom. Then we see all that happening which is yet to happen. What has already happened, also seems to be present and what is still to happen, is also present. The Past and the Future are finished and only 'the Moment' remains. All existence stands in the eternity of one moment.
And when Krishna tells Arjuna: "These whom you think you are going to kill, I see them dead already.
They are dead Arjuna, they only seem standing before you, for you do not have the power to see in to the future." This is a miracle! Miracle means - where the cause and causality are not apart.
They are not apart actually. It is our manner of looking that is wrong. The way we see things is like this. If I were to make a hole in the wall and look into this room then when I look at say A, I will see A only, then when I turn towards B, I shall see B only. A will be lost. From B when I turn to C, B will be lost. Then supposing there is no way of turning my back, what would I understand by this? I will naturally think that A and B are finished and only C remains. I cannot see D further ahead. Now if the wall were to break, I would see all A,B,C,D simultaneously. Then this would be a miracle.
If I can see the birth of creation and its death, its annihilation simultaneously, it is a miracle.
Lao Tzu says when a person enters into Rahasya with all intensity, he finds the door of the subtle and finally the door to wonder and miracles open. Then he sees the world coming into being and ending at the same time. Then he sees God making and destroying the world simultaneously. This is rather difficult to understand - it cannot be brought within our understanding and hence it is a miracle. What we generally call miracles have nothing to do with this miracle, for these can be searched and discovered but as long as the cause and causality bear no connection, it remains a mystery, a miracle to us.
In the authentic miracle also, the cause and causality are not known, as the cause and causality are both present.
A very perplexing happening took place recently in the research institute of Oxford University, which will make it easier to understand the element of miracles. Some scientists were taking the picture of a bud. When they developed the film, they found it was the picture of a flower! The film used was the most sensitive film available today. Before the camera was the bud, but within, the picture was that of a flower! The picture was conserved all the same. There may have been some mistake somewhere - the film could have been previously exposed, some ray might have entered unknown.
They attributed it to the chemicals or some such thing. When the bud turned into a flower, another picture was taken and this was an exact replica of the first picture! This experiment could not be repeated. However the Scientist who had carried out the experiment is fully confident that some day we shall develop such a sensitive film that when a child is born, we can photograph the old man within him. For that which is to happen, has already happened in the world of the subtle. The process of what is to happen tomorrow has already started in the World of the subtle and it must have already taken place in some deeper world. It only takes time for the news to reach us. As long as the sense faculties try to grasp it, there will be delay. If we can grasp without the help of our senses, we shall be able to grasp here and now.
The time-gap between a bud and a flower is not gap between the bud and flower but the gap between the flower and our senses. If our senses were to step aside, we shall be able to behold the flower in the bud. Then the miracle will have taken place. To enter into this world of miracles, is the aim of Religion.
Lao Tzu has said a great deal in few words. But this is a code. If it is merely read, you will gain nothing. But if you unfold every word and lay bare each layer, perhaps you shall touch - though every so slightly - the spirit of Lao Tzu.
Enough for today, we shall talk again tomorrow.