Reflection of that - which was before god
CHAPTER 4 : SUTRA 3
I DO NOT KNOW WHOSE SON IT IS, MAY BE AN IMAGE OF WHAT EXISTED BEFORE GOD.
On attaining the void, becoming empty like an empty vessel, when all the sharp points of the mind fall away and the complexes are strengthened, when man unveils himself fully and knows, even then, that which is ultimate, which is the basis of creation, the most intrinsic, remains unknown. It remains folded in Mystery.
In this last sutra Lao Tzu points towards Him and says, "I DO NOT KNOW WHOSE SON IT IS."
This that remains unknown when all is known, this that remains unopened when all else is revealed, whose mystery cannot be solved by any knowledge, who is this? I DO NOT KNOW WHOSE SON HE IS. I do not know of whom he is born, from where he comes, from which root source he has arisen? Perhaps he is the image of that which was before God. This Void, this mystery, is perhaps the reflection of that which was before God.
Many things need to be understood in this sutra. The first thing is, Lao Tzu says "I DO NOT KNOW."
Yesterday I talked about asmita and ahankara. As long as ahankara (ego) persists, knowledge cannot dawn. As long as ego persists, only ignorance can be. The mystics have looked upon ego and ahankara as synonymous. To be egocentric and to be ignorant are the same. They are the two names of the same condition.
When ego falls, when ignorance falls, the sense of asmita begins. Asmita and wisdom are one and the same, just as ego and ignorance are one and the same. When ego is within, ignorance is without. When asmita is within, wisdom is without. Asmita is - just to-be-ness. Just to be, without any distinction, without any form - just being - pure existence!
When there is only asmita, wisdom shall be with it. Here when Lao Tzu says, "I DO NOT KNOW,"
this 'I' is an indicator of asmita. The ego is annihilated. Now there is no feeling of being the centre of the world or that the world is only for me or that only I should be. All these feelings are now extinct.
Even then, I am, and in this I, all mystery is washed away. But even this 'I' does not know from where this Void comes! Ignorance has no knowledge of the source of this Void but even wisdom has not the least idea where from it comes. Neither ignorance nor wisdom can tell of the source of the river of Existence.
By saying, "I DO NOT KNOW", Lao Tzu is trying to convey the fact that even after knowing all, after knowing the Self in all respects, even now when all complexes are removed and there is no darkness but light and light everywhere, even then he does not know from where arises this Void that has revealed itself to him. He does not know where it comes from or what is its journey. This asmita filled with wisdom, it too has no knowledge of it.
The 'I' of Lao Tzu, is the 'I' of the sage and this 'I' too, does not know. The 'I' of the ignorant does not know anything but even the 'I' of the wise does not know anything. This distinction should be understood. Beyond this, it is impossible to go. One can only reach up to asmita. Where even asmita is lost and we go beyond, we become one with the Void. Then there is no way of standing apart and knowing the Void.
He who stands on the shore of the ocean is an ignorant man. He who jumps and is drowned in the ocean, is a wise man; but as yet, he is apart from the ocean. He who becomes one with the ocean, goes beyond knowledge. The ignorant man does not know because as yet he is standing on the shore, away from the ocean. The wise man is drowned in the ocean and yet he does not know because he is still not one with ocean. The state which is beyond wisdom, is the state of being one with the ocean. But then the knower is no more.
He who knows, is the most ignorant. The 'knower' is so much that the known does not exist. In asmita, the knower and the known are equal and even. The balance is absolutely equal. Even then, one thin line - that of knowing - separates the two. The state that follows this - whether we call it Supreme knowledge or supreme ignorance - is the state in which the knower does not exist - he becomes Void.
In ignorance, the knower is too much: in Supreme ignorance or Supreme knowledge, the knower is completely absent and in wisdom the knower and the known are even.
The plane from which Lao Tzu speaks and says he does not know, is the plane of knowledge where asmita still is. So Lao Tzu says, he does not know whose son it is. From where has come this Void?
Perhaps, he says, it is a reflection of that which existed even before God!
Man's imagination has gone up to God. Man has no concept beyond God. God is the ultimate boundary of man's conception. The highest flight of imagination has taken man up to God, the Universal Spirit. And Lao Tzu says, "This seems to be the image of that which is beyond God."
Here Lao Tzu hints at one or two things:
The first thing is that the boundary of conception is not even the outermost boundary of Truth. The ultimate boundary of perception does not lead to even the first step of Truth. Philosophy goes up to Parmatman but as yet the ocean has not begun! Therefore Shankara - it will be easier to understand Lao Tzu through Shankara - has described God also as a part of maya (Illusion) and not Brahma (The Absolute). This is because the concept of the Universal Soul is the ultimate concept of the mind; and illusion goes as far as the mind goes. Maya (Illusion) means the expansion of the mind.
So if man has discovered God, it is a discovery of his mind; and whatever the human mind discovers, will be bounded by illusion.
Shankara has made a very courageous statement by calling God a part of maya. Brahma is beyond maya, beyond Ishwara (God).
This is exactly what Lao Tzu says. He says, "That which was before God and which was naturally before creation and was also before the creator." But he does not say "It is the very same." He says, "This is His very art." Lao Tzu says, "Take this to be its image." He does not say, "This is it," for the mind cannot know it. AHANKARA (ego) will never know it nor also asmita. At the most asmita will know its reflection.
Reflection means: There is a tree on the bank of a river and its reflection falls in the river. Now there is a fish in the river. This fish can see the reflection of the tree in the water but cannot see the tree on the bank of the river. Now the fish can see the reflection of the birds that fly overhead or the moon rising in the sky and also the clouds floating over the moon. The mirror of the water causes these reflections and these reflections alone the fish can see.
The mind, a mind filled with asmita, can at the most be capable of seeing such reflections.
Therefore Lao Tzu does not say with certainty that 'This is this.' He says, "Perhaps it is the reflection of that which was before God."
Actually all that a man can know - nay, all that can be known, is only the reflection, for Truth can only be known when we are one with Reality. The knower is not separate. When the fire-fly burns itself with the lamp, then only does he know the lamp. When the rock salt melts in the ocean, then only does it know the ocean but then it is no more! And then even if it wishes to tell someone, it cannot because it no longer exists! As long as we know, at the most, we shall know the most Supreme to be known - but as a reflection. It is incumbent on us then to add the word 'perhaps' when we talk of reflections.
Here, a little probe into Mahavira will make it easier to understand Lao Tzu. No one has used the words 'perhaps' as generously as Mahavira has done. Whatever Mahavira said, he prefixed 'perhaps' to it. He always said, "Perhaps...". He never said, "It is like this". Therefore the thinking of Mahavira is called 'Perhaps-ism' Whatever he said, he never said without perhaps. Even the most indisputable fact about which he was absolutely definite, he would not say without 'perhaps'. Why? If Mahavira knows for certain he should clearly state that 'this is such'. But Mahavira says, "Whenever anyone makes an assertive statement it becomes an untruth".
Mahavira says, "At the most, the mind can say, 'It can be this'". It is also possible that 'it cannot be this'. When we say, "It is this," we destroy the possibility of the rest of the possibilities of Truth. Our assertion becomes full and hence blind. When we say, "It can be this," we leave open the possibility of its being otherwise also. Try to understand it in yet another way and 'perhaps-ism' will become clearer to you:
You can see me. It could not have ever occurred to you that you have never seen me, nor is there any way to see me. You see my reflection only. My image is formed in your eye and the message of this image reaches your brain. What you see is this image that is formed in your eyes. This is the only way you see me. Without eyes you cannot see me. Eyes means the mechanism of forming reflections. What is outside is reflected in the eye and the mind sees this reflection.
In the same way, when you hear me, you do not hear what I say. The sound of my voice falls on your ears and it is caught by them and relayed to the mind. Here the ears are the reflectors. Similarly when I touch you, you do not know the touch as such. Your skin catches the sensation and then you feel the touch. There is always a screen between you and me.
Therefore Immanuel Kant, the great thinker of Germany has said, "A thing-in-itself, is unknowable".
We only see their images. And if it is only the reflections we know, remember this includes our ability to form images also.
Therefore a man suffering from jaundice sees yellow everywhere. Colour-blind people are unable to see particular colours and there are many people who are colour-blind. One out of every ten, is blind to one colour or the other.
Bernard Shaw did not know till the age of sixty that he could not see yellow. He could not differentiate between green and yellow. On his 60th birthday, someone presented him a suit. He went to buy a tie to match the suit and he brought a yellow tie. When he brought it home, his secretary was shocked to see it. "You should have brought a green tie to match your suit and not a yellow one", she told him. "Who says this is yellow? This is green!" he said. Then for the first time he knew, he could not differentiate between yellow and green.
So what we see depends mainly on our own ability to see.
Now a fish swimming in water, will see the moon's reflection blue because the waters of the river are blue. It has no way of knowing also, that the moon is not blue.
Therefore Mahavira says, "We should always say perhaps with whatever we know." This shows that we are not claiming the whole knowledge of Truth but only its reflection. So we say, "This is how I see it." We do not say "This is how it is." What I see can be wrong also, can be different; something entirely opposite can be the Truth.
Lao Tzu says, "This Void that is manifest, is perhaps the reflection of that which was even before God and from where God also could have been born."
A lot of work has been done in connection with 'the original face' in the Tao tradition. The disciple is told, "Find out what is your original face". You might say, "My face is my original face." But if you pick up your pictures of last ten years you will find your face has changed ten times.
Steinbeck's wife was a German writer. Once she was showing her little son, his father's pictures right from childhood. When they were married, the father was 30 years old. He had curly hair and a beautiful face. The little child asked his mother "Who is this handsome guy with curly hair?" "Why, that is your father, can't you recognise him?" she said. "If this is my father then who is the bald man who stays in our house? I thought that was my father!" the child asked.
It must have been difficult for the mother to explain to the child. Which face is original? Which face is really yours - the 3 years old or the 30 years old? The one that you are born with or the one with which you die? Which is your authentic face?
In the Tao tradition the Sadhaka is told to meditate and find out his authentic face. The Sadhaka is confused. He comes back to the Guru and asks, "What do you mean by the original face?" The Guru replies, "That face which was yours before you were born or which will be yours even after you will die. That face which was with you before you appeared in the world and which will be with you when you disappear from this world. That face alone is authentic; all the rest is mere clothing that is given to you and taken away from you."
And Lao Tzu says - "That which was even before God, that alone is the authentic face of Truth" - when everything was unmanifest. When nothing had manifested".
The Vedas and the Upanishads have testified to three states of Existence. One state is when Existence is manifest: flowers bloom, birds sing, there are people on earth, there are the Sun and the stars. It is a state in which creation is incessantly appearing and expanding. The second state is that of annihilation, when the earth begins to contract and disintegrate. Flowers fall, birds die all sound fades and also the stars and the Sun. The former is when Existence is being created and is young and vigorous and the latter is when Existence gets old and is nearing its end. So the states of creation and annihilation are like the breath that goes in and out.
The Hindu philosophy has likened the creation of Existence to the in-going breath of God and its annihilation as His out-going breath. The breath of Brahma, is mythology but it is meaningful. One breath of Brahma is creation and another breath of Brahma is annihilation. Now there is a state beyond these two states when the breath neither goes in nor out. This is third state - where there is neither creation nor annihilation. There should be something which is not created during creation and which is not destroyed during annihilation. And that is the Original face.
Lao Tzu says, "It is the reflection of that which was even before God." Now Lao Tzu's each word needs to be pondered upon. He does not say, "This is it". He says, "It is only a reflection." Where there is the Seer, the Speaker, the I the ego - even if it be the gentle ego (asmita) - wherever 'I' exists, there can only be the reflection. But is this less - that we are able to see Truth even by means of a mirror? Lao Tzu takes care to see that we do not overlook the fact that this Truth is the Truth reflected from the mirror, - it cannot be any other. Another word he uses, is 'perhaps' as against insistence. This also is worth pondering upon.
The more our mind is filled with untruths, the more insistent we are. The greater the ego the greater the persistence in our speech. All our controversies are expostulations are not for the sake of truth but for the sake of our own obstinacy. When I say a particular thing is correct, the real question is not of its being correct or otherwise but of my having said so. In other words, I am right and you are wrong. All controversies appear to be for the sake of knowing Truth but if we observe these arguments about the so-called truths, we shall find ego standing erect behind them. My truth must be correct, for then only can I be correct. If it is not, I am at fault - and I am never at fault!
This insistence on our own being right, dies together with the ego. Therefore the truths born of asmita, like the words of Buddha or Mahavira or Krishna or Christ or Mohammed or Lao Tzu, are not the outcome of the ego. They are therefore most non-insisting. They are the last word in giving:
there is not the attitude in them to convince the listener and to make him believe. It is like words spoken - and that is all! Even then, after considerable thought, to add the word 'perhaps', is a very brave act; for we can never dream of saying perhaps about that which we hold authentic! We never use this word even to express our untruths! But here are people like Lao Tzu who insert this word even to the truth they have known!
We cannot use perhaps for our untruths for then the untruth will die. If you are questioned in court, "Did you commit theft?" what will you reply; - 'Perhaps'? We have to be obstinately persistent in the case of untruths. We shall have to gather as many witnesses and proofs to prove our authenticity.
Untruth has no soul of its own. It is entirely dependent on the strength of your proofs and insistences to keep it alive.
But Truth needs no help from you. Therefore it is, that people like Lao Tzu and Mahavira could use the word perhaps. If Mahavira was asked, "Does the soul exist?" he would say, "Perhaps". Who could know better than Mahavira about the authenticity of the soul? He who knows so definitely should give such an indefinite answer! The fact is, the existence of the soul is so self-evident that he sees no point insisting on it. When he says, "Perhaps", he means to convey that no one should depend on his answer. That even without him, the soul is. He says 'perhaps' for he feels his knowing can be wrong.
We cannot say 'perhaps' even for the untruths we utter, whereas a person like Lao Tzu speaks of Truth also as 'perhaps.' The reason is there is no substance matter in what we speak - only our persistence keeps it alive.
There is a very well-known pleader of India by the name of Dr. Harisingh Gaud. No one earned as much as he did out of advocacy. The Sagar University was built from his donation. He has written in his memoirs that when he took leave of his guru who had taught him law, he was given a parting advice. His guru said, "If truth is on your side, hammer on the facts. If truth is not in your favour, then hammer on the laws." Then Dr. Harisingh asked him, "If truth is not clear and if the facts are not clear and if the rules of the law are also not quite clear, then what is one to do?" His guru replied, "Then hammer on the table! All depends on how you shake the Court. The harder you hit the table the more will they be convinced."
Lao Tzu and Mahavira are absolutely non-hammering people. They do not proclaim by thumping the table. The most certain of truths they express with 'perhaps'. If anyone contradicts against their statements they reply again with a "perhaps you are right."
The method evolved by Mahavira to express Truth contains not one but seven 'perhaps'! Therefore Mahavira's explanations become very intricate. A small statement - and Mahavira gives seven explanations! If you ask: "Is this a vessel?" Mahavira will reply, "Perhaps it is a vessel." Perhaps some one would: call it by the name of clay and not vessel and then there would be an argument.
So Mahavira says, "Perhaps it is a vessel". Then he at once gives another statement, "Perhaps it is not a vessel but clay." Now it is possible someone might refute both these statements. So Mahavira makes a third statement. He says, "Perhaps the pot is and perhaps it is not". The vessel is clay and the vessel is a vessel and clay is not a vessel, hence third statement.
Then Mahavira would say that even then someone might say, "Then if it is not clear whether it is a vessel or whether it is clay or whether it is both or whether it is not both, what then?" In that case Mahavira would reply, "It is perhaps undefinable."
Then there are three more statements that Mahavira makes. There are in all, seven combinations.
There cannot be more. There is no eighth statement. We think there can be only two statements.
We say, "God is or God is not." There finishes our argument. No, Mahavira says, "Perhaps God is, perhaps He is not; Perhaps He is and is not; perhaps God is undefinable; perhaps God is and is undefinable; perhaps He is not and is undefinable or perhaps God is and is not and is undefinable".
Thus there are seven statements.
Mahavira says, "Logic ends with the seventh statement." No eighth statement is logically possible.
All that has to be said is completed in these seven statements.
Therefore Mahavira's reasoning is seven-folded logic.
When Lao Tzu says 'perhaps', he means to say that he makes no claims, nor does he insist that you should believe that what he has known is the Truth. He only means that that is how he experienced it and what is the worth of the experience of an ordinary person like him? Therefore he makes use of the term, 'perhaps'. "What is the standing of this small vessel before the gigantic, infinite emptiness?
Therefore I say, 'perhaps'. What I say could be wrong also. What I have experienced, can only be a dream!" Thus Lao Tzu explains.
We try to give the stamp of reality even to our dreams but Lao Tzu has the courage to call his experience of Truth as a dream! The most unique thing about it is, that this courage only comes on the advent of Truth. As long as truth does not dawn on us, we never have this courage. If we have the slightest doubt about one truth, we proclaim it louder. We try to make up the deficit by substituting loud proclamations.
Mulla Nasruddin happened to be staying in a village. He did not understand the language spoken there. The pundits of the village conducted their meetings in Latin and the Mulla went religiously every day to hear them. People wondered - what did he get out of it? But he was the first to come and the last to leave. One day they decided to ask him. "You do not follow a single word of our language and yet you are so attentive. Do you really understand what is going on?" Asked one of them. "I do not follow anything, but one thing I understand very well and that is that the one who shouts the loudest is definitely telling an untruth. He who loses his temper, he too expounds untruths. Who speaks quietly, who is non-assertive - all this I observe."
The Mulla went on to say that had he known the language, it would not have been so easy to understand all this. "Then I would get involved in the language," he said. "Now I observe the face, the eyes, the expressions, the actions and though I do not know what is being said, this much I can tell from what depth the speaker answers - whether he knows what he is saying or he says without knowing."
Our gestures, our emphasis, speak all about our knowledge. Remember, the greater the untruth, the greater the emphasis; the greater the truth, the lesser is the emphasis. Truth is enough unto itself. It requires no insistence from anyone. It stands on its own footings and requires no props.
There is a Jew thinker by the name of Sadeh. He was urged many times to write about himself, his life, so that people could understand what he said. But Sadeh never allowed his life-story to be written nor spoke of any incident from his life. Sadeh would say, "If what I say is the Truth, it will abide even without me. Then where is the need to know my life-story?"
When he was pressed very hard to speak on himself, he made one statement. He said, "If we inspect the life of Jesus and then pick up the Bible, we shall never read it." What is the life-story of Jesus? He was born in a stable.
The story goes that he was born of a virgin mother. This is doubtful. How can a child be born to a virgin? So Sadeh says that it is clear that there is a doubt who his father was, nothing is known where he studied or if he studied at all! That he stayed in the houses of drunkards and prostitutes and made friends with people of the lowest class of society, is very well known. He was guest in the houses of people with whom no respectable person would like to associate.
At the age of 33, he was hung on the Cross. Two thieves were also crucified along with him; and those who meted out this punishment were certain that this man was either mad or dangerous.
One whose antecedents are unknown, who was born in a stable, whose heritage was questionable, who courted the friendship of drunkards and prostitutes and spent his nights in the company of gamblers and who was crucified along with two thieves at the age of thirty-three, would anyone take up the Bible after knowing all this? Would you also feel the Bible worth reading if you have first read the life-story of its author? no. So what we do is just the opposite. We read the Bible first, then the life-story of the author makes no difference.
Therefore Sadeh says, "Leave my life-story alone." What difference will it make whether Sadeh smokes or whether he drinks. If what he says is the Truth, it cannot be falsified by any of his actions.
If what he says is not the Truth then even if he takes nothing but plain water, his words cannot be true. Sadeh says, "There is no need to bring me in. Try and see directly what is being said".
This perhaps is a method of eliminating the self. By this statement perhaps the man is trying to convey that his person can be left out altogether. There is no insistence on his part, therefore he does not enter into the discussion at all. He places the Truth directly before his listeners and steps aside. If he maintains, "This is the Truth", then he enters the debate for if some one says, "This is not the Truth," then the responsibility of proving it falls on his shoulders. Sahed says, "If I say 'Perhaps this is the Truth,' then I stand outside of any argument. The truth now stands on its own footing.
If it is capable of convincing others, that is enough; and if it cannot convince, then what else can convince you, if even Truth cannot?"
This is why people like Lao Tzu, make use of the term 'perhaps', while expounding Truth, the Truth which for them exists completely and about which they are completely assured within themselves.
This seems very contrary. Those who expound untruths never begin their statements with 'perhaps', whereas those that expound Truth, always begin with 'perhaps'. He who propounds a falsehood is always insistent whereas he who utters Truth is never insistent.
Jesus is being crucified. Pilate, the man who ordered his crucifixion asks him, "Tell me, O youth, before you die - what is Truth, for which you have put yourself in this predicament?" Jesus gave no reply. Pilate asked again. Jesus looked up but spoke not a word. It is 2,000 years ago that this happening took place and 2,000 people must have since then raised this question - If Jesus knew, why did he not tell Pilate? Or perhaps he did not know. Pilate could never have dreamt, that Jesus knew anything of Truth.
There is a story which, though, not authentic, is very prevalent. It is said that 30 years after the crucifixion, Pilate retired from governorship. Someone asked him if he remembered a youth by the name of Jesus whom he had ordered to be crucified. Pilate waved his hand and said, "Which youth?
I ordered the crucifixion of thousands of people during my governorship".
The man who was going to capture the hearts of at least half the people of this world, was an unknown entity to him who crucified him thirty years before. He could not recall who he was. From this it is clear that Pilate must have taken Jesus to be a youth who was out of his mind and was talking nonsense. He must have pitied him.
But Jesus' not answering was very meaningful and is worthy of thought.
It was not that Jesus was incapable of replying for he had answered many a time before and given priceless answers. He could have answered but he remained silent. And this was a golden opportunity for if Pilate was satisfied with his answer, he could have spared him the Cross.
Perhaps that is why Jesus did not answer for he did not deem it proper to save his own skin by taking shelter behind Truth. It was perhaps, so that the whole purport of his message may not get twisted; for then it would have been said that Pilate asked, Jesus answered and so was saved from the Cross. Many a time people stopped him on the road and asked and Jesus answered. At times they came even at midnight and Jesus answered. Jesus never refused for answer.
This was the first occasion on which a person on the cross was thus questioned - what is Truth?
And this was his agony, his distress - to convey Truth! And in such a situation, perhaps the message could have gone to many. Therefore, his silence baffled all. But those who could understand Jesus from within, knew that any answer to the question at this juncture, would tantamount to an effort to save the individual. The Truth then would not be without urgency and persistence. Then perhaps the thought to save himself could have crossed his mind. So he remained silent.
Lao Tzu says, "Perhaps, it is only its reflection." This word 'reflection' has been used with great far- sight by Lao Tzu; for then if there is any error, it will be on the part of Lao Tzu and not on the part of Truth. If we say "This is the Truth," then any lapse would be attributed to Truth. It has forever been the characteristic of those who know to say that whatever the lapse is entirely due to us. If you make a distorted statement regarding Truth, the exponent of Truth will take the blame upon himself and say perhaps there was something amiss in his method of explanation that caused you to misunderstand.
There could be no error in Truth. The error is always in the individual.
By referring to Truth as a reflection, Lao Tzu conveys, how he has seen Truth - like a reflection in a mirror. Now the mirror can be faulty. You must have seen mirrors that distort your figure, in some you appear huge, in others, very small. One thing about the mirror is very definite, that your right eye appears as your left eye and your left eye as your right. Things do not appear as they are, in the mirror, they become opposite. This does not strike you when you look into the mirror for you yourself have no knowledge of your right eye or left eye.
When you hold a written page before a mirror, you will realise the words are topsy turvy. You also appear topsy turvy but since you have no knowledge of your authentic form how will you know that you are topsy turvy?
A scientist who has done a lot of research on the human face has discovered the fact that the two parts of the same face are not identical. His method is as follows:
He would take a picture of you and cut it vertically into two exactly equal parts. Then he will take another picture of you and cut it in the same manner. Then he would join the right side of the first picture to the right side of the second, and thus also the two left sides. You will be surprised to see the result. Both faces will be completely different from each other. If both these new pictures are placed before you, you will never say they belong to the same man. You will say they are two different people.
So much transformation takes place in the mirror but we are not aware of it.
By using the word reflection we mean that whatever medium reflects the Truth, distorts it to some extent, for which the medium alone is responsible. The fact is, we can only know Truth through a medium. One medium is the ego. Ego is a medium like darkness. If someone tries to know Truth in darkness, he cannot know anything; he merely gropes in darkness. Yet he talks of Truth, like people talking of the atman, God, heaven and hell. All this is talking in darkness. They know nothing.
Nasruddin is sitting in the Masjid. The priest was talking so much about heaven that all the gathering became eager to go to heaven. "Whoever wants to go to heaven, stand up!" The priest shouted.
Everyone stood up except Nasruddin. The priest was surprised. "Don't you wish to go to heaven, Mulla?" The priest asked. The Mulla replied, "I do not take the trouble to stand up for that which is not clear. I am sitting. That is very clear to me and so I sit." "Besides," said Nasruddin, "if heaven is to be reached by standing up, I shall not go to such a heaven. Can one not reach heaven sitting down? For one thing, it is not clear where one is going or whether there is such a place or there is not. These people have stood up without any reason. Besides, let us see, if all those who stand have reached heaven, I too shall reach sitting. Let us see who reaches!"
How significant heaven appears to the mind. There is a great longing for liberation (Moksha).
Desires burn within us to attain Truth. Nothing is clear, what is to be attained. Everything is in darkness. We close our eyes in darkness and begin to dream. Ego is like darkness. The truths we evolve in it are mere phantoms, dreams. They are all the creations of our own mind and have no relationship with Truth. Asmita is like the lustre of light; but the Truth that is seen by this light is also reflected Truth. Where there is neither the ego nor asmita, where the 'I' is not, there alone can it be known, which is not a reflection but Truth itself. But then the speaker also is lost.
Lao Tzu speaks from the outermost boundary, that farthest point where the ego has turned into 'Naught' and where the asmita, which is a pure form of the ego is also about to fade. From this point Lao Tzu says, "I do not know from where all this is born, who is their creator, whose son he is? Perhaps this is a reflection of that which was even before God!" This is the final statement that is made at the boundary-line. Thus is the 'Boundary-Statement'. Beyond this, man is lost - even physically.
It is a fact that after making this statement, Lao Tzu was lost - even physically. I was talking metaphysically when I said a man is lost after crossing this boundary. But there was no trace of Lao Tzu's body after he wrote this book. Where had Lao Tzu gone? Did he live thereafter or did he die? Did he fall into an abyss? Where is Lao Tzu's grave? Who buried him? When did he die, on which day and date? Nothing is known about this. This is the first and the last book.
Mulla Nasruddin's friend, who had become an air-pilot, offered to take him for a ride. After the ride when Mulla came out of the plane he said to his friend. "Thank you for your two trips." "But that was a single trip!" His friend corrected him. "No", said the Mulla, "It was my first and last also."
This is Lao Tzu's first and last book; his first and last statement. He has written nothing before this; and nothing is known of him after he wrote this book. This is the statement on the boundary-line.
Lao Tzu speaks from the farthermost point from where life is once again lost into the clouds, where even asmita merges in the Void. He speaks from the last moment where the jump is taken into the abyss, from where there is no return. This is the statement at the border-land - both physical and spiritual.
Perhaps the physical disappearance of Lao Tzu goes to show that there is no point in remaining once the border-line is reached. There is no meaning in existing physically thereafter. After delivering this book at the check-post, Lao Tzu was never seen again.
I have told you this book was written on the check-post of China's border. In three days, Lao Tzu finished this book and handed it to the officer-in-charge there and came out. The officer had barely examined the book (which was initially very small) when he came out and asked the whereabouts of Lao Tzu. No one had seen him even come out of the room - not even the guards on duty! They tried to track his footsteps. They were nowhere to be seen. Soldiers were sent out to track him down but to no avail. They searched high and low for the man who wrote the most wonderful book on earth but there was no trace of him anywhere.
The king of China did his best to find him for what he had given was beyond their comprehension.
For eighty years this man lived amongst them and they did not recognise him! This was because we only can recognise words and not the individual. They searched for him high and low but he was never found. Perhaps it was to convey this message that Lao Tzu disappeared.
Such people not only say what they say but demonstrate it in their lives and in their personalities.
Lao Tzu's disappearance demonstrates the fact that his statements were given from the plane where even asmita becomes Void. Even at this point he declares that it is nothing more than a reflection.
Alas, if we only could recognise dreams! Then it would be very easy to recognise Truth, and if only we knew what reflection is, we would then have understood the Original. If we take dreams to be reality and reflections to be Truth, then it is difficult to know and recognise. We are so steeped in dreams and lost in reflections that we do not even recognise bare facts as they are and Truth is beyond our conception.
This afternoon a person came to see me. He is a specialist of the Russian method of film direction.
He was talking to me about meditation. He said, "There is great similarity between your method of meditation and our method of film direction. Our method requires that the sensitivity of the actor should become so sharp that if he holds a paper flower in his hand and declares it to be a rose, he must get the scent of rose from it. If he cannot be so engrossed in his acting that he does not get the scent of the rose, his face can never depict the right expression required for that act. If his face is to show the correct expression of a person who stands next to a real rose, he has to know and accept the paper flower to be a rose. The moment this paper flower turns into a real rose in his eyes, his nostrils will expand and his eyes will begin to see the colour of the rose, his very face will blush with the redness of the rose! If the paper-flower becomes a living flower, then alone will the actor have put in his very best in his performance."
I told him "Meditation is exactly the opposite of this. The Russian method is no method of meditation.
If you look at it properly, you will find it is a training for imagination. If a man's imagination is allowed to expand so that a paper-flower looks to be an authentic flower, it still remains a paper-flower!
"Now, how does he see it? He projects his mind and implants the imaginary flower on to the paper- flower. So much so, that the paper-flower disappears and is replaced by his imaginary flower. It is this that brings on the fragrance of the rose and not the paper flower. His imagination gets so fixed that the artificial rose becomes real. This is imagination and not meditation."
In meditation, there is no super-imposition. If it is a paper flower, it should smell of the paper it is made of - even papers have their own particular smell. If it is a Russian paper, it will smell differently, for the trees of Russia smell different. If you take up a Japanese book, it will smell different for exactly the same reason. I have become such an adept at smelling papers that if I close my eyes and smell a book, I shall be able to tell you where it comes from. The smell is different for the trees in each country and they have their own peculiar scent.
If you can detect what paper the flower is made of by its particular smell. I will say you are in meditation. To know the fact as it is without adding any thing to it on our own, is meditation. But we all project our own thoughts on everything. It is not the actor alone who does this. We see things that are not. We are all adept at seeing a rose in a paper-flower.
When a man falls in love with someone, he sees that in his beloved which is not. When a person begins to loathe someone he too sees things in him that do not exist. None of us are ever unbiased - we are either in love or hate. We always take sides - either this or that. Therefore it happens that the greater the love before marriage the earlier the marriage breaks. The reason is, we begin to see such a huge fragrant rose that does not exist and so is never attained. Indian marriages are never a failure for we do not allow any imagination; the element of Love is not there at all! We begin with a paper flower and know it as such. What can be plainer or worse than this? Nothing.
Love means an enchanted eye. It sees things that do not exist at all! Then as you stay together, you begin to see all your dreams falling one by one and that begins to appear which actually is. Then you feel you have been cheated whereas it is not so. It was you who had projected some attributes to the person, which he did not possess.
In a way, we live with this art of projection. In each thing we see that which is not there. Thus we create a world of dreams around us. Therefore we have to cry everyday; for wherever the dreams crash they fall in splinters like glass.
Mulla Nasruddin was returning home one day with a lot of crockery. He was so engrossed in his thoughts that the parcel dropped from his hands. All the crockery broke into bits and were scattered all over the road. The Mulla stood looking while a crowd gathered. They all wondered why the Mulla was silent. Everything was broken, yet the Mulla was silent! At last he looked up and said, "What is the matter? You idiots, have you never seen a fool before? I stand here because I am a fool. I break things. What are you waiting here for?"
The Mulla returns empty-handed home. The wife questions, "Where are the goods?" Mulla replied, "It was all china. It came as far as it could and that was enough. How could I vouch for their coming as far as the home?" The goods were of china and it was enough that they reached as far as they could!
We all realise this in the last lap of our lives. Everyday we see things breaking. Today one thing breaks. Tomorrow another and yet another on the third day. In spite of this we do not realise that the goods we carry are made of clay - They are dreams, projections. Like a house of cards we build our house. The slightest wind and it crumbles down. And we are such, we blame the winds! Then we pray to God to take these winds elsewhere, let them break the houses of others but save ours!
No prayer can save a paper house, not even God.
We build boats of paper and set out on a journey to discover the Ocean of Infinity! The wonder is not that you never reach but that your boat can go even a little distance. It is a miracle! As the Mulla says, "The goods were of china. It was good enough as far as they came; and it is a wonder they came so far!"
Lao Tzu says that the experience of Truth he had, that too is a dream, for it is the Truth seen in a dream and hence it cannot be the authentic Truth. He says, "As long as the 'I' remains, however slight, all is experienced in a dream. My being is the ability to dream. If 'I am', I shall make reflections.
I shall not be able to see that which is. For that can be seen only when my state becomes like that of the moth - it flies to cling to the flames and is burnt - it becomes the flame!"
The greatest of Truth is but a reflection. This does not mean that there is no Truth outside of reflections. There is such a Truth, in the search of which so much is said and written. But the only condition of knowing is the extinction of the 'I'. When the ego is lost then only are the reflections lost with it.
It is just as when you watch a movie on the screen. Your attention is so drawn that you forget there is nothing actually on the screen. It is the projector behind you that is the actual thing. But you never turn back and look at it. When the picture is over, you praise the film you saw on the screen. You never think it all came from the projector. It is all a play of the projector and you have your back to it and where you see there is actually nothing!
People like Lao Tzu who know say that our ego, our asmita, no matter how pure, is only a projector.
It produces dreams. It projects things as we like to see them. This is a matter for the wise to ponder upon. I see here in our everyday happenings: Someone practises meditation. After two days he comes and says, "I see red colour. What is your opinion? Am I progressing well?" Another comes, "I see a circle of light. Is this good progress?" Another says, "I feel some movement in the spine. Is my kundalini awakening?" For an hour or two a man sits for meditation. In that also he opens his eyes now and then and then he thinks he has Truth on the palm of his hand, just because there is a slight creeping sensation in the spine!
And here there is one like Lao Tzu - Void stands before him, all is emptiness and yet he makes no claim that 'this is Truth.' He says, "This is a reflection of that which was even before God - a mere shadow!"
This path is very arduous and it requires an equal proportion of alertness.
The mind puts forth many temptations. When a little strip of cloth is attained it makes you feel as if you have captured a whole mill! The temptation is so great that one does not feel like disbelieving it. If such a man is told the truth, he does not come again. If you tell him that is nothing, he gets annoyed with you. I have experienced this. The man feels he has come with such a great experience and I say it is nothing! He promptly sets out in search of another guru who will acclaim his progress.
Now such seekers do not come with the intention of seeking something. He wants the Guru to be a mere witness that he is something. But these are the projections of a petty mind.
Strange and wonderful are these people - like Lao Tzu! Buddha has said, "As long as I keep seeing things, I shall know I have not reached up to Truth. As long as there are images, there are objects, I shall not halt. I want to reach a place where there are objects no more, nothing to be seen, where nothing remains, where there is pure emptiness. I shall not stop my search till then." And Buddha wandered for six years.
Some Guru would give him the vision of light. Then he would ask, "What now? I have experienced light but nothing has happened. I am where I was!" Then the guru would fold his hands and say, "Seek elsewhere, I showed you what I knew." For six years Buddha visited each and every guru in Bihar. Whatever they told him, he did. Then again the same question "What next?" He experienced no Truth.
Seeing red, yellow and green colours is seeing Truth? If you see a flame within you, what would you think? People write to me that they see rivers and streams and mountains - are they progressing well? What have these to do with Truth? But the projector of imagination is forever working within us. When you sit silent, it at once begins to weave all kinds of webs before you. Those who are fond of music find humming songs, those who are fond of colour, see various colours and these begin to spread.
Lao Tzu's courage is something to be noted. In the very last moment also, he says it is a reflection.
It must be a reflection for 'I am' still remaining. Truth is there where even I am not. This chapter finishes with this Sutra. Enough for today.