Oneness in the opposites and installation into the void
CHAPTER 5: SUTRA 2
MAY NOT THE SPACE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH BE COMPARED TO A BELLOWS?
IT IS EMPTIED, YET IT LOSES NOT ITS POWER; IT IS MOVED AGAIN, AND SENDS FORTH AIR THE MORE.
MUCH SPEECH TO SWIFT EXHAUSTION LEAD WE SEE; YOUR INNER BEING GUARD, AND KEEP IT FREE.
Life is constructed on many intra-contradictory bases. Life is not what it appears. Behind the apparent elements are elements that are not visible and which are absolutely contrary.
But we never think of the opposite.
When we look at birth, we get no hint of death. If any person talks of death when a birth has taken place, we brand him as an insane. But death is always hidden behind birth and he who knows, sees death at once with birth.
Now this is just as when someone is on his death-bed, we never think of his birth; but after every death, a birth cycle starts. When we see a beautiful face, it never occurs to us that it may one day turn ugly. When someone is young, we do not hear the foot-falls of age behind the beauty and vigour of youth. When someone is successful in something, remember failure is close by; but this never occurs to us. When someone is placed on the highest pedestal, we are never reminded that one day he will fall to the ground. We do not think this way at all.
Existence hides the opposite within itself. Therefore, the wise one is he who is capable each moment of seeing the opposite also. He who sees death in life, light in darkness, failure in success, ugliness in beauty, the hatred behind love and scandal behind praise. he alone is wise.
Lao Tzu here gives us the most profound news about these opposites. What is the lower-most base of the opposite?
Have you seen the bellows in a blacksmith's shop? Lao Tzu has given an example of the bellows.
He says, "When the bellows become empty of air, do not think it has become powerless." The truth is, that the strength of the bellows lie in its emptiness only. There is no strength in filled bellows. The blacksmith empties the bellows, in order to fill it with strength. it is the power of emptiness within the bellows, that sucks the air in. Bellows that are already full have no power left to suck in air. It is already so full that no more can be filled into it. It is at the last point of fulness. Now it is powerless but when it is empty it is powerful and has the strength to suck in air.
In the moment of death, the bellows of a person are emptied out. Now life can again appear. The breath within you at the time of death was pressed out now you can once again take in from the refreshing breath of life. Have you ever thought that you are only able to suck in the life-giving breath of existence, when you have breathed out? When you breathe out, you are powerful and not empty.
You are only empty of breath but your ability to suck in life increases.
Lao Tzu says, "When the bellows are empty, do not think they are weak. It will suck the air in and also throw it out. The emptiness is a step towards fullness." But we see mere emptiness in emptiness and only fullness in fullness.
Lao Tzu says: "Emptiness is a step towards fullness, and fulness is the preparation for being empty again." These are the right and the left feet of existence. Life cannot go on on one foot only. The breath that comes in is just as much one leg of life as the breath that comes out. If we observe our breathing we shall find that the outgoing breath is synonymous with death and the incoming breath is synonymous with life. Those who have studied the science of respiration, say that we die with every breath and are reborn again.
Death, however, does not mean becoming powerless. It means only this: that we are ready again to become powerful. We have thrown the old away and our capability to fill in the new has become sharp and clear.
Lao Tzu says "The Existence works like a pair of bellows between heaven and earth." We can understand the full concept of the universe through the working of the system of respiration - through the incoming and outgoing breath. If the rising Sun at dawn is like the ingoing breath, the setting Sun of even-tide is like the outgoing breath. The whole Universe throbs with this breathing phenomenon - like a pair of bellows.
And now as a result of ceaseless research by Einstein and others, a new concept has been given to Physics - a concept Lao Tzu had no knowledge of - that of the Expanding Universe. Up to now we were under the impression that the universe was a fixed quantity but now the scientists say that the universe is forever expanding. Just as a child fills air in his balloon and it becomes larger and larger, so also is the Universe expanding continuously. It is expanding at the rate of millions of miles per second. Its outer circumference is getting bigger and bigger. The stars are going farther and farther away from each other.
Just as when we blow a small balloon and make two dots on it. Then as the balloon gets bigger and bigger, these two dots will go far and far apart. So also the stars are going further away from each other. The circumference is going farther and farther away from the centre.
But Einstein has placed the Western Science in great difficulty; and that is: what will be the end to this? Where will this expansion end? And if and when it stops, what will be the cause thereof? The West has yet no answer to this. This answer, however is attainable from Lao Tzu, attainable in the Upanishads. And the answer is - the expansion of the Universe is the inflating breath. But things that inflate, deflate also - there will be a deflating breath. The West has reached the concept of the inflating breath; now the realisation of the concept of the deflating breath is equally necessary.
The thinkers of the East say, "This spreading expansion, we call by the name of creation. When this creation begins to shrink (when the breath begins to go out) we call it the annihilation of the universe." When the universe expands to its maximum it inevitably begins the reverse process and begins to shrink. It is just as when you breathe in the lungs expand to their maximum and then at once begin to contract.
The Indian sages have made a very wonderful statement; they have likened one epoch of creation to one breath of Brahma. When Brahma breathes in, the world expands, when he breathes out, the Universe contracts and everything shrinks to its seed-form.
Lao Tzu says: "Between heaven and earth there is just such a play of bellows. Also, everything between heaven and earth, is surrounded by duality. Where there is expansion, there is contraction".
Why does Lao Tzu say this? This he says so that if you wish to expand you must be prepared to contract. If you are very eager to attain life, you must be ready also to die. If you have a great desire for beauty, you are sowing seeds of ugliness. If you wish for success, you are making the path that leads to failure.
Someone went up to Lao Tzu one day and asked him, "Lao Tzu, have you ever known unhappiness?" Lao Tzu began to laugh. "No", he said, "I have never known unhappiness for I have never desired to know happiness."
We also wish not to know unhappiness but that is only so that we may keep experiencing happiness.
We want happiness to be with us forever. But Lao Tzu says he has never known unhappiness for he never aspired for happiness. We shall always experience misery and sorrow for when we sow seeds of happiness the seeds of unhappiness are sown automatically. The desire of happiness is the birth of unhappiness.
It is the in-going breath only that becomes the outgoing breath. Expansion alone is the way towards contraction; and light alone is the door to darkness. But the opposite never occurs to us, while life swings, like the bellows of the blacksmith, between the opposites.
Lao Tzu can never be beaten for he has never wished to win! Lao Tzu always said, "No one has ever insulted me for I made no arrangements for praise. Whenever I went to a gathering, I always sat where people kept their shoes, for there was no way of being jostled further back!" Lao Tzu used to say, "I have always occupied the foremost place, no body could shift me even to a second position for I was always first in the last. I always stood at the farthest end of the row - from where there was no further to go. Therefore, no one could send me back further." This seems very contradictory.
But this is the correct thing. He who chooses the latest position can in no way be pushed back further; whereas he who stands in front, has made ample arrangements for being pushed back. In fact, the very step he made use of to reach the foremost seat, will be utilised by others to send him down.
Mulla Nasruddin was fishing on the bank of a river one morning. He had caught some crabs which he had kept in a bucket beside him. Some politicians happened to come for a walk and they saw the crabs in the Mulla's bucket. "Mulla, put a lid on your bucket or else the crabs will crawl out." "Never fear," replied the Mulla, "These crabs are born politicians. As soon as one crawls up, the others pull him down. They will never run away." The Mulla further explained that he always used to cover the bucket first but then I discovered what born politicians they are. Now he no longer puts a lid on to his bucket!
Whenever you climb up, you little know how many there are whom you instigate to pull you down.
The alchemy lies in your very act of climbing. In fact, the pleasure of climbing up lies only in instigating others to pull you down. Understand this a little. If no one is eager to pull you down, you will get no pleasure in climbing up. If you sit on a throne and there is no one who tries to dislodge you from it, the throne no longer appeals.
The worth of the throne is only when there are thousands eager to push you off it and capture it for themselves. The pleasure you have in sitting on the throne is the same that goads the others lo get you off it. Both these are conjoined. Lao Tzu says, "You cannot pull me down for I sit at a place from where you cannot go any lower. Therefore my throne is well-protected."
Lao Tzu knows the opposite thing and to know the opposite is the sutra for perfect knowledge in this world. If we want to be foremost, we want to be foremost only. We are not aware of this contradiction that only the last can be the first. Now if we want to fill, we want only to fill. We are not aware of the opposite fact that he alone can fill who is empty. When we seek honour, we strive for honour alone for we do not know that this is a device for dishonour. It is a matter of the greatest skill and ingenuity to see the opposite. We do see the opposite.
Somebody came to visit Mulla Nasruddin. As soon as he entered the Mulla said, "Please sit down, take a chair." The man was displeased. He was a wealthy man of the village - no ordinary person; and thus to be addressed casually was very painful to him. He said, "Nasruddin, do you know who I am?"
We are always eager to say, "Who I am".
Nasruddin said, "Be kind enough to tell me."
"Don't you know," the man said, "I am the richest man in town?" "Forgive me," said Nasruddin, "I did not know. You may take two chairs."
One cannot sit on two chairs no matter how rich one is. But the desire is there all the same. The mam was angry, "Are you in your senses Mulla? How can I sit on two chairs?" He shouted.
Nasruddin offered a technique, "You place one chair upon another and climb on to it," he told him.
A throne is so many chairs one on top of the other. A throne means a seat under which there are thousands of seats. Remember however, all those who occupy the chairs beneath you and are pressed down by your weight, will always try to throw you out of your chair. There is no fun in merely sitting on a chair. Actually Man likes to ride on top of men.
Man likes to subjugate men; but the more your chair (status goes higher and higher the danger of your toppling down increases in the same ratio, for an equal number of people are pressed down under it. They will not rest till they throw you out. Therefore the first chair is never safe in this world.
It is the unsafest place in the world.
Lao Tzu says, "Our minds are always eager to attain things quickly and directly for we have no idea of the opposite." If we are aware of the opposite, then we know that greatest of art which is Religion.
Religion says if you want to attain the supreme life be ready to accept the supreme death. Die this very moment, and the supreme life is yours. Religion says if you want to attain that wealth that no thief can take from you then become wealthless and consider it to be your greatest treasure. And if you wish honour and respect, become a nonentity voluntarily.
There was a fakir in Japan by the name of Leechee. When he died people discovered that he had spread all kinds of wrong stories about himself. He had persuaded a few people to spread all kinds of rumours about him. He died an unknown man. As he lay dying he thanked his friends for thus saving him from the madness of crowds. He said it was because of their kindness that he was now dying peacefully. He was such a nonentity that no one came forward to challenge his position. Who cared to challenge an unknown man? It is the status, the position of a man that attracts others and goads them to bring about his downfall.
Lao Tzu says: "Opposing breaths are forever at work in Existence like the pair of bellows in the blacksmith's shop." One thing he stresses very often and that is, that when the bellows are empty, then too its power remains unbroken. Do not think it to be powerless when empty. The power in the bellows is a complete force - unbroken. The Void has the power of Perfection.
Modern physics says that when the atom is broken nothing remains except Void. But in the universe, the source of energy is the explosion of the atom. The Himalayas cannot compare in strength with an atom which is so microscopic, you cannot see it with the naked eye. If we place one million atoms one on top of the other, it can only be as thick as a single human hair. We have heard it being said 'Removing the skin of a hair' but this would be removing the skin of the skin of the hair, infinite times.
This reminds me of a story.
A friend of Nasruddin had come from a village to meet him. He had brought a duck as a present for him. Nasruddin had the duck cooked and he treated his guest to a lavish dinner. Fifteen days after, a man came. Nasruddin greeted him cordially and offered him a chair. The guest said, "I am a friend of the friend who brought you the goose." Nasruddin fed him on the same dish.
But the guests kept on coming.
Then the friend's friend's friend and then his friend came! It was six months now and Nasruddin was alarmed. Whoever came claimed to be a friend of the one who came last. To the last in this line, Nasruddin out of desperation offered hot water and said, "Have some gravy." "But this is no gravy!"
The man exclaimed, "This is just hot water." "This is the gravy of the gravy of the gravy.... of the gravy of the duck that was cooked. Now if you wish to have the gravy of the goose that was cooked six months ago, it is a very wrong thing. As long as it took you to travel from the friend, it has taken that long for the gravy to travel from the goose. Next time you come, you shall get only cold water, for now the journey of the soup is becoming too long!"
If we think about the atom, it is not as broad as even the cover of the hair. It is a very long journey. If we peel the hair a million times what will remain of the hair? As yet the atom has never been viewed, not only by the naked eye but also not even through a microscope. Scientists say that what they surmise about the atom can be compared to how people conceived of God in olden times. They have not seen the atom but there are problems that can only be solved if we accept the existence of the atom. Therefore, we have to believe in the atom. This is exactly what religious people used to say, "We have not seen God but there are many problems that cannot be solved without accepting His existence." So these are mere assumptions or you may say, "God is not visible but his proofs are."
So also the scientists say, "The atoms we cannot see but we can see the explosion." Hiroshima is reduced to ashes. A million people turn to ashes. This is the result. This result cannot be falsified.
This is the truth. It is visible to the naked eye; but that within which this result takes place, is invisible. We only imagine that something has broken, resulting in the release of so much energy.
That imaginary thing is the atom. But such a subtle and imaginary thing as an atom is the producer of such vast energy.
Religion has always been saying that if you want to attain the Vast Expanse, you shall have to attain the most minimum the subtle. Religion always talks in the opposites. The present day scientists have also begun to understand a little. Religion says, "To attain the great, attain the subtle. If you want to attain God, you shall have to attain that fraction of Atman that lies hidden within you." He who sets out to attain God directly, never finds Him. He will lose himself but never attain God. He who desires to seek God, will have to forget Him altogether. He should discover the atom of life that lies within his own self. No sooner this is discovered, God is attained.
To catch hold of the atom is to catch hold of the vast expanse. But this inverse fact does not come within our understanding. Besides, the atom is a complete Void - as good as naught; and this naught nurtures such vast energy within itself! But this also is not the absolute Void. The Void that Lao Tzu talks of, is a complete, a perfect Void. Now if an atom, that is not a perfect Void, can give rise to so much energy how much energy can the perfect Void be holding within itself?
The Rishis always have said that through the Void, the Universe came into being. And so is this vast expanse possible, so many moons and stars - millions and millions of them! Our calculations are just the opposite. We believe that whatever is born is born where it originally is. We think things can come out only from a filled condition. What can come out of emptiness? We think this way for we have no idea of the opposite arithmetic. Lao Tzu is the greatest proclaimer in this world of this opposing mathematics. He says that the perennial energy lies embedded in the state of total Void.
Why is Lao Tzu so eager to declare this?
Lao Tzu means by this that if you wish to be the owner of this undivided energy, you shall have to become Void - like the pair of bellows that have been completely emptied of air - where there is complete vacuum. The Supreme Existence manifests only then. In that very void, you get the first glimpse of the perennial energy .
We are such that we are busy filling ourselves, just as a mad blacksmith might fill his bellows with things. Then the bellows become useless. We are such insane blacksmiths, filling the bellows of existence with all kinds of things. We fill its emptiness with things that are worthless, useless, like wealth, status, prestige, with friends, with wives and husbands and sons and daughters. The emptiness is filled to the brim. And then we become like a junk-shop. We are so full, that a slight movement and we knock against something. We only somehow manage to live in these conditions.
We do not have an undivided energy within us. Mahavira says, "He who becomes empty, becomes the lord of perennial energy." How can we empty ourselves, how can we become Void - Lao Tzu explains further on. At present he says only this that it is necessary that we should understand the glory of Emptiness, that we should understand the foolishness of filling ourselves.
All the intrinsic and deep methods that have been evolved in this world - be it yoga, meditation, tantra, worship, prayer - all these methods are methods of emptying man. Man gets filled with very insignificant things.
Mulla Nasruddin was friendly with the king of his country. The Mulla was rated among the wisest of his kingdom. One day the king asked him, "Mulla, does your mind become vacant when you pray?"
"Certainly Sire", The Mulla replied, "My mind is an absolute naught when I pray." The king did not believe him. He told Nasruddin, "Come straight to me from the mosque after prayers, this Friday. I shall have faith in your truthfulness. Tell me the truth. If you tell the truth, you shall not have to ride donkey any longer. I shall give you the best horse in my kingdom."
Nasruddin said, "Can I have a look at the horse?" He was shown the horse. He was terribly tempted at the sight of the beautiful animal. "You have put me in a dilemma," he told the king. "I shall present myself on Friday."
Nasruddin came to the king after his Friday prayers. The king had tied the horse at the gate. He asked Nasruddin, "Tell me honestly - did no thought cross your mind during prayers?" "My mind was completely empty," said Nasruddin. "Only at the very end there was a little trouble." "What was that problem?" The king asked. "I was sure you will give the horse", said Nasruddin, "but I was debating within myself whether you give the whip? This whip made me mad with frenzy. I tried my utmost to think only of Allah but I could think of nothing but the whip. This one thought possessed me - I shall need a whip to ride the horse home. Will you give it?"
Imagine, a small thing like a whip and God is set aside. A whip is an insignificant thing but a mere thought of it can remove God from within. It is just as when a mote goes in the eye, the whole world becomes a blank. An insignificant mote hides the highest of mountains from view. A small thought destroys the emptiness within and the puniest and most insignificant thing is. enough to fill the vacuum within.
We are all filled within and that is the cause of our poverty and misery. He who becomes empty within, becomes an emperor. There is only one way to become a king - be empty like the skies above; Let the inside be filled with space. The greater the space within, the more powerful is the energy that is created.
All the great and significant happenings of the world take place in silence, in emptiness.
Madame Curie, the first woman who won the Nobel Prize, was asked what she had done to attain the prize. She replied, "As long as I strived to do anything, I attained nothing. The Nobel Prize that I received is not because of something that I did. Something rose from the silence within me."
It is an astonishing fact that the Mathematics on account of which she got the prize, she had got up in the night and jotted down on a piece of paper. For years she was working on this problem and had met with no success. She was completely tired. She had made up her mind to give up the experiment entirely. That very night, she got up from sleep, jotted something on a piece of paper and went to sleep again. In the morning it came to her that she had got up in the night and written something. When she saw the paper she was astounded to find her problem solved! She could not bring herself to say that it was she who had solved it. This had come from the emptiness within.
Einstein has said time and again in his speeches that whatever he has known remained unknown as long as he tried to know it: "When I gave up all effort, somewhere from the space within, I do not know how, this knowledge arose and manifested itself." The person who won a Nobel Prize on his discovery of the chain of atoms says this knowledge appeared to him in a dream at night. He could not believe it himself but that is how it was. The greatest and best happenings that have taken place in this world, have all happened in the Void - whether it has happened to Buddha or to Mahavira, whether it has happened to Lao Tzu or to Einstein.
Nijinski used to say that: "As long as I am dancing conscious that 'I' am dancing, my dance is ordinary but when the Void within me takes hold of me my dance becomes extraordinary."
One day on returning home his wife told him. "Your dance today was so extraordinary, that my heart cried to think that you were the only unlucky one who could not see it." Nijinski said, "You are wrong.
I too saw." "How can I believe that?" His wife questioned. He replied, "As long as it is I who dance, I cannot see myself but when the Void within me takes over the dance, I stand aside and watch like a spectator."
Nijinski was the only dancer who was not affected by gravitation - so it is said. Many a time during the dance, he would jump in the air and then he came down ever so slowly like a feather from a bird's wing. He never fell with a thud like a human being should but came down as a leaf falls from a tree.
It was a wonder feat that left the spectators astounded. It seemed an impossible feat - unbelievable!
People questioned him how he managed it for gravitation must work on the human body. No matter to whom the body belongs, the earth pulls it down. Nijinski would say, "As long as 'I am' gravitation works but when the Void takes over. I am not conscious of anything. Then I fall to the ground as if I am weightless."
Within there is the Void. Whenever a great dance exposition has taken place, it has arisen out of this Void, whenever a great poem has been created, it has arisen from this Emptiness, whenever a great insight has been attained it is through this very Emptiness. Science is born from here, so is religion and art but we, who are filled with the ego cannot get anywhere near it from any direction for we are never empty. We can never fly in the open skies for we are so weighed down with the stones within that keep us bound to the ground.
Lao Tzu says, "The emptiness is the perfect, indivisible energy."
Lao Tzu always used to tell a story. He used to say, "I heard the name of a great singer who has not sung for years. I set out in search of him for I was curious how a person could be famous when he had not sung a single song for years. When at last I located him, I found he had no instrument nor the wherewithal to sing. He was sitting under a tree. I asked him, 'I have been told you are a very great singer but I find no arrangements for music here.'
"To this he replied, 'The wherewithal was necessary as long as I had to create the music. Now the music is created by itself. As long as the songs did not come of their own, I had to sing them. Now the songs pour out on their own.'"
"But I cannot hear them," Lao Tzu told him. The Singer replied, "Stay a while here. You will have to stay with me for sometime and by and by, you will begin to hear."
So Lao Tzu stayed with him. Soon he began to hear the music. Then he went back. When his disciples asked him, "Did you hear the music? How was it?" He replied, "It was the music of emptiness. There were no words there - there was the silence of emptiness. Today I can tell you that that music which has words, is no music, it is merely noise. Music is, where there is the silence of emptiness."
It is not possible for us to visualize such music. You were listening to the sitar now. If you think that when a tune arises from the strings of the sitar, music is created, you are wrong. It is the intervening gap between each note that forms the music - the gap, the empty space between two notes. He who listens to the notes, does not listen to the music. He only hears the notes. He who listens to the empty space between two notes, he alone listens to the music. The greater the exposition of music, the more it depends on the gaps between the notes.
It has been said about Schubert that whenever he played the violin there were long intervals in between. Once when he was performing, a music teacher happened to be sitting in the front row.
Schubert began to play, then gradually his hand stopped and the strings of his violin became silent.
One moment, two moments, three! The music teacher thought, perhaps he has forgotten what he has to play. "Play what you know," he advised him, "Leave that which you do not know." Pundits of any art, who are conversant with all the rules are always ready with their advice. They know all that is within the rules. That which is beyond all rules, is beyond them also.
Schubert wrote in his autobiography. "For the first time I realised the calibre of my listeners. What I played was only the passage through which music flowed when I stopped. But the kind music master said unto him, "If you have forgotten your notes, play something else." Schubert threw his violin on the floor and went home. He never picked up his instrument again. People pleaded with him, "Before whom should I play?" He asked. "These people know nothing of music. They take the noise of the notes as music. That is only to wake you up so that you may not go to sleep. Then when you awake, the instrument should stop so that you can slip into the silence."
Buddha used to say: "What I could say, I have told you but that is not the real thing. That which I could not say, I have not said that is the real thing." Therefore, those who have merely heard me, will not understand me. Those who have heard my 'not saying' they alone will understand me." To hear that which is unsaid - can this be possible? Certainly, it is possible. In fact saying is only purposeful when between the two banks of saying, the river of non-saying flows. Notes are useful only when between its two banks, the river af music flows. The notes, the words form only the banks but those who take the shores for the river, never understand the river. They never reach the river.
Lao Tzu says: "Between heaven and earth is the empty space like a pair of bellows. That alone is the indivisible energy." No matter how much of this energy you consume, it is regenerated that much more. The more you use the Void the more life is born. But we know not how to use the Void. We do not also know how to be empty. Lao Tzu shows us how to be the Void and how to make use of this Void.
"MUCH SPEECH LEADS TO SWIFT EXHAUSTION."
The more words there are within, the more is the intellect wasted away, the more does it rust. But our intellect is formed of words. The collection of words, is our treasure. Everything in the West, has become Statistics. The western mathematicians say, "The greater your wealth of words, the more successful you are. From his wealth of words we can gauge how many steps a man has covered of success in his life." A man's success is measured by his words.
What they say is correct in a way. What is the ability of a politician? His ability is that he can play with words. What is the prowess of a religious teacher? He can play with different types of words.
The same goes for a novelist. Their success depends on how they play with words. Those whose excessive energy is spent in words are the successful people of the world.
Therefore this mania of teaching words. All our education is a training in words. The more words a person knows the more hopes there are of his success.
But Lao Tzu maintains that excessive words weaken the intellect. The more we fill the mind with words, the weaker the intellect becomes. He speaks in contrary terms. All our endeavour is to learn as many words as possible. A man learns one language, then he learns another, then another. We praise him that he knows so many languages. One man, we say, is a pundit for he has the Vedas by heart, he knows the Upanishads thoroughly, he can recite the Gita from the beginning to the end. Why? Because he has the treasure of words? But what is the value of words? Is there any substance in words? Is there any spirit behind them?
The only substance behind words is as when a person is thirsty .and he drinks them in thinking they will appease his thirst; or it is like satisfying one's hunger with the food of words. This may make you forget your hunger for sometime. If you are thirsty and say, "Wait a while, water is coming," your thirst will be comforted a little. The hope and belief that water is coming brings a lot of satisfaction.
You are hungry. The very noises from the kitchen at such a time sound very comforting. If you feel hungry at night, your dreams provide you with dinner as your sleep is not broken; you can wait till the morning.
Words bring comfort. They also deceive. If someone here shouts loudly. "Fire, fire!" the effect of his words will be the same as if this place was really in flames! We will not be burnt but run we will. All the possible results that follow in the case of fire, will accrue, except anybody being burnt - running stampede, falling, getting hurt, shouting, shrieking etc. The effect of words is great. Now, if someone shouts a number of times, "Fire, fire! " and there is no fire and then really the place catches fire, no one is going to move!
A very great psychologist earned a lot of wealth, so he thought now he should relax. He bought a piece of land in a village. He meant to till the land and sow a harvest just for fun for there was no compulsion to earn money. Money he had in plenty for nowadays, there is no profession like that of a psychiatrist. The possibility of large gains these days is no longer in diamonds and gold but in the skull of man. Man is becoming more and more insane and it is said that the psychiatrist cures man of this malady; but there is no proof that they actually cure. They are only capable of reassuring the patient that he is well. A man going to a psychiatrist, for say two years does not get cured, rather, he begins to feel that madness is the natural state of being.
Now it was time to sow the seed. He had his land ploughed with a tractor and then he began to throw seeds; but to his consternation, all the crows of the village came and made a good feast of his seeds. The next day he threw the seeds and again the crows ate them away. The third day it was the same. Now he thought he would have to ask someone. There was no other way for him but to ask his neighbour, who was an ignorant farmer and who used to have a good laugh at his expense these last three days.
He asked for his help. The farmer came and went through all the gestures of throwing the seeds but threw none. The crows came down as usual, but finding no seeds, they made land bubble and flew away. The next day, the farmer repeated his performance. That day there were fewer crows and they were less angry. The third day he played the same trick and the fourth day, no crows came.
On this day, he sowed the seeds. The psychologist was astonished, "Wonderful," he said. "What is the secret?" he asked him. "It is very simple - just plain psychology. Ever heard of psychology?" he asked him, "It took only three days to make the crows realize he was faking."
But man? He is strange - he lives, lives upon lives merely in words. This plain psychology, is beyond his comprehension that words are empty.
There is nothing within words but we refuse to believe this. Someone wishes you, "Namaskar" and you feel you have received respect and reverence but these are not so cheap as to be obtained by a mere salutation. More often than not, it is a way of concealing respect. So that the face may not reveal the actuaL feeling within, a man quickly folds his hands and performs a Namaskar. Or perhaps the person who is saluted is thus cheated by directing his attention to your hands instead of your face. Perhaps the mind is saying, "Why did I have to see the face of this horrid chap and that too early in the morning." But your folded hands deceive him and he accepts your greetings.
graciously and thinks kindly of you too!
Every day as you go along the road, you meet a particular person and you like him. When you say to him, "Hello," he returns your greetings enthusiastically. This morning he did not return your greetings. Then you know what happens to you? Your whole attitude towards him changes. You wished him. he did not reply." Just because he has bought a house, he has become proud! You think. It never occurs to you that the house was bought long ago. "He has bought a car - does he think he has developed wings? Ants develop Wings just before they die!" Thus his whole life-story is re-written within your mind just because he failed to greet you. One small word brings so much difference!
Words are so precious for people. We live in words, we eat in words, we sleep in words. In the West, where people are so intelligent, it is said whether a man has done anything for you or not; whether it is proper or not proper, you make it a point to say 'thank you.' We, in the East, are not so intelligent.
If a wife brings a cup of tea for her husband, he does not thank her or show his gratification in any way. He should, for the whole history of his marital life can be changed with this one word. One thank-you and a sugarless cup of tea tastes sweet! The same becomes bitter no matter how much sugar it contains, if there is no 'thank-you' to follow it. You might think, "My wife and I are together for the last 30 years. What need is there for such formality?" You are wrong. The need is greater!
In the 30 years, she knows vou so well that the 'thank you' becomes more essential! She too may agree with you that there is no need but do not believe her. Perhaps it is just a ruse to make you say it again! It is so gratifying, so satisfying!
Words have become our very life. If someone says, "I love you very much," everything changes within you! A dark night becomes filled with moonlight when someone expresses this sentiment. It is quite possible he may just be repeating some lines of a film!
Why is there such an interrelation between us and words? It is because, we possess nothing else besides words. We have nothing like the being, the spirit, within us. We are absolutely devoid of everything. We are not empty in the sense that Lao Tzu means - not in the term of Void but we are destitute, beggars. We are not empty in terms of the Indivisible Energy but we are empty in the sense that we have nothing in our hands. not even emptiness! Thus we are empty and we live on words.
Mulla Nasruddin fell down on the road. It was very sunny. A crowd gathered round him. Nasruddin lay flat he did not even breathe! Someone from the crowd said, "Run, get a cup of wine, he will be alright." Nasruddin opened one eye, "What can one cup do? At least send for two!" The crowd dispersed for Nasruddin had gained consciousness. One little word 'wine' did the work of wine.
Now Nasruddin was experienced! He was undergoing training in first-aid. When the examiner asked him at the end of his training what he would do if he found a man fallen on the road, he replied, "I will give him a cup of wine." "And if the wine is not available?" The examiner asked. "I will promise to give him later and I am sure he will gain his consciousness. It happened to me once," said the Mulla!
We live merely on words. And for these words Lao Tzu says, "They only serve to weaken the intellect." Now the fact remains that Lao Tzu also uses the medium of words. When he speaks, he uses words. Then a great delusion is created - when Lao Tzu himself uses words to convey his thoughts, why does he speak against words?
It is inevitable fact that when we want to convey something to somebody, we have to make use of words but we have become so mad that when we want to convey something to our own selves, even then we make use of words! There is no need to use words for one's own self! We keep talking within our own selves. All the twenty-four hours, we are talking to ourselves. When he talks to someone, a man of course speaks. When he is not speaking to someone, he speaks to himself.
He divides himself into two - the speaker and the listener - and talks away. This incessant talking creates a war within. This continuous talking causes so many words to pile up within that the Void that is hidden in the Atman is completely lost sight of; so much so that we are not at all aware of it. It is only when these superficial layers of words are removed that we can be acquainted with the atman.
Lao Tzu says, "Profusion of words causes the intellect to be exhausted. Therefore it is necessary to be established within our own centre" - within our own centre! Why? - because the centre is empty.
Words are merely the circumference. They are just like the leaves that cover the waters of the lake and thus hide the lake from view. Such is the condition within us due to the abundance of words.
The Void lies hidden within. This Void Lao Tzu refers to as the centre. He says, "That is the very centre of our being. But we live only on the circumference and are so badly involved in it that we cannot go within. The circumference joins one word to another, then to the next and the next... and so it goes on.
Psychologists say, we live by associations. If you are given a word say, 'dog' you will start off. The word dog will act like the starting signal - the shot of a gun as in a race. The word dog will go within.
You will think of all the dogs you have known and about whom you know, their various names and breeds. Then you will pass on to the owners - which friend pos-sesses which dog. Then that will lead to the wives of the friends - which one's wife appeals to you most... and God knows in what romance you will end this journey started off by a single word - dog.
A small word starts a journey within you at once. You are all ready within. You get the word and you begin chewing the end. This means you will never have the time to understand. As soon as a word is given to you, you start. Only he can understand, who can stand silent and empty with the word. I say something - you will understand it only if there is emptiness before you. I say something and the emptiness within faces my words just as a mirror would catch my reflection. If your heart is silent, empty, you will understand what I say and also that which I do not say. You will see me as I appear and you will see me also as I do not appear.
But there are so many words within you that you will not wait to hear me. Before I utter the first word, your journey will have started. The journey proceeds within you in a line of words. You will begin to think, "This is what is said in the Gita or this is what is said in the Koran; but this is against my religion! I cannot accept this!"
Once I was talking in a small gathering. One person in that gathering happened to be the only Mohammedan. There were very few people - about 50. Whatever I said, the Muslim friend would shake his head in assent. He happened to sit right in front of me. I wondered if I could say something that would stop his head from nodding. So only for this I said, "Koran is a wonderful book but it is very rustic. Surely some villagers wrote it." Now his head was fixed! It did not move, he even forgot where he was sitting!
I had nothing to do with this friend but he was saying yes to my yes and no to my no. As soon as I used the word rustic, he disagreed with me completely. Thereafter I saw him sitting erect in his chair - my connection with him had snapped. Thereafter all the others were in the room except this gentleman. The small word - rustic and it must have started a train of words within him - "Does he mean ignorant?... does he mean this or does he mean that...?" He became hard and invulnerable thereafter. Actually when I was speaking, there was a constant dialogue going on within him - whether what I said was correct or not.
We have a body language. Many things we do not say with our mouth we say with our body. A new science has developed recently in the West, based on this body language. Can the language of the body be understood? Now when you meet a woman and take a liking to her, she will always be shrinking back with the fear that you may advance. Her angle is tipped backwards. If 50 couples are talking in a club, it can be very easily surmised who is developing a tenderness for whom, only by their body-language; or who is trying to put off whom. A woman who likes you, sits in a different way with you; if she doesn't she will sit in a different way. When you love someone, you sit next to her in a relaxed manner for you expect no danger from that quarter. If you do not love her you will be alert and on your guard for you sense danger. Before a stranger, you will sit in quite another manner.
If you like what I say you sit in a particular manner. If you do not like what I say, your body-language changes immediately. If you have interest and curiosity in what I say, your back-bone will bend a little forward: if not you sit glued to the back of the chair. In so doing you convey you have nothing to gain by my words and the matter has ended for you there.
From the outside also, a man can give a hint of what is going on within him. Your face shows whether you are saying yes within or no. The salesman in a shop keeps watching your face. If he is showing ties to you, his attention is not on which tie you choose - that he leaves to you. He concentrates on your face; which tie engages your attention longer, at once its price goes up. Your eye does not stop too long anywhere. It has its duration. If you gaze at a person a little longer, you might trigger off a fight for the eye has its time-limit. When you just look, it means nothing; but when you stare, it means you like what you see or at least that you are interested. This affects the other person also.
When the mechanism of words starts within you, it becomes evident in your eyes, your posture - in your body-language.
When you become empty within, the body also becomes silent. Have you seen an image of Buddha or Mahavira? These figures are absolutely silent from outside and the reason is, there is an absolute void within. Everything is still within, there is no movement. Just as water without ripples; just as a steady flame when the air is still, so when you are still and empty within, you reach up to your centre.
And Lao Tzu says, "To be established within one's centre is propitious." Not to wander in words but to be fixed within one's own centre is propitious.
Enough food for today, we shall talk again tomorrow.