The ultimate fruit of life can only be death. It can be said that we die each day in the name of living.
Death does not come all of a sudden. Nothing happens accidentally or suddenly in this world. That which we call happenings are actually long processes. Death also does not descend unexpectedly, it develops day by day. It is not an event but a process. Death begins from the very moment of birth.
On the day of death, the process is complete. Death is a development, it is not sudden.
So it is not that death will take place sometime in the future. It happens continuously. It is happening even now, as we sit here. If we sit for an hour here, we shall be dead by another hour; life will be emptied by one more hour. Another thing: death is not something that comes to you from without.
We all think that death comes from outside, that the messenger of death draws out the life breath from within us. This is a wrong conception that arises out of our belief that all pain is inflicted on us by the other. No one brings about death. It is an internal happening. It happens within you. You are gradually disintegrating within yourself. The mechanism that is you begins slowly to give way - and one day, death occurs So death is a long process that begins with life and ends with death.
Another thing, it is not an outside happening. It develops internally - it is an internal process. If this comes within our understanding, we shall find that the process of death takes place every day, and in many forms. The eyes are impaired and finally destroyed by the act of seeing continuously. The ears lose their power of hearing by the continuous process of hearing. The same happens with the other senses. We die in the process of living. The very act of living is the arrangement for death. It wears us out till ultimately the whole system breaks down.
Lao Tzu says: "The various colours blind the eyes." We can never imagine that colour can impair vision. Colours, we think, are the life of vision. To enjoy the multi-coloured vista of nature is the function of the eyes. Colour and form are the nourishment of sight. But Lao Tzu declares that they are death to the eyes. This has a double meaning. One is that by looking constantly, the eyes tire, become weak, and finally lose vision. It is not old age that causes weakness of the eyes; it is the fact that the eyes have been seeing too long; the mechanism is worn out. The same applies to the ears. They are deaf due to the fact that the hearing mechanism is worn out by long and constant use. The mechanism has long outgrown its use and is now fit to be retired.
Seen in this context, we can say that the more the eyes see, the more they die; the more the ears hear, the more they go deaf; the more we touch, the less sensitive we become; and the more we taste, the lesser becomes the sense of taste. This means that each sense organ works towards its own destruction. Hence our whole life is suicidal.
After seeing a movie, you feel your eyes are tired. Your eyes keep open wherever you are, whether you see a movie or read a book or just look. Why is it, then, that they feel especially tired after seeing a movie? The reason is that when you are completely engrossed in the movie, your eyes stop blinking. Blinking is a contrivance that breaks the act of looking, and thus keeps the eyes from getting tired by looking continuously. This constant looking that happens in the movie-house tires the eyes, so much so that you find it difficult to close them immediately.
It is a well-known fact that painters and artists become blind soon. This should not be the case, because those whose eyes have seen so much should be more fresh. But the fact is that so much living with colours tires them out and they collapse. Whichever sense organ we use beyond its capacity tires soon and dies.
This is one meaning. Another interpretation is that Lao Tzu means to say that we can keep our senses live and fresh till the moment of death. A person who keeps his senses young an I fresh till his last hour can enjoy the taste of death; he can enjoy the colour of death; he can touch death; he can experience death. But alas, all our capacity to experience is destroyed long before death!
Therefore, in spite of the fact that we have died several times, we have no experience of death.
There is a reason for this. We have died several times, but if we ask a person what death is, he will say he has no idea of what death is like. This is because we remember nothing at the time of death. Remembrance can only happen if the senses are alert. Then they can experience, and that experience remains in the memory. Generally, for most people, the senses die before actual death.
Therefore, there is no remembrance of death.
It is interesting to note that ninety-nine per cent of those who remember their past lives are people who have died in their previous life as children or youths. Their lives came suddenly to a halt when their senses were as yet alert and fresh. The impact of death on their fresh minds and intellect was thus carried into their next lives. As yet, none of those who claim to remember their past lives have said they were ninety year old when they died. It is not that this cannot be, but it does not happen because a man's mechanism is long worn out before he dies. He who sets out in search of nectar, he who wishes to seek the supreme Tao, must keep his senses alert and fresh every moment. Then alone can he experience death - and also life.
It is a noteworthy fact that those who see colours constantly not only lose their sight but also their taste and experience of colours. The stream gets dried up and only the hollow remains. That is why the world is never so colourful in later life as it appears to a child's eye. The thrill a child experiences when he touches a thing he never feels again in later life. What is the reason? The reason is only this: that the child's senses are all still fresh and whatever sensations are received by them are registered completely and entirely, within. There is a movement afoot in America to cultivate sensitivity. There is a big institution in Big Sur - a place in California. Perhaps the most significant experiment of this age is being carried on there. This experiment aims at restoring the abilities of the senses. The experiment lasts twenty-one days. People are re-taught to see, to hear, to feel and to taste.
Now for instance, when you sit to eat, if your eyes and nose are closed and you are given a piece of apple and a piece of onion, you will not be able to distinguish between them. This is because the eyes and the nose play an equally important part in differentiating between things. In Big Sur when, say, an apple is given, the participants are asked to touch it, then to see its colour and form, then rub it against their cheek, then close their eyes and feel it on their cheeks, then put it in the mouth and taste it. And all this is to be done consciously. In twenty-days time, you experience a new taste, a new aroma, a new feeling from your meals. When this happens, the whole process of eating changes. Then a lesser quantity of food will give you greater satisfaction.
We all over-eat. The reason is that we eat, but we do not get the satisfaction of eating. Then, when we have eaten enough but do not feel satisfied, we feel we need to eat more. We do not know, however, that overeating destroys the sensitivity to experience satisfaction, till one day our mouth loses all sense of taste. Then we try to revive our taste with hot and pungent food. One man says, "I only enjoy hot food." This means, only pungent flavours register on his taste-buds. All other tastes are no longer conveyed by his taste buds, all other tastes are no longer conveyed by his mouth.
In Assam, Bengal and some parts of Bihar where the ancient sadhanas of tantra are still in vogue, the sadhaka partakes of all kinds of intoxicants and still keeps his wits about him. Alcohol is a part of the sadhana. These sadhakas drink alcohol like water, so much so that it has no effect on them whatsoever. No amount of opium or hemp has any effect on them. Then they need to keep snakes and make them sting their tongues in order to get some sensation. Those that progress further in their sadhana need to keep bigger and more poisonous snakes, ones that would cause instant death in ordinary human beings.
It is possible to kill one's senses so much. In fact, we all have killed our senses to some extent.
This is why we never experience dictates, gentle, subtle experiences. We need to have sharp experiences. If the strains of the veena are very gentle, they do not register on us. A sharp vigil is required for this. We are jolted into feeling and experiencing only when there is tumult and uproar.
Then only are we conscious that some sound is going on. Everything within us is dead.
Lao Tzu says: "Colour kills our eyes, sound kills the ears and taste kills the ability to taste." This death of our senses encases us in a coffin long before our death. Then we continue to live within our coffins, dragging our corpses along.
This has doubly ill-effects on us. The first is that the experience of life becomes weaker and weaker, and the perception of existence is restrained and hindered - and then we are deprived of the great experience of death which we ought to undergo. He who does not experience death also deprives himself of the experience of life and cannot realise the reality of life. He has known only the frustrations and anxieties of life and not its supreme relaxation. He experiences the tumult, but not the peace and tranquillity of relaxation. He remains a stranger to death.
This, however, is a very superficial ill-effect. The second ill-effect is more profound. All our senses are two-faced. There are the eyes that see without. Within them are the eyes that see within. There are the ears that hear without, but they have an inner mechanism that hears within.
Close your ears. Plug them so that no noise from outside can go in. You will still be hearing the beat of your heart. This sound does not come from the outside. In the same way, close the eyes. Brush aside all the forms and pictures the eyes have captured from without. You will feel new experiences, see new colours, new light, new darkness such as you have never seen before. The eyes begin their journey within.
Each sense is capable of experiences within, But we are so occupied with the world outside that we have completely forgotten the world within us, which can be experienced by the same senses. This world within remains a closed book. Lao Tzu says that those who perceive colours will not only go blind in the external eyes, but will also fail to open his eyes within. He who rests his external ears begins to hear the music within.
He who renounces external tastes gets the taste of nectar within, Kabir says. Nectar begins to flow from within him. There is a sweetness within but it is difficult to recognise it.
Have you ever realised that anger has a taste of its own? When you are filled with anger, try and close your eyes. Forget the anger and try to taste the anger within. You will feel a parched feeling and a bitter, stale taste in the mouth. When you are filled with love, go inwards and experience the taste of love, which is a unique taste altogether. You will feel a sweet softness melting within you; you will feel the taste of an unfamiliar, unknown and unseen sweetness within you. Then you will be able to discriminate the tastes of anger and love clearly. Then, you can experience the taste of all emotions.
Meditation has a taste of its own; tension has a taste of its own. When no thoughts are there, all the senses become quiet and tranquil. Then the taste that accrues out of meditation, is nectar (AMRIT).
This taste is called nectar for two reasons. One is that there is no taste sweeter than nectar. The second is that on attaining this taste, we at once come to know that there is no death. I cannot die.
My death is impossible. What dies is only the mechanism. I remain after death.
But if we have used up all our energies in the outgoing senses and are completely spent, we can never know of the senses within. Nor is there any energy left to know them.
We all know that if a man is blind, his sense of hearing becomes sharpened. A blind man can tell a person from his footsteps whereas a man who can see has to wait till the person comes before him. A blind man can distinguish people by their voice, and finds directions by sound. He can walk on roads easily also. His sense of touch becomes sharp. When a blind man comes near a wall, he comes to feel that there is a barrier ahead and he must take care not to knock against it. A normal person's instinct is not that much developed. As soon as a blind man comes near a wall, the denser air alerts him and he begins to feel with his stick. This we do not feel.
You can fool a man with eyes by smiling at him and giving him your hand - there may not be feeling of love within you, but you can put on this act and deceive the person - but you cannot deceive a blind man. The feel of your hand will betray your feelings towards him. His ways of ascertaining things are different from your ways of deception. Therefore, a blind man becomes wise. He has an understanding born out of his shortcoming.
How does this happen? The reason is that the energy that would have been spent in the act of looking is now transferred to other senses. If all the senses are closed and only one remains open, this sense will become so powerful that we cannot imagine it. That is why animals have sharper senses than us - because they have less senses than us. When we study the animal world, we find that animals with only three sense-organs have sharper senses than us. Those with two, even sharper; those with one have the power of all five senses put together. We cannot even imagine the profoundness of the sense of touch in an amoeba, which has one sense only.
You may try an experiment. Close your eyes, your ears, your lips. Then, touch someone. You will experience an altogether different feeling from that which you feel normally. You feel a new current surging through your hand. From this example of the blind man, I want you to understand that if energy is not wasted externally (if we use our out-going senses wisely and sparingly), the senses within will get the added strength of the energy thus saved and you will begin to experience a different world altogether.
Whatever we do, it is a misuse. You walk along the road, reading posters on the wall. This is exactly why they are posted there, because those who stick them up know the neurotic condition of your mind. You cannot pass by without reading each and every one of them. Try not to read them and you will find that there is some mad person within who is goading you on to read them, least you miss something. You have read these advertisements a thousand times: a vote for someone, some toilet soap, some film. Now, you do not have to exert yourself. You look up and you already know them, but read you must. It has become a habit.
Have you ever realised, how much of what you see is redundant, how much of what you hear is useless? If you sit down and calculate how much of seeing and hearing could be safely avoided, that much extra energy will begin to flow towards your inner senses.
A man comes to me and says, "I sit With closed eyes, but I see nothing within." There has to be some energy left to see within! All the energy has been used up. We are like spent bullets - only the cartridge is left. We use our energy so much that there is nothing left. You come home tired and spent from a full day's work. Then you sit to meditate - and wonder why you fall off to sleep as soon as you begin to meditate! Sleep is bound to come. Thank God you have at least that much energy left to fall off to sleep!
Scientists, especially in the East, say that if a man lives till he is eighty years old, it is difficult for him to die. Dying requires a certain amount of energy also. An eighty year old man will be bed-ridden and filled with a thousand ailments but he does not die. Those around him wait for him to die every day; but the last flicker is very necessary before the flame goes off. He does not have this last spurt of energy. He subsists on the most minimum of energy.
It is an astounding fact, but true, that a healthy man dies in his very first illness; but those who are habitually ill, develop the art of sustaining themselves on a minimum of energy. They do not have enough strength even to die. They exist like glimmering lamps that neither burn nor are extinguished.
Energy is required for sleep also. These days, we find many people who cannot sleep. The reason is that there is not even that much energy left by the end of the day for them to relax. They are tense throughout.
Lao Tzu says, and all the ancient yogas have known, that if you wish to enter the inner senses, it is wrong to use more energy than is necessary for the external senses. This is what is called moderation restraint. Moderation only means: use as much as is absolutely necessary, and allow the rest of the energy to flow inward. Look at the outside world only as much as necessary and conserve your power to see, for there is a bigger and greater world within. When the world outside is taken away from you, this world will remain with you. It will still be yours. When your house, your family, your wife, your children, your friends and dear ones, your wealth and property are snatched away from you, this treasure within is still yours.
But alas, we have no eyes to see it. What we have known outside is nothing compared to that which is within. When we hear the strain of the veena within, we realise what terrible noise the music outside is. If some music appeals to our senses, it is only because there is some echo of the strains within. If the light outside appeals to the eye, it is because there is a glimpse in it of the light within. If a taste gratifies the tongue, it is because it has some grains of the infinite sweetness that are stored within. If sex gratifies, it is only because it contains a flash, a shadow, an echo of the ultimate organs within. This is the reason. One should not get carried away by outer gratifications because many doors within can be opened.
Lao Tzu says: "HORSE-RIDING AND HUNTING DERANGE THE MIND. THE SEARCH FOR RARE AND STRANGE OBJECTS MAKES MAN'S CONDUCT EVIL."
Horse-riding and hunting were the favourite pursuits in Lao Tzu's times. We can add new ones that prevail in our times - and there are many. In Lao Tzu's time, people indulged in betting on horses or going hunting. Now, almost everything that we do can drive the mind crazy. He who begins to gamble on something outside of himself, is bound to go mad because he lays his bet on things which cannot be attained. Naturally, that which is impossible to attain, cannot be attained. Even when and if it is attained, it is not attained. And no matter how much of it is attained, it is ultimately snatched away.
Lieh-Tzu was a disciple of Lao Tzu. Once he asked his guru to allow him leave for some time to go to different places. "You may go," said Lao Tzu, "but be careful. It is easy to set out on a journey but very difficult to come back."
Lieh-Tzu did not understand what he meant. Very few fortunate people can understand what people like Lao Tzu say. To hear is one thing; to understand is another. Lieh-Tzu was under the impression that he understood because the words were simple. Simple words put us in a quandary.
Because they are simple, we feel they are easy to understand. But there are no words as difficult to understand as plain and simple words, because no dictionary carries their meaning. Their meaning lies in the inner awareness.
Lieh-Tzu did not care to clarify. He thought the master's words were too simple not to be understood.
But he returned from his trip within twenty days. When Lao Tzu asked why he had returned so soon, he said, "With every step I took forward I began to understand that it would be difficult to retrace my steps. Before I got myself involved more deeply, I thought it best to return." Lao Tzu asked, "What was the involvement that brought you back?"
Lieh-Tzu said, "The first rest house I went to, the owner came out and received me with honour and gave me the best of fare. He served me as he would serve an honoured dignitary."
"Then what was the trouble?" Lao Tzu asked.
"Trouble?" Lieh-Tzu exclaimed. "I could not sleep the whole night. My arrogance made me feel that I too was somebody. Or else, why should these people give me such first class treatment? As soon as I came, the owner touched my feet and all the rest followed suit. Then, the first class eating arrangements and the luxurious bedroom! I was puffed with pride and could not sleep.
"I set out the next morning and reached another rest house by evening. I prepared myself as best I could to make a befitting impression on my new host. I settled my hair, washed my face, even my gait was now different! When I looked within myself, I saw that I was not the same person who had bowed and taken leave of you the day before. This was a different person altogether! I waited for the owner of the serai to come and touch my feet and give me all his attention. No one came. I was terribly hurt. I was given a third rate room and the fare was no better. I could not sleep the whole night.
"This put me in a great dilemma. When the room was first-rate, I could not sleep; when the room was third-rate, I could not sleep. It then dawned on me that I might fall into danger. I should run back while there was still time. The mind, though, was persuading me to try another rest house. Perhaps this man did not know who I was; he was ignorant. At that moment, your words rang in my ears:
"It is easy to go, but difficult to return." I ran for my life and did not stop a moment! I was afraid if I waited any longer I would fall further and further down."
It is strange - nobody wants to turn back. Everyone strives to go further and further ahead, because in going ahead the ego feels gratified while the very thought of going back fills the mind with melancholy. If we come back it seems as though everything is over for us and life seems to have passed in vain. If you go forward, the ego prods you on further and further every day and points out new mirages for you to attain. Then, man runs and runs.
All outside racing ultimately ends in insanity. To be insane means only this: that the man has ventured so far away from himself that he cannot find the way to come back. He has forgotten his abode. He now knows only one thing: that he has to run and run; he cannot stop anywhere. He must run to attain anything. If he gets it, he must run to attain something else, but run he must. It has become a disease, an illness for him. Now there is no other way for him except to run.
I have a friend. He is a colonel in the army. His wife comes to listen to me. I asked her one day, "Your husband comes to drop you off here and he also comes to meet me from time to time; but I have never seen him sitting down with you to listen to me."
The wife said, "He cannot sit in one place. He is a colonel you see. He very much wants to hear you. I tape your lectures and take them home. He switches on the tape and listens to you while he walks up and down the room. Besides, it would not be nice if he came here and kept fidgeting all the time. You see, he cannot sit in one place."
Our mind is exactly like this. It cannot sit in one place; it cannot stop; it cannot relax. It is forever running away. Lao Tzu says, "The mind goes insane."
One who is incapable of relaxing is insane. If you are able to relax, then you are not mad. If you feel you cannot relax when you wish to, then know that there is some measure of insanity within you. If you are not enough master of yourself so that when you lie down the body slips into rest, or when you close your eyes you fall asleep, then know that there is some quantity of madness within you.
The measure of madness can vary; there is always the possibility of increasing. It varies throughout the day. Sometimes you find it easy to relax, sometimes you don't.
All twenty-four hours, things are happening around you. Some of these happenings can increase the madness within. For example, a person comes and tells you that you have won the lottery. Off you go! Your mind will become reckless. You will be impossible. You can relax no more: the lottery has given fresh momentum to your already speeding thoughts.
Things happen around you all the time, things that beckon your mind to run ever faster. You are forever ready to run. Relaxation can only come your way if by some good fortune you have no ambitions and expectations.
This, alas, is not in your hands. A man on the road mocks you and your mind begins to race at once.
There are crores and crores of people who are capable of exciting you. Even if your neighbour's dog barks at night, the mind starts a chain of thought to find out why he barks. If your own dog does not wag his tail when you come home in the evening, that too becomes a cause of worry to you. We develop relationships in a thousand ways and our ego takes great delight through these. A small thing like the dog not wagging his tail can upset you. If the mind is basically insane, the smallest thing can set it off. Any reason is good enough.
The secret of this insanity is only one. As long as you run for things outside of you, you are creating insanity within you. And the more you make the mind insane, the more miserable and unhappy you shall be. You create a hell for yourself to live in.
"THE HUNT FOR RARE AND STRANGE OBJECTS MAKE MAN'S CONDUCT EVIL." Conduct is a very profound thing. It does not mean that if a man does not smoke his conduct is good. Often it happens that such a man's behaviour is worse because of his non-smoking. He will find some substitute.
You must have noticed that people who smoke, or eat paan, or drink tea or coffee or even a little alcohol, are very sociable people. Those who do not indulge in any of these habits are very difficult to befriend. They are very unsociable, very conceited, very conscious of the fact that they have none of these vices. They look at others as if they themselves are higher and the others are slithering worms and not human beings. This affliction of the ego is a very dangerous thing. It is poisonous.
It is better if a person smokes a little or has other bad habits rather than this inflated ego. That is why I never make the mistake of calling a person good unless he is so good as not to be inclined to view other people's shortcomings as sin. Before he does so, no man is good, no matter how exemplary his behaviour. A man should be so good that he sees no fault in others. To lose the power of condemning others is the highest quality.
Our so-called sadhus and sannyasins can never stand up to this test. They are not of a high calibre of conduct. In fact, there is no difference between their conduct and the behaviour of an ordinary person. There is only an external difference between the two. Both are bound by the same things.
For instance, you may smoke and he does not smoke, but the behaviour of both of you revolves around cigarettes. If you try to find out the piety of your so-called sadhus, you will find that he does not eat certain things, he does not wear certain things, he does not drink certain things. He appears to be a sadhu to you because he has renounced all that you indulge in; the difference is very glaring.
But invariably these sadhus turn out to be dangerous, because they are just men like you. Had the sadhu been smoking, he too would have been an ordinary man. The trouble and discomfort he goes through to abstain from smoking he calls penance. How can non-smoking be called an act of penance? The truth is, to smoke is a great penance.
You take smoke within your body and throw it out again. The ancient mendicant lit a fire and inhaled the smoke. Now you carry a portable fire and inhale it! Both fire and smoke are present. This is no less a penance, because you take in poison. But this man who abstains from smoking has the upper hand over you. He looks at you with contempt, as if to say, "You will go straight to hell. There is no redress for you."
One cannot set standard of conduct through these base things. At least, people like Lao Tzu do not set their standard of conduct in this manner. Lao Tzu's criterion is wholly different. It is wonderful.
Lao Tzu says: "Those who hanker to attain rare and strange objects in the outside world fall in their conduct." This means: those who do not run after outside objects attain this high demeanour. So a person of high demeanour is one who is so satisfied within himself that nothing outside attracts him.
This inner satisfaction, this self-contentment, is the other name for good conduct. So contented is the man within himself that nothing outside stirs him into action. Nothing is of so much significance as to make him go after it. He is so balanced, so fixed within himself. Lao Tzu says, "Such a man has character, such a man has virtue, he has the highest calibre of morality." Truly if a man is so satiated within himself that there is nothing lacking within him, then such a person has an atman.
He has an integrated will, a personality, a way of his own, a sound of his own. His life is like a flame that is not affected by gusts of wind. The flame of our personality trembles even without the wind. In fact, we are ill at ease if there is no breeze, because we are ashamed to admit that we tremble for no reason. We invite trouble, so as to have an excuse to tremble.
If a man is locked up in a room, you will be surprised to see that he indulges in fits of temper. If you are locked up in seclusion for three months, you will come to know that anger does not require any outside help to manifest itself. All our lives we have believed that anger is brought about by the other. This is like the flame making the excuse that it is the breeze that makes it flicker. In seclusion, you will find that suddenly anger overtakes you; suddenly you feel sexually aroused. The other is totally absent. Now you cannot say that so-and-so was the cause of your anger or that the sight of a beautiful woman aroused your sexuality. No, these are already within you, and you were only waiting for an excuse. There is a greater possibility of conjuring up the image of a beautiful woman when you are in seclusion. This in turn triggers off your senses. Thus, you create your own gusts of wind around your flame.
Psychologists say that if a man is deprived of all experiences for a period of three months, he can create all these experiences within himself. He will begin talking with people who are not there. He will speak on their behalf as well as on his own. We cannot sit quiet in our house for a long time. We always wait for someone to talk to.
The state of our mind, the state of our character, is very unsteady. Fluctuation is in our very nature.
Lao Tzu says this very trembling, this unsteadiness, is the cause of fallen conduct. To be steady, fixed, is to have character.
What does Lao Tzu mean by this steadiness? Does he say, "Don't eat this, don't drink this, don't wear this"? No. He means no food or drink should be such as to disturb the flame; no clothing should be such as to cause a tremor within. Does it mean that you should shun the company of others if you wish your flame to be unaffected? No, do not shun company, but let no one's presence cause a flicker in your flame. Be so steady, so much so, that when a companion departs, you are not conscious of any tremor in the flame. To be steady does not mean you are to run away. Rather, it means, let all storms keep raging without but the flame of consciousness should steadily become fixed and unswerving.
This happens. If we follow Lao Tzu's advice, if we allow our senses to completely relax, if we keep them fresh, if we awaken our inner senses, if we are not inclined to store useless objects, if we are unaffected by the people around us, then gradually we develop that character that stabilizes the consciousness within. This is stability of character.
This settling down of consciousness is a different thing altogether. It is a great happening when a person's consciousness is settled. He never looks at you critically. He never observes what you eat and what you wear, in order to find your faults. He sees only one fault in you: that you tremble for twenty-four hours a day. It makes no difference what makes you tremble; things keep changing.
But this trembling must stop; it should vanish completely. This is why the saint does not gratify the insatiable longings of his external eyes.
These words are worth noting. The desires of the external eyes are such that they are never satiated.
By nature they are insatiable. There is no way of gratifying them. It is not that our efforts are lacking.
Our zest is lacking.
These desires are insatiable by their very nature. It is just like a mirage. A thirsty traveller spies a lake in the desert. He runs with all his might, only to find that it was an illusion. It appears further ahead. There was nothing lacking in the thirst of this man, nor in his effort to reach, but the lake was just not there. It was an optical illusion. Since that for which he toiled did not exist, his thirst cannot be gratified. Hence it is insatiable. He never will reach his goal. He will keep running. He will keep on running with the hope that if he runs a little further he will achieve his goal.
All that we seek to achieve in life is just as impossible to fulfill.
It is said that when Nasruddin married for the first time, he married the most beautiful girl in the city.
But two years later, he was looking for another wife. His friends asked, "You have married the most beautiful girl in our city. What makes you look for another wife?"
The Mulla replied, "I want to marry an ugly woman. I experienced a beautiful one and found there was nothing but misery. Now let me see if an ugly woman can make me happy."
His friends laughed at him. "If a beautiful woman could not make you happy, how will an ugly one?"
Nasruddin replied, "Perhaps the charm of the opposite may be gratifying."
So he searched for an ugly woman and married her. Two years later, he was out to marry again.
"What now?" his friends asked. "You have experienced a beautiful woman and an ugly one. What kind of a woman do you desire now?"
Nasruddin said, "Just you wait and see when I come with the palanquin."
A wave of excitement passed through the village. This man was full of wild things and no body could tell what he would do next.
One fine day Nasruddin returned to his village in a big procession, complete with a band and a palanquin. People were awed to see him sitting astride the horse, decked in his groom's attire.
They could hardly wait to see Nasruddin's latest choice. When the palanquin was opened, it was empty! Nasruddin said, "I married an empty palanquin. Every time I brought it back occupied, I was unhappy."
It is said that Nasruddin wrote in his memoirs that what he could not attain by his first two marriages, he attained by his third: peace, joy and tranquillity! This is possible. The empty palanquin is a sign that illusions were broken.
We keep changing objects: from the first to the second and the third and so on, but our chase does not abate. And this chase is insatiable. It can never be satiated because the nature of desires is insatiable. Therefore, the sage seeks to satisfy the hunger that exists in the innermost centre of his being. He is anxious to satisfy this hunger.
Lao Tzu says: "Bring down your consciousness from the head to the heart." As soon as it approaches the heart, a transformation of desires takes place. He says: "Take it still further down, towards the navel." Then, desires become extinct and a new hunger is experienced. This hunger is called the hunger for spiritual-knowledge. As soon as the consciousness nears the navel, this hunger begins.
Then the question does not arise that I should be something or achieve something. Then the question is :I should know myself as I am. This is a completely new hunger, in which I want my true self to manifest before me. I do not wish to be anything or to achieve anything. I am eager to know myself as I truly am and as I have always been. The curtain should rise and I should see and know my true being.
This is the craving of the navel centre. As soon as a person brings down his consciousness to the level of his navel, an entirely new question confronts him: "Who am I?" All spiritual knowledge is an answer to this question. All yoga, all sadhanas are answers to this hunger, this craving. They are methods and processes to find an answer to it.
We are aware of all the other cravings within us: the craving for wealth, for honour, for position, but we are completely ignorant of the craving to know who I am, to know what I am! This is a hunger that is deeply embedded within the navel. When this hunger is awakened within a person, a new search begins in his life. There can be no search without the craving, without the hunger. We set out to find only that which we desire.
Lao Tzu says: "Therefore, the saint does not gratify his hunger for colour or taste or sound or touch.
He does not fulfil the hunger of the senses. Rather, he removes his consciousness from the hunger of the senses and directs it to the navel, where lies embedded the actual thirst: the thirst to know oneself, to be oneself, to attain oneself.
"The saint negates the former and upholds the latter." The saint does not exhort us to leave hunger altogether. He says that there is a hunger which is never satiated, however much you try. These are our external hungers. Try to understand this. All the hungers of our senses are instantaneous. You give the stomach food and in twenty-four hours you shall have to refill it because the food will have been used up by then. It is just like you fill gas in your car. It gives you a certain mileage and is burnt up in the process. The car will not work if you do not refill the gas. If you want to use the car, there is no other way except to fill the car with gas. Just so, you must give food to the body if you want it to work. The body has its requirements which need to be fulfilled in the course of the day. The body keeps on demanding fuel because the body is a machine that has to be filled everyday. But by filling the body, you cannot experience that fullness which never gets finished.
There is no cause for alarm however. This is as it should be, and there is no cause for anxiety. Some foolish people, however become the enemies of the body. "What is the use of gratifying the needs of the body?" they argue, because the body's demands never end." So they give the body as little as they can give if they wish to sustain it. They give the body the minimum of food, the minimum of water and rest. They are merely indulging in foolishness. Actually, they too desire to fill the desires of the senses for once and all and be done with it. This could not be, and hence the distress.
Your folly is that you are under the impression that by gratifying your desires everyday, some day you will reach a point of satiety. You and the one who denies the body are committing the same folly, but from different directions. You believe in gratifying the body with the hope of reaching the supreme gratification, whereas he denies the body in order to reach the same goal. Both he and you are completely unaware of the spiritual hunger that can only be gratified in a spiritual way.
Remember, petty thirsts are quenched temporarily. The hunger in your stomach is not the ultimate hunger. What is your thirst? Drink half a glass of water and it is satiated. But how long can the thirst be appeased by this much water? In no time, you are thirsty again. If the thirst is small, the result is small. We have no knowledge of the ultimate hunger.
There is only one supreme hunger: to know existence, to be one with it, to see it unfold before us.
Call it truth or God, give it whatever name you please.
"Remove your consciousness from the senses," says Lao Tzu. Bring it down into the navel, bring it down from the head. The day it reaches the navel, will be the day of revelation. There will be a new thirst. This very thirst is your prayer, this very thirst is meditation. The search that arises from this hunger, is religion. When a sadhaka reaches the lake that gratifies this thirst, that lake is Paramatman.