In 1959, the Nobel Prize given to two American scientists was a unique event. The scientists were Dr. Emilio Segre and Dr. Owen Chamberlain. It was unique in the sense that their findings in the field of science were entirely contrary to all scientific theories of today. They have destroyed the fundamentals of science. What they have proved is very near Lao Tzu; but nowhere near Newton.
What they have discovered can tally with the Gita and not with Marx.
Their discovery is that if there is matter in the world, there is anti-matter too, because nothing exists in this world without its counterpart. If there is light, there is darkness; if there is birth, there is death.
So if there is matter, there is bound to be anti-matter. They have not only propounded this theory, they have also proved it. They have proved that within the atom of matter, where the proton works, right there there is an energy which is anti-proton. This energy cannot be seen nor experienced.
In this world, the opposite is inevitable. The world is a conjunction of the opposites. Segre and Chamberlain have named this energy "anti-matter."
Lao Tzu, Krishna, Buddha and Christ have given it different names: atman, eternal law, beatitude, deliverance, God. In all these names, one fact is common: they all stand for anti-world, anti-matter.
The findings of all religions agree on one point: that the world cannot be if there is no anti-world against it.
It is interesting that Segre and Chamberlain have stumbled across this. But as yet, it is only a guess.
The theory they have constructed will prove correct some day because it is based on the same principle. The argument they put forward is that just as in this world the power of gravitation pulls down, water flows downwards, fire goes upwards and protons revolve in a particular manner - in the same way in order to keep the balance, there must be a world that is just the opposite of this world.
This is, as yet, only a theory; but it is a powerful theory because those who have propound it are not mystics, not poets; but hard core scientists. They maintain that nothing works in this world without its opposite.
It is quite possible that there is a world which is quite the opposite of the world we know. Then only can the universe be balanced like a pair of scales. It cannot be said when scientists will be able to prove this, but religion has always believed in the possibility of liberation to a world that is opposite to the mundane world, to a world whose laws work exactly the opposite of worldly laws.
Jesus says: "He who is first here will be last there. He who is last here will be first there. He who amasses wealth here will find it taken away from him, and he who distributes his wealth shall receive it there." This is the law of opposites depicted in poetry.
The language of Jesus is the language of a poet. All religions have been expressed in the language of poetry. Perhaps that is how it should be. In scientific language, the living element is lost and, with it, the fragrance and harmony. The poetry ends and only dead figures remain.
If we keep in mind a brief concept of Lao Tzu's eternal law, we shall be able to move into this sutra.
Lao Tzu says: there is a world of change, where everything is constantly changing. But this world is not enough. Rather, there must be a world without change, in order to balance this world. There must be an opposite world of eternity, where nothing changes, nothing moves; where there is just emptiness and all is tranquil.
Here, in this world, everything vibrates. If we ask a scientist he will say, "Here, there are only vibrations. Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable, not even for a moment." We hardly utter a word and the thing has changed: This world is an intense process of change. We can call it a process of change, a flux.
And Lao Tzu says: "Right within this world, hidden from it, and exactly the opposite of it, is a principle which is ever fixed, ever stable; where nothing changes; where there are no vibrations, no ripples.
This he refers to as the eternal law. Change in this world is only possible because of the balance of the eternal law. If there were no eternal law, no change would be possible.
Each thing is possible because of its opposite. Within you is the body. Also within you there is an anti-body: matter as well as anti-matter, proton as well as anti-proton. Within you is change and within you is the changeless, the eternal.
Lao Tzu says that he who takes his changing self to be his being is insane. He will be unhappy, restless and frustrated, because that with which he is identifying himself is not stable for a moment.
He will be dragged along with it, and his hopes will be dashed to the ground. How can one pin his hopes on a changing thing? Change cannot be trusted. Change means that which cannot be relied on. To put faith in a changing phenomenon is to build castles in the sand. No sooner do we lay the foundation than the land beneath slides away. Before we lay the planks the foundation disappears.
Therefore pain and sorrow will be the destiny of one who joins himself to the world of change. Pain and sorrow means that all his hopes will be dashed to the ground and his dreams will be broken. The more rainbows he spreads of his hopes and expectations, the more empty his hands will be. Then, despair and frustration and sorrow will become a part of his life. Unhappiness means to identify oneself with change. Bliss means unite one's being with the eternal. Both are there. It depends on us which we choose.
The eternal law means: the opposite of whatever we see. It means :the invisible that is hidden in the visible. When we touch, it is not what we touch but that which cannot be touched.
I speak a word or I strike a note on the veena and a sound is produced. Its vibrations reach far out. Your ear gets the impact and its waves reach your heart. Then, after some time, the note fades away; the impact is lost. Sound is a part of change. A while ago it was not there and a while after it again is not there. The string of the veena trembles at the touch of my hand. The note is produced, the waves of vibrations spread around. Then the string of the veena stops vibrating; the sound is lost in emptiness and all is silent once again.
Sound is change. The silence, the void that was before the sound, is eternity. The silence that ensues after the sound is also eternity. And the emptiness in which the sound vibrated, that too is eternity. Every happening takes place in the void. It appears in the void and it disappears in the void. To know this eternity is Tao, says Lao Tzu. To know this eternity is religion.
Now we shall proceed to understand the sutra.
"HE WHO KNOWS THE ETERNAL LAW IS TOLERANT."
It is not correct to say that he who knows the eternal law becomes tolerant, he is tolerant. He does not have to do anything to become tolerant.
Knowledge of the eternal law makes a man tolerant. Why? What is our intolerance, what is our impatience?
Our impatience is the fear that that which changes will change! That which changes should not change. That is what we desire. Therefore we try to bind everything around us and live like that.
The son grows up. The mother herself helps him grow up. But as he grows up, he goes further and further away from the mother. This is an invariable part of growing up. The mother herself is bringing him up, helping him to go further and further away from her. Then, when she realises this, she weeps and wails. The son has to be brought up, and her love is instrumental in it. But the son turns his back on this very love. The mother weaves beautiful dreams as she brings up her child.
She imagines her son will bring down the stars for her. She is confident he will return her love a thousandfold. Alas, these dreams are shattered one day.
We cannot hinge our hopes on impermanent things, for they bring nothing but pain. Love also is a flow - the Ganges does not stop at one ghat only. Similarly, love does not wait at one shore either.
Today the son loves his mother; tomorrow he will love someone else. Today, the mother tries to bind him and suffers because of this; tomorrow his wife will also suffer in the same manner. Whoever tries to bind someone else suffers. All efforts to bind the ephemeral end in disaster. Then we become intolerant; we become restless; we lose all power of forbearance.
We are all intolerant. We cannot tolerate anything. If I love someone and that someone looks appreciatingly at another, I go mad with jealousy; I cannot tolerate it.
Lao Tzu says: "HE WHO KNOWS THE ETERNAL LAW IS TOLERANT" - because he knows that in this transient world, everything is prone to change. Nothing is fixed, not even love. We cannot pin our hopes on anything here. He who tries to do so suffers. If you walk against the rules of gravitation, you are bound to fall. You cannot blame the law of gravitation for this. You cannot blame anyone but yourself. Your ignorance of the law brings you to grief. Had you been careful, you would not have fallen. You would not have had a broken leg if you had obeyed the law of gravity because it is this very law that makes it possible for us to walk.
He who attains knowledge of the law does not build hopes in opposition to the law. He knows that the law of alteration says that nothing is permanent. Therefore, wherever he tries to stop change, he is bound to come up against difficulties and obstructions. These difficulties then turn him into knots.
He who knows the eternal law understands the rule of change and becomes tolerant. He knows that if there is reverence today, there will be abuse tomorrow. He does not cling to reverence because he knows it can turn into insult any day. He welcomes irreverence as much as reverence and knows that both are impermanent. Where is the place for intolerance in such a person?
Yesterday you were respectful towards me. Today you hurl abuse. That is how intolerance is born.
I expected that you would give me the same respect today. It is not your abuse that is painful; it is the shattering of my deluded expectation that brings the pain. I was under the impression that he who touched my feet yesterday would definitely touch them today. What business did I have to expect this? What led me to this expectation, in this transient world? Much water has flown down the Ganges since yesterday, and so have all the men of yesterday passed away in the flow of time. In a like manner, the respect and reverence of yesterday is a past story today. What has not changed in the last twenty-four hours? So many stars were born and so many have disintegrated; so many lives were formed and so many disintegrated. In this vast order of change in the universe, can such a puny thing as one man's change in attitude be called a change? It is so negligible a change that it is not worth mentioning.
Where so much changes every second, it would be strange if one man did not change. The change in him is strictly according to law. If my expectation for the same reverence I was given yesterday does not come, it is bound to give me pain and hence I become intolerant.
Tolerance means the acceptance of everything that takes place in this changing world. There is life today; there will be death tomorrow. It is morning now, soon it will be evening. There is light now, soon it will be dark. The morning found my heart filled with flowers, but by evening they shall have turned to dust. This is bound to be. Therefore, there is no need to cling to the morning flower or to weep over the faded petals in the evening.
He who understands the law of change does not identify himself with it. Rather, he establishes his identity with that which does not change. And there is only one thing within us that does not change: the witness within. The morning brought smiling flowers, fragrance in the air, music, the dance of nature. But by evening, everything had changed: the music, the dance and the fragrance are nowhere; the doors of heaven are closed and I find myself standing in the midst of hell. There is nothing around to give me a hint of the morning. Only one thing is constant. In the morning it was I who looked at the morning and in the evening it was again I who was looking. In the morning it was I who saw the blooming of the flowers and in the evening it was I who saw everything turn to dust.
Only the witness is eternal.
There was a day when I was young; there will be a day when I am old. There were days when I was filled with health and well-being; there were other days when I was ill and unwell. I have seen myself at the peak of fame and I have also seen myself in the abyss of disgrace. One element in all this was constant: the element of knowing. This knowing in itself is eternal, constant. Everything else is inconstant and transient. The witnessing consciousness within is eternal.
When Lao Tzu says that he who knows the eternal law becomes tolerant, he means that he who becomes a witness to everything around and within him becomes tolerant. A slight deviation from the witness-state and all ills and frustrations begin immediately. A moment's identification with even a fraction of the things that are transient and you fall from the witness-state.
"HE WHO KNOWS THE ETERNAL LAW IS TOLERANT. BEING TOLERANT, HE IS IMPARTIAL....
Tolerance means: Whatever happens. there is no room for discontentment. There is an unconditional state of contentment under all circumstances. The contentment is dependent on no reason, no cause.
One man says, "I am content. I have a big bank balance." Another says, "I am satisfied with life, I have a wife, children and a comfortable living." Yet another says, "I am happy, I have nothing more to ask of life. I have a good name, I have fame." But non of these people are really content because their contentment is not without cause. If, tomorrow, there is a slight lack in their situations, there will be nothing but discontentment. Their contentment is a fraud, a deception they allow themselves.
Contentment means unconditional contentment. For no apparent reason a man says, "I am content."
He is content not for some reason. He has experienced the eternal as apart from the alternating world; he has now identified himself with the eternal and recognised the impermanence of the changing world. Tolerance and contentment are unconditional happenings.
Someone said to Buddha, "You are nothing. Yet you look so contented!" This question is very natural.
If a person has something, we can understand his sense of satisfaction. But Buddha has nothing.
He sits under a tree with nothing beside him. His look of satisfaction is puzzling. The man begged him to explain how he came to be so contented. He said, "Only a mad person can be happy without a reason. And you do not look mad. Who are you? You look as if you were the emperor of the whole world: Are you?"
Buddha said, "No."
"Are you a celestial being descended from heaven?"
Buddha said, "No."
The man kept on asking whether he was this or that, and to all questions Buddha replied in the negative. The man became restless. "You are something after all: What are you?" he asked again.
Buddha then replied, "I was an animal once. There was reason for this. My desires were such, that I had to be an animal. I was a human being also. My desires were such that I had to be. I was a celestial being also at one time my desires were such that I had to be. These were all causal existences. Now I am only 'Buddha'. I am neither an animal nor a deva nor a man. I am only Buddha."
The man asked, "What is the meaning of Buddha?"
Buddha said, "Now I am just an awakened being. I am now an awakened consciousness I am only a consciousness. I am not an individual any more because an individual is born by clinging to the changing forms. At times I have clung to animal forms; at times I have clung to vegetable forms and at times I have clung to human forms. These were my personalities. Now I have no personality, no individuality. I am just consciousness - the flame of a lamp."
To attain the eternal law is to become a lamp of eternity. If I am not the impermanent, if I am the eternal, there can be no intolerance. If there is no connection with the transient, there is no fear of the loss of connection. Those who hope can be disappointed but one who does not hope has no way to be disappointed. Those who have possessions can become penniless any day, but those who have nothing, who have not clung to any possessions have no way of becoming penniless. How can you snatch away from me a thing I have never clung to? You can only snatch if I hold on to it.
This witness-state, this knowledge Or the eternal law, is the breaking away from the world of change.
Then the Ganges flows and I sit on its bank. Then, when its stream carries away flowers on its breast, I look at them; or when a corpse is washed away in its stream, that too I see. When the rains bring down the soil in its stream, I watch the muddy waters; and when the waters are crystal-clear and reflect the blue sky above, I watch even then. But I am not one with the Ganges; am not the Ganges.
I am merely sitting on its bank and observing the pattern of change in the world of alteration. When the witness-state becomes fixed on the shores of the changing stream, then I am not affected by what flows along with the river and what does not.
Looking at the flow of the river, I do not pin my hopes on it for I know that sometimes it brings flowers and sometimes corpses. I also know that its waters are so clear at times that I can see the reflection of the stars above; but there are times when the waters are turbid, muddy. I know its fury when it rises above its banks; and I know its meekness when it shrivels into a thin ribbon of water. But I have nothing to do with all this. I merely sit on its bank and watch. The knowledge of the eternal law is to sit at the shores of the changing world, fully established in the witness-state.
Lao Tzu says, "He who becomes tolerant becomes impartial." This needs to be explained. Actually, we can only take sides when there is a choice. I say a man is good because he behaves as I expect him to. I say a man is bad because he does not behave as I expect him to. But if I do not expect anything, there is no question of a person being good or bad.
I say a man is a sinner or a man is a saint. Whether the man is a sinner or not, I do not know; but since he destroys some expectation of mine, he is a sinner in my eyes. And one whom I call a saint is one who fulfils some expectations of mine. Whether he really is a saint or not, I do not know.
If you observe things around those whom you look upon as sadhus and also around those you call sinners, you will find that the person who gratifies your hopes and expectations is a sadhu and he who does not is a sinner. If you believe that a sadhu should go about with a mask on his face, then when you meet him you will fall at his feet. The same man, if he removes the mask, will find it hard to get even a menial job in the house of his former follower. Everything depends upon your way of thinking. A man is a great sadhu if he totally fulfils your expectations. If he falters, if he laxes, he becomes a lesser sadhu. But who is a saint and who is a sinner in the eyes of one who expects nothing?
Says Lao Tzu, "He who attains knowledge of the eternal becomes impartial." For him, there is no difference between Rama and Ravana, because the difference between Rama and Ravana is the difference between our expectations. It is our preconceptions, our divisions that are working. If I have no preconceptions, there is no difference. To be impartial means I have nothing to choose. I make no choice. To be impartial also means that I do not say you: "Be like this."
I have a friend, an aged person. His son died. His son was a minister in Parliament. In his heart of hearts the old man hoped he would become the Prime minister one day. All fathers expect their sons to become Prime ministers, no matter what they are worth. In this case the son was a minister already so it was only natural for the old man to hope that he would become the Prime minister. He cried bitterly when his son died. He also hinted at suicide. I asked him what caused such intense pain. He said, "My son has died."
"If your son was an ordinary thief, a dacoit, a murderer, would you have yet cried for him and thought of committing suicide?" I asked.
His tears stopped flowing, he looked at me with consternation. "What is this you say? Had my son been so, I would have wished him dead the moment he was born!"
"Then do not say you are crying for your son," I told him. "You are crying for the secret ambition you nurtured in your son. You were trying to fulfil your own ambition, through your son. If your son had become the Prime minister, you would have become the father of the Prime minister - just as you would have still been his father if he were a thief, a criminal. Some hidden ambition has died with your son. That is the cause of your grief."
He was vexed that I should speak to him like this in his moment of sorrow. But I told him that I only said this to him because truth is easier to realise at a time of pain and sorrow. Truth stands out glaringly at such times. When you make a house of cards and are living happily within it, it is useless to convince you that it is bound to fall. But when it does fall with the first gust of wind and you bemoan the loss, perhaps you will understand what I mean. If you sail in a paper boat, you cannot go far. But if it does go a little distance, then it is impossible to know that it is made of paper.
That it does go a little distance is a miracle. It is only when it sinks that we realise the fact. The advent of truth is easier in sorrow and pain. What is good, what is bad? If the son was good or the son was bad is something that matters only if I am united to the world of change; not otherwise.
Says Lao Tzu, "He who becomes tolerant becomes impartial." Impartial means: when there is no expectation within, there is no choice without. If Lao Tzu were told, "This man is bad. Make him a good man," Lao Tzu would say, "I have no expectations. Even less do I know who is good and who is bad. Nor do I know the way to make a person good. And he who becomes good for me may not be good for others because others have their own expectations."
The worst of men can prove to be good for someone in this world. The best of men can turn out to be bad for some in this world. There is no way of being hundred per cent good or hundred per cent bad. Had you been the only person on this earth you could have been hundred per cent either way.
But there are others in this world who have their own expectations. Therefore, except for a dozen people, Jesus was thought to be a bad person, fit to be crucified. He did not fulfil the conditions prevalent in those days for a good man; he did not fulfil their expectations.
Jesus stayed in the house of a prostitute - what could be worse than this? So all those who longed to visit the brothels found a fit opportunity to vent their anger on him. What we take to be righteous indignation is ninety nine per cent born of jealousy. Those who chastised Jesus were the very people who longed to go to the prostitute but were afraid of what people might say. Now this was the limit - a man who was supposed to be good visiting a prostitute's house! Either this man should be pronounced bad, or it should be decreed that good men can visit brothels.
The second decision cannot be taken. The reason why is rather intricate and involved, and has a long history behind it. The brothel is a by-product of the institution of marriage. As long as the tradition of marriage continues, brothels cannot be eradicated. So the only thing left was to pronounce Jesus a bad man. This suited everybody, because the father is afraid lest his son goes to the prostitute and the wife is fearful of her husband doing the same. The whole society is fearful of this issue. And yet it is this very society that has given birth to prostitution.
But most people visit the brothel under cover of darkness. The only mistake that Jesus made was that he went to the prostitute's house in bright daylight. This was his only fault. He could have saved himself from the cross if he had been a little clever. Everyone went to the brothels, even those who crucified him. But they knew how and when to go. Jesus could have asked forgiveness, promised to do penance, taken a vow in order to save himself.
But Jesus was adamant. He insisted that he had done no wrong. He said that she might be a prostitute for others, but not for him. Prostitution is a relationship; it has nothing to do with the person. Just as a wife is a relationship and not a person. One man's wife can be another man's prostitute. So Jesus insisted that she was not a prostitute for him and if the others thought she was then they were welcome not to visit her. But this was beyond their understanding. This man must be crucified.
Those who followed Jesus waited and hoped till the last moment for a miracle to save Jesus and prove him right. For they too could not help doubting; as they were products of the same society.
It was because they were impressed by Jesus, they loved him, that they followed him. There were scarcely a dozen people who followed him, and Jesus knew that they too would leave him and run away at the time of crisis. And they did!
When Jesus' body was taken down from the cross, only this prostitute was still with him. All the rest of the disciples had run away. Truly, she was no prostitute as far as Jesus was concerned. And for her, Jesus was no ordinary man. When his most intimate disciples ran away - those very people who were acclaimed as the twelve apostles later - this woman stood by him, till the very last. A prostitute brought Jesus down from the cross.
Who is to decide who is good and who is bad? And how are we to decide? There has always been this one criterion: what meets your expectations is good; what does not is bad. But if a man has no hopes, no ideals, he becomes impartial.
This is the difficulty for people like Jesus. A prostitute invited him to spend the night at her house and Jesus had no compunctions. He readily agreed. Had it been you, you would have thought of the scandal that would have spread in the town. What would your wife, your children, your friends say? Jesus simply accepted the invitation.
The same thing happened with Buddha. A prostitute came one morning and invited him to have his meal at her house. He accepted. Later in the day Prasenjita, the emperor, came to invite him to his palace. Buddha said, "I have already been invited by Amrapali."
The king argued with him, "Think of your reputation, What will people say when they hear you have eaten at the house of a prostitute?"
Buddha replied, "She has invited me first and I have accepted her invitation? If I still am afraid of the things that frighten you, I am not a Buddha. This scandal will only be restricted to this world; but if I do not go to her, for fear of slander and accept your invitation, then all the Buddhas that have ever been, will deride me. I would rather be defamed here than despised there."
Says Lao Tzu, "Such a person becomes impartial. He does not take sides one way or the other, but lives naturally. He passes no judgment about what is good and what is bad; what should be and what should not be.
This will be difficult to understand for those who are moralists, those who consider ethics to be the highest thing in religion. Ethics is the highest goal for those who are unethical, just as medicine is good only for those who are ill. Ethics are useful for the non-ethical; but for those who have attained religion, the ethical drops off as easily as the unethical. All sides drop off for such a person.
All ethical concepts are partial. Ethics lays down in no uncertain terms what is right and what is wrong. All its rules are strictly mathematical; every step it takes is calculated. Religion adheres to no such calculations.
He who is established in the eternal law leaves everything to the eternal. Then he does not care where it leads him - to the East or to the West, to light or to darkness.
Let us understand the difference in this way. One boatman works his boat with the help of oars. He has to use all his energy to ply the oars. There is another boatman - he puts up sails and lets the winds take him to his destination. He does not use oars, the winds themselves carry him along.
The ethical man uses oars all the time. He has to be mindful every moment of where he is going.
He has to toil constantly. There is always a conflict between the boat and the river. It is a constant struggle.
The religious man is the man who sets his oars aside, puts up his sails and invites God, the eternal, to carry him wherever He wills. Now, wherever he is taken is his destination. If the boat capsizes in mid-stream, then that is his destination. The religious man has to do nothing except gather the courage to leave himself in the hands of the eternal. He marks out no shores for himself. Wherever he lands that is his home He just reaches.
A moralist always has a set goal to attain. Hence, he is bound to be partial; he can never be impartial. If he appears impartial, it is an act he puts on, a cultivated impartiality. He learns to be impartial step by step. The impartiality of a religious man is natural, spontaneous. This is difficult. It is very difficult for us even to be ethical.
Lao Tzu talks of far-off things. He says that ethicalness is a disease. He says that as long as the opposites, the dichotomy, remains, there is bound to be restlessness. As long as I feel this is good and this is bad, dichotomy is bound to remain. Hence, the so-called moralist is a restless man. He is always worried about things happening right or wrong in the world, as if it is entirely his responsibility.
His worry causes him restless nights and his whole life is spent in correcting the world. Amidst all this he fails to see that it is his own self that needs correction.
It is somewhat difficult to understand Lao Tzu. That is why Lao Tzu has been misunderstood in the West. His thoughts are considered immoral. How can one remain impartial when there is a constant conflict between good and evil? There is a reason for this. If we view ourselves from the angle of transience and change, we cannot be impartial. If we see from the angle of the eternal law, only then can we be impartial.
The mundane world, viewed from the place of the eternal law appears like a dream. You sleep at night and see the whole RAMAYANA enacted in your dreams. You identify yourself with Rama if you are a moralist and with Ravana if you are an amoralist. But on waking up in the morning the dream ends; it is no more. Then will you be taking sides one way or the other? If you do, then know that you are still asleep. If you realise it was a dream, it makes no difference to you whether Ravana wins or Rama wins. Now you can be sure you are awake, because now you are impartial.
For Lao Tzu the world of change is a dream. He who is surrounded by dreams, who is tied to his dreams, will always be partial. Wherever there is partiality, there is intolerance, impatience and sorrow. If you wish to rise to the state of bliss, you shall have to be impartial and non-differentiating.
He who becomes impartial develops the majesty of a king. "BEING IMPARTIAL, HE IS KINGLY."
But the majesty of a king is nothing compared to the majesty of a person who becomes impartial because the tranquillity in him defies all imagination. His eyes become transparent due to absence of bias. His movement is smooth without a tremble. We tremble throughout life because of our biases.
Now scientists have proved that there is partiality even in our body language. A great deal of research is being carried out on this. How you stand before a person shows whether you are in favour of that person or not. If you are against the person, you will try to stand away from him; you want to be as far away from him as possible. If you are in favour of the person, you tend to come closer, physically as well as mentally.
A woman betrays her feelings through her body action. Those who are conducting research in body language say that if a woman loves you, her way of sitting before you will be different. If she does not love you it will be different. Each part of her body gives signs of her feelings. Our body gives indications about our feelings in our everyday life. If you pass a brothel, you quicken your steps in case someone sees. If you pass a temple, your hands fold automatically in reverence. Our likes and dislikes vibrate through the body continuously.
"BEING IMPARTIAL, HE IS KINGLY," says Lao Tzu. Perhaps he could not find abetter simile because kings are not generally impartial. Jesus once told his disciples, "Look at the lilies in full bloom. The majesty of king Solomon seems pale and faded before them." Man attains the same dignity, the same majesty, that a flower attains when it opens. That is the majesty of the non-vibrant, the unmoving, the stable. It is like a lamp that burns in a room. When there is no breeze, the flame burns steadily; there is no tremor. Similarly, when the consciousness of a person becomes steady within, it does not tremble. That is its majesty.
There are two ways of doing this. One is: we stick to our bias, but force the consciousness to become fixed - as the so-called sadhus do it. Their bias remains: of good and bad, of the worthy and the unworthy, etcetera. Such forced fixation of consciousness is a false fixation. A slight relaxation and the consciousness begins to flow towards our likes and away from our dislikes.
There is another way, the way that Lao Tzu talks of. He says do not worry about the fixation of consciousness. Know the eternal law, recognise the world of change, and you find all bias has dropped off. When impartiality is attained, you become stable. Now there is no place left where you can tremble; no place to bow, no place to take yourself away from. This non-trembling state comes naturally. Without this, all saintliness is a cultivated saintliness; it is a suppression.
The difference is easily apparent. Whenever a person attains a natural saintliness, he attains an indefinable beauty. Whenever a person forces saintliness on himself, he attains an intense ugliness.
This ugliness happens naturally because it takes a lot of tension to achieve his saintliness. A natural saint is very difficult to find, but only one who is natural can be a saint.
Once I was travelling with a sadhu. I went and sat in a car but the sadhu refused to step in. "I cannot sit on a cushioned seat," he said. So a bamboo mat was spread on the seat and he was satisfied:
he was not using a cushion seat. What else can you feel for such a person except pity? The car is the same, the seat is the same, but he believes he is sitting on his mat: He has safe-guarded his simplicity. He who lives by guarding his ideals makes everything around him ugly and crippled. His consciousness is constantly tremoring.
Says Lao Tzu, "BEING IMPARTIAL, HE IS KINGLY." One more thing has to be remembered in this context. To be kingly means: that running after achievements, renouncing things, choosing this or that, - all these become meaningless to him. Wherever he is, he is a king. Wherever he stands in a palace or in a bare street, his majesty remains unaffected. The palace cannot awe him, the trees cannot repel him. He sleeps peacefully in either place. Wherever he is, however he is, he lives like a king - in the majesty of an emperor.
We see a person like Buddha. Outside his palace he is no less a king. Perhaps he looked more majestic. Clothes help to hide ugliness. Therefore the rule of clothes will remain as long as there is a dearth of beauty in this world. Clothes help an ugly person to lessen his ugliness. But when a person is extremely beautiful, his beauty is enhanced when his clothes fall off. When a miserable wretch is made to sit on a throne, his paltriness is hidden somewhat by the palace, but cannot attain majesty. And if a person has attained majesty and you take away his palace, his throne and crown, his majesty will reveal itself more sharply through his nakedness.
This majesty of a king is the result of an inner mastery. He who is tied to the changing world is always a slave. He will have to depend on someone or the other throughout his life. He has to submit to a thousand changes. He who breaks away from the world of change and identifies himself with the eternal becomes a master. He depends on no one. He passes through all changes as a master. His mastery is intrinsic.
"BEING KINGLY, HE IS IN ACCORD WITH NATURE. BEING IN ACCORD WITH NATURE, HE IS IN ACCORD WITH TAO."
Only those can enter the deep realm of religion who have attained the majesty of a king. No one can enter by begging and supplication.
Jesus has said, "Those who possess shall be given more and those who do not possess more shall be taken away from them." On the face of it this would be a mad thing to say. But this is the law of the world of anti-matter. It is a very contradictory law. Even an ordinary person knows that one who has nothing should be given and, if you must take away, take from those who have. But Jesus says the opposite: "If you have, you shall be given more, if you do not have, what little you have will be taken away from you."
No one can enter this realm like a beggar. Only a 'king' can make his entry there. In fact, the key to this world is mastery, lordliness. That is why we address a sannyasin as "swami". This does not mean that all sannyasins are swamis. We imply an inner mastery when we say "swami". That is the key to enter the palace: which Lao Tzu refers to as Tao; Buddha as dhamma, the Vedas as rit and Jesus as the Kingdom of God. The difference is only of words. "BEING IN ACCORD WITH NATURE, HE IS IN ACCORD WITH TAO".
"BEING IN ACCORD WITH TAO, HE IS ETERNAL." As long as we are affiliated with the transient world, we affiliate ourselves with destruction. We shall forever be in the cycle of birth and death.
We shall keep on taking new bodies and discarding them. The more we identify with the transient, the more we are prone to destruction. We then die every day and are born every day. We identify ourselves with the body so we die after fifty, sixty or seventy years.
Is there an element within us which we do not have to change like we change clothes, an element which is stable and, when we are identified with it, there is death no longer? Death comes because we identify ourselves with the transient, the impermanent. The day we break our relations with the impermanent, death no longer is; and that with which you are united is deathless, immortal.
Lao Tzu says, "BEING IN ACCORD WITH TAO HE IS ETERNAL." Thus his eternal life goes beyond pain and sorrow.
What is unhappiness? It is the shadow of death: a long shadow of death. Wherever death is apparent, there is pain. Wherever we can forget death are our moments of happiness. But man finds himself in a vicious circle for nothing is forgotten by forgetting.
Mulla Nasruddin was found drinking one day. He sat under a tree before his door and drank one glass after another. He had a guest at home who asked, "Mulla, why do you drink so much?"
Mulla replied, "In order to forget."
The guest asked, "To forget what?"
"My shamelessness", the Mulla replied, "My sins, my crimes."
"What are your sins?" the guest inquired, "What are your crimes?"
Nasruddin said, "This very thing: the shame that I drink too much, the sin of drinking is so heavy on me, that I must forget it. Therefore, I drink."
If we inspect our actions we will find this very thing in our lives also. We are in a vicious circle. To forget one thing, we catch another and to be rid of that, we grab a third. Then we go back to the first to avoid thing, which in order we did all the rest.
We journey a lot in this vicious circle but reach nowhere. There is no way to reach. The sorrow is that we have no knowledge of joy, we only know sorrow. At times we manage to forget our woes and mistake it for happiness. But the things with which we try to forget our sorrows bring more pain in their wake; so we are caught in a vicious circle.
One fact we must understand deeply. As long as I am prone to death, I can never be happy, no matter how hard I try. Death stands before me; and its shadow is forever on me. It will soak every joy of mine with its poison. You are enjoying your meal, it is very delicious. Then someone tells you that you are to be executed this evening. All taste will vanish at once. Do what you will, the taste will not come back. You feel yourself in heaven with your beloved beside you. Suddenly someone says that you are to be killed in a short time. You will at once forget there is someone sitting beside you.
Everything will become meaningless.
Camus has written, "How can happiness exist as long as there is death?" Animals appear to be happy because they have no knowledge of death. Man is unhappy because he is aware of death.
Those human beings who are nearer to animals appear happy because they forget death. Death is, but it is always the other who dies. "I shall never die because it is always the other who has died up to now, some A or B or C, I am still alive. Then what proof is there that I shall die?" Straight and simple logic.
Animals have no knowledge of death, because they have no knowledge of time, they have no knowledge of the future. Therefore, in a way they are happy. Man has knowledge of death therefore he can be most unhappy or can make the most arrangements to forget the unhappiness. There are only these two ways open to him. He cannot be happy until he understands Lao Tzu, until he identifies himself with the eternal.
Animals can be happy for they have no feeling of death. Man cannot be as happy as animals are.
Because man has gone further alone in his journey and has moved ahead of the animal. A young man no longer feels happiness in things that please children, even though he was a child once. An old man no longer derives pleasure from things that pleased him in his youth. No number of toys pleases a youth and no amount of sensual pleasures excite an old man. When the consciousness moves ahead, all pleasures at lower levels appear meaningless.
Man cannot derive joy in the same way as an animal, and yet that is what he strives for. He becomes unhappy in the process. The reason is that consciousness can only travel forwards; it can never fall back.
As long as the shadow of death persists, man cannot be happy. Then what is to be done? One way is to save the body from death as long as possible. But no matter how far we push back death, it is still there in front of us. We may put it off for a few days, a few months, a few years, but it still looms large in front of us. A man may live eighty years or one hundred or even a hundred and fifty years, but death claims him in the end.
The truth is, the more a man lives, the more he becomes aware of death. If a ten-year-old child dies, he dies without the knowledge of death. If a forty-year-old man dies, he is only slightly aware of death, but when an old man of eighty dies, he is very much steeped in the knowledge of death.
When a man of one hundred and fifty years dies, his knowledge of death is even more profound. If we succeed in lengthening the human age to a thousand years, the knowledge of death will become unbearable. As age progresses from one stage to another, all the things that mean so much at one time become meaningless, they become no more than mere toys. Then a stage arrives when nothing holds any meaning except death; all other meanings are lost.
Therefore, the wise among mankind become acutely aware of death. When Buddha sees a corpse, he at once realises that life is futile. But we do not think this way, we pass hundreds of funerals but all that we think is, "Some poor man is dead." We feel sorry for him and deep within us we are happy that we are alive. That is the only effect that the death of another has on us.
Seeing a dead man, Buddha feels his own death. The Irish poet Munro has said, "Whenever anyone dies, it is I who die. Therefore, do not try to find out whose funeral it is. It is my funeral." Buddha sees his own death when he sees a dead man. If death is certain, life is futile.
So the more sensitive the atman, the quicker it is to catch the shadow of death. It takes you eighty years to become old. Buddha was old by the time he was twenty.
This does not mean, as it is generally understood in India, that only an old person should take sannyas. Many people come and tell me that I should initiate only those into sannyas who are above seventy years. I tell them, we never know when a man gets old. Some people, many people, are not old even at seventy-five. It is easy to be old physically, but it is not so easy to be old mentally.
To be old is a physical process which comes naturally with age. But maturity comes through intellect, which is a different thing altogether. Some people become mature very early in life, like Buddha, who was mature at the age of twenty. What does not occur to a man of eighty, occurred to Buddha at twenty. He was mature enough to realise that death is certain. Now, when death will come is a secondary matter which he will leave for the foolish to haggle over. For him, it made no difference when death would come. What was of prime importance to him now was to find out whether there was something within him that was immortal, deathless. If there was not, then everything was meaningless. If there was then to seek the source of immortality was the most useful purpose in life.
Lao Tzu also says, "He who establishes himself in the Tao becomes immortal, deathless". Death no longer exists for him. He who is beyond death is beyond the whole gamut of sorrow and pain, because all pain is the pain of extinction. "That I will be no mote" is the cause of my sorrow. To become deathless is the beginning of bliss.