Religion is to be your own self
ONE FRIEND HAS ASKED: IS IT NOT NECESSARY TO RUN IN ORDER TO STOP?
It is necessary. But you are running already. You have run enough. There is a long history of previous births behind you where you have been running. You are the result of this. Now it is no longer necessary to run; now it is necessary to stop.
But our mind finds many ways of deceiving itself.
A moral teacher taught little children, "If you wish to be freed from sins, you must repent; you must pray. You should confess your sin before God and vow never to do it again." After the lesson was over he asked the children, "What must you do to liberate your selves from sin?"
A little child answered, "We must commit a sin."
You have to commit a sin in order to be rid of sin. But it is not enough to sin, you have to do something more. It is necessary to run in order to stop, but that does not stop you from running - the race is on! What we call life is also a race. So do not console yourself that you are running because you want to stop. We can always postpone our halting for the future, but, remember, you have run enough. It is already too late.
It is possible that our mind is still not satiated. It never is. That which is satiated is not the mind. The mind will keep on running, now here, now there from one goal to another. But if this race is a long agony, a long suffering.... And it is! It cannot be anything but painful.
But the mind's logic is that the pain, the suffering, is because we are not running fast enough. If we increase our speed, we might reach the goal. Or perhaps the pain is that others have run faster and reached, and we have not reached. Or that our pace is all right, but the direction is wrong. Or we think; the pace is correct, the path is correct, but perhaps the object of our goal is not correct. So we change the goal. Instead of wealth we choose religion; we change from the mundane world to the spiritual. Then we feel we should now be able to complete our race.
No, it will not end. The very running is wrong. Neither the road is wrong, nor the runner, nor the pace of running, nor the goal. Running in itself is wrong.
If we understand Lao Tzu we will know that activity in itself is a mistake. To stop, to relax and drown in non-activity, is the correct thing. So no race is the right race - according to Lao Tzu. To stop is the right thing. No stopping can be wrong. All activities are wrong. Non-activity, passivity, is one's absolute nature.
ANOTHER FRIEND ASKS: YOU HAVE PLACED WORLDLY DESIRES AND SPIRITUAL DESIRES IN THE SAME CATEGORY. WORLDLY DESIRES ARE BASE DESIRES, AND SPIRITUAL DESIRES ARE VERY HIGH DESIRES. BESIDES, WORLDLY DESIRES HAVE TO BE RENOUNCED IN ORDER TO ATTAIN SPIRITUAL DESIRES.
If you have understood Lao Tzu, you will know that according to him no desire is worldly and no desire is spiritual. Desire of any kind is worldly; only desirelessness is spiritual. Therefore, worldly desires and spiritual desires have no meaning. Desire itself means the mundane world. As long as you desire you are in the mundane world. Then even if you desire is to attain liberation, you are still a worldly person. When you have no desires, even if you stay within the world you are in beatitude.
Understand it in this way. Desire is not related to the object. Desire is not a question of what you want, desire is the fact that you want something. What you want is irrelevant. Whether you ask for wealth or status or religion or liberation as long as you ask, you are in the world. When you stop asking, you are in liberation.
Therefore, we cannot ask for liberation. One attains moksha who does not ask for it. Liberation (moksha) cannot be turned into a desire. Beatitude is not the result of a desire, it is not the goal of any race. Rather, to come to a dead halt in your race is moksha. Moksha is not the end of a journey.
When the race no longer is, that is moksha. Then it does not matter where you are: the moment you stop there is moksha. When the mind stops wandering and becomes fixed, moksha is attained.
The mind cannot be stable in any desire. The very word "desire" means the wandering of the mind.
So Lao Tzu does not differentiate between worldly desires and spiritual desires. The so-called religious people are, therefore, disturbed by Lao Tzu's teachings because they are proud that they have developed higher desires and renounced the lower ones. No desire is a high desire. No poison is greater, no sin is greater. Poison is poison, sin is sin; desire is desire. There is one snag however:
there is a possibility of adulteration. If there is no adulteration it is a pure desire. The desire for worldly things is an adulterated desire; the desire for liberation is an unadulterated desire.
Our friend is worried that I have called spiritual desire worse than worldly desires. The world and desires go together; there is no connection between liberation and desires. The world cannot be without desires, but liberation has nothing to do with desires. Therefore he who has developed the desire for liberation has fallen upon pure poison. A man may succeed in attaining his worldly desire, but one who harbours the desire for liberation, never attains it. It is impossible. So a man who desires liberation is doing a dangerous thing. He is heading for sure disaster, because liberation means the end of all desire: desirelessness. Salvation and desires are far apart. There cannot be any relationship between them anywhere.
So the worldly man is not committing as great a mistake as a so-called spiritual man. What the man of the world seeks is possible, whereas the quest of the spiritual man is in vain. A man who runs a shop in order to amass wealth is seeking the possible, whereas a man sitting in the forest in quest of God seeks the impossible.
In fact, God cannot be sought. When all quest stops, he is found to be present, here and now.
Because of the quest he cannot be seen. When a man runs fast in search of something, he fails to notice things around him and, so, passes by the very thing he is looking for. A man travelling in a bullock-cart has enough opportunity to observe things around him, but, when a man travels in a plane all details are lost. He cannot see flowers, he cannot see birds, he can only see clusters where trees are. If a man travels in a rocket, even the jungles are lost. Nothing can be seen. Speed blinds the vision. As the momentum of desires increases, we become more and more blind. The dust that is raised does not allow us to see anything.
That which we seek is only visible when there is no dust, no smoke in our eyes. The mind should be so relaxed that there is not the slightest stir, not a single ripple. Everything should be silent, serene.
The mind should be as tranquil as a lake. Then, that very moment, we see His rejection in the silent waters.
Lao Tzu says: desire is the world. Therefore, no desire can be spiritual. Those who paint their desires with spirituality deceive themselves. The worldly man can be forgiven, but the so-called spiritual man cannot be forgiven for he has applied a carnal rule to God. Desire, greed, are all carnal desires. And the aim is God!
We cannot point the mundane world in the direction of God. We cannot turn our corporeal tendencies towards the spiritual. When worldly tendencies are annihilated, what remains is spiritual.
LAO TZU HAS TALKED ABOUT PURE, ABSOLUTE TRUTH AND HAS LOOKED UPON ALL CONCEPTIONS AS THE ONLY BARRIER THAT PREVENTS MAN FROM ENTERING HIS NATURE. FROM THIS ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT RELIGION AND TRUTH ARE BEYOND THE CAPABILITIES OF AN ORDINARY PERSON? WILL THE EMBRACING OF THE SIMPLE, NATURAL SELF AS DESCRIBED BY LAO TZU - REMAIN A RARE ATTAINMENT?
It is not beyond the reach of the ordinary man. It is unattainable only by those who consider themselves non-ordinary. An ordinary man is a rare phenomenon. Everyone is non-ordinary. Ask each person you meet - all are non-ordinary. Have you ever met a person who is ordinary? Even if a person says he is ordinary, he will claim to be very, very ordinary. In other words, I am non-ordinary even among the most ordinary.
Lao Tzu says: "Become ordinary and you shall attain. Your non-ordinariness is your only hurdle."
What is our non-ordinariness?
Some men earn wealth in order to be extraordinary. Some one renounces in order to be extraordinary. Our extraordinariness depends entirely on our doing. The more a person does, the more extraordinary he becomes. Lao Tzu says: "All is attained by non-doing." Therefore the extraordinary never attain, because "extraordinary" means one who has attained something, done something.
But it is next to impossible to find an ordinary man. Every person, whether he says it or not, whether he shows it nor not, believes himself to be the centre of everything. He considers himself to be the exception and not the rule. He takes himself to be the peak and is always working with that assumption. Some attain a certain amount of success and feel happy. Others do not and are filled with despair and inferiority.
ONE FRIEND ASKS: HOW IS AN INFERIORITY COMPLEX CREATED?
An inferiority complex comes about when you consider yourself to be :he greatest but fail to prove yourself. You assume that you are the centre of the world, but cannot prove this by your actions.
Inferiority enters the minds of those who aspire to be the very best.
This may seem contradictory, but that is how we have made our lives. If we have to state a straight and simple fact, we have to use the language of contrariness. One who sets out to assert his superiority develops the feeling of inferiority. He begins to feel that he is nothing. He believes himself to be very capable but fails to prove it in actuality. Then remorse and anguish follow.
ONE FRIEND ASKS: WE HAVE NO SELF-CONFIDENCE. HOW SHALL WE CREATE IT WITHIN OURSELVES?
Do not create self-confidence. What does it mean to create self-confidence? It means you want to claim that you are something and you want to prove it. It means you consider yourself not ordinary.
You want to prove your extraordinariness.
All mad people are self-confident. It is difficult to shake their confidence in themselves. If a mad person takes it into his head that he is Napoleon, all the world cannot persuade him to the contrary.
He is convinced within his mind.
I ask you what is the need for self-confidence? Why are you so worried about it? Perhaps you feel the other person is more successful; perhaps he is more self-confident. Your contemporary earns more than you, or perhaps he has made headway in business or politics. You feel you have lagged behind. You feel it is because of the lack of self-confidence. Hence the urge.
To worry about self-confidence means you are comparing yourself with others. Hence the distress.
You are you, the other is the other. Had you been alone in the world, would you have felt this disparity? Would you have felt this inferiority complex? No, you would have been an ordinary person. And "ordinary" means you would not have even been conscious of your ordinariness. You would have just been. He who is conscious of his ordinariness has taken a step towards being non-ordinary. That you are is enough. Self-confidence is not necessary; the self is enough. You are!
Why do you compare yourself with others?
All kinds of troubles start once you begin to see yourself vis-a-vis others. Someone will have a better nose than you, someone will have better eyes than you, someone will be taller, someone wealthier - all kinds of frustrations start. As many people as you meet, that's how many inferiority complexes will form within you?
You consider yourself to be the best. This causes problems. You feel yourself to be the highest peak and each person you meet makes you aware of the depth of the abyss within you. The tension created by these two feelings within you is the illness that man suffers from. This is the scourge that destroys man, kills him, makes him rotten through and through. Why compare yourself with others.
Someone went up to Bokoju and said: "You are serene, I am not. How can I become like you?"
Bokoju said, "Had I also questioned this, I would never become tranquil. I have only one device: I have never wanted to be like anybody else. I am as I am. You are as you are. I have never wished otherwise."
The man said, "I do not want high philosophy. Show me a simple way. How can I attain your serenity?"
Bokoju told him to wait till the others left. People came and went. It became evening and the man became restless. Bokoju took him behind his house and, pointing to two trees, he said. "Do you see these two trees? One is big, the other is small. It is years that they have been there but I have never heard the smaller tree asking the bigger tree how it too can become big! Everything is at peace here. The big tree is big, the small tree is small."
"Only human beings think about these things," said Bokoju. "The rest of creation is not aware of this distinction, of smallness and bigness. The big do not know they are big. the small do not know they are small. Hence the peace, the quiet. There is no argument, no struggle, no confusion. I am I. You are you. Give up the idea of becoming like others."
The man said, "How can I drop this thought? I am so restless."
Bokoju said, "I am showing you the cause of your restlessness. He who compares himself with others is bound to be restless."
Lao Tzu says: "Accept yourself. Non-acceptance is the root of all the trouble." None of us accept ourselves. The more a person doesn't accept himself, the greater a mahatma he looks to others to be. We are our greatest enemy. If we had our way, we would cut ourselves to pieces in order to remove what was unacceptable.
We all accept the other and not our own self. If we could look within others we would find that they also do not accept themselves. They, in their turn, accept the other. If we were to look into .the mind of each person, we should find the same illness - non-acceptance of one's own self.
He who accepts himself is free from all illness. Where there is no comparison, where is the inferiority? Where is the lowliness and where is the superiority? Then who is ordinary and who extraordinary?
It is good that we compare ourselves with human beings only. Otherwise anything would be capable of giving us an inferiority complex. If a flower bloomed, we would lament that no flower has bloomed within us. If the moon came out, we would wail that we do not have such light on our faces. If a butterfly flew by, we would envy its colours. If a deer ran past we would envy its swiftness. Even the stones by the roadside would fill us with envy.
Compare, and you will become inferior. This is a double ailment: we consider ourselves to be the peak of excellence and then set out to compare. Thus we create two states of tension. In actuality, we see the abyss; and in our imagination, we see the peak. There is no common point between the two. Life breaks into bits between them.
Lao Tzu says: be ordinary. There is nothing better than that. Accept your ordinariness. Since childhood everyone around us has told us, "Be something. Be like this. Be like that." Parents, teachers, are all after us: "Will you remain just ordinary? Be exceptional! do something and show to the world."
Is it not strange that those who have done something to show to the world lie in their graves just like those who did nothing to show the world? Graves make no distinctions. What is the outcome of the work of these outstanding few? It has passed away like in a dream - like a line drawn in water. Not a trace remains. But we want to do something significant because we consider it a quality.
Lao Tzu says: "Non-doing is a quality." This does not mean that you should do nothing. It does not mean not to earn your livelihood, not to work, not to move your limbs. Lao Tzu says: "Be fixed in non-doing." Let non-doing be your centre. Whatever you do should come out of your acceptance of non-doing and not out of your race for attainment. Then your desires will decline on their own. Your necessities will remain, but your desires will drop. Man's necessities are so few! Man's desires are limitless!
Lao Tzu says that if you live in your ordinary nature, you will do only that much which is enough for you. The birds and animals also do that much; they also do just enough for themselves. But they are not pained and harassed in their work. No bird or animal struggles to be something. All peacocks are the same, all parrots are the same. They eat, they drink, they sleep, they sing, they dance, they fly. No one is ordinary, no one is extraordinary. No one is small, no one is big. They also act, but there is no urgency in their actions; there is no mad competition.
Man alone is mad. His actions have become more than his relaxation. Why do we toil? So that we may rest sometime. But in the end we find we have not relaxed at all. And, ultimately, we die. Then what is our goal?
Diogenes was lying in the sand, resting. He was naked. Sikander (Alexander the Great) came to see him. When he saw Diogenes he said, "Such joy, such bliss! And yet I say, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me "
Diogenes said, "Please stand a little bit away, on the other side. You are obstructing the passage of the morning rays of the sun. What can more you do?"
Sikander was nonplussed, embarrassed. Still he thought he must do something for him. He said, "You do not know who I am. I am the great Sikander. Ask for something - anything."
Diogenes said, "You were so kind as to step aside from the path of the rays. What can be greater than the fact that now there is no one between the sun and me?"
Diogenes was a man who believed in necessities and not superfluous things. His necessity was that Sikander should step aside. He lived like the birds. He lived in nature. Simply artlessly.
Diogenes asked Sikander, "What do you wish for?"
Sikander said, "I want to conquer the world."
Diogenes said, "What will you do then?"
Sikander said, "Then I will rest."
Diogenes laughed out loud. Sikander was puzzled. He asked him what was so funny. Diogenes said, "I too am resting! To conquer the world in order to rest? This I do not understand. If rest is the goal, I am already resting. You are mistaken, Sikander. Relaxation has nothing to do with conquering the world. You do not know the mathematical rule. Why should a person set out to conquer the world when all he wants to do is to rest? If it was necessary to do so, I would not be resting. And I tell you, you will never be able to rest. You are deceiving yourself that you will. You will die fighting."
And Sikander died that way.
We all think the same way. We think that if such and such conditions are fulfilled we will retire, we will rest. But even if all the conditions are fulfilled, you find that work has become a mad obsession.
The result is that by the time your bed is made, you will have lost the ability to sleep. By the time you have gathered your food, hunger will no longer be there. To earn a living man sacrifices his hunger, and to earn a bed he sacrifices his sleep.
There are two types of wretched people in the world. There is one type who is hungry but has no food and there is a second type who has food but have no hunger. Bernard Shaw has said, "There are two classes in the world - the haves and the have-nots." This is not correct. There are two classes: have-nots and have-nots. Some have food but no hunger; some have hunger but no food.
Remember, the more wretched is the one who has the food but not the capacity to eat it. Food is an external thing; hunger is internal. Food one can ask for, even steal. Hunger cannot be asked for, not can it be stolen. Something has died within this person while he was gathering resources in order to enjoy it. He sacrificed that which he meant to enjoy.
Man is constantly making this mistake. If man enters the realm of non-doing, passivity, only the necessities will remain. The doing, the activity, will not be lost but will remain in proportion to the need. The man who has known this state of passivity within himself becomes an ordinary man.
He no longer aspires to be Napoleon or Hitler, a Mahavira or a Buddha. He does not aspire to be anyone but himself. What he is, is enough.
When Martin Luther died he said, "I am going to meet God. All my life I strove to be Christ. Now it occurs to me, God will not ask me why I did not become Jesus Christ. He will ask me, 'Why could you not be Martin Luther?' He will ask me why I wasted my life being what I could not be rather than being what I could be."
God will not question anyone about why they did not become a Buddha, a Mahavira, a Christ. He will only want to know why you could not be what you could be. But this is the trouble; we try to be what we cannot be and do not give a thought to what we can be. Thus we miss life, we miss the opportunity life offers us. Then we are filled with an inferiority complex. We are filled with despondency, gloom and sorrow. Then life becomes a burden and not a dance of joy.
Lao Tzu says: "A life that is filled with dance - is a natural life." When he says "dance", he does not mean you should become a dancer like Nijinsky or Udaya Shankar. It is enough that you can dance with joy. Whatever the dance, however badly performed, it should be authentic; it should be yours.
You need not be a great singer like Tansen, but the melody that comes out of you should be yours, and yours alone. Then it does not matter if there is no rhythm, no poetry. There is only one demand that existence makes: that it should rise from your heart.
The bliss of God showers on the person who is authentically and honestly his own self.
Lao Tzu is not at all concerned with the extraordinary man. In other religious traditions, the extraordinary is valued very highly. Lao Tzu values the ordinary man. "Be as if you are not. Why should anyone even know of you?" he asks.
Lao Tzu says: "You are meaningful in yourself. Your purpose is in your very self". That you are is enough to show that God has accepted you. That you are is enough to show that God stands behind you, just as much as he stood behind Buddha or Lao Tzu. He has given you the same number of breaths he gave them, the same number of heart-beats. He is partial to none. The sun shines as much on you as it shone on them. The winds go past as freely. All existence accepts you as it accepted Buddha or Lao Tzu.
But when you do not accept yourself, what can existence do?
Lao Tzu says: all talk of ordinary and non-ordinary is pure babble. All comparisons are meaningless.
There are variations in the world, but no qualifications. Understand this well.
Nothing is superior and nothing is inferior. There are variations. Buddha is different from you. If he has bloomed like a flower it is because there were never any comparisons in his mind. He did not strive to be above anyone or below anyone. The other did not exist in his vision. He opened himself to the whole world.
Your trouble is that you compare yourself with Buddha, Mahavira, Christ, and Krishna. Your efforts are all towards becoming something or someone that you are not. This is hell itself. To strive to be what one is, is heaven. The day the thought of being something else is destroyed and only the thought of being as you are remains, that day becomes the day of liberation.
Lao Tzu is very much in favour of the ordinary man. He is in favour of attributeless man, a nobody.
ONE FRIEND HAS ASKED: OUR EDUCATION, OUR CULTURE, OUR TRADITION, BECOME A COVERING OVER OUR NATURE. IS THERE NO TRAINING WHICH DOES NOT COVER OUR NATURE BUT CAN BECOME A HELP TO OUR NATURE?
Education means that which is given from without, that which is given by someone else. Impressions are that which have been given by others. Therefore all education, all impressions, become a covering on one's nature in an intrinsic way. The only thing that can be possible is that some coverings are complex, more solid, and some are less. Some are hard like iron, others are like the air. But they are coverings all right. Understand this well.
Education is necessary for the world. If you have to live in the world, run after desires, be ambitious, then you must be active; then education is necessary. Education, teaches you how to be active.
The more educated a person, the more active he is and the more successful in the world. The less educated a person, the less active he is. Education is the technology of activity.
But to go within one's own nature does not require any education. On the contrary, we need the courage to leave all that we have learned behind. This is an inevitable condition.
Lao Tzu says that clothes cover the nakedness of a person. We can ask if there are clothes that do not hide the nakedness of man. Clothes will hide maybe more and maybe less but clothes cover the body. Clothes can be transparent. Then they will hide the least. Yet they will hide. If a person wishes to be nude, he has to remove his clothes. However transparent the clothes, they have to be removed. Then only the nakedness is revealed.
Nature is our intrinsic nakedness. Culture, past impressions, education, are our clothing. These clothes hide our nature. Ultimately they become so indispensable that we forget that we have a being besides the clothes. This is not only true of our inner being; it is equally true about our outer self. If we were to come upon ourselves suddenly. without clothes, we would not be able to recognise ourselves. We know ourselves only by our clothes.
Those who were detained in concentration camps by the Germans underwent a strange experience.
One Jew is psychologist by the name of Frankel was captured by the Nazis and placed in a concentration camp with 500 other Jews from his village. All these people knew each other since they had lived in the same place. The first thing the Nazis did was to take away all their belongings, even their spectacles and wrist-watches, and also the clothes they wore. They were all then completely shaven. Frankel says, "It was impossible to make out who was who. When I stood before the mirror in my utter nakedness, my head shaven, I could not believe it was me."
Your own identification with yourself is through your clothes. If we make a magistrate and a thief stand naked side by side, it would be impossible to distinguish the judge from the thief. It is quite possible that the thief may stand erect while the magistrate cowers. Then the magistrate will be bereft of all his dignity. That is why, clothes are so valuable to us. Snatch away a king's robes and you snatch everything he has away from him.
If this was restricted to our outer selves it would have been all right. But within us also, it is the same.
The clothes within are very fine, very subtle. We are not aware of them.
Take, for instance education. If all your learning was taken away from you, what would be the difference between you and your servant? You have spent a few years in college, he has not. This has brought all the difference between you two. You are educated: he is uncultured; Wherever vou go, people will greet you, wherever he passes, no one even looks at him.
Have you ever noticed that when a guest comes to your house, you feel someone has come; but when a servant comes you do not feel as if someone has come. You do not consider a servant to be a human being. What is the difference between him and you, as human beings? Is it only this: that you have been to school, that the clothes you wear are a little more expensive? You have hidden your nakedness with expensive garments. He has hidden his with ragged clothes.
Lao Tzu says: "All teachings create coverings on the atman within, on the nature within." All past impressions obscure that which I am. Only when these impressions are lifted can a man know his own self.
There are teachings which smother the self so badly that it is difficult to get rid of them but there are other teachings which you can be taught that can be removed on the slightest provocation.
Such a tradition, such a teaching, which is not a burden on the self and which can be removed at a moment's notice, is a religious teaching. Those teachings that cling to the atman like the skin clings to the body, and which are impossible to remove, are irreligious teachings. A religious teaching is that which also shows you the way to be rid of it. Religious teachings give you an education and also give you the means to be rid of this education. All impressions bind us. Only those that can also free us from themselves are religious impressions.
ONE FRIEND ASKS: THE REVELATION OF THE SELF IS NOT POSSIBLE BY STARTING THE INWARD JOURNEY WITH PRECONCEPTIONS. PLEASE EXPLAIN WHETHER THE TENDENCY TOWARDS SELF-KNOWLEDGE IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT PRECONCEPTIONS. IS NOT THE BASIC CAUSE OF INQUIRY THE PRE-KNOWLEDGE OF THE OBJECTIVE WORLD?
The question is filled with preconceptions. Our friend says it is not possible to go within oneself without some previous conceptions. Now this is taken for granted. Has our friend gone within and found out? If we start with this idea, the idea itself will become the hindrance and it will be impossible to go within; for then the thought arises: "Why labour for that which cannot be?"
To be conceptless is to keep the mind open, without knowing anything. Make no decisions that it is possible or not possible. Experience, and let the decision follow the experience. If you decide beforehand, the scientificness of the method is lost. Then the mind will strive to prove only that which you have taken for granted. We always tend to prove what we believe, for that alone satisfies the mind.
One friend came and told me: "When you speak on the Gita, I feel very happy; but when you speak on Lao Tzu, I do not feel happy. Rather, I become restless."
The Gita pleases because the Gita is an acknowledged subject. The happiness comes from knowing that I am saying just what he knows. The mind finds peace because the ego is strengthened with yet another brick. The house of the ego has been extended. But if I find that by hearing something one brick of the ego has come off and there is a crack in the foundation, then I am bound to worry.
We are not on a quest for truth. The quest comes from our mind. Our mind should prove correct. All the Mahaviras and Buddhas should stand witness to it, and say, "You are absolutely right!" Then the mind becomes very happy.
But these people - Mahavira, Buddha, Christ, Krishna - they are troublesome people. They are not in the least worried about you. What is right is right. It does not matter if you are destroyed in the bargain. But remember, their compassion is boundless. If they were to humour vou and say you are right, you will always remain an ill person. Your malady will increase if it is corroborated. Whenever you decide upon a concept, the quest of truth ends then and there. To proceed towards truth you have to be completely unbiased.
Our friend has further said, "If we do not believe that there is an atman within, how can the inclination to go within develop?"
He thinks that curiosity is aroused when we know there is something But curiosity can also be that there may be something, there may not be something. If you were to pass outside this room would you be curious to know what is inside the room without pre-knowledge? The truth is, if you know already what is within the room, there will be no need of curiosity. The greater the belief, the lesser is the inquiry and if your faith is complete, inquiry is not necessary at all.
If you already know, if Mahavira or Buddha have done the spadework and declared that the atman is, where is the need, for you to exert yourself? And once it is known, the matter finishes there. Then you utilise your time in something else. So, you are not at all aware of what is within. There is total darkness, nothing is recognisable. Boundless darkness - and what is within? Is there death? Is there immortality or simply emptiness? Is there someone, or is there not someone? Then .inquiry is born.
Inquiry, curiosity, means where you stand in awe and you do not know anything. Where there are concepts you are not awestruck for you know already. Perfect inquiry happens only when concepts are completely absent. Inquiry will always be proportionate to the preconceptions. So children are of a more inquiring mind than old men.
Children often ask questions that older people cannot answer. Children have an inquiring mind because they have no concepts. Older people have lost all tendency to inquire because they are filled to the brim with preconceived notions. The child and the old man live in the same world: when the sun comes out in the morning, the child is filled with awe - where has it come from? what is it? When the flowers bloom the child is mystified. Nothing moves the old man, nothing inspires him.
And when the child asks - for ask he must - the old man discourages him. The reason is that he still does not know, and does not care - his curiosity is dead.
This child, in turn, will give the same discouraging reply to his son: "You will know when you grow up." But what do grown-ups know except the fact that their sense of curiosity is dead? They bind themselves laden with readymade answers, but they do not have a single question to ask.
If the body gets old with age that is only natural but the atman becoming old with age is a very sad happening. Nothing is more beautiful in this world than a young, childlike inquiring atman within an old body. Then the within is as fresh as the morning dew and life is rich with experiences.
Experiences have not gathered within like rubbish, nor have old concepts gathered like dust on the self. Then the child twinkles in the old man's eyes. When a person has the experiences of life and the curiosity of a child, he is nearest to truth.
But our trouble is that we think if we know nothing beforehand, where is the sense in searching?
The meaning of search is that we set out to discover. to know that of which we knew nothing. It is because we know nothing that we set out to know. Conceptions are the death of the self. They are ways of escaping from the truth.
This friend asks: "Is not pre-knowledge the fundamental cause for curiosity?" If there is pre- knowledge, inquiry is foolish.
How can knowledge exist before knowledge? When knowledge is, it is. Then all inquiry ends. The real danger is that without knowledge it is possible to lose one's curiosity. This happens when w.
take the knowledge of others as our own. This we call prior knowledge. Mahavira says. "The atman is infinite valour, infinite bliss, infinite knowledge." And so on. This is his knowledge. But this is borrowed knowledge for us. What does it mean? It means that we have no knowledge, no experience of the atman, but we accept Mahavira's words.
How many people have accepted Mahavira's words? How many of these have actually set out in search, as Mahavira did? So many people believe in Buddha, but who seeks like Buddha did? It is God's good grace that Buddha did not come across some other Buddha to give him readymade knowledge. He searched himself and found. Truth is attained when we seek ourselves. It is not so cheap that we can buy it from others. Knowledge can be attained from others, but Lao Tzu tells us to shun all knowledge, all such wisdom, which is borrowed.
IS SELF-KNOWLEDGE NOT BLISS-INCARNATE? IF IT IS, WHY DO YOU HESITATE TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT AS SUCH? THE SCRIPTURES HAVE CLEARLY STATED THAT THE ATMAN IS BLISS.
The scriptures may believe the atman to be bliss-incarnate. Those who have said so must have known. All who have known have known the atman to be bliss. But the danger starts when even those who do not know believe it to be so. The danger is not for those who have known but for those who have only heard. You also have heard and believed. You neither know what bliss is nor what bliss-incarnate is. Nor do you know what the atman is. It is only that the word "bliss-incarnate" is very pleasing to the mind.
You have known pain, you have had a glimpse of joy. but you have no glimpse of bliss. So when you are told that the atman is bliss-incarnate, you feel it must be joy, an abundance of joy, everlasting joy - something like that. For you, anand (bliss) means only an expansion of joy - condensed happiness, never ending. But bliss is related to joy as much as it is related to sorrow, in that it is related to neither.
You have no knowledge of the atman and no knowledge of bliss, but continuous hearing makes you feel that the atman is bliss. By merely saying that the atman is bliss, nothing happens.
Lao Tzu does not say that the atman is not bliss. He only says, "We shall say nothing about the atman. Go and discover for yourself. We can only show you how to go. We shall not say what you will find there because you are such clever and cunning people that you will make no effort to go within. You will merely keep repeating, "The atman is bliss, the atman is bliss; and hypnotize yourselves into forgetting completely that you have not set out to find it, that you know nothing about it."
What is truth? Any answer to this is only words. You hear words and not truth. Constant repetition makes you acquainted with more and more wonders. Known words are dangerous.
There is a custom among the Jews, and it is a very valuable custom - not to take the name of God.
They call God "Jehovah" which means: he who has no name. This is only to guard against the fact that constant repetition may bring about the illusion of knowing. This word "Jehovah" is also not to be used otherwise it would also become a name.
There are many difficulties for man. Those who understand these difficulties will not tell you what the atman is. They will only tell you how you can go towards it. Where is the sense in talking to a blind man about sight? It is enough to discuss and investigate the possibilities of his regaining his eye-sight. The danger is that if you talk to a blind man about light, he listens. His ears are sharper than ours. His memory is also more sharp. The energy that would have been normally used by the eyes to see is diverted to the ears, to the brain; they become more active. He will also hear and remember all he hears about the atman. His remembrance strengthens day by day till he forgets he is blind, that he has not seen light, that he has no direct knowledge of it.
Those with sight say, "Light is like this." Likewise, our friend says: "The scriptures say." What has one man's eyes to do with a blind man? He cannot lend them to him. What he needs is his own eyes.
But the blind also learn their lesson by heart. That is why Lao Tzu refuses to discuss the atman. He only shows us how to improve our sight. Once the sight is restored that is enough.
ONE FRIEND ASKS: WHY SHOULD WE BE RELIGIONS WHEN WE DO NOT KNOW THE BEGINNING, WHEN WE DO NOT KNOW THE END; WHEN WE HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOD OR ATMAN? WHY CAN'T A BUDDHA WHO EXPERIENCES THE TRUTH GIVE THIS EXPERIENCE TO ALL?
No one wants you to be religious - at least Lao Tzu does not tell you to be. Religious people have created such confusion that it is better if they cease to exist. No one wants you to be religious.
Lao Tzu says only this: "Be what you are." You may ask, "Why should we be what we are?" The answer is that that is all you can be. There is no way of becoming something else. You may try to become something you are not, but you will simply be wasting your life.
Then you might say, "Why should we not waste our life?" Nobody can stop you from doing what you like. Buddhas also accept defeat. They cannot make you realise truth. What can sages do? All they can do is to tell you of the bliss they have attained; the peace, the enlightenment, that they have received. And in so doing, they can only hope to stimulate your thirst for the same. They cannot give you enlightenment on a platter, but can make you interested in it. You may ask why they attempt to arouse your thirst. Try to understand this a little.
If you do not wish to be religious, how is it that you are here. How come you have raised this question? There is a restlessness within that has brought you here. You took so much trouble to raise this question! One thing is certain - you are seeking something. Otherwise why did you come?
Why did you ask this question?
There is some quest. What is it you seek? Buddha calls it dharma, Lao Tzu has named it Tao.
Whether you know it or not, you are seeking religion. You do not even know what you seek.
Investigate within. What are your expectations, what is your search? We do not even know who we are, why we are, for what reason! It seems as if we have been thrown into this world without any rhyme or reason.
There is a turmoil within you. This restlessness will not end till you experience your roots within this existence. Till we realise the relationship between the existence and ourselves, this restlessness will plague us. What other meaning can there be of being religious?
There is no need of indulging in words. To be religious means to be conscious of the relationship between the existence and myself, to establish a connection with the vast universe so that I am no longer a stranger in this world, no longer a foreigner. The whole world is one large family, a family in which the sun and moon and stars, the rivers and the mountains, the animals and trees - all! all!
- are equal members. It is to know that "I am in my own house." To be religious is to feel that this world is your house.
But a house is not a home. Houses there are in plenty. When a spiritual bond exists between you and the house, when there is a spiritual union, then a house becomes a home. The irreligious man lives in the mundane world; the religious man in God. A deep relationship is established between the religious man and the world. Everything in the world brings forth sweet melodies on the strings of his heart. Then the sun no longer is a stranger to him, nor the moon, nor the stars. Everything seems to be his very own. The whole vast expanse in his home. This feeling is religiousness.
If you are seeking a family, if you are seeking love, then you are seeking religion. When you fall in love with a person, you make one person religious in this world. The larger the family, the greater the joy.
There are some people who are their own family. They have no relationships. If such people begin to feel like outsiders, where is the wonder? Colin Wilson has written a book called THE OUTSIDER.
This book is a symbol of the world today. In this age, every man feels he is a stranger. He wonders why he is, what is his relationship to the world. Who is his, and to whom does he belong? There seems to be no connection. Man feels uprooted like a tree that has been pulled out from its roots.
He is in limbo.
A religious person is one who sets out to seek his roots. Simone Weil has written a book - 'THE NEED FOR ROOTS'. She is one of the few religious people of this age. She has said, "Religion is the search for roots." This uprooted tree, hanging in mid-air, wasting and withering away, has to be rooted firmly back into the ground. Then only will it become green once more; then only will it flower again.
To be religious is to seek one's own self. The quest for a bridge, for a connection between the universe and ourselves, is religion. Religion is to seek the deep, intrinsic love between ourselves and the universe.
I am not telling you to become religious. I only say that there is not a single person alive on this earth who does not want to be religious. Even if he denies religion, he is seeking it. Each man seeks religion; what words he uses for his quest are his own choice. What form he gives to his desire is his own business. I can tell you with authority, I have not come across a single person who has not wanted to be religious.
Those whom we call atheists, they too are in search. In fact, this alone is man's search. He is eager to know whether he is an incongruous, useless part of the world or whether he is of some significance. Is his being of some value to the vast expanse? The search for value is the search for religion.
Value, not price. If there is a value to your bring, it means that the world has developed from within you, the enormous current of consciousness has evolved from within you. This whole universe loves you; it would be incomplete without you. It would never have been the same; something would have been missing. There is a profound flow of give and take between you and the universe. Each moment it takes from you; each moment it gives to you. There is a deep, inner union. The quest for this inner union is religion.
I am not telling you to be religious. No one becomes religious this way. In fact, the irreligiousness of today is the outcome of the constant effort of the moralists to make people religious.
Charles Darwin has written about a confounding experience he carried out. He had read that there are certain things which, when tried for a particular result, bring about the opposite consequence.
He was a man of science. He found it impossible to believe without proof.
He called ten youths from his neighbourhood and placed a snuff-inhaler before them. He asked them whether they knew the effects of snuff. They all said, "Yes. We know that when it is inhaled it brings about a torrent of sneezes."
"Very well," said Darwin. "I will place ten gold coins here. Whoever sneezes first will get the gold coins." The ten boys tried their utmost; the prize was tempting. But not a single one could sneeze no matter how hard he tried!
You also will not succeed. Try to sneeze - you cannot. Sneezing happens; it cannot be brought about.
You can be religious, but nobody can make you religious. That is why religious teachers all over the world have made this earth irreligious. They have tried to tempt their followers. But everything has its own mechanism. There are things which can happen only in the most natural conditions; they cannot be made to happen.