Neither This Nor That
GOING YET HIGHER, WE SAY THAT HE IS NEITHER A SOUL, NOR A MIND, HE IS NEITHER A SOUL NOR A MIND NOR AN OBJECT OF KNOWLEDGE;
NEITHER HAS HE OPINION, NOR REASON, NOR INTELLECT;
NEITHER IS HE REASON, NOR THOUGHT, NOR IS HE UTTRABLE OR KNOWABLE;
NEITHER IS HE NUMBER, ORDER, GREATNESS, LITTLENESS, EQUALITY, INEQUALITY, LIKENESS OR UNLIKENESS;
NEITHER DOES HE STAND NOR MOVE, NOR IS HE QUIESCENT;
NEITHER HAS HE POWER, NOR IS POWER, NOR LIGHT;
NEITHER DOES HE LIVE, NOR IS LIFE;
NEITHER IS HE BEING, NOR ETERNITY, NOR TIME, NOR IS HIS TOUCH KNOWABLE;
NEITHER IS HE KNOWLEDGE, NOR TRUTH, NOR KINGSHIP, NOR WISDOM, NOR ONE, NOR ONE-NESS, NOR GOODNESS;
NEITHER IS HE SPIRIT, AS WE CAN UNDERSTAND IT,
NOR SONSHIP, NOR FATHERHOOD, NOR ANY OTHER THING KNOWN TO US, OR TO ANY OTHER CREATURE;
NEITHER IS HE OF THINGS WHICH ARE NOT, NOR OF THINGS WHICH ARE;
NEITHER DO THE THINGS WHICH ARE UNDERSTAND HIM. AS HE IS IN HIMSELF, AS HE IS IN HIMSELF NOR DOES HE HIMSELF UNDERSTAND THEM AS EXISTING IN THEMSELVES, NEITHER IS THERE UTTERANCE OF HIM, NOR NAME, NOR KNOWLEDGE; NEITHER IS HE DARKNESS, NOR FALSEHOOD, NOR TRUTH; NEITHER IS THERE ANY ENTIRE AFFIRMATION OR NEGATION THAT MAY BE MADE CONCERNING HIM.
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND WE MAKE AFFIRMATIONS AND DENIALS OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE LESS THAN HIM (AND FOLLOW FROM HIM!)
BUT OF HIMSELF WE NEITHER AFFIRM NOR DENY ANYTHING,
SINCE HE WHO IS BEYOND ALL ATTRIBUTES IS PERFECT AND ALONE THE CAUSE OF ALL -
BEYOND ALL NEGATION THE HEIGHT OF THAT WHICH IS ENTIRELY FREE FROM ALL AND BEYOND ALL.
MY GOD... this is pure nonsense! The only good thing about it is that this is the last sutra. This is theology at its best or at its WORST - which are the same as far as theology is concerned. It is all sheer bullshit! You will have to take a jump into it and search out if something worthwhile can be found.
After a hard morning at his new job on a construction site, the Polack asked his foreman where he could go to have a shit. He was directed to a small tent. Inside was a small pit with a wooden plank set across it.
One hour later the Polack had not returned so the foreman went to look for him. He entered the tent and found him wading around in the piss and shit. "What on earth are you doing in here?" cried the astonished foreman.
"It's my jacket, sir. I hung it on that hook and it fell in!"
"But you can't wear it after it has been in there!" said his boss.
"Of course not," replied the Polack, "but my sandwiches were in the pocket!"
It is going to be a little bit difficult - Dionysius himself must have felt it - but this is the way theologians have always talked. This is the way, the only way, they can understand. This is their language. It is not poor Dionysius' fault. He was talking to theologians and, being a theologian himself, he was well-equipped with all this jargon.
As time changes, language also changes. Modern languages have become very sensible, to the point, mathematical, scientific. They don't go round and round in circles. They have become more telegraphic: all that is unessential is dropped out.
But Dionysius is not contemporary; that you have not to forget. And there are a few gems of tremendous value, genuine gems, which are scattered among all this theological jargon. Avoid the jargon, but don't throw the baby with the bathwater. The temptation is great one feels like throwing the bathwater and the baby and all! But the baby has to be saved - it has immense value.
Just the other day somebody asked, "Osho, you say the Hindu shastras are full of shit, but then why are there a few gems, beautiful gems?" There is no contradiction: gems can be found in shit. In fact, where else will you find them? That is the best place to hide them! Nobody will steal them - nobody will even think that they can be there.
And he had to use this language for two reasons. One: that was the only language he knew, the only language that he was acquainted with. And second: that was the only language in which he could hide his immense insights. He was not in the East where for thousands of years it has become an accepted fact that one can speak directly of the truth, there is no need to go in circles. In the West that has not yet become the accepted thing.
The Western theologian still writes the same way, thinks the same way. It is a torture to read these people! And whenever somebody like de Chardin wrote about God, love, truth, clearly, scientifically - because he was a scientist - the Catholic Church prohibited him because he was also a priest.
The Church ordered that whatsoever he wanted to write he could write but he could not publish it.
And whatsoever he wrote he had to surrender to the Vatican.
You may not be aware that such a great intelligent man was absolutely unknown while he was alive.
He started becoming known to the wider world only when he was dead, because his books were only published posthumously by others. He was so obedient to the stupid church that he accepted that he could go on writing, but that he should not publish anything. It is good that his friends were not so stupid; when he died they started publishing his books.
Now the same Catholic Church brags about de Chardin because he belonged to them. His only fault was that he was writing in a clear way which any intelligent person can understand. To understand this kind of theological knowledge is really difficult; it has become more and more difficult for the contemporary mind.
Theologians are still not contemporary. In their monasteries, in their churches they still go on talking in the same old jargon - they create it. They have become so skillful in these two thousand years, so sophisticated in creating it that whosoever is more sophisticated in creating it starts moving higher in the hierarchy of the priests. They create the language; they don't bother to know about the truth.
A man goes to a prostitute and says he wants a special favor.
"All right, ducky," she says, "but it'll cost you an extra fiver."
He agrees and explains that he wants to put on a plastic raincoat and have her stand on a table stamping her feet, banging cymbals and pouring buckets of water on him.
They begin: the man stands there wearing his plastic raincoat, while the prostitute runs up and down the stairs fetching buckets of water and pouring them over him, while stamping her feet and banging her cymbals. After an hour the exhausted prostitute, gasping, exclaims, "Hey, mister, when are we going to fuck?"
"What?" exclaims the man. "In weather like this?"
They create the weather first and then they get more and more confused in the weather created by themselves! All these words create a certain kind of climate - very rubbishy - but unfortunately that has been the way of the theologian all along. The Hindu, the Mohammedan, the Christian, the Jewish, they all speak in the same way. This is not the expression of the mystics And the problem with Dionysius is that professionally he is a theologian and spiritually, existentially, he is a mystic - which very rarely happens. I have never come across another case like Dionysius, not at least in the Western history of thought. In the East it has happened a few times that the same person was a mystic and a theologian, and whenever it happens in the East the same problem arises. The language is of the theologian, and in the language, in the thick forest of words, the truth is lost.
But the truth is valuable and has to be saved. That's why I decided to speak on Dionysius. I was aware that I cannot like the way he speaks, his expression - I hate it! But I love the truth that he wants to express.
I have heard a rumor that he was really an Italian who migrated to Athens and settled there. That may explain many things: too much spaghetti, and it goes round and round!
The Italian father and son are traveling on a bus in London.
"Dad, what's that building over there?"
"Don't know, son."
"Dad, what's that statue over there?"
"Don't know, son."
"Dad, what's that park over there?"
"Don't know, son."
"Dad, you don't mind me asking all these questions, do you?"
"Of course not, son. How else are you going to learn?"
Italians have their own way.
They say: How do you sink an Italian ship?
Did you see the party where all the Italians were on the roof?
They had heard that the drinks were on the house.
"Why don't you wipe the mud off your shoes before you enter the lobby?" the hotel clerk asks the Italian.
"Darling," asks the Italian wife, "why do you always say nasty things about me in your sleep?"
"Who's sleeping?" says the Italian.
The Italian couple were playing chess when the wife remarked, "This reminds me of when we were dating!"
"We never played chess in those days."
"No, but even then it took you two hours to make a move!"
GOING YET HIGHER, WE SAY THAT HE IS NEITHER A SOUL, NOR A MIND...
GAUTAM the Buddha has said - he was the first man to utter it - that there is no self, no soul. His word was anatta; anatta means no-selfness. Dionysius is saying the same truth:
... HE IS NEITHER A SOUL...
He is not a self. People ordinarily think of God as the supreme self - not only a self but the supreme self. We are all selves and he is the supreme self. Buddha says we are not selves and there is no supreme self at all. Buddha was condemned in India as an atheist. Dionysius was not in any way ready to get caught by the Catholic Church and condemned as an atheist. It was okay for Buddha to say that there is no self because in India, at least in those days, you were not going to be burnt alive. Otherwise maybe Buddha would not have said it so clearly, may have gone round and round to deceive the fools who are always dominant in the organized religions.
In fact, no mystic can be a part of any organized religion; it is very difficult - he will have to create so many unnecessary disguises just to protect himself and his teaching. But Dionysius thought otherwise; maybe that was the only course open for him. But he is saying a few tremendously beautiful things. One is: God is not a soul. Here he is absolutely in agreement with Gautam the Buddha. In fact, if God is not a soul, it is another way of saying that there is no God. But he is not saying it so clearly as Buddha says It.
He also says:
... NOR A MIND...
That is Bodhidharma's expression. Bodhidharma defines meditation as a state of no-mind. The moment the mind disappears, you know. Knowing happens only when there is no mind; mind is a barrier to knowing.
Dionysius says God is not a mind.
... NOR AN OBJECT OF KNOWLEDGE; NEITHER HAS HE OPINION, NOR REASON, NOR INTELLECT....
He goes on denying everything, but he goes on saying "he." He is playing a trick on his fellow theologians. He goes on taking apart the Church brick by brick; ultimately the whole Church is removed, but he removes the bricks and goes on declaring that he is creating the Church. He removes it brick by brick, slowly, and he continues to use the word "he," he continues to use the word "God."
Mahavira says there is no God, and that is that, and he is finished with it forever - he will not talk about it again. If he is not, what is there to say about him? But then he is thought to be an atheist, and for hundreds of years Dionysius has been respected by the Christian Church as a great theist, a great theologian. He succeeded in befooling the fools!
... NEITHER IS HE REASON, NOR THOUGHT, NOR IS HE UTTRABLE OR KNOWABLE; NEITHER IS HE NUMBER. ORDER, GREATNESS, LITTLENESS, EQUALITY, INEQUALITY, LIKENESS OR UNLIKENESS; NEITHER DOES HE STAND NOR MOVE, NOR IS HE QUIESCENT; NEITHER HAS HE POWER, NOR IS POWER...
The religions, particularly the organized religions, have always given three qualities to God. He is omnipotent - absolutely powerful; omniscient - knowing absolutely everything that is, that haj been that will be; and hc is omnipresent - he is everywhere present, there is not a place where he is not present. The organized religion depends very much on these qualities. Why? - because people can be enslaved only if God is the suprememost power.
In fact, people are always seeking somebody who is more powerful than themselves so that they can throw all the responsibilities on his shoulders. God has to be omnipotent; there can be nobody more powerful than him. He is pure power. That is the strategy of the priest to enslave people. If he is power, pure power, the highest power, the omnipotent power, then of course all that you have to do is just be a slave. Trying to escape from him is futile, trying to be independent is futile, trying for freedom is futile. It is better to serve him, to be just a servant.
You cannot escape from him because he is omnipresent; wherever you go you will find him. He is always watching, he is always looking at you. It is not only that he watches your acts, he watches even your thoughts, so even in thinking you are not free, you are not left alone; there is no privacy.
If God is omnipresent then there is no privacy at all. Then you are never alone, he is always there.
This is to create fear. You cannot do anything without him knowing it. In fact, before you have done it he knows it.
He is also omniscient: he knows all - past, present, future. So not only does he know your past, not only the present, but also the future. What are you going to do? You are absolutely caught, absolutely imprisoned. You cannot escape from God.
This is how Jews, Christians, Mohammedans, Hindus, all have believed. This is a must to create submission in people. And it fits with the upbringing of people - because the child is born dependent, helpless. He is dependent on the father, on the mother, and so utterly helpless that he cannot survive on his own. He has to compromise, he has to listen and be obedient, and if he does anything against the parents he starts feeling guilt.
Parents create guilt. That is the greatest sin against humanity. To create guilt in a child is criminal because once the guilt is created, the child will never be free of it. Unless he is very intelligent it will be impossible for him to get rid of it; something of it will remain around him like a hangover.
But the priests and the politicians both conspire in creating guilt in people. The politician wants to enslave your body and the priest wants to enslave your soul, your mind. Your outer side and your inner side, both are being enslaved by the politician and the priest. They have always been in a deep conspiracy.
It is not strange that whenever there are elections, politicians start going to the saints and to the temples and to the holy places. For what? Simply to convince the priests that "We are with you, we will never go against you." And the priests are always willing to help the politicians - their purpose is the same. One wants to rule man's interiority and the other wants to rule his exteriority, but both want to rule.
And the parents creating guilt in the child are very helpful, tremendously helpful, because the guilty person always feels that he has to receive orders from somebody and he has to follow them.
Whether it is the politician or the priest does not matter - somebody has to order. He is always at the receiving end. His function is to efficiently fulfill the order. His function is not to think, his function is not to be aware, his function is not to decide.
And all parents like stupid children because they are obedient. The intelligent child is bound to be rebellious. Intelligence has the flavor of rebellion. Intelligence has to be completely destroyed, and instead of intelligence a mediocre mind has to be created.
My own observation is that each child is born very intelligent, but our whole conditioning hitherto has been such that his intelligence starts gathering dust. And we allow it to gather dust: his sharpness is lost, his sword becomes rusty. and that's what we want. We don't want him to have a sharp intelligence because then he will ask questions - and there are no answers with the parents, with the priests, with the politicians. They don't have any answers. They have power - they can punish you for asking an embarrassing question. They don't allow you to ask questions; your function is to fulfill the order, to do and not to ask why. The whole of humanity has been reduced to slavery.
This is the real spiritual slavery! Political slavery is nothing compared to it. Regimes change - a capitalist country can become communist, a socialist country can become fascist, a Hindu country can be ruled by the Christians or Mohammedans, a Mohammedan country can be ruled by the Christians - it does not matter at all; the spiritual slavery continues. It depends on the idea that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent: you cannot escape him, you cannot deceive him. It is really ugly, the very idea that he is always watching you, that you are never left alone.
What Dionysius is saying is exactly the same as what Nietzsche said in more clear words: that God is dead and man is free. But he is saying it in such a way that the theologians will not be able to detect it. He says:
HE IS NOT POWER, NOR LIGHT; NEITHER DOES HE LIVE, NOR IS LIFE...
Nietzsche says God is dead, and Dionysius says: neither does he live, noR IS Life. Is there any difference? In fact, Dionysius' statement is far more profound - because to say that God is dead means you have accepted one thing, that he was alive before. At least up to now he was alive, maybe on his deathbed, but he was alive. Nietzsche accepts one thing, that he was alive up to now; now he is dead. But Dionysius says he has never lived, he is not alive, he has never been, nor is he life.
... NEITHER IS HE BEING, NOR ETERNITY, NOR TIME...
In many ways he goes deeper than many other mystics. The Upanishads say God is not time. Jesus was once asked, "What shall be the most unique thing in the kingdom of God?" And he said, "There shall be time no longer." This is not recorded in the Christian gospels, this comes from the Sufi tradition, but Gurdjieff loved it very much. All the Upanishads say: To go beyond time is to know God, because he is eternity.
... NOR ETERNITY, NOR TIME...
And certainly his statement is far more profound than all the Upanishadic statements about God being eternity: that he is eternal, that he has no beginning, no end, that he is forever and forever.
Why is his statement more profound? Ordinarily time means something momentary, limited; it comes and goes. Eternity means that which never comes and never goes but always is. It is not momentary; it is permanent, absolutely permanent. But from where do you get the idea of permanency? You get the idea from time. What is your eternity? What is the definition of your eternity? Timelessness. But the definition, the very definition, comes from time.
If you look at our definitions you will be very much surprised: all your definitions are tautologies. If you look in the dictionary to inquire what matter is, the dictionary will say "not mind." Then look for what mind is, and the dictionary says "not matter." Nothing is defined. You don't know matter, you don't know mind. When it comes to define matter you simply use "mind," which is as unknowable as matter itself, as unknown, as undefined as matter itself. You are trying to define one indefinable by another indefinable. But that's how om whole language is.
If somebody asks, "What is light?" you will say, "Not darkness." "And what is darkness?" "Not light."
And you feel perfectly at ease, and you think you have defined things. But what you have done is just deceived the other person and yourself too. Rather than accepting your agnosia, accepting yom ignorance, you have deceived yourself that you know. That's how we go on defining.
Very rarely there is a man who stands, stops and looks at words. All words are deceptive.
D. H. Lawrence was walking with a child in the garden, and the child asked, "Why are the trees green?"
Now any knowledgeable person would have answered, "They are green because of chlorophyll." But D.H. Lawrence stopped, closed his eyes, waited for a few moments, meditated and then said, "They are green because they are green!"
The child said, "That's right, absolutely right! That's what I have always been thinking, but whenever I ask others they always give some other answer. You are the first person who has given me the answer that satisfies me totally. They are green because they are green!"
In a way this is not an answer; in a way this is an acceptance of ignorance. D.H. Lawrence is saying, "I don't know. They are green because they are green!"
This is the way of all those who are true seekers. Otherwise we go on from time to eternity, from death to life, from darkness to light. And we go on defining in such a circular way that nothing is ever defined. Still everybody believes that all is defined and clear. We want to believe that all is defined and clear; we are not courageous enough to live in ignorance. k really needs guts to live in ignorance, but tremendous is the joy of the person who is ready to live in ignorance because his silence is infinite, his depth is immeasurable.
Knowledge is shallow, ignorance is deep. Knowledge is superficial, not-knowing leads you into the abysmal to the bottomless. You start falling into the abyss of existence itself. And Dionysius has given one beautiful word - agnosia - "not knowing." That is the world of the mystic.
... NOR IS HIS TOUCH KNOWABLE; NEITHER IS HE KNOWLEDGE, NOR TRUTH...
The Upanishads say: God is satchitananda. Sat, chit, ananda - they define him with these three words. Sat means truth; chit means consciousness, ananda means bliss. Nobody has ever dared to say that God is not truth, except Dionysius. He says:... nor truth. Nothing more can be denied.
There is another definition in the Indian scriptures: satyam, shivam, sunderam - God is truth, God is good, God is beautiful. But Dionysius denies all qualities, all possible qualities. Hence this long, long denial:
... NOR KINGSHIP, NOR WISDOM, NOR ONE, NOR ONE-NESS...
He does not want to leave a single loophole; otherwise you will say God is wisdom, pragya. That's what the Upanishads say, the Vedas say: God is pure wisdom.
... NOR ONE...
God is not one. Shankaracharya says God is one, he is non-duality, he is oneness. Dionysius says he is neither one nor oneness.
... NOR DIVINITY...
Otherwise you can say God is nothing but divinity, the quality of divineness. He denies that too. He is taking everything from God, everything conceivable.
... NOR GOODNESS; NEITHER IS HE SPIRIT, AS WE CAN UNDERSTAND IT, NOR SONSHIP...
Now, after so many denials, he comes to deny the Christian idea. He could not say it directly, but after so many denials, after so much smoke, he can put something in an indirect way that the Christian Church would never have accepted directly. Now, when he has even denied God being truth, wisdom, oneness, order, greatness, power, self, what objection can you have after so many denials, great denials? He says:
... NOR SONSHIP, NOR FATHERHOOD...
The whole of Christianity is destroyed, because the whole of Christianity depends on the idea that God is the Father, that God is a trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. He has denied all three: God is not the Spirit - holy or unholy is not the question - he is not the Spirit at all; he is not the Son, he is not Jesus Christ. Just see the tremendous rebellion in it! But the language he is using is of convention. He is hiding fire behind subtle words, and he succeeded perfectly.
... NOR FATHERHOOD...
To say that there is no God as Father, as Son, the whole Christian Church collapses! Nothing is left.
There is no question of worshipping, there is no question of prayer, there is no question of any ritual, Catholic or Protestant.
... NOR ANY OTHER THING KNOWN TO US...
He does not want to leave a single thing that you can conceive of as God, so he says:
... NOR ANY OTHER THING KNOWN TO US OR TO ANY OTHER CREATURE; NEITHER IS HE OF THINGS WHICH ARE NOT, NOR OF THINGS WHICH ARE; NEITHER DO THE THINGS WHICH ARE UNDERSTAND HIM. AS HE IS IN HIMSELF...
But he goes on using the words which can satisfy the theologians. He still says:
... AS HE IS IN HIMSELF NOR DOES HE HIMSELF UNDERSTAND THEM AS EXISTING IN THEMSELVES...
But he is taking everything away. The "he" becomes just emptiness: neither is he known nor does he know. This is also something very new. There have been many mystics who have said that God cannot be known, he is unknowable, but Dionysius is the only one who says that God himself does not know. It is not only that we don't know him, he himself does not know what is the case. Not only are we in ignorance, but he is also in ignorance. He just keeps the word "he," but now it becomes more and more empty - all the contents are disappearing. But the word "he" helps his book; it has survived for centuries. It is being studied in Christian colleges where theologians are prepared and it is respected immensely. Just that empty "he"...
... NEITHER IS THERE UTTERANCE OF HIM...
Nothing can be said of him.
... NOR NAME...
There is no name for him. Hindus say he has one thousand names - they have a whole scripture devoted to his names: Vishnu Sahasranam, "The One Thousand Names of God." Sufis say he has one hundred names; it is better than one thousand - nine hundred have been denied. They say he has one hundred names, but when you ask them to say what those names are they will only tell you ninety-nine. And when you insist, "Where is the hundredth?" they will say, "That is unutterable - that is his true name."
Just two days ago somebody asked, "Osho, the number of the car of the Lord Mayor of Poona is 1, and the number of your Rolls is 99. Is there some esoteric thing about it?" There is! Ninety-nine is a Sufi number - "the ninety-nine names of nothingness," Sufis say. The real name is the hundredth, but that is unutterable.
Jews, particularly the mystics born in the Jewish tradition, have always insisted that to take the name of God is a sacrilege, a sin. In the ancient Judaic tradition only the highest priest of the great temple of Jerusalem was allowed to utter God's name, and that too only once a year, and one time only. But even that was not to be uttered before the people. He would go into the temple, all the doors would be closed. He would go to the innermost sanctuary the innermost shrine, where he would go only once, and there behind closed doors he would whisper the name of God - once a year, and nobody should hear it. And it could be given by the highest priest only to his successor; in his ear he had to whisper it. It simply says that there is no name for him.
Jews, even today, whenever they write "God" never write G-O-D because that is a crime; they always G-D. They drop the O so that we know that whatsoever we utter is incomplete. The O is missing - the most central part is missing. The O is also the symbol for zero - and zero is the essential core of existence - nothingness, shunya. It is beautiful the way Jews write "God," G-D; the O is missing because that is the true God. But when you take the O separately it is nothing but zero. It simply represents nothingness.
These are ways of saying that God is absolute nothingness. You cannot worship God. All that you can do is: you can become nothing. That is true worship, that is prayer.
That is what I teach you here: to be nobodies, to be nothingnesses. Sannyas can be defined as a way of life which believes only in nothingness. To live as a zero, that's what sannyas is all about.
And that's what Dionysius is doing by denying. I have never come across any list so long only of denials!
... NEITHER IS THERE UTTERANCE OF HIM, NOR NAME, NOR KNOWLEDGE; NEITHER IS HE DARKNESS...
Up to now he has been saying that God is darkness. That was only to help you move a little further towards the ultimate nothingness. If you have to choose between light and darkness, Dionysius will say God is more darkness than light. In that too he is very unique. Many things are unique in him; that's why in spite of all his theological nonsense I have chosen to talk on him. He has many things unique.
For example, God has been defined by the Koran as light, by the Bible as light, by the Vedas as light. All the religions of the world which believe in God have defined him as light. Why? Christians don't agree about anything else with the Hindus, Mohammedans don't agree about anything else with the Hindus, but about one thing, that God is light, they all agree. What is the cause of this agreement? The cause is very simple - because everybody is afraid of darkness. Hindu, Christian or Mohammedan - they are all afraid of darkness. The fear of darkness is the cause of defining God as light. They all define death as darkness and life as light. All over the world, even negroes think of the Devil as dark. Now how dark can he be? If he mixes with the negroes I don't think you will be able to find him, where he is!
Mulla Nasruddin was sitting with one of his photographer friends on a bench in the park, and a negro passed by. Mulla Nasruddin said, "Look! Look! A negative!"
He is using the language of the photographer - a negative. Somebody has forgotten to make the positive of the poor man!
Death is thought of as negative, life as positive, and of course God is positive, affirmative. And there are shallow thinkers, particularly in the West, who go on talking about positive thinking, about the positive qualities of God. It is just out of fear.
Each child is afraid of darkness for the simple reason that he cannot see his mother. He starts crying, weeping, because he cannot see his mother - the mother who is his very life. If he cannot see the mother he becomes afraid. How long can he survive without the mother? From where is he going to get his nourishment? He starts feeling uprooted.
This fear of darkness has created the idea of God as light and death as dark, the Devil as dark and God as light.
Dionysius is unique. He says that if you have to choose between these two words, "light" and "darkness," if it is a must that you have to call God something, then better call him darkness - because darkness is uncaused, just as existence is uncaused.
Light has to be caused. Light needs fuel, darkness needs no fuel. Light is bound to be temporary; sooner or later the fuel will be finished and with it the light will disappear. Darkness never comes and goes; it always is. If you bring light you cannot see darkness, that's all. If you take away the light you can see it again. It is just like the stars in the sky: in the day you can't see the stars - not that they have all disappeared; you cannot see them simply because of the light. In the night you can see them because the light disappears and against the background of tremendous darkness those stars start shining - because of the contrast.
Darkness is far more timeless than light, far more eternal. And the person who gets rid of fear will be able to feel the beauty of darkness. Its very touch is velvety, its depth is immense. And it leaves you so alone, absolutely alone... the whole world disappears, only your consciousness remains. And there is no object to know, there is only darkness. Nothing to know... you start melting and merging into it.
Nobody has thought of darkness as one of the most important meditations, but it is.
This is only for the beginners; ultimately that too has to be denied, because how will you define darkness without light? And God is not light, hence he cannot be darkness either. These are always two sides of the same coin.
He has said God is not truth, and our minds immediately jump to the opposite. If he is not truth, then God is falsehood. If somebody says, "I don't believe in God," we immediately conclude that he disbelieves. He has not said that. If somebody says God is not true, we immediately conclude that he is saying that God is falsehood. That is an unnecessary conclusion; you are jumping too early to a conclusion It is not good, it is not logical. But to avoid any misunderstanding he says:
... NOR FALSEHOOD, NOR TRUTH; NEITHER IS THERE ANY ENTIRE AFFIRMATION OR NEGATION THAT MAY BE MADE CONCERNING HIM.
Nothing can be said about him in an entire way because whatsoever you say about him is going to be wrong and something will be missing in it. If you say he is darkness, then what is light? If you say he is light, then what is darkness? This is one of the greatest problems metaphysicians have been continuously discussing.
Shankara in India says that God is absolute affirmation: God is and the world is not. To affirm God totally he has to deny the world, all existence, because if the world has even a little bit of existence then that much existence will be less in God. To make God entire, a total, perfect affirmation, he says: Jagat mithya, the world is untrue; Brahma satya, and God is true.
And there have been atheists in India, a long tradition of Charvakas; they do the same in an opposite way. The Charvakas are exactly like Epicurus in the West. They say the world is true and God is untrue. God is an invention of the priests to exploit people; the world is the only truth. That's what Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and the communist metaphysicians say; it is the same tradition as that of the Charvakas. But there is no basic difference between the Charvakas and Shankara.
You will be surprised at my statement that Shankara and Karl Marx agree on one point: that only one can be affirmed, not both. Now it is your choice which one you affirm. If you affirm God entirely, then the world becomes illusory it is maya. If you affirm God, then you cannot affirm the world; if you affirm the world, then God disappears. Then God becomes an epiphenomenon; that is Marx's word for maya. He becomes illusory; he is just the hallucination of a few stupid people.
You can create the hallucination easily. Within three weeks you can experience God; all the requirements are simple. The first is: you have to believe in a certain personality of God, Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan. You can choose any personality - God with a thousand hands God with three heads or four hands, whatsoever you want - you have to think in terms of a personality, and then go on a fast in a lonely place. A three weeks' fast, hungry continuously, your body energy falling low... And remember, as your body energy starts falling low your brain starts losing its efficiency, its clearness. It becomes vague, it becomes smoky, it becomes dreamy; it starts hallucinating. Now, if you have a certain idea of God and you are fasting for three weeks in a lonely place, not with people, so there is a great need for the other...
When you are with people, the need for the other is not so great because others are there. Your wife is there, your children are there, your parents are there, the family, the friends. And particularly when you are on a religious fast, relatives will come to see you and friends will come to see you.
Many people will appreciate the whole thing, and you will be on an ego trip.
Go into the mountains to a cave, alone. Fast for three weeks with a certain idea in your mind of God, and concentrate on that idea. Within three weeks you will be able to hallucinate: God will be standing before you as real as anybody you have ever felt, or even more real. You can talk, and your God will even answer you. In fact, there is nobody to answer; you will be doing both the things, questioning and answering. A part of your mind will question, another part of your mind will answer.
And the answers will be tremendously satisfying because they will be the answers that you always wanted to hear. It is you and nobody else. It is a monologue.
According to Marx, God is only a hallucination; according to Shankara, the world is a hallucination.
But both are trying to do one thing, which is impossible: they are trying to either affirm entirely or negate entirely.
Dionysius has a significant contribution to make. He says:
... ANY ENTIRE AFFIRMATION OR NEGATION THAT MAY BE MADE CONCERNING HIM... IS NOT RIGHT.
Nothing can be said absolutely about whether he is or he is not. Then what are we supposed to do?
We have to drop all intellectualization about God. We have to forget the whole idea of knowing about God. We have to relax into ourselves, into our ignorance, dropping the whole search for knowledge.
And in that agnosia, in that state of not-knowing, some miracle happens, and you start feeling...
What you feel is not God, what you feel is not life, what you feel is not confined to any word. It is so vast that all words become meaningless, inadequate.
Mahavira calls it moksha - freedom - and that is a far more beautiful word than "God." Buddha calls it nirvana - cessation of the ego, death of the ego. That is also a far more beautiful word than "God,"
because freedom cannot be worshipped - freedom does not need any priests nor does egolessness need any priests. The idea of God as somebody somewhere has created all the temples and the mosques and the churches and the whole business of priesthood, and the great exploitation has continued for centuries.
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND WE MAKE AFFIRMATIONS AND DENIALS OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE LESS THAN HIM (AND FOLLOW FROM HIM!) BUT OF HIMSELF WE NEITHER AFFIRM NOR DENY ANYTHING, SINCE HE WHO IS BEYOND ALL ATTRIBUTES IS PERFECT AND ALONE THE CAUSE OF ALL...
You see his problem: he has to satisfy, continuously satisfy, the desire of his colleagues, of his bosses, of the Vatican, of the pope. So after all these denials and after saying such profound things, he falls back. He ends on the same note. He says again:
HE IS PERFECT AND ALONE THE CAUSE OF ALL - BEYOND ALL NEGATION THE HEIGHT OF THAT WHICH IS ENTIRELY FREE FROM ALL AND BEYOND ALL.
He goes on persisting in using the word "he," and finally he says:
HE IS PERFECT AND ALONE THE CAUSE OF ALL...
Beware of his language. He is not trying to say exactly what he feels. He says that, but immediately he camouflages it in the jargon so that he cannot be caught. And he was never caught - he succeeded. In fact, to catch him would have needed another man of the same genius, another Dionysius. Those foolish popes would not have been able to discover it. He creates so much dust of theology around it that you cannot see clearly what his point is.
And there are people all over the world who, when they cannot understand something, they think it must be profound.
An American theologian is on tour of the city of Rome; his guide is showing him the famous monuments of the ancient city. At the Pantheon the Italian guide proudly announces, "This is our famous Pantheon - a graceful, silent monument to our glorious past!"
The theologian takes a quick look, then turns to the guide and asks, "How long did the construction take?"
A little surprised at the question, the guide answers, "It took over two hundred years of human effort to build this masterpiece of architecture."
"Oh!" says the American theologian. "In America we would build it in ten years!"
The guide feels a little irritated and takes the American on to the Colosseum, where he announces even more proudly, "Signor, the Colosseum!" But before he gets any further the American theologian interrupts, "How long did this one take to build?"
"Fifty years," the Italian replies curtly.
"Back home we would do it in five," says the American.
The guide is feeling pissed off and quickly leads the American away to the Capitol. "It took three years to build this," he announces hotly.
"Well, in America we could do it in three months!"
The Italian guide, very pissed off, continues the tour. They pass in front of the Vatican; the guide says nothing.
"What is this?" asks the American theologian, looking over the Holy City.
"What is this?" replies the guide casually. "I have no idea. It wasn't here yesterday!"