OUR BELOVED MASTER,
ONE NIGHT ISAN WAS IN ATTENDANCE ON HYAKUJO, SITTING TILL LATE IN THE QUIETNESS OF THE MOUNTAIN TEMPLE.
“WHO ARE YOU?” HYAKUJO ASKED.
“REIYU,” REPLIED ISAN.
“RAKE IN THE FIREPLACE,” INSTRUCTED HYAKUJO.
ISAN DID AS HE WAS TOLD AND SAID, “I FIND NO EMBERS LEFT.” HYAKUJO TOOK UP THE TONGS AND, RAKING DEEP DOWN, BROUGHT UP A TINY BURNING EMBER, WHICH HE SHOWED TO ISAN, AND SAID, “JUST THIS, YOU SEE!”
ISAN WAS SUDDENLY ENLIGHTENED. HE BOWED DEEPLY AND RELATED HIS POINT OF REALIZATION TO HYAKUJO, WHO SAID, “YOU HAVE REACHED A CROSSROADS ON THE BUDDHA NATURE; YOU SHOULD OBSERVE TIME AND CAUSATION. WHEN THE TIME COMES, YOU WILL REALIZE IT, JUST LIKE REMEMBERING SOMETHING YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN. IT IS NOT OBTAINED FROM OTHERS. THEREFORE, WHEN YOU ARE ENLIGHTENED, YOUR ORIGINAL NATURE MANIFESTS ITSELF. NOW YOU HAVE ATTAINED IT — CAREFULLY CULTIVATE IT.”
Maneesha, today we start a new series of talks on Zen, particularly on Master Isan. The name of the series will give you an indication what kind of man Isan was. The title of the series is ISAN: NO FOOTPRINTS IN THE BLUE SKY. He was as great a master as one can be, but has left behind him neither great scriptures nor great commentaries. Isan functioned exactly as Buddha had said an authentic master would — to disappear in the blue sky like a bird, leaving no footprints.
Why this idea of leaving no footprints? It has great implications in it. It means a great master does not create a following; he does not make a path for everybody to follow. He flies in the sky, he gives you a longing for flying, and disappears into the blueness of the sky — creating an urge in you to discover what it is like to disappear into the ultimate.
Isan followed exactly what Buddha had said. He is a great master, but almost forgotten. Who remembers people who have not created great followings, who have not made organized religions, who have not chosen their successors, who have not made their religion a politics, a power in the material world? Isan did none of that. He simply lived silently. Of course thousands of disciples were attracted towards him, but it was not his fault. You cannot blame him for it — it was just the magnetic force that he had become by disappearing into enlightenment. The light shone to faraway lands and those who had eyes started moving towards a small place hidden in the forest where Isan lived. Slowly slowly, thousands of disciples were living in the forest — and Isan had not called a single one. They had come on their own.
And remember the difference: when you come on your own, you come totally. When you are called, there is a reluctance, a fear: perhaps you will be dominated. But when you come on your own, you have lived your life, you have known the meaninglessness of it. You are coming out of a great understanding that life has nothing to offer. You are coming with your wholeness and totality — and with an urgency, because nobody knows: tomorrow you may be here on the earth or not. Death can knock on your doors any moment, it is unpredictable. It rarely comes to warn the person, “I am coming.” Once in a while it has happened, in stories….
The next moment is not certain. All that you have is this moment. So don’t disperse your consciousness; concentrate it on this moment. If you want really to know the ultimate source of being and the tremendous blessings of it, this single moment is enough.
Don’t follow anybody’s footprints. Truth cannot be borrowed, neither can the path that somebody else has trodden. You have to enter into a virgin land of your own inner space, where nobody can enter in any way.
The deeper you go, the more alone you are. Friends and foes, families and the society, slowly slowly, all drop away as you are dropping your mind. Once the mind is finished, you are left in total aloneness. And this aloneness is such a great joy…. Remember, it is not loneliness. Loneliness is a desire for the other. Aloneness is a fulfilment unto oneself. One is enough, one is the whole universe. So whatsoever the dictionaries say is absolutely wrong. They make aloneness and loneliness synonymous — that is not true.
As far as existential experience is concerned, Isan lived alone. But his aloneness became such a radiant splendor that people came towards him on their own, towards this great silence, this immense beauty of truth.
This man has reached home; just being in his presence, perhaps you may find your way also. He is not going to give you the way, but in his presence many things are possible. One is that you will become certain that the experience of enlightenment is not an imagination of poets, or a philosophical system of philosophers. It is an authentic realization. You can feel it, you can almost touch it, and if your heart is open, you can see your heart dancing with joy. Your whole life near a man like Isan will take wings.
So thousands came. But Isan has not given any guidance; therefore I have chosen the title from Buddha’s statement: ISAN: NO FOOTPRINTS IN THE BLUE SKY. He just fluttered into the sky, attracting those who had forgotten their wings; provoking, challenging those who had forgotten their sky, their freedom. Then he disappeared into the faraway sky, into the blueness, leaving no footprints but leaving a tremendous urge to go to those dimensions where you are no more.
Your being no more is the ultimate realization of truth.
You are the barrier, you are the problem. You are the only problem. As you melt away, something in you which is eternal, which you cannot call your self, something in you which belongs to the whole cosmos, starts appearing. What you used to call your self was only dust.
Before I take the sutras, a little introductory note about the life of Isan:
ISAN REIYU, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS KUEI-SHAN LING-YU, LIVED FROM 771 TO 853. HE LEFT HOME AT FIFTEEN TO BECOME A MONK, STUDYING UNDER THE LOCAL VINAYA MASTER IN WHAT IS TODAY THE FUKIEN PROVINCE.
These are things that may seem non-essential, but I feel they have a great meaning to be understood. He left home at fifteen… there was a totally different world, a totally different urge in humanity. What is a fifteen-year-old boy…? But the urge must have been so widespread and so thick in the atmosphere that even a fifteen-year-old boy is intelligent enough; he will catch the fire.
It is said that there are people who go on repeating the same foolish act again and again, but never learn anything. That’s why history repeats. It is because of the idiots; otherwise there is no reason for history to repeat. It will always bring a new dawn — not old, rotten, lived, finished completely. But history has to repeat because idiots go on and on repeating themselves, and they are the makers of history. It is unintelligence that makes it possible for history to repeat.
The saying is that the unintelligent will not learn from his own mistakes, but the intelligent can even learn from others’ mistakes. And the man who can learn from others’ mistakes has a great potential. At the age of fifteen, Isan must have learned from others’ mistakes. He must have watched carefully his parents, his neighbors, his teachers — their lifeless lives, their meaningless wanderings, no sense of direction except misery and suffering. All that they have is some promising hope that may be fulfilled in the future, perhaps in the next life or perhaps in paradise. But this life is going to be a suffering, it cannot be otherwise. It is the nature of life and they have accepted it. At the age of fifteen he left his home. He was not going to commit the same mistakes that everybody else was committing.
HE LEFT HOME AT FIFTEEN TO BECOME A MONK, STUDYING UNDER THE LOCAL VINAYA MASTER. A Vinaya master is only a rabbi, a pundit, a learned scholar. Vinaya is the name of the Buddhist scriptures. The very word `vinaya’ means humbleness, and Buddha teaches that to be humble is to be close to nature. All his scriptures — and they are many — have been called the Vinaya scriptures because their fundamental teaching, from different directions, is the same: just to be nobody, just to be ready to disappear into the blueness of the sky without leaving any footprints.
Obviously he was in search; he went to study under the local Vinaya master. A fifteen-year-old boy does not know where to go. So whoever was in the locality, the most famous and learned scholar — he went to him.
HE WAS ORDAINED AT HANGCHOW AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-THREE.
Being ordained means that now he is making an absolute commitment to find himself. He is declaring to the world, “Help me not to go astray.” It is an announcement on his part of his innermost longing. Now it becomes socially known that he is a seeker, and in those days seekers were helped by the society in every possible way — with food, clothes, shelter. The whole society seemed to be running around the central longing of becoming a buddha. If circumstances wouldn’t allow them now, people were waiting for the right circumstances so they could escape in the blue sky.
Today we are very small in that sense. Our desires are for money, our desires are for beautiful houses, our desires are for success in the world — fame, name, political power. In terms of spiritual skill we have fallen, certainly. In those old days people were poor, with no science, no technology, but still they were superior in the sense that their whole longing was to search for the meaning of life. And anybody who was searching for the meaning of life… at least if you could not go so far, you could help. Helping anybody who was searching for truth was in itself considered a great virtue.
And I accept the idea. A society should live… of course everybody cannot be a monk unless my strategy is followed. And it is a little complicated to remain a witness in your ordinary life. It is easier to be a witness if you live in a monastery, or if you are a monk and you don’t deal with ordinary life. You don’t earn any money, you don’t have any power, you live just on begging — just one meal a day. Because the society was so poor, Buddha told his ordained monks, “You should collect your one meal” — only one meal was allowed in twenty-four hours — “from seven houses. Just piece by piece, so you are not a burden on anybody.”
Now, just one monk going to beg from seven houses is not a burden, because every house is giving him such a small piece. Because of this fact, the seekers and searchers would not be involved in business and waste their time. Their total energy should be directed towards a single point, their central being. Society should help them because their rising consciousness is going to help the society also.
You may know, you may not know: the few buddhas that have happened in history have raised your consciousness without your knowing. Without them you would still be in the jungles. You have not done anything, but the atmosphere has been changed by each buddha. He has given so much in abundance… don’t think that a piece of bread is enough to pay him. We cannot pay him in any way; his contribution to human consciousness is so great and his carefulness….
Buddha told his monks, “Take your one meal from seven houses and never stay in one village for more than three days. Go on moving, because by remaining in one village you may become a kind of drag to people. Every day they have to give something to you. Leave before they become in any way annoyed by you.”
And it is a great psychological insight, because it takes people four days to become familiar with persons or places. If you change your house, it will take four days for you to become at ease with the new house. Before the village becomes familiar, you should leave. You are an outsider, you are not allowed to become familiar, friendly. You have to remain a stranger. You have chosen the path of being a stranger.
ORDAINED AT HANGCHOW AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-THREE, HE TRAVELED TO CHIANG-SI AND BECAME A DISCIPLE OF HYAKUJO.
He found the master. The learned teachers that he must have come across could not fulfill his appetite. They could not give him what he was asking for. He was not asking for more knowledge; he was searching for the one who knows. He was interested to inquire into the very structure of the knower, of the witness.
Naturally, the scholars cannot do that. They can quote great quotations, but they cannot radiate buddhahood. They are not an argument for their own quotations, they are not a support to their own learnedness. Their whole life is so ordinary; it does not show the grace and the beauty and the blissfulness of which they are talking. So any intelligent seeker will soon realize that this man has only words; he does not know the meaning. He is carrying a dead corpse but he is not aware that the person is dead.
All the scholars of the world are gravediggers. They dig deeply into graves and find bones of all kinds of people, but they never dig deep into themselves. They may find the bones of Buddha… they even worship the bones when they find them.
In Sri Lanka, in Kandy, they have a great temple devoted to a tooth of Buddha. Every scientific test has proved that it is not a tooth of a human being, it is too big; it can only be that of an animal. But who cares about it? Kandy attracts more pilgrimages to Sri Lanka than any other temple because it has a tooth of Gautam Buddha.
Scholars sometimes seem to be so stupid. There was a hair in Srinagar, in Kashmir, thought to be Hazrat Mohammed’s. Mohammedans worshipped it because that was the only relic left from the body of Mohammed. Nobody knows whose hair it is, and there is no way to prove that it is Mohammed’s hair. But a few years back it was stolen.
Then there was great fuss all over the world amongst the Mohammedans. That mosque, Hazrat Bal…bal means hair; even the bal is to be called Hazrat, Osho — “revered hair.” And it was such a difficult situation. Riots started happening because Mohammedans thought certainly it must be the Hindus. And Hindus are a very small minority in Kashmir. Even though Hindu leaders in Kashmir declared again and again, “We are not concerned at all with your religion,” it was to no avail.
Finally the Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had to send the chief of the armies with a great number of soldiers to surround the mosque and somehow manage to restore the hair.
Now, how can you manage? Somehow it was managed: somebody’s hair has been put in the tube which was empty. Now everybody is happy that the hair has been found. What kind of stupidity…? What will you do with the hair? If you find the whole head of Mohammed, that too will not help. But people are concerned with absolute absurdities, so much involved, and this is because of the scholars, the so-called learned who provoke the masses.
Isan must have moved from one teacher to another teacher. He went on, looking for a man who is essential, who is not a Buddhist but a buddha, who does not believe in any hypotheses — who knows. And when he came to Hyakujo, immediately something transpired. He found the master.
That was the way students, disciples, devotees, went on searching, from one monastery to another monastery, from one monk to another monk. There are no visible signs, no certificates to say who is enlightened. You have to find with your own heart someone in whose presence your heart starts dancing. It is an inner finding — one in whose presence your whole life becomes light, in whose presence certainly your mind is gone as if it had been a shadow, and utter silence falls over you.
When he came to Hyakujo, he immediately became a disciple.
LATER, HYAKUJO SENT ISAN TO MOUNT I AS ABBOT. ISAN LIVED AS A WILD HERMIT INITIALLY, BUT BY AND BY BEGAN TO ATTRACT DISCIPLES; THEY FINALLY INCREASED TO ONE THOUSAND IN NUMBER. ISAN TAUGHT AT MOUNT I FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS.
This was just a small biographical note. Now the sutras.
ONE NIGHT ISAN WAS IN ATTENDANCE ON HYAKUJO, SITTING TILL LATE IN THE QUIETNESS OF THE MOUNTAIN TEMPLE.
“WHO ARE YOU?” HYAKUJO ASKED.
“REIYU,” REPLIED ISAN.
“RAKE IN THE FIREPLACE,” INSTRUCTED HYAKUJO.
ISAN DID AS HE WAS TOLD AND SAID, “I FIND NO EMBERS LEFT” — the fire is completely gone, there are no more embers left.
HYAKUJO TOOK UP THE TONGS AND, RAKING DEEP DOWN, BROUGHT UP A TINY BURNING EMBER, WHICH HE SHOWED TO ISAN, AND SAID, “JUST THIS, YOU SEE! — you did not go deep enough.”
On a silent night in a mountain temple… everything a master does has a purpose. He has asked Isan to find out if there is any fire left in the wood. The night is becoming colder; just find out. Ordinarily, it is an insignificant act. Isan did as he was told, but said, “I find no embers left. The fire has completely gone out.”
HYAKUJO TOOK UP THE TONGS…. This is the way Zen is — a direct teaching, no words. HYAKUJO TOOK UP THE TONGS AND, RAKING DEEP DOWN, BROUGHT UP A TINY BURNING EMBER, WHICH HE SHOWED TO ISAN, AND SAID, “JUST THIS, YOU SEE! You did not go deep enough.”
ISAN WAS SUDDENLY ENLIGHTENED… because this was the exact situation in his meditations. He was going, but not deep enough to find the fire of life. Immediately, without saying anything — enlightenment is not being talked about — but seeing Hyakujo’s action, that by going deep he has found an ember, Isan must have gone deep into himself. He had been meditating, but must not have been going deep enough to find the living fire.
ISAN WAS SUDDENLY ENLIGHTENED.
It is very difficult for rational people to understand how enlightenment can be sudden. It is sudden if you understand how Zen masters create, out of every situation, some indication which cannot be said in words. In words he has said again and again, “Go deep!” But it can be only said; it all depends whether you go deep or not.
Hyakujo has to create a very clear-cut, existential situation to show Isan that he has not been going deep enough. And a simple thing — finding the ember — made Isan go as deep as possible within himself. In that silent night he found his inner fire; he became enlightened. It looks sudden. It is not so sudden — years of studying, years of meditating. But at the right moment the master gives you a situation which will indicate to you what is missing.
He was not daring to go to the very center; otherwise how can you miss the living fire? You are alive! How can you miss your divinity, how can you miss your buddha?
ISAN WAS SUDDENLY ENLIGHTENED. HE BOWED DEEPLY AND RELATED HIS POINT OF REALIZATION TO HYAKUJO, WHO SAID, “YOU HAVE REACHED A CROSSROADS ON THE BUDDHA NATURE; YOU SHOULD OBSERVE TIME AND CAUSATION.”
Even though he has become enlightened, he has to give roots to his enlightenment. Otherwise, it will remain only a faraway glimpse, soon forgotten, or maybe remembered only as an echo, miles away. Now you should water carefully the sudden flowering within you. Now you should keep watch around the clock that your treasure is increasing, that your inner sky is spreading wider and wider, that your wings are growing, that the time for the ultimate flight of the dewdrop to the ocean is coming closer.
Hyakujo said to him: “YOU HAVE REACHED A CROSSROADS ON THE BUDDHA NATURE; YOU SHOULD OBSERVE TIME AND CAUSATION.”
Now, be watchful. What has caused your enlightenment is an ordinary, mundane thing. You should remember now that by going deeper, suddenly you became enlightened; you can go still deeper. There is, in fact, no boundary line where you have to stop. You can go so deep that you become the depth. Only then has your enlightenment grown roots. Now it cannot be destroyed, it is no longer a seasonal flower.
“WHEN THE TIME COMES, YOU WILL REALIZE IT, JUST LIKE REMEMBERING SOMETHING YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN.”
What you have seen today is the first glimpse, which has put you on a crossroads. You can still go astray, the other roads are still available. Now be careful. What has caused it is going deeper, so go on, deeper and deeper and deeper. Never stop before you yourself become the depth, just an empty abyss.
That is the time when spring comes to your being. You will realize it then, that you have not achieved anything; it is just like remembering something you have forgotten. It has always been there, so it is not something new that you have achieved. It is something that you have forgotten so long ago that you don’t have any idea when you forgot it. Now you have remembered.
The moment your enlightenment becomes just a remembrance, it becomes your very breathing, it becomes your very heartbeat. Then you don’t need any meditation. Then your whole life is meditation. Without any effort, effortlessly, you are a buddha. If there is any effort, that means something is missing. When the buddha is natural, you are a buddha even in your sleep. Waking, working, whatever you do — your fragrance of buddhahood will be there around you.
But this will happen only when you have reached to the ultimate depth and the realization is not taken as an achievement but only as a remembrance. So don’t start bragging about it, because it is not an achievement — what is there to brag about? You simply drown yourself into this new, abandoned, forgotten space, which is your very being.
And millions of things are going to happen, but you are not the doer. They will be simply happening because your presence has reached such depths. When your witnessing has reached to the ultimate depth, flowers will start blossoming, lotuses will open — a dawn has come to you, you are reborn. You were dead, now you are alive. A new life spreads all over you and brings great beauty and truth and grace.
“IT IS NOT OBTAINED FROM OTHERS. THEREFORE, WHEN YOU ARE ENLIGHTENED, YOUR ORIGINAL NATURE MANIFESTS ITSELF. NOW YOU HAVE ATTAINED IT — CAREFULLY CULTIVATE IT.”
This is a very significant statement of Hyakujo. You cannot cultivate enlightenment, that will be phony. You can walk like a buddha, you can manage to sit in the lotus posture — it may take a little time for you, the bones… and particularly people coming from the West will find it more difficult. Colder countries devise chairs; hotter countries have no problem in sitting on the floor. But in colder countries, to sit on the floor is difficult. So if Buddha is sitting in the lotus posture, that does not mean that you have to sit in the lotus posture, only then you will become a buddha. You can practice it — there are many idiots who are doing that, unnecessarily torturing themselves.
Buddhahood is your nature, so you cannot cultivate it. But what Hyakujo means is totally different. He is saying, “NOW THAT YOU HAVE ATTAINED IT — CAREFULLY CULTIVATE IT. This attainment is so new, it is possible to fall back into darkness. It is possible to start thinking again that it may have been an imagination. All kinds of possibilities are there. The glimpse that you have is very fresh and young, and your past of ignorance is very long — four million years; it has a weight. This new insight can be destroyed by that weight. This new flower that has blossomed in you can be crushed by a mountainous past.”
You cannot cultivate enlightenment if you have not attained it. So first, attain it — it looks strange — first attain the glimpse and then protect, cultivate it; then make arrangements so that the past does not overtake you, because the weight of the old is very great and the new is always delicate.
So remember, Hyakujo is not saying to cultivate enlightenment. He is saying, first get it and then be careful in every possible way to protect it, to refine it, to go deeper into it, to find more roots to it. The real work starts when you have become enlightened. All that work you have done before enlightenment looks like a very tiny effort.
The great effort starts with your first glimpse of enlightenment. You can fall from it — the whole past will be pulling you backwards, the whole past will be saying to you that this is all imagination.
You have to be very alert. The past is your enemy, and this fresh sprout, this new flower — so small and so fragile, but so beautiful — if you can manage to protect it, soon it will become your eternity. Soon it will become your nature. Then there is no effort.
When Zen masters say “effortlessness” they are referring to the state when your enlightenment is well rooted. Now there is no need of any effort; now you can be relaxed and at ease, it will grow on its own accord. It will bring much foliage, and many flowers, and many blessings.
THE DHARMA SPRING
HAS NEVER RUN DRY;
IT IS FLOWING EVEN NOW.
A SINGLE DROP HAS FALLEN AND SPREAD
FAR AND DEEP.
DON’T BE CAUGHT
BY THE DECORATIONS AT THE EDGE
AND THE WALL AROUND IT.
IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT THE MOON SHINES
FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE POND.
What Sekiso is saying is very symbolic. THE DHARMA SPRING — the spring when those who are ripe become suddenly full of flowers, when the dark night ends and the morning has come — THE DHARMA SPRING HAS NEVER RUN DRY. He is saying, “Remember, the dharma spring has never run dry; it always comes, just as it used to come in Gautam Buddha’s time, or even before.” It is part of eternal nature. It is just that you have to be ready to catch the train. The train always comes, but mostly either you reach the railway station before the train has come, or you reach after the train has left — you always find an empty platform. Sad and frustrated, you go back home.
I have heard, three professors were discussing very hotly some philosophical point at the railway station. They got so involved in the discussion, and they forgot that the train stops for only three minutes. As the train started moving, still they were not aware. Suddenly one of them saw, and all three ran to catch the train. Only two could manage to get on to the last compartment. One was left, and he was standing there so sad that a porter, who had been watching what was happening, said, “Why are you so sad? Soon there will be a second train coming, and just within a few hours you will meet your friends.”
He said, “That is not the point. I am the one who was supposed to go! They had come only to see me off. Now everything has become a mess….”
But in a hurry, it can happen.
THE DHARMA SPRING HAS NEVER RUN DRY. It always is available; just you are not ready. The whole responsibility has to be taken by you, on your own shoulders. The existence is as much in favor of buddhas as it has always been, but you are not even looking at it. You are not preparing, you are not even witnessing so that when it comes…
In fact it never comes, it is always there — YOU come to IT. The deeper your witnessing, and suddenly you find a tremendous reality flooding you. In your very innermost center it is still waiting.
THE DHARMA SPRING HAS NEVER RUN DRY; IT IS FLOWING EVEN NOW. A SINGLE DROP HAS FALLEN AND SPREAD FAR AND DEEP.
The ocean of dharma spring is always ready to absorb you; it has always space for you, you are always welcome. Nobody has been rejected by dharma nature. If even a single drop has fallen, it has spread all over the ocean, FAR AND DEEP.
DON’T BE CAUGHT BY THE DECORATIONS AT THE EDGE AND THE WALL AROUND IT. IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT THE MOON SHINES FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE POND.
We are all attracted by decorations, by the non-essentials. A lake may have a wall around it with beautiful statues, sculpture, architectural designs. And you may get so much involved in those decorations that you fail to see that the pond is reflecting the moon, exactly in the middle.
This is just symbolic. It is saying that the existential truth is always shining in the middle of this whole world of decorations. Power, all kinds of desires, motivations, longings — amongst this whole crowd, exactly in the middle, exactly in the center of your being, the full moon is reflected. Don’t get caught in decorations.
Maneesha has asked:
OUR BELOVED MASTER,
I HAVE HEARD YOU SAY THAT THE ENLIGHTENED ONES, LIKE BIRDS, LEAVE NO FOOTPRINTS BEHIND THEM. YET PEOPLE LIKE ISAN TOUCH OUR CONSCIOUSNESS HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER THEY HAVE DIED. COULD YOU PLEASE COMMENT?
Maneesha, touching your consciousness is another matter. To the open consciousness, all the buddhas are available this very moment to celebrate you, to take you into the new space that you have been avoiding for centuries. But that is not making footprints. It is beyond the capacity of a bird to make footprints in the sky.
The inner world is almost like the sky — it is the inner sky. And the people who have entered into the inner world cannot leave footprints either. It is just to say that you cannot follow them from the outside, through their words, through their scriptures. You have to go into yourself, and suddenly you will be surprised that you have disappeared and a buddha has appeared. You were not following Buddha’s footprints — he cannot make any. In the sky you cannot write anything.
All the scriptures and all the great religions are befooling and exploiting the masses. One has to go within, and all the religions are supporting you to go out — towards Jesus, towards Moses, towards Mohammed, towards Buddha, but go outwards. Follow their teachings, follow their commandments. That is what Buddha says is going astray.
No buddha can leave any footprints, so how can you follow him? Following is simply impossible. You can only go within yourself. You can understand a living buddha, you can absorb his energy; you can hear his song, you can understand his silence; you can be filled by his presence — but this is not following. This is simply the alchemy of being with a master. You can simply disappear in the silences of the master. But you are not following footprints; you are going within yourself, you have your own path from the circumference to the center.
Now comes the time for Sardar Gurudayal Singh. The poor fellow has to wait so long, and he brings his rainbow turban with such care. He used to be just an old hippie. Suddenly he has become a mini-guru! And he is enjoying it so much, and directing many…. This is called transformation.
Ronald Reagan and George Bush go hiking together in the Montana mountains. They have been walking all day, discussing the forthcoming presidential election, and Ronald is giving George lots of advice about how to wear his make-up and look good on TV.
Suddenly they look up and see a huge grizzly bear coming over the hill towards them. Immediately, Bush reaches into his pack and pulls out a pair of running shoes. Then he starts taking off his hiking boots, and putting on the sneakers.
“Hey,” says Ronald, nervously. “You don’t think you can outrun that grizzly bear, do you?”
“I don’t have to,” says Bush, with a grin. “I just have to outrun you!”
Kowalski is returning home from a morning’s hunting, with his shotgun in one hand and his hunting bag slung over his shoulder.
His friend, Slobovski, sees him across the road and calls out, “Hi, Kowalski! Been hunting?”
“That’s right,” replies Kowalski. “Been hunting ducks.”
“Far out!” says Slobovski. “How many did you get?”
“Well,” replies Kowalski, “if you can guess how many ducks I’ve got in my bag — I’ll give you them both!”
“Ah!” says Slobovski, scratching his head. “Three?”
Harry and Harriet are a very devoutly religious couple. They observe all the Christian religious festivals by remaining strictly celibate until the festival is over.
During Lent, which lasts for a whole month, they decide to give up sex. They are especially careful — they even sleep in separate rooms, to make sure they won’t be tempted.
Lent finishes at six o’clock in the morning on Sunday, and sure enough, at exactly six o’clock, Harriet hears a sharp knocking on her bedroom door.
“Is that you, Harry?” asks Harriet.
“Yes!” he cries. “This is your ever-loving husband!”
“Ah, Harry!” giggles Harriet. “I know why you are knocking!”
“You know why I am knocking!” cries Harry, “but you should see with what!”
… This joke was given to me; somebody must have made it up. And when Nirvano told me about the joke, the person had made it a Jaina couple. The husband’s name was Halvabhai and the wife’s name was Mevabhai. And the Jainas have a religious festival, Paryushan, so the festival in the joke was Paryushan. The rest of the joke has remained the same.
But as I told Nirvano, jokes have their roots. You cannot change their context. Now, a Jaina couple will not be fitting. About Jews you can tell any kind of joke; their appetite is big enough, everything fits. But about Hindus, about Jainas, about Buddhists, you cannot just change the names. They will be absolutely unfitting, because they will not have any natural context.
India has no jokes of its own. All the jokes are imported — fortunately there is no taxation on importing jokes! You can just change the names to Indian names, but it will not be right; it will not sound right. Even a joke has a certain context, a certain reference. It is not just a joke. You cannot implant it anywhere you like, it has a climate of its own. For example, a Jewish joke cannot be transplanted to another race because that joke has a history of its own.
Nobody writes jokes, you know. There are no joke writers. From where do jokes come? From the wisdom of the folk, hundreds of years… they pass through many hands, many situations and then they come to a refinement. Nobody can claim that he is the writer. And never try to change the names, because they will look absolutely out of context.
If you cannot find out to whom the joke should belong, just put some Jewish names in it. They are the only people rich enough, and it is for a particular reason that they can absorb any joke. They have suffered so much since Moses brought them out of Egypt in search of Israel. Their whole life for these four thousand years has been that of suffering and suffering and suffering.
I have heard about an old Jew dying, praying to God. His family was surprised at what he was saying. He was saying to God, “God, enough is enough! Now you should choose somebody else as your chosen people.”
This stupid idea that Jews are the chosen people has been the cause of all their suffering. But suffering has to be somehow consoled — some ointment for so many wounds. Jokes have grown in the Jewish context. They had to laugh; otherwise how to forget the agony? How to forget all the suffering that they have passed through? They lost their land….
They have got it back just now, forty years ago; now it is a struggle to keep it. All around they are surrounded by the Mohammedans. And there is no way, I can’t see any possibility of their survival there. It is the ugliest and most criminal act of American politicians to give them back Israel, which has been in the hands of Mohammedans. But it was a clever strategy. This way they could get rid of many Jews without killing them. They were doing exactly what Adolf Hitler did. He killed six million Jews because the problem was that if Jews are the chosen people, then who are the Germans? This was the conflict. Adolf Hitler thought that his people, the Nordic Germans, were the chosen people of God, and Jews would not agree to that. He finished off six million Jews.
America did the same, but in a more diplomatic way. After the second world war they gave the Jews Palestine, which was once Israel and had fallen into the hands of Mohammedans. For centuries, Jews had lived without any land of their own — and I don’t think there is any need. “Lands” should disappear, boundaries should disappear; everybody should be living on the planet. But because after the second world war Palestine was in the hands of America, Americans played a very ugly trick. They gave it back not to the Mohammedans, but to the Jews. It is true, it used to belong to the Jews centuries before. But now it had been in the hands of the Mohammedans for so long that even the name had changed. It was no longer called Israel, it had become Palestine. Under the enforcement of the Americans who were holding Palestine, they made it Israel.
Nations are not made like that. Now thousands of Jews from other countries, particularly America, have moved to Israel. And they are surrounded from all sides by Mohammedans. For forty years they have been continuously fighting and being killed.
This is the fundamentalist Christian mind, which played a very clever trick. And I cannot see any future for Israel. Any day America stops giving arms to them — they are a small island, surrounded by millions of Mohammedans — they will all be killed. But America played a game, forced the Jews, and the Jews thought that they were being favored by America. They had a great hope some day to have their own land, so they rushed there with all their money. And they are still sending money — the other Jews who have remained behind — so all their money is being destroyed in Israel.
Now they are in such a difficult position: neither can they go back — they have brought everything they had — nor can they see any future when they can live in peace. Every day it is continuous war, terrorists of all kinds; nobody is secure.
This situation is very rare. Four thousand years ago on some unfortunate day, Moses brought the Jews to Israel. Forty years it took him to find this barren land that he used to call “the holy land.” He had to call it holy land, otherwise his followers would have killed him! In forty years’ search in the desert, two thirds of the original members who had come with him had died. And he passed up Saudi Arabia and Iran — Jews can never forgive him. If he had stopped at Saudi Arabia, they would have been the richest people in the world today. But at that time nobody knew about the petrol or the oil, so it is not his fault. But one thing is certain, that he is not a great prophet. He could not see that just there, below the earth, there was so much petrol and oil. What kind of prophet…?
Then, finding that it was getting late — he was now eighty, and the holy land seemed to be nowhere — in utter desperation, he simply declared Israel, which is just a barren land, to be the holy place of God, the holy land. Just to satisfy his followers… although the followers were not very satisfied. Looking at the holy land they said, “My God! And we are the chosen people of God and this is the holy land?”
Moses escaped on the excuse that a small tribe of the Jews had got lost in the desert — “So I am going to find them and bring them back.” And he never came back. He found them — they were here in Kashmir. And Kashmir looks like a holy land: it is so beautiful, incomparable to any place on the whole earth; its beauty is superb. If Moses had just brought all the Jews to Kashmir, they would have been satisfied: “We are certainly the chosen people of God and this is the holy land.”
That one small tribe that had wandered away from the main caravan of the Jews found themselves in Kashmir, and they thought that they had arrived! They remained in Kashmir, and when Moses came — his grave is in Kashmir — he lived with them. It is a strange coincidence that Jesus also died in Kashmir, and both graves are at the same place.
Jesus never knew that he was a Christian. He was born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, he proclaimed himself as the last prophet of the Jews. And that was the reason that the Jews crucified him, because they did not want to accept a donkey-riding carpenter’s son as their last prophet. It was irritating.
So the resurrection is just a story. Jesus was brought down from the cross after six hours, because Jews observe Saturday as a holy day; no work is to be done. So on Friday evening — it was only six hours that Jesus had been on the cross — they had to bring him down before sunset, because that would be work.
And the Jewish cross is a very primitive, old type of mechanism. If you want to die you need to hang on it at least forty-eight hours. Within forty-eight hours you can change your mind; that’s why nobody ever commits suicide on a Jewish cross, because who can maintain for forty-eight hours the idea of committing suicide? Just within one minute or two he will say, “Let us think it over again. What is the hurry? And anyway I am feeling hungry.”
So after six hours — Jesus was a young man, only thirty-three, robust and healthy — he escaped. It was a pure conspiracy with the Roman governor. Judea was under the Roman empire. The Romans were not interested in Jews’ problems, that Jesus is or is not the prophet. It was irrelevant to them. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had an interview with Jesus before the crucifixion to see whether this man needs to be crucified. He found that the man is absolutely innocent — maybe a little nuisance, because he is just riding on the donkey, followed by twelve idiots who believe that he is the only begotten son of God, and he has promised those idiots, “You will have a special place in the kingdom of God.”
Naturally, other Jews thought that this was very annoying and irritating. Everybody laughs at the whole thing — “This is your last prophet?” It is even suspected that his father was not his father.
After six hours Jesus was taken down, and the Roman governor and his soldiers were keeping guard on the cave in which he was put when he was brought down from the cross. He allowed Jesus’ followers to take him out of Judea. No resurrection happened, because even death did not happen. He was perfectly alive; just a few days it took for healing his hands and feet which had been nailed.
Seeing the situation, any intelligent man will not go back to Judea. He also went in search of the one lost tribe and ended up in Kashmir. Moses died in Kashmir, and two thousand years later Jesus died there. Both their graves are together there. Neither Jews want to recognize it nor Christians want to recognize it, but it is so evident: on both the graves the writing is in Hebrew, and on both the gravestones the names of the persons, Moses and Jesus, are engraved. The family that protects the graves is still Jewish; that is the only family in the whole of Kashmir which Mohammedans did not convert to Mohammedanism. All other Jews were forced to become Mohammedans, but this family they left alone because they were protecting and taking care of Moses’ and Jesus’ graves, and because Mohammedanism also accepts Moses and Jesus as prophets. So this family is the only family. But no pope goes there to look at poor Jesus’ grave, and neither do Christians talk about it, nor do Jews ever bother what happened to Moses.
And Christians have no answer: even if Jesus was resurrected, he must have died sometime afterwards. Where has he gone? Do they mean that he goes on resurrecting? Then he must be somewhere here!
Because of all this suffering, Jews have found a way of laughing, even in misery, and that way is the joke. The joke is purely a Jewish invention.
And you should never make any change of names, because just changing the names won’t help. A Jaina couple… it is impossible for them to say what the joke says. “You know why I am knocking,” cries Harry, “but you should see with what!” No Indian will say that. It is just impossible.
So I told Nirvano, “Change the names. Put in some Christian names”… because Jews are being hit so much. And I love them. Half of my sannyasins are Jews, and most of them are my sannyasins because I am the only person who loves Jewish jokes. They have a flavor which is their own. Countries like India are very serious. To tell a joke… Indians will feel very much hurt, they are such a repressed people. Here there are a few of my old friends who are Jainas. I told Nirvano, “Do you want them also to go?” Hearing the joke about Halvabhai and Mevabhai, then they are not going to stay!
The people who are translating my books from English to Hindi continuously send me notes: “What to do about the jokes?” And the people who are translating my Hindi books into English — they again and again ask me, “What to do with the poetry?”
So I tell them, “If you can manage, translate the poetry into prose. If you cannot, then just leave it out.” And to the people who are translating from English to Hindi I say simply, “You cannot do anything except leave out those jokes.” Indians will get absolutely mad — they are already mad about me. Such a seriousness has been a long sickness, a wound that has not healed.
Jews have certainly proved their mettle. In all their agony they have maintained their laughter, they have not lost it. But it is a strange psychology that the people who are in suffering will always love laughter. That gives at least some time to forget the misery. People who have lived peacefully, with no suffering, don’t know what laughter is.
I have been thinking many times that I should speak on the psychology of jokes. It has so many implications, why a certain joke is a joke and why it arose; who were the people, who must have been the people who managed that joke? In what background has the joke flowered, and was it refined? — because it is centuries of work. A single joke can be traced back for centuries, and you will find little differences happening and finally it comes to perfection. It is a work of art. But it needs a certain climate and a certain understanding and a certain openness, a certain unrepressed joyfulness; otherwise it can backfire.
This is a beautiful joke — but Nirvano is not a Jew. She thought it better to make it Christian because she knows the Christian names better and she knows the festival of Lent. In a Jewish context it would have been even better, because they are the most unrepressed people in the world. It is not a coincidence that Sigmund Freud — a Jew — started a new science: psychoanalysis. The whole science is against repression.
Every joke has a long history and background. It will be good sometime to give the whole series to Sardar Gurudayal Singh, and find the roots of these jokes — their psychology, the people, because there are many people. For example, Jews tell jokes about themselves; they are intelligent people. Other people tell jokes about the Polacks, who are very unintelligent people. They cannot make a joke themselves, that is impossible. But they are good in a way; they allow the whole world to make jokes about them. Nice guys!
Be silent. Close your eyes and feel your body to be completely frozen.
Now, look inwards.
Gather all your consciousness as a spear, piercing towards the very center of your being. Deeper and deeper, and you are bound to find the fire of life.
This fire does not burn, this fire is cool. This fire is like flowers. These flames are your eternal, divine sources.
At this moment you are the buddha.
Take care of the buddha twenty-four hours; cultivate the buddha twenty-four hours. Not for a single moment forget to remember your buddhahood.
As your remembrance deepens, as your awareness becomes clear, as you dissolve into your witnessing, the buddha spontaneously arises — in your actions, in your words, in your silences.
He becomes your whole life, and a life of great joy, a life of blessings, a life which is pure poetry, essential music, an eternal dance.
But keep the witness clear, because in your whole body only the witness is eternal; everything else is mortal. Sooner or later it will be in some grave. It has come from the earth, it will go back to the earth.
Only the witness will fly, without leaving its footprints in the blue sky, to become part of the cosmos.
Buddha is simply a name for your witnessing.
To make it clear,
Relax. Witness the body lying there almost dead. The mind is there — maybe chattering a little bit — but you are not it. You are simply a watcher.
In this moment you are at the greatest peak of your consciousness, and also the greatest depth.
Thousands of flowers are showering on you.
In this silence, in this serenity, the evening has become tremendously beautiful. Before Nivedano calls you back, collect as many flowers, as much fragrance, as much juice of your life as possible. And persuade the buddha to come with you. He has been hiding in the center for centuries — bring him to the circumference, the world needs it.
This is the right moment for every buddha to come out. That is the only hope for the whole planet. If buddhas can come out to their circumference, in their daily activities, we can change the very fabric of human life on the earth. It can become a benediction.
Man has lived uncivilized for a single reason: he never went deep into himself.
I call only those people civilized who have reached their center, and who have seen themselves as buddhas.
Come back, but show even in your coming back the grace, the silence, the joy, the blissfulness of this moment.
Sit for a few moments, just to recollect the golden path you have traveled and the strange man, the buddha, that you have found — not as a separate entity from you, but just as your innermost being, your very soul.
Yes, Beloved Master.
Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
Chapter title: Inertia of habit
2 November 1988 pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
Archive code: 8811025
Length: 117 mins
OUR BELOVED MASTER,
ON ONE OCCASION, A MONK ASKED ISAN ABOUT THE NEED FOR CULTIVATION OF ONE’S SPIRITUAL LIFE AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT. ISAN RESPONDED THAT IT WAS NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE “INERTIA OF HABIT.” HE THEN WENT ON TO SAY:
“WHAT YOU HEAR MUST FIRST BE ACCEPTED BY YOUR REASON; AND WHEN YOUR RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS DEEPENED AND SUBTILIZED IN AN INEFFABLE WAY, YOUR MIND WILL, OF ITS OWN SPONTANEITY, BECOME COMPREHENSIVE AND BRIGHT, NEVER TO RELAPSE INTO THE STATE OF DOUBT AND DELUSION. HOWEVER NUMEROUS AND VARIOUS THE SUBTLE TEACHINGS ARE, YOU KNOW INTUITIVELY HOW TO APPLY THEM — IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OCCASION.
“IN THIS WAY ONLY WILL YOU BE QUALIFIED TO SIT IN THE CHAIR AND WEAR YOUR ROBE AS A MASTER OF THE TRUE ART OF LIVING. TO SUM UP, IT IS OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE TO KNOW THAT ULTIMATE REALITY, OR THE BEDROCK OF REASON, DOES NOT ADMIT OF A SINGLE SPECK OF DUST, WHILE IN INNUMERABLE DOORS AND PATHS OF ACTION NOT A SINGLE LAW OR THING IS TO BE ABANDONED.”
Maneesha, it is one of the most important problems for any seeker, to understand a clear distinction between cultivation and enlightenment. You can cultivate enlightenment, but that will be only phony. You may believe in it, but your belief cannot make it true. Even if the whole society supports it, it does not matter.
Truth needs no support; it has to be self-evident. And how can you cultivate enlightenment if you don’t know it? You will simply imitate other enlightened ones. But every enlightened person has a unique character of his own. Nobody can be another Isan. However hard he tries to cultivate, imitates every action of Isan, every word, still he cannot be Isan. He will remain himself, only with a cultured, cultivated layer around his mind. It will remain a mind act, and certainly enlightenment is not a mind act. So nobody can cultivate enlightenment.
But after enlightenment…
Enlightenment happens suddenly. You can follow a device, with no guarantee that it will lead to enlightenment. But if you have a living master with you, watching step by step where you are moving, supporting you with one hand, as one of the Indian mystics, Gora, used to say… Gora was a potter, a very poor man, but he came to the same height as Gautam Buddha. His language, of course, was that of a potter. But sometimes the raw language of the villagers can express things which very sophisticated language cannot.
Gora says that the master has to use both his hands, just like a potter. The potter hits the mud that he is turning into a pot from the outside with one hand, and from the inside with the other hand. His hits, his support, slowly create the pot.
The master has to use every possible way to bring you to the point where enlightenment is possible. Just a little push — either of circumstances or by the master, or by the disciple himself — just a little turn. One step, and the old world is gone and you have entered into a new sky.
This is very sudden, because you were not preparing for it — although for the master it is not sudden. He was preparing for it from every possible corner. Hitting you, shouting at you, being respectful to you — in every possible way the master was bringing you to the brink from where you need to take one step more. That step only you can take; the master can bring you up to the brink.
It needs an articulate master. No ordinary master can do that; hence there are many mystics, but very few masters. To be a mystic is difficult in itself, but to bring the message to somebody else or to transform somebody else’s consciousness towards mystic experiences, one needs many qualities — an articulate way of giving an incentive to your longing, a reasonable approach, even making the irrational at least look rational, to turn even the absurd into a beautiful explanation. And to manage devices, meditations, from different corners of your being — one never knows from which side, north or west, east or south, you are most vulnerable. But the master slowly, easily, becomes aware from which side you are most vulnerable. Then that side has to be hit as hard as possible, because the weakest link in your chains is going to give way first.
Your liberation, your enlightenment, is a tremendous artwork of the master. To find the weakest link in your chains, and to hit you in such a way that rather than being angry you feel grateful — it is almost a miraculous alchemy. But as far as you are concerned, enlightenment happens suddenly. The master was preparing, step by step; but that was in his consciousness, it was not part of your consciousness. To you, the door suddenly opens.
The master never declares that you have reached the door. He waits for the right moment: when you will be absolutely silent, utterly empty, the season comes on its own. And as you are maturing and ripening, the door is getting ready to open for you. But it is always a surprise to you, not to the master who has been preparing for years in different ways, bringing you to the point where you can disappear and evaporate.
After sudden enlightenment, a certain cultivation is needed because the sudden can become a glimpse. Your sleepiness is so deep, your unconsciousness is so vast that a sudden glimpse, a lightning… and again dark clouds have taken over. That beautiful moment will be remembered by you; you will start even doubting it: “Did it happen or did I imagine it? Was it a reality or a dream?” But the sweetness of it will remain with you. The fragrance of it will remain with you.
Cultivation after enlightenment simply means to avoid any situation that can destroy your glimpse. You have to pour your whole energy into the glimpse to make it more and more authentic, more and more deeply rooted in you, so that it becomes an indubitable truth. No clouds can destroy it and no sleepiness, no inertia is able to take it away from you. Isan’s statement has to be understood in this light.
ON ONE OCCASION, A MONK ASKED ISAN ABOUT THE NEED FOR CULTIVATION OF ONE’S SPIRITUAL LIFE AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT. ISAN RESPONDED THAT IT WAS NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE “INERTIA OF HABIT.”
That includes everything — THE INERTIA OF HABIT. George Gurdjieff, one of the most important men of this century, had a certain idea about the mind which no scientist has denied….
Every scientist knows that the mind is divided almost like a cross, in four parts. The right side is divided in two parts, the front and the back; and the same is true about the left side. Whatever we have done to look into the mind, we have not found any way to determine what the purpose is of the back sides. They seem to be absolutely unnecessary. But nature never produces anything unnecessary. And particularly the brain is existence’s greatest creation; it will not contain unnecessary parts. The probability is that we have not yet discovered their functions.
When the researchers looked into the brain they found a strange thing: the right hand is connected with the left side of the brain and the left hand is connected with the right side of the brain. So when I am moving the right hand it is being directed by the left side of the brain.
The people who are born left-handed — and their number is not small; it is ten percent of the whole population — they are in a difficulty their whole life, because they are born in a right-handed society but with a left-handed personality. And nobody knows the deeper problems — neither the parents nor the teachers. They force left-handed children to write with the right hand, just as everybody else is doing, not with the left hand. They are not aware what they are telling the child; neither can the child say anything against them. He can see that everybody is writing with the right hand, and it is strange that he writes with the left hand. But because of continuous enforcement, he tries the right hand. It is not so easy, but continuous practice makes him capable of writing with the right hand. Only a very few people keep writing with their left hand. People who are left-handed and are writing with the right hand, are creating a great confusion in the mind.
The back of both sides of the brain, as far as we know, seems to be completely useless. But it is not. According to George Gurdjieff, who is the only one who has pointed out the fact, both of these back sides of the brain are a kind of robot. You learn something with the right hand; at first the front side of your left brain is active, but only in the process of learning. Once you have learned it, the front side delivers the learning to the back side. The back side is like a robot, or a computer. We don’t see any function, but it goes on working without our knowing.
For example in Africa, one tribe has been found to eat only one time in twenty-four hours, and they are perfectly healthy. When they saw the Christian missionaries they could not believe it — “What kind of idiots are these? Their whole concern is eating and eating and eating. First the breakfast, then the lunch, then the afternoon tea, then a coffee break. And it goes on!” Those simple people could not understand — what is the point?
And the people of this tribe live longer, they are healthier; they live twice as long. If the average person here lives seventy years, in that small tribe he will live one hundred forty years or one hundred fifty years very easily. And even at the age of one hundred fifty he is not old; that tribe has known only young people dying. At the age of one hundred fifty he is functionally as young as any young man at the age of thirty-five. But they have been habituated for millions of years to eating one meal a day.
If you are habituated in the American way, then one meal will kill you! What will you do the remaining twenty-four hours? The American eats five times, and in between cigarettes are needed, chewing gum is needed; somehow the mouth should continue to chew. They have become so accustomed, that even to take away somebody’s chewing gum you have to hospitalize him because of the withdrawal effects! Chewing gum — such a simple thing. In the first place you were doing something stupid and now you are talking about withdrawal effects! So something else has to be given in place of chewing gum; then something else, less addictive, and it takes a few weeks to get out of the habit.
The problem is, the habit goes into the back side of your brain, and we don’t yet have any direct approach to the back side. The back side is still the unknown continent, and it controls everything. It freaks out if you drop any habit. It forces you to take the habit back.
I was staying in Calcutta with a friend, in the house of one of the richest men of India, Sohanlal Dugar. He is dead now. He must have been at that time seventy or seventy-five years old, and he told me, “I have renounced sex four times.” The stupid man who was with me was very much impressed. When we were left alone the man said, “This is great — four times!”
I said, “You are an idiot. You don’t understand: you can renounce sex only once. How can you renounce it four times?”
Then he said, “Yes, that is right. If you have renounced once, you have renounced.”
I said, “Let Sohanlal come back and I am going to ask what happened the fifth time.”
I asked him when he came back, “You were telling us about your celibacy, that you tried four times, and my friend is very much impressed. So I am asking you, what happened to the fifth time?”
He said, “It is a disaster. The fifth time I did not renounce it, because four times I have already failed and learned the lesson that there is no point in renouncing; it is better to keep silent about it.”
That’s why everybody in the world is silent about sex. Particularly the celibates are absolutely silent because they know the problem, how many times they have renounced and it comes back again. It is not in your control and it is not your personal habit. It comes with your very birth, it is a biological habit.
So, there are many kinds of habits. A few habits you can drop, but a few habits are very deeply rooted. And to remain ignorant and unconscious is a very long, millions of years old, habit. If you allow it just a single moment, it will take you over.
Enlightenment is a very new phenomenon, and there is everything against it: your whole old mind, your unconsciousness, your tendency to forget. The English word `sin’ originally meant forgetfulness, but the priests destroyed the beauty of the word. Forgetfulness is certainly a sin — not against anybody, against yourself. But you have remained forgetful so long — it is not chewing gum, that within four weeks you will drop it. And it is such a consolation to remain in forgetfulness: it is cozy, it does not create an eternal quest, a search for the truth. It does not take you on dangerous paths. It keeps you mundane and ordinary, a part of the crowd, very happy in stupid things.
Just watch people celebrating marriages, and everybody knows what is going to be the outcome! Everywhere, all around, there are ruins and wrecks of marriages; still, idiots will sit on horses, will wear a turban. Once they used to carry a sword, but now it is a shorter version, a small knife. What is all this hullaballoo? — the bands, and people are singing, and a festivity, celebration. Two people, one man and one woman, are being hanged and all these fools are celebrating. And they are also enjoying: for the first time, and perhaps the last time, they are sitting on a horse like a king, with a crown and if not a real sword, then just a vegetable-cutting knife.
Such a drama, and the ultimate result? Then nobody bothers about you. All those who had gathered to celebrate your crucifixion… nobody comes for the resurrection. Then you work it out, it is your problem. And everybody must have noticed: all the old stories end up with the marriage; they don’t go any further. All the old stories say, “They got married and lived in happiness afterwards” — that is the finishing touch, as if both have died — because to get into what happens after marriage, the intricate and complex problems, is dangerous.
In India, or anywhere else, tragedy in the movies or in the novels is loved more than comedy. Comedy seems to be not related to life at all, but tragedy — that is everybody’s experience. Everybody knows the taste of it.
Enlightenment, first as a glimpse, has to be protected from all your miserable habits, old patterns of behavior, unconscious ways of doing things like a robot. This is what cultivation is. You are fighting against a very long past which has known only a dark night, not even a star. And suddenly you have come to have a glimpse of the dawn, and heard the songs of the birds, and smelled the fragrance of the opening flowers. In the first place, you cannot believe that this can be true — perhaps you are dreaming. Your whole experience is of a dark night; you have never thought that this dark night was going to end at any time. It seems to become darker and darker and darker. You have never understood the logic, that the darker the night becomes, the closer comes the dawn. But the dawn is unbelievable when it comes for the first time.
And the dawn I am talking about, and Isan is talking about, is not something outside you. All your patterns, old habits, are also inside. They will try to destroy the new inside that is growing, and is fragile, and your old habits are like stones, hard and heavy. The fight is between a rose and a stone. It is a difficult problem to protect the rose against all the rocks that you have grown in the past.
To experience the first glimpse is not very difficult. The real difficulty begins after the glimpse: How to save it? How to make it so true, and so deeply rooted, and so strong, that nothing can destroy it, that no doubt can arise about it, that its truth becomes self-evident? You have to live it; that is the only way to cultivate it.
How have you cultivated your habits? Just by living them. If you have not lived a certain habit, you cannot see why somebody else cannot leave it. You laugh at chewing gum because you have not become habituated to it; you laugh about smoking because you have not become habituated to it; or alcohol… each goes deeper, transforms your chemistry and biology, becomes a deep hunger in you. In spite of you, you have to drink alcohol; you don’t want to, but what to do? When the time comes the urge is so strong, every cell of your body is asking for it. And you think, “Perhaps one time more will not do much harm.”
But this goes on for years — “one time more.” But the next time also, the same situation will arise. One needs to have courage to cut any habit with a sword, in a single blow. And whatever the withdrawal symptoms, it is better to suffer them for two or three weeks than to be defeated by your habits.
A man who is not a master of his own habits cannot remain enlightened. Even if he is fortunate enough to have a glimpse, that glimpse will make him even more miserable, because now he knows what is possible. Now he knows where he can reach, now he knows what is his potential. But he has to live in the darkness of his old habits and he cannot get out of the pattern.
Cultivation is the only way. Don’t think of enlightenment just as an inner experience. In the beginning it is an inner experience — then slowly bring it into your outer life. That’s what I have been telling you every day, that whatever you experience, don’t think the work is finished. The experience that happens in meditation has to be present in your day-to-day affairs.
Whether you are a housewife cooking, or you are working in an office, or in a shop — any kind of life you are living, your meditation has to be staying alert in every activity. This is what cultivation is. The more you live it, the more it becomes a normal experience; the more you live it, the less is the possibility of it being taken away by old habits. They will come like floods, but you have to remember one thing: that a small flame of a candle is enough to destroy the darkness of millions of years. The darkness cannot say to the candle, “You are too small, don’t be foolish; against a darkness millions of years old you are trying to fight? You have some nerve!”
Nothing of that kind of dialogue ever happens. The small flame… and the darkness disappears, however old. Your glimpse of first enlightenment — in Japan they call it satori — is strong. It may be fragile, it may be new. It will be difficult to protect it, but it has a strength of its own. If you support it totally, it is going to take over your whole being. Satori is going to become samadhi.
Satori is the first glimpse of samadhi, and samadhi is when your whole being is afire. You don’t have to remember, you are it. But this is possible only if you cultivate it in all your day-to-day affairs.
ISAN RESPONDED THAT IT WAS NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE “INERTIA OF HABIT.” The cultivation in your day-to-day life is needed because of the inertia of habit.
HE THEN WENT ON TO SAY: “WHAT YOU HEAR MUST FIRST BE ACCEPTED BY YOUR REASON.”
Whatever you have seen inside, first you should make it part of your reason. It should not be put aside as an irrational, absurd episode. Isan is saying that if you think about it as irrational, doubts are bound to arise. So the first thing is that you should make it in tune, in synchronicity with your rationality. You will not be able to protect something absurd — and in fact it is absurd. The very experience is beyond reason; it happens when there is no mind.
So the first cultivation is to bring it closer to the mind. First you have made every effort to go away from the mind — now bring your enlightenment closer to the mind. Make it acceptable to the mind so that the mind becomes a friend rather than an enemy in the long fight between your inertia and enlightenment. Now, make the mind your ally.
WHAT YOU HEAR MUST FIRST BE ACCEPTED BY YOUR REASON; AND WHEN YOUR RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS DEEPENED AND SUBTILIZED IN AN INEFFABLE WAY, YOUR MIND WILL, OF ITS OWN SPONTANEITY, BECOME COMPREHENSIVE AND BRIGHT, NEVER TO RELAPSE INTO THE STATE OF DOUBT AND DELUSION.
A very practical and scientific man — nobody else has said it so clearly. The first experience is beyond mind. Now, the problem is that mind will try to create all kinds of doubts. Mind is full of your habits, and your new enlightenment is like a stranger who has suddenly arrived with new habits, with new directions, with a new lifestyle — it wants to change everything in you. Obviously, your old personality and your old mind are going to give a good fight.
Isan shows a tremendous pragmatic insight. He says, the best way to avoid the fight is to bring the enlightenment closer to your reason. How can you bring it closer to your reason? If you start living according to your enlightenment, the mind at first will be unwilling, reluctant, resistant — but soon it will see that the way of enlightenment is far superior to the old, unconscious lifestyle. Mind is intelligent enough to recognize this. But this recognition will be possible only if the mind can see it working, can see that enlightenment works better in love, in friendship, in life — that everywhere it brings a better result. The mind will soon be willing to accept it as a better way of life.
Once mind accepts enlightenment as a better way of life, you have destroyed the greatest enemy. Then mind also starts using the insights of enlightenment and is willing to change itself. Once the mind is convinced that enlightenment gives you a better life, a more refined, graceful life, a more blissful life… that it changes everything, that it makes your touch a golden touch, that whatever you touch becomes gold… mind is intelligent enough to see, and to choose. Which is better: the old unconscious life, or the new conscious life?
This is the only way of making a RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING DEEPENED AND SUBTILIZED IN AN INEFFABLE WAY, so YOUR MIND WILL, OF ITS OWN SPONTANEITY, BECOME COMPREHENSIVE AND BRIGHT.
If the mind accepts rather than fighting, if it accepts a friendship with enlightenment, it will be filled with light, with more joy, with more blissfulness, with more ecstasy. It will be flooded with so many treasures that it cannot fight against enlightenment.
Inside you there is going to be a fight, finally: to choose the path of light, or to remain on the path of darkness. There is a point of departure. Mind has to be allowed to have a chance to see how enlightenment functions in transforming your actions, your being, how it brings more joy to life, more songs to life, more flowers to life, more dances to life. That is the only argument to persuade the mind to accept that enlightenment has a tremendous value. There is no need to fight; a friendship is valuable. Once mind has become friendly to the stranger, you can be comfortable and at ease. There is going to be no fight anymore. Mind itself will bring more and more of enlightenment into functioning; this will become its own work.
HOWEVER NUMEROUS AND VARIOUS THE SUBTLE TEACHINGS ARE, YOU KNOW INTUITIVELY HOW TO APPLY THEM — IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OCCASION.
Once mind is a friend to your enlightenment, once it has seen the glory and the splendor in becoming friendly — because in becoming friendly that splendor and glory is reflected in the mind too — your intelligence will grow. Everything in you will start moving to a higher point. Once this synchronicity has happened, then mind knows intuitively how to respond to any occasion in accordance with enlightenment. Remember always one thing, that you will choose the better.
I have heard about a beggar who was the laughingstock of a whole village. The village was a tourist center because of its very ancient ruins, palaces, forts. And that beggar was also one of the special attractions — the guides who used to take the tourists around would always take them to see the beggar, too.
They would say, “You will have to see this strange phenomenon: you just show him a rupee and a paisa, one in each hand, and tell him, `You can choose either.'”
They said, “But we don’t see… what is the miracle in that?”
The guide would say, “You try it! You will see the miracle.”
So people tried — the beggar would always choose the paisa. And then everybody would laugh, and they would say, “Strange! — can’t this beggar understand that he is choosing a paisa against a rupee?” Then others would take the chance, and that was the beggar’s whole work during the day, to choose the paisa against the rupee.
One day a very curious man saw all this happening. He remained behind after the tourists were gone; he went to the beggar and he said, “I can see that you are not an idiot. You are very intelligent. But why do you choose the paisa?”
He said, “Because of my intelligence! Once I choose the rupee, the game will stop. The game is continuing every day, for years….”
Then the man became aware of the greatness of his intelligence. “He is right: if he chooses the rupee, then the game is finished. Then the guide will not bring anybody, and nobody will try to test his intelligence. They enjoy…” And the beggar said, “I also enjoy their stupidity! My daily income is nearabout ten to twelve rupees average. But it is because I continue to choose something which nobody expects. Even the retarded person will choose the rupee — but because I am doing something absurd, they laugh and they enjoy. I also laugh, but I don’t show it. I laugh when everybody is gone.”
Whatever mind you have — it is capable to see the fact that enlightenment brings a tremendous treasure to all your actions, a beauty to whatever you do, a joy that remains like an aroma around you. The mind is absolutely capable of understanding this. And once the mind has understood it, it is no longer an enemy; it dissolves itself into the tremendous phenomenon of enlightenment. That is the right action on the part of the mind, but it can happen only in a certain way: you have to give the mind a chance to see the effects of enlightenment.
IN THIS WAY ONLY WILL YOU BE QUALIFIED TO SIT IN THE CHAIR AND WEAR YOUR ROBE AS A MASTER OF THE TRUE ART OF LIVING. TO SUM UP, IT IS OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE TO KNOW THAT ULTIMATE REALITY, OR THE BEDROCK OF REASON, DOES NOT ADMIT OF A SINGLE SPECK OF DUST, WHILE IN INNUMERABLE DOORS AND PATHS OF ACTION NOT A SINGLE LAW OR THING IS TO BE ABANDONED.
A man of enlightenment who has come to an agreement with the mind and the body… which happens almost simultaneously, because the body follows the mind. As the mind accepts enlightenment, the body accepts it also — it happens simultaneously. Once it has happened, “There is not a single thing,” Isan says, “to be abandoned in life.”
You can transform anything you want, but the idea of abandoning things is of the old mind, of the escapist, so-called religious people — “Abandon this, abandon that; abandon the whole of life….” That is not a very courageous way; that is the way of a coward. And all the religions have been teaching the way of the coward.
I teach you the way of the courageous, the way of the lion. Remain in the world. Don’t abandon anything, transform it. If something is poisonous, you don’t have to drop it; it will drop the moment you understand that it is poisonous. You will not have to make any effort. You will not abandon it; it will simply be dropped without any effort, and your life becomes more and more simple.
THE MOUNTAIN RANGE,
THE WATER, THE STONES,
ALL ARE STRANGE AND RARE.
THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE, AS WE KNOW,
BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE LIKE IT.
I will have to repeat it:
THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE, AS WE KNOW,
BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE LIKE IT.
THE UPPER WORLD, THE LOWER WORLD,
ORIGINALLY ARE ONE THING.
THERE IS NOT A BIT OF DUST;
THERE IS ONLY THIS STILL AND FULL
If you are enlightened, then there is no duality of this world and that world, of a lower world and a higher world, of a material world and a sacred and holy world. In the moment of perfect and full enlightenment, THERE IS NOT A BIT OF DUST. The mirror is so clean it reflects the whole in its totality. You become the truth, you become the beauty, you become the divine. There is not anything other than your vaster self. You lose your smaller self into the oceanic self, into the self which is cosmic. Who is there to abandon what? One simply enters into the dance and disappears.
I have just remembered an old Chinese Zen story. I have loved it so much that each time I remember it I rejoice it immensely.
The emperor of China was a very great painter; he loved painting, and he used to call other painters to the palace every year to have an exhibition. When he had become very old, he declared, at one annual function, “Now I am very old and I want to see the most perfect painting in the world. I will provide space in the palace to the painter, and whatever he needs…”
So a few painters who thought they could create such a painting stayed in the palace. Somebody completed his painting in one month and brought it to the emperor. He had done well, but it was not the most perfect.
By and by three years passed, and only one painter remained. For three years he had been painting — and he was not painting on canvas; he was painting on the wall of the palace where his room was allotted to him.
He had painted a beautiful forest… and a moonlit night, a small river, and a very small footpath going round and round around the trees and then disappearing in the forest.
After three years he came to the emperor and said, “Now you can come. Whatever I can do I have done. I think it is the most perfect painting in the world. So I invite Your Honor to come, and I don’t ask any reward — these three years were the most precious that I have lived. Just your seeing it is enough.”
All the other painters had been painting for reward, and when you are painting out of some motivation, for some reward, your painting cannot be perfect. Your motivation will be the dust.
This painter said, “I am not at all interested in any reward; you have already given it to me. These three years I have lived such a beautiful life, day and night; nothing could be more than you have given me. Now just look at the painting so that I can go back home. My children, my wife, may be waiting for me.”
The emperor went with him. Certainly this painter had done the greatest job. He became so interested that he asked the painter, “Where does this small path go, finally?”
The painter said, “I have never gone on it but if you are willing to come with me, we can go and see where it leads. This question has arisen in me also many times, `Where does this small path lead?'”
So the painter and the emperor both entered the path and disappeared behind the trees, and nothing has been heard about them since.
This story has always made me immensely happy. There is no returning from perfection, there is no going back. Perfection takes you and you disappear.
Maneesha has asked:
OUR BELOVED MASTER,
IS THERE ANY RELATION BETWEEN AWARENESS AND THE INSTINCTIVE ALERTNESS MAN ONCE HAD TO RELY ON FOR HIS SURVIVAL?
There is a certain relationship. There is a physical, biological, instinctive wisdom. You are not aware of it, that your body is doing miracles every moment….
If for just six minutes a certain amount of oxygen does not reach the brain, the mind will dissolve. Those cells depend on oxygen. The body, waking or asleep, is continuously supplying that much oxygen, neither more nor less. Where the blood is needed, how much of it is needed — the body is working it out, it is not dependent on you. How to transform your food into blood, into flesh, into bones, into nerves — the body knows all the secrets.
Even our scientists are still far behind. To change bread into blood will be thought a great miracle! Jesus only changed water into wine, and it became a great miracle, and your body is changing thousands of things. What kinds of vitamins have to reach to certain places in the body — the body does not ask you, it does not bother you at all. It has its own wisdom, and you should be respectful of this great wisdom.
Just as the body has its own wisdom — it is called instinct — your soul has its own wisdom. It is called intuition. Your mind is a borrowed thing; it has nothing like instinct or intuition. It is just a computer which goes on collecting all kinds of information. But it has tremendous power over you because it has all that you know. If it is erased you will be simply dumb, not knowing who you are, where you are going — for what? What is the business?
Mind functions according to the knowledge it has gathered: it is a borrowed thing in you. The body functions according to nature — and your consciousness functions according to nature. In the middle of these two is the mind, which functions as a computer. It fills a great need. As a servant it is good; as a master it is dangerous.
Once the intuitiveness of your consciousness has started functioning, the mind immediately recognizes who is the master. Once it recognizes the master, it will be a very good servant, very efficient. Because it is only a mechanism, it can do miracles, but it needs a master to guide it. Without the master the mind starts thinking itself to be the master, and that creates problems. The mind is not a master. It has not even any natural wisdom of its own. Even the body is in a far better situation.
You have to bring enlightenment to your consciousness, and make it evident to the mind that it is a far better way of living. The body is always functioning naturally; only the mind sometimes tries to master the body. That’s what all the religions have been telling you. All the scriptures are full of teachings on how to force the body into a certain discipline. Celibacy is a mind idea, the body knows nothing of it. And the mind cannot manage it, so the body goes into a repression, functions abnormally, becomes perverted. The body is very innocent. It is the mind — the priest, the philosopher, the educator — which tries to interfere in everything.
The enlightened man does not interfere, does not allow the mind to interfere in the body. You become a solid pillar of wisdom. Your body is already in tune with nature, and your mind has stopped interrupting. It has also fallen in tune with your higher consciousness, your enlightenment. Your whole being becomes a pure pillar of light.
This is the function of the whole Zen experiment on man: to turn him into a single whole, a pillar of wisdom.
Before you all become pillars of wisdom, a little foolishness for poor Sardar Gurudayal Singh — just for his sake. He is again sitting there with that rainbow turban. Where did he get it? (THE MASTER TURNS IN SARDARJI’S DIRECTION AND CHUCKLES….) Yeah, that’s great. That’s great.
Maureen and Peggy, the wives of Paddy and Sean, are sitting in the Dainty Dandelion pub drinking wine coolers, when Maureen shakes her head and moans, “My husband is so ugly that if I want to make love to him, I have to put a bag over his head.”
“That’s nothing,” says Peggy. “My husband is so ugly that when he was born, the doctor slapped his mother!”
Harold the Hippie is sitting around in his pad smoking a few dozen reefers and grooving to the television program “Daffy Duck” when the phone rings.
“Hullo,” says Harold, completely stoned.
“This is the overseas international operator,” says the voice on the other end. “I’ve got a long-distance, collect call from Mabel Beeks — will you accept the charges?”
“Wow, man!” says Harold, puffing madly on his reefer. “This sounds like a bad connection — Mabel who?”
“Mabel Beeks! Mabel Beeks!” shouts the operator.
“Ah, no, man,” replies Harold, his eyes rolling around in his head. “Mabel is not here.”
“No! No!” screams the operator. “Mabel Beeks is here! This is a long-distance call from Mabel Beeks…!”
“Really?” says Harold, completely confused. “Where the hell is Mabel Beeks?”
“No!” shouts the voice. “This is Mabel Beeks!”
“Hey, sorry,” says Harold. “Mabel’s not here.”
“No! You idiot! This is Mabel Beeks!” cries the operator.
Then Mabel Beeks herself interrupts and says, “Never mind, operator. Let me try. Hello, this is Mabel Beeks — is June there?”
“June?” cries Harold, scratching his head, and looking out the window. “I don’t know where you are, but here it is still November!”
Big Leroy and Ruby get married and go to the Humping Hippo Honeymoon Hotel in Mexico. Ruby is a virgin and she is very worried about the size of Big Leroy’s machinery.
“Don’t worry, baby,” comforts Leroy. “I will just show it to you a bit at a time, so it doesn’t scare you.”
“Okay, precious,” says Ruby, shyly. “Now you go outside and wait in the hallway, while I get undressed and ready for bed.”
A few minutes later, Ruby is tucked under the sheets in the bridal bed. “Come on in honey!” she cries nervously. “I’m ready!”
“Now, sweetheart,” says Big Leroy, from the hallway, “before I come in, I’m going to poke my prick around the bedroom door, bit by bit, just so you can get used to the idea.”
Leroy pushes the head of his machinery inside the doorway.
“Are you scared, darling?” he asks.
“No, baby,” replies Ruby. “I’m not scared.”
So Leroy pushes another two inches inside the doorway.
“Are you scared now, sugar-pie?” asks Leroy.
“No, honey, I’m not,” replies Ruby, wide-eyed.
Then Leroy pushes another six inches through the open doorway.
“Are you scared now, sweetie?” he asks.
“No, baby-cake,” replies Ruby, “I’m not scared. You can come to bed now!”
“Okay, then!” cries Leroy, “I’m coming up the stairs!”
Be silent. Close your eyes, feel your body to be frozen, completely frozen.
Now look inwards. You have to reach to the center of your being. Collect all your consciousness, your whole life energy, like a spear piercing towards the center of your being.
At the very center you are a buddha. Your only quality at the center is witnessing, watching, awareness.
As your insight deepens, suddenly the whole universe starts rejoicing with you because your center is also the center of the whole cosmos. At your very center you are a buddha. And from this moment onwards you have to persuade the buddha to come to your daily activities — not remain hidden inside, but come to the surface, to the circumference, to actions, to words, to silences….
To know the buddha is to know your eternal being; to know the buddha is to know your disappearance. Here you disappear — and suddenly the buddha appears.
Everyone is pregnant with the buddha.
This silence, this tremendously beautiful serenity… you are fortunate to be here. Nowhere else in the world are thousands of people trying to discover their hidden splendor.
To make this golden space more clear to you,
Relax. But remain a witness. The body is lying there as an object, the mind is there as an object. You are the witness. You are neither the mind, nor the body. You are a pure consciousness. This pure consciousness we have been calling the buddha. The buddha is only a symbol.
So many flowers have blossomed, so much fragrance… all boundaries have disappeared and the Buddha Auditorium has become a lake of consciousnesses without any ripples. You have to bring all this fragrance with you, all these flowers with you.
Now I have brought the Buddha statue, just in front of the Buddha Auditorium. He is waiting there. When you pass by, remember: he was also one day just a human being, as you are. Pay your respects; pay your gratitude, because this man alone introduced the world to a new dimension — of beautitude, of truth, of dignity. This man alone declared that man is God, and other than man there is no god. This was the greatest revolutionary statement ever made.