…. Paint: paint pictures which can become objects of meditation, paint pictures of the inner sky of buddhas. The modern painting is pathological. If you look at Picasso’s paintings you cannot look long, you will start feeling uneasy. You cannot have Picasso paintings in your bedroom, because then you will have nightmares. If you meditate on a Picasso painting long enough you will go mad, because those paintings are out of Picasso’s madness.
Go to Ajanta, Ellora, Khajuraho, Konarak, and you will see a totally different world of creativity. Looking at the statue of a buddha, something in you starts falling in tune. Sitting silently with a buddha statue, you start becoming silent. The very posture, the very shape, the face, the closed eyes, the silence that surrounds a marble statue will help you to get connected with your own inner sources of silence.
Gurdjieff used to say that there are two kinds of art. One he used to call objective art, and the other he used to call subjective art. Subjective art is absolutely private, personal. Picasso’s art is subjective art; he is simply painting something without any vision for the person who will see it, without any idea of the person who will look at it. He is simply pouring out his own inner illness; it is helpful for himself, it is therapeutic.
I am not saying that Picasso should stop painting, because if he stops painting he is bound to go mad. It is painting that is keeping him sane; his painting is like vomiting. When you have eaten something wrong, when you have a food poisoning, vomiting is the most healthy way to throw the toxins, the poisons, outside the system; it will help. Picasso’s paintings are like vomiting. He is suffering from many illnesses, all the illness that humanity is suffering from. He simply represents humanity, he is very representative.
He represents the whole madness that is happening in millions of people. He is a sensitive soul; he has become so attuned with the pathology of mankind that it has become his own pathology. Hence the appeal of his paintings, otherwise they are ugly. Hence his great name — because he deserves it, he represents the age. This is Picasso’s age: what you cannot say about yourself, he has said it. What you cannot pour out of yourself, he has poured it on the canvas. But it is a subjective phenomenon. It is therapeutic to him, but it is dangerous to everybody else.
The ancient art was not only art; it was, deep down, mysticism. Deep down, it was out of meditation. It was objective, in Gurdjieff’s terminology. It was made so that if somebody meditates over it, he starts falling into those depths where God lives.
Khajuraho or Konarak — if you meditate there, you will know what the Tantra masters were doing. They were creating in stone something that is felt in the ultimate orgasmic joy. It was the most difficult thing to do, to bring ecstasy into the stone. And if the stone can show the ecstasy, then everybody can move into that ecstasy easily.
But people who go to Khajuraho are foolish people. They look either at Khajuraho sculpture as obscene — then they miss the whole point, then they are seeing something which is within their own unconscious; or they are too moralistic — then they don’t meditate on any statues, they are in a hurry to get out of the temple somehow, they just throw glances.
Khajuraho sculpture is not just to see, it is for meditation. Sit silently and meditate for hours. If one goes to Khajuraho, one should live at least for three months there, so he can meditate on each possible inner posture of orgasmic joy. And then, slowly slowly, the at-onement, slowly slowly, the harmony; then suddenly you are transported into another world — the world of those mystics who created this temple. This is objective art.
So too is the Taj Mahal. On a fullmoon night, if you sit silently by the side of it, not being bothered about the history of the Taj Mahal and who created it and why — those are all nonsense, irrelevant facts, they don’t matter: Shah Jahan and his beloved, and his memory of his beloved, he created it…. Don’t be bothered by the guides; tip them before they start torturing you, and get rid of them!
Shah Jahan has nothing to do with the Taj Mahal, in fact. Yes, he created it, he created it as a memorial for his wife, but he is not the essential source of it. The essential source is in the Sufi way of life, it is in Sufism. Basically it was created by Sufi masters; Shah Jahan was just instrumental. The Sufi masters have created something of immense value. If you silently sit in the full moon night just looking at the Taj Mahal, sometimes with open eyes and sometimes with closed eyes, slowly slowly you will feel something that you have never felt before. Sufis called it zikr, remembrance of God.
The beauty of the Taj Mahal will remind you of those realms from where all beauty, all benediction comes. You will become attuned with the Sufi way of remembering God: beauty is God.
BOOK of Wisdom, chapter 24, Q 1
WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT MODERN ART?
Asang, the first thing is, it is not art. For the first time something exists in the name of art which is not art at all. It is more a therapy than an art. Look at the modern paintings and you will be convinced of what I am saying. The painters must be insane; they have poured their insanity on the canvas. It helps them because it releases some tensions inside their being. It is a catharsis, but it is not art. It is therapy through art, but not art itself.
If Picasso is prevented from painting, he will go mad. Vincent van Gogh went mad before he committed suicide. And I have been looking into his life deeply and my feeling is he went mad because he could not paint as much as he wanted. He had no money to paint. His brother was giving him money enough just to survive, and he was not eating for four days per week. He would eat only for three days and four days he will fast to save money to paint. How long can you do that? But painting was more important for him than food — and it ended in madness. He could not paint as much as he wanted, and when he saw that there was no possibility to paint anymore — the brother is tired, the family is tired and nobody wants to help him and nobody wants to purchase his paintings — he committed suicide.
The same would be the case with Picasso if he was prevented from painting: he would go mad or he would commit suicide. Suicide is the ultimate in insanity. But his paintings are a great help, a great relaxation.
And it is not only so with painting; it is so with poetry, music, dance. Everything modern is a little crazy because modern man is a little crazy, off the center.
Gurdjieff has divided art into two categories. The modern art he calls subjective art. The ancient art — the real art — the people who made the pyramids, the people who made the Taj Mahal, the people who made the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, they were of a totally different kind. He calls that art objective art. Subjective art is like vomiting. You are feeling sick, nauseous; a good vomit helps you to feel good. The poison is thrown out, you feel relieved. It is good for you, but not good for others.
Now, in the name of modern painting, you are hanging vomited, nauseous, sickening things in your rooms. In the name of modern music you are simply getting into crazier spaces within you. It is subjective art.
Objective art means something that helps you to become centered, that helps you to become healthy and whole. Watching the Taj Mahal in the full moon, you will fall into a very meditative space. Looking at the statue of Buddha, just sitting silently with the statue of the Buddha, something in you will become silent, something in you will become still, something in you will become buddhalike. It is objective art, it has tremendous significance.
But objective art has disappeared from the world because mystics have disappeared from the world. Objective art is possible only when somebody has attained to a higher plane of being; it is created by those who have reached the peak. They can see the peak and they can see the valley both. They can see the height of humanity, the beauty of humanity, and the sickness and the ugliness of humanity too. They can see deep down in the dark valleys where people are crawling and they can see the sunlit peaks. They can manage to create some devices which will help the people who are crawling in the darkness to reach to the sunlit peaks. Their art will be just a device for your inner growth, for maturity.
Modern art is childish — not childlike, remember, childish; not innocent but stupid, insane, pathological. We have to get rid of this trend. We have to create a new kind of art, a new kind of creativity. We have to bring to the world again what Gurdjieff calls objective art.
The farmer was looking at one of those modern, abstract paintings. “It is a perfect picture of those fellows in New Delhi,” he said. “No matter which way you look at it, it does not make sense.”
But the farmer is saying something which Picasso himself has said. Picasso has said, “The world today does not make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
If the world today does not make sense, that means more pictures, more music, more poetry is needed that makes sense — to help humanity to come out of this absurd state. That was the function of objective art: to help you come out of your absurd state. But Picasso says, “The world today does not make sense…” as if it was making sense in the past. It has never made any sense; the world has always been the same. But he finds a rationalization. He is saying, “If the world itself makes no sense, why should I paint pictures that do?”
If you ask me, that should be precisely the reason to make pictures that DO make sense. Otherwise, how is the world going to be helped? It needs music, it needs poetry, it needs dance. It needs paintings which can help it to rise above its misery, its schizophrenia, its neurosis, its psychosis.
But Picasso himself is only a representative of the neurotic mind. Picasso became so famous for the simple reason that he represented us very clearly.
The marriage broker introduced a really ugly girl to a young man. The victim protested that the lady had misplaced eyes, a broken nose and a deformed face.
“Ah,” said the marriage broker, “it is apparent that you do not like Picasso.”
Looking at Picasso’s paintings, have you not felt it? Everything is deformed, misplaced.
I have heard that a very rich lady wanted a portrait of herself done by Picasso. He agreed for a fantastic sum. The lady was ready to pay. Six months he took to make the portrait.
When the portrait was ready, the lady looked at it and said, “Everything is okay; I just don’t like the nose. You will have to improve it.”
Picasso looked at the lady, then he looked at the painting and he said, “It is impossible.”
The lady said, “Why? I am ready to pay. If you want more money, I am ready to pay.”
Picasso said, “It is not a question of money. I don’t know where the nose is.”
His paintings are nightmarish. And it is not only Picasso; Picasso simply symbolizes the whole of contemporary art. He is the most representative modern artist. He is right, in a sense, because the world makes no sense.
The world has never made any sense, but there have been people who created such art that it helped people to find some sense in a senseless world. And that finding of sense helps you tremendously to become centered.
“It is terrible to see men looking like girls, with long hair and all. You can’t tell the difference. I was sitting in a restaurant when a girl came in. I turned to the person at the next table and said, ‘Isn’t it terrible how girls look like boys these days?'”
“That’s my son,” she said, pointing to the girl.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were the mother.”
“I’m not,” the neighbor said indignantly. “I’m the father!”
Things are topsy-turvy. Things are becoming more and more topsy-turvy. The world seems to be less a cosmos now and more a chaos.
In the ancient philosophies, cosmology was one of the most important things to be discussed. Now there seems to be no cosmos, no cosmology. The whole world seems to be in a chaos, as if all is accidental. Nothing seems to be essential, intrinsically valuable; everything seems to be just happening as an accident. And this is reflected in everything. It is reflected in art, it is reflected in science, it is reflected even in religion.
We need again a cosmology. I know the world IS a chaos; that is a challenge for human consciousness to create a cosmos out of it. It is a tremendously valuable opportunity to create a cosmos. Just to say that it is a chaos, remain with it as it is, is to fall below human dignity; it is not accepting the challenge. It is really a great challenge to change yourself AND the world. It IS a puzzle, but it is a puzzle only if you have already concluded that there can be no meaning at all; otherwise it is a mystery, not a puzzle.
A mystery may not have any meaning, but it has significance. And there is a difference between meaning and significance — and significance is far more meaningful than meaning itself; significance is far more important. What meaning is there in a roseflower? — but significance certainly is there. Just think of a world without roses. It will be a poor world; some significance will be lost. What significance is there when you hear the sound of running water? Have you not felt some significance? Yes, meaning you cannot prove.
Meaning seems to be imposed by the mind upon existence; significance seems to be part of existence itself. We have lost contact with the language that can understand significance; we only understand meaning. Meaning is intellectual, significance is existential. There is no meaning in love, but great significance; no meaning in God, but great significance; no meaning in meditation, but great significance, great splendor.
I would like to say to my sannyasins, Asang, that my sannyasins have to be not only meditative, they have also to be creative. And they have to create what Gurdjieff calls objective art. They have to create something which can help a wandering humanity to come to a resting place. Yes, much can be created that can give shelter, that can become a deep, deep experience of communion with nature.
That is the real function of art: helping people to commune with nature, because out of that communion arises religion. Science is an intellectual effort to understand nature, art is an emotional effort to understand nature, and religion is an existential effort to COMMUNE with nature. Art is higher than science, religion is higher than art. Science has to be objective; if science is subjective it will be just fiction — science fiction. Art has also to be objective; otherwise it will be fiction. And that’s what modern art is — fiction. And religion has also to be objective, really authentic; otherwise it is speculation, philosophy.
The Dhammapada, Vol. 9 ch 4, q 2
Gurdjieff used to call Eastern art “objective art” and Western art “subjective art.” He means by objective art, art which has some intrinsic quality which can be imparted for thousands of years. The work of art is a code word. After experiencing meditation for thousands of years, meditators have come to recognize that a certain posture, a certain way of sitting, a certain way of the eyes, can create in anybody a synchronicity, a sympathy; some sympathetic note can be stirred by the statue.
In the East a statue is not made for its own sake. It is made as a code language for centuries to follow. Scriptures may disappear, languages may change, words may be interpreted. Doctrines can be wrongly interpreted, commented upon. There may be dispute about theories — and there has been — so they thought there must be a different way than language.
Now what dispute can there be about the statue of a Buddha or Mahavira? There is no question of dispute, there is no need of any commentary. Anybody who is capable of sitting silently by the side of this statue will have a certain thing stirred in his heart. This is objective art.
Picasso’s pictures are subjective art. Seeing a painting by Picasso … he has not considered you, who are going to see the painting. You are not taken into account at all. He has simply vomited his own madness on the canvas. It is simply vomit; hence you cannot go on looking at a Picasso painting for a long time. You will start feeling tense, your stomach will start feeling weird — because Picasso is not concerned with you, what happens to you, he is simply subjective. He is pouring out his own mind, what is happening to him; unconcerned about humanity or anybody. He is going crazy, that’s why his painting is crazy.
Almost all the painters in the West have gone mad once or twice in their life, and have been put into mad asylums. Many of the Western painters have committed suicide. This has never happened in the East. There is not a single instance in ten thousand years that a painter, a musician, a poet, has been mad, or has committed suicide. The reason is, it was art on the surface, but meditation in depth. In the West it is just surface, there is no depth in it. And the surface is without any compassion, without any consideration, without any responsibility.
When you compose music or poetry you are to understand that somebody will be reading it — what effect it is going to have on the person? Will it drive him sane or insane?
From Darkness to Light
Ch 27, q 1
Western society lives under an affliction — their ignorance about meditation; hence, whatever they do is out of the mind.
And mind is not the source of joy.
It can only create agony, but never ecstasy.
Mind is your hell.
So learn to be more meditative, and let your creativity be secondary to your meditativeness. Then you will have a totally different state of being — that of ecstasy; and out of ecstasy, whatever is created has also some flavor of it.
In the West, perhaps Gurdjieff is the only man who has divided art into two sections: the objective art and the subjective art. Subjective art is from the mind, and is out of anguish. Objective art — the Taj Mahal, the caves of Ellora and Ajanta, the temples of Khajuraho — has come from meditative people. Out of their love, out of their silence, they wanted to share; it is their contribution to the world.
The Western artist has lived under a very heavy burden. It is time that he should be made aware that there is something more beyond mind. First reach to that beyond, and then you can create stars; and they will not only be a great joy to you, they will also be a great joy for those who see them.
Just on a full-moon night, sit by the side of the Taj Mahal — don’t do anything, just look at it — and you will find suddenly a silence descending on you, a peace filling your heart. The mind is stopping its constant chattering.
An objective piece of art like the Taj Mahal is not just to be seen, but to be lived — and then you will be in a certain way connected with the creators of that beautiful architecture. It was created by Sufi masters. Its very shape somehow creates within you a new blissful space. But the Western tourist comes with the camera, takes a few shots from here and there and runs away to some other place. He does not know how to appreciate an objective art. One has to meditate on it — it may be that thousands of years have passed between the creator of that piece and you. Suddenly that distance disappears; you become part of that creative joy, of that creative dance.
Milarepa, creativity is secondary, meditation is basic and fundamental; everything should come out of your meditation. Then it will give you a beatitude, your being a new song, and it will help others to experience something of it. It will depend on their meditativeness.
I would like to make one very strange statement: that a great meditator will find more joy, more peace, more blissfulness, than even the creator himself. If a Gautam Buddha sits by the side of the Taj Mahal, then what those Sufi Masters had experienced by creating it will be left far behind. Gautam Buddha will experience something far deeper, far more truthful, far more beautiful.
Whether you create, or you observe an objective piece of creativity, meditation should be the key. Without it, mind can only spread on the canvas its nightmares. Most of the paintings of the great painters like Paul Gaugin or Picasso are almost like vomit. They could not contain their agony and suffering — it was so much they threw it on the canvas to get relief. The real objective art is not a relief; it is not a sickness that you want to get rid of. It is a blissfulness that you want to share. And by sharing, it grows; you have more of it, the more it is shared.
The Golden Future, ch 23 q 3
The fourth question:
WHAT ABOUT ART AND ENLIGHTENMENT?
WHEN YOU ARE CREATING A POEM, A PAINTING SCULPTURE, MUSIC, YOU CAN FEEL VERY CLOSE TO THE MEDITATIVE STATE. YET, IT IS NOT PURE NOTHING-NESS — BECAUSE IT HAS AN END, A GOAL. IT ALSO ENHANCES THE EGO. WON’T YOU ULTIMATELY HAVE TO TRANSCEND THIS KIND OF CREATIVITY?
ART DEPENDS ON YOU. If you are pathological, your art will be pathological. If you are enlightened, your art will be enlightened. The art carries your quality.
If you go to Ajanta, Ellora or Khajuraho, you will find a totally different kind of art. If you listen to classical music, you will find a different quality of art. If you listen to modern music, a different kind of art will be found there. If you see Picasso’s paintings, they ARE pathological. Something is ill — something is ill in Picasso and something is ill in the world that Picasso is going to represent in those works of art.
Never keep a Picasso painting in your bedroom, otherwise you will have nightmares. It is very representative of this society. The society is ill, neurotic, but the art depends on you. The art does not descend out of the blue, it comes through the artist, it brings the artist. It makes the artist visible to the world — that’s what art is. That which is hidden in your heart, you bring it into a painting, sculpture, song, dance. You make it available. You open your heart.
But you can open only that which is there. The dance of a Nijinsky cannot be the dance of a Meera. And the philosophy of Nietszche cannot be the philosophy of a Buddha. It is BOUND to be diametrically opposite.
The pathological art comes out of inner conflict, tension, ego need. It relaxes you like any catharsis relaxes you. If you are angry and you shout and you hit — even if you hit a pillow — that helps. You feel relaxed. Now there are schools in the West which think mad people can be helped through art — therapy through art. And they are right. If a mad person is given painting to do, if he simply paints, it is going to help, because whatsoever he paints will dissipate his madness. It will come out, it will be thrown out. He will feel unburdened and clean.
But ninety-nine percent of art is like that. It is certain that if Picasso is not allowed to paint, he will go mad. It is certain that if Van Gogh is not allowed to paint he will go mad. He did finally.
Art out of madness, art out of neurosis, art out of pathology, is not real art. Gurdjieff used to divide art into two kinds. He used to call this kind of art subjective, and another kind — the Taj Mahal, or Khajuraho — objective, because when you have painted, your work is finished but the painting will live. If you have put in the painting a certain pattern of neurosis, whoever will see the painting and think about the painting and look at the painting will have the feeling of the same kind of illness arising in him — the same nausea, the same sickness. The painting will become a mandala; it will become a yantra. That’s how in the East we have used paintings: as yantras.
A pattern can be created so that if you look at it, it gives silence. A pattern can be created so that if you look at it, it makes you tense. The objective art, Gurdjieff says, is the art which leads people towards silence, towards blissfulness, towards inner harmony, towards grace. And the art that leads people towards pathology, neurosis, perversion, is not really art. You can call it art, but that is a misnomer.
WHAT ABOUT ART AND ENLIGHTENMENT?
Art has nothing to do directly with enlightenment, but enlightenment has much to do with art. When many enlightened people exist in the world, they create a different kind of world, they create different kinds of things, naturally. Zen art has a quality of its own. Watching a Zen painting you become meditative; watching a Zen painting you are transported into another world. Listening to an ancient song like Bhagavad Gita, just listening — even if you don’t understand, even if you don’t know the language, the Sanskrit language — just listening, just the tonality of it, just the timbre of it, just the music, the melody of it, and suddenly you feel great silence arising in you, flowers showering inside you, something opening, something blossoming.
The world needs enlightened art. But that cannot be managed by teaching people how to create more art. That can be managed only if people start moving towards their inner core of being.
Whenever somebody arrives at his innermost core, he is bound to express it. Every enlightened experience is bound to bloom into a thousand and one lotuses. When Buddha became silent, when Buddha arrived home, when he knew who he is, he started speaking — his words are his expression. When Meera arrived, she started dancing — her dance is her expression.
EACH enlightened person w8ill find a way to express that which has happened to him, because is PART of that happening that it has to be expressed. You cannot hold it, it overflows. But to different enlightened persons it will happen in different way. Buddha never danced; that was not his way, that was not HIS thing. He never sang, he never composed poetry — that was not his thing! But if you watched deeply, the way he walks is poetry, the way he sits is poetry, the way he gestures is dance. Even while sitting under his Bodhi Tree, unmoving, there is a great dance inside. Those who have eyes, they will be able to see it. This is his way of expressing.
So different people arriving will express differently. Somebody may become a painter and somebody may become a singer — it depends! It depends on what potentiality you are carrying. Your enlightenment will become a rider on that potentiality and will be expressed through it.
But the basic thing is not art — the basic thing is samadhi. Let there be samadhi first, and then whatsoever you are capable of giving to the world, will be given. Whatsoever you are capable of sharing, will be shared. And there will be no ego arising because you have painted, because you have sung, because you danced — there will be no ego arising. And there will be no motive in it. There will be no tension behind it. If nobody comes to listen to you, you will not miss. You will remain like a flower, blooming in the deep, dark forest — nobody passes by, but the fragrance goes on being released to the winds. It does not matter.
The artist hankers to express. To an enlightened person expression is natural, like breathing; there is no hankering. The artist is continuously fighting to pave his way; the artist is motivated; hence, he lives in great tension. It is not just accidental that artists suffer more than anybody else from mind diseases — too much tension. They have to create, and they have to compete, and they have to prove, and they have to leave a signature in the world — all ego efforts.
An enlightened person lives without any motive. He simply enjoys it the way it is, and whatsoever happens is good. He is blessed and he goes on blessing. If somebody receives it, good; if nobody comes to receive it, that too is good.
Zen The Path of Paradox, vol 3 ch 8, q 4
Then Jung became aware that whenever a person who has been suffering with a divided personality again becomes one, undivided, he starts painting something like a mandala — a circle. That circle, that mandala, shows somehow a deep relationship with his own inner circle that has been regained. Now, inside, he has become a circle, joined together. He has become one. Then in his paintings suddenly circles will erupt. So Jung came to conclude that your inner mind can express certain things in a certain state. If the state of mind changes, then your visions will change, your expressions will change.
Hindu mythological gods are certain visions of a certain state of mind. When you come into that state of mind, visions start happening to you. They will have a similarity. All the world over they will have a similarity. There will be minor differences because of culture, education, training, but deep down there will be a similarity.
For example, the mandala is one of the mythological symbols. It has been recurring all over the world. In old Christian paintings it is there. In old Tibetan paintings it is there. In Chinese, Japanese and Indian art the circle has a fascination. Somehow, when your sight becomes circular, when it becomes a current, joined together, undivided, you begin to see a circle in your vision, in your dreams. That circle represents your reality. In the same way, all symbols represent inner subjective realities. And if a society gives a particular shape to a deity, it becomes very helpful. It becomes very helpful for the seeker because now he can decode many inner visions.
The Supreme Doctrine, ch 15, q 1
This whirling, Sufi whirling, is one of the most ancient techniques, one of the most forceful. It is so deep that even a single experience can make you totally different. You have to whirl with open eyes, just like small children go on twirling, as if your inner being has become a center and your whole body has become like a wheel, moving- a potter’s wheel, moving. You are in the center, but the whole body is moving. Start slowly, clockwise. If somebody feels it is very difficult to move clockwise then anti-clockwise, but the rule is to move clockwise. If a few people are left-handed then they may feel it difficult; they can move anti-clockwise. And almost ten percent of people are left-handed, so if you find that clockwise you feel uneasy, move anti-clockwise; but start with clockwise, then feel. Music will be there, slow, just to help you. In the beginning move very slowly; don’t go fast, but very slowly, enjoying. And then, by and by, go faster. The first fifteen minutes, go slowly; the second fifteen minutes, fast; the third fifteen minutes, faster; the fourth fifteen minutes, just completely mad. And then your total energy, you, become a whirlpool, an energy whirlpool, lost completely in it: no witnessing, no effort to observe. Don’t try to see; be the whirlpool, be the whirling. One hour.
In the beginning you may not be able to stand so long, but remember one thing, don’t stop by yourself, don’t stop the whirling. If you feel it is impossible the body will fall down automatically, but don’t you stop. If you fall down in the middle of the hour there is no problem; the process is complete. But don’t play tricks with yourself, don’t deceive; don’t think that now you are tired so it is better to stop. No, don’t make it a decision on your part. If you are tired, how can you go on? You will fall automatically. So don’t stop yourself; let the whirling itself come to a point where you fall down. When you fall down, fall down on your stomach; and it will be good if your stomach is in direct touch with the earth. Then close the eyes. Lie down on the earth as if lying down on the breast of your mother, a small child lying down on the breast of the mother. Become completely unconscious. And this whirling will help.
Whirling gives intoxication to the body. It is a chemical thing, it gives you intoxication, to be exact. That’s why sometimes you may feel giddy just like a drunkard. What is happening to the drunkard? Hidden behind your ears is a sixth sense, the sense of balance. When you take any drink, any alcoholic thing, any intoxicating drug, it goes directly to the center of balance in the ear and disturbs it. That’s why a drunkard cannot walk, feels dizzy. The same happens in whirling. If you whirl, really, the effect will be the same: you will feel intoxicated, drunk. But enjoy this drunkenness is worth something. This being in a drunken state is what Sufis have been calling ecstasy, masti. In the beginning you may feel giddy, in the beginning sometimes you may feel nausea, but within two, three days, these feelings will disappear and by the fourth day you will feel a new energy in you that you have never known before. Then giddiness will disappear, and just a smooth feeling of drunkenness will be there. So don’t try to be alert about what is happening. Let it happen and become one with the happening.
In the morning, alert; in the afternoon, half alert, half unalert; in the night, completely unalert. The circle is complete.
And then fall down on the ground on your stomach. If anybody feels any sort of pain in the navel center lying down on the ground, then he can turn on the back, otherwise not. If you feel something, a very deep painful sensation in the stomach, then turn on your back, otherwise not. The navel in contact with the earth will give you such a blissful feeling — just the same as once you had, but now you have forgotten, when you were a child lying down on your mother’s breast, completely unaware of any worry, any anxiety, so one with the mother, your heart beating with her heart, your breath in tune with her breath. The same will happen with the earth because earth is the mother. That’s why Hindus have been calling earth the mother and sky the father. Be rooted in it. Feel a merger as if you have dissolved. The body has become one with the earth; the form is there no more. Only earth exists; you are not there. This is what I mean when I say break the cup completely: forget that you are. The earth is, and dissolve in it.
During the one hour of whirling the music will continue. Many will fall before the hour but everybody has to fall by the time the music stops. So if you feel that you are still not in the state of falling then go faster and faster. After forty-five minutes go completely mad, so by the time the hour is complete you have fallen. And the feeling if falling is beautiful, so don’t manipulate it. Fall, and when you have fallen then turn on your stomach, be merged, close your eyes. This merger has to be there for one hour.
So the night meditation will be of two hours, from seven o’clock to nine o’clock. Don’t eat anything before it. At nine o’clock the suggestion will be given to come out of this deep drunkenness, this ecstasy. Even out of it you may not be able to walk correctly, but don’t be disturbed, enjoy it. Then take your food and go to sleep.
A Bird on the Wing, ch 1
Different masters… For example, Jalaluddin Rumi did nothing but whirling. He became enlightened after thirty six hours of continuous whirling, without any stop — non-stop whirling. In fact every child likes to whirl. Parents stop him; they say, “You will fall. You may have a fit or you may get hit by something — don’t do such a thing.” But all children all over the world love whirling, because somehow while the child is whirling he finds his center. Without finding the center you cannot whirl. The body goes on whirling, but the whirling has to happen on a center; so slowly, slowly he becomes aware of the center.
After thirty-six hours of continuous whirling, Rumi became absolutely clear about his center. That was his experience of the ultimate, the fourth. Then his whole life he was not doing anything but teaching whirling to people. It will look absurd to a Buddhist, it will look absurd to any other religion — because, what you can get out of whirling? It is a simple method, the simplest method, but it may suit you or it may not.
For example, for me it does not suit. I cannot sit on a swing, that is enough to create nausea in me. And what to say about sitting myself on a swing? — I cannot see somebody else swinging! That is enough to give me a feeling of nausea. Now, Rumi is not for me. And there may be many people to whom whirling will give nausea, vomiting. That means it is not for them.
We are individually different. And there is no contradiction. One can experience the universal, and yet when the question of expression arises, he has to be individual.
Beyond Psychology, ch 36, q3
You whirl in a Dervish dance. In the beginning you are there. Soon you feel nausea, but that nausea is not only physical, it is deeply spiritual. You start feeling nausea when the moment comes for control to be dropped. When that moment nears, you start feeling nausea. The nausea is that the control is being lost. You feel dizzy; you feel that you may fall down. These are not just physical things — deep inside the ego is feeling as if it is being thrown off the track. The ego is feeling dizzy. It is feeling that if this whirling continues for even a little longer, I will not be able to be there. You start to feel like vomiting. In fact, that vomit is not only physical, just one part is physical, a deeper part is the vomit of the ego. If you continue to feel disturbed, there will be a physical vomiting, but if you don’t bother about it, soon physical vomiting will disappear. And then the real vomit will happen: one day, suddenly, the ego is vomited. Suddenly an ugly phenomenon within you escapes; suddenly the disease from you is thrown out; suddenly you are ego-free. It happens unexpectedly. When it happens for the first time, you cannot even believe it; you cannot believe that, without the ego, you are. There is nobody inside, and you are; and you are so perfect and so beautiful and so blissful — without anybody being there!
The ego has to be thrown off-center, because it has become so deeply rooted in your mind, through many lives. It has usurped the whole being; emptiness has been thrown into the background, into the unconscious, and the ego has usurped the throne. Now the ego has become the king, and it goes on manipulating everything.
The Grass Grows by Itself, ch 3
For example, all over the world, children like to twirl, to whirl, and naturally the parents will stop them: “Don’t do that, you may get dizzy. You may fall, you may hurt yourself.” But all over the world, children enjoy it. And it was from seeing children enjoying whirling that Jalaluddin Rumi got the idea that there must be something… because whenever you see a child whirling, his face changes. A strange grace comes to his face; he starts radiating a certain aura, and when he stops he is so full of joy….
Jalaluddin Rumi tried — in the forest, so nobody makes a laughingstock of him — just to know what these children find in twirling. And he was amazed: he discovered one of the greatest methods of meditation, and for twelve hundred years after him, his school has been a living school. His school is called the Whirling Dervishes; in their temple, that is their prayer, that is their meditation. That is their whole religion. They go on twirling for hours together.
Jalaluddin himself became enlightened after thirty-six hours of continuous, nonstop twirling. And when he was asked, “There is no scripture describing this meditation; how have you found it?” He said, “Just by looking at children. I tried it myself, and I was amazed because the more you twirl, the faster you go, soon you become aware that something deep inside you is absolutely still and unmoving. The whole body is moving and the faster it moves, the more is the contrast between the unmoving and the moving. And the unmoving consciousness within is my soul. That is the center of the cyclone.”
The Hidden Splendor, ch 22, q 1
Alima, the words of Mevlana Rumi are immensely significant. There have been very few people who have moved and transformed as many hearts as Jalaluddin Rumi.
In the world of the Sufis, Mevlana Rumi is the emperor. His words have to be understood not as mere words, but sources of deep silences, echoes of inner and the innermost songs. He is the greatest dancer the world has known. Twelve hundred years have passed since he was alive.
His dance is a special kind of dance. It is a kind of whirling, just the way small children whirl; standing on one spot they go on round and round. And perhaps everywhere in the world small children do that and their elders stop them saying, “You will become dizzy, you will fall, you will hurt yourself,” and, “What is the point of doing it?”
Jalaluddin Rumi made a meditation of whirling. The meditator goes on whirling for hours — as long as the body allows him; he does not stop on his own. When whirling a moment comes that he sees himself utterly still and silent, a center of the cyclone. Around the center the body is moving, but there is a space which remains unmoved; that is his being.
Rumi himself whirled for thirty-six hours continuously and fell, because the body could not whirl anymore. But when he opened his eyes he was another man. Hundreds of people had gathered to see. Many thought he was mad: “What is the point of whirling?”
… Nobody can say this is a prayer; nobody can say this is great dance; nobody can say in any way that this has something to do with religion, spirituality….
But after thirty-six hours when they saw Rumi so luminous, so radiant, so new, so fresh — reborn, in a new consciousness, they could not believe their eyes. Hundreds wept in repentance, because they had thought that he was mad. In fact he was sane and they were mad.
And down these twelve centuries the stream has continued to be alive. There are very few movements of spiritual growth which have lived so long continuously. There are still hundreds of dervishes. `Dervish’ is the Sufi word for sannyas. You cannot believe it unless you experience, that just by whirling you can know yourself. No austerity is needed, no self-torture is needed, but just an experience of your innermost being and you are transported into another plane of existence from the mortal to the immortal. The darkness disappears and there is just eternal light.
Om, Shanti Shanthi Shanthi
Ch 11, q 1
A few people I love immensely. Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is one of them, and the reason I love him is that he was not life-negative, but life-affirmative. And the meditation that he has found and which has continued for seven hundred years among a small stream of mystics was the meditation of a certain kind of dance. His followers are called whirling sufis.
You must have seen small children — they like to whirl; and everybody stops them, because the fear of the parents is that the child may fall, may have a fracture, may get hurt. But in spite of all prohibitions, children love to whirl. And nobody has inquired why children love, all over the world, irrespective of race, nation, religion, why children love to whirl.
Jalaluddin Rumi, seeing children whirl, thought that there must be something that the children feel but they cannot express, and perhaps they are not fully aware what it is. So he tried whirling himself, and he was amazed that if you go on whirling there comes a moment when the center of your being remains static and your whole body, mind, brain, everything, whirls.
And that center which does not whirl, is you, the center of the cyclone. The whirling is almost like a cyclone, but exactly in the middle of the cyclone you will find a point which has not moved at all. Every wheel needs a center on which to turn, and the center has to remain unturning. You see in bicycles, in bullock carts, wherever there is a wheel, there is something in the center which is unmoving.
Once Jalaluddin became aware that you can find the unmoving center of your being, he tried for thirty-six hours non-stop, without eating, without drinking — he was determined to whirl to his absolute capacity, not to hold back anything… unless he falls, he is not going to stop. Thirty-six hours he whirled, a great crowd watched. The crowd went on changing; people had to go to eat and then they came again. People had to do their work and then they came again; thirty-six hours is a long period. And after thirty-six hours he fell down. And people heard a great laughter.
Jalaluddin was laughing loudly, and he said, “You think you have seen me falling, I have also seen myself falling. These thirty-six hours I have not moved a single inch. Now I don’t have to go to Mecca in search of God, I have found him. In the unmoving center of my own being, he is.”
The followers of Rumi don’t have great scriptures, don’t have any rituals, except whirling, and a few beautiful poems by Jalaluddin Rumi, which he used to sing after whirling and falling. He will get up and he will be so drunk — in that drunkenness he will sing a song, and those songs have been collected. That is the only literature the followers of Rumi have.
The Rebellious Spirit, Ch 23, q 2
There is a method, a Sufi method know as dervish dancing. Sufis dance. Their sect, a particular sect of Sufis is know as the whirling dervishes. You might have observed small children whirling, dancing round and round and then getting in a whirl. They get dizzy and their parents will stop them, check them, prevent them: “Stop! You will get dizzy! You may even get nausea!” But small children often like it very much, and the reason is that small children are still not too much in the body. They are entering by and by. Remember this: when a child enters into the womb, he has to adjust; the soul has to adjust with the body. It takes nine months, but still it is not completely adjusted. When the child is born, then by and by the soul adjusts. And small children like whirling. Why? — because when they whirl, they get a deep kick, and in that kick they again feel themselves beyond the body. And that’s a beautiful experience — that’s why they like it.
Studying this whirling of children, Sufis have developed a method, a meditation method — they turn, whirl. If you go to them, they will tell you to dance, and go on in a mad whirl, and remain a witness — as if a wheel is moving, and the axis is there and on the axis, the wheel is moving. The axis is just non-moving, and the wheel moves on — just like a wheel of a cart, the wheel goes on moving. It moves on the axis which is unmoving, non-moving. The axis remains constantly in one position, centered, and the wheel moves on it. Whirl like a wheel, and remember your witness inside as a center. Suddenly you will feel you are the center and the body is just a wheel.
If you can feel this, you are separated — you have become different from the body. You have know that the center and the periphery are different. Once you know this you will be a different man — and this is not knowledge, this is not information; this is a lived experience.
That Art Thou, ch 37
For example, all children in every culture around the world like to whirl. And every parent stops them from whirling and says, “You will fall down.” It is true, there is a possibility they may fall down. But that falling down is not going to harm much.
But why do children like whirling? While the body is whirling, small children can see it whirling. They are no longer identified with it, because it is such a new experience.
With everything they are identified — with walking they are identified, with eating they are identified, with anything they are doing, usually they are identified. This whirling is such an experience that the faster the body moves, whirls, the less is the possibility of their remaining identified.
Soon they are lagging behind; the body is whirling but their being cannot whirl. It stops at a point and starts seeing its own body whirling. Sometimes it can come out of the body too. If the whirling child is not staying at one place but goes on moving — whirling and moving around the place — then his essential self can come out and watch it.
The Transmission of The Lamp, ch 3 q 4
You are not centred, because your knowledge has forced you out of your centring. A child is centred. The moment he starts growing and starts knowing things, he becomes more and more uncentred, goes astray. An old man completely forgets where his centre is.
Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1 ch 11
WHAT IS INTENSITY?
It is important, because it is only through intensity that one arrives. When all your desires, when all your passions, fall and become one flame, it is intensity. When there is only one left inside you and your total being supports that one, it is intensity.
It is exactly what the word says: in tensity. The opposite word is ex tensity: you are spread out, you have a thousand and one desires, many fragmentary desires, one going to the north, one going to the south. You are being pulled apart. You are not one, you are a crowd. And if you are a crowd you will be miserable, if you are a crowd you will never feel any fulfillment. You don’t have any center. Intensity means creating a center in yourself.
There are two words which are significant to understand. One is ‘centrifugal’: it means arrows moving from the center going in different directions, extroversion. Small pieces, small parts of your being flying all over the place, in all directions, in all possible directions: that is centrifugal. That’s how people are — they are centrifugal. Another word is ‘centripetal’: when all the arrows are coming towards the center, when all the fragments are joined together. In the first you are falling apart, you are in a kind of de-centering. In the second you are falling together, a kind of integration arises. You are getting centered, concentrated IN: that is the meaning of intensity.
Sometimes you have known moments, in some danger… suddenly, in a dark night, you are faced with a naked sword, and you will know what intensity is. Suddenly ALL your thought will disappear, the crowd will become one. In that moment you will be one single individual.
The word ‘individual’ means indivisible. You will be undivided, you will be a unity — not only a union but a unity. You will be utterly one. The death facing you has created the intensity.
Or in love sometimes…. You fall in love and there is an intensity. All else becomes irrelevant, peripheral. Only the love is all and the whole of your heart.
The Wisdom of the Sands, vol1, ch 2, q 6
The whole yoga is nothing but centering, moving towards the center, getting rooted there, abiding there. And from there the whole perspective changes. Now still the waves may be there, but they don’t reach you. And now you can see they don’t belong to you, just a conflict on the surface with something foreign. And from the center, when you look, by and by, the conflict ceases. By and by, you relax. By and by, you accept that of course there is strong wind and waves will arise; you are not worried, and when you are not worried even waves can be enjoyed. Nothing is wrong in them. The problem arises because you are also on the surface. You are in a small boat on the surface and strong wind comes and it is tide, and the whole ocean goes mad. Of course, you are worried; you are scared to death. You are in danger. Any moment the waves can throw your small boat; any moment death can occur. What you can do with your small boat? How can you control? If you start fighting with the waves you will be defeated. Fight won’t help. You will have to accept the waves. In fact, if you can accept the waves and let your boat, howsoever small, move with them not against them, then there is no danger.
Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
Vol 3, ch 3
But people have been taught about direction and nobody has been taught about centering. No culture has yet existed which teaches centering, and that’s what is needed. Direction drives people crazy because you lose contact with life. It is unreal — direction is unreal. Direction moves into the future. And life knows no straight line — it knows only circles, life is very circular. The seasons move in a circle, and the stars, and the earth and the moon and the sun and life itself. Birth, youth, old age, death, birth; it goes on moving in a circle, it is a cycle.
So when you start thinking of direction you go against life, you make a line, you become linear, you become one-dimensional — and that’s what madness is. Obsession is one-dimensional: an obsessed person is one who can only move on one line. That’s not natural; that is not close to reality.
So don’t bother about direction — there is no need. Simply think of one thing: when you start feeling energy, just remain centred so that you will have a centre, a hub and the wheel… the wheel can move on the hub, and all its movements are beautiful. It is a pure play of energy.
Life has no goal. It is just leela — a pure play of energy.
So never become goal-directed — never ! We are not going anywhere; we are simply here to delight, to dance, and to enjoy.
This moment is all — the whole existence converges on this moment — we are not going anywhere. All going is wrong. Just being here is right.
Darshan Diaries, The Shadow of the Whip, ch 13