| A MULLA NASRUDDIN STORY...
He was born in Iran, and in Iran his grave is still there. A strange grave, unique in the whole world. There are millions of graves, but nothing like Mulla Nasruddin's grave. On the grave there is standing a closed door with a big lock on it. And the lock...Mulla Nasruddin before dying made all the arrangements. "You put the key with me inside the grave, so nobody can open the door." Even the emperor came to see -- "What nonsense is happening! And this man is thought to be a wise man, of course a little eccentric, but loved by everybody."
The emperor inquired of Nasruddin's disciples, "What is the matter?"
They said, "It is not new. He used to carry this door wherever he went. We asked him, `What is the matter?' He said, `If I take the door with me, nobody can enter into my house. Obviously, everybody enters into the house from the door. So just to protect the house, I carry the door with me.' And before dying he said, `Fix that door on my grave, lock it, and put the key with me. Any time I like I can open the door and just have some fresh air.'"
The emperor said, "All nonsense."
But the emperor also liked the man. The chief disciple said, "There is something in it. He is saying: Don't think that my death is my death. You are putting my body in the grave but I am still alive. My life is eternal."
But he was crazy always. To make this statement, that life is eternal, he has put up this door: "Any moment, if I want to come out, at least I have the key and I don't have to ask anybody's permission. I can open the door, have a little walk, or enjoy around the city. You will not see me, but I will see you."
Mulla Nasruddin was once sent by the emperor of Iran with great gifts to the emperor of India. And Nasruddin praised the emperor of India as the full moon. The rumor reached Iran - there were enemies of Nasruddin, and they said, "You have not chosen the right person to take the message. He has praised the emperor of India as the full moon!"
The emperor said, "Let him come back. He will have to answer; otherwise he will lose his head."
Nasruddin came back. The Indian emperor was very impressed by him, and had given him many presents. The emperor of Iran was very angry and he said, "Nasruddin, your life is at risk!"
Nasruddin said, "Everybody's life is always at risk. Do you think your life is not at risk?"
The emperor said, "Don't discuss philosophy, you have to answer. You called the Indian emperor the `full moon.' It is insulting to me."
Nasruddin said, "You are an idiot; you don't understand the meaning. You are the rising moon, the first-day moon, which is just a small arc, remains for a few moments and disappears. The full moon means the days of decline have come. That Indian emperor was an idiot. He thought I was praising him, but I was simply declaring that `Your time has come. Now there is no more growth, only decline.' And you are an idiot for being angry. You are the rising moon - you have to expand, conquer. You have enough time to become a full moon."
The emperor was very much impressed by the interpretation. Nasruddin's enemies were simply shocked. They had never thought that he would give this interpretation. Nobody ever thought about it; everybody thought that he had been insulting.
Nasruddin is a Sufi mystic, a little crazy, but always tremendously wise. One day he was going to take his disciples to see a rare collection of paintings that had come to the city. Now the question was... He would be riding on his donkey. He asked his disciples, "What to do? If I ride on my donkey in the usual way, then my back will be towards you. That is insulting, and I cannot insult my disciples. If you walk ahead of me, your backs will be towards me. I don't think you will do that insult to me. So the only possible way is, I will ride on the donkey facing you."
The disciples said, "But the whole town will laugh, and you will make us also look stupid... although there is a point in it. But to go anywhere with you is a trouble."
The procession went on through the town. Everybody looked -- what is the matter? Nobody had ever seen anybody riding on a donkey facing backwards. Finally a crowd gathered, and they said, "We will not let you go unless we get the explanation."
Nasruddin said, "The explanation is simple. I don't want to insult my disciples so I cannot have my back towards them. And I don't want to be insulted by my disciples, so they cannot walk ahead of me. They have to walk behind me. Now what do you say - how can it be managed? This is the only way."
People said, "It is crazy, but it is the only way. If keeping somebody at your back is insulting, then certainly you are doing the right thing."
A simple man with utter purity - every act in his life is full of wisdom, but on the surface looks a little crazy. He belongs to the same category as Bodhidharma, as Mahakashyap. But he is a little more eccentric than any of them.
From the emptiness of the heart, it is not necessary that what arises will be understood by people as wisdom. You will be perfectly at ease with it, and those who understand you will be perfectly at ease with you. But in this world to find people who can understand the wisdom of the empty heart is very difficult and rare.
But there is no problem. The man of empty heart does not need any recognition. He is so fulfilled that he may look mad to the whole world, but if it is arising out of his spontaneity, it does not matter. All that matters is that it should not be fake, that it should not be hypocrisy, that it should not be phony. It should be coming out of your heart and its emptiness. Then everything is wise whether people recognize it or not.
Who has recognized Mulla Nasruddin? Very few people. Who has recognized Bodhidharma? Very few people. Who has recognized Mahakashyap suddenly laughing? Only Gautam Buddha. Ten thousand monks were present but nobody could understand this eccentric behavior. But it was arising out of the empty heart, from a clarity of vision. Only another man of the same clarity can understand it.
Maneesha, the wisdom of the empty heart is understandable only to those who have entered into their own emptiness. To others it will remain a puzzle, a craziness, a madness. And there are so many beautiful buddhas - their behavior was absolutely in tune with the emptiness of the heart, but it was not rational. It could not be understood by the so-called intellectual. It was almost impossible to be understood by the crowd.
The Buddha: The Emptiness of the Heart
| DID MULLA NASRUDDIN BECOME ENLIGHTENED?
He must have -- because if he is not enlightened then nobody can be.
Mulla Nasruddin is a Sufi figure, one of the oldest figures of Sufi anecdotes, and he shows whatsoever I have been saying here: that the world is a cosmic joke -- he represents that. He is a very serious joker, and if you can penetrate him and understand him, then many mysteries will be revealed to you.
Mulla Nasruddin illustrates that the world is not a tragedy but a comedy. And the world is a place where if you can learn how to laugh you have learned everything. If your prayer cannot become a deep laughter which comes from all over your being, if your prayer is sad and if you cannot joke with your god, then you are not really religious.
Christians, Jews and Mohammedans are very serious about their god; Hindus are not, they have joked a lot. And that shows how much they believe -- because when you cannot joke with your god you don't believe in him. You feel that through your humor, your joke, he will be insulted. Your belief is shallow, it is not deep enough. Hindus say that the trust is so much that they can laugh; the trust is so much that just by laughing it cannot be broken.
One Buddhist, Bodhidharma, one of the greatest followers of Buddha, used to say to his disciples, "Whenever you take the name of Buddha immediately rinse out your mouth, because this name is dangerous and it makes the mouth impure." Another Buddhist monk, Bokuju, used to tell his disciples, "While meditating, if this fellow Gautam Buddha comes in kill him immediately, because once you allow him then he will cling to you and it will be difficult to be alone."
And they were great followers, they loved Buddha -- but they could laugh. Why? The love was so intimate, so close, that there was no danger that something might be taken wrongly. But Christians have always been afraid, so immediately anything becomes blasphemy -- anything. They cannot take anything humorously, and if you cannot take anything humorously, if you cannot laugh at yourself, at your god, then you are ill, you are not at home, and your god is something to be feared.
In English we have a word, God-fearing, for religious people. A God-fearing person can never be religious, because if you fear God you cannot love him. Love and fear cannot exist together. With fear, hate can exist, love cannot; with fear, anger can exist, love cannot; with fear you can bow down but you cannot surrender; with fear there can be a relationship between a slave and a master but there cannot be a love relationship. Hindus, Buddhists have a totally different attitude, and that attitude is different because they think the whole existence is a cosmic play, you can be playful.
Sufis are very playful; they created Mulla Nasruddin. And Mulla Nasruddin is an alive figure, you can go on adding to him -- I go on adding. If some day he meets me there is bound to be difficulty, because I go on creating around him. To me he is a constantly alive figure, in many ways symbolic -- symbolic of human stupidity. But he knows it and he laughs at it, and whenever he behaves like a stupid man he is just joking at you, at human beings at large.
And he is subtle enough. He will not hit you directly, he hits himself; but if you can penetrate him then you can look at the reality. And sometimes even great scriptures cannot go as deep as a joke can go, because the joke directly touches the heart. A scripture goes into the head, into the intellect; a joke directly touches the heart. Immediately something explodes within you and becomes your smile and your laughter.
Nasruddin must have attained enlightenment, or he is already an enlightened figure, there is no need to attain. I go on using him just to give you a feeling that to me religion is not serious. So I go on mixing Mulla Nasruddin with Mahavira -- which is impossible, poles apart. I go on mixing Mulla Nasruddin with the Upanishads, because he gives a sweetness to the whole serious thing. And nothing is serious, nothing should be serious.
To me, to laugh wholeheartedly is the greatest celebration that can happen to a man -- to laugh wholeheartedly, to become the laughter. Then no meditation is needed, it is enough.
Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi