Dang Dang Doko Dang 06

Sixth Discourse from the series of 10 discourses - Dang Dang Doko Dang by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

The first question:
How can I know if detachment or indifference is growing within?
It is not difficult to know. How do you know when you have a headache, and how do you know when you don’t have a headache? It is simply clear. When you are growing in detachment, you will become healthier, happier; your life will become a life of joy. That is the criterion of all that is good. Joy is the criterion. If you are growing in joy, you are growing, and you are going toward home.
With indifference there is no possibility that joy can grow. In fact, if you have any joy, that will disappear.
Happiness is health, and, to me, religion is basically hedonistic. Hedonism is the very essence of religion. To be happy is all.
So remember, if things are going right, and you are moving in the right direction, each moment will bring more joy, as if you are going toward a beautiful garden. The closer you come, the air will be fresher, cooler, more fragrant. That will be the indication that you are moving in the right direction. If the air becomes less fresh, less cool, less fragrant, then you are moving in the opposite direction.
Existence is made out of joy. That is its very stuff. Joy is the stuff existence is made of. So whenever you are moving toward becoming more existential, you will be becoming more and more full of joy, delight, for no reason at all. If you are moving into detachment, love will grow, joy will grow. Only attachments will drop because attachments bring misery, because attachments bring bondage, because attachments destroy your freedom. But if you are becoming indifferent… Indifference is a pseudo-coin, it looks like detachment, but it only looks like detachment. Nothing will be growing in it. You will simply shrink and die.
So go and see: there are so many monks in the world – Catholic, Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist – watch them. They don’t give a radiant feeling, they don’t have the aura of fragrance, they don’t look more alive than you are; in fact, they look less alive, crippled, paralyzed. Controlled of course, but not in a deeper, inner discipline; controlled but not conscious; following a certain conscience that society has given to them but not yet aware, not yet free, not yet individuals. They live as if they are already in their grave, just waiting to die. Their life becomes morose, monotonous, sad; it is a sort of despair.
Beware. Whenever something goes wrong, there are indicators in your being. Sadness is an indicator, depression is an indicator; joy, celebration is also an indicator. More songs will happen to you if you are moving toward detachment. You will be dancing more, and you will become more loving. Remember, love is not attachment; love knows no attachment, and that which knows attachment is not love. That is possessiveness, domination, clinging, fear, greed; it may be a thousand and one things, but it is not love. In the name of love other things are parading, in the name of love other things are hiding behind, but on the container the label “love” is stuck. Inside you will find many sorts of things, but not love at all.
Watch. If you are attached to a person, are you in love? Or are you afraid of your aloneness, so you cling? Because you cannot be alone, you use this person so as not to be alone. Then you are afraid. If the person dies or moves somewhere else or falls in love with someone else, then you will kill this person, and you will say, “I was so much attached.” Or you may kill yourself, and you will say, “I was so much attached that I cannot live without her or without him.” It is sheer foolishness. It is not love, it is something else. You are afraid of your aloneness, you are not capable of being with yourself, you need somebody to distract you, and you want to possess the other person. You want to use the other person as a means for your own ends. To use another person as a means is violence.
Immanuel Kant has made it one of his fundamentals of moral life, and it is. He used to say that to treat a person as a means is the greatest immoral act there is. It is. Because when you treat another person as a means – for your gratification, for your sexual desire, for your fear, or for something else – when you use another person as a means, you are reducing the other person to be a thing. You are destroying his or her freedom, you are killing his or her soul.
The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom. And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is. If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord. If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you; if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you. That’s how couples go on fighting for domination for their whole life: the man in his own way, the woman in her own way. Both go on struggling. It is a continuous nagging and fighting. And the man thinks that in some ways he controls the woman, and the woman thinks that in some ways she controls the man. Control is not love.
Never treat any person as a means. Treat everybody as an end in himself, in herself. Then you are a religious person. Then you don’t cling, then you are not attached. You love, but your love gives freedom, and when you give freedom to the other, you are free. Only in freedom does your soul grow. You will feel very, very happy.
The world has become a very unhappy thing. Not because the world is an unhappy thing, but because we have done something wrong to it. The same world can become a celebration.
You ask, “How can I know if detachment or indifference is growing within?” If you are feeling happy, if you are feeling happy with whatsoever is growing, more centered, more grounded, more alive than before, then go headlong into it. Then there is no fear. Let happiness be the touchstone, the criterion; nothing else can be the criterion. Whatsoever the scriptures say is not a criterion unless your heart is throbbing with happiness; whatsoever I say cannot be the criterion for you unless your heart is throbbing with happiness.
The moment you were born, a subtle indicator was placed within you. It is part of life that you can always know what is happening, you can always feel whether you are happy or unhappy. Nobody asks how to know whether he is happy or unhappy. Nobody has ever asked. When you are unhappy, you know; when you are happy, you know. Then it is an intrinsic value. You know it, you are born knowing it, so let that intrinsic indicator be used, and it will never falsify your life.
But if you look in the scriptures, then there is danger because for the person who wrote a certain book, it may have been a growth for him, but it may not be a growth for you. He felt happy. Mahavira felt very happy with fasting; Buddha never felt so happy with fasting. So what to do? To whom to listen? Both are perfect beings. If you listen to Buddha, there is a possibility that you will start distorting your own feelings; if you listen to Mahavira, there is the same possibility. Krishna lived in the world, loved many women, enjoyed himself. He was a totally different man, perfectly happy. He was always singing and dancing. He had his own feeling. Maybe his feeling suits you or not.
So never try any outer criterion; never try the outside criterion for your inside, otherwise there is a danger you may falsify your inner mechanism, the intrinsic mechanism. Listen to your heart.
I am here not to give you any criterion but just to make you aware of your own criterion, just to make you aware of your own intrinsic awareness. Feel, and it is so clear that nothing else is needed to help it.

The second question:
When my mind is the cause of my unhappiness, either I don't know how to come out of mind, or I must still enjoy being in my mind, dreams, fantasies.
If the house is on fire and you see the flames of fire, you will escape, and you will know how to escape, you will find a way. When the house is on fire, who worries whether you are getting out of the right door, or you are getting out of the back door, or you are getting out of the window? Who bothers? Once you feel that the house is on fire, you will not even think about how to get out. You will get out first, and then you will think. And then you will wonder how it happened.
Buddha used to say that you ask about techniques because you are not yet aware that the house is on fire.
When you come across a snake on the path, do you ask how to get out of the way? And you may not have ever come across a snake in your whole life. This may be for the first time. And you may never ever have heard anybody talking about how to get out of the way of a snake, but still you will get out of the way; you will jump. You will not sit there and think about what to do, how to do it, whom to consult, where to find a guru. You will not think, you will simply jump.
The questioner says, “When mind is the cause of my unhappiness, either I don’t know how to come out of mind, or I must still enjoy being in my mind, dreams, fantasies. When mind is the cause of my unhappiness…” Still it is not clear to you. You may have heard me saying again and again that mind is the cause of all unhappiness. You have listened to me, you have become like a parrot; now the question arises. But you have not yet felt it. If you have felt that mind is the cause, then you will jump out of it, you will know the way. The way is there, the way has always been there.
It is not your realization. And you must still be enjoying your dreams, your fantasies because the mind stops immediately the moment you stop enjoying it. There is no other way to stop it. It is just like a bicycle: you go on pedaling it, it goes on moving. If you stop pedaling it, it may go a little further because of the past momentum, but then it will stop.
Mind needs constant cooperation, constant infusion of energy from your side, constant identification. The mind needs your help, it is a mechanism, it cannot run on its own accord. Deep down you are helping it. When the body lies there and the soul has disappeared, the mind stops instantly. It cannot work without you.
You must be enjoying it. In fact, religion is also one of your fantasies; existence is your biggest dream. Listening to religious people, seeing their ecstasy, watching their grace, a greed has arisen in you. Your mind fantasizes. It would be beautiful to be in nirvana, it would be beautiful to be enlightened. Your mind starts dreaming about it. Then you come to hear that the mind has to be dropped.

Three persons were talking. One said, “If in a dream you get one million rupees, what are you going to do? As far as I am concerned, I am going for a world tour. That has been my dream from my very childhood. What are you going to do?”
The other said, “If I get one million rupees, I am not going anywhere. I am just going to rest in my house. Why bother? I am going to stop going and just rest and relax and enjoy. Who bothers to go from here to there?”
And they asked the third man, “If you get one million rupees in a dream, what are you going to do?”
He said, “I will immediately close my eyes and sleep again, to dream more to get many more millions. If you can get one million rupees in one dream, I will dream the same dream again to get one million more.”

Your mind is your dream, your fantasy. You are still in it. Even when you are thinking about how to get out of the mind, that too is a mind fantasy. And you must be enjoying it.
I have heard…

Mulla Nasruddin stormed out of his office and yelled, “Something has got to be done about those six phones on my desk. For the past five minutes I have been talking to myself.”

Mind is nothing but talking to yourself. What else is it? The inner talk, the inner chattering, the rehearsing for the future, the chewing again and again the past experiences; you are talking to yourself. It is a monologue. There is nobody else to talk to, so you talk to yourself.
If windows were possible into your mind and people could look inside, or there was a system… Someday there may be. Science will find a way to magnify your mind. Your mind can be attached, wired, to an instrument and the instrument will start broadcasting what is going on inside your mind. Then you will be simply amazed to see that you are mad. You will not allow anybody to connect your mind to an instrument. Sometimes write down what goes on in your mind on a blank paper. Close the doors and windows so nobody comes in and just write it down. Don’t deceive, because nobody will ever see, you can burn it immediately. Just write down whatsoever goes on. Don’t improve upon it, don’t add something, don’t delete anything. Photographically simply write down the way the mind goes on. Within ten minutes you will see how mad you are. What is going on? But we never look. We look outside, we never look into the mind. Looking into the mind is what meditation is all about.
Bodhidharma, the real founder of Zen, used to say, “Looking face-to-face with the mind is all. Looking directly into your mind is all.” Once you start looking directly, you will be surprised. You will come to know that you are carrying a madman; not one really, a madhouse; many madmen inside, running hither and thither, all against each other, fighting, struggling, warring.
If you look deep inside into the mind directly, first you will be amazed, mystified as to why you go on carrying this mind, and the second thing you will realize is that you are not the mind, you are the looker, the watcher, the witness, who is seeing into the mind. And that will give you a freedom that you have not known yet.
You are confined in the body, then you are confined in the mind. Once you come to know that you are neither the body nor the mind, suddenly you become unconfined; you are as big, as vast as the sky. Then there is no boundary line around you; then you are one with this ocean of life; then you are one with existence. “That art thou” – tattvamasi. Then you come to know “I am that,” the witness.
So the only thing you can do is just to look deeply inside the mind. It will have two aspects. First you will feel very, very crazy, going mad. Don’t try to escape from that madness because if you escape, again you will escape outside. Stick to it, let it be mad, but go on looking into it. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes years, but it is worth it even if it takes lives. If you go on looking, unwaveringly, not getting distracted here and there, then one day the second aspect arises in you: that you are a witness. Your mind looks very, very far away, very distant, on some other planet, only sounds are heard, a few flickering waves come to you. The more you become a witness, the more your energy gathers together in becoming a witness, the more and more energy is taken away from the mind. The mind starts withering. One day you are there all alone without any mind. Then you are in a state of “nowhereness.”

I have heard about two hobos who were caught by the police and were brought to the court. The policeman suspected they had not committed anything wrong, but just their way of life, their style was suspicious.
The magistrate asked the first hobo, “Where do you live?”
He said, “Nowhere.”
He asked the second, “Where do you live?”
He said, “I am this guy’s neighbor.”

The first guy lives nowhere, and the other is his neighbor; the answer is pure Zen.
When you come to know yourself, you come to know that you are no-where, and no-when because there is no time, no space. Suddenly you are the whole, spread all over reality. This is what we in the East call moksha, absolute freedom.
But you must be enjoying your mind. That’s why you are asking how to get out of it, what is the way to get out of it. These are the questions of people who are trying to deceive themselves. You don’t want to get out of it, so you ask “How?” because with the “How?” postponement is possible. The “How?” cannot be done right now, you will have to practice it. It can happen only tomorrow, it cannot happen right now. The “How?” gives you time, tomorrow. And then you say, “Okay, so we will do it tomorrow. It cannot happen right now.”
People ask me, “Can enlightenment happen right now?” If I say “Yes,” they say, “But then why is it not happening?” Then they think it is not going to happen to them because if it was going to happen, it would have happened already. It happens right now! If I say to them, “You will have to work for it, you will have to do hard, arduous work, you will have to move in deep discipline,” then they say, “Then it is okay. So somewhere in the future it will happen.” Then they are relieved. So it is not going to happen right now – someday – so what is the hurry?
Whether it is tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, it makes no difference; it is tomorrow. Both ways they find a way to postpone.
Now let me give you a paradox to meditate on: it always happens right now, but one has to work for it. It never happens in the tomorrow, it always happens today because there is no tomorrow. But one has to work hard; one has to gather together all one’s energies and to put them at stake. If all your energies are together right now, if you desire intensely, passionately, if your desire has become almost a flame and you are aflame with one desire, only with one desire – to attain to enlightenment – it can happen right now. If you are so thirsty that you disappear and only thirst remains, then godliness starts pouring into you. Then you have earned, you have earned the capacity. You have become receptive.
“When mind is the cause of my unhappiness…” Never ask such questions. You still think it is not so. This is a hypothetical question; when, if, etc., are hypothetical questions.
“When mind is the cause of my unhappiness…” No, either it is or it is not, there is no question of “when.” Either you know that it is the cause of unhappiness, or you know that it is not the cause of unhappiness. Decide. If it is not the cause of unhappiness, then things are clear: then there is nothing to be done with the mind. In fact, if it is not the cause of unhappiness, then the cause must lie somewhere outside you. That’s what communists say – Marx and Mao. That’s what they say: that the cause of unhappiness is somewhere outside you, not inside you: in the structure of the society, the economic system of society, in the political world – somewhere outside you.
If your misery comes from outside, then there is no way to get out of it. Because the cause is outside you, how can you destroy it?
Because of this fact, Freud by and by became very despondent in his later life and finally before he died he wrote in a letter: man can never be happy; it is impossible. Man’s desire to be happy is an impossible desire. Man can never be happy because it is not in his hands to be happy.
But Freud is wrong. I am here, and I say to you that I am happy. So it is not a question of my belief. It is not a belief that I am happy. Buddha is happy, Krishna is happy, Jesus is happy. But why does Freud think that man cannot be happy? And he is not a man to make meaningless statements. He is a very sincere man. Forty, fifty years of deep observation has brought him to make the statement that man cannot be happy. The reason is that he was also looking for the cause somewhere beyond man.
Marx looks for it in the social structure, Freud looks for it in the unconscious, but the very definition of unconscious is that which is not available to you, that of which you are not conscious. It is outside you, you are in your consciousness. It is outside you, it is somewhere you don’t know where. From where does your misery come? How can you change it?
Religion takes a radically and diametrically opposite standpoint: you are the cause. “I am the cause of my misery” makes one sad in the beginning, but one should be really happy. If I am the cause, then there is a possibility, then there is hope, because I can stop it. I can try not to be the cause of my unhappiness.
With religion man becomes responsible; with communism, man becomes irresponsible. With religion man becomes a free agent in this world; with communism, man becomes a mechanical thing, a robotlike thing. With religion you attain to being a soul, you become a soul; with communism, the soul disappears, you are no longer there.
If the cause of happiness is outside, if the cause of misery is outside, then your soul is outside; it is not within you. Then you are to be manipulated by the state, then you are nothing but a hollow puppet, and the strings are somewhere in the Kremlin; somebody is manipulating from there. Then life is almost meaningless; not only meaningless, but horrible. Man is not a hollow puppet; man has a substantial being in him.
So when you say, “When mind is the cause of my unhappiness…” you have taken my statement as true without realizing it, without becoming a witness to it. Never do that, otherwise questions arise unnecessarily. It is better not to answer hypothetical questions because they will create more hypothetical questions. Recognize the fact that you are unhappy because of your mind.
Somebody insults you. Do you think you are unhappy because somebody insulted you, or do you think you are unhappy because you have a very subtle ego which felt hurt by this insult? Now there are only two possibilities. Either you are unhappy because he insulted you… If that is the possibility, the only possibility, then you can never be happy because the world is vast, and how can you manage that nobody will insult you ever? It is beyond you. If it is your ego which feels hurt, then the possibility exists that you can drop the ego. Then let the whole world insult you, you can go on laughing, it makes no difference.

Mulla Nasruddin and one of his friends had been drinking all evening in a bar. The friend finally passed out and fell to the floor. The Mulla called a doctor who rushed him to a hospital. When he came to, the doctor asked him, “Do you see any pink elephants or little green men?”
“No,” groaned the patient.
“No snakes or alligators?” the doctor asked.
“No,” the drunk said.
“Then just sleep it off. You will be all right in the morning,” said the doctor.
But Mulla Nasruddin was worried. “Look, doctor,” he said, “that boy is in bad shape. He said he could not see any of them animals, and you and I know the room is full of them.”

What I say will not make much difference if you know that the room is full of them. Finally you are going to be the deciding factor. So watch your mind. Is your mind the cause of misery? If it is not, then you cannot be a religious man. Then one day or other you are going to be a communist. These are the two alternatives: religion and communism. Everybody has to decide. And I would suggest to you that if you feel that your mind is not the cause of misery, then become a communist; nothing wrong in it, be sincere. Sooner or later you will be frustrated, and a frustrated communist becomes religious very easily. Many people need that frustration because then that alternative is finished. Then there is only one alternative. Never hang between the two, never be in limbo.
Many people are in limbo. They go to the church, but their heart is communistic. When I say communistic, I don’t mean they belong to the communist party, I mean that they believe that the cause of their misery is outside.

A stubborn old Dubliner stepped into the dentist’s office with a terrific toothache. He could not, however, muster up enough courage to have the tooth pulled. So the dentist gave him a glass of whisky to bolster him. Then the dentist said, “Right, ready now?”
“Not quite,” said the man smacking his lips.
Two more drinks of whisky, and finally he finished up the entire bottle.
“Now step into the chair,” the dentist begged.
The Irishman came out swinging into the middle of the room.
“I would like to see the swine who would dare to touch my tooth now!”

You are almost drunk with your mind. And I am not going to touch your teeth, remember. You have to become a little sober, you have to become a little more aware. Once you have a little awareness, you will start seeing that it is your mind, nothing else but your mind, that goes on spinning new webs of misery. It is just like a spider that goes on creating a web and goes on being caught in it himself.
The first thing to be decided is whether you realize the fact that your mind is the cause of your misery, of your unhappiness. Once this is decided, everything becomes clear. Then there is no need, really, to ask how to get out of it. And if you are not yet decided and I help you in some way to get out of it, I will be in trouble.
Let me tell you one anecdote that will make the thing clear.

The woman bather had got into a hole, and she could not swim. Nor could the young man on the end of the pier. But when she came up the first time and he caught sight of her face, he could yell, and he did. Just then a big fisherman walked by. “What is up?” he asked.
“There!” hoarsely cried the young man. “My wife, drowning. I can’t swim. A hundred dollars if you save her!”
In a moment the fisherman was in the water; in another he was out of it with the rescued woman.
He approached the young man. “Well, what about the hundred dollars?”
If the young man’s face had been ashen-gray before, now it was dead white as he gazed upon the features of the rescued woman.
“Yes I know,” he gasped, “but when I made the offer, I thought it was my wife who was drowning, and now, now it turns out it was my wife’s mother.”
“Just my luck,” said the fisherman sadly, thrusting his hand into his trouser pocket. “How much do I owe you?”

So first you decide whether your mind is your wife or your mother-in-law. Then only can something be done about it. Otherwise you will be angry with me. If I pull you out of your mind and you were still fantasizing and dreaming, you will be tremendously angry and annoyed and irritated. And if you were dreaming sweet dreams, then more so, because you were hoping that something was just going to be fulfilled.

One day Mulla Nasruddin’s wife woke him up in the morning, and he became very, very angry, and he said, “You foolish woman. Is this the right time?”
She said, “But the sun is up.”
He said, “It has nothing to do with the sun. I was dreaming about a man who was offering me a hundred rupees, and just at the moment I was going to take it, and here you come. You have destroyed the whole thing.”
He tried again to create sleep, tried to close his eyes, turned this way and that, but you cannot catch hold of a dream. Once it is gone, it is gone. And he started saying, “Okay, I will accept even ninety, eighty, seventy, whatsoever you give, I will accept, but give it.”
But there was nobody to give.

If you are dreaming, then dream a little more. Nobody is ever fulfilled by dreaming, but one has to figure it out oneself: “Enough is enough. I have dreamt enough, fantasized enough, and nothing comes except misery, except frustration.” Each desire brings more frustration, each expectation turns finally into frustration.
Once you understand it, there will be no need to take you out of it; once you understand it, the very understanding becomes the coming out of it. The very understanding means freedom from mind.

The third question:
You talk about a living religion, yet in some centers people kneel over the cast of your feet. I am reminded of the Catholic religion where I lost the meaning of the teachings and instead venerated the symbols. Please tell me why do we need your symbols. They are not you, nor your teaching.
It is a very subtle question. You will have to be very alert to understand it.
Yes, religion has nothing to do with symbols. Religion in its essence is absolutely pure, just an experiencing, a knowing. It has nothing to do with outside symbols. But that is not the question. That pure religion is not possible for you as you are; the way you are, you will need symbols.

Once it happened, Joshu was sitting in front of his temple. A great Zen master. A seeker came, and he asked Joshu, “Master, where is Buddha? Who is Buddha? What is this buddhahood?”
Joshu looked into the eyes of the man and said, “You ask who is Buddha? Go inside the temple. He is there.”
The man laughed and said, “There is only a stone statue. And I know and you know that a stone statue is not Buddha.”
Joshu said, “Perfectly right. A stone statue is not Buddha.”
Then the man said again, “Then tell me, who is Buddha?”
Joshu looked again into his eyes and said, “Go into the temple, you will find the Buddha there.”

Now this is very puzzling. The questioner is not yet able to understand the non-symbolic. Though intellectually he understands that the statue is just a stone statue and is not Buddha, it is only intellectual understanding.
If your lover gives you a small handkerchief, has it any more meaning than any other handkerchief of the same make, of the same value? If it is lost, tears may come to your eyes. Your mind is still symbolic, still lives in symbols. That handkerchief, a small, valueless handkerchief given by your lover or beloved, carries a certain meaning which nobody else can see. It is an ordinary handkerchief, but to you it is very symbolic. It has a message, a love message. That handkerchief is worth a kingdom. It is personal and somebody has given it to you as a deep gesture of his love. It is no longer a commodity in the marketplace, it is no longer a part of the world of things; that handkerchief has a personality, almost a soul. Have you not watched this inside you?
If this is so, then symbols are still meaningful for you, and you cannot just drop them unless the whole mind is dropped. It depends on you. If those symbols have a certain response in your heart, they are alive.
When a Buddhist goes to the Buddhist temple and bows down before the stone statue of Buddha, if it is really a heartfelt prayerful, if he is really bowing down in deep humbleness, then don’t bother about the statue. The real thing is the humbleness, the desire, the love, the heartfelt urge. That stone statue is just instrumental.
If you go and you are not a Buddhist and you have no heart for Buddha, then, of course, it is a stone statue. A Buddhist has a love affair with Buddha. If you call that stone statue just a stone, he will be hurt because he sees something more in it. That something more is in his eyes, certainly so, absolutely so; it is not there in the statue. But in front of the statue something responds in him, something starts singing in his heart. His heart beats faster, he feels transfigured. That transfiguration is meaningful. It does not matter whether the statue is really Buddha or not, it does not matter at all. But it helped.
For example: you come across a rope. It is getting dark, the sun has set, the night is descending, and on a lonely path in a forest you come across a rope, and you think it is a snake. You start running, perspiring. There is no snake, but is your perspiration real or not? If there were a real snake, would the perspiration be more real? Is your running real or not? Would it have been more real if there had been a real snake? To you it is real.
Buddha has a definition of truth, a very strange definition. He says, “That which affects is true.” That which affects is true. If a rope is taken as a snake and it affects you, it is true. To you it is true. It is almost a snake.
A symbol is real if it affects you; if it does not affect you, of course, it is not a symbol at all. The very word symbol means that a thing has some greater value than is available to the naked eyes, a thing has some greater value than a scientist can give to it. That greater value makes it symbolic.

I have heard about a Hasid rabbi, Rabbi Sadagora. He used to say to his disciples, “You can learn something from everything. Everything can teach us something, and not only everything God has made or created, but what man has made also has something to teach us.”
“What can we learn from a train?” one Hasid asked dubiously.
“That because of one second one can miss everything.”
“And from the telegraph?”
“That every word is counted and charged.”
“And the telephone?”
“That what we say here is heard there.”

Then everything becomes symbolic, and life takes on a different dimension.
If your heart feels something for the cross, then it is not just a cross, you become connected through it with Jesus. That’s not a scientific thing, but religion is not a scientific thing. It is more poetic; it is more like love and less like reason; it is more like feeling and less like analysis. It is not logic, it is a very deep romance with reality.
If you drop all symbols – as many people have, thinking that symbols are just empty symbols, there is nothing in them – why do you shake hands with your friend? It is simply foolish taking somebody’s hand and simply shaking it. Can’t you see the foolishness of it? Why do you kiss your woman? Can’t you see the lack of hygiene in it? The sheer unmedicalness of it? Two persons transferring their diseases because in each kiss millions of minute cells are transferred. What are you doing? When you say to your woman, “I love you,” what are these words, “I love you”? Just words? Nothing more? Words are symbols. The word love is not love, so drop it. If you go on dropping in that way. what will be left?
Let me tell you one anecdote…

The battered old man got up one night during a revival meeting and said, “Brothers and sisters, you know and I know I ain’t been what I ought to have been. I have stole hard and told lies and got drunk and always been getting in fights and shooting craps and playing poker and I have cursed and swore, but I thank the Lord there is one thing I ain’t never done. I ain’t never lost my religion.”

Then what type of religion is left? If you drop all symbols, you drop language; if you drop all symbols, you drop poetry; if you drop all symbols, you drop even mathematics. Then what is left?
Man is a symbolic creature, man lives in a world of symbols. Even science cannot do without symbols. Science, which is expected to be absolutely factual, cannot work without symbols. In fact, there is no possibility of growing without symbols. That’s why animals are not growing; they cannot grow unless they move into the dimension of symbols. So everything is a symbol.

Once it happened that Ramakrishna was talking to his disciples. He was talking about anahat nad, the soundless sound, and he said that by the constant chanting of om you will come to a point where soundless sound is heard.
An intellectual, a logician, was present there, and he was getting very irritated by this uneducated man. Ramakrishna was uneducated, he went only to the second grade, he never studied anything, never knew anything about scriptures. So the man was getting annoyed. And people were listening so intently to this uneducated fellow that he was boiling inside, and he tried to find a chance to show his knowledge.
Then he said, “Stop. This is all nonsense. Just by repeating a sound, om, om, om, nothing is going to happen. Because om is just a symbol, nothing else. It is just a word – not even a word, a meaningless sound. So what is going to happen out of it? You can go on repeating and nothing will happen.”
And he started quoting scriptures. He was a learned man. Ramakrishna listened to him for half an hour, very intently, then suddenly he looked at him and said, “Stupid! Now stop! Don’t utter a single word.”
That man was very much disturbed. This illiterate fellow called him stupid! But he became afraid also because this man was thought to be very religious, a great mystic, and he said, “Don’t utter a single word, otherwise you will repent.” So he became very afraid because when this mystic’s devotees were there, if he said something, they might jump on him. And who knows? This man might know something. So he kept quiet, but he was almost fire.
For two or three minutes Ramakrishna again started talking about om and anahat nad, the soundless sound. Then after two minutes he looked at the man. He was perspiring, yet it was a winter evening. Ramakrishna said, “Look, sir. Just a small word stupid, and look what it has done. You are perspiring, and you are getting so aflame that if these people were not here, you would have killed me. Just look at it. Just a small symbol ‘stupid’ and look what it has done.”

The whole human consciousness has grown out of symbology. All our languages – the language of science, the language of religion, the language of poetry – are all symbols. Our whole life of love, relationship, is nothing but symbology.
Unless you have come to a point where the whole mind disappears, symbols are meaningful. The questioner asks: “You talk about a living religion, yet in some centers people kneel over the cast of your feet.” Those feet are irrelevant, their kneeling is relevant. Those feet are just symbolic, but their kneeling is real. That is not symbolic. They are affected by it.
So when I say “a living religion,” I mean a religion which is still moving the hearts. If somebody is moved by a cross, he is still encountering Christ; the religion is living to him. And if you simply bow down because it is a formality to be fulfilled, then the religion is dead. Because the symbol is dead and there is nothing inside you, the religion is dead. The symbol is always dead, but if it affects you and starts a movement in your energy, then it is alive.
A religion is alive in the heart, it has nothing to do with temples and churches. If you are moved, if a rhythm arises in you, if you start dancing seeing Krishna or his statue, suddenly the flute on his lips is no longer just a symbol to you, it has become a real dance. You can listen to his tune, you can hear his tune.
“I am reminded of the Catholic religion where I lost the meaning of the teachings and instead venerated the symbols.” That was your fault. It had nothing to do with the church. If you missed the meaning and started venerating the symbols, it was your fault. Now that you have become so afraid of symbols, it simply means you have reacted to your upbringing; you have not yet become a revolutionary, you have just reacted against it.
Because a few symbols were given to you in your childhood and they never became alive, now you are afraid of all symbols. You will be very poor for that. Don’t be afraid. If one set of symbols has not worked, another set of symbols can work. And now you are not a child. Those symbols did not work because they were forced on you by your parents, but if you choose your own religion… Now remember this, this is my continuous emphasis: if you want to be religious, you have to choose your religion; then it is alive. Only through choice, voluntary choice, is it alive. If it has been enforced on you, then it is dead, then it is somebody else’s religion, it is somebody else’s trip – your parents’ trip. And you are simply carrying it like a load.
You have chosen to walk with me, it is your choice, it is your voluntary choice. It is your will to be with me. Then whatsoever transpires between me and you is going to be alive. That may not be so with your children when I am gone. You would like your children also to be in orange. Then something may not happen because then it will be your trip, and you will be enforcing your trip on your children. Never enforce your trip on anybody else.
If you choose hell, even hell is heaven; if you are forced and coerced into heaven, then heaven will become a hell. Freedom is the most fundamental value; nothing is more valuable than freedom. If you choose Christ or Krishna or Buddha – if you choose, remember – then they become contemporaries, then there is no gap of twenty centuries between you and Christ, no. Then he walks with you, then he talks with you, then he is a constant companion. Then his cross is your cross, and your cross is his cross. Then he is with you in your misery, and he is with you in your happiness, and he shares himself with you. But it has to be your choice.
“Please tell me why do we need your symbols. They are not you nor your teachings.” Yes, they are neither me nor my teachings, but you cannot see me yet, and whatsoever you see is just a symbol; my body is a symbol, it is not me; my photograph is a symbol, it is not me; whatsoever I am saying is symbolic, it is not me. And even what I am saying is not my teaching because my teaching cannot be said. Nobody’s – Buddha’s nor Christ’s – nobody’s can be said. Whatsoever is being said is not the real thing. The real is elusive. Truth cannot be uttered.
But I have to talk to you to persuade you to become silent. This is a very absurd effort, but this is how it is. I have to seduce you toward silence through words. Words are just symbols; silence. Remember when I say silence, the word silence is not silence.
Yes, Joshu was right. The Buddha is in the temple. The man said, “But there is no Buddha, there is only a stone statue. How can an enlightened man like you say that a stone statue is a Buddha?”
And Joshu said, “You are right. It is just a stone statue.”
Then the man said, “Now tell me, where is Buddha?”
Joshu said, “Go into the temple, he is there.”
If you have the eyes to see, then you can see even in a stone. If you don’t have the eyes to see, you may come across Jesus, and you may not recognize him. Many of you were there when Jesus was there, many of you were there when Buddha was there, and you never recognized him. Many of you are here just in front of me, and you may never recognize me. So the deepest question is of your recognition. If you can recognize something in a stone, if you can recognize something in a cast of my feet, yes, Buddha is there.
The whole thing is yours – your Buddha, your Christ, your me. Everything is yours, you are the only one. This is the beauty, the drama of life: you are the actor, you are the director, you are the audience, you are the story-writer, you are the play-back singer, you are all, alone.
Let me tell you one anecdote…

The wholesale company sold a bill of goods to a merchant at a small crossroad village. When the goods arrived, he refused them. The wholesale firm prepared to start suit for collection and wrote to the railroad agent of the village for information about the arrival of the merchandise. They also wrote the president of the bank for information concerning the financial standing of the customer, to the mayor of the town asking him to recommend a good lawyer to handle the case, and to the merchant threatening suit if he did not make payment at once.
The company received this reply: “I received a letter telling me I had better pay up. I am the railroad agent here and also received the letter you wrote to the agent. I am president and sole owner of the local bank and can assure you as to my financial standing. As mayor of the town I hesitate to refer to you a lawyer since I am the only member of the bar in this vicinity. If I were not also the pastor of the town’s one church, I would tell you to go to hell.”

Now this is the case – you are all in all. If a symbol is alive to you, it is alive – you bring life to it, you pour life into it.
When somebody is bowing down before the cast of my feet, for him they become alive; he pours his life into them. You may be standing there looking at the foolishness: “What is he doing?” Yes, it is foolish for you because those feet are not alive for you, that symbol is not throbbing for you, you have not poured your life into it.
So don’t be bothered about others; let them do their thing. They must be finding something in it. If you are not finding something there, then find it somewhere else. You may find something in my words; words are as symbolic as the cast feet and, of course, less substantial. Words are less substantial: uttered, and they disappear. They are very dreamlike. Or you may be pouring your energy into the symbol of this body herenow; that too will disappear, that too is not the ultimate thing. The ultimate is that which always remains. You can see that ultimate anywhere; just make your eyes a little more perceptive.
And don’t still be dominated by your Catholic upbringing because that will be a great loss to you. If you go on dropping all symbols, you will become very, very poor. Nobody will be at a loss, only you.
Symbols make life rich, poetic.
I have heard…

Two businessmen were relaxing in the clubhouse after a round of golf.
“I don’t know why you don’t sack your secretary,” said one. “Her typing is atrocious, and she spends more time on your private phone than you do. Take away her gorgeous hair, her beautiful eyes, her sensuous lips, her lovely figure, and what have you got?”
The other businessman grunted and said, “My wife.”

Beware. Don’t go on dropping symbols, otherwise nothing will be left.
Yes, that is the highest peak; get ready for it. Symbols will help you to reach that highest peak, but if you drop them right now, you will never reach to that height. One has to move up a staircase. When one has reached the top, one has to leave the staircase. But if you leave it at the very beginning, you will remain on the bottom floor. Symbols are to be left only when you have come to see the non-symbolic, not before that. Otherwise you will remain very low – somewhere crawling on the earth.
Once you have a symbology, it gives a vision to your life, a style. Then you are not haphazard, then you become an order, you are not a chaos. Then things start crystallizing within you, and everything starts gaining a significance; your life has a direction, and you have a sense of direction.

“In the synagogue I heard men praying,” said the puzzled young boy. “It must be awfully hard for God.”
“Why?” asked the rabbi gently.
“The woodcutter was praying for cold weather.”
“Naturally,” the rabbi said. “He makes his living cutting wood for our stoves. The colder it is, the more wood he sells.”
“But the fruit seller prayed for mild weather.”
“Well,” said the rabbi, “he stores autumn fruit to sell in winter, and severe cold would freeze his stored fruit.”
“The farmer prayed for rain, and the brickmaker for dry weather. They are all godly men: how does God know how to answer all their prayers?”
“How is the weather now?” asked the rabbi.
“Dry and mild.”
“And last week?”
“Let me see. On Monday and Tuesday it rained and on Thursday it was cold.”
“See?” said the rabbi.

Once you have a symbol, you can see. Then God is fulfilling everybody’s needs: one day it is raining, one day it is dry, one day it is hot, one day it is cold, and God is fulfilling everybody’s desires.
But if you have the symbol of God, then the whole thing is no longer disorderly. If you don’t have that symbol, then you are simply surprised: five persons are praying in the synagogue, and each one is asking for different weather, and it looks almost foolish. And they all are good people, religious people. How is God going to fulfill them? In fact, if you don’t have the symbol of God, those five prayers are chaotic, you cannot make any sense out of them. Once you have the symbol, that symbol crystallizes everything.
“See?” said the rabbi.

The last question:
It is an unimportant point in a very interesting inspiring discourse, but why do you say that the sun will be finished in four thousand years? My atlases of the earth and the universe give a figure for the next major change in the sun's present output – to a red giant stage – to be about five billion years or so which would annihilate life on earth. Are you trying to start a stampede? Or is this an “intentional imperfection” inserted into your discourse as in a Persian rug?
The questioner says: “It is an unimportant point in a very inspiring discourse…” – but nothing else has inspired the questioner to ask. So this must have been the most important thing.
There are people who are interested in nonessential things, and they make much fuss about them. And they forget that because of that fuss much is being missed.
If it makes you happy, you can make it five billion years, or why five billion? Why not five hundred billion? If it makes you happy, you can make as big a figure as you can.
I have heard one anecdote…

A scientist was speaking about the same truth, and he said, “In five billion years the sun will cool down.”
A woman sitting in the front of the audience started trembling, perspiring, was almost going to faint. So the scientist had to stop his talking. He came down and said, “What is going on? Why are you becoming so afraid? You need not be afraid, it is five billion years.”
The woman said, “Thank God! I thought you said five million.”

What difference does it make? You will be dead within fifty years. Whether the earth continues, or the sun continues for five billion or five million years makes no difference. These are irrelevant things.
My point was that if the sun becomes cold someday, we will not be able to live. I was trying to explain to you that you don’t end at your skin. I am not a scientist, and I am very happy that I am not. I was simply saying that your skin is not your boundary. It is difficult to say where your boundary is, and it is, in fact, nowhere.
The sun is there; without the sun you will not be able to live. Your skin will simply wither away, and you will die. That was the whole point.
And I am not trying to create a stampede. If a stampede is to be created, four thousand years won’t help. Tomorrow, and that too is doubtful. Even if I said that tomorrow the sun is going to cool down completely, then too it is difficult to see that a stampede will be created. You are so lazy you will say, “Tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes.” And you may start living even more madly because, “Tomorrow? Maybe this man is right.” So whatsoever you have not done up to now, do it. You were thinking about murdering a man – murder. Or you were thinking about kidnapping a woman – kidnap; because, “Tomorrow? Who knows? This man may be right.”
No, I am not creating, or trying to create, any stampede. To me it is an irrelevant thing: four thousand years, four million years, four billion years, four trillion years – whatsoever.
But you missed my point. And you showed your mind by raising a very unimportant question. If such questions are meaningful to you, you will go on missing me. Then you are simply watching for something absolutely meaningless.
I have heard…

Junior was in the habit of coming to the table with a dirty face, and, of course, had to be sent away to wash every day.
One time his mother, losing her patience, said to him, “Junior, why do you persist in coming to the table without washing? You know I always send you away.”
“Well,” replied Junior, “once you forgot.”

Just once, and, who knows, you may forget again.
There are minds who go on watching for such things. Be alert about this tendency.
I am not a scientist, neither was Jesus or Buddha. Now there are many people who deny Jesus because he was not a scientist – because he said the world was created four thousand years before. Now look. This four thousand seems to be very meaningful. I said, “After four thousand years it is going to drop,” and Jesus said, “Just four thousand years ago the world was created.”
Now scientists find fault. It is faulty. The world was not created four thousand years ago. Then why was this man saying it? This man was not a scientist; this man was saying something not as a fact but as a parable. He was not talking about a scientific theory for the creation, he was not interested in any scientific theory, he was simply talking in parables. He was emphasizing one fact: that the world is not going to be forever, and it has not been there forever. It is dreamlike. It has been created, and it will disappear. So don’t be too involved in it, it is not the real thing; seek the creator, find out who is the creator. Don’t waste too much time with the creation.
But now there are scientists who will prove that he is wrong, and there are Christians who will try to prove that he is right. And both do the same foolishness: you mistake a parable for a fact, you can’t understand a beautiful story, you can’t understand poetry. Now I have come across scientists who have written great treatises proving that Jesus is wrong. I have come across treatises which have tried to refute him.
For example, scientists say that now there is proof – and there is proof – that the world has existed for millions of years. We have found bones in the earth, skulls in the earth which are at least fifty thousand years old. So not only the world, but man, has existed for at least fifty thousand years. And Jesus says that the world was created only four thousand years ago. Now, how to answer it?
I was reading a Christian theologian. He says, “God is Almighty. When he created the world, he created skulls fifty thousand years old just to test the faith of people.”
Now what to do with these people? He has put fifty thousand-year-old skulls inside the earth. He created the earth four thousand years ago, just to see who are the doubters and who are the real believers!
Don’t waste your time in such things.
Enough for today.

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