Existence: An Alive Flower
November 19th, this year, will be celebrated as the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru of the Sikhs. Born in 1469, He expressed his teachings in form of hymns, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib most of which still exist and are widely sung and heard. All of them were collected in the Adi Granth by Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru, in 1604. A member of the Khatri (trading) caste , Nanak was not a typical Sant, yet he experienced the same spirit of God in everything outside him and everything within him. Guru Nanak, and other Sikh Gurus emphasised bhakti (‘love’, ‘devotion’, or ‘worship’). In the Sikh perspective, the everyday world is part of an infinite reality, where increased spiritual awareness, leads to increased and vibrant participation in the everyday world. Guru Nanak described living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” as being higher than the metaphysical truth.
Through popular tradition, Nanak’s teaching is understood to be practised in three ways:
Vand Shhako (‘share & consume’): Share with others, help those who are in need, so you may eat together;
Kirat Karo (‘work honestly’): Earn an honest living, without exploitation or fraud; and
Naam Japo (‘recite His name’): Meditate on God’s name, so to feel His presence.
The birthdays of the 10 Sikh Gurus are celebrated by the Sikhs worldwide as GurPurab. The GurPurab celebrations commence 2 days prior to the birthday with a 48-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) in the Gurudwara. And on the birthday, morning processions begin from the local Gurudwara that go around the block and are joined by joyful devotees singing hymns in praise of the Guru.
Osho has spoken at length on Guru Nanak in His discourses. The book Ek Omkar Satnam (in Hindi) is dedicated to Guru Nanak. Its English translation is available as The True Name Vol.1-2. Osho says “When Nanak speaks there are only two ways open to you: either you merge into Nanak’s color and attain to satisfaction, or else you are bound to become restless. To be near a person like Nanak is like standing next to fire. Either you burn yourself as Nanak burned, you turn into ashes as Nanak did, you lose yourself as Nanak did — like a drop falling into the ocean; or, the only other alternative is to color Nanak’s words in your own shade. This is very easy, for we never actually hear what is told to us, but hear what we want to hear. We infer meanings that suit us. We don’t stand on the side of truth; we make truth stand on our side; we make truth follow us. The difference between a genuine seeker and a false seeker is that the legitimate seeker follows truth wherever it might take him — whatever be the outcome — even if everything is lost, even if life is lost. He is ready to lose his all. The inauthentic seeker bends truth to follow him; but then it is no longer truth, it is falsity.”
GOD IS WITHIN AND WITHOUT, because only God is. In fact to say “God is” is a repetition because God is never “is not.” God is the very isness of existence. We can say “the house is” because once the house was not and once again the house will not be. To call the house “is” is okay because the “is not” is possible. We can say “the man is” but we cannot say “God is,” because only he is, always has been, always will be. God is the very isness, God is existence itself.
Then why say the word “God” at all? Why use it? We use it very symbolically, to indicate something.
When we say “God is” we mean existence is not without a soul. We mean that existence is not dead. We mean that existence is alive, throbbing with love, compassion, consciousness, conscience; that existence is intimate; that there is a possibility of addressing existence and there is a possibility of getting the response.
When we say “God is” we mean that existence allows the possibility of a dialogue. You can have a dialogue with it; you can call it “thou” and it will not be meaningless; and you can be in such a state that prayer becomes possible, that communion becomes possible. That’s all the word “God” carries.
Existence is not like a dead rock; it is an alive flower. It will respond to you. If you love it, love will flow towards you. If you move towards it, it will move towards you. If you seek it, it will seek you. Existence is not care-less. If you are in love with existence, existence is in love with you. That’s all that we mean when we call existence divine or when we say God is. Remember it. It is a poetic way of saying a truth. It is not a fact. It is poetry, it is romance. And religion is romance with existence.
Yes, it is more like falling in love rather than arguing towards a conclusion. That’s why Kabir says God is within and without, but the journey has to start from the within. Unless you have known God withinwards, you will not be able to comprehend him in the outside. Unless you have seen him within yourself, you will not be able to see him in the trees, in the birds, in the stars. How can you see him in the tree, in the rock, if you have not been able to feel him within yourself? Your center of being is the closest door to God. If you have not been able to enter from there, you cannot enter from anywhere else. God is within and without, both, because only he is; still, the journey starts from your innermost core. First you have to look withinwards. If from the very beginning you start looking for God in the outside, your God will be nothing but an imagination, a falsity.
This point has to be understood very deeply. The whole approach of Kabir — the whole approach of all the mystics of the world — depends on this. If you see God outside and you have not seen him within, it is going to be just a dream, a projection, a wish fulfillment; so don’t start the journey that way. The journey starts by closing the eyes; the journey ends by opening the eyes. First, one closes the eyes in meditation, goes deep into oneself. When one has realized, touched the very core, has known who is there; one opens the eyes — and finds him all over, spread everywhere. But you cannot begin from the outside. That’s where organized religion misses the whole point. The Christian goes to the church, the Hindu goes to the temple, the Mohammedan goes to the mosque. The Mohammedan travels thousands of miles to go to Mecca, the Hindu goes to Kailash; and Kabir says he is neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash. He is within you. Not that he is not in Kaaba and Kailash! Once you have found him within yourself you will find him everywhere — but then there will be no point of going to Kaaba and Kailash because wherever you are, wherever you look, you will find Kaaba, you will find Kailash.
There is a very beautiful story in the life of Nanak, another great mystic of the same caliber as Kabir. Nanak went to Mecca; he traveled with some Mohammedan travelers who were on a pilgrimage. They reached Mecca, the holy stone of Kaaba. It was evening and the sun was setting, and they were very tired; and Nanak immediately fell asleep. The travelers, the companions, were very much surprised. They used to think of Nanak as a very holy man, but he was doing something stupid: his legs were towards the Kaaba when he lay down and fell asleep. They became very much afraid; this is a sacrilege. And by the time they could do something about it, the chief priest came, and he said, “Who is this man? Is he an atheist, he does not believe in God? He does not seem to be a Muslim. Throw him out of here!” All this noise and talk, and Nanak opened his eyes, and he said, “What is the matter?” They said, “This cannot be allowed. Your legs are towards Kaaba, and this is a sin.” Nanak laughed uproariously, and he said, “You can put my legs anywhere you like, but, one thing before you do it, tell me if this is not so: wherever my legs are, they will always point towards God — because he is everywhere.”
Up to this point, the story seems to be absolutely realistic; then it becomes a parable. The priest was very angry; he took hold of the feet of Nanak and turned his feet away from Kaaba. And the parable says Kaaba turned towards Nanak’s feet. And he moved him in every direction, and Kaaba turned to that direction. Now, it is a parable; I don’t say now it is realistic. Half the story seems to be exactly right. The other part seems to be very poetic — true, but not factual. It is very significant though.
God is everywhere. Once you have found him within, you will find him everywhere. Then you cannot find a place where he is not. But don’t start the journey from the outward.
Don’t start going to Kaaba and Kailash, to the temple and the mosque; otherwise you have taken a wrong step. And one wrong step leads to another. You start imagining…
Start from the within. First, rather than projecting God…. It is going to be a projection — you don’t know whether God is or is not. You know only the word, you know the tradition, you know the priest, you know the image that has been put into your mind. If you are a Christian, you can project Christ very easily and you can see Christ very easily. It will be a hallucination; it will be a sort of neurosis. f you are a Hindu, you can see Krishna very easily, you can project. If you are a Buddhist, you can see Buddha. Mind can create the illusion so beautifully and so realistically that even reality itself pales down before it, becomes faint, looks unreal. And you have been doing it every night in your dreams. You know, your mind has a faculty — a faculty to create images. Not only to create images but to make them appear so real that again and again you forget. Every night you dream, every morning you come to know that it was a dream and not a reality; and again when you dream the next night, again you become a victim, again you forget that it is a dream, again it looks real, absolutely real…
Let me put it in this way: The world looks real in the same proportion in which you are unconscious, asleep; the more aware you become, the world becomes more and more unreal. Even this so-called world becomes unreal, so what to say about your ideas? You project God, you project this and that — heaven and hell — they are all projections. You give them reality by becoming unconscious. So a man who thinks of God as his surrounding, as being everywhere, has started a wrong journey. What will he do? He can only auto-hypnotize himself. This is not going to lead to knowledge, to realization. This is getting into the unreality even deeper than before. This is getting into a sort of neurosis. That’s why Freud is right when he says that the so-called religions are nothing but collective neuroses. The so-called religions are! Buddha may not have been a neurotic, Jesus may not have been a neurotic; but Christians are, Buddhists are. The difference is Buddha starts from his withinwards, from his inwards, and the Buddhist starts from the idea. Jesus looks into his being, and the Christian looks at Jesus, looks outside. There is the whole difference.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse name: Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
Chapter title: Enter into your own body
17 December 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Sai Baba, Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Patanjali, Rumi, Sahajo, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Valmiki, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendour
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom