From Misery to Enlightenment 09

Ninth Discourse from the series of 29 discourses - From Misery to Enlightenment by Osho.
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You were more awake as an infant than I am now. How did this courage and awareness happen?
It is very simple, and yet not so easy to explain to you. The reason is that it relates to your past life. Now, as far as I am concerned it is a reality. As far as you are concerned it can only be a hypothesis. I am not saying to you to believe in it.
That is my most fundamental approach – never to tell anybody to believe in anything. I am simply explaining how it happened to me. You can find out ways to experiment with the hypothesis; perhaps it may happen to you too – and it is never too late.
The moment the child is born, you think, is the beginning of its life. That is not true. The moment an old man dies, you think, is the end of his life. It is not. Life is far bigger than birth and death. Birth and death are not two ends of life; many births and many deaths happen within life. Life itself has no beginning, no end: life and eternity are equivalent. But you cannot understand very easily how life can turn into death; even to concede that is impossible.
There are a few inconceivables in the world; and one of them is, you cannot conceive of life turning into death. At what point is it no longer life and it becomes death? Where will you demarcate the line? Neither can you demarcate the line about birth, when life begins: when the child is born or when the child is conceived? But even before conception the mother’s egg was alive the father’s sperm was alive – they were not dead, because the meeting of two dead things cannot create life. They were both alive, and they merged into one and created a life which, rightly understood, is neither just man’s nor just woman’s.
A man has a woman hidden in him, the woman has a man hidden in her. It is bound to be so, because they are the contribution of one man and one woman – the father and the mother; they both contributed fifty percent to your being. If you are a man that simply means that the male side is above and the female side is below. If you are a woman the female side is above, and the male side is below. And this you can watch in your own life.
There are moments when a man feels very feminine, very vulnerable, very loving, caring. In fact he can be more feminine than a woman, because the woman’s femininity is an everyday affair. She takes it for granted; she has used it her whole life, it is nothing special. But for a man when the moment of femininity happens – there are moments of tenderness, everybody knows – he is also surprised of such a tenderness…and in him? That tenderness is fresh. The woman’s tenderness is getting stale, routine.
The same happens to the woman. There are moments when she feels the man coming up from deeper sources of her unconscious. She can show so much strength, courage, daring, that even a man may feel inferior. The simple reason is that man’s manliness is there, and he has been using it every day – it is not fresh, it is not so alive. That is why when a woman becomes angry she is more ferocious than man.
In animals it has been watched. The female becomes ferocious only in certain moments when her children are attacked. They may be attacked even by the father himself…because the institution of father is a human institution, it does not exist in animals. The children will never know who is their father, the father will never know that he has produced children. But the mother is not a human invention. The mother is something in nature itself.
That’s why you cannot put the father higher than the mother, except perhaps in Germany. Those fools go on calling their motherland, fatherland. The whole world calls their country their motherland, but German fools have some speciality. It doesn’t look right either – fatherland?
The earth is feminine, the sky is masculine. Because the earth gives birth to everything – to animals, to insects, to birds, to trees, to man – the earth can be called mother. You will be surprised to find the similarity between these words. The English word matter and the English word mother are both derivations from a Sanskrit root, matra. Matri means mother, and matra means matter, quantity. From matra are derived both matter and mother.
The earth is the most tangible material phenomenon. You cannot call it father; it has no relationship with fatherhood. But you can’t argue with Germans either. When I hear their language, I cannot help thinking that if in hell any language is spoken, it must be German. The way it hits you! It has no roundness anywhere…everywhere knives coming out of the language from each word. I cannot conceive how people can love in the German language; it will look like a fight. Perhaps it is! There are languages in which even if you fight it will look like you are having a sweet conversation.
The man and the woman are not really two separate entities, but the personality of the man needs the supporting qualities of the woman. If those supporting qualities are not there, the man will fall apart. And the same will happen to the woman. She cannot exist only on female qualities, she needs male supporting qualities. So each human being is a composite whole of two polarities which appear opposed to each other but are not really opposed; they are basically, absolutely essential components of each other.
At what point is the child born? Science has not been able to decide. There is no way to decide, because the eggs that the mother is carrying in her womb she has been carrying from her birth….
By the way – don’t let me just drift!
It has been found – and this seems to be the only explanation that can save Jesus from being a bastard – it has been found that a girl was born with her twin inside her womb. In fact she was going to be two girls but somehow the other girl, who was going to be the twin, never grew up; she became part of the girl that was born. She can carry that twin in her womb. That twin is alive, and at the right time, without any sexual interaction with a man, the girl will give birth to a child.
Now this is scientifically proved a fact. In a few animals it has been found again and again. And just the other day Vivek has brought one news item of a similar case. I have for at least twenty years been thinking about it, because I came to know twenty years ago about a case, a similar case, where a girl gave birth to a dead child. And even doctors confirmed that the girl was absolutely innocent.
I had been there in the medical college, to see the whole thing. It is a difficult problem in India – it is not so difficult in the West: if it was proved that the girl had some sexual relationship with a man then there would be no possibility…her whole life would be ruined. She could never be married, and she would be condemned everywhere. It would be better for her to die than to live.
But all the doctors were absolutely certain that this dead child was not conceived by her. She had carried the small, miniature child in her body since her very birth, and when she became sexually mature the child started to grow – exactly then, because for the child it made no difference…. For the child it was the same whether it was conceived sexually by a new man – but in fact the child was really carrying the girl’s father’s genes, and the mother’s genes. The child that was born to the girl was not her child but her sister. It was good that she was born dead.
It would have been good if Jesus also had been born dead, but unfortunately he was born alive. This is the only scientific way to save the poor fellow from being a bastard; otherwise no Holy Ghost can help. All that is nonsense.
One thing has to be accepted, that half of your being is alive in your mother, even before you are conceived. And half of you is to be contributed by your father – that too has to be contributed alive. When the sperms leave your father’s body they are alive, but they don’t have a long life, they have only two hours’ life. Within two hours they have to meet the mother’s egg. If within two hours they don’t meet, if they start bumming around here and there….
It is absolutely certain that each sperm must have its own characteristic personality. A few are lazy fellows; when others are running toward the egg, they are just taking a morning walk. This way they are never going to reach, but what can they do? These characteristics are present from their birth: they cannot run, they would prefer to die; and they are not even aware what is going to happen.
But a few guys are just Olympic racers, they immediately start running fast. And there is great competition because it is not a question of a few hundred cells running toward the mother’s single egg…. The mother’s womb has a reservoir of eggs which is limited and which releases only one egg every month. That’s why she has the monthly period; every month one egg is released. So only one fellow out of this whole mob, which consists of millions of living cells…it is really a great philosophical problem!
It is nothing, just biology, because the problem is that out of so many millions of people, only one person can be born. And who were those other millions that could not get into the mother’s egg? This has been used as one of the arguments in India by Hindu scholars, pundits, shankaracharyas, against birth control.
India is clever about argumentation. The pope goes on talking against birth control but has not produced a single argument. At least the Indian counterpart has produced a few very valid – looking arguments. One of their arguments is: At what point to stop producing children? – two children, three children? They say that Rabindranath was the thirteenth child of his parents; if birth control had been practiced there would have been no Rabindranath Tagore.
The argument seems to be valid because birth control means stopping at two children, at the most three: don’t take any chance, one may die or something may happen. You can reproduce two children to replace you and your wife, so no population increase happens; but Rabindranath was the thirteenth child of his parents. If they had stopped even at one dozen then too Rabindranath would have missed the train. Now how many Rabindranaths are missing trains?
I was talking to one of the shankaracharyas. I said, “Perfectly right; for argument’s sake I accept that this is true: we would have missed one Rabindranath Tagore. But I am willing to miss him. If the whole country can live peacefully, can have enough food, can have enough clothes, can have all basic needs fulfilled, I think it is worth it. I am ready to lose one Rabindranath Tagore, it is nothing much.
“You have to see the balance: millions of people dying and starving just to produce one Rabindranath Tagore? So you mean every parent has to go up to thirteen? But what about the fourteenth? What about the fifteenth?” And forget about these small numbers; in each love-making a man releases millions of sperms – and every time a man makes love a child is not conceived.
You will be surprised to know that if from the age a man becomes sexually mature, that is fourteen, he continues, according to my calculations, up to the age of forty-two, which I feel is a new maturity…. Just as sex matures at fourteen, spirituality starts growing at forty-two. There is a seven-year cycle.
In the first seven years there is no question of sex. The child is innocent. He may be playing sexual games, but those are unconscious and he has no idea that those games are sexual. And he is not playing those games for sexuality. He is being prepared by biology because later on he has to play all these games – some rehearsal is needed.
I told you that there are two games children play all around the earth; one I completely forgot that day. One is hide-and-seek, and the second is doctor and patient. That is strange…and the patient is always the girl, and the doctor is always the boy! I have inquired, “Does it happen sometimes the opposite way, that the girl is the doctor and the boy is the patient?” No, the girl is not interested at all in such curiosities.
The woman is not so much attracted by man’s body; she is attracted more by man’s charisma, impressiveness, personality – the way he walks, the way he talks. She is not much interested in his physical beauty she is interested in something which is not tangible. But the woman has that instinct to find what is attractive in the man.
Many times a man will be surprised: “I don’t see anything attractive in this man,” and it happens that that man is almost a hero among women. Many women get attracted to that man. They see something, they feel something which no other man will ever be able to see in that man. But their attraction is not physical, it is something more subtle; more the vibes of the energy, more on the esoteric side.
For example, Chetana has a boyfriend, Milarepa – Milarepa the Great. Milarepa is just a lady-killer, continually killing ladies here, there, and everywhere. And I can’t even recognize him! Vivek goes on showing me, Chetana has been showing me: “This is Milarepa,” and the next time again I forget who Milarepa is. He is such a lady-killer that I want to see him and look better at him, to see what is the matter. But I simply go on forgetting his face.
Just yesterday, Vivek told me, “He was standing with the drum just in front of you.” With a drum! – in front of me! I saw the drum and missed Milarepa. The drum was good and the drumming was good – everything was good – but I simply did not look at the man who was drumming it. He is a great drummer. I again missed.
I go on asking Chetana about Milarepa, and she has described to me everything about Milarepa. In fact Milarepa is the only person about whom I know any kind of information. Every day I try to find out – one day I am going to figure out that this is Milarepa. But yesterday I lost hope.
He was standing in front of me drumming – what more can the poor fellow do? Just, I am blind. And he is certainly a personality like Lord Byron in that even though he goes with so many ladies, no lady feels offended. They all accept that he is such a person that you cannot possess him.
From the very beginning there are individuals. And millions of people in each love-making simply disappear. We will never know how many Nobel prize-winners were there, how many presidents, prime ministers…all kinds of people must have been there.
So this is my calculation: from the fourteenth year to the age of forty-two, if a man goes absolutely normally about his love-making, he will release almost the equal amount of sperms as is the whole population of the earth. A single man can populate the whole earth – overpopulate it! – it is already overpopulated. And this can be done even by a single Milarepa; nobody else is needed. And all these people will be unique individuals, not having anything in common except their humanness.
No, life does not start there either; life starts farther back. But to you that is only a hypothesis – to me it is an experience. Life begins at the point of your past life’s death. When you die, on the one side one chapter of life, which people think was your whole life, is closed. It was only a chapter in a book which has infinite chapters. One chapter closes, but the book is not closed. Just turn the page and another chapter begins.
The person dying starts visualizing his next life. This is a known fact, because it happens before the chapter closes. Once in a while a person comes back from the very last point. For example he is drowning, and he is somehow saved. He is almost in a coma; the water has to be taken out, artificial breathing has to be given, and somehow he is saved. He was just on the verge of closing the chapter. These people have reported interesting facts.
One is, that at the last moment when they felt that they were dying, that it was finished, their whole past life went fast before them, in a flash – from birth to that moment. Within a split second they saw everything that had happened to them, that they had remembered, and also that which they had never remembered; many things which they have not even taken note of, and that they were not aware were part of their memory. The whole film of memory goes so quickly, in a flash – and it has to be in a split second because the man is dying, there is no time, like three hours to see the whole movie.
And even if you see the whole movie you cannot relate the whole story of a man’s life, with small, insignificant details. But everything passes before him – that is a certain, very significant phenomenon. Before ending the chapter he recollects all his experiences, unfulfilled desires, expectations, disappointments, frustrations, sufferings, joys – everything.
Buddha has a word for it, he calls it tanha. Literally it means desire, but metaphorically it means the whole life of desire. All these things happened – frustrations, fulfillments, disappointments, successes, failures…but all this happened within a certain area you can call desire.
The dying man has to see the whole of it before he moves on further, just to recollect it, because the body is going: this mind is not going to be with him, this brain is not going to be with him. But the desire released from this mind will cling to his soul, and this desire will decide his future life. Whatever has remained unfulfilled, he will move toward that target.
Your life begins far back before your birth, before your mother’s impregnation, further back in your past life’s end. That end is the beginning of this life. One chapter closes, another chapter opens. Now, how this new life will be is ninety-nine percent determined by the last moment of your death. What you collected, what you have brought with you like a seed – that seed will become a tree, bring fruits, bring flowers, or whatever happens to it. You cannot read it in the seed, but the seed has the whole blueprint.
There is a possibility that one day science may be able to read in the seed the whole program – what kind of branches this tree is going to have, how long this tree is going to live, what is going to happen to this tree – because the blueprint is there, we just don’t know the language. Everything that is going to happen is already potentially present.
So what you do at the moment of your death determines how your birth is going to be. Most people die clinging. They don’t want to die, and one can understand why they don’t want to die. Only at the moment of death do they recognize the fact that they have not lived. Life has simply passed as if a dream, and death has come. Now there is no more time to live – death is knocking on the door. And when there was time to live, you were doing a thousand and one foolish things, wasting your time rather than living it.
I have asked people playing cards, playing chess, “What are you doing?”
They say, “Killing time.”
From my very childhood I have been against this expression, “killing time.” My grandfather was a great chess player, and I would ask him, “You are getting old and you are still killing time. Can’t you see that really time is killing you? and you go on saying that you are killing time. You don’t know even what time is, you don’t know where it is. Just catch hold of it and show me.”
All these expressions that time is fleeting, and passing, and going, are just a kind of consolation. It is really you who are passing – going down the drain every moment. And you go on thinking that it is time that is passing, as if you are going to stay and time is going to pass! Time is where it is; it is not passing. Watches and clocks are man’s creation to measure the passing time, which is not passing at all.
Only in one madman’s house did I see the right kind of clock. I was traveling and I just missed the train. To catch the same train, I rushed to pick up a taxi to go to the other station – which was possible because the train went on a longer route of one hundred and twenty miles, so the taxi could reach there first by the sixty miles the road went. So I rushed to the taxi stand and there I found one of my friends from my school days – we studied in the high school together. So he was very happy.
He said, “Don’t be worried will put you on that train, if not at the next station, then at the next, or the next; or I will take you the whole journey. Don’t be worried – but you have to come to my house.”
I said, “There is no time for me to waste. I have to catch the train.”
He said, “You have to come. I have been waiting for you for years, and I have been hearing about you, and reading about you in newspapers and everything. I was waiting, thinking that someday you would come here too – and today you have come, and you are in such a hurry, you can’t even come to my house just to see in what misery I have fallen.”
I said, “What has happened?”
He said, “You just come.”
There was no way out! And he was the only taxi owner there; there was no other taxi, it was a small town. I said, “There is no other way so I will come, but remember that I have to catch the train whatsoever happens, wherever you catch it – but I have to catch the train.” That he promised.
He took me to his home and there I could see even through the window – the window was open – that his wife was mad. She was standing there holding the steel rods which were fixed on the windows to prevent her coming out. And the way her hair was falling, and the way she looked….
He said, “This is my wife.”
I said, “Good, but what can I do? – I am in a hurry. And do you want me to treat your wife or something?”
“No,” he said, “no, I don’t want you to treat her. I just want you to see her and suggest to me what I can do.”
I said, “Okay.” I went in and there I saw a clock – in my whole life the only right clock I have seen, and that woman had made it. It had only the hour hand. You could not figure out what the time was. I asked the man, “What is the point of keeping this clock here with only an hour hand?”
He said, “This woman has her ideas. I have had that clock fixed dozens of times but she always removes the minute hand.”
I said, “How do you tell the time?”
He showed me another watch. In his pocket he had a pocket watch which had only a minute hand. He said, “I keep both watches in front of me and figure out what the time is.”
I said, “Your wife is mad, but you are also mad. This is something! Really, you are a creative, inventive scientist – and you are driving a taxi! I could not have imagined that two clocks would do the work.”
He said, “They do perfectly well. Because she is not going to listen, I had to manage something myself.”
That is the only clock that is right because you could not figure out the time.
In India, in Punjab, if you are traveling in Punjab – you can ask Neelam – never ask anybody, “What is the time?” because if it happens to be twelve you will be beaten. And if you can escape alive it will be just a miracle. It is just for a very philosophical reason – but when philosophy comes into the hands of fools, this is what happens.
Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, has said that the moment of samadhi is just like two hands of the clock meeting on twelve, where they are no longer two. He was just taking an example – that in the moment of samadhi the twoness of your being dissolves and you arrive at oneness. The same happens in death too. He explained later on that the same happens in death. Again the two hands which have been separately moving come together and stop, become one: you become one with existence.
So in Punjab, twelve o’clock has become the symbol of death. So if you ask any Sosan, “What is the time?” if it happens to be twelve, he will simply start beating you, because that means you are teasing him, and you are cursing him with death. About somebody with a long face, miserable, in anguish, in Punjab they will say, “On his face it is twelve o’clock.” I have seen Sardars changing their watch quickly: when it comes to twelve they will move it five minutes ahead quickly. They won’t keep it on twelve; it hurts that their own watch is playing tricks on them. Twelve reminds them only of misery, sadness, death; they have completely forgotten about samadhi which Nanak was really trying to explain to them.
When a person dies – when it is twelve o’clock for him – he clings to life. His whole life he has been thinking time is passing; now he feels he is going, he has passed. No clinging can help. He becomes so miserable, and the misery becomes so unbearable, that most people fall into a kind of unconscious state, a coma, before they die. So they miss recollecting their whole life.
If death is without any clinging, if there is no desire to remain alive, even for a single moment more, you will die consciously because there is no need for nature to make you unconscious or force you into a coma. You will die alert, and you will recollect the whole past. You will be able to see that whatever you have been doing was simply stupid.
Desires have been fulfilled – what have you gained? Desires have remained unfulfilled and you have suffered – but what have you gained when they are fulfilled?
It is a strange game in which you are always losing: Whether you win or lose makes no difference.
Your pleasures were nothing, just signatures made on water.
And your pain was engraved on granite.
And you suffered all that pain for these signatures on water. You suffered your whole life for small joys which don’t appear to be more than toys at this stage, from this height, from this point where you can see the whole valley of your life. Successes were also failures. Failures of course were failures, and pleasures were nothing but incentives to suffer pain.
All your euphoria was just the function of your dream faculty. You are going with empty hands. This whole life has been just a vicious circle: you went on moving in the same circle, around and around and around. And you have not arrived anywhere because by moving in a circle, how you can arrive anywhere? The center always remained at the same distance wherever you were on the circle.
Success came, failure came; pleasure came, pain came; there was misery and there was joy: everything went on happening on the circle but the center of your being always remained equidistant from every place. It was difficult to see while you were in the circle – you were too much involved in it, too much part of it. But now, suddenly all has dropped out of your hands – you are standing empty.
Kahlil Gibran, in his masterpiece, The Prophet, has one sentence…. Al-Mustafa, the prophet, comes running to the people who are working in the farms and says to them, “My ship has arrived, my time has come to go. I have come here just to glance back on all that has happened and on all that has not happened. Before I go aboard the ship I have a great longing just to see what my life here was.”
The sentence that I was going to remind you of is…he says, “I am just like a river which is going to fall into the ocean. She waits for a moment to look back at the whole terrain that she has passed – the jungles, the mountains, the people. It has been a rich life of thousands of miles, and now, in a single moment, all is going to dissolve. So just like a river on the brink of falling into the ocean looks back, I want to look back.”
But this looking back is possible only if you are not clinging to the past; otherwise you are so afraid to lose it that you don’t have time to observe, to see. And time is just a split second. If a man dies fully alert, seeing the whole terrain that he has passed and seeing the whole stupidity of it, he is born with a sharpness, with an intelligence, with a courage – automatically. It is not something he does.
You ask me, “You were sharp, courageous, intelligent, even as an infant; I am not that courageous even now….” The reason is that I died in my past life in a different way than you died. That makes the great difference, because the way you die, in the same way you are born. Your death is one side of the coin, your birth is another side of the same coin.
If on the other side there was confusion, misery anguish, clinging, desire, then on this side of the coin you can’t expect sharpness, intelligence, courage, clarity, awareness. That will be absolutely unwarranted; you cannot expect that.
From the very beginning I have not done anything in this life to be courageous or to be sharp and intelligent, and I have never thought about it as courage or sharpness or intelligence.
It was only later on that I slowly became aware of how stupid people are. It was only a later reflection: earlier I was not aware that I was courageous. I thought everybody must be the same. Only later on it became clear to me that everybody is not the same.
One of the joys in my childhood was to go to the highest hill by the side of the river and jump. Many neighborhood boys would come with me to try it. But they would just go to the very brink and come back. Seeing the height they would say, “Suddenly something happens.” I used to tell them again and again: “If I can jump – I don’t have a steel body – and if I go on managing, surviving, why can’t you?”
They said, “We try our hardest” – and they really did try. There was one brahmin boy living just next door who was very humiliated because he could not jump. So he must have asked his father what to do, “…because it is very humiliating. He goes on top of the hill and jumps from there, and we just watch. We can see that if he can jump, we can jump; there is no problem in it. If the height cannot kill him, why should it kill us? But when we gather courage, making all kinds of effort, and we rush, suddenly there comes the break. From where the break comes, we don’t know, but just something inside us says, ‘No, these rocks, and this river – if you fall on a rock, or… And the river is deep, and when you fall from a height, first you go to the very bottom of the river then you come up; you cannot do anything else.’”
His father said, “This is not good” – because his father was a very good wrestler, one of the champions of the district. He used to run a gymnasium and teach other people how to fight Indian free-style wrestling. That is more human, more skillful, and more artful than boxing. Boxing seems to be an absolutely animal type of behavior.
In Indian wrestling you don’t hurt the other person. A very good wrestler simply touches the other person, and the other person falls flat. It is an art, a craft; the body has been taught point by point. Howsoever strong the other person is, if you just hit him this much – just this much – at a perfect angle behind the knee, the man will fall. Howsoever strong he is does not matter; you just have to know the right point where to hit with your hand. Your hand may be just a delicate hand – there is no need for it to be a hammer – the man will fall.
They know all kinds of strategies, there are thousands; and it is an art, certainly an art. Nobody is hurt, there is no desire to hurt anybody. And the game is worth seeing; it almost takes your breath away because it happens so quickly when there is a master wrestler.
And this man was a master wrestler. He was not very giant-like, and that was one of the reasons he became famous. He was middle-size in height, not a heavyweight champion but very thin. And in fact whenever he was challenged or he challenged somebody, the other wrestlers used to laugh: “This man? He may get killed! His bones may get fractured! This man is going to fight? The other man is so strong he will just take him up in both his hands and throw him down.”
That was his whole art, because everybody was ready to fight with him thinking that they were going to be victorious. And what he did on the field… The Indian wrestling field is not like the boxing ring. Very fine powdered earth, six-inches thick, is spread on a big piece of ground, so if they fall nobody is hurt. It is far softer than velvet, it is ground so fine, and they find the best kind of soil for it.
What he used to do first… The other wrestler would stand there, of course perfectly certain that he was going to win. And this poor fellow, who looked poor but always proved to be the winner, would go around in the circle of people standing to see – inside the circle was the wrestling area. He would go around dancing backward, and that dance was worth seeing. He wouldn’t look backward; he would look ahead while dancing backward and would still go exactly in a circle.
After his dance was over – and the other man was taken aback with what he was doing, the dance was so beautiful, so graceful – after the dance he would immediately jump on the fellow, as a tiger or a lion jumps on game. He was so lightweight he could almost fly in the air, and the man was simply taken by surprise: “What is happening?” First, his dance was strange, no wrestler I have seen dances that way, and after the dance he would simply jump on the fellow. And he had such small strategies that within seconds… People were not able to figure out what he did, and how the other man was flat on the ground and how this man was sitting on his chest.
If the child had belonged to somebody else, his father would have told him not to go there at all, but this man was not that type. He said, “If he can jump and you cannot, that is a disgrace to me. I will come with you. I will stand there, and don’t be worried: when he jumps, you jump.”
I had no idea that his father was going to be there. When I went there I saw the father, the son and a few other boys who had gathered to see. I had a look and I figured out what was the matter. I said to the boy, “Today you need not bother – let your father jump. He is a great wrestler and there will be no problem for him.”
The father looked at me, because he had come just to encourage the boy so that he did not become a coward. He said, “So I have to jump?”
I said, “Yes, you can have your dance – you can do anything that you want. Get ready!”
He looked down, and he said, “I am a wrestler. These rocks and this river – and you have found some spot! You must have been rehearsing here. Anybody else trying to jump is going to break his neck or leg or anything.”
I said, “You brought your son.”
He said, “I brought him not knowing what was the situation. I thought if you can jump, he can jump; he is of the same age. But here, seeing the situation, I was worried and thinking that if you didn’t turn up today it would be a great thing, because my boy is not going to survive. But you are clever: you simply dropped my boy and caught hold of me. I will try.”
And the same thing happened. Even that wrestler who was so courageous in every way, who had been fighting his whole life… But coming to the brink, the sudden break – because the slope was such, at least fifty feet down, and the river was thirty feet deep, and the rocks were such that it was beyond your control where you would land, what would hit you. And standing on the top of the hill the wind was so strong that you could be simply killed.
He just stopped there and he said, “Forgive me.” And he told his son, “Son, come home. This is not our business. Let him do it – perhaps he knows something.”
That day I felt strangely about myself: why doesn’t that break come to me? I had tried on very strange places…
The railway bridge was the highest point on the river, naturally, because in the rains the river swells up so big and the bridge always has to remain above it, so it was made at the highest point. And there were always two guards at the bridge, for two reasons: firstly, so that nobody committed suicide, because that was the place for people to commit suicide. Just falling from there into the river was enough. You never reached the river alive, you lost your breath somewhere in the middle. It was so high that just to look downward was enough to give you a nauseous feeling.
And secondly, there was a fear of revolutionaries who were planting bombs, blowing up bridges, burning trains. To destroy a bridge was very significant for the revolutionaries because those bridges were joining two parts of the province. If the bridge was broken then the army could not pass, and the revolutionaries could do something in the other part where there was no army headquarters. So these guards were there twenty-four hours a day. But they accepted me.
I explained to them, “I neither want to commit suicide, nor have I come to blow up your bridge. In fact I want the bridge to be guarded carefully because this is my place. If this bridge is gone then my highest point of jumping is gone.”
They said, “This is your practice?”
I said, “This is my practice. You can watch, and once you have seen you will be convinced that I have no other desire.”
They said, “Okay, we will watch.”
I jumped. They could not believe it. When I came back I asked them, “Would you like to try?”
They said, “No, but for you it is always free; you can come at any time. We have seen you going so easily, but we cannot jump – we know people have died from here.”
That bridge was known as Death Bridge and that was the easiest, cheapest way to commit suicide. Even if you purchased poison, some money was wasted, but from that bridge it was simply easy. The river there was the deepest and it took you away. Nobody would even find your body because just after a few miles it met a bigger river, a huge river – and you were gone forever.
Seeing the fear on those two guards’ faces, seeing the fear in this wrestler, I simply started wondering, “Perhaps I miss the breaks; perhaps they should be there because they are protective.” But as I started growing up… And I have been growing up, I have not been growing older. From my very birth I have been growing up, growing up, growing up. Never think that I am growing older. Only idiots grow older, everybody else grows up.
As I started growing up I started becoming aware of my past life, and death, and I remembered how easily I had died – not only easily but enthusiastically. My interest was more in knowing the unknown that was ahead than in the known that I had seen. I have never looked back. And it has been my whole life’s way not to look back. There is no point. You can’t go back, so why waste time? I am always looking ahead. Even at the point of death I was looking ahead – and that’s what made me clear why I was missing the breaks.
Those breaks are provided by your fear of the unknown. You are clinging to the past and you are afraid to move into the unknown. You are clinging to the known, the acquainted. It may be painful, it may be ugly, but at least you know it. You have grown a certain kind of friendship with it.
You will be surprised, but this is my experience of thousands of people: that they cling to their misery for the simple reason that they have grown a certain kind of friendship with misery. They have lived with it so long that now to leave it will be almost like a divorce.
The same is the situation with marriage and divorce. The man thinks at least twelve times in a day about divorce; the woman thinks also – but somehow both go on managing, living together, for the simple reason that both are afraid of the unknown. This man is bad, okay, but who knows about the other man? He may prove worse. And at least you have become accustomed to this man’s badness, unlovingness. And you can tolerate it, you have tolerated it; you have also become thick-skinned. With the new man, you never know; you will have to start from the very scratch again. So people go on clinging to the known.
Just watch people at the moment of death. Their suffering is not death. Death has no pain in it, it is absolutely painless. It is really pleasant; it is just like a deep sleep. Do you think deep sleep is something painful?
But they are not concerned about death, and deep sleep, and pleasure; they are worried about the known that is slipping out of their hands. Fear means only one thing: losing the known and entering into the unknown.
Courage is just the opposite of fear.
Always be ready to drop the known – more than willing to drop it – not even waiting for it to be ripe. Just jump on something that is new…its very newness, its very freshness, is so alluring. Then there is courage. Courage is not something that you have to exercise for and practice, do yoga asanas and go to a gymnasium for. No, I have seen those courageous people. They are not courageous at all.
I had a friend when I was in my matriculation year, who was very much interested in wrestling. He was a good wrestler, and of course he was thought to be very brave and courageous; he had won the state championship for wrestling.
In those days in our town there was the high school, but examinations for matriculation were not held there. For matriculation we had to go to the district place where the examinations were held. So we all went to the district place. It was not far away, just thirty miles, but we had to stay there for fifteen or twenty days – as long as the examination continued. By chance it happened that he had no place to stay, so I said, “You can stay with me.”
One of my father’s friends, who was a kerosene oil dealer, had a beautiful house. In front of the guest house there was a big house which he used for empty kerosene tin cans – just to collect them there – and on the side was his shop. What I had experienced many times before – many times I had been there and had stayed in their guest house – was that in the hot summer in India, when it is so hot in the day, the tin cans expand, and in the night they again come back to their size. So they make much noise, and if there are thousands of tin cans in the house, then you can think what kind of noise they will create.
So this wrestler…we were talking about things and for some reason we started talking about ghosts. He said, “I don’t believe in ghosts.”
I said, “It is not a question of belief. Do you want to see one?”
He said, “No, but there is no question of seeing. I don’t believe in ghosts.”
I said, “If you don’t believe, then don’t be afraid. I can manage a meeting this very night.”
Now he was in a corner. He said, “Okay. I don’t believe that there are ghosts.” But I could see on his face all his wrestling – because you can’t wrestle with a ghost. And I said, “A simple thing has to be done. You see the house in front?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “On the second floor, there is a beautiful room. Go there. Sleep there tonight and you will meet them because the ground floor of this house is occupied by ghosts.”
He said, “I don’t believe it – this is all nonsense.”
I said, “No problem. If by chance you are right, there is no problem; if by chance you prove wrong, I am always here. You can just give me a call from the balcony.”
He said, “There will be no need of calling anybody.”
He went into the house. The staircase went by the ground floor where all those tin cans were gathered. He looked at all those tin cans, but he had no idea what those tin cans could do. He went up and he said, “There is nothing – no problem.” I left him upstairs and I told him, “I am going out. Please lock it from within so nobody comes in.” So he came back, locked the door and went up.
Nearabout one o’clock in the night, it started. Of course I was fast asleep by that time thinking that nothing was going to happen. I had waited for one and a half hours, and then I said, “Perhaps today the climate is not good, or something else is the matter.” So I went to sleep. But by one or one-thirty, there was such a crowd that I woke up thinking, “What is the matter?” I had completely forgotten that I had put that boy there – and that was the matter.
A whole crowd was gathered there, and he was standing on the balcony, screaming; he could not make any words come out. He became almost like a person who cannot speak, and as he saw me – because all those people were strangers to him – as he saw me, he just raised his hand, and I said, “What is the matter – ghosts?”
He said yes with his head – he could not say it with his mouth; with his head he said it. So I said, “Why don’t you come and open the door?…”
We had to put a ladder up to the balcony, but he was so shaky that two persons had to put him on the ladder, and somehow we brought him down. I had to pour cold water on his head; then he started speaking. He said, “My God! If you had said that there were so many ghosts I would not have believed you. I thought that maybe there would be one or two I could manage them. But there were so many, and they were going from one tin can into another, from another into another. They were passing by and running all around, and making sounds – and you told me to come down by the staircase which passes just by the side of those cans!”
I said, “Now do you think that ghosts exist?”
He said, “Not only do I know, I will never forget; this experience is enough for my whole life. I will never say anything against any ghost. Although they did no harm to me, I have never been shaken so much. I feel as if all my energy is gone and I have become hollow within.”
I said, “Don’t be worried, by the morning you will be solid again; just have a good sleep.”
But he could not sleep the whole night, tossing and turning, and he said, “Can you hear the noises even from here?”
I said, “I can hear them, but I know those ghosts are very friendly people and I have been here many times. You are unnecessarily getting worried.”
He said, “Friendly? Ghosts – and friendly! Only you can sleep here – I am going. I will sleep in the railway station, and in the morning I will find some other house, because even in this house I can hear that sound. I can neither study, nor can I take the examination if these sounds continue.”
And actually that’s what happened. He went in the middle of the night to the railway station. I don’t know what he did, where he slept in the railway station, but in the morning he was not in the examination hall. I made inquiries; I phoned his family, and they said, “Yes, he has come back by the night train. He says, ‘There are so many ghosts – this year is gone. This year I cannot sit for the examination in that city. Next time I will choose another center, another district place, not that town.’ And he is so afraid…. What really happened?”
I said, “Nothing has happened, and when I come I will explain the whole thing. But the year is gone and he is responsible, because he insisted, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts.’ I said ‘I know their place,’ so I showed him the place.”
His family is still angry with me because then he never passed matriculation; he is still a non-matriculate. He tried eleven times, but the fear went so deep in him that at examination time he would start feeling nervous. The whole experience of that night would become alive again; he would start reliving it.
After eleven years even the family said, “Don’t unnecessarily harass yourself – forget about it. It is your doing: Why did you insist to that person that there are no ghosts? You know that he is clever enough to arrange something, and he must have managed it. We can’t see how he managed, but he must have done something.”
I explained to them that there was nothing managed; that it was just tins, empty tins, which shrink in the night when it gets cold, and they make a noise. And because they are piled on top of each other it seems as if something is going from one to another, passing by, roaming around. But no explanation could help. That shock really went deep into his heart.
The fear of death is certainly the greatest fear, and the most destructive of your courage.
So I can suggest only one thing. Now you cannot go back to your past death, but you can start doing one thing: Always be ready to move from the known to the unknown, in anything, any experience.
It is better, even if the unknown proves worse than the known – that is not the point.
Just your change from the known to the unknown, your readiness to move from the known to the unknown, is what matters. It is immensely valuable. And in all kinds of experiences, go on doing that. That will prepare you for death, because when death comes you cannot suddenly decide, “I choose death and leave life.” These decisions are not made suddenly.
You have to go inch by inch, preparing, living moment to moment. And as you grow more familiar with the beauty of the unknown you start creating a new quality in you. It is there, it has just never been used. Before death comes, go on moving from the known to the unknown. Always remember that the new is better than the old.
They say all that is old is not gold. I say, even if all that is old is gold, forget about it. Choose the new – gold or no gold, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is your choice: your choice to learn, your choice to experience, your choice to go into the dark. Slowly slowly your courage will start functioning. And sharpness of intelligence is not something separate from courage, it is almost one organic whole.
With fear there is cowardliness and there is bound to be retardedness of the mind, mediocrity. They are one part. They are all together, they support each other. With courage comes sharpness, intelligence, openness, an unprejudiced mind, the capacity to learn – they all come together.
Start by a simple exercise, and that is: always remember, whenever there is a choice choose the unknown, the risky, the dangerous, the insecure, and you will not be at a loss.
And only then…this time death can become a tremendously revealing experience and can give you the insight into your new birth – not only insight but even a certain choice. With awareness you can choose a certain mother, a certain father. Ordinarily it is all unconscious, just accidental, but a man dying with awareness is born with awareness.
You can ask my mother about something – because she happens to be here. For three days after my birth I didn’t take any milk, and they were all worried, concerned. The doctors were concerned: “How is this child going to survive if he simply refuses milk?” But they had no idea of my difficulty, of what difficulty they were creating for me. They were trying to force me in every possible way. And there was no way I could explain to them, or that they could find out by themselves.
In my past life, before I died, I was on a fast. I wanted to complete a twenty-one day fast, but I was murdered three days before my fast was complete. Those three days remained in my awareness even in this birth: I had to complete my fast. I am really stubborn; otherwise, people don’t carry things from one life to another life. Once a chapter is closed, it is closed.
For three days they could not manage to put anything in my mouth; I simply rejected it. But after three days I was perfectly okay and they were all surprised: “Why was he refusing for three days? There was no sickness, no problem, and now, after three days, he is perfectly normal.” It remained a mystery to them. But I don’t want to talk about these things to you because they will all be hypothetical, and there is no way for me to prove them scientifically. And I don’t want to give you any beliefs, so I go on cutting away all that may create a belief system in your mind.
You love me, you trust me, so whatever I say you may trust it. But I insist again and again that anything that is not based on your experience, accept it only hypothetically. Don’t make it your belief. If sometimes I give an example, that is sheer necessity. The questioner has asked, “How did you manage to be so courageous and sharp in your childhood?”
I did not do anything, I simply continued what I was doing in my past life. And that’s why in my childhood I was thought to be crazy, eccentric – because I would not give any explanation of why I wanted to do something. I would simply say, “I want to do it. There are reasons for me why I am doing it, but I cannot give you those reasons because you cannot understand.”
My father would say, “I cannot understand and you can?”
I said, “Yes, it is something that belongs to my inner experience. It has nothing to do with your age, your being my father. You, of course, can understand much more than I can understand, but this is something which is inside me; only I can approach there, you cannot.”
And he would simply say, “You are impossible.”
I said, “If everybody accepted this it would be a great relief. Just accept me as impossible so I am no longer a problem for you and I don’t have to trouble explaining all kinds of things. I am going to do whatever I am going to do. There is no way to change it. For me it is absolute. It is not a question of your giving me permission or not.”
So this was my usual practice: whatever I wanted to do, I would do. For example, in my town, in those days before India was divided…. The creation of Pakistan has destroyed many things in India. All the snake charmers were Mohammedan; they all moved to Pakistan. India is almost empty of snake charmers; otherwise every day Indian roads were simply a joy. On one corner you would see a magician doing such tremendous tricks that you would completely forget that Jesus was a man of miracles. People on the streets were doing things just to collect perhaps one rupee at the most after the whole show – and that was a lot. And some other place somebody is making the snakes dance around him with his special kind of flute.
I was interested in snakes; I watched many snake charmers. I was looking for somebody who could have a little compassion on a child. I followed one old man. Snake charmers used to stay outside the town on the other shore of the river. The municipal committee did not allow them to stay on this side because of their snakes. They had to stay on the other side of the river so even if snakes wanted to come to this side they couldn’t.
I followed him. Many times he looked back, and when we were alone, he said, “My son, why are you coming behind me?”
I said, “I have been looking for you for years.”
“For me?” he said.
I said, “Yes, because I wanted to know: what is the art catching snakes?” But he said, “Why did you wait for me? There are so many snake charmers coming and going.”
I said, “I wanted somebody who can have compassion on me. I cannot give you money because I cannot tell my parents that I need money to learn snake-charming. That will be the end of it.”
He said, “That’s true. But have you got their permission?”
I said, “If I get their permission I get their permission only when I don’t want to do something. Whenever I want to do something I do it first, then whatsoever happens, happens. When I have done it, they ask, ‘Why didn’t you ask?’ And my answer is always, ‘Simply because I wanted to do it, and you were not going to permit me. Now you make it difficult for me. If you give me a blank permission there is no problem, or if you promise me that even if I ask you such a thing you are going to say yes, I will ask.’ But snake-charming? I think,” I told that old man, “they are not going to permit me. But there is no need, you just tell me the trick.” And I persuaded him.
He was a very loving man; he said, “Okay. One day I was also a child, and one day I also wanted to learn and had asked somebody, and so many people refused. No, I cannot refuse you.”
And he told me small tricks. He said, “First you start catching water snakes because water snakes don’t have poison; They look absolutely like other snakes but they are without poison. So,” he said, “practice with water snakes.”
“Water snakes?” I said. “I know many of them because all around the river I am familiar with their places. How do I catch them?”
He said, “The method is very simple. You have just to hold their mouth tight so they can’t bring their tongue out. So one thing: so that they don’t bring their tongue out, you hold their mouth very tight. And the second thing: with the other hand, hold their tail, because if you leave the other end, they will immediately wind themselves up around your hand, and they wind themselves so tight that your hand opens. And once their tongue is out then you cannot be saved. But with water snakes there is no problem, even if their tongue is out; that’s why, for practice, you start with water snakes.
“First, hold their mouth, keep it tightly closed catch hold of their tail and stretch them as much as you can, so that even if sometimes you forget or you lose your grip…. Stretch them as much as you can so that they cannot just circle around your arm and press it so much that your hand opens. And even if your hand opens and their tongue comes out, hold them with both your hands. Don’t let them turn upward.
“The snake has its glands of poison in the top of the mouth, and its method of biting is, first, it bites with its teeth; that is just to make a wound in your body. Then it turns itself upward, so from its gland the poison starts flowing on your wound. He does not bite you really, his teeth are not poisonous. His teeth are just to create a wound so blood is available to pour poison in; then the blood will take the poison around your body. So even if he opens his mouth, don’t be worried. Just don’t let him turn upward – hold him.”
I tried it with the river snakes. That was a great experience. They are really quick, it is not so easy. Once I had learned with water snakes, I told the man, and he said, “Now you try with my snakes because they are trained and their poison gland has been removed. But wild, these are really dangerous snakes. You should not start with them; first try with the trained ones. These are all for show business. Their glands have been removed so they cannot do anything; but they can make all the show of biting. And that’s how snake-charmers used to sell medicine.”
A small seed of some tree, which is rare and is found only in the Himalayas – it has value because you cannot find it anywhere else – they used to sell that. Their simple method was: they would let their snake bite them in front of you and blood would appear. The snake would turn upward – nothing but saliva was pouring on their blood – and then they would just put that seed, which was a porous seed, on their wound. It sticks onto the wound and sucks the blood and the saliva that the snake has left there; when they take it off, their hand is almost clean, there is nothing. They were selling those seeds – and they were useless, there was nothing in it. With the real snake nothing is going to work, but those snakes were just show business.
So he told me, “This is our business. We have nothing to do with real snakes. Don’t bother with real snakes, you can play with my snakes. But once you learn, then if a chance arises you can catch hold of any snake.”
And when my parents came to know…they had to come to know because that was the whole thing that I was learning. I brought a long water snake into the class. That was the class the principal himself used to take. He was always talking of courage, and this and that. And when I came in with the snake hanging over my back and holding his mouth and went just close to his desk, he stood on his chair. He said, “Keep away! Keep away! Don’t come close.”
I said, “This is nothing, this is just a poisonous snake. You are not a cowardly man, come down.”
He said, “Get out of the room! I want nothing to do with you. And I promise I will not punish you – just get out. I will never raise the question that you brought the snake into the class. Just get out!”
But I remained there, and I said, “What about my father? You have to promise before thirty students that I never came into this class with a snake. Say it loudly.”
And the snake was so big that he had to say loudly, “I promise that you never came into this class with any snake.”
I said, “That’s okay. I am going.”
But he became so freaked out…”This is now too much. If this boy starts doing this kind of thing, he can bring a lion or something. How did he manage?” He rushed to my father, and he told him. He said, “Don’t say that I have told you because he has taken my promise before thirty boys who are always in his favor because if they are not he will create trouble for them. So the whole class as a solid unity is always behind him. Whatsoever he does doesn’t matter – they are in his favor. So they will say he never came with any snake.”
I came home. My father said, “Anything happen today?”
I said, “Every day something or other happens. Life is such a joy.”
He said, “It may be for you but for others you are a nuisance. I am thinking of sending you to a boarding school.” I said, “That’s a great idea. Boarding school, you mean?”
He said, “You have some ideas about boarding school?”
I said, “It would be perfectly good because you will not be there, the family will not be there. Nobody to bother me – and all that freedom…. And I will continue to do the same things that I do. I know what is troubling you. Badri Prasad Gupta was here?” I smelled around and said, “I can smell him – he stinks!”
My father said, “Just get lost! I don’t want to talk with you because from the very beginning you are prepared.”
I said, “Yes, and if you want to see the snake it is in the bag.” He escaped from me, ahead of me – he was out of the room!
But there was no training as such; I was just enjoying everything. It was such a joy to learn to catch snakes. I followed the magicians to learn their small tricks, anything that I came across. And I learned much more outside the school walls, colleges and university than in the university, colleges and schools themselves.
So I feel really sad and sorry for all those people who think all learning is confined to those walls. The real learning is outside. What is inside the walls of schools, colleges, universities is all borrowed, bogus, with none of the authenticity of your own experience, or exploration.
Courage will come to you.
Just start with a simple formula:
Never miss the unknown.
Always choose the unknown and go headlong. Even if you suffer, it is worth it – it always pays. You always come out of it more grown up, more mature, more intelligent.

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