From Personality to Individuality 06

Sixth Discourse from the series of 30 discourses - From Personality to Individuality by Osho.
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What is anguish? Is it just another name for anxiety?
Anguish has something of anxiety in it, but it is not just anxiety. It is much more, much more profound.
Anxiety means you are concerned with a particular subject, in a state of indecisiveness. You cannot figure out whether to do a thing or not to do it. What will be the right way to do it? What to choose? – there are so many ways. You are always standing at a crossroad. All the roads seem to be similar; certainly leading somewhere, but do they lead to the goal that you have been aspiring to? Anxiety is that condition of, to do or not to do, to choose this or to choose that. But the object of the anxiety is clear: you are indecisive about ways, indecisive about two persons, indecisive about two jobs. Anguish has no particular object.
Anguish happens to very rare people. Anxiety happens to everybody, it is a common experience. Anguish happens to the genius; it is the highest peak of intelligence. It has no particular object; there is nothing for you to choose between, no this or that. There is no question of choice. Then what is the problem with anguish?
You will have to understand a certain phenomenon. There are many things in the world – animals, birds, man – and anxiety happens to all: to the trees, to the animals, to the birds, to man. As far as anxiety is concerned it is a universal experience. But anguish happens only to a very few rare men. They are the very cream, the highest peak of consciousness. Their problem is concerned with the very existence.
For example, there is a rock; it is alive, it grows. The Himalayas are still growing one foot a year. Somebody should say to it, “Now it is meaningless, you are already the highest. Don’t take so much trouble.” It must be a troublesome thing: thousands of miles, thousands of peaks, the work must be enormous. Even to grow one foot a year is no small thing for the Himalayas. “Now there is no need. Howsoever big you become, you will remain only the highest mountain in the world. You have crossed the borders of all the mountains, you have left them far behind.” Mountains don’t understand. Man does not understand, what to say about mountains! The Himalayas go on growing, it is a living being.
A rock is born, a tree is born, a lion is born, an eagle is born – but they differ from man. The difference is, their being precedes their existence. It is a little difficult to understand but not impossible. I will try to explain it to you. Their essence precedes their existence: what they are going to be, they are already programmed for. That is their essence. A rose is going to be a rose. Even before the flowers have come, you know those flowers are not going to be marigolds. The bush is that of a rose; the essence of the rose is already there, only its existence has to happen. The basic program is already provided by nature, it has just to be manifest.
It will be good to be reminded of a certain discovery in the past decades that happened in the Soviet Union. A photographer, just an amateur but a very creative genius, was using his cameras, studio, chemicals and photographs, and trying to find different ways to bring something new to photography. Just by chance he happened to discover Kirlian photography, one of the greatest discoveries of human history.
He can take a photograph of a rosebud; he has refined his instruments now so much that you put the rosebud in front of his camera, and he takes a photograph of the flower that the rosebud is going to be. He catches hold of that which is still unmanifest but somehow is manifest because the camera catches it. Our eyes are not able to catch it. When the rose blossoms, it is strange, but it is exactly the same as the photograph he has taken.
Somehow the rose energy, which becomes available to our eyes later on, was moving in the same pattern as the flower it was going to be. It was an energy flower, just pure rays of light and color, but in exactly the same shape, preparing the ground for the manifestation. His camera catches those rays and gives you a blueprint of the future rose. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after tomorrow it will be available to your eyes. That means that the rose, before it becomes existent, is already there in essence. Hence the saying: essence precedes existence.
In the Second World War, Kirlian photography worked miracles. It is going to help medicine immensely in the future. It is unfortunate that scientists are also divided according to political lines. What is happening in the Soviet Union is kept secret; what is happening in America is kept secret. This is a sheer wastage of genius, energy, time – and time is very short.
Before the curtain falls and the drama is finished, it would be better if the scientists of the whole world declared: “We are international.” And we, our commune, will be supplying them with international passports belonging to no nation. But if the scientists have any courage, they can open up a totally new dimension and carry a passport which is neither Soviet, nor American, nor British, nor Indian – an international passport. Of course many will be caught and imprisoned, but that’s nothing to be worried about – how long could it go on?
If all the scientists of the world decide, then all the Nobel Prize winners follow; then all the poets, engineers, doctors, the intelligentsia of the world follow, how can you put all these people in jails? What will you do? What will your idiot politicians do? Without them they will be nothing.
Rajneeshpuram should be the headquarters; we are ready to issue international passports. It will create a revolution. Don’t be bothered by national boundaries; at least someone has to begin it. Let all the poets of the world meet, let the scientists of the world meet, and pour their energies into a single pool.
Now, Kirlian photography is still not being used outside the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union it is doing miracles. It was discovered in the Second World War, and Kirlian was given the job of finding out, if it works on a roseflower, how does it work on human beings? A man’s hand has been cut off, because he was damaged in the war. Kirlian takes a photograph, and strangely enough, the photograph shows a faint energy-hand with all the five fingers intact – and the hand is missing from the body. It just shows a little fainter than the rest of the body. The hand is no longer there but the energy that used to move in the hand is still moving. You cannot see it with your eyes, but a sensitive camera catches it.
Now, this gave rise to the idea that if the energy is still moving, there is a possibility of creating a hand through which energy can continue to move; then it will be a real hand. It will not be a wooden hand, or a plastic hand; it will be as real as real hands are – because what is the reality of the hand? Why is it alive? Why is it moving? It is moving because of the energy inside.
When you become paralyzed, what happens? It is not your hand getting paralyzed, it is the energy inside which has stopped flowing. The hand is there, the bones are there, the blood is there – everything is there. What is missing? What is paralysis? The energy is no longer moving, the energy has stopped for some reason. If we can arrange for the energy to move again…
That’s what acupuncture in China has been trying to do for five thousand years, to move the energy again. And acupuncture has succeeded in doing great things: a paralyzed man is no longer paralyzed. And what they do looks very childish; to the observer it doesn’t look like such a great thing. They just go on putting needles in at certain points in the body. The hand is paralyzed, but they may not touch the hand at all. They may be pushing the needle in somewhere else, because they know which part can obstruct the flow of energy in the hand. If that needle removes the blockage, the energy starts flowing: the hand is back, alive.
Another thing that Kirlian photography discovered was that just as a flower can be photographed before it has even opened its petals, when it is just a bud, among the healthy people he was photographing, some parts of their body were not the same as other parts. He was able to say there was some danger coming.
One man said, “There is no problem, I am perfectly healthy.” But danger came after six months, at exactly the same spot. The energy was already preparing the ground, perhaps for a cancerous growth. Kirlian photography is the only possibility right now. If we can catch hold of cancer before it materializes, we can get rid of it. There is no need for any surgery; all that you have to do is to stop that energy pattern, change that pattern, change the program, and the cancer will never happen.
In the East it is widely believed that six months before a man dies, he stops seeing the tip of his nose – and I have seen it with my own eyes, so it is not a question of belief for me, I never believe in anything unless I see it. His eyes just won’t go down far enough to see the tip of his nose; he cannot see the tip of his own nose. Within exactly six months he is going to die. That is an ancient, perhaps a ten-thousand-year-old discovery of ayurveda. When the ayurvedic physician comes to see if the patient is in the last stage, the first thing he wants to know is, “Please, can you see the tip of your nose?”
Now, any allopathic doctor seeing this will think this is stupid: “What has seeing the tip of the nose to do with his death? He is dying and you are joking, kidding? What are you doing?” The doctor is not aware of a strange phenomenon: that the eyes slowly stop turning downward. When the man dies, they turn completely upward. If you see a dead man you will see his eyes are completely upturned; you will see only the whites of the eyes. That’s why in all traditions, all over the world, the dead man’s eyes are immediately closed – because he may freak out many people who see his eyes. Just the whites are visible; the black has turned up.
It must have been this experience that gave the idea, ten thousand years ago, that if the eyes ultimately, in death, turn completely upward, they must start turning up some time before that – because life is always a process; nothing happens suddenly. There is nothing like suddenness in existence. So, watching, by and by they discovered that six months before is the time when the eyes start getting less and less flexible, more and more rigid; more and more turning upward, less and less turning downward. And if the man cannot see the tip of his own nose, the physician suggests to the family, “Don’t unnecessarily waste time. Prepare him for death. Help him to die peacefully, silently, meditatively, with gratitude.”
Only in the East has it been possible to prepare for death. People don’t prepare even for life. They come to know that they were alive only when they are dying or perhaps dead. Then suddenly a shock comes to them: “My God! What has happened? I was alive and now I am no longer alive. Those eighty years, ninety years have passed and I have not done anything, not felt for a single moment fulfilled, contented. Not for a single moment could I have said, ‘I am blessed.’”
Except for man, everything – every bird, every animal – in existence comes in this way: essence first, then manifestation. They are programmed by nature; their whole life is not an evolution but an unfolding. All that they are going to become is already in the basic program, and they cannot move a single inch from the program. It is not in their power to decide whether to be a rose or to be a marigold. Hence there is no anxiety about it. They are never asked to decide about their essence. They are never on a crossroads; they are always following a single route. There is nothing for them to choose about “being.”
Buffaloes, horses, donkeys, elephants don’t feel anxiety within their program. Yes, they can feel anger if you obstruct them. They can be destructive, they can be violent if you misbehave with them. They all have a certain code of conduct. If you just keep to yourself without interfering with their territorial imperative… For example, every elephant has its own territory. If you enter his territory you will be in danger. If you just keep out of the territory – and that territory you don’t know but the elephant knows. Once you enter his territory you are in danger, you have trespassed.
They can feel anger. They can feel superior, inferior. Just go to a tree in which many monkeys are sitting, and you will be surprised: the boss is sitting on the highest branch, and on the lowest branches are the servants. The boss has all the beautiful ladies. He may be old, he may not be able to reproduce anymore, but the boss is after all the boss.
Many times the younger generation kills the old monkey, for the simple reason that he is obstructing them from reaching the ladies, and while he is alive he won’t let anybody approach them. He has a harem; he does not bother about whether he is in a state to reproduce or not. His kingdom, his chiefhood, depends on how many ladies he has.
It is from the monkeys that Sigmund Freud got the idea that at some time a younger generation must have killed an old man who possessed all the beautiful ladies. The younger people were of course getting angry: “It is time for this man to die!” But he was not dying, and he was not allowing them either… Sigmund Freud’s idea of God is that because the younger people killed the father, they felt guilty; he was their father, their boss, and they had killed him just for the women. Now, two conclusions – Sigmund Freud has drawn only one conclusion… I am surprised how he missed the second, which was more likely to be made by him, but even geniuses are fallible.
Sigmund Freud made one conclusion: that because of killing the father they felt guilty, and to compensate for the guilt – just to get rid of it – they started worshipping the relics of the father, maybe his bones, his dead body that they had buried. They made a small memorial, and they started worshipping, otherwise his spirit may take revenge, his ghost may take revenge. They knew that he was a strict man and very jealous, and that to fool with his ladies… His ghost can create trouble for you. So sacrifice something, worship him, ask his forgiveness, and confess your sin.
Sigmund Freud derived the whole of Christianity, the whole of religion in fact, from the idea that God the father is really father the God. First the father was killed, and just to console his ghost they made him God the father. They said, “You are still our boss; even from here we are under you, we are your servants, your worshippers. Forgive us, it was foolish of us, but young people are foolish. You are experienced, you know everything; we hope you will forgive us.” The conclusion of Freud is that this is the way religion must have started. There are no historical facts about it but there is every possibility he is right.
The second thing – and I have always wondered how he missed it – was that they had killed the father for the younger ladies. Now, the second conclusion is so simple: to give solace to the father, all religions went against women. It was the woman for whom they had killed the father! The connection is so clear, and Sigmund Freud completely missed it. Even a blind man would not have missed it. It is so clear that they had killed, for no other reason but to get hold of the young ladies which the dirty old monkey was keeping in his possession. It was because of the ladies.
So, certainly religion should have two sides: one, worship, pray, praise the lord; and two, condemn women. When I first read Freud, I looked in all his books for the second conclusion – which is more Freudian – but he never comes to it. The first is a farfetched philosophical idea, but the second is a very clear-cut Freudian concept. But now Freud is dead, all that we can do is supplement it.
I emphasize the fact that because the killing was for the women, all religions are against women. If it were not for the women, they would not have killed the father. The story of Adam and Eve also says the same thing: it is because of the woman that man’s fall happened. Religions can never forgive the woman; they have been condemning her for centuries. Freud could have clearly seen both things: the people who believe in God and worship God disbelieve in the woman and think of her as an agent of the serpent, the Devil, as the original cause of the fall.
You will see in all animals the same hierarchy as you see in the monkeys. But it is programmed, it is not a question of anxiety. Have you seen two dogs barking and jumping and trying to fight, but before the fight starts somehow it is settled? It never comes to the logical end. So what was all that shouting and barking, jumping and showing teeth to each other? It was simply that they were trying to show to each other, “Look how much stronger I am.” They are very intelligent people. What is the need to fight? They just show themselves to each other and judge who is the stronger.
Once it is judged which one is stronger, they both agree: the one who comes to understand that he is weaker turns with his tail between his legs. That is a signal, “You are stronger.” There is no cowardliness in it; it is a simple fact: “What can I do about it? I am weak, you are stronger; you bark louder, you jump louder, you look bigger: what is the point of fighting? Why unnecessarily shed blood?” He simply gives the signal, turns his tail between his legs, and immediately the other is no longer an enemy. The fight is finished; it is finished before it began.
From my very childhood I have been curious about everything, and in India there are so many dogs. The municipal committees cannot kill them because it is violent and immediately there would be trouble from the people: “You are killing” – so they go on becoming more. Just as people go on becoming more, dogs go on becoming more. Sitting in front of my house in the winter I used to watch the dogs, and it was very striking. Again and again I saw it happen, and I could see the tremendous intelligence of dogs. They are far more intelligent than man.
Even if you understand that you are weaker than the other person, still you will fight because you cannot accept that you are weak. You will try; perhaps by some chance you may defeat him. At least nobody will be able to say to you that you never even tried. You will fight, and you will be beaten. Now, this is absolutely useless on your part and on the other man’s part, it is stupid. But you are not programmed, that is the trouble. You cannot be decisive, certain. The other man may look bigger, that is a certainty, but a smaller man may be sharper, cleverer, more cunning, may have known aikido, judo, jujitsu, and who knows what. The stronger man may not know anything, may be just a heavyweight, not a heavyweight champion, and the smaller man may throw him off.
We are not programmed. Dogs are programmed and they can read each other’s program easily. They give all the signs of their program: “This is what I can do. These are my teeth, you can see them. This is my bark, this is the way I jump, this is the way I will hit. Show yourself!” They both put their cards on the table. And when you see that one has all the great cards, what is the point? Now it is finished. But man is not made that way; that is the only difference between man and the whole of existence.
In man, existence precedes essence. First he is born, and then he starts discovering what he can be. That is anguish. He has no program, no determined guidelines given from nature, no map to follow. He is just left as pure existence. He has to work out everything on his own. Life is every moment a challenge, so every moment he has to choose. Whenever he has to choose there is anxiety – but anxiety is particular.
Anguish is a general state of the human being. He is in anguish from birth to death because he has no way of knowing what his destiny is, where he is going to land. Of course, very few people feel anguish because very few people are so conscious about themselves, their existence, where they are moving, what they are becoming, what is going to happen. They are too concerned with trivia.
So all human beings experience anxiety; trivia creates anxiety. In a certain job you can get a better salary but it is not respectable. In fact that’s why a better salary is given, because it is not respectable. In another job which is respectable, the salary is less in the same proportion. Now, anxiety arises – what to do? You would like both the respect and the higher salary, but you can’t get both.
Society consists of vested interests, and they are clever. To be a professor in the university is respectable, but the salary is not much. You can earn more just being a pimp than you can earn by being a professor. But a pimp, after all, is a pimp. You cannot manage to be called Professor Pimp. But in fact, linguistically it is not wrong because that is your profession. You can call yourself Professor Pimp! There are people who call themselves professors, magicians particularly, who have nothing to do with professors in the universities. Magicians call themselves professors; they mean by professor, professional magician.
In India there was a very great, world-famous magician, Professor Sarkar, a Bengali gentleman, perhaps the best-known magician in the world. I asked him, “I have no questions about your magic, but I have a question about your professorhood. What is this ‘professor’? Where do you teach, in what university? Because I have not heard of a magic department in any university; I have never even heard of any university especially devoted to magic or a college especially devoted to magic – so where do you teach?”
He said, “It has nothing to do with teaching, it is just that traditionally magicians have been using it. It is our profession, and professor simply means a professional.”
I said, “That’s a great idea. Then anybody can call himself professor; whatever profession he is in, he is a professor.”
But one thing is certain: by being a pimp you can earn much more than being a professor. Of course as a professor you will be very respected, but you will remain poor, at the most middle class. So the choice arises. And wherever there is choice, there is anxiety. So everybody, on each step, at every moment of his life is faced with anxiety. Anxiety is a common, everyday affair; anguish is very profound.
Both words come from the same root, hence the question. In anguish there is some anxiety because you are worried, you are concerned. But the concern is not about any job, any thing, anything in particular; no, it is a general vague feeling of: “What am I?”
Gurdjieff stretched the point to its very logical end. I like that man although I may not agree with him on many points. He has a tremendous insight into things, but he is a victim of a particular logical disease; that is, stretching something to its very logical end. The trouble is, whenever you stretch something to its very logical end, you come to something wrong. If you stretch it on one side, you will come to something wrong; if you stretch it on the opposite side, you will again come to something wrong. Extremes are always wrong. Avoid extremes. It is far more probable that you will find the truth somewhere exactly in the middle, between the two opposite extremes.
Gurdjieff stretched this idea of anguish to its extreme: he said man has no soul. This is a simple conclusion. If existence comes first and essence has to be discovered later on, that simply means that man is born without a soul. The soul is your being, your essence. So you are born only an empty box, with nothing in it. Naturally, anguish will be felt: you are empty inside, with nothing in you. Even a roseflower is far richer than you, even a dog is far richer than you. At least he has a program, a certainty of what he is going to be. He is predictable.
I always imagine that among dogs there must be astrologers, palmists, face readers, mind readers and all kinds of esoteric people, because there, everything can be read. The future can be told in detail. But it is a strange fact that all those astrologers, palmists, face readers, mind readers, tarot cards, I Ching – and there are so many areas available – all exist in the world of man. But there is nothing in it to wonder about: what will they do in the world of the dog, the elephant, and the camel?
No camel is at all in anguish. He perfectly naturally follows the program. He is not worried about tomorrow. He knows tomorrow he will be a camel, and the day after he will also be a camel. Just as his forefathers have been camels, he will be a camel. There is no chance to become an elephant or to be worried or to choose, “What do I want to be?” There is never a question of to be or not to be. There are no alternatives open, he has a fixed being. The business of astrologers and palmists is not going to flourish; they will all go bankrupt if they move from the world of man.
But in the world of men, why do these astrologers and palmists go on flourishing? I have seen them so many times but they all are doing the same thing. In Srinagar in Kashmir, a pundit – a very old scholar who was very famous in Kashmir for his predictions – was brought to me as I was having a camp there. Somebody who was attending the camp knew the old man and told him, “Come to see this man and see if you can predict something about him.”
I thought he would be looking at my hands so I said, “Okay, you can look.”
He said, “No, I never look at the hands, I look at the feet, at the lines on the feet.” That was a revelation! I had never heard of it. He said, “This is something special in Kashmir. The lines in the feet are far more certain than the lines in the hand.”
And he had a certain reason. He said, “The lines of the hand go on changing, but the lines of the feet remain almost unchanging, for the simple reason that the skin of the feet is harder.” It has to be harder, you have to walk on it, your whole weight is on it. Hands don’t have that hard a skin, they don’t need it. On the softer skin it is easier for lines to change; on the harder skin it is almost like the lines on a stone. He said, “We have a tradition in Kashmir to read the lines of the feet.”
I said, “Okay, read the lines of my feet; but one thing you should remember, whatsoever you say I will not allow to happen. Just the opposite will happen.”
He said, “It is the first time I have heard this type of statement. People want to know what is going to happen, and you are saying to me that whatever I say, you will try to do just the opposite.”
I said, “Certainly, because I want to prove you absolutely wrong.”
All palmistry, all astrology, is just an exploitation of man’s anguish. Because he is in anguish he wants somehow, some way, somebody to tell him what he is, what he is going to be, what his future is. It is out of anguish that all these sciences have sprung up. And they have exploited man for thousands of years, for the simple reason that man is bound sometime or other to be concerned with what this life is all about: “What am I doing here? Is it really meaningful or meaningless? Is it leading me somewhere or am I moving in a circle? And if it is leading somewhere, am I going in the right direction or in the wrong direction?”
One of my professors, Doctor S. N. L. Shrivastava, used to teach me logic, he was my professor of logic. And he was very angry with me, because in a class of logic he could not tell me not to argue. I had made it clear from the very beginning that in a class of logic you cannot stop me from arguing. “I have really come to learn argument, what else is logic?” So he could not prevent me from arguing. On each point there was trouble. He got so fed up; and the students were praying to me, “Because of you it seems there is not going to be any teaching from the textbooks. From each point it takes weeks to move on; it will take our whole lives to finish this book!”
After two months, S. N. L. Shrivastava got so tired that he asked for a month’s leave – he was an old man. He wanted to go to the hill station just to rest from logic, from argument. I had no idea that he was going to the hill station. It was a Saturday and I had gone to a friend’s farm. At the farm he had beautiful mangos, but I told him, “These are nothing. If you come to my village, you will know for the first time what a mango should be. These are just wild mangos, small and not so juicy.”
So he said, “Why not today?”
I said, “I am always for today,” so we dropped everything and rushed toward the station which was not very far away. But the train was just leaving, so I entered and my friend, who was carrying his suitcase and this and that, was left behind. And in the compartment was S. N. L. Shrivastava.
He said, “What! Are you also going to the hill station?”
I was going to my village which was on the way. The hill station was one hundred and fifty miles farther on from my village. But just to joke with him I said, “But this train is not going to the hill station; this is going in the opposite direction. What are you doing here?”
He said, “Help me” – because he had made up his bed and everything in the first class compartment. He just made it, and I somehow managed to push him out with his bag. When he was out my friend came running, and as the train was moving off, he asked Shrivastava, “Why did you get down? I missed the train because I could not catch up with my friend; I was carrying all my load and he went on ahead – he didn’t have anything. We are going to his house so he has everything that he needs, but I need clothes and things. But why did you get off?”
S. N. L. Shrivastava said, “This train is not going to the hill station.”
The boy said, “What are you saying? This train is going to the hill station.”
When after two days I came back, I cannot forget the way S. N. L. Shrivastava looked at me; anytime I can close my eyes… He just went on looking. I said, “Will you say something, or will you go on just looking?”
He said, “Is there anything to say? I had taken one month’s leave. I had booked a hotel, and with much difficulty I had persuaded my wife to go – and then you appeared in that compartment. I had never expected you there. And it is not good what you did to me.
I said, “What have I done?”
He said, “You said that train was going in the opposite direction.”
I said, “That’s exactly what I believed, because I had to return from the next station. I also wanted to go to the hill station and that train was certainly going in the wrong direction.”
He said, “Now don’t try to befool me, because I have inquired from the station master, and your friend himself has told me that the train was going to the hill station.”
I said, “There seems to be some confusion. Either I was told something wrong – because I asked another passenger and he said, ‘This train is not going where you want to go, so get off at this station, and catch the other train which will be coming soon.’ Perhaps you are right, perhaps that man was right; but now there is no way to decide.”
He said, “You are such a pain in the neck! I used to have so many anxieties before; now I have only anguish. And it is because of you that all my anxieties have disappeared and I have only one anguish, day and night. Even in the night I dream of you, that you are arguing and creating trouble, and I am in difficulty answering you.”
That day he used the word anguish, that’s why I remember him. He said, “You are my anguish.”
I said, “That’s absolutely wrong.” I said, “Here the argument begins again. Anguish is something internal, it cannot be external; if it is external then it is anxiety. If I am your anguish, then you are using the wrong word; I may be your anxiety. Anguish is that, Professor S. N. L. Shrivastava, which you have to work out within yourself: Who are you? Do you also think you are Doctor S. N. L. Shrivastava? Do you think you are a Hindu? Do you think you are a man?”
He said, “If I am not a man, if I am not a Hindu, if I am not Doctor S. N. L. Shrivastava, then who am I?”
I said, “That is anguish! Meditate over it. If you find out the answer your anguish will disappear.”
But before his anguish disappeared he threatened to resign from the college. He said, “Holidays won’t help; after all, I have to come back again. Even in the hill station I would have been thinking of this problem that has arisen, and which I don’t know how to solve.” He was an old man, trained in Aristotelian logic, and I was studying things which were against Aristotle, things of which he had never heard; so he was in continual trouble. He could not say, “I don’t know about it” – because to have accepted in front of people “I don’t know about it,” would have seemed humiliating.
He had to pretend that he knew about it, and then he would get into trouble because he had no idea of what he was getting into – then he was in my hands. I told the principal of the college, “This S. N. L. Shrivastava is a well-known and respected professor, has written many books, has big degrees, honorary degrees, but he is not a man of truth.”
The principal said, “How can you say that? I have never felt that he lies or anything. He is a really religious man – not only a professor of philosophy but religious also.”
I said, “I have checked it a hundred times: he lies.”
He said, “You will have to give me proof.”
I said, “I am always ready, but that’s the problem: I ask him for proof. I am perfectly happy to give you proof. Give me any fictitious name of a book which does not exist.”
He said, “What will that do?”
I said, “Just write it down.” So he wrote down Principia Logica. Yes, there are books called Principia Mathematica and Principia Ethica, but there is no book like Principia Logica. But it sounds perfectly right, on the lines of these famous books – Principia Ethica, Principia Mathematica – so there must be a Principia Logica. I said, “This will do. I will be back soon.”
I went to the class of S. N. L. Shrivastava and I asked him, “I have read this statement in Principia Logica; what do you think about it?”
He said, “Principia Logica? Yes, I don’t exactly remember because I read the book twenty or thirty years ago.”
I said, “Just come with me to the principal’s office.”
He said, “For what?”
I said, “Just come. He has asked me to bring you to his office.” I took him there and I said, “Professor S. N. L. Shrivastava says that he read this book Principia Logica thirty years ago. He remembers perfectly the name of the book, but he cannot remember the exact quotation that I gave him.”
The principal asked him, “Shrivastava, have you read this book?”
He said, “Yes, of course.”
The principal said to me, “Forgive me – you are right.”
S. N. L. Shrivastava could not understand what was transpiring between me and the principal. He said, “What is right? And what is the problem?”
The principal said, “Nothing. This boy was just proving that you are a perfect liar, and you proved to be. This title was coined by me. There exists no such book, there has never existed any such book – how did you read it thirty years ago? You have some nerve to say such a thing – and to these students who have come to study under you. You are blatantly lying.”
S. N. L. Shrivastava resigned, because now he was losing face completely. I went to his home to give him solace; he said, “Please, I don’t want your solace.”
I said, “Once in a while I will be coming, whether you want it or not. I know you need it.”
He said, “Is it ever going to end or do I have to commit suicide? Because now I am saying I don’t want it, and you say, ‘You may not want it but you need it.’ Now you will raise the problem: is there is a difference between wanting and needing?”
I told him, “Yes, needing is something different. You may not be aware of your needs. You may know about your wants, and your wants may not be necessarily your needs. Looking at somebody’s beautiful hat you may want it. It may not be your need; your need may be for better shoes. Want and need are totally different.”
He said, “Yes, they are totally different, but please don’t come.”
But strange coincidences… When I became a professor I was appointed to a university where he was the head of the department of philosophy! As I entered the philosophy department, he said, “What! What are you here for?”
I said, “They have appointed me as your assistant.”
He said, “Will you leave me alone or not? It was enough when you were a student. Now you are a professor – and my assistant!” Again he used the word: “It seems you are going to remain my anguish.”
I said, “S. N. L. Shrivastava, six years have passed but you have not learned anything. Again, anguish? Call it anxiety. Anxiety has an object, a particular situation; anguish is within you, you have to look withinward.”
He said, “Of course, now sitting in the same staff room I have to look withinward; otherwise I have to look at you, and just looking at you, I lose all my sanity. You drove me out of that college. Now you have come here, and I know we cannot coexist in this staff room. You are not a person to leave, so I suppose I will have to ask the government to transfer me somewhere else.
“And you have spoiled my wife’s mind because she says I am simply afraid of you and I am escaping from every place, wherever you are. She tells me, ‘How long can you escape from that man? If he is determined to follow you, he will.’”
I had all the qualifications to follow him anywhere, to any university, wherever he was going. I said, “If I am determined I can follow you, but I don’t want to be your anxiety, I want you to feel anguish. Your death is close, you are getting too old; now is not the time for anxiety. Anxieties are for young people who are choosing alternatives, this and that. But for you… Before death comes solve your basic problem.”
Anguish is, in short, the quest of who you are.
One of India’s greatest seers of this age, Raman Maharishi, had only one message to everyone. He was a simple man, not a scholar. He left his house when he was seventeen years old, not even well educated. He had a simple message. To whoever would come to him – and people were coming to him from all over the world – all that he said was, “Sit down in a corner, anywhere…” He lived on a hill, Arunachal, and he had told his disciples to make caves in the hills; there were many caves. “Go and sit in a cave, and just meditate on ‘Who am I?’ All else is just explanations, experiences, efforts to translate those experiences into language. The only real thing is this question, ‘Who am I?’”
I have come in contact with many people, but I never came in contact with Raman Maharishi; he died when I was too young. I wanted to go, and I would have reached him, but he was really far away from my place, nearabout fifteen hundred miles. I asked my father many times, “That man is getting old and I am so young. He does not know Hindi, my language; I don’t know his language, Tamil. Even if somehow I reach there – which is difficult…”
It was almost a three-day journey from my place to Arunachal, changing many trains, and with each change of train, the language changes. As you move from the Hindi language territory, which is the biggest in India, you enter the language of Marathi. As you pass from Marathi, you enter the state of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where Urdu is the language. As you go further you enter Telugu and Malayalam-speaking areas, and finally you reach Raman Maharishi who spoke Tamil.
I said, “For me to travel it will be difficult. And you are not even supporting me with a ticket. I will have to travel without a ticket. For a hundred miles I can manage, I have managed. When you don’t give me a ticket I simply go to the ticket collector and say, “This is the trouble: my father will not give me a ticket, but I want to go so I will have to travel without a ticket. But I don’t want to travel like a thief, so I am informing you.”
And it always happened that the man thought, “No person who is traveling without a ticket comes to the ticket collector to inform him.” But the ticket collector would say to me, “Okay. Sit down, I will take care. After a hundred miles I will be waiting for you at the gate so I can let you off at the station; otherwise you may be caught there – if you are not caught on the train. I am the ticket collector on the train for the next hundred miles; but you may be caught on the station, so I will be there.”
I have traveled many times in my early childhood without a ticket because my father thought that if a ticket was not given to me, how could I go? But soon he learned that I have my ways. He asked me, “Can you tell me how you manage not to be caught?”
I said, “I cannot tell you, it is a secret. But I have told my grandfather; you can ask him.”
People around the world are all living in anxiety.
Even if it is told to you – and that’s what Raman was telling to people – “Enter the anguish…”
I could not manage to see Raman, but I met many people who had been his disciples, later on when I was traveling. When I went to Arunachal, I met his very intimate disciples who were very old by then, and I did not find a single person who had understood that man’s message.
It was not a question of language, because they all knew Tamil; it was a question of a totally different perspective and understanding. Raman had said, “Look withinward and find out who you are.” And what were these people doing when I went there? They had made it a chant! They would sit down, chanting, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?” – just like any other mantra.
There are people who are doing their japa, “Rama, Rama, Rama,” or “Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna.” At Arunachal they were using this same technology for a totally different thing, which Raman could not have meant. And I said to his disciples, “What you are doing is not what he meant. By repeating, ‘Who am I?’ do you think somebody is going to answer? You will continue to repeat it your whole life and no answer will come.”
They said, “On the one hand we are doing what we have understood him to mean. On the other hand we cannot say you are wrong, because we have been wasting our whole life chanting, ‘Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?’” – in Tamil of course, in their language – “but nothing has happened.”
I said, “You can go on chanting for many more lives; nothing is going to happen. It is not a question of chanting ‘Who am I?’ You are not to utter a single word, you have simply to be silent and listen. At first you will find, just like flies moving around you, thousands of thoughts, desires, dreams – unrelated, irrelevant, meaningless. You are in a crowd, buzzing. Just keep quiet and sit down in this bazaar of your mind.”
Bazaar is a beautiful word. English has taken it over from the East, but perhaps they don’t know that it comes from buzzing: a bazaar is a place which is continuously buzzing. And your mind is the greatest bazaar there is. In each single mind, in such a small skull, you are carrying such a big bazaar. You will be surprised to know that so many people reside in you: so many ideas, so many thoughts, so many desires, so many dreams. Just go on watching and sitting silently in the middle of the bazaar.
If you start saying, “Who am I?” you have become part of the bazaar, you have started buzzing. Don’t buzz, don’t be a buzzer; simply be silent. Let the whole bazaar continue; remain the center of the cyclone. Yes, it takes a little patience. It is not predictable at what time the buzzing will stop in you, but one thing can be said certainly: that it stops sometime or other. It depends on you, how much of a bazaar you have, for how many years you have carried it, for how many lives you have carried it, how much nourishment you have given to it, and how much patience you have to sit silently in this mad crowd around you – maddening you, pulling you from every side.
Have you ever been in a madhouse? Just sit there and you will have a taste of your mind. One madman may start pulling your hand, another madman may start shaving your beard, somebody may start taking your clothes; they all will become engaged around you. Simply sit silently. For how long can you sit?
One of my sannyasins, Narendra’s father, used to become mad for six months every year. And when he was mad he was in such great spirits that he would do strange things. He would go on a journey, a pilgrimage to holy places, anything. One time he went mad and escaped from the house. People searched but could not find him. He was looked for everywhere – as far as it was possible. But he had taken a very fast train going to Agra. Perhaps he was going to see the Taj Mahal or whatever; one never knows with mad people. By the time he reached Agra he was very hungry; he had no money, so he went into a sweet shop.
In India there is a very tasty soft cake – its name is such that it created trouble for poor Narendra’s father. It is called khaja. Khaja has two meanings: one is “softness.” The cake is very soft; you just press it a little and it will fall apart into many pieces. But khaja has another meaning: “Eat it.”
So Narendra’s father asked, “What is this?”
The shopkeeper said, “Khaja,” so he started eating.
The man said, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Eating. You said to.”
A crowd gathered but he was still eating. And he was a strong man; he said, “When he says, ‘Khaja,’ I will finish it – the whole pile that he has in the shop.”
The shopkeeper said, “This man seems to be mad! I have been selling khaja my whole life, but this is my first experience of a man who takes the meaning of khaja as ‘to eat.’ I have never thought of this possibility.”
Narendra’s father said, “You said, ‘Eat it,’ so I am simply eating it.” He was brought to the police court and they found that he was mad, so he was put in a madhouse in Lahore for six months. Lahore was so far away – now it is in Pakistan, not even in India – it was the farthest corner of the country. Narendra’s family remained concerned; we could not get even a hint as to where he had disappeared, because the court had ordered him to be taken to Lahore. Lahore had one of the biggest madhouses of India.
Narendra’s father was very friendly to me because I was perhaps the only one in the whole town who appreciated his madness. We used to talk – Narendra, by and by, became acquainted with me just because of his father – and we used to go to swim together, we used to go to the market. With him it was a joy because I was not needed for any mischief to happen; he was doing so much mischief that just to be with him was enough enjoyment.
He told me that up to the fourth month things went perfectly well in the Lahore madhouse, where there must have been at least three thousand mad people. “I don’t remember those four months,” he said, “they went by just as if I was in paradise. But after four months an accident happened that created trouble.”
He went into the bathroom and found a container which was filled with some kind of soap to cleanse the toilets and the bathrooms. He was mad, and it looked like milk, so he drank the whole container. It gave him such diarrhea that for fifteen days doctors tried everything to stop it. Nothing would work – that chemical was not meant for the human body. And he had drunk the whole container – not a small dose of it – which was meant to clean all the bathrooms of the madhouse. But it cleaned his madhouse completely: after fifteen days of continual diarrhea, he became sane. A certain cleansing happened.
But then came the tragic part: the two months. He would go again and again and tell the superintendent, “I am no longer mad, and now this is a torture for me. For these four months it was perfectly okay: they were beating me or I was beating them; it didn’t matter. We were fighting and we were pulling each other and shouting and screaming and biting. Everything was going on – it was a free-for-all. But now I am not mad.
“This is the difficulty: I cannot hit them – I feel sad for them that they are mad. But they are continually hitting me, beating me, pulling me down from my bed. Somebody comes and sits on my chest… One man shaved half my head, and four other mad people were holding me, so I could not escape. I asked them again and again, ‘At least do the full job,’ but that was all that they wanted to do; then they moved on to another person to shave him. That madman must have been a barber, so he was really practiced, and was still practicing his old job, his old habit. Those two months…”
But the superintendent said, “I cannot do anything. Court orders are orders – they are for six months. And moreover, everybody says, ‘I am not mad.’ Whom am I to believe? What proof have you got that you aren’t mad?”
What proof have you got? If someday you are caught in a madhouse and they ask, “What proof do you have that you aren’t mad?” it will be impossible to prove that you aren’t mad. If they are determined that you are mad, if they have decided it, whatever proof you give will be a proof of your madness.
“Those two months,” Narendra’s father said, “I felt the question for the first time: ‘Who am I?’ Sometimes I am mad, sometimes I am not mad, but these are only phases around me. So who am I? – who gets into madness, who gets out of madness?”
I said to him, “Those two months have given you a taste of anguish. Don’t forget those moments. Now you are out, use that anguish for your meditation. Try to find out who you are because you may become mad again and before you become mad at least have something solid figured out: who you are.” But it was too much to expect of that poor man, because within a month he was mad again.
But what to say about the whole of humanity? You are aware of anxiety, but you are not aware of anguish yet. In the first place, when you do feel anguish, you will feel in a tremendous turmoil, in a very deep depression; a fathomless abyss opens in front of you, and you fall into it. It is terrible in the beginning, but only in the beginning. If you can be patient, just a little patient, and allow whatever is happening, soon you will be aware of a new quality in your being: All that is happening is around you, it is not happening in you. It is something without, not within. Even your own mind is something on the outer side.
At the innermost center there is only one thing: that is witnessing, watching, observing, awareness. And that’s what I call meditation.
Without anguish you cannot meditate. You have to pass through the fire of anguish. It will burn much rubbish and leave you cleaner, fresher. Your being is not far away. It is there, very close by, but just the buzzing of all the thoughts does not allow you to hear it, to see it, to feel it.
Anguish is the inquiry into one’s self, putting the question mark unto oneself. You have asked things like “Who is God?” and “Who created the world?” All those questions are just for retarded minds. A mature mind has only one question. Not even two, just a single question: “Who am I?” That too, you have not to ask verbally, you have just to be in that state of questioning. You are not to repeat, “Who am I?” you have just to be there, watching, looking; not verbally asking, but existentially asking. That existential question is terrible in the beginning, painful in the beginning, but brings all the blessings in the end.
Gautam the Buddha has said, “My path in the beginning is bitter, but in the end, very sweet.” What path? He is not talking about the Buddhist religion, although that’s how the Buddhist monks will interpret it. He is talking about the path that I am talking to you about – the path that takes you inward.
Yes, it is bitter in the beginning but sweet in the end. It is deathlike in the beginning and eternal life in the end. All the blessings of the existence are yours; you are so blessed that you can bless the whole of existence. That’s the meaning of the word, Bhagwan: the blessed one. The blessed one is born out of the birth pangs of anguish.

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