Isan No Footprints in the Blue Sky 01

First Discourse from the series of 8 discourses - Isan No Footprints in the Blue Sky by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

One night Isan was in attendance on Hyakujo, sitting till late in the quietness of the mountain temple.
“Who are you?” Hyakujo asked.
“Reiyu,” replied Isan.
“Rake in the fireplace,” instructed Hyakujo.
Isan did as he was told and said, “I find no embers left.”
Hyakujo took up the tongs and, raking deep down, brought up a tiny burning ember, which he showed to Isan, and said, “Just this, you see!”
Isan was suddenly enlightened. He bowed deeply and related his point of realization to Hyakujo, who said, “You have reached a crossroads on the buddha nature; you should observe time and causation. When the time comes, you will realize it, just like remembering something you have forgotten. It is not obtained from others. Therefore, when you are enlightened, your original nature manifests itself. Now you have attained it – carefully cultivate it.”
Maneesha, today we start a new series of talks on Zen, particularly on Master Isan. The name of the series will give you an indication of what kind of man Isan was. The title of the series is Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky. He was as great a master as one can be, but has left behind him neither great scriptures nor great commentaries. Isan functioned exactly as Buddha had said an authentic master would – to disappear in the blue sky like a bird, leaving no footprints.
Why this idea of leaving no footprints? It has great implications in it. It means a great master does not create a following; he does not make a path for everybody to follow. He flies in the sky, he gives you a longing to fly, and he disappears into the blueness of the sky – creating an urge in you to discover what it is like to disappear into the ultimate. Isan followed exactly what Buddha had said. He is a great master, but almost forgotten.
Who remembers people who have not created great followings, who have not made organized religions, who have not chosen their successors, who have not made their religion into politics, a power in the material world? Isan did none of that. He simply lived silently. Of course thousands of disciples were attracted toward him, but it was not his fault. You cannot blame him for it – it was just the magnetic force that he had become by disappearing into enlightenment. The light shone to faraway lands and those who had eyes started moving toward a small place hidden in the forest, where Isan lived. Slowly, slowly thousands of disciples were living in the forest – and Isan had not called a single one. They had come on their own.
And remember the difference: when you come on your own, you come totally. When you are called, there is a reluctance, a fear – perhaps you will be dominated. But when you come on your own, you have lived your life, you have known the meaninglessness of it. You are coming out of a great understanding that life has nothing to offer. You are coming with your wholeness and totality – and with an urgency because nobody knows, tomorrow you may be here on the earth or not. Death can knock on your doors any moment, it is unpredictable. It rarely comes to warn the person, “I am coming.” Once in a while it has happened, in stories…
So the next moment is not certain. All that you have is this moment. So don’t disperse your consciousness; concentrate it on this moment. If you really want to know the ultimate source of being and the tremendous blessings of it, this single moment is enough.
Don’t follow anybody’s footprints. Truth cannot be borrowed, neither can the path that somebody else has trodden. You have to enter a virgin land of your own inner space, where nobody can enter anyway.
The deeper you go, the more alone you are. Friends and foes, families and the society, slowly, slowly all drop away as you are dropping your mind. Once the mind is finished, you are left in total aloneness. And this aloneness is such a great joy. Remember, it is not loneliness. Loneliness is a desire for the other. Aloneness is a fulfillment unto oneself. One is enough, one is the whole universe. So whatsoever the dictionaries say is absolutely wrong. They make aloneness and loneliness synonymous – that is not true.
As far as existential experience is concerned, Isan lived alone. But his aloneness became such a radiant splendor that people came toward him on their own, toward this great silence, this immense beauty of truth.
This man has reached home; just by being in his presence, perhaps you may find your way also. He is not going to give you the way, but in his presence many things are possible. One is, you will become certain that the experience of enlightenment is not an imagination of poets, or a philosophical system of philosophers. It is an authentic realization. You can feel it, you can almost touch it, and if your heart is open, you can see your heart dancing with joy. Near a man like Isan, your whole life will take wings.
So thousands came. But Isan has not given any guidance; therefore I have chosen the title from Buddha’s statement: Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky. He just fluttered into the sky, attracting those who had forgotten their wings; provoking, challenging those who had forgotten their sky, their freedom. Then he disappeared into the faraway sky, into the blueness, leaving no footprints but leaving a tremendous urge to go to those dimensions where you are no more.
Your being no more is the ultimate realization of truth.
You are the barrier, you are the problem. You are the only problem. As you melt away, something in you which is eternal, which you cannot call your self, something in you which belongs to the whole cosmos, starts appearing. What you used to call your self was only dust.
Before I take the sutras, a little introductory note about the life of Isan:
Isan Reiyu, otherwise known as Wei-shan Ling yu, lived from 771 to 853. He left home at fifteen to become a monk, studying under the local Vinaya master in what is today the Fukien province.
These are things that may seem nonessential, but I feel they have a great meaning to be understood. He left home at fifteen – at that time there was a totally different world, a totally different urge in humanity. What is a fifteen-year-old boy…? But the urge must have been so widespread and so thick in the atmosphere that even a fifteen-year-old boy is intelligent enough; he will catch the fire.
It is said that there are people who go on repeating the same foolish act again and again, but never learn anything. That’s why history repeats – it is because of the idiots. Otherwise there is no reason for history to repeat. Every dawn will always be new; it will not be old and rotten, already lived and completely finished. But history has to repeat because idiots go on and on repeating themselves, and they are the makers of history. It is unintelligence that makes it possible for history to repeat.
The saying is that the unintelligent man will not learn from his own mistakes, but the intelligent man can even learn from others’ mistakes. And the man who can learn from others’ mistakes has a great potential. At the age of fifteen, Isan must have learned from others’ mistakes. He must have watched carefully his parents, his neighbors, his teachers – their lifeless lives, their meaningless wanderings, no sense of direction except misery and suffering. All that they have is some promising hope that may be fulfilled in the future, perhaps in the next life or perhaps in paradise. But this life is going to be a suffering, it cannot be otherwise. It is the nature of life and they have accepted it. At the age of fifteen he left his home. He was not going to commit the same mistakes that everybody else was committing.
“He left home at fifteen to become a monk, studying under the local Vinaya master.” A Vinaya master is only a rabbi, a pundit, a learned scholar. Vinaya is the name of the Buddhist scriptures. The very word vinaya means humbleness because Buddha teaches that to be humble is to be close to nature. All his scriptures, and there are many, have been called the Vinaya scriptures because their fundamental teaching, from different directions, is the same: just be nobody, just be ready to disappear into the blueness of the sky without leaving any footprints.
Obviously Isan was in search; he went to study under the local Vinaya master. A fifteen-year-old boy does not know where to go. So whoever was in the locality, the most famous and learned scholar – he went to him.
“He was ordained at Hangzhou at the age of twenty-three.” Being ordained means that now he is making an absolute commitment to find himself. He is declaring to the world, “Help me to not go astray.” It is an announcement on his part of his innermost longing. Now it becomes socially known that he is a seeker, and in those days seekers were helped by the society in every possible way – with food, clothes, shelter. The whole society seemed to be running around the central longing of becoming a buddha. If circumstances wouldn’t allow them at that time, people were waiting for the right circumstances so they could escape into the blue sky.
Today we are very small in that sense. Our desires are for money, our desires are for beautiful houses, our desires are for success in the world – fame, name, political power. According to spiritual skill we have fallen, certainly. In those old days people were poor, with no science, no technology, but still they were superior in the sense that their whole longing was to search for the meaning of life. And anybody who was searching for the meaning of life…at least if you could not go so far, you could help. Helping anybody who was searching for truth was in itself considered a great virtue.
And I accept that idea. A society should live like that. Of course everybody cannot be a monk if my strategy is followed. But it is a little complicated to remain a witness in your ordinary life. It is easier to be a witness if you live in a monastery, or if you are a monk and you don’t deal with ordinary life. You don’t earn any money, you don’t have any power, you live just on begging – just one meal a day. Because the society was so poor, Buddha told his ordained monks, “You should collect your one meal” – only one meal was allowed in twenty-four hours – “from seven houses. Just piece by piece, so you are not a burden on anybody.”
Now, just one monk going to beg from seven houses is not a burden on a household because each is only giving him a small piece of food.
Because their food would come from begging, the seekers and searchers would not be involved in business and waste their time. Their total energy should be directed toward a single point, their central being. Society should help them because their rising consciousness is going to help the society also.
You may know, you may not know: the few buddhas that have happened in history have raised your consciousness without your knowing. Without them you would still be in the jungle. You have not done anything, but the atmosphere has been changed by each buddha – each has given so much abundance, don’t think that a piece of bread is enough to pay him. We cannot pay him in any way; his contribution to human consciousness is so much; as is his carefulness.
Buddha told his monks, “Take your meal from seven houses, and never stay in a village for more than three days. Go on moving because by remaining in one village you may become a kind of drag to people. Every day they have to give you something. Leave before they become in any way annoyed by you.”
And it is a great psychological insight because it takes people four days to become familiar with persons or places. If you move house, it will take four days for you to become at ease with the new house. Before the village becomes familiar, you should leave. You are an outsider, you are not allowed to become familiar, friendly. You have to remain a stranger. You have chosen the path of being a stranger.
“Ordained at Hangzhou at the age of twenty-three, he traveled to Chiang-si and became a disciple of Hyakujo.”
He found the master. The learned teachers that he must have come across could not fulfill his appetite. They could not give him what he was asking for. He was not asking for more knowledge; he was searching for one who knows. He was interested to inquire into the very structure of the knower, of the witness.
Naturally, the scholars cannot do that. They can quote great quotations, but they cannot radiate buddhahood. They are not an argument for their own quotations, they are not a support to their own learnedness. Their whole life is so ordinary, it does not show the grace and the beauty and the blissfulness that they are talking about. So any intelligent seeker will soon realize that this man has only words; he does not know the meaning. He is carrying a dead corpse but he is not aware that the person is dead.
All the scholars of the world are gravediggers. They dig deeply into graves and find the bones of all kinds of people, but they never dig deep into themselves. They may find the bones of Buddha; they even worship the bones when they find them.
In Sri Lanka, in Kandy, they have a great temple devoted to a tooth of Buddha. Every scientific test has proved that it is not a tooth of a human being, it is too big; it can only be that of an animal. But who cares about it? Kandy attracts more pilgrimages to Sri Lanka than any other temple because it has a tooth of Gautam Buddha.
Scholars sometimes seem to be so stupid. There was a hair in Srinagar, in Kashmir, thought to be Hazrat Mohammed’s. Mohammedans worshipped it because that was the only relic left from the body of Mohammed. Nobody knows whose hair it is and there is no way to prove that it is Mohammed’s hair. But a few years back it was stolen and then there was great fuss all over the world amongst the Mohammedans.
That mosque, Hazrat Bal – bal means hair; even the bal is to be called Hazrat – “revered hair.” And it was such a difficult situation. Riots started happening because Mohammedans thought certainly it must be the Hindus. And the Hindus are a very small minority in Kashmir. Even though Hindu leaders in Kashmir declared again and again, “We are not concerned at all with your religion,” it was to no avail. Finally the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had to send the chief of the armies with a great number of soldiers to surround the mosque and somehow manage to restore the hair.
Now, how can you manage? But somehow it was managed: somebody’s hair was put in the tube which was empty. Now everybody was happy that the hair has been found. What kind of stupidity…? What will you do with the hair? But people are concerned with absolute absurdities – they are so involved, and this is because of the scholars, the so-called learned who provoke the masses.
Isan must have moved from one teacher to another teacher. He went on looking for a man who is essential, who is not a Buddhist but a buddha, who does not believe in any hypotheses – who knows. And when he came to Hyakujo, immediately something transpired. He found the master.
That was the way students, disciples, devotees, went on searching, from one monastery to another monastery, from one monk to another monk. There are no visible signs, no certificates to say who is enlightened. You have to find with your own heart someone in whose presence your heart starts dancing. It is an inner finding – one in whose presence your whole life becomes light, in whose presence certainly your mind is gone as if it had been a shadow, and utter silence falls over you.
When he came to Hyakujo, he immediately became a disciple.
“Later, Hyakujo sent Isan to Mount E as abbot. Isan lived as a wild hermit initially, but by and by began to attract disciples; they finally increased to one thousand in number. Isan taught at Mount E for more than forty years.”
This was just a small biographical note. Now the sutras.
One night Isan was in attendance on Hyakujo, sitting till late in the quietness of the mountain temple.
“Who are you?” Hyakujo asked.
“Reiyu,” replied Isan.
“Rake in the fireplace,” instructed Hyakujo.
Isan did as he was told and said, “I find no embers left”
– the fire is completely gone, there are no more embers left.
Hyakujo took up the tongs and, raking deep down, brought up a tiny burning ember, which he showed to Isan, and said, “Just this, you see!”
– you did not go deep enough.
On a silent night in a mountain temple… Everything a master does has a purpose. He has asked Isan to find out if there is any fire left in the wood. The night is becoming colder; just find out. Ordinarily, it is an insignificant act. Isan did as he was told, but said, “I find no embers left. The fire has completely gone out.”
Hyakujo took up the tongs… This is the way Zen is – a direct teaching, no words. Hyakujo took up the tongs and, raking deep down, brought up a tiny burning ember, which he showed to Isan, and said, “Just this, you see!” You did not go deep enough.
Isan was suddenly enlightened.
…because this was the exact situation in his meditations. He was going, but not deep enough to find the fire of life. Immediately, without saying anything – enlightenment is not being talked about – but seeing Hyakujo’s action, that by going deep he has found an ember, Isan must have gone deep into himself. He had been meditating, but must not have been going deep enough to find the living fire.
Isan was suddenly enlightened. It is very difficult for rational people to understand how enlightenment can be sudden. It is sudden if you understand how Zen masters create, out of every situation, some indication which cannot be said in words. In words he has said again and again, “Go deep!” But it can only be said; it all depends whether you go deep or not.
Hyakujo has to create a very clear-cut, existential situation to show Isan that he has not been going deep enough. And a simple thing – finding the ember – made Isan go as deep as possible within himself. In that silent night he found his inner fire; he became enlightened. It looks sudden. It is not so sudden – years of studying, years of meditating. But at the right moment the master gives you a situation which will indicate to you what is missing.
He was not daring to go to the very center; otherwise how can you miss the living fire? You are alive! How can you miss your divinity, how can you miss your buddha?
Isan was suddenly enlightened. He bowed deeply and related his point of realization to Hyakujo, who said, “You have reached a crossroads on the buddha nature; you should observe time and causation.”
Even though he has become enlightened, he has to give roots to his enlightenment. Otherwise, it will remain just a faraway glimpse, soon forgotten, or maybe remembered only as an echo, miles away. Now you should carefully water the sudden flowering within you. Now you should keep watch around the clock that your treasure is increasing, that your inner sky is spreading wider and wider, that your wings are growing, that the time for the ultimate flight of the dewdrop to the ocean is coming closer.
Hyakujo said to him: “You have reached a crossroads on the buddha nature; you should observe time and causation.” Now, be watchful. What has caused your enlightenment is an ordinary, mundane thing. You should remember now that by going deeper, suddenly you became enlightened; you can go still deeper. There is, in fact, no boundary line where you have to stop. You can go so deep that you become the depth. Only then has your enlightenment grown roots. Now it cannot be destroyed, it is no longer a seasonal flower.
“When the time comes, you will realize it, just like remembering something you have forgotten.”
What you have seen today is the first glimpse, which has put you on a crossroads. You can still go astray, the other roads are still available. Now be careful. What has caused it is going deeper, so go on, deeper and deeper and deeper. Never stop before you yourself become the depth, just an empty abyss.
That is the time when spring comes to your being. You will realize then that you have not achieved anything; it is just like remembering something you have forgotten. It has always been there, so it is not something new that you have achieved. It is something that you have forgotten so long ago that you don’t have any idea when you forgot it. Now you have remembered.
The moment your enlightenment becomes just a remembrance, it becomes your very breathing, it becomes your very heartbeat. Then you don’t need any meditation. Then your whole life is meditation. Without any effort, effortlessly, you are a buddha. If there is any effort, that means something is missing. When the buddha is natural, you are a buddha even in your sleep. Waking, working, whatever you do – your fragrance of buddhahood will be there around you.
But this will happen only when you have reached the ultimate depth and the realization is not taken as an achievement but only as a remembrance. So don’t start bragging about it because it is not an achievement – what is there to brag about? You simply drown yourself into this new, abandoned, forgotten space, which is your very being.
And millions of things are going to happen, but you are not the doer. They will be simply happening because your presence has reached such depths. When your witnessing has reached the ultimate depth, flowers will start blossoming, lotuses will open – a dawn has come to you, you are reborn. You were dead, now you are alive. A new life spreads all over you and brings great beauty and truth and grace.
“It is not obtained from others. Therefore, when you are enlightened, your original nature manifests itself. Now you have attained it – carefully cultivate it.”
This is a very significant statement of Hyakujo. You cannot cultivate enlightenment, that will be phony. You can walk like a buddha, you can manage to sit in the lotus posture – it may take a little time for you, the bones…and particularly people coming from the West will find it more difficult. Colder countries devise chairs; in hotter countries people have no problem in sitting on the floor. But in colder countries, to sit on the floor is difficult. So if Buddha is sitting in the lotus posture, that does not mean that you have to sit in the lotus posture, that only then you will become a buddha. You can practice it – there are many idiots who are doing that, unnecessarily torturing themselves.
Buddhahood is your nature, so you cannot cultivate it. But what Hyakujo means is totally different. He is saying: “Now that you have attained it – carefully cultivate it.” This attainment is so new, it is possible to fall back into darkness. It is possible to start thinking again that it may have been an imagination. All kinds of possibilities are there. Your glimpse is very fresh and young, and your past of ignorance is very long – four million years; it has a weight. This new insight can be destroyed by that weight. This new flower that has blossomed in you can be crushed by a mountainous past.
You cannot cultivate enlightenment if you have not attained it. So first, attain it. It looks strange – first attain the glimpse and then protect, cultivate it; then make arrangements so that the past does not overtake you because the weight of the old is very great and the new is always delicate.
So remember, Hyakujo is not saying to cultivate enlightenment. He is saying, first get it and then be careful in every possible way to protect it, to refine it, to go deeper into it, to find more roots to it. The real work starts when you have become enlightened. All that work you have done before enlightenment looks like a very tiny effort.
The great effort starts with your first glimpse of enlightenment. You can fall from it – the whole past will be pulling you backward, the whole past will be saying to you that this is all imagination.
You have to be very alert that the past is your enemy. This fresh sprout, this new flower – so small and so fragile, but so beautiful – if you can manage to protect it, it will soon become your eternity. Soon it will become your nature. Then there is no effort.
When Zen masters say “effortlessness” they mean the state when your enlightenment is well-rooted. Now there is no need of any effort; now you can be relaxed and at ease, it will grow on its own accord. It will bring much foliage and many flowers, and many blessings.
Sekiso wrote:
The dharma spring
has never run dry;
it is flowing even now.
A single drop has fallen and spread
far and deep.
Don’t be caught
by the decorations at the edge
and the wall around it.
In the dead of night the moon shines
from the middle of the pond.
What Sekiso is saying is very symbolic. “The dharma spring” – the spring when those who are ripe become suddenly full of flowers, when the dark night ends and the morning has come – “The dharma spring has never run dry.” He is saying, “Remember, the dharma spring has never run dry; it always comes, just as it used to come in Gautam Buddha’s time, or even before.” It is part of eternal nature. It is just that you have to be ready to catch the train. The train always comes, but mostly either you reach the railway station before the train has come, or you reach after the train has left – you always find an empty platform. Sad and frustrated, you go back home.
I have heard…

Three professors were discussing very hotly about some philosophical point at a railway station. Two of them had come to say goodbye to the other who was being transferred to another university. They got so involved in the discussion and they forgot that the train stops there for only three minutes. As the train started moving, still they were not aware. Suddenly one of them saw, and all three ran to catch the train. Only two could manage to get on to the last compartment. One was left, and he was standing there so sad that a porter, who had been watching what was happening, said, “Why are you so sad? Soon there will be a second train coming and just within a few hours you will meet your friends.”
He said, “That is not the point. I am the one who was supposed to go! They had come only to see me off. Now everything has become a mess.”

But in a hurry, it can happen.
“The dharma spring has never run dry.” It is always available; it is just that you are not ready. The whole responsibility has to be taken by you, on your own shoulders. Existence is as much in favor of buddhas as it has always been, but you are not even looking at it. You are not preparing, you are not even witnessing so that when it comes…
In fact it never comes, it is always there – you come to it. The deeper your witnessing, and suddenly you find a tremendous reality flooding you. In your very innermost center it is still waiting.
The dharma spring has never run dry;
it is flowing even now.
A single drop has fallen and spread
far and deep.
The ocean of dharma spring is always ready to absorb you; it always has space for you, you are always welcome. Nobody has been rejected by dharma nature. If even a single drop has fallen, it has spread all over the ocean, “far and deep.”
Don’t be caught
by the decorations at the edge
and the wall around it.
In the dead of night the moon shines
from the middle of the pond.
We are all attracted by decorations, by nonessentials. A lake may have a wall around it with beautiful statues, sculpture, architectural designs. And you may get so involved in those decorations that you fail to see that the pond is reflecting the moon, exactly in the middle.
This is just symbolic. It is saying that the existential truth is always shining in the middle of all this whole world of decorations. Power, all kinds of desires, motivations, longings – amongst this whole crowd, exactly in the middle, exactly in the center of your being, the full moon is reflected. Don’t get caught in decorations.

Maneesha has asked:
I have heard you say that the enlightened ones, like birds, leave no footprints behind them. Yet people like Isan touch our consciousness hundreds of years after they have died. Could you please comment?
Maneesha, touching your consciousness is another matter. To the open consciousness, all the buddhas are available this very moment to celebrate you, to take you into the new space that you have been avoiding for centuries. But that is not making footprints. It is beyond the capacity of a bird to make footprints in the sky.
The inner world is almost like the sky – it is the inner sky. And the people who have entered the inner world also cannot leave footprints. It is just to say that you cannot follow them from the outside, through their words, through their scriptures. You have to go into yourself, and suddenly you will be surprised that you have disappeared and a buddha has appeared. You were not following Buddha’s footprints – he cannot make any. In the sky you cannot write anything.
All the scriptures and all the great religions are befooling and exploiting the masses. One has to go within, and all the religions are supporting you to go out – toward Jesus, toward Moses, toward Mohammed, toward Buddha, but go outward. Follow their teachings, follow their commandments. That is what Buddha says is going astray.
No buddha can leave any footprints, so how can you follow him? Following is simply impossible. You can only go within yourself. You can understand a living buddha, you can absorb his energy; you can hear his song, you can understand his silence; you can be filled by his presence – but this is not following. This is simply the alchemy of being with a master. You can simply disappear in the silences of the master. But you are not following his footprints; you are going within yourself, you have your own path from the circumference to the center.

Now comes the time for Sardar Gurudayal Singh. The poor fellow has to wait so long, and he brings his rainbow turban with such care. He used to be just an old hippie. Suddenly he has become a mini guru! And he is enjoying it so much, and directing many. This is called transformation.

Ronald Reagan and George Bush go hiking together in the Montana mountains. They have been walking all day, discussing the forthcoming presidential election, and Ronald is giving George lots of advice about how to wear his make-up and look good on TV.
Suddenly they look up and see a huge grizzly bear coming over the hill toward them. Immediately, Bush reaches into his pack and pulls out a pair of running shoes. Then he starts taking off his hiking boots and putting on the sneakers.
“Hey,” says Ronald, nervously. “You don’t think you can outrun that grizzly bear, do you?”
“I don’t have to,” says Bush, with a grin. “I just have to outrun you!”

Kowalski is returning home from a morning’s hunting, with his shotgun in one hand and his hunting bag slung over his shoulder.
His friend, Slobovski, sees him across the road and calls out, “Hi, Kowalski! Been hunting?”
“That’s right,” replies Kowalski. “Been hunting ducks.”
“Far out!” says Slobovski. “How many did you get?”
“Well,” replies Kowalski, “if you can guess how many ducks I’ve got in my bag – I’ll give you them both!”
“Ah!” says Slobovski, scratching his head. “Three?”

Harry and Harriet are a very devoutly religious couple. They observe all the Christian religious festivals by remaining strictly celibate until the festival is over.
During Lent, which lasts for a whole month, they decide to give up sex. They are especially careful – they even sleep in separate rooms, to make sure they won’t be tempted.
Lent finishes at six o’clock in the morning on Sunday, and sure enough, at exactly six o’clock, Harriet hears a sharp knocking on her bedroom door.
“Is that you, Harry?” asks Harriet.
“Yes!” he cries. “This is your ever-loving husband!”
“Ah, Harry!” giggles Harriet. “I know why you are knocking!”
“You know why I am knocking!” cries Harry, “but you should see with what!”

This joke was given to me and Nirvano told me about it. Somebody must have made it up having a Jaina couple. The husband’s name was Halvabhai and the wife’s name was Mevabhai. And the Jainas have a religious festival, Paryushan, so the festival in the joke was Paryushan. The rest of the joke has remained the same.
But as I told Nirvano, jokes have their roots. You cannot change their context. Now, for a Jaina couple the joke will not be fitting. About Jews you can tell any kind of joke; their appetite is big enough, everything fits. But about Hindus, about Jainas, about Buddhists, you cannot just change the names. They will be absolutely unfitting because they will not have any natural context.
India has no jokes of its own. All the jokes are imported – fortunately there is no taxation on importing jokes! You can just change the names to Indian names, but it will not be right; it will not sound right. Even a joke has a certain context, a certain reference. It is not just a joke. You cannot implant it anywhere you like; it has a climate of its own. For example, a Jewish joke cannot be transplanted to another race because that joke has a history of its own.
Nobody writes jokes, you know. There are no joke writers. From where do jokes come? From folk wisdom for thousands of years they pass through many hands, many situations and then they come to refinement. Nobody can claim that he is the writer. And never try to change the names because they will look absolutely out of context.
If you cannot find out to whom the joke should belong, just put some Jewish names in it. They are the only people rich enough, and it is for a particular reason that they can absorb any joke. They have suffered so much since Moses brought them out of Egypt in search of Israel. Their whole life for these four thousand years has been that of suffering and suffering and suffering.
I have heard about an old Jew dying, praying to God. His family was surprised at what he was saying. He was saying to God, “God, enough is enough! Now you should choose somebody else as your chosen people.”
This stupid idea that Jews are the chosen people has been the cause of all their suffering. But suffering has to be somehow consoled – some ointment for so many wounds. Jokes have grown in the Jewish context. They had to laugh; otherwise how to forget the agony? How to forget all the suffering that they have passed through? They lost their land; they have got it back, forty years ago, and now it is a struggle to keep it.
All around they are surrounded by the Mohammedans. And there is no way, I can’t see any possibility of their survival there. It is the ugliest and most criminal act of the American politicians to give them back Israel, which has been in the hands of Mohammedans. But it was a clever strategy. This way they could get rid of many Jews without killing them. They were doing exactly what Adolf Hitler did. He killed six million Jews because the problem was that if the Jews are the chosen people, then who are the Germans? This was the conflict. Adolf Hitler thought that his people, the Nordic Germans, were the chosen people of God and the Jews would not agree to that. He finished off six million Jews.
America did the same, but in a more diplomatic way. After the Second World War they gave the Jews Palestine, which was once Israel and had fallen into the hands of the Mohammedans. For centuries, the Jews had lived without any land of their own – and I don’t think there is any need. “Lands” should disappear, boundaries should disappear; everybody should be living on the planet. But because Palestine was in the hands of America after the Second World War, the Americans played a very ugly trick. They gave it back not to the Mohammedans, but to the Jews. It is true that it used to belong to the Jews centuries before. But now it had been in the hands of the Mohammedans for so long that even the name had changed. It was no longer called Israel, it had become Palestine. Under the enforcement of the Americans who were holding Palestine, they made it Israel.
Nations are not made like that. Now thousands of Jews from other countries, particularly America, have moved to Israel. And they are surrounded from all sides by Mohammedans. For forty years they have been continuously fighting and being killed.
This is the fundamentalist Christian mind, which played a very clever trick. And I cannot see any future for Israel. Any day America stops giving arms to them – they are a small island, surrounded by millions of Mohammedans – they will all be killed. But America played a game, forced the Jews, and they thought that they were being favored by America. They had a great hope some day to have their own land, so they rushed there with all their money. The other Jews who remained behind sent their money and they are still sending money – so all their money is being destroyed in Israel.
Now they are in such a difficult position: neither can they go back – they have brought everything they had – nor can they see any future when they can live in peace. Every day it is continuous war, terrorists of all kinds; nobody is secure.
This situation is very rare. Four thousand years ago, on some unfortunate day, Moses brought the Jews to Israel. Forty years it took him to find this barren land that he used to call “the holy land.” He had to call it the holy land, otherwise his followers would have killed him! In forty years’ search in the desert, two thirds of the original members who had come with him had died. And he passed up Saudi Arabia and Iran – the Jews can never forgive him. If he had stopped at Saudi Arabia, they would have been the richest people in the world today. But at that time nobody knew about the petrol or the oil, so it is not his fault. But one thing is certain, that he is not a great prophet. He could not see that just there, below the earth, there was so much petrol and oil. What kind of prophet…?
Then, finding that it was getting late – he was now eighty and the holy land seemed to be nowhere – in utter desperation, he simply declared Israel, which is just a barren land, to be the holy place of God, the holy land. Just to satisfy his followers. Although the followers were not very satisfied. Looking at the holy land they said, “My God! And we are the chosen people of God and this is the holy land?”
Moses escaped on the excuse that a small tribe of the Jews had got lost in the desert – “So I am going to find them and bring them back.” And he never came back. He found them – they were here in Kashmir. And Kashmir looks like a holy land: it is so beautiful, incomparable to any place on the whole earth; its beauty is superb. If Moses had just brought all the Jews to Kashmir, they would have been satisfied: “We are certainly the chosen people of God and this is the holy land.”
That one small tribe that had wandered away from the main caravan of the Jews found themselves in Kashmir, and they thought that they had arrived! They remained in Kashmir and when Moses came – his grave is in Kashmir – he lived with them. It is a strange coincidence that Jesus also died in Kashmir, and both graves are at the same place.
Jesus never knew that he was a Christian. He was born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, he proclaimed himself as the last prophet of the Jews. And that was the reason that the Jews crucified him because they did not want to accept a donkey-riding carpenter’s son as their last prophet. It was irritating.
So the resurrection is just a story. Jesus was brought down from the cross after six hours because the Jews observe Saturday as a holy day; no work is to be done. So on Friday evening – it was only six hours that Jesus had been on the cross – they had to bring him down before sunset because that would be work.
And the Jewish cross is a very primitive, old type of mechanism. If you want to die you need to hang on it at least forty-eight hours. Within forty-eight hours you can change your mind; that’s why nobody ever commits suicide on a Jewish cross because who can maintain the idea of committing suicide for forty-eight hours? Just within one minute or two he will say, “Let us think it over again. What is the hurry? And anyway I am feeling hungry.”
So after six hours – Jesus was a young man, only thirty-three, robust and healthy – he escaped. It was a pure conspiracy with the Roman governor. Judea was under the Roman Empire. The Romans were not interested in Jews’ problems, that Jesus is, or is not, the prophet. It was irrelevant to them. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had an interview with Jesus before the crucifixion to see whether this man needed to be crucified. He found that the man was absolutely innocent – maybe a little nuisance because he is just riding on the donkey, followed by twelve idiots who believe that he is the only begotten son of God, and he has promised those idiots, “You will have a special place in the Kingdom of God.”
Naturally, other Jews thought that this was very annoying and irritating. Everybody laughs at the whole thing – “This is your last prophet?” It is even suspected that his father was not his father.
After six hours Jesus was taken down, and the Roman governor and his soldiers kept guard on the cave in which he was put when he was brought down from the cross. The Roman governor allowed Jesus’ followers to take him out of Judea. No resurrection happened because even death did not happen. He was perfectly alive; it took just a few days for the healing of his hands and feet, which had been nailed.
Seeing the situation, any intelligent man would not go back to Judea. He also went in search of the one lost tribe and ended up in Kashmir. Moses died in Kashmir and two thousand years later Jesus died there. Their graves are together there. Neither the Jews nor the Christians want to recognize it, but it is so evident: on both the graves the writing is in Hebrew, and on both the gravestones the names of the persons, Moses and Jesus, are engraved. The family that protects the graves is still Jewish; it is the only family in the whole of Kashmir which Mohammedans did not convert to Mohammedanism. All other Jews were forced to become Mohammedans, but they left this family alone because they were protecting and taking care of Moses’ and Jesus’ graves, and because Mohammedanism also accepts Moses and Jesus as prophets. So this family is the only family. But no pope goes there to look at poor Jesus’ grave, and neither do the Christians talk about it, nor do the Jews ever bother what happened to Moses.
And the Christians have no answer: even if Jesus was resurrected, he must have died sometime afterward. Where has he gone? Do they mean that he goes on resurrecting? Then he must be somewhere here!
Because of all this suffering, the Jews have found a way of laughing, even in misery, and that way is the joke. The joke is purely a Jewish invention.
And you should never make any change of name because just changing the names won’t help. A Jaina couple… It is impossible for them to say what the joke says: “You know why I am knocking,” cries Harry, “but you should see with what!” No Indian will say that. It is just impossible.
So I told Nirvano, “Change the names. Put in some Christian names” …because the Jews are being hit so much. And I love them. Half of my sannyasins are Jews, and most of them are my sannyasins because I am the only person who loves Jewish jokes. They have a flavor which is their own. Countries like India are very serious. To tell a joke… The Indians will feel very hurt, they are such a repressed people. Here there are a few of my old friends who are Jainas. I told Nirvano, “Do you want them also to go?” Hearing the joke about Halvabhai and Mevabhai, then they are not going to stay!
The people who are translating my books from English to Hindi continuously send me notes: “What to do about the jokes?” And the people who are translating my Hindi books into English – they again and again ask me, “What to do with the poetry?”
So I tell them, “If you can manage, translate the poetry into prose. If you cannot, then just leave it out.” And to the people who are translating from English to Hindi I say simply, “You cannot do anything except leave out those jokes.” Indians will get absolutely mad – they are already mad about me. Such a seriousness has been a long sickness, a wound that has not healed.
The Jews have certainly proved their mettle. In all their agony they have maintained their laughter, they have not lost it. But it is a strange psychology that the people who are in suffering will always love laughter. That gives at least some time to forget the misery. People who have lived peacefully, with no suffering, don’t know what laughter is.
I have been thinking many times that I should speak on the psychology of jokes. It has so many implications, why a certain joke is a joke and why it arose; who were the people, who must have been the people who managed that joke? In what background has the joke flowered, and was it refined? – because it is centuries of work. A single joke can be traced back for centuries, and you will find little differences happening and finally it comes to perfection. It is a work of art. But it needs a certain climate and a certain understanding and a certain openness, a certain unrepressed joyfulness; otherwise it can backfire.
This is a beautiful joke – but Nirvano is not a Jew. She thought it better to make it Christian because she knows the Christian names better and she knows the festival of Lent. In a Jewish context it would have been even better because they are the most unrepressed people in the world. It is not a coincidence that Sigmund Freud – a Jew – started a new science: psychoanalysis. The whole science is against repression.
Every joke has a long history and background. It will be good sometime to give the whole series to Sardar Gurudayal Singh and find the roots of these jokes – their psychology, the people, because there are many people. For example, Jews tell jokes about themselves; they are intelligent people. Other people tell jokes about the Polacks, who are very unintelligent people. They cannot make a joke themselves, that is impossible. But they are good in a way; they allow the whole world to make jokes about them. Nice guys!






Be silent. Close your eyes and feel your body to be completely frozen.
Now look inward.
Gather all your consciousness as a spear, piercing toward the very center of your being. Deeper and deeper, and you are bound to find the fire of life.
This fire does not burn, this fire is cool. This fire is like flowers. These flames are your eternal, divine sources.
At this moment you are the buddha.
Take care of the buddha twenty-four hours; cultivate the buddha twenty-four hours. Not for a single moment forget to remember your buddhahood.
As your remembrance deepens, as your awareness becomes clear, as you dissolve into your witnessing, the buddha spontaneously arises – in your actions, in your words, in your silences.
He becomes your whole life, and a life of great joy, a life of blessings, a life which is pure poetry, essential music, an eternal dance.
But keep the witness clear because in your whole body only the witness is eternal; everything else is mortal. Sooner or later it will be in some grave. It has come from the earth, it will go back to the earth.
Only the witness will fly, without leaving its footprints in the blue sky, to become part of the cosmos.
Buddha is simply a name for your witnessing.

To make it clear, Nivedano…


Relax. Witness the body lying there almost dead. The mind is there – maybe chattering a little bit – but you are not it. You are simply a watcher.
In this moment, you are at the greatest peak of your consciousness, and also the greatest depth. Thousands of flowers are showering on you.
In this silence, in this serenity, the evening has become tremendously beautiful. Before Nivedano calls you back, collect as many flowers, as much fragrance, as much juice of your life as possible. And persuade the buddha to come with you. He has been hiding in the center for centuries – bring him to the circumference, the world needs it.
This is the right moment for every buddha to come out. That is the only hope for the whole planet. If buddhas can come out to their circumference, in their daily activities, we can change the very fabric of human life on the earth. It can become a benediction.
Man has lived uncivilized for a single reason: he never went deep into himself. I call only those people civilized who have reached their center, and who have seen themselves as buddhas.



Come back, but show even in your coming back the grace, the silence, the joy, the blissfulness of this moment.
Sit for a few moments, just to recollect the golden path you have traveled and the strange man, the buddha, that you have found – not as a separate entity from you, but just as your innermost being, your very soul.

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