Neither Saint, Nor Sinner
Osho on Turko-Mongol Ruler Tamerlane
Timur (or Tamerlane) was a Turko-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in the 14th century starting from modern-day Uzbekistan and capturing most of Central Asia, modern-day Afghanistan and Iraq, and parts of modern-day Russia, extending to the Mediterranean Sea. He was the first ruler of the Timurid dynasty and was a far-descendant of Genghis Khan; thus, he was determined to restore the Mongol empire.
Timur’s religious roots were set in Islam and he was a great patron of educational and religious institutions to spread the beliefs and acceptance. Moreover, his interest in arts and architecture initiated the Timurid Renaissance, which brought back the world of arts and sciences to the Muslim community. In his way of ruling, Timur was considered brutal and unforgiving, and yet he is one of the best historical military leaders in the world. His successor Babur founded the Mughal empire- introducing the Muslim line of Indian emperors and one of the biggest empires to rule the Indian subcontinent.
Osho narrates a story about Tamerlane, “You are afraid and prayer is born. The stick is before you — you sit in padmasana, the eyes close automatically and the beads of the mala (rosary) begin to slip one after the other! Thus are born our prayers and worships — all out of fear. Tamer the Lame once sent for Nasruddin. Tamer was a very dangerous man. He had heard of Nasruddin’s fame — that he was a wise man and only one of his kind. Wise men are always a little strange for each is moulded in his own set pattern. “I have heard you are a very wise man,” Said Tamer to Nasruddin. The Mulla looked at him — there he sat with a naked sword in his hand. “If I say ‘Yes’, what will you do?” He asked Tamer. “And if I say ‘No’, what then? I must first make sure.” Nasruddin told him.
“What will I do?” Tamer shouted, “Everyone says you are wise. Are you or are you not? If you are not why have you not denied this so far? I shall have your head cut off! If you are, say so.” Nasruddin said, “Yes, I am”. He thought it was better than being beheaded. “What proof is there, that you are wise?” Tamer asked.
Nasruddin looked down very solemnly and said, “I can see right down into Hell.” Then he lifted his face up to the skies and said, “I can see all the seven heavens.” “What is the secret that reveals the heavens and hell?” Asked Tamer, Nasruddin replied, “Only fear. There is neither heaven nor hell that I can see. It is the sight of your naked sword that brings them before my eyes. That is the basis of all my wisdom. Put your sword away and talk man to man or else, I am ready to perform any miracle you say. Who likes to lose his life?”
Fear makes you do a lot of things. All your life is filled with fear. The order that comes into being through fear is no order, for the volcano keeps rumbling within.”
BUDDHA SAYS THAT ALL WE ARE IS A RESULT OF WHAT WE HAVE THOUGHT. IT IS FOUNDED ON OUR THOUGHTS, IT IS MADE UP OF OUR THOUGHTS. IF A MAN SPEAKS OR ACTS WITH A PURE THOUGHT HAPPINESS FOLLOWS HIM LIKE A SHADOW.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO NO-MIND FOR WE CAN THINK PURELY AND CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS, WE CAN OBTAIN HAPPINESS, YET NO-MIND SEEMS TO APPEAR TO BE CONTRADICTORY TO CONTROLLING THOUGHT?
The first thing.
There are three minds possible. One: the evil mind, which lives in a destructive way, which thinks of destroying, which enjoys creating suffering for people. To such a mind Buddha says misery will follow like a shadow. If you want to create misery for others you will be creating misery for yourself finally. If you are against existence, existence will be against you — because existence is a mirror, it echoes you.
If you abuse, abuses will come and fall on you. If you sing a beautiful song, the song will come back and shower upon you.
Whatsoever you give comes back to you a thousandfold. Whatsoever you sow you will reap a thousandfold. So the evil mind is followed by misery, the evil mind is followed by hell.
The evil mind is one who enjoys torturing, destroying, murdering. Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin — these are the evil minds.
Then there is the holy mind — against the evil mind, just diametrically opposite to it. It is creative, it enjoys seeing people happy. It helps, serves, is a great bestower of happiness on others. It loves to see people happy. Happiness follows like a shadow to this mind — the holy mind.
But there is one thing more that you are not aware of. If happiness is there, then just beyond it somewhere unhappiness will be present. If unhappiness is there, then somewhere on the boundary happiness will be present. They go together.
The evil mind is followed by misery, by hell, but somewhere hell is followed by heaven. The holy mind is followed by happiness, but happiness is followed by unhappiness, because they cannot be separate. They are not two phenomena.
How can you be happy if you cannot be unhappy? If you have forgotten what unhappiness is you will have forgotten happiness too. If you don’t know what disease is, illness is, you will not be able to feel your health, wellbeing. It is impossible. To keep alert that you are healthy, sometimes illness is a must.
You cannot write with a white chalk on a white wall. Not that you cannot write — you CAN write, but nobody will be able to read it, not even you. To write with a white chalk you need a blackboard. The blackboard functions as the background. The white chalk becomes the figure. So is life. Your happiness is like the white chalk: it needs a black background. The holy man lives in happiness but his happiness is a figure and unhappiness is there like a background. Without unhappiness there he will never be able to know what happiness is; without contrast there is no way to know.
So ultimately the holy mind and the evil mind are not two minds, they are two aspects of the same coin. The saint and the sinner exist together. The saint can turn into a sinner any moment and the sinner can turn into a saint any moment. They are not far away, they are not distant neighbors. They live very close by, they are very intimate. Their boundaries meet and merge. The third mind is no-mind — neither saint nor sinner, neither happiness nor unhappiness. The duality is dropped. Then there is silence, serenity. Then there is peace, all turmoil is gone.
Remember, even happiness is a turmoil, even happiness is a kind of fever. You like it, that is one thing, but it is fever, it is feverish. Have you not watched it? When you are happy, you start getting tired of it. Once in a while it is okay, but you cannot remain happy for long. Sooner or later you become fed up with it. It is tiring. If you are too happy you will not be able to sleep in the night. In the same way, if you are too unhappy you will not be able to sleep in the night, you will not be able to relax. Happiness becomes a tension. Both are tiring. When happiness tires you, you move towards unhappiness. When unhappiness tires you, you start moving towards happiness, and that’s how the pendulum of life goes on swinging, swaying, from one extreme to another. No-mind is a totally different thing. It has nothing to do with mind, happy or unhappy, holy or unholy.
Do you remember? When Bodhidharma went to China, the Emperor Wu asked him a few questions. One of the questions was, ‘I have created many monasteries, made many Buddha temples. I have opened my treasures for the spread of Buddha’s message. Don’t you think it is holy?’ And Bodhidharma laughed and he said, ‘What is holy in it? It is a kind of business. You are planning for the other world, you are hoping for heaven. There is nothing holy in it, it is as unholy as anything else. What does Bodhidharma mean? He is saying that your so-called holy acts are bound to be followed by unholy things, because deep down the very desire is unholy. The Emperor was embarrassed, shocked, angry, and he said, ‘Then what do you think — is not Buddha a holy person?’ And Bodhidharma laughed and he said, ‘He is neither holy nor a person. He is utter emptiness. How can holiness exist there? It will be a kind of dirt. He is utterly silent, he is emptiness.’
The state of no-mind is neither holy nor unholy. Buddha is neither a saint nor a sinner. He has transcended duality. Buddha is transcendence. So please remember, from an evil mind you can become a holy mind but there is not a real transformation. It is only a question of degrees, you have not gone beyond mind yet. Only no-mind can liberate you. So don’t try to become a holy person. Holy persons are unholy. Don’t try to become saints because all that effort is nothing but an ego trip — mind playing a new game, and a very subtle game. Just drop that whole nonsense of being holy or unholy. Saint and sinner, say goodbye to both. Dark and light, say goodbye to both. Heaven and hell, say goodbye to both. And then arises a totally new world which you have not even dreamed of. Then there is utter serenity, then there is peace, then there is no turmoil, then not even a ripple arises. In that state is Buddha-hood. There is no pain, no pleasure then, because pleasure is not different from pain and pain is not different from pleasure.
Then what is there? Buddha is silent about it, nothing can be said about it, because whatsoever can be said will become part of duality. If you say it is bliss then you will think it is not misery. If you say it is light then you will think it is not dark. If you say it is summer then you will think it is hot winter. If you say it is a kind of flower then you will think it is not a thorn. But you will start thinking in duality. Buddha keeps absolutely silent about it. The reason is that it can only be expressed in silence. It is silence. How can you express silence through sound?
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Gautam Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune, India.
Discourse series: The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 2
Chapter title: A distant star
7 September 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on many politicians and rulers like Abraham Lincoln, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kennedy, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Alexander, Napoleon, and more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Path of the Mystic
- From False to Truth
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap, Zing
- Beyond Psychology
- Live Zen
- The Invitation
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 3
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2