The Alphabet of Rejoicing
Birthday of American Violinist Yehudi Menuhin
Born on 22 April 1916, Yehudi Menuhin was one of the most notable violinists of the 20th century. He started performing at the age of seven and was known for introducing infrequent music in his performances. While he was American-born, he spent most of his life in Britain, performing concerts and shows throughout. During WWII, Menuhin performed upto 500 shows for Allied troops, and in 1945, he went to Germany with composer Benjamin Britten, performing concerts for the recently liberated inmates of concentration camps.
Yehudi was granted knighthood in 1965 and he received the Order of Merit in 1987. He was involved in promoting environmental issues and social justice, along with being a practicing yogi, influenced by BKS Iyengar. Menuhin composed a Grammy-winning album with Ravi Shankar as well – West Meets East (1967). He was also a prolific writer; some of his publications include works for musical instruction, Violin: Six Lessons (1972) and The Music of Man (1979); and an autobiography, Unfinished Journey (1977).
Osho mentions Yehudi Menuhin while talking about enlightenment, “The whole earth can become enlightened. We have just to change the educational system, to change the organized religions of the world, to change the political structures of the society. And we have to allow every child his way. Whatever he wants to become, let him become. Even if he turns out to be a beggar, he will be far more fulfilled. Forced to be a king, he will not be happy to be a king; that will not go according to his heart. Let something happen according to his heart. If he wants to play guitar, let him play guitar. He will not become Yehudi Menuhin — how many people can become Yehudi Menuhin? — but there is no need for everybody to become Yehudi Menuhin. He can play and enjoy. If he enjoys himself without disturbing the neighbors, there is no problem.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN MY EYES NOW, AFTER YOU HIT MY HEAD SO HARD? OH BELOVED MASTER, THE BLESSING OF YOUR SWORD HAS LEFT ONLY ONE WOUND, THAT EVEN THE SILENCE BLOSSOMED OUT OF THIS MEDITATION HASN’T HEALED: HAVE I really BEEN DISRESPECTFUL IN MY UNAWARENESS? FOR I WILL RATHER CUT MY TONGUE BEFORE SAYING ANYTHING AGAINST YOU, AND I WILL KILL MYSELF WITH JOY RATHER THAN BE UNLOVING TO YOU.
Sarjano, I know your heart. I know your love. I know your deep gratitude and respect — but it is human, once in a while to slip from the path. And it happens from a necessary psychological principle:
you start taking me for granted. This is one of the ancient most diseases of the mind. Once you start taking me for granted, then you are bound to behave unconsciously. Never take me for granted. I am simply alive just for you. My work is finished and my boat has been waiting for long to take me to the other shore, but your love and the fear that without me, you may be lost… and you are coming so close, that if I can manage to wait a little longer on this shore, I can give all of my people what I have received from existence. But the moment you take me for granted, immediately you forget, become unconscious, create distance.
I don’t want to hit anybody, but except hitting you I cannot wake you up when you have fallen asleep. Consciously, whatever you say is absolutely right, that you would rather cut your tongue than say a word against me, that you would rather die than offend me. These are not just poetic assertions. I understand you perfectly, but you still have the unconscious mind and that unconscious mind manages to sabotage whatever you are gaining in your consciousness. In mythological terms, it is a conflict between good and evil. In a more contemporary psychological way, it is the conflict between the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious is afraid — and its fear is real. If your whole being becomes conscious, it will be the death of the unconsciousness in you, and the death of mortality in you, and the opening of eternal life.
Your unconscious mind does not want to commit suicide. It will give you every resistance; hence once in a while it will catch you unawares, and something will come out of you that you had never meant. But if I let it go without hitting you, then your unconscious will be gaining more and more power over your conscious. Hitting you is simply a loving way to put the unconscious back and to help your consciousness to be stronger, more powerful, more capable to understand what comes from your unconscious and what comes from your conscious. The unconscious is not your friend. The unconscious is all the past centuries, it is carrying the whole evolution of man. It is barbarous, it is animal. Only a small part of your being has become conscious, but that small being can manage to dispel the whole unconsciousness if you don’t become a victim of it again and again.
Now Veena is sitting in her perfect beauty, relaxed, but she does not know: the whole night I have had to sharpen my sword for her! The closer you come to me, the more you love me, the more you should remember that at any time I can hit you. I have told you the most beautiful story in Zen, about a master thief. He was no ordinary thief, because in his whole life nobody had been able to catch him red-handed. Even the emperor was amazed at his craftsmanship, his art in stealing. The man was so perfect… but he was getting old. The situation had come to the point in Tokyo that whosoever’s house was visited by the master thief, bragged about it. It was a great honor, because it was not that he would go just to anybody, but only to the super-rich. It was a certificate that the master thief had stolen things from some family, that they bragged about it.
But as he was getting old, his son said, “I don’t know anything of your art, your fame — and you have the strangest fame. Before you leave the world, please let me understand the secret of your greatness. Your stealing is not just for money; your stealing is simply to keep your mastery sharpened so you don’t forget the art.”
It is almost like a musician. Once Yehudi Menuhin was asked, “If you don’t practice one day, what happens?”
He said, “Only I understand that the thing is not as perfect as it would have been; nobody else will find any difference. If I don’t practice for two days, then the critics will become aware that something is missing. If I don’t practice for three days then everybody will be able to hear that something is wrong, the master is not at his height.” Every musician practices for hours, sometimes eight hours per day. Even the most famous musician practices for hours, because the art is so subtle and so delicate that it can slip out of your hands if you miss just a few days’ practice. So the boy said, “Before you leave the world, help me to know the secret so that I can practice in front of you, and you can correct where I am going wrong.”
The father said, “Tonight you come with me.”
They went to a very rich house, and the young man was trembling with fear and the old man was going as if he were going for a morning walk — so at ease, with such tremendous confidence. The old man made a hole in a wall to enter into the house… the young man was perspiring, and it was a cold night. But the old man was doing his job so silently that although he was making a hole in the wall, there was no noise. When the hole was ready, the old man slipped in, and signaled the boy to come in. His heart was throbbing, naturally, but he was wondering… his old father is going as if it is their own house! He had the master key that can open all the doors.
He opened door upon door, and the boy became more and more afraid, he started cursing himself: Why have I asked him to teach me? This is not for me. If I can manage to survive tonight, finished — I don’t want to learn this art. It is beyond my capacity. The man was doing things, so at home, and he took the boy into the innermost part of the house, opened a big cupboard and there were very costly things inside, valuable diamonds, very costly, and rare clothes. Everything was dazzling. The boy could not believe his eyes, that people have so much money.
The old man said, “Get in!” He got in and the old man went out and — it was such a great surprise — closed the door, locked it with the boy inside, and shouted “Thief! Thief!” and ran out!
The boy said, “Is this my father, or my murderer? And what kind of teaching is this? I was wondering if I could survive — now there is no possibility.” The whole house was awake. The servants were awake. People were searching every nook and corner, and a maidservant came into the room where he was inside the cupboard. He knew nothing of what to do, but spontaneously he started scratching on the cupboard… as if there are rats inside.
This was not a calculated act, it was absolutely spontaneous. Even he could not believe what he was doing. And the maidservant, just to look for the rats, because there were valuable clothes, opened the door. She had a candle in her hand, and the boy blew out the candle, and rushed out. But he was seen, so the whole family and the whole neighborhood followed him. He had never run so fast in his whole life — he could have become an Olympic champion the way he was going! — just like the wind. It was a question of life and death, and he was praying to God, “This is the first and last time, just save me!”
Then suddenly he came across a well. He took up a big rock and threw it in the well — the whole crowd that was following him stopped. They thought he had jumped in the well: they had heard the sound, so they stopped there, and they said, “Now there is no worry. Either he will be dead, or in the morning we will pull him out and shoot him.”
And the young man reached his house, and again a great surprise: the old man is fast asleep, snoring! He could not believe that this man was his father! He shook him, and the father said, “Don’t disturb me. You have come back, that’s enough. I know the conclusion; the rest of the story you can tell me in the morning. There is nothing else to learn, I have given you my whole art. “I am not acting out of mind. I am acting out of no-mind, in utter silence. It is my meditation. Just go to sleep.”
The boy was amazed that he did not even want to know through what difficulties he had passed. He had been almost on the verge of being caught! He could not sleep the whole night: his heart was throbbing, and again and again as he would close his eyes, he would see the nightmare that those people had caught him, and he would wake up again. In the morning the father did not say anything, he was just sitting, with his tea. The boy said, “But at least ask me what happened!”
He said, “You have come home; everything has gone right. You could not have come back if you had acted out of your mind, so you don’t need to learn anything more. All that you need to learn is how to act out of no-mind.”
“Still,” the boy said, “please listen to my story.”
He said, “Okay, if you want you can tell it. But I am not interested. All my interest was in whether you came back or not.”
He told his whole story, and the old man asked, “Scratching like the rats were destroying the clothes — was it your thought?”
He said, “I had never thought about scratching the cupboard like rats destroying the clothes… I don’t know how it came to me.”
His father said, “That’s the way — you don’t come in. Let your no-mind take possession of the whole situation. How did you figure out that to throw the rock in the well would stop them?”
He said, “I don’t know… just the rock was there, the well was there, and the people were just on my heels. Suddenly a flash… and I took the rock and threw it in the well. It was not my act.”
The old man said, “This is what the ancient masters have said — action without action. I am not a thief, I have just chosen stealing as a way of enlightenment.”
You cannot believe it; anything can become a way to enlightenment, even stealing. But it has to be not your action, it has to come from your no-mind.
So now there are three things, Sarjano: the conscious mind, which you know and out of which whatever you have written to me has come. Behind and below is the unconscious mind, from where all kinds of sabotage will come, disruptions, to destroy the whole possibility of consciousness. Without your knowing, you have been disrespectful. I know that with your knowing, you will be the last person to be disrespectful, and it does not matter to me whether you are disrespectful to me or not. The point is, I don’t want your unconscious mind to sabotage the beauty that has arisen in your consciousness. Below is unconscious, above is no-mind, or super-conscious. I will hit you if I see that the unconscious is pulling you down, and I will hit you if I see that you are not moving fast enough from the conscious to the super-conscious. Those are the two times when I will hit you.
It does not matter… I have not hit you because you were disrespectful. Remember it — because I have been condemned my whole life: from my very childhood I don’t know a day when I was not condemned for doing things not in the way people wanted. I have become so accustomed and at ease with condemnation, disrespect, notoriousness — everything — so that is not the question. Just Sarjano’s disrespect will not add anything; it will be just a dewdrop in an ocean, so that is not the problem. The problem is that it will disrupt your consciousness, your love, your peace that is growing, your meditativeness that is growing, and I cannot see that happening. And this is to be understood by all, because today it is Sarjano’s case; tomorrow it can be your case. These hits are out of sheer love. If I don’t care about you, why should I bother? The whole night I could not sleep… because I have not used the sword for many years, but just to prepare it for Veena — and she is sitting just here, laughing. If she had laughed before, I could have slept at ease. I don’t want to cut your heads, but if you insist I will have to do it — reluctantly, but there is no other way. If you only understand the language of the sword, then I will have to speak that language. I am not using it; I am using only words.
So be careful. Whenever you start getting angry at me, remember: it is your unconscious that is disrupting your love, it has nothing to do with me. When you start thinking something against me, remember it is your unconscious that is feeding the idea to you. Otherwise, whatever you said is so beautiful, Sarjano, I would like to read it again so that everybody understands clearly. It is not only a question, it is a statement from the very deepest core of his heart.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN MY EYES NOW, AFTER YOU HIT MY HEAD SO HARD?”
I see your eyes. I see you — the same as you were before the hit, after the hit. But if you were not hit you would not have been so full of love, with tears of joy in your eyes.
“WHAT DO YOU SEE IN MY EYES NOW, AFTER YOU HIT MY HEAD SO HARD? OH BELOVED MASTER, THE BLESSING OF YOUR SWORD HAS LEFT ONLY ONE WOUND, THAT EVEN THE SILENCE BLOSSOMED OUT OF THIS MEDITATION HAS NOT HEALED: HAVE I REALLY BEEN DISRESPECTFUL…?”
No, you have not been disrespectful. But you don’t know: there are so many dark sides of you which you don’t identify with — they were disrespectful.
“… IN MY UNAWARENESS? FOR I WILL RATHER CUT MY TONGUE BEFORE SAYING ANYTHING AGAINST YOU.”
No, that won’t help. You can cut my tongue, your tongue; we both can sit in silence because we cannot speak — but I will go on doing what I am doing without the tongue, and you will go on once in a while being disrespectful, without the tongue. The tongue is not needed, just your face can show it, your eyes can show it. Just the smallest gesture can show it. Don’t think in terms of cutting your tongue. Think in terms of from where within you any ugly thing crept into your conscious… and destroy that unconscious. The tongue has nothing to do with it; it is only a means, which the conscious mind can use, the unconscious mind can use, the super-conscious mind can use. I am using it; it is a perfect mechanism to convey things which cannot be conveyed. And finally, you say, “And I will kill myself with joy, rather than be unloving to You.”
That is easier, to die for someone. The real difficulty is to live for someone. Many have died in the name of love, because death is a single-blow thing; but living for someone because of your love is a long time process. I don’t want you to make this commune a Jim Jonestown — that is the Christian stupidity.
I want this place to be the place of life and love and rejoicing. If you love me, rejoice. If you love me, sing. If you love me, dance. I don’t ask you for death. Death will not prove anything, it will simply prove your incapacity to live for my love. But that has been taught for as long as we can go backwards, that dying for love is a great martyrdom. It is sheer stupidity. I am not here to teach you all these stupid things that have happened in the past. People have died for Christ, people have died for Mohammed, people have died for Buddha. But that does not show their love, it simply shows their unconsciousness. The unconsciousness was destroying their love, now it has destroyed even themselves. Here you have to learn a totally new alphabet, the alphabet of rejoicing. If you love me, rejoice. In spite of everything, rejoice. The more blissful you are, the more you are laughing, the more you are dancing, the more I know you have given me, offered me your flowers of love. This is a temple of love and laughter. Never forget it for a single moment.
As the boat was sinking, the skipper called out, “Does anyone know how to pray?”
“I do,” replied pope the polack, who was on board the ship.
“Okay, go ahead and pray,” said the captain. “The rest of us will put on life jackets; we’re one short.”
An old English gentleman was on trial before the high court of Australia, for the crime of making sexual advances to an ostrich.
“Before passing sentence,” announced the judge, “do you have anything to say?”
“Your honor,” said the Englishman, “if I had known you were going to make such a fuss about it, I would not have married the bloody bird!”
Here we are not masochists or sadists. This is not a sick psychological place — as all the churches are — belonging to any religion. This is a pagan, natural, simple, playful place. If you can laugh heartily, this is your prayer. If you can dance with abandon, if you can sway with the music, that is the only yoga I teach. I don’t believe in distorting your bodies. I believe in transforming your souls.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
Chapter title: The alphabet of rejoicing
15 September 1987 am in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
Osho has spoken extensively on ‘art, music, painting, poetry, dance,’ and creative geniuses like Picasso, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Salvador Dali, Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, Wagner, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Taansen, Byron, Bhavabhuti, Coleridge, Dinkar, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, John Ruskin, Kalidas, Kahlil Gibran, Keats, Milton, Nijinsky, Omar Khayyam, Shelley, Tagore, Yeats and many more in the course of His talks. More on this subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Ah This
- Be Still and Know
- Beyond Psychology
- Come Follow to You Vol.1-4
- The Guest
- Going All the Way
- This Is It
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Path of the Mystic
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- From Personality to Individuality
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 10
- From Bondage to Freedom