The Dhammapada Vol 3 09

Ninth Discourse from the series of 10 discourses - The Dhammapada Vol 3 by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace.

Better than a thousand hollow verses
is one verse that brings peace.

Better than a hundred hollow lines
is the one line of the law, bringing peace.

It is better to conquer yourself
than to win a thousand battles.

Then the victory is yours.

It cannot be taken from you,
not by angels or by demons,
heaven or hell.

Better than a hundred years of worship,
better than a thousand offerings,
better than giving up a thousand worldly ways
in order to win merit,
better even than tending in the forest
a sacred flame for a hundred years –
is one moment’s reverence
for the man who has conquered himself.

To revere such a man,
a master old in virtue and holiness,
is to have victory over life itself,
and beauty, strength and happiness.
A famous story:

One night the great German philosopher, Professor Von Kochenbach, saw two doors in a dream, one of which led directly to love and paradise, and the other to an auditorium where a lecture was being given on love and paradise. There was no hesitation on Von Kochenbach’s part – he darted in to hear the lecture.

The story is significant. It is fictitious, but not so fictitious really. It represents the human mind: it is more interested in knowledge than in wisdom, it is more interested in information than transformation. It is more interested to know about God, beauty, truth, love, than experience God, beauty, truth, love.
The human mind is obsessed with words, theories, systems of thought, but is completely oblivious of the existential that surrounds you. And it is the existential which can liberate, not knowledge about it.
The story represents everybody’s mind. But I was in for a surprise yesterday. I was reading a book by Silvano Arieti, MD, and James Silvano Arieti, PhD. In their book, Love Can Be Found, they quote this story. I was hoping, obviously, that they would laugh at the story and criticize the whole standpoint. But I was in for a surprise: they defended the story; they say the professor did the right thing. Rather than entering directly into the door of love and paradise, entering into the auditorium where a lecture was being delivered on love and paradise – of course by some other professor – they say the professor did the right thing. Why? Their reasoning is that unless you know about love, how can you know love? Unless you know about paradise first, how can you immediately enter paradise?
On the surface it looks logical: first one has to become acquainted with what paradise is, only then can one enter paradise. First you have to have a map; knowledge provides you with a map, Logical, still stupid; logical only in appearance, but deep down utterly unintelligent.
Love needs no information about it, because it is not something outside you, it is the very core of your being. You have already got it, you have only to allow it to flow. Paradise is not somewhere else, so that you need a map to reach there. You are in paradise, you have only fallen asleep. All that is needed is an awakening.
An awakening can be immediate, awakening can be sudden – in fact, awakening can only be sudden. When you wake somebody up, it is not that slowly, slowly, in parts, gradually, he wakes up. It is not that now he is ten percent awake, now twenty, now thirty, now forty, now ninety-nine, now ninety-nine point nine, and then a hundred percent – no. When you shake a sleepy person, he awakes immediately. One is either asleep or one is awake; there is no place in between. Hence Buddha says enlightenment is a sudden experience; it is not gradual, it is not that you arrive in steps. Enlightenment cannot be divided into parts; it is an indivisible, organic unity. Either you have it or you don’t have it.
But man has remained clinging to words – words which are hollow, words which carry no meaning, words which have no significance, words which have been uttered by people as ignorant as you are. Maybe they were educated, but education does not dispel ignorance. Knowing about light is not going to dispel darkness. You can know all that is available in the world about light; you can have a library in your room consisting only of books on light, yet that whole library will not be able to dispel darkness. To dispel darkness you will need a small candle – that will do the miracle.
Looking into the Encyclopedia Britannica, I was happy to note that it has no articles on love. That’s a great insight! In fact, nothing can be written about love. One can love, one can be in love, one can even become love, but nothing can be written about love. The experience is so subtle and the words are so gross.
It is because of words that humanity has been divided. A few people believe in a few hollow words – they call themselves Hindus; others believe in a few other hollow words – they call themselves Jews; still others call themselves Christians and Mohammedans, and so on, so forth. And they all believe in hollow words. It is not that you have experienced anything. Your being a Hindu or a Jew or a Mohammedan is not based on your own experience – it is borrowed. And anything borrowed is futile.
But man has suffered much because of words. A few people believe in the Talmud, a few people believe in the Tao Te Ching, a few people believe in The Dhammapada… And they have been fighting, quarreling, criticizing – not only that, but killing each other. The whole of history is full of blood: in the name of God, in the name of love, in the name of brotherhood, in the name of humanity.

Mistress Rosenbaum became stranded one evening in a very “exclusive” resort section of Cape Cod. “Exclusive” meant that Jews were excluded. She entered the town hotel and said to the desk clerk, “I would like a room.”
“Sorry,” he replied. “The hotel is full.”
“Then why does the sign say ‘Rooms Available’?”
“We don’t admit Jews.”
“But Jesus himself was a Jew.”
“How do you know that Jesus Christ was Jewish?”
“He went into his father’s business. And, moreover, it so happened that I converted to Catholicism. Ask me any question and I will prove it.”
“All right,” said the desk clerk. “How was Jesus born?”
“By virgin birth. The mama’s name was Mary and the papa’s name was the Holy Spirit.”
“Okay, where was Jesus born?”
“In a stable.”
“That’s right. And why was he born in a stable?”
“Because,” Mrs. Rosenbaum snapped, “bastards like you would not rent a room for the night to a Jewish woman!”

But these bastards are everywhere. They have become the priests and the rabbis and the pundits and the shankaracharyas and the popes. These people are clever, cunning with words. They are logic choppers, they can split hairs; they can argue endlessly about useless things, about such stupid things that later on you laugh at the whole thing, for centuries.
In the Middle Ages, Christian priests – Catholics, Protestants and others – were in a big debate, great discussion was going on for centuries about how many angels can stand on the point of a needle. It was a great theological debate; it had stirred the whole of Europe, as if something tremendously important was involved in it. How does it matter? But such stupid things have been dominating humanity for centuries.
In Buddha’s time it was one of the greatest problems in India, discussed by all the sects, whether there is one hell or three or seven or seven hundred. Hindus believe in one hell, Jainas were talking about seven hells; and a disciple of Mahavira, Goshalak, who betrayed the master, started talking about seven hundred hells.
Somebody asked Goshalak, “Why do you say that your philosophy is superior, higher than Mahavira’s?”
He said, “You can see: he knows only about seven hells and I know about seven hundred. He has gone only up to seven and I have traveled the whole way. And just as there are seven hundred hells, there are exactly seven hundred heavens. His knowledge is very limited, he does not know the whole truth.”
Now, you can go on talking about such things. Some other fool can say that there are seven hundred and one…

A French professor and an American were talking. The French professor said, “There are one hundred positions in which love can be made.”
The American said, “There are a hundred and one.”
Now great argument ensued. The American asked, “You relate your hundred positions, then I will relate my hundred and one positions.”
The French professor described in detail one hundred positions. The hundredth was hanging on a chandelier and doing it in the ear of the woman!
Now was the turn of the American. He said, “The first position is: the woman lies down on her back with the man on top of her.”
The French professor said, “My God! I never thought about it! So you are right – there are a hundred and one. You need not now relate the whole thing; there are a hundred and one. This one I never heard, never thought of even, never could have imagined. You Americans are something!”

These professors, these scholars, they have dominated humanity, and they have distracted humanity from simple existence, from simple life. They have made your minds very sophisticated, clever, cunning, knowledgeable, but they have destroyed your innocence and wonder. And it is innocence and wonder that become the bridge to the immediate – and the immediate is also the ultimate.
Buddha says:
Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace.
Better than a thousand hollow words… Your scriptures are full of hollow words, your minds are full of hollow words. You go on talking, not even becoming aware of what you are saying. When you use the word God, do you know what it means? How can you know if you have not known godliness? The word is empty, the word itself cannot have any significance; the significance has to come from your experience.
When you know godliness and you utter the word God, it is luminous, it is full of light, it is a diamond. But when you know nothing of godliness, but only the word God taught by others, it is an ordinary pebble with no color, with no luminosity, with no light in it. You can go on carrying it; it is simply a weight, a burden. You can drag it. It will not become your wings, it will not make you light, and it will not help you in any way to arrive closer to godliness. In fact it will hinder you, obstruct you, because the more you think you know about God, just by knowing the word God, the less you will inquire into the reality of godliness. The more you become knowledgeable, the less is the possibility of your ever going on the adventure of searching out the truth of godliness. When you already know, what is the point of inquiring, what is the point of investigating? You have killed the question. You have not solved it, you have not got the answer; you have taken it from others. But others’ answers can’t be your answers.
Buddha knows, but when he speaks, his words cannot carry his experience. When they leave his heart they are full of light, they are full of dance. When they reach to you they are dull, dead. You can accumulate those words, you can think that you have a great treasure, but you have nothing at all. All that you have are empty words.
Buddha wants you to become aware of this phenomenon, because this is of great importance. Unless you are free of empty, hollow words, you will not start the journey of inquiry. Unless you drop your so-called knowledge, unless you discard all your information, unless you become again innocent like a child, ignorant like a child, your inquiry is going to be futile, superficial.
Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace. And what is the criterion? Which word is luminous? Which word is really full of fragrance? The word that brings peace. And that word never comes from the outside – it is the still, small voice of your own heart. It is heard at the deepest recesses of your being: it is the sound of your own being, it is the song of your own life.
It is not to be found in the scriptures and it is not to be found in learned discourses. It is to be found only if you go in; it is to be found only in meditation, in deep silence. When all borrowed knowledge has left you and you are alone, when all the scriptures have been burned and you are left alone, when you don’t know a thing, when you function from a state of not-knowing, then it is heard, because then all the clamor of knowledge and the noise is gone: you can hear the still, small voice. And then a single word… It is a single word: it is the sound of om.
The moment you enter into your being you will be surprised to find that there is a constant sound that appears like “om.” Mohammedans have heard it as amin – it is om; Christians have heard it as “amen”; it is the same sound. Hence the Christian, the Mohammedan, the Hindu, the Jaina, the Buddhist, they all end their prayers with om. The prayer is bound to end in om; the prayer makes you more and more silent. Finally there is nothing but om. All Hindu scriptures end with om, shantih shantih shantih – om, peace, peace, peace. This is the word om.
And the criterion to judge whether you have really heard it or you have pretended to hear it or you have imagined hearing it is that it brings peace. Suddenly you are full of peace – a peace that you had never known before.
Peace is something far superior to happiness, because happiness is always followed by unhappiness; it is always a mixture of polar opposites: happiness-unhappiness. They are like day and night, they follow each other.
If you are a pessimist you can count nights, if you are an optimist you can count the days; that is the only difference in people. There are a few people who say, “There are two days and one night between two days” – those are the optimists. And then there are people who say, “There are two nights and only one day sandwiched in between” – they are the pessimists.
But in reality both are wrong. Each night has its day and each day has its night; they are equal. All polar opposites are equal; that’s how existence remains balanced. If you have happiness today, wait – tomorrow the unhappiness will come. If you are unhappy today, don’t be worried – happiness will be just around the corner.
In Indian villages mothers don’t allow their children to laugh too much, because, they say, “If you laugh too much then you will have to cry, you will have to weep.” And there is great wisdom in it – a primitive wisdom, unsophisticated, but it has some truth in it. Mothers in Indian villages will stop the child if he is giggling too much and laughing too much. They will say, “Stop, stop right now! Otherwise soon you will be crying and weeping and tears will come.” It is bound to be so because nature balances.
Peace is something far higher than happiness. Buddha does not call it bliss just for this reason: if you call it bliss, which it is… But he avoids the word bliss because the moment you call it bliss people immediately understand happiness. Bliss gives them the idea of absolute happiness, great happiness, tremendous happiness, incredible happiness, but the difference between happiness and bliss in people’s minds is only of quantity, as if bliss is the ocean and happiness is just a dewdrop. But the difference is only of quantity – and the difference of quantity is not a real difference, it is not a difference that makes a difference. Only qualitative differences are real differences.
Hence Buddha has chosen the word peace instead of bliss. He says peace – peace gives you a totally different direction to inquire, to search. Peace means no happiness, no unhappiness.
Happiness is also a state of noise, a state of tension, excitement. Have you observed? – you cannot remain happy for a long, long time, because it starts getting on your nerves; you start feeling tired of it, bored with it. Yes, to a certain extent you can tolerate it; beyond that it becomes impossible. How long can you go on hugging your woman? Yes, for a few moments it is beautiful, ecstatic, but how long? One minute, two minutes, thirty minutes, sixty minutes, one day, two days? How long? Next time, try, and you will be able to note the point where happiness turns into unhappiness.
When you want to get hold of a woman you are so allured, attracted. And women know it intuitively, hence they do everything to escape from your hands. They remain elusive, they don’t become too readily available. They are aware – intuitively aware, not intellectually – intuitively aware of the phenomenon that all this attraction will soon be gone and all this great love will soon die. Everything dies; everything that is born is bound to die. They are far more intelligent that way – they avoid, they escape. They allow you only a certain amount of intimacy, and then they are again far away. That keeps the game going; otherwise every game will be finished too soon. Any happiness is only for the time being. Beyond that it turns into the opposite; it becomes sour, bitter.
Peace means going beyond the excitement of both happiness and unhappiness. There are people who are attracted to unhappiness too; modern psychology calls them masochists. They enjoy torturing themselves. In the past these same masochists became great mahatmas, great sages, saints. Psychologically understood, with the modern insight into human mind, your so-called saints will look – almost ninety percent of them – masochistic, or maybe ninety-nine percent even. If looked at deeply, you will find these are people who enjoy torturing themselves. These are people who go on long fasts, lie down on a bed of thorns, stand in the hot sun or in the cold, sit naked in the Himalayan snows. These are the masochists.
And the other side of it is sadism. There are people who enjoy torturing others. And in fact the whole humanity – almost the whole humanity, except the buddhas – can be divided into these two camps. These are the real two religions of the world: masochism and sadism. The masochists become religious and the sadists become politicians. Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, Nadirshah, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, all these people enjoy torturing others. To torture others is as pathological as to torture oneself.
The person who wants happiness is bound to be sadistic. Analyze your happiness, on what it depends. If you have a bigger house than your neighbor you are happy. In fact, you are torturing your neighbor by having a bigger house: it is a very subtle torture.

I used to stay in one of the most beautiful palaces in Kolkata. It was a beauty, a very old Victorian colonial palace, and it was the best house in Kolkata. The man was very proud of it, and whenever I would stay with him he was continuously talking about the house, and the garden, and this and that – but his whole talk was around the house.
Once it happened, I stayed with him for three days and he didn’t mention the house at all.
I asked, “What has happened? Have you become a sannyasin or something? Have you renounced the world? You are not talking about the house!”
He looked with sad eyes toward me and said, “Can’t you see the new house that has come up in the neighborhood?”
I had seen the house. A new marble house had come up, and certainly it was bigger and far more beautiful. And he said, “Since this house has come up all my joy is lost. I am living in such misery, you cannot conceive.”
I said, “But you are living in the same house! It is the same house, and you were so happy. And you are still in the same house. Why should you be so miserable? What does it have to do with the neighbor? And if it is because of the neighbor that you are feeling so miserable, then remember one thing: when you used to feel so happy about the house, it was also not about the house – it was about the neighbors, because they were living in small houses. And if you are so tortured by the neighbor’s house, remember, the neighbor must have been in a long, long torture because of your house. It is just to take revenge that he has made the new house.”
The new house-owner invited me for dinner. He asked my host also to come, but my host simply said, “No, I cannot – I am too busy.” And he was not busy at all! And when the man had gone I said to him, “You are not busy.”
He said, “I am not busy, but I cannot go into that house – unless I have made a bigger house than that. Yes, wait! It will take two, three years for me to make a bigger house, but it is a question of prestige. Once I have made a bigger house I will invite that man for dinner.”

This is how people are living.
If you watch your own mind, you enjoy things because others don’t have them. You enjoy them not having them, you don’t enjoy your having them.
Such is the pathology of man: one is a sadist, he enjoys others being in a state of misery; and the other turns into a masochist. Seeing that it is not good to enjoy others’ misery, seeing that it is a sin, seeing that he will have to suffer in hell for it, becoming aware that this is not virtuous, he turns into a masochist, he starts torturing himself. But the torture continues.
Peace means a state of inner health, a state of inner wholeness, where you are not torturing others, not torturing yourself, where you are neither interested in happiness nor in unhappiness. You are simply interested in being absolutely silent, calm, quiet, collected, integrated.
Yes, when the mind is dropped… And “mind” means your whole past and all that you know and all that you have accumulated. Mind is your subtle treasure, your subtle possession. When all that mind has been left far behind and you have entered into a state of no-mind, a great peace descends. It is silence, it is full of bliss, but Buddha avoids the word. I don’t avoid it.
Buddha had to avoid it, because in Buddha’s days bliss was talked about too much. The Upanishads were talking about it, Mahavira was talking about it, the whole Hindu tradition was talking about it. Sat-chit-anand – God is truth, consciousness, bliss, but the ultimate quality is bliss. Too much talk about bliss. Buddha must have felt that it was better not to use that word. That word had become too orthodox, too conventional, too conformist. And because it had been used so much it had lost its meaning, its savor, its salt, it had lost its beauty. But now it can be revived again; now nobody is talking about bliss.
But whether you call it peace or bliss is irrelevant. Just understand one thing: that it takes you beyond all dualities. Day and night, summer and winter, life and death, pain and pleasure – it takes you beyond all dualities – love and hate. It takes you beyond all dual phenomena. It takes you to the one.
Hence Buddha says: “One word.” It is a simple, melodious, harmonious state of your inner health, inner sanity. One word is enough, far more significant. Better than a thousand hollow words…
Better than a thousand hollow verses
is one verse that brings peace.
There are poets and poets. There are two kinds of poets in the world. One is the poet who is a dreamer, who is very clever in imagination, in fantasy. He creates works of art, he creates sculpture, music, poetry, but all that remains dream stuff. It may entertain you for the time being, but it cannot give you any insight into reality. It may be a consolation, a solace, a lullaby; it may have a tranquilizing effect on you. Yes, that’s exactly what it does. All that is called aesthetics, art, has a tranquilizing effect on you.
Listening to classical music you fall into a totally different kind of state. Everything becomes tranquil, still, but it is momentary; it is only a dream world that the musician creates around you. Listening to poetry or looking at great sculpture, for a moment you are dazed, stunned. The mind stops as if you are transported for a moment to some other world, but again you are back in the same old world, in the same old rut.
But there are different kinds of poets, painters, sculptors too: the buddhas. A single verse from them may transform you forever. Listening to a buddha is listening to divine music. Listening to a buddha is listening to existence itself. A buddha is existence visible, a buddha is existence available. A buddha is a window into existence, an invitation from the beyond. Shakespeare, Milton, Kalidas, Bhavabhuti, and thousands of others are the dreamers, great dreamers; beautiful are their dreams, but they are not the poets who can transform your being. Mohammed can do it, Christ can do it, Krishna can do it, Buddha can do it, Kabir, Nanak, Farid, yes, these people can do it.
What is the difference between the poetry of a Kabir and a Shakespeare? As far as poetry is concerned, Shakespeare is far more poetic, remember, than Kabir. Kabir knows nothing of the art. Shakespeare is very sophisticated; but still a single verse from Kabir is far more valuable than all the collected works of Shakespeare – because a single word from Kabir comes from insight, not from fantasy. That is the difference.
Kabir has clarity, he has eyes which can see into the beyond. Shakespeare is as blind as you are. Of course, he is very efficient in bringing his fantasy into words. That’s art, worthy of respect, but at the most it can entertain you. It can keep you occupied beautifully, but there is no possibility of transformation happening through it. Even Shakespeare is not a transformed being, how can he transform you?
Only a buddha, only one who is awakened, can wake you up. Shakespeare is as fast asleep as you are, or maybe even deeper asleep than you are, because he is having such beautiful dreams. His sleep is bound to be deep, because he is not only having dreams, he is singing his dreams. He is bringing his dreams to expression – and still his sleep is not broken.
A buddha is one who is awakened. Only one who is awake can wake you up. Better than a thousand hollow verses is one verse that brings peace. And how will you know that you are around a buddha? His very presence will bring transcendental peace to you.
So a buddha from the past cannot be of much help, because his words will again be hollow words; he will not be present in them. It will only be a beautiful cage, a golden cage studded with diamonds, but the bird has left the cage long ago.
A buddha is significant only when he is alive, because only his aliveness can trigger a process in you which will lead you ultimately to awakening.
Better than a hundred hollow lines
is one line of the law, bringing peace.
By law, Buddha does not mean any moral, social, political law. By law Buddha means dhamma: Aes dhammo sanantano – the ultimate law, the eternal law, the law that makes this universe a cosmos instead of a chaos, the law that runs the whole universe in such tremendous harmony.
Better than a hundred hollow lines… “Lines” is not really a good translation. The original word is sutra: sutra literally means thread. And in the East the greatest statements of the masters have been called sutras, threads, for a certain reason. A man is born as a heap of flowers, just as a heap. Unless threads are used and the thread runs through the flowers, the heap will remain a heap and will never become a garland.
And you can be offered to existence only when you have become a garland. A heap is a chaos, a garland is a cosmos – although in the garland you also only see the flowers, the thread is invisible.
The sayings of the masters are called sutras, threads, because they can make out of you a garland. And only when you are a garland can you become an offering to existence, only when you have become a cosmos, a harmony, a song.
Right now you are just gibberish. You can write down… Sit in a room, close the door and start writing on a paper whatsoever comes to your mind. Don’t edit it, don’t delete anything, don’t add anything, because you are not going to show it to anybody. Keep a matchbox by the side so once you have written it you can burn it immediately, so that you can be authentic. Just write whatsoever comes to your mind and you will be surprised: just a ten-minute exercise and you will understand what I mean when I say that you are just gibberish.
It is really a great revelation to see how your mind goes on jumping from here to there, from one thing to another thing, accidentally, for no reason at all. What nonsense thoughts go on running inside you, with no relevance, no consistency. Just a sheer waste, a leak of energy!
The sayings of the buddhas are called sutras. Here the translator has used the word line for sutra. Linguistically it is okay, but these are not linguistic matters. That is one of the great problems: to translate statements of Buddha, Christ, Krishna, is really almost an impossible job. And those who translate them are not awakened people themselves; they are great orientalists, linguists, grammarians. They know the original language, but they only know the language – and language is not the real point, it is only the garment.
So remember: Better than a hundred hollow lines… means: Better than a hundred hollow sutras… Logical, philosophical, proposed by great philosophers and thinkers, but they are hollow because they don’t contain the experience.
…is one line of the law…, a single sutra of the law. Who can assert the sutra of the law? Only one who has become awakened, only one who has become one with the ultimate law, only one who has himself become the dhamma. Not a religious person but one who himself has become religion itself. And how will you judge? – the same criterion continues: it brings peace.
Why are you here with me? Be here only if my presence brings peace to you. Be here only if listening to me a chord starts vibrating in you which brings peace. Be here only if your love for me helps you to transcend the world of dualities; otherwise being here is of no use.
My presence cannot be for all; it can be only for the chosen few, only for those who have really come thirsty, inquiring, who really want to risk all to know godliness, who are ready to die for truth, who are ready to become sacrifices.
It is better to conquer yourself
than to win a thousand battles.
And in peace is victory. When peace surrounds you within and without, you are overflowing with peace, you have come home, you have conquered yourself, you are a master.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. One buddha is far more significant and valuable than a million Adolf Hitlers. And this victory is something which is a real victory, because all other victories will be taken away from you. Alexander the Great dies like any beggar dies; he cannot take anything with him. He has conquered the whole world, and now going as a beggar…

It is said there are three instances in Alexander’s life which are significant. One is the meeting with the great mystic, Diogenes. Diogenes was laying naked on the bank of a river taking a sunbath. It was early morning, and the early sun and the beautiful riverbank and the cool sand… And Alexander was passing by; he was coming to India.
Somebody told him, “Diogenes is just close by and you have always been inquiring about Diogenes” – because he had heard many stories about the man. He was really a man worth calling a man. Even Alexander, deep down, was jealous of Diogenes.
He went to see him. He was impressed by his beauty – naked, undecorated, with no ornaments. And he himself was full of ornaments, decorated in every possible way, but he looked very poor before Diogenes. And he said to Diogenes, “I feel jealous of you. I look poor compared to you – and you have nothing! What is your richness?”
And Diogenes said, “I don’t desire anything – desirelessness is my treasure. I am a master because I don’t possess anything – nonpossessiveness is my mastery, and I have conquered the world because I have conquered myself. And my victory is going with me, and your victory will be taken away by death.”

And the second story: When he was going back from India… His teacher had told him, “When you come back from India, bring a sannyasin, because that is the greatest contribution of India to the world.”
The phenomenon of a sannyasin is uniquely Indian. Nowhere else has the idea of transcending the world totally captured the minds of people as it has in this country.
Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander. Aristotle had asked him, “Bring a sannyasin when you come back. I would like to see what a sannyasin is like, what it is all about.”
After conquering India, when he was going back he remembered. He inquired where to find a sannyasin. People said, “Sannyasins are many but real sannyasins are very few. We know one.”
In Alexandrian reports his name is given as Dandamesh – it may be a Greek form of some Indian name. Alexander went to see the man – again the same beauty as Diogenes, the same peace. Whenever awakening happens it brings something similar. Around every buddha you will find the same spring, the same fragrance, the same peace.
Again, as he entered into the energy field of Dandamesh, he was tremendously affected, as if he had entered into a perfumed garden. He immediately remembered Diogenes. He asked Dandamesh, “I have come to invite you – come with me. You will be our royal guest, every comfort will be provided for, but you have to come with me to Athens.”
Dandamesh said, “I have dropped all coming, all going.” He was talking of something else; Alexander could not understand immediately. He was saying that, “Now there is no more coming in the world and no more going out of the world. I have dropped all; I have transcended all coming and going.” What in the East we call avagaman – coming and going; coming into the womb and then going into death.
Alexander said, “But this is a commandment – I command you! You have to follow. This is the order from the great Alexander!”
Dandamesh laughed. The same laughter. Again Alexander remembered Diogenes – the same laughter. Dandamesh said, “Nobody can command me, not even death.”
Alexander said, “You don’t understand – I am a dangerous man!” He pulled out his sword and he said, “Either you will come with me or I will cut off your head.”
Dandamesh said, “Do it, cut off the head – because what you are going to do now, I have done years before. When the head falls, you will see it falling on the earth and I will also see it falling on the earth.”
Alexander said, “How will you see it? You will be dead!”
Dandamesh said, “That is the point: I cannot die anymore, I have become a witness. I will witness my death as much as you will witness. It will happen between us two – you will be seeing, I will be seeing. And my purpose in the body is fulfilled: I have attained. There is no need for the body to exist anymore. Cut off the head!”
Alexander had to put his sword back in the sheath – you cannot kill such a man.

And the third story is: When Alexander was dying he remembered both Diogenes and Dandamesh, and he remembered their laughter, their peace, their joy.
And he remembered that they had something that goes beyond death, “And I have nothing.”
He wept, tears came to his eyes, and he said to his ministers, “When I die and you carry my body to the cemetery, let my hands hang out of the casket.”
The ministers asked, “But this is not the tradition! Why? Why such a strange request?”
Alexander said, “I would like people to see that I came empty-handed and I am going empty-handed, and all my life has been a waste. Let my hands hang out of the casket so everybody can see – even Alexander the Great is going empty-handed.”

These stories are worth meditating on.
Buddha says: It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.
Then the victory is yours.
No other victory is yours. It can’t be taken from you – that’s why it is yours.
It cannot be taken from you,
not by angels or by demons,
heaven or hell.
Nobody can take it away from you. Remember, only that which cannot be taken away from you is yours. Anything that can be taken away from you is not yours. Don’t cling to it, because the clinging will bring misery to you. Do not be possessive of anything that can be taken away from you because your possessiveness will create anguish for you. Abide with only that which is really yours, which nobody can take away from you. It cannot be stolen, you cannot be robbed of it, you cannot go bankrupt as far as it is concerned. Even death cannot take it.
Krishna says: “Nainam chhindanti shastrani – you cannot cut it with weapons, swords cannot penetrate it, arrows cannot reach to it, bullets are absolutely powerless as far as it is concerned. “Nainam dahati pavakah – neither fire can burn it.
When on a funeral pyre your body will be burned, you will not be burned – if you have known yourself, if you have understood what this consciousness is within you. If you have conquered your consciousness, then the body will be burned, turned to ashes, but you will not be burned, you will not even be touched. You will remain forever – you are eternal. But this eternity can be known only when you become a master on your own.
Don’t waste your time in mastering others, in conquering power, prestige, in conquering the world. Conquer yourself. The only thing worth conquering is your own being.
Better than a hundred years of worship,
better than a thousand offerings,
better than giving up a thousand worldly ways
in order to win merit,
better even than tending in the forest
a sacred flame for a hundred years –
is one moment’s reverence
for the man who has conquered himself.
A tremendously significant sutra. Meditate over it slowly. Better than a hundred years of worship… is a single …moment’s reverence for the man who has conquered himself. Why? – because in the temples you will be worshipping just stones. And by worshipping the stones – either in the temple or in Kaaba – by worshipping statues and pictures, by worshipping dead scriptures, following rituals and formalities, you will not have any taste of buddhahood.
But …one moment’s reverence for the man who has conquered himself is far more valuable. Why? – because the moment you bow down to the man who has conquered himself, the moment you bow down to a buddha, something of the buddha, something of his vibe penetrates you, stirs your asleep heart, penetrates your being like a ray of light into the dark night of your soul, brings you the first glimpse of the divine.
It is not possible in the temples, in the mosques, in the churches, in the synagogues, in the gurdwaras. It is possible if you are in the vicinity of a Nanak, but not in a gurdwara. It is possible if you are in a love affair with Jesus, but not in a church. It is possible if you have surrendered to a buddha, if you have said to a buddha, “Buddham sharanam gachchhami – I go to the feet of the buddha, I surrender myself.” But it is not possible in a Buddhist temple; before the statue of Buddha it is not possible. You will have to find a living buddha – there is no other way. There is no shortcut.
…better than a thousand offerings, better than giving up a thousand worldly ways…is one moment’s reverence for the man who has conquered himself. Why do you worship in the first place? Why do you offer flowers, food to the statues? Why do you renounce …a thousand worldly ways…? because of greed and fear. Either it is fear or it is greed, or maybe it is both, because greed and fear are not different – two aspects of the same coin. Greed is fear hidden, fear is greed hidden.
And not only are worldly people greedy, the so-called otherworldly are also as greedy or maybe they are even more greedy. Their greed is such that it cannot be satisfied by this world. Their greed is such that they desire heavenly pleasures: only paradise can satisfy them, this world is not enough. And that’s what your so-called saints go on teaching to you. They say, “Why are you wasting your time in momentary pleasures? Follow us! We will show you the way to find pleasures which will last forever.”
But this is pure greed. The worldly man seems to be less greedy because he is satisfied with the momentary, and the otherworldly is so greedy that he wants something permanent which lasts forever. The worldly is greedy, the otherworldly is greedy.
Your priests are very greedy people, your monks are very greedy people.

One day a Protestant minister came into Bonatelli’s barbershop and got a haircut. When Bonatelli was finished, the minister reached for his wallet, but the barber shook his head and smiled. “Put-a your wallet away, Reverend,” said the Italian. “I never charge a man of the cloth.”
The minister thanked him and left, but he soon returned and presented the pious barber with a Bible.
A few hours later, Father Rourke entered the Italian’s shop and he, too, got a haircut. Once again the barber refused to accept any payment. “Forget it, Father,” he said. “I no take-a money from a priest.”
Father Rourke left shortly thereafter and returned with a crucifix which he presented to Bonatelli as a token of his appreciation.
Toward evening a rabbi entered the shop. He also got a haircut. When the rabbi reached into his pocket, the barber waved the money aside. “That’s okay, Rabbi,” said Bonatelli. “I no accept-a pay from men who do-a da Lord-a’s work.”
So the rabbi left, and came back with another rabbi!

People live through greed or through fear. A few people are afraid of hell, hence they are worshipping; and a few people are greedy for heaven, hence they are worshipping.
A Sufi story says:

Jesus came into a town. He saw a few people sitting very sad, in deep agony; he had never seen such a lot of sad people. He asked, “What has happened to you? What calamity has fallen upon you?”
And they said, “We are afraid of hell, we are trembling. We don’t know how we can save ourselves from hell – that is our fear, that is our constant agony. We cannot sleep, we cannot rest, unless we have found a way.”
Jesus walked away from those people. Just a little further ahead he found another group sitting under a tree, very sad, in great anxiety, just as the first lot. Jesus was very puzzled. He asked, “What is the matter? What is happening in this town? Why are you looking so sad? Why do you look so tense? You will go mad if you remain in this state any longer! What has happened to you?”
They said, “Nothing has happened to us. We are afraid that we may lose heaven, we may not be able to enter it. And we have to get it, whatsoever the cost. That is our anxiety and that is our tension.”
Jesus left those people also.
Sufis say: why did Jesus leave these people? – because these are the religious people! He should have taught them the way to avoid hell, and how to enter heaven, but he simply turned away from them.
He found a third group in a garden, a small group of people who were dancing, singing, rejoicing. He asked, “What ceremony is going on? What festival are you having?”
They said, “No special ceremony – just our gratefulness to existence, gratefulness for what it has given to us. We were not worthy of it.”
Jesus said, “To you I will talk, with you I will stay. You are my people.”

This story is not related to Christians, but the Sufis have a few beautiful stories about Jesus. In fact, they understand Jesus far more deeply than the so-called orthodox church. This is a beautiful story. It says neither those who are living through fear nor those who are living through greed are going to enter into the kingdom of God, but only those who are living in tremendous joy, thankfulness and gratitude.
And where will you learn gratitude? If you have not seen a buddha, you will not know what gratitude is. Where will you learn to celebrate if you have not come across a buddha? A buddha is celebration, a buddha is a festival, an ongoing festivity, a dance that goes on and on, that knows no ending, a song that continues forever.
If you have come across a buddha, then a moment’s reverence, says Buddha, is enough.
Drop all your fear, drop all your greed. Learn how to be a disciple. Learn how to imbibe the spirit of someone who has reached his innermost center, who does not live anymore on the circumference, who has become enlightened, whose being is a light.
Learn to open your eyes toward that light. Learn to say: “Buddham sharanam gachchhami, sangham sharanam gachchhami, dhammam sharanam gachchhami.” Three surrenders: one surrender to the one who has become awakened; the second surrender is to the company who lives in the company of the awakened – because the perfume of the awakened one starts filtering into the company, the blessed company that lives with the awakened one; and the third surrender is to the law, the ultimate law, through which the sleepy one has become awakened and the other sleepy ones are becoming awakened.
These three surrenders… And a single moment’s reverence is more valuable than a hundred years of worship, than a thousand offerings.
…better than giving up a thousand worldly ways in order to win merit, better even than tending in the forest a sacred flame for a hundred years – is one moment’s reverence for the man who has conquered himself.
To revere such a man,
a master old in virtue and holiness,
is to have victory over life itself,
and beauty, strength and happiness.
To revere such a person is to know the secretmost phenomenon in existence. Bowing down to a buddha a miracle happens: something starts flowing from the buddha to the heart of the disciple, an invisible river, a river of light.
…a master old in virtue and holiness… What does this sutra mean: …old in virtue and holiness…? There is a paradox: holiness is as new as the dewdrops in the early morning sun on the lotus leaf, and holiness is as ancient as the Himalayas. It is both, because it is eternal. It is from the beginning to the end, but it is new, too, every moment new, renewing itself. It is not a dead thing just sitting there; it is an alive process. It is not a stagnant pool, it is a river rushing toward the ocean. So it is new every moment; hence every buddha is young forever.
Have you ever seen any statue of Buddha as an old man of eighty-two years? No. Have you ever seen any statue of Mahavira as old, or Rama, or Krishna as old? There are no statues of Buddha, Krishna, or Mahavira as old, although they all lived to a very old age, all passed the age of eighty. Why don’t we have their statues as old men? To represent the eternal youth of truth, the eternal freshness of truth.
And, still what they say is the ancientmost: “Aes dhammo sanantano…” So ancient that in fact there has never been a beginning. Sanantano means beginningless – forever it has been.
To represent this there is told another phenomenon: Lao Tzu is said to have been born old. Buddha died when he was eighty-two and Lao Tzu was born when he was eighty-two. He was born eighty-two years old; he lived in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years. A beautiful story. Not that he really lived – because one has to think of the woman also! – but it says something. It says that truth is so ancient, it is always old.
These stories are beautiful.
It is said that when Zarathustra was born… He is the only child in the whole history of humanity about whom such a story is told. When he was born – every child cries when he is born – Zarathustra laughed. Beautiful! Not that he could have really done it. No child can do it – it is physiologically impossible – the child has to cry. Through crying he clears his chest and the breathing system. He cannot laugh, he cannot even breathe; first he has to cry.
If the child does not cry for a few seconds, a few minutes, that means he is not going to live at all. Then he has to be forced. The doctor hangs him upside down and gives him a good slap on the bottom to help him cry. If he cries, that means he is going to live. If he cries, that clears the chest – because much mucus gathers in the chest while he is in the mother’s womb. He does not breathe in the mother’s womb so the whole breathing system remains clogged with mucus. So each child physiologically has to cry; through crying he gets rid of the mucus. Laughter is not possible.
But it is very symbolic that Zarathustra laughed. What does it symbolize? It symbolizes that this whole life is just illusory, only worth laughing at. It is ridiculous! He knows from the very beginning it is ridiculous. The real life is something totally different.
To revere such a man, a master old in virtue and holiness, is to have victory over life itself… By revering a buddha, by respecting a buddha, by trusting a buddha, you are conquering life itself. And you will attain to beauty, strength and happiness. In that surrender you will become beautiful, because the ego is gone and the ego is ugly. And you will become strong, because the ego is gone – the ego is always weak and impotent. And you will become happy for the first time, because for the first time you have seen a glimpse of truth, for the first time you have seen a glimpse of your own being. The buddha is a mirror: when you bow down, you see your original face reflected in the buddha.
Let your heart be full of prayerfulness:
Buddham sharanam gachchhami. Sangham sharanam gachchhami. Dhammam sharanam gachchhami.
Enough for today.

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