The Dhammapada Vol 8 03

Third Discourse from the series of 13 discourses - The Dhammapada Vol 8 by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

While a man desires a woman,
his mind is bound
as closely as a calf to its mother.

As you would pluck an autumn lily,
pluck the arrow of desire.

For he who is awake
has shown you the way of peace.
Give yourself to the journey.

“Here shall I make my dwelling,
in the summer and the winter,
and in the rainy season.”
So the fool makes his plans,
sparing not a thought for his death.

Death overtakes the man
who, giddy and distracted by the world,
cares only for his flocks and his children.
Death fetches him away
as a flood carries off a sleeping village.

His family cannot save him,
not his father nor his sons.

Know this.
Seek wisdom, and purity.
Quickly clear the way.
Niravo asked just the other day, “Is Jesus Christ coming back soon to earth as he had promised?” Such nonsense questions go on in people’s minds and not only in the minds of ordinary, common people: the so-called religious, theological, philosophical intelligentsia too keeps itself involved in such absurdities.
Christ is not a person, it is an experience. Jesus had it, you can have it. Christ is synonymous with buddha. What we call in the East the buddha, the awakened, the West has called the christ, the crowned one. Jesus Christ cannot come back, but you can become christ any moment. Christ is already hidden in you as a seed; you are all bodhisattvas, buddhas in essence, in seed. Just a little effort, a little understanding and you can bloom, and your fragrance can be released. Jesus bloomed, Buddha bloomed, so can you. Why wait for Jesus Christ’s coming? That is avoiding the fundamental quest. Why not become a christ? What is the point of waiting for somebody else to come and deliver you – and how can anybody else deliver you?
The deliverance that will come from somebody else will not be much of a deliverance. Freedom has to be earned, it cannot be given; if it is given, it can be taken away. If it is given it is not yours, it is not your growth. And anything that is given to you remains only an accumulation on the outside. It never becomes part of your interiority.
Hence Buddha says:
Know this.
Seek wisdom, and purity.
Quickly clear the way.
Don’t waste time in unnecessary things.
Niravo, are you cuckoo or something? Why wait for Jesus Christ? What wrong has he done to you? Enough is enough. The poor man came once and you crucified him; now are you hankering to crucify him again, or what?

The pope came before the gathering of cardinals. Rumors had spread as to the reason for this extraordinary meeting.
“Beloved cardinals,” the pope began. “I have called this special session to announce incredible news. It is, however, good news and bad news. As to the good: I have personally received a phone call from the Lord Jesus Christ. He has arrived on earth and has returned to fulfill his word.”
The cardinals cheered and applauded.
“The bad news,” the pope continued, “is that he called from 17 Koregaon Park, Pune, India.”

Why are you waiting for Jesus Christ? He is already here, he has always been here in the awakened ones. And the world has never missed the awakened ones. Yes, they have been few and far between, but it is because of them the earth still has significance. It is because of them the earth is not yet dead. It is because of those few flowers that the earth has still the perfume of the beyond, that the earth has salt. Otherwise the crowds are dead. If you look at the crowds the earth is a big cemetery.
Only these few people – a Zarathustra, a Jesus, a Lao Tzu, a Buddha, a Kabir, a Nanak… These people who can be counted on the fingers keep the flame burning. But you can become a flame any moment, your heart is ready to burst into flame. But rather than looking inward, you go on looking outward, waiting for Jesus Christ. Rather than searching inward, you go on searching in the scriptures, in mere words. Rather than transforming the state in which you are, you go on hoping that some miracle will happen and everything will be good. These hopes are not going to help you, they are deceptive, dangerous, suicidal.
In the first sutra, Buddha says:
While a man desires a woman,
his mind is bound
as closely as a calf to its mother.
One very significant thing has to be understood before we enter this sutra. In Sanskrit we use the word kama both for desire as such, and for sexual desire. The same word is used for both, and there is a reason the same word is used for both.
To desire a woman or a man, or to desire at all, both are expressed by the same word, kama. The reason is very psychological, profound. Sanskrit is one of the most profound languages of the earth, very deliberately evolved. That is exactly the meaning of the word sanskrit: sanskrit means consciously refined, consciously evolved.
In India two languages have existed in the past. One was called Prakrit – prakrit means the natural, unevolved, raw, crude, used by the people – and the other was called Sanskrit. Sanskrit means refined, cultured, evolved, deliberate. That was used only by the intelligentsia, by the brahmins. Hence Sanskrit has many significant clues. It is rooted in great insights.
For example, this same word being used for both desire as such, and for sexual desire, has a tremendously important message in it. All desire is basically sexual desire; that is the message in it. Desire as such has the flavor of sexuality in it, and you can observe it. This understanding is based, rooted in great observation. A man who is mad after money – watch his behavior, his being, look into his eyes, and you will be surprised that he loves money in the same way somebody else loves a woman or a man.
Now psychologists have performed a few experiments. They have made a deck of cards, one hundred cards, ordinary playing cards. Inside the pack there are just two or three cards of naked women. They give you the whole pack, shuffled in such a way that the psychologist himself is not aware where the cards are which contain the pictures of naked women. But he goes on watching the eyes of the person who is looking at the cards, who goes on looking at cards. When he comes to a naked woman his eyes suddenly change. His pupils become big; that is automatic. He is not aware what is happening, but immediately his pupils become so big, they want to take in the naked woman as much as possible. They open all the doors.
The same happens with people who are mad after money, money maniacs. Seeing a hundred-rupee note their pupils become immediately big. They may not be interested in a woman – and women are aware of it, hence so many ornaments, beautiful saris and all kinds of arrangements for these foolish people. They may not look at the face of the woman but they will be immediately interested in her necklace. They may be immediately interested in her earrings, her hair clip; if it has a diamond, a big diamond, they become interested in the diamond, and via the diamond they become interested in the woman.
Their sexuality has become perverted, it has become focused on money. This is also the case with power-hungry people, those who are after political power, those who want to become presidents and prime ministers and governors. Just seeing the chair of the prime minister is enough and their whole being is in a state of ecstasy, in a state of orgasmic joy. Just seeing is enough. That is their goal.
Buddha is right to use the same word for both. Hence, the misunderstanding in translation. The translator has thought that he is talking about women, so he translated kama as: While a man desires a woman, his mind is bound as closely as a calf to its mother. In fact, Buddha does not mention women. What he is trying to say is: While a man desires, his mind is bound as closely as a calf to its mother. Any desire is a bondage.
Desire as such is a bondage, because when you desire, you become dependent on the other, on the desired object. Whether it is a woman, money, a man, power, prestige, it does not matter – it is desire, and desire brings bondage. Why?
It is simple. When you desire something, your joy depends on that something. If it is taken away, you are miserable; if it is given to you, you are happy, but only for the moment. That too has to be understood. Whenever your desire is fulfilled it is only for the moment that you feel joy. It is fleeting, because once you have got it, again the mind starts desiring for more, for something else. Mind exists in desiring; hence mind can never leave you without desire. If you are without desire, mind dies immediately. That’s the whole secret of meditation.
Create desirelessness and mind is gone, gone forever, never to return. If desire is there, mind will come. Desire is the root from where the mind comes in. Desire is its nourishment, its food, its very life, its breath. So mind cannot leave you without desire. If you desire God – even God – and you meet God, it would be only for a moment that you would be ecstatic. Then suddenly the mind would say, “Now what? Now this goal is achieved, project future goals. You are finished with God, now there is no more in it.”
Desire fulfilled only for a moment gives you relief, and that relief has also to be understood. In the moment of a fulfilled desire there is relief. There is relief because in that small moment you are desireless. Desirelessness is joy. When one desire is fulfilled and before the mind projects another desire, between the two there is a small interval when there is no desire. That moment is of meditation.
That’s how meditation has been discovered. It has not been speculated upon, it is not given by philosophers, by great thinkers. It is a simple observation, a scientific observation, that whenever desire is not there… You wanted a beautiful house and you have got it. When you open the door of the new house, for a moment you are transported into another world, for a moment there is no desire. A long, long-cherished desire has been fulfilled. It will take a little time for the mind…
Mind needs time, remember. Mind cannot function without time; hence mind creates time. Without time there is no space for the mind to function. Mind will take a little time. In fact, mind is shocked. It was not hoping that the desire was going to be fulfilled. The goal was so far away, the house was so big, and it was almost impossible, but now that it is fulfilled mind is in shock. The mind is collecting itself again while you are opening the door of the new house, and you enter the new house and a deep joy arises in you. You say, “Aha!” The time that passes while you say “Aha!” is enough, and mind has projected another desire.
The mind says, “The house is beautiful, but where is the swimming pool? The house is beautiful, but the garden is not looked after.” You will have to create a new garden, a beautiful swimming pool, and again the whole process sets in, again you are in the wheel of the mind. But for a moment when there was no desire, there was joy. Joy is always when there is no desire. Whenever there is desire, joy disappears. Desire keeps you a prisoner.
Hence Buddha says: While a man desires, his mind is bound… And there is not much difference between one desire and another. So mind is not worried what you desire. Mind’s worry is only one: that you must desire. Desire anything! You can start collecting postage stamps, that will do – but desire. Now, postage stamps are useless, but there are many people who go on collecting them.
I know one man who collects cigarette boxes. He has such a collection; he is ready to purchase at any cost. If a new cigarette packet can be given to him, he is ready. He collects beedi labels, and he goes on showing people with such great joy, as if he has conquered the world.

I know another man who goes on writing in books, “Rama, Rama, Rama.” He has been doing it for almost sixty years – now he is eighty years old. His whole house is full of books in which is written only one word, Rama, and he goes on showing people and bragging: “Look how many millions of times I have written Rama.”
When I was a guest in his house, he showed me too. I said. “You must be a fool. You wasted all these books. You should have given these books to children, poor children. They would have used them in a far better way. You have simply wasted ink, paper, your time, your life. And moreover, whenever you come across Rama, he will hit you on your head, because you must be continuously harassing him: ‘Rama, Rama, Rama.’ Day in, day out you go on harassing him. Avoid him; if you see Rama anywhere, escape.” I asked him, “Do you know why he always carries a bow with him? It is for devotees like you. He is always ready with his bow and arrow, so you cannot escape.”
He was shocked. He said, “What are you saying? Are you joking? I have been doing a religious act. Everybody has praised it, great saints have come and praised it.”
I said, “Those people must have been fools just like you.”

Mind can desire anything. Now, he is not collecting money, but more and more names of Rama. It is the same game.

A man went to see his lawyer about getting a divorce.
“How much do you charge for handling a case like mine?” he asked.
“I really don’t like to handle divorce cases,” replied his attorney. “Why do you want to get a divorce?”
“Because I want to marry my wife’s sister.”
“Now, a case like that could get pretty messy. It might cost you as much as a thousand dollars. Why don’t you go home and think it over.”
So the man went home, and the next day he called his lawyer. “I have talked the whole thing over with my best friend,” he said. “I have decided not to get a divorce after all.”
“That’s just fine,” said his lawyer. “Tell me, what did your friend say that made you change your mind?”
“Well, he tells me he has been out with my wife and her sister, too, and there ain’t a nickel’s worth of difference between them.”

Every desire is the same. The objects differ, but not the quality of desiring. You desire money, somebody else desires godliness; you desire power, somebody else desires paradise. It is all the same. Hence there are no religious desires, remember. Non-desiring is religious. Desiring is worldly, desire is the world. Non-desire is transcendence.
But when one is under the impact of a desire, the impact is hypnotic. Every desire hypnotizes you. It makes you blind, that’s why we use phrases like falling in love. That is significant. The love that you know is certainly a fall – a fall from consciousness, a fall from understanding. You start crawling on the earth; you are no longer in your senses, you lose your intelligence, you become stupid. The more you are full of desire and lust, the more stupid you are.

Murphy’s maxim… Murphy says: I believe in love at first sight because it saves time.

When you are going to fall, then why wait? Fall at the first sight. At least time is saved if nothing else. When a person is in love with someone – and by love I don’t mean the love of the buddhas; their love is totally different. They are talking about prayerfulness, they are talking about compassion, they are talking about a desireless expression of their being. They are sharing their bliss.
I am talking about your love. It is lust, it is the lowest energy phenomenon possible. You are in an almost hypnotic state. A man in love with a woman, or a woman in love with a man is no longer able to see clearly. The mind becomes clouded, the desire creates so much smoke, it raises so much dust that you can’t see clearly. And whatsoever you see is your own projection.

A young army sergeant was posted to the deserts of Arabia by the French Foreign Legion. After a few days he became restless and asked his officer what form of entertainment took place in the camp – where were all the women and bars and so forth.
The officer replied, “Just be patient and wait until the camels arrive.”
So the young sergeant waited patiently for several more days and inquired again and the officer replied, “For heaven’s sake, just wait until the camels arrive.”
The next night there was an almighty rush, all the soldiers came running out of their tents yelling and screaming.
The young sergeant grabbed the officer and asked, “What is going on?”
“The camels are coming!” replied the officer.
“But why the great rush?”
“Well, you don’t want to get an ugly one, do you?”

If you are starving in a desert, even camels will start looking beautiful; otherwise you can’t see any difference between one camel and another. But the more your desires are starved, the blinder you become.
So remember, Buddha is not saying to starve your desires. He has been misunderstood by people, by his own followers as much as by his enemies. That is the fate of the buddhas: to be misunderstood by both friends and enemies. When he is saying that desire makes you blind, he is not saying to repress desire, because a repressed desire is far more dangerous. He is saying, “Understand desire, meditate over the whole phenomenon of it, and through understanding go beyond it, not through repression. Through meditation, transcend desire. Seeing that desire is misery, seeing that desire is bondage, seeing that desire drags you downward into hell, one is simply released without any repression.”
And to be released from desire is to be a buddha, is to be a christ.
The greatest mystery is that those who have desires live like beggars. They live in bondage, are bound to live like beggars. And those who have transcended desire live like emperors. It seems existence follows a very paradoxical law.

Old Murphy says: in order to get a loan you must first prove you don’t need it.

If you want a loan from a bank, prove that you don’t need it. If the bank suspects you need it, you won’t get it.
Exactly that is the case with dhamma, with the eternal law of existence. When you don’t need anything, the whole existence is yours, the whole kingdom of God is yours. And when you need anything, nothing is yours – only the need and the wound and the desire and the bondage. And desires are jumping upon you from every direction, there are desires and desires. It is not a question of one desire; desiring is the same, but there are millions of desires. So you live simultaneously in millions of prisons, and they go on destroying you, they go on forcing things upon you which you would not have accepted if there had been a moment of insight, of clarity. You would not have accepted such humiliation as you accept because of desires. You would not have accepted this crawling state. You are meant to fly in the sky. You have wings – wings which can take you to the ultimate. But desires are heavy like rocks; they are crushing you.
And how many desires do you have? One day simply write them down and count them, and you will be surprised: they go on sprouting one after the other. And each fulfilled desire brings ten more desires in. Desires don’t believe in birth control; each desire gives birth to as many desires as possible. Desires are never barren, they are never childless.

Bobbie Jo, a truly homely gal, came home from the Georgia campus for summer vacation. One evening she calmly confessed to her mother that she had lost her virginity last semester.
“How did it happen?” gasped the parent.
“Well, it was not easy,” admitted Bobbie Jo, “but three of my sorority sisters helped hold him down!”

Just look around at how many desires are holding you down and how you are being exploited, sucked. And if you look miserable, sad, depressed, if you look weak, if you look as if life has no significance, it is not an accident, it is your own doing. You have not understood how you go on creating your own anguish, how you go on creating, feeding your own enemies.
Yes, Buddha is right: While a man desires, his mind is bound as closely as a calf to its mother.

A Martian landed at a busy intersection in New York City and spent the next two hours crossing the street. He kept going back and forth between the two electric signs that change from “Walk” to “Don’t Walk” and then back again.
Finally the weary little Martian stopped at one of the poles and threw his arms around it. “Baby,” he said, “I really do love you, but you’ve got to stop being such a nag.”

All desires are a nag, they go on nagging you, they go on forcing you, they go on goading you. You can’t have a moment of rest, you can’t be relaxed – all those desires are there. Rest, relaxation, is known only by those who have understood the art of being desireless. That’s what Buddha is pointing out:
As you would pluck an autumn lily,
pluck the arrow of desire.
It is an arrow, it is hurting you, it is wounding you, it is great pain, it is nothing but misery. But then why do people go on desiring? Why don’t they listen to the buddhas? – for the simple reason that desires are very cunning. They go on promising you. Desires are politicians; they promise you beautiful things. Of course, those things will happen tomorrow, not today. And it seems logical that time will be needed – five-year plans. Within five years everything will be perfectly as you would like it to be. Wait! Hope! Let tomorrow come! – and tomorrow never comes. Again tomorrow the same desires will be there, promising you. This has been so for so many lives.
You may not remember your past lives, but you can remember your past in this life at least. It has always been the case. The desire goes on telling you, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, wait, be patient.” And all promises are just toys to keep you occupied; the goods are never delivered.
The day you become aware of this cunning game that is being played upon you by your own mind, you throw away all those toys. You stop listening to the continuous promises. You start laughing at your own stupidity, at your own ridiculousness, how you have been such a fool for so long. And the desire starts disappearing, it can’t befool you anymore. It is an arrow, it hurts, but you are ready to suffer the pain in the hope that tomorrow you will be repaid, rewarded. And of course one has to pay for everything. The desire is very logical, it tries to convince you.
For he who is awake
has shown you the way of peace.
Give yourself to the journey.
Buddha says: “Enough is enough. You have listened to desire for thousands of lives and you have been moving in circles, suffering. You have not tasted anything of joy, you have not tasted anything of the beyond. Your mouths are full of dirt. You have not tasted real nourishment, because only godliness can be the real nourishment. Listen to those who are awake.”
Even if you listen, you listen to people who are just as fast asleep as you are, or sometimes even more asleep than you are. You can understand them because they speak in the same language.

Once I was traveling in an air-conditioned compartment with three other passengers. It was really a great coincidence. I have been traveling for at least fifteen years continuously, and it had never happened like that. It was simply rare, unique. All three passengers were such great snorers.
First the one on the lower berth started, and then the second started responding to him, almost answering. It was like a duet. I was surprised. And then the third started and he was something… Those two were nothing, just learners, beginners. And they all snored in such a way as if they were answering each other. It was a great discussion. I could not sleep; for one or two hours I waited, and there was no way.
Then I started acting – snoring so loudly, fully awake, that all the three started asking me, “Please, you are snoring too loudly.”
I said, “Yes, I know it, because I am not asleep. Unless you all stop, I am going to make this night a hell for you!”
But the way they were snoring was something worth witnessing, almost like answering each other. Great messages were being passed, and they followed the general format of a dialogue: when one was snoring the other two were silent. Then the second would start and the other two would listen – and then the third would start, and the remaining two would be silent. They knew how to converse.

You can understand people who are asleep more easily because they use the same language, the language of sleep.

Florence and Emily, two pretty young housewives, arranged to have cocktails and lunch together. When they met, Emily could see that something serious was bothering her friend.
“Come on, out with it. What is depressing you?”
“I am ashamed to admit it, but I caught my husband making love.”
“Why let that bother you? I got mine the same way.”

Try to get it! Don’t all be Germans, just try to get it. No… You need something else:

Two colleagues were discussing a patient. “I was having great success with Mr. Green,” said the first doctor. “When he first came to me, he was suffering from a massive inferiority complex. He thought that he was too small, which was of course all nonsense.”
“How did you treat this patient?” inquired the second doctor.
“I started out with intensive analysis and then group therapy. I convinced him that many of the world’s greatest leaders were men of small physical stature. I really hated to lose Mr. Green.”
“What do you mean?” inquired his colleague. “How did you lose him?”
“A terrible accident,” replied the physician. “A pussycat ate him.”

Now, these are your advisers – more asleep than you are. Now the priests are being replaced by psychoanalysts. Priests were fast asleep; they used to snore, but their snoring has gone out of fashion. Now it is psychoanalysis and different schools of psychoanalysis. Just as there were different schools of theology, there are different schools of psychoanalysis, and you listen to their advice. They are your guides – the blind leading the blind.

A beautiful girl was talking to her psychiatrist about her problem. “It is liquor, Doctor. Whenever I have a few drinks I have a compulsion to make love to whomever I happen to be with.”
“I see,” said the doctor. “Well, suppose I just mix up a couple of cocktails, then you and I sit down, nice and relaxed, and discuss this compulsive neurosis of yours.”

Listen to the awakened ones; otherwise there is no way for you. Buddha says: For he who is awake has shown you the way of peace. What is the way of peace? Understanding desire and transcending desire through understanding, great peace descends because desire is turmoil. Desire is maddening, desire keeps you neurotic.

Murphy’s definition of a neurotic: a person who worries about things that didn’t happen in the past, instead of worrying about something that won’t happen in the future, like normal people.

So there are two types of neurotic people: those who worry about the past and those who worry about the future. The world consists of these two types of neurotics, and your desire is the cause of all this neurosis. It is desire that keeps you still engaged with the past, which is no more. It is utterly foolish to waste time for that which is no more. To look backward is absolutely meaningless. You can’t go back, you can’t step backward in time; then what is the point of wasting your present for that which cannot be recovered?
And then there are people who are too concerned about the future, which is not yet. Future means that which is not. Remaining concerned with that which is not, whether it is past or future, is utterly ridiculous. But desire keeps you – unfulfilled desire in the past keeps you engaged there; hopes of fulfilling desire tomorrow keep you engaged in the future. Only a desireless person lives in the present, and only those who live in the present are alive; others are dead.
For he who is awake
has shown you the way of peace.
Give yourself to the journey.
Listen to the awakened ones. They are pointing you toward a tremendous journey, a journey into truth, a journey into awareness, a journey into bliss, a journey into peace, a journey into godliness, a journey into nirvana.
“Here shall I make my dwelling,
in the summer and the winter,
and in the rainy season.”
So the fool makes his plans,
sparing not a thought for his death.
It is desire that keeps you clouded and does not allow you to see death, which is approaching closer and closer every moment.
Buddha says: The fool goes on thinking, “Here I shall make my dwelling, in the summer and the winter, and in the rainy season.” And he is not aware that maybe the next moment he will be gone like a soap bubble and there may not be any more summer, any more winter, any more rainy season. But he is too concerned about making dwellings, dwellings on the earth, homes on the earth. Stay here, but remember you are in a caravanserai, an overnight stay, and in the morning we go. Don’t be foolish.
Even if you can make a house for the winter, another house for the summer, another house for the rainy season… Buddha must have remembered this, because his father had made three palaces for him in different places, in different climates: for the summer one palace – must have been on a higher altitude, somewhere in the Himalayas, so he could live without the torture of summer, and another house for winter in some warm climate, and another house for the rainy season.
He must have remembered that, but he renounced all that for the search for that which is deathless. Wasting your time in these palaces, and death is coming closer, and death will take you away… Even if you can manage to have all you can desire, mind will not be satisfied.
In the first place you will not be able to manage it, because mind desires impossible things. But even if you can manage, you will not be satisfied.

Old Mrs. Abramson stood at the Wailing Wall hysterically crying and pounding the bricks. A tourist walked over to her and said, “Madam, there is no need for you to cry. The Jews now have a homeland, a place to go to. After two thousand years you finally have the country you have always wanted. Good heavens, why are you crying?”
The old lady said, “I want to go to Miami Beach!”

And when she was on Miami Beach she wanted to go to Israel. That’s how the mind functions. It is never satisfied, it knows no contentment. It will always find some fault, it will always find some cause to be tense.

Once a tightrope walker wanted to put together an act nobody had ever seen before. He had a rope stretched across the Grand Canyon, refused a net, had himself blindfolded, and then announced he would walk across the rope playing the Blue Danube waltz on a violin. Needless to say, a huge crowd gathered to see this performance, but as he approached the far side of the canyon, this is the conversation he overheard:
“Now, admit it, Harry. Have you ever seen anything like that in your whole life? Is he not amazing? Is he not incredible?”
“Okay, I admit it,” said Harry. “He is amazing. He is incredible. But I will tell you one thing he is not.”
“And what is that?” asked his wife.
“Heifetz, he’s not.”

This is the way of the mind: it can’t be satisfied. It is impossible to satisfy it; it is a great fault-finder, it is a great inventor of misery. So whether you succeed or you fail, you will remain in misery if you remain with the mind. And the way to remain with the mind is desire. Desire is the glue that keeps you with the mind. Unglue yourself from the mind, become desireless.
But when I say, “Become desireless,” I am not saying to let this become your goal. I am not saying that now you have to make efforts to become desireless; I am not saying to make this your desire – becoming a desireless person. No, not at all; otherwise you would have misunderstood the whole point. Try to understand the desire and all its miseries and all its futilities, and in that very understanding is transcendence.
Death overtakes the man
who, giddy and distracted by the world,
cares only for his flock and his children.
Death fetches him away
as a flood carries off a sleeping village.
Remember death. Remember death always. Never forget death for a single moment. Why? Why is Buddha so interested in death? – for the simple reason that it is only death that can keep you aware. If you forget death you will become immediately unconscious. It is because of death that only man can become enlightened and no other animal, because no other animal is aware of death. It is only man who is aware of death.
Let this awareness become more and more penetrating. Let it sink in your heart, so it remains there like a thorn, continuously reminding you that life is a shifting sand: Don’t make your house here. Remember death is coming and whatsoever you do will be undone by death, so what is the point of becoming so worried, becoming so concerned, remaining in such anxiety when death is going to take everything away?

Despite warnings from his guide, an American Jew skiing in Switzerland got separated from his group and fell – uninjured – into a deep crevasse. Several hours later, a rescue party found the yawning pit, and to reassure the stranded skier, shouted down to him, “We are from the Red Cross!”
“Sorry,” the imperturbable Jew echoed back, “I already gave at the office!”

The Jew is a Jew. He has fallen into a deep pit and the danger of death is all around, but he is more interested in saving a little money. Just hearing the name Red Cross reminds him only of one thing: they must have come for a donation.
T. S. Eliot has written these beautiful lines:
Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
bring us farther from God and nearer to the dust.
What has happened to us? Why have we lost sight of God? Not only have we lost sight of God, we declared with Friedrich Nietzsche that God is dead. Why are so many people against God? And even those who are not against are not for, remember; they are neutrals. And those who are for are only formally for, they are not truly for. They can’t commit their lives in the search for godliness. What has happened to the modern man?
One thing has happened: we have been able to become more and more forgetful of death. The great advances in medical sciences have given us hope, as if we are going to live forever. Medical science has certainly helped us to live a little longer than before, but that simply means a little longer: the same misery, the same desire, the same lust, the same bondage. Medical science may be able…
It seems very possible now that man may start living more than one hundred years. There are people who think that man could very easily live at least three hundred years. But what is the point? Whether you live seventy years or seven hundred years, you will be the same stupid man. In fact, in seven hundred years your stupidity will grow very much. And if death is postponed for seven hundred years, who cares? It is not going to happen soon… And man does not have that much insight to look that far.
We live surrounded by small things. We see only so far, just a little bit ahead, enough to walk. Seven hundred years… That would make religion disappear from the earth, because man is not so intelligent that he could be aware of death if death is postponed for seven hundred years. He is not even intelligent enough to see it after seventy years, not even after seven years.
I have seen people who are seventy and yet not interested in meditation. Strange, very strange. I can’t believe it. A man of seventy is still not interested in meditation? That simply means he has not yet been able to see death, and death is very close. Any moment it can happen.
Buddha wants you to remember death continuously. Don’t think that he is a pessimist. Don’t think that he is death-obsessed – no, not at all. He simply wants you to remember death so that the sword of death hanging on you keeps you aware, alert.
It happened once…

A sannyasin was sent by his master to the court of the great king, Janak. The sannyasin was a little puzzled; he said, “Why should I go to the court of the king?”
The master said, “You have to learn one thing, and you can learn it more easily there than anywhere else; hence I am sending you. Go and watch and be very alert. You are going to be tremendously enriched.”
The sannyasin was not convinced. If he cannot learn something remaining with such a great master, then how can he learn in the court of the king? He used to think the king a fool because he has so many possessions, such a big kingdom, and he had renounced all, so he had always thought himself holier than the king. Now, going to the king to learn something he felt a little insulted. But when the master was saying it he had to go. So he went, reluctantly, deep down resisting, but he went.
When he reached the king’s court he was shocked. In a way, his doubts were confirmed. The king was sitting, drinking wine; beautiful women almost naked were dancing around, and all the courtiers were there, completely drunk. The sannyasin thought, “What kind of lesson have I to learn from these fools?” When he thought this, Janak started laughing.
The sannaysin asked, “Why are you laughing?”
Janak said, “I am laughing because your old man knows something, he understands something, but you don’t believe in him. You don’t believe in your master. You have come, but reluctantly.”
He was surprised: how had Janak come to know this? He asked, “You seemed to be almost drunk and still you can understand? – and I have not said anything.”
Janak said, “About this wine we will talk later on. Right now do one thing, otherwise I am going to kill you.” He ordered his soldiers to take their swords out of their sheaths and surround the court, and gave the sannyasin a cup full of oil, so full that it could not contain even a single drop more. And he told the sannyasin, “Put this cup on your head, and go around the court seven times. If even a single drop of oil falls, your head will be cut off.”
Now the sannyasin thought, “I’m among lunatics and I cannot even escape.” Those naked swords were all around.
And the king said, “Remember it, I mean business. When I say something I do it. So be careful.”
Looking at the cup, so full, he could not believe that he would be able to save his head – but there was nothing else he could do. He had to put the cup of oil on his head and go round the court seven times. And the dance continued, and the beautiful women continued, and of course he was an old type of sannyasin, deep down very interested in women. Many times the desire came just to have a look, but the fear of death and those naked swords… He managed seven rounds, although it was almost impossible.
Then the king asked, “How did you manage? It was impossible.”
The sannyasin said, “I could manage because of those naked swords all around. I have never felt death so close, just a foot from my side. Any moment…”
And the king said, “What about these beautiful women? And I know sannyasins; they may not be interested in anything else, but they are bound to be interested in women. And what about this beautiful, delicious food? And the aroma of the food, and the wine… And these are the things that you have suppressed, so they are deep down in your being, they want to surface.”
The sannyasin laughed. He said, “Who cares about these things when death is so close by?”
The king said, “You have learned the lesson. This was the lesson the master sent you to learn.”

Remember death. It is closer than those swords, it is always closer than anything else. You are living surrounded by death, and if this can be remembered, it can become the greatest stimulation for meditation, for awareness.
Hence the emphasis. Buddha says: Death overtakes the man who, giddy and distracted by the world, cares only for his flocks and his children. Death fetches him away as a flood carries off a sleeping village.
Don’t be a sleeping village; otherwise death will come like a flood and you will be gone. Be awake, be alert, be mindful.
His family cannot save him,
not his father nor his sons.
Nobody can save you except your own awareness. Know this – and don’t only believe in what the awakened ones say. Know this on your own, let it become an existential experience.
Know this.
Seek wisdom, and purity.
Seek the innocence of a child. Drop all your foolish knowledge. All knowledge is foolish.
Remember T. S. Eliot again:
Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
bring us farther from God and nearer to the dust.
Where is the wisdom that we have lost in knowledge? Knowledge is a poor substitute for wisdom. Knowledge means borrowed from others. Drop all that which you have taken from others. Wisdom is that which grows in your innocence, when you are just like a small child: full of wonder and awe, mystified by existence, knowing nothing, and wisdom arises. Wisdom wells up within your being. Wisdom is not something that comes from the outside, it is your inner growth. Know this. Seek wisdom, and purity.
Quickly clear the way.
And whatsoever hinders the way for wisdom to arise, quickly clear it.
Remove knowledge, information, remove all your egoistic trips. Remove desires, remove memories, imagination, remove the whole mind.
Become a no-mind.
That is purity, and in that purity wisdom blooms.
In the lake of that innocence the lotus of wisdom opens up, and that is the only possible way to be free, to have freedom – ultimate, total.

“What are you reading?” asked the prison librarian.
“Nothing much,” replied the prisoner. “Just the usual escapist literature.”

Enough for today.

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