The Empty Boat 07

Seventh Discourse from the series of 11 discourses - The Empty Boat by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

There were three friends discussing life.
One said:
“Can men live together and know nothing of it,
work together and produce nothing?
Can they fly around in space
and forget to exist, world without end?”

The three friends looked at each other
and burst out laughing.
They had no explanation,
thus they were better friends than before.

Then one friend died.
Confucius sent a disciple
to help the other two chant his obsequies.

The disciple found
that one friend had composed a song
while the other played the lute.

They sang:
“Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?
Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?
You have gone where you really were,
and we are here – damn it, we are here!”
Then the disciple of Confucius
burst in on them and exclaimed:
“May I inquire where you found this
in the rubrics for obsequies,
this frivolous caroling
in the presence of the departed?”

The two friends looked at each other
and laughed:
“Poor fellow,
he doesn’t know the new liturgy!”
The first thing about life is that it has no explanation. It is there in its absolute glory, but it has no explanation. It is there as a mystery and if you try to explain it you will miss it. It will not be explained, but you will become blind through your explanations.
Philosophy is the enemy of life. The most inimical thing that can happen to a man is to get fixed and obsessed with philosophical explanations. The moment you think you have the explanation life has left you, you are already dead.
This will look paradoxical. Death can be explained; life cannot be explained – because death is something finished, complete. Life is always an ongoing affair, life is always on the journey, death has arrived. When something has reached and is finished, you can explain it, you can define it. When something is still ongoing, it means that the unknown is still to be traveled.
You can know the past but you cannot know the future. You can put the past into a theory; how can you put the future into a theory? The future is always an opening, an infinite opening, it goes on opening and opening. So when you explain, the explanation always indicates that which is dead.
Philosophy has explanations so it cannot be very alive, and you cannot find people who are more dead than philosophers. Their life has ebbed away, their life has oozed out, they are shrunken heads, like dead stones. They make much noise but there is none of the music of life. They have many explanations, but they have completely forgotten that they have only explanations in their hands.
Explanation is like a closed fist. Life is like an open hand. They are totally different. And when the fist is completely closed there is no sky in it, no air in it, no space to breathe. You cannot grab the sky in your closed fist; the fist will miss it. The sky is there, the hand is open, it is available. Explanation is grabbing, closing, defining – life oozes out.
Even laughter is greater than any philosophy. When somebody laughs about life, he understands it. So all those who have really known have laughed. And their laughter can be heard even after centuries. Mahakashyapa laughed looking at Buddha – Buddha was holding a flower in his hand – and Mahakashyapa laughed. His laughter can be heard even now. Those who have ears to hear, they will hear his laughter, just like a river continuously flowing past, through the centuries.
In Zen monasteries in Japan they still ask, disciples still ask the master, “Tell us, Master, why did Mahakashyapa laugh?” And those who are more alert they ask, “Tell us, Master, why is Mahakashyapa still laughing?” Those who are more alert use the present tense, not the past. And it is said that the master will reply only when he feels that you can hear the laughter of Mahakashyapa. If you cannot hear it, nothing can be said to you about it.
Buddhas have always been laughing. You may not have heard them because your doors are closed. You may have looked at a buddha and you may have felt that he is serious, but this seriousness is projected. It is your own seriousness – you have used the buddha as a screen. Hence, Christians say Jesus never laughed. This seems to be absolutely foolish. Jesus must have laughed and he must have laughed so totally that his whole being must have become laughter – but the disciples couldn’t hear it, that is true. They must have remained closed, their own seriousness projected.
They could see Jesus on the cross – because you all live in such suffering that you can only see suffering. Even if they had heard Jesus laughing, they must have omitted it. It was so contradictory to their life, it didn’t fit in. A Jesus laughing doesn’t fit in with you, he becomes a stranger.
But in the East it has been different, and in Zen, in Tao, the laughter reached its peak. It became the polar opposite of philosophy.
A philosopher is serious because he thinks life is a riddle and a solution can be found. He works on life with his mind, and he gets more and more serious. The more he misses life, the more serious and dead he becomes.
Taoists, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, say that if you can laugh, if you can have a belly laughter that comes from the very core of your being, not just on the surface, not painted – if it comes from the deepest center of your being, spreads all over you, overflows to the universe – that laughter will give you the first glimpse of what life is. It is a mystery. For Chuang Tzu such laughter is prayerful, because now you accept life; you don’t hanker for the explanation. How can one find the explanation? We are part of it. How can the part find the explanation for the whole? How can the part look at the whole? How can the part dissect, divide the whole? How can the part go before the whole was there?
Explanation means that you must transcend that which you are trying to explain – you must be there before it existed, you must be there when it has ceased to exist. You must move around it so you can define it, and you must dissect it so you can reach the heart of it. A surgeon can find an explanation for a dead body, but not for life. All medical definitions of life are foolish because the surgeon dissects, and when he comes to know that life is no longer there, it is only a corpse. All explanations are postmortems, life is not there.
Now even scientists have become aware of the phenomenon that when you examine blood, if you take blood out of the body, and then examine it, it cannot be the same. Scientists say this now, because when it was moving in the veins of the body it was alive, it had a different quality; now when it is in the test tube, it is dead. It is not the same blood because the basic quality – life – is no longer in it. All explanations are of that type.
A flower on the tree is different because life, the shape of life, is flowing in it. When you cut it from the tree, take it to the lab, examine it, it is a different flower. Don’t be deceived by the appearance. Now life is no longer flowing in it. You may come to know the chemical composition of the flower, but that is not the explanation.
A poet has a different approach, not through dissection, but through love, not through uprooting the flower from the tree but rather by merging with the flower, remaining in deep love with it, in a participation mystique. He participates, then he comes to know something, and that is not an explanation. Poetry cannot be an explanation, but it has a glimpse of the truth. It is truer than any science.
Watch: when you are in love with someone your heart beats differently. Your lover, your beloved, will listen to your heart – it beats differently. Your lover will take your hand – the warmth is different. The blood moves in a different dance, it pulsates differently.
When the doctor takes your hand in his hand, the pulsation is not the same. He can hear the heart beating but this beat is different. When the heart was beating for a lover it had a song of its own, but only a lover can know the beat, only a lover can know the pulsation, the blood, the warmth of life. The doctor cannot know.
What has changed? The doctor has become the observer and you are the observed – you are not one. The doctor treats you like an object. He looks at you as if he is looking at a thing – that makes the difference. A lover doesn’t look at you as an object – he becomes one with you, he merges and melts. He comes to know the deeper core of your being, but he has no explanation. He feels it, but feeling is different. He cannot think about it.
Anything that can be thought will not be alive. Thought deals with death, it always deals with dead objects. That is why in science there is no place for feeling, because feeling gives a different dimension to existence, the dimension of the alive.
This beautiful story has many things to say to you. Move step-by-step into it, and if you reach a conclusion, then understand that you have missed. If you reach laughter, then you have understood.
There were three friends discussing life.
Chuang Tzu is very telegraphic. As always, those who know will not utter a single word unnecessarily. They live with the essential.
There were three friends discussing life. The first thing to be understood is that only friends can discuss life. Whenever a discussion becomes antagonistic, whenever a discussion becomes a debate, the dialogue is broken. Life cannot be discussed that way. Only friends can discuss, because then discussion is not a debate, it is a dialogue.
What is the difference between a debate and a dialogue? In debate you are not ready to listen to the other; even if you are listening, your listening is false. You are not listening, you are simply preparing your argument. While the other is speaking you are getting ready to contradict. While the other is talking, you are simply waiting for your opportunity to argue. You have a prejudice already there in you, you have a theory. You are not in search, you are not ignorant, you are not innocent; you are already filled, your boat is not empty. You carry certain theories with you and you are trying to prove them true.
A seeker of truth carries no theories with him. He is always open, vulnerable. He can listen. A Hindu cannot listen, a Mohammedan cannot listen. How can a Hindu listen? He already knows the truth, there is no need to listen. He will try to make you listen to him, but he cannot listen. You try to make him listen but he cannot; his mind is already so filled that nothing can penetrate. A Christian cannot listen, he already knows the truth. He has closed his doors for new breezes to reach him, he has closed his eyes for the new sun to rise; he has reached, he has arrived.
All those who feel that they have arrived can debate, but they cannot move in a dialogue. They can clash, then conflict arises, they oppose each other. In such a discussion you may prove something, but nothing is proved. You may silence the other, but the other is never converted. You cannot convince, because this is a sort of war, a civilized war – you are not fighting with weapons, you are fighting with words.
Chuang Tzu says: Three friends were discussing life – that is why they could reach laughter; otherwise there would have been a conclusion. One theory might have defeated other theories, one philosophy might have silenced other philosophies, then there would have been a conclusion – and conclusion is dead.
Life has no conclusion. Life has no foolish thought to it. It goes on and on endlessly; it is always, eternally, an onward affair. How can you conclude anything about it? The moment you conclude you have stepped out of it. Life goes on and you have stepped out of the way. You may cling to your conclusion but life will not wait for you.
Friends can discuss. Why? Because you can love a person, you cannot love a philosophy. Philosophers cannot be friends. You can be either their disciple or their enemy but you cannot be their friend. Either you are convinced by them or not convinced, either you follow them or don’t follow them, but you cannot be friends. A friendship is possible only between two empty boats. Then you are open to the other, inviting to the other, then you are constantly an invitation: “Come to me, enter me, be with me.”
You can throw away theories and philosophies but you cannot throw away friendship. When you are in friendship a dialogue becomes possible. In dialogue you listen, and if you have to speak, you speak not to contradict the other, you speak just to seek, to inquire. You speak, not with a conclusion already reached, but with an inquiry, an ongoing inquiry. You are not trying to prove something; you speak from innocence, not from philosophy. Philosophy is never innocent, it is always cunning, it is a device of the mind.
Three friends were discussing life – because between friends a dialogue is possible. So in the East it has been the tradition that unless you find friendship, love, reverence, trust, no inquiry is possible. If you go to a master and your boat is filled with your ideas, there can be no contact, there can be no dialogue. First you have to be empty so that friendship becomes possible, so that you can look without any ideas floating in your eyes, so that you can look without conclusions. And whenever you can look without conclusions, your perspective is vast, it is not confined.
A Hindu can read the Bible, but he never understands it. Really, he never reads it, he cannot listen to it. A Christian can read the Gita, but he remains the outsider. He never penetrates its innermost being, he never reaches the inner realm, he moves round and round. He cannot really read the books, it is impossible because of the conclusions in the mind. He already knows that only Christ is true, he already knows that only through Christ comes salvation; he already knows that Christ is the only son of God. How can he listen to Krishna? Only Christ is truth. Then Krishna is bound to be untrue, at the most a beautiful untruth, but never true. Or if he concedes too much, then he will say it is approximately true.
But what do you mean when you say approximately true? It is untrue. Truth is either there or not. Nothing can be approximately true. Truth is or truth is not. It is always total. You cannot divide it. You cannot say it is true to some degree. No, truth knows no degrees. Either it is or it is not.
So when the mind concludes that Christ is the only truth, then it is impossible to listen to Krishna. Even if he crosses your path, you will not be able to listen to him. Even if you meet Buddha you will not meet him.
The whole world is filled with conclusions. Someone is a Christian, someone is a Hindu, someone is a Jaina, someone is a Buddhist – that is why truth is missing. A religious person cannot be a Christian, a Hindu, or a Buddhist; a religious person can only be a sincere inquirer. He inquires and he remains open without any conclusions. His boat is empty.
Three friends discussing life… Only friends can discuss because then it becomes a dialogue, then the relationship is of I and thou. When you are debating, the relationship is of I and it. The other is a thing to be converted, convinced, the other is not a thou; the other has no significance, the other is just a number.
In friendship the other is significant, the other has intrinsic value, the other is an end in himself, you are not trying to convert him. How can you convert a person? What foolishness! The very effort to convert a person is foolish. A person is not a thing. A person is so big and so vast that no theory can be more important than a person. No Bible is more important than a person, no Gita is more important than a person. A person means the very glory of life. You can love a person but you can never convert a person. If you are trying to convert, you are trying to manipulate. Then the person has become a means and you are exploiting.
Dialogue is possible when your I says thou, when the other is loved, when there is no ideology behind it. The other is simply loved, and whether he is a Christian or Hindu doesn’t matter. This is what friendship means – and friends can discuss life because dialogue is possible.
One said:
“Can men live together and know nothing of it,
work together and produce nothing?
Can they fly around in space
and forget to exist, world without end?”
He is not proposing a theory, he is simply raising a question. And remember, you can raise a question in two ways. Sometimes you raise a question only because you have to supply an answer and the answer is already there – you raise the question just to answer it. Then the question is not real, it is false. The answer is already there. The question is just a trick, rhetorical; it is not real, authentic.
The question is authentic when there is no answer in you, when you question but you don’t question from an answer, when you question simply to look; the question leaves you empty, just open, inviting, inquiring.
One said: “Can men live together and know nothing of it…?” We live together and we never know anything of what togetherness is. You can live together for years without knowing what togetherness is. Look all over the world – people are living together, nobody is living alone: husbands with wives, wives with husbands, children with parents, parents with children, teachers with students, friends with friends; everybody is living together. Life exists in togetherness, but do you know what togetherness is?
Living with a wife for forty years, you may not have lived with her for a single moment. Even while making love to her you may have been thinking of other things. Then you were not there, the lovemaking was just mechanical.
I have heard…

Mulla Nasruddin went to a film with his wife. They had been married for at least twenty years. The film was one of those torrid foreign films. When they were leaving the cinema hall, the wife said to Nasruddin, “Nasruddin, you never love me like those actors were doing in the film. Why?”
Nasruddin said, “Are you crazy? Do you know how much they are paid for doing such things?”

People go on living with each other without any love because you love only when it pays. And how can you love if you love only when it pays? Then love has also become a commodity in the market; then it is not a relationship, it is not a togetherness, it is not a celebration. You are not happy being with the other, at the most you just tolerate the other.

Mulla Nasruddin’s wife was on her deathbed and the doctor said, “Nasruddin, I must be frank with you, because in such moments it is better to be truthful. Your wife cannot be saved. The disease has gone beyond us, and you must be ready. You should not allow yourself to suffer. Accept it as fate. Your wife is going to die.”
Nasruddin said, “Don’t be worried about it. If I could suffer with her for so many years, I can suffer for a few hours more.”

At the most we tolerate. And whenever you think in terms of toleration, you are suffering, your togetherness is suffering. That is why Jean-Paul Sartre says, “The other is hell,” because with the other you simply suffer, the other becomes the bondage, the other becomes the domination. The other starts creating trouble, your freedom is lost, your happiness is lost. Then it becomes tolerance, a routine. If you are tolerating the other how can you know the beauty of togetherness? Really, it has never happened.
Marriage almost always never happens, because marriage means the celebration of togetherness. It is not a license. No registry office can give you marriage; no priest can give it to you as a gift. It is a tremendous revolution in the being, it is a great transformation in your very style of life, and it can happen only when you celebrate togetherness, when the other is no longer felt as the other, when you no longer feel yourself as I. When the two are not really two, but a bridge has happened, they have become one in a certain sense. They remain two bodies, but as far as the innermost being is concerned, they have become one. They may be two poles of one existence but they are not two. A bridge exists. That bridge gives you glimpses of togetherness.
It is one of the rarest things to come across a marriage. People live together because they cannot live alone. Remember this: because they cannot live alone, that is why they live together. To live alone is uncomfortable, to live alone is uneconomical, to live alone is difficult, that is why they live together. The reasons are negative.

A man was going to get married and somebody asked him, “You have always been against marriage, why have you suddenly changed your mind?”
He said, “Winter is coming and they say that this winter is going to be very cold, and central heating is beyond me and a wife is cheaper.”

This is the logic. You live with someone because it is comfortable, convenient, economical, cheaper. To live alone is really difficult. A wife is so many things, the housekeeper, the cook, the servant, the nurse, so many things – the cheapest labor in the world, doing so many things without being paid at all. It is exploitation.
Marriage exists as an institution for exploitation, it is not togetherness. That is why no happiness comes out of it as a flowering. It cannot. How can ecstasy be born out of the roots of exploitation?
Then there are your so-called saints who go on saying that you are miserable because you live in a family, because you live in the world. They say, “Leave everything, renounce!” And their logic appears to be right to you also, not because it is right, but because you have missed togetherness. Otherwise, all those saints would look absolutely wrong. One who has known togetherness has known the divine; one who is really married has known the divine, because love is the greatest door.
But togetherness is not there and you live together without knowing what togetherness is; you live for seventy, eighty years without knowing what life is. You drift without any roots in life. You just move from one moment to another without tasting what life gives you. And this is not given by birth. It is not hereditary to know life.
Life comes through birth but the wisdom, the experience, the ecstasy, has to be learnt – hence the meaning of meditation. You have to earn it, you have to grow toward it, you have to attain a certain maturity; only then will you be able to know it.
Life can open to you only in a certain moment of maturity. But people live and die childishly. They never really grow, they never attain to maturity.
What is maturity? Just becoming sexually mature? Then you are not mature. Ask the psychologists: they say that the mental age remains nearabout thirteen or fourteen. Your physical body goes on growing but your mind stops at about thirteen. That’s why it is no wonder you behave so foolishly, why your life becomes a continuous foolishness. A mind which has not grown up is bound to do something wrong every moment.
And the immature mind always throws responsibility onto the other. You are unhappy because everybody else is creating hell for you: “The other is hell.” I say this assertion of Sartre is really immature. If you are mature, the other can also become heaven. The other is whatsoever you are because the other is just a mirror, he reflects you.
When I say maturity, I mean an inner integrity. And this inner integrity comes only when you stop throwing responsibility onto others, when you stop saying that the other is creating your suffering, when you start realizing that you are the creator of your suffering. This is the first step toward maturity: I am responsible. Whatsoever is happening, it is my doing.
You feel sad. Is this your doing? You will feel very much disturbed, but if you can remain with this feeling, sooner or later you will be able to stop doing many things. This is what the theory of karma is all about. You are responsible. Don’t say society is responsible, don’t say that parents are responsible, don’t say the economic conditions are responsible. Don’t throw the responsibility onto anybody. You are responsible.
Once you accept this burden… In the beginning it looks like a burden because now you cannot throw responsibility onto anybody else.
It happened…

Mulla Nasruddin was sitting, very sad. Somebody asked him, “Nasruddin, why do you look so sad?”
He said, “My wife has insisted that I stop gambling, smoking, drinking, and playing cards. I have stopped all of them.”
The man said, “So your wife must be very happy.”
Nasruddin said, “That is the problem. Now she cannot find anything to complain about, so she is very unhappy. She starts talking, but she cannot find anything to talk about. Now she cannot make me responsible for anything and she is so unhappy, I have never seen her so unhappy. I also thought that when I stop all these things her unhappiness will stop. But she has become more unhappy than ever.”

If you go on throwing responsibility onto others and they all do whatsoever you say they do, you will commit suicide. Because there will be nowhere left to throw your responsibilities.
So it is good to have a few faults; it helps others to be happy. A wife will leave a really perfect husband, because how can you dominate a perfect man? So even if you don’t want to, go on doing something wrong so the wife can dominate you and feel happy.
A perfect husband – there is bound to be divorce. You will all be against any perfect man because you cannot condemn him, you cannot say anything wrong about him. Our minds love to throw responsibility onto somebody else, they want to complain. It makes us feel good, because then we are not responsible, we are unburdened. But this unburdening is very costly. You are not really unburdened, you are getting more and more burdened. Only you are not alert.
People live for seventy years. Really, they have lived for many, many lives without knowing what life is. They were not mature, they were not integrated, they were not centered. They lived on the periphery.
When your periphery meets the other’s periphery a clash happens, and if you go on being concerned that the other is wrong, you remain on the periphery. Once you realize: “I am responsible for my being; whatsoever has happened, I am the cause, I have done it,” suddenly your consciousness shifts from the periphery to the center. Now you become, for the first time, the center of your world.
Now much can be done – because whatsoever you don’t like, you can drop; whatsoever you like, you can adopt; whatsoever you feel is true, you can follow, and whatsoever you feel is untrue, there is no need to follow because you are now centered and rooted in yourself.
One friend asked:
“Can men live together and know nothing of it,
work together and produce nothing?
Can they fly around in space
and forget to exist, world without end?”

The three friends looked at each other…
Only friends look at each other. When there is someone to whom you feel antagonistic, you never look at him. You avoid the eyes. Even if you have to look, your look is vacant, you don’t allow your eyes to absorb him; he is something foreign, rejected.
Eyes are doors. You look toward a person only when you want to absorb, to let him melt in you.
The three friends looked at each other… One friend inquired, the other two were not in any hurry to answer. They waited, they were patient. If there had been any conclusion in their mind, they would have objected immediately. But they looked at each other. They felt the situation, the inquiry, the heart of the inquirer, the meaning of the question, the depth of the question. Remember, if you can feel the depth of a question, the answer is almost found. But nobody is that patient, nobody is ready to go into the question deeply. You ask, but you never go into the inquiry. You ask for the answer immediately.
The three friends looked at each other
and burst out laughing.
The fact, the question, the penetration of it, the depth, the reality, the fact of it – no answer was needed. Any answer would have been foolish, any answer would have been superficial.
It is said about Buddha that millions of times people would ask questions and he would not answer. If the question was such that any answer would be superficial, he would not answer. If somebody asked, “Is there a God?” he remained silent. But people are foolish. They started thinking that either he was an atheist, and didn’t believe in God, or that he was ignorant, he didn’t know. Otherwise why should he not say yes or no.
You don’t know. When you ask a question like this, whether there is a God, “Does God exist?” you don’t know what you are asking. Is this a question to be answered? Then you are stupid. Can such vital questions be answered? Then you don’t know the depth of it; this is curiosity, not inquiry.
If the man who was asking Buddha was really an inquirer, an authentic seeker, then he would have remained with Buddha’s silence – because the silence was the answer. In that silence he would have felt the question, in that silence the question would have asserted itself. Against the background of the silence it would have become clearer. A clarity would have come to him.
Whenever you ask a deep question, no answer is required. All that is required is to remain with the question. Don’t move here and there, remain with the question and wait. The very question will become the answer. If you really go deep into the question, it will lead to the very source from where the answer also flowers. It is in you.
Buddha has not answered any real question – and remember that about me also. I go on answering your questions, but I also cannot answer your real questions – and you have not asked yet. Whenever you ask the real question, I am not going to answer, because no real question can be answered, it is not an intellectual thing. Only from heart to heart the transmission happens, not from head to head.
The three friends looked at each other… What happened in that look? They were not heads in that look, they became hearts. They looked at each other, they felt, they tasted the question – it was so real that there was no answer to it.
Yes, we live without knowing what life is. Yes, we live together without knowing what togetherness is. Yes, we live, forgetting completely that we exist. We have been flying round and round in the sky without knowing where we are going or why.
The question was so real that if any answer had been given, that answer would be foolish. Only a fool would answer such a question. They looked at each other; they really looked into each other – and burst out laughing. Why burst out laughing? The whole situation is so absurd. Really, we live without knowing what life is; we exist without becoming aware of existence, we journey and journey without knowing from where or to what or why.
Life is a mystery. Whenever you confront a mystery laughter will arise. How can you answer a mystery?
What is the most mysterious thing in you? Laughter is the most mysterious thing in you. No animal can laugh, only man. It is the supreme-most glory of man. No animal laughs, no trees laugh – only man laughs. Laughter is the most mysterious element in man.
Aristotle defined man as the rational being. It is not so because reason exists in other animals also. The difference is only of degree, and it is not much. Man can only be defined as the laughing and weeping animal, no other definition will do, because no other animal can weep, no other animal can laugh. This polarity exists only in humanity. This is something mysterious in man, most mysterious.
Anger exists all over, it is nothing. Sex exists all over, it is nothing, it is not so mysterious. If you want to understand sex, you can understand animal sex, and all that is applicable to animal sex will be applicable to man. In that way man is nothing more.
Anger, violence, aggression, possessiveness, jealousy, everything exists and exists more purely and more simply in animals than in you. Everything is confused in you. That is why psychologists have to study rats just to study man. They are simple, clear, less confused, and whatsoever they conclude about rats is true of you. All the psychology laboratories are filled with rats. The rat has become the most important animal for psychologists because it is so human-like. In many ways it is like the human.
The rat is the only animal which follows humanity wherever it goes. It is universal. If you find a man in Siberia, there will be a rat there somewhere. Wherever he goes, the rat follows – I suspect that rats must have reached the moon. No other animal can exist everywhere like the rat. And its behavior is absolutely human. Understand the behavior of the rat and you have understood humanity.
But the rat cannot laugh, the rat cannot weep. Laughter and weeping are two aspects of something which exists only in man. If you need to understand laughter and weeping you have to study humanity; nowhere else can it be studied. That’s why I call it the most distinctive quality of the human mind.
Whenever you feel mystery, there are only two ways, either you weep or you laugh. It depends on your personality, your type. It is possible, if they had been of a different personality type, that the three friends would have wept. When such a mystery surrounds you, when you encounter such an unknowable mystery that no explanation is possible, what can you do? How can you respond?
But laughter is better than weeping because weeping comes when the mystery of death surrounds you. Then you weep. And the question was about life so it was relevant to laugh. Whenever you encounter the mystery of death you weep, you feel the relevance of weeping whenever death is there.
The question was about life, not about death. So it seems relevant that they looked into each other, into the life that was in each – the life pulsating, the life dancing all around and with no explanation, with no secret book to reveal the keys: life in its total mystery, in its total unknowability.
What was there to do? They were not philosophers, they were true men, mystics. They laughed:
They had no explanation.
Thus they were better friends than before.
This is beautiful. Whenever there is an explanation enmity arises, whenever you believe in something you are divided. Belief creates conflict. The whole world is divided because of belief. You are a Hindu and someone is a Mohammedan, and you are enemies. Why are you enemies? – because of your belief. Belief creates the conflict; foolish explanations, ideologies, create conflict, war.
Look at this: if there is no explanation, who is a Hindu and who is a Mohammedan? And how can you fight? For what? Men have always been fighting over philosophies, shedding blood, murdering each other, just for foolish beliefs. And if you look into beliefs, you can see the foolishness – not of your beliefs, but of others’ beliefs. Your belief is something sacred, but everybody else’s belief looks foolish.
All beliefs are foolish. You cannot see your own because it is so near. Really, explanations are foolish, stupid.
I have heard…

A flock of birds was flying south for the winter. One bird at the rear asked another, “How come we always follow this idiot leader?”
The other said, “In the first place, all leaders are idiots.” Otherwise, who would want to lead? Only the foolish are always ready to lead. A wise man hesitates. Life is so mysterious – it is not a ready-made path. How can you lead? A wise man hesitates and an idiot is always ready to lead.
So the bird said, “In the first place, all leaders are idiots, because nobody is interested in leading except idiots, and in the second place, he has got the map, so every year we have to follow him.”

Life has no map and there is no possibility of making a map. It is a pathless path. Without explanations how can you be divided? If there is no explanation, the world will be one. But there are millions of explanations, millions of fragments.
Chuang Tzu says a really very penetrating thing: They had no explanation, thus they were better friends than before. Now there was nothing to be enemies for, nothing to fight about.
They laughed, and the laughter made them one. They laughed, and the laughter led them into togetherness. Explain and you are divided, become philosophical and you are separated from others, become a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, then all others are enemies.
Look at the mystery and laugh, and humanity is one. And then there is no need to say that Christians are brothers of Hindus, Hindus are brothers of Mohammedans. First, divide them by beliefs, make them ill, and then supply them with medicine – you are all brothers. Have you seen brothers? They fight more than enemies! So what is the use of making them brothers?
Man fights for his explanations. All fights are foolish. Man fights for his flags, and look at the flags. What type of foolishness, what type of madness exists in the world? – for flags, for symbols, for beliefs, for ideologies?
Says Chuang Tzu: They had no explanation – they laughed. In that mysterious moment they became one: …better friends than before.
If you really want to be a friend, have no explanations and no conclusions, don’t believe in anything. And then you are not divided, then humanity is one, then there is no barrier.
And love exists not through mind, it exists through feeling.
They laughed. Laughter comes from the heart, laughter comes from the belly, laughter comes from the total being. When three people laugh, they become friends. When three people weep, they become friends. When three people debate, they become enemies.
Then one friend died.
Confucius sent a disciple
to help the other two chant his obsequies.
Confucius is the most perfect man of manners, par excellence. Nobody can transcend him. So he is always the butt of Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu. They bring Confucius into their stories just to laugh at his foolishness.
What was his foolishness? He lived by a system, he lived by a formula, by theories and beliefs. He was the perfectly civilized man, the most perfect gentleman the world has ever known. He moves, and he moves according to the rule. He looks, and he looks according to the rule. He laughs, and he laughs according to the rule. He never moves beyond the boundary, he lives in a constant bondage of his own making. So he is the butt of their laughter, and Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu very much enjoyed bringing him into their stories.
Then one friend died. Confucius sent a disciple to help the other two chant his obsequies. Neither life nor death is a mystery to him. It is according to a system. Some mannerism has to be followed. So he sent his disciple to see whether the dead man was disposed of according to the rules, the right prayer, the right chanting as given in the books. The dead had to be respected.
This is the difference. A man who lives through manners is always thinking of respect, never of love. And what is respect in comparison to love? Love is something alive; respect is absolutely dead.
The disciple found
that one friend had composed a song
while the other played the lute.
This was unbelievable! This was disrespectful to a person who is dead. The dead body was lying there, and one friend had composed a song. They loved the other man, and when you love a man you want to give him the last farewell through your love, not through books, not through a ready-made song, borrowed, which so many have chanted, so many have used, already rotten, rubbish.
They made up a song of their own, fresh, young. Of course, it was homemade, not produced in a factory, not mass-produced. Just homemade, not very polished of course, because they were not poets, they were friends, and they didn’t know how poetry was created. The meter may have been wrong and the grammar incorrect, but love doesn’t care about grammar, love doesn’t care about meter, love doesn’t care about rhythm, because love has such a vital rhythm of its own, it need not care. When there is no love, then everything has to be taken care about, because then you have to substitute.
One was playing the lute – and I know that he was not a lute player. But how do you say good-bye to a friend? It must come from your heart, it must be spontaneous, it cannot be ready-made. That is the point.
They sang:
“Hey Sung Hu, where’d you go?”
The mystery! They were not saying, “You are going to heaven.” They didn’t know. Otherwise, when anybody dies you say he has gone to heaven. Then who is going to hell? Nobody seems to go to hell.
In India, they use the word swargiya for a dead person. It means one who has gone to heaven. Then who is going to hell?
They didn’t know, so what was the point of uttering a falsehood? Who knows where this man had gone, this Sung Hu – to hell or heaven? Who knows whether hell and heaven exist? Nobody knows; it is a mystery, and one should not defile a mystery, one should not make it profane, one should not assert falsehoods. It is such a sacred thing, one should not say anything which is not known directly.
“Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?”
It was a question mark.
“Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?
You have gone where you really were,
and we are here – damn it, we are here!”
They say, “You have gone to the place from where you came.” This is a secret law: the ultimate can only be the beginning. The circle comes round and becomes perfect, complete. It reaches to the same point from where it started. The end cannot be anything else but the beginning, the death cannot be anything else but the birth. The final should be the source, the original. One is born out of nothingness and then one dies and moves into nothingness. The boat was empty when you were born and when you die the boat will be empty again. Just a flash of lightning – for a few moments you are in the body and then you disappear. Nobody knows from where you came, or where you go.
Nobody knows, and they don’t claim any knowledge. They say, “This much we feel, Sung Hu: you have gone to the place from where you came, and damn it, we are still here.” So they are not sorry for Hu, they are sorry for themselves, “We are hanging in the middle, your circle is perfect.”
Whenever somebody dies, have you felt this? Are you sorry for the person who is dead or sorry for yourself? Really, when someone dies, are you sad for him or her, or for yourself? Everybody is sorry for himself because every death brings the news that you are going to die. But a person who can laugh at the mystery of life knows what it is, because only knowledge, real wisdom, can laugh.
Where you really were, you have gone…
“And we are here – damn it, we are here!” And we are still in the middle. Our journey is incomplete; your circle has become perfect. So they are sorry for themselves, and if they weep, they are weeping for themselves. For the friend who has departed they have nothing but a song, nothing but a celebration of the heart. If they are sorry, they are sorry for themselves.
This is something to be understood very deeply. If you understand life, if you can laugh at it, then death is the completion, then it is not the end. Remember, death is not the end of life, it is the completion, it is the climax, the crescendo, the peak from where the wave returns again to the original source.
They are sorry for themselves, that their wave is hanging in the middle. They have not reached the crescendo, the peak, and their friend has reached where he was before. He has reached home. Those who understand life, only they can understand death, because life and death are not two. Death is the peak, the ultimate, the final flowering, the fragrance of life.
Death looks ugly to you because you have never known life, and death creates fear in you because you are afraid of life. Remember, whatsoever your attitude toward life, the same will be your attitude toward death. If you are scared of death you are scared of life; if you love life, you will love death, because death is nothing but the highest peak, the completion. The song reaches its end, the river falls into the ocean. The river came from the ocean in the first place. Now the circle is complete, the river has reached the whole.
Then the disciple of Confucius
burst in on them and exclaimed:
“May I inquire where you found this
in the rubrics for obsequies,
this frivolous caroling
in the presence of the departed?”
The disciple of Confucius cannot understand them. They look frivolous, disrespectful. What type of song, from where have you got this? It is not authorized, it is not from the Vedas. Then the disciple of Confucius burst in on them and exclaimed: “May I inquire where you found this?”
Everything should be according to the books, according to the Bible, to the Vedas. But life cannot be according to the books – life always transcends books, it always goes beyond; life always throws books aside, moves ahead.
“Where have you found this, this frivolous caroling in the presence of the departed? You should be respectful. Someone has departed, someone is dead and what are you doing? This is profane!”
The two friends looked at each other
and laughed:
“Poor fellow, he doesn’t know the new liturgy!”
He doesn’t know the new scripture, he doesn’t know the new religion. That is what is happening here every day – the new liturgy.
A man was here just a few days ago, a professor of history, and he asked me, “To what tradition do you belong?” I said, “To no tradition.”
He had come here from America to make a film of the meditation techniques, of the camp, of what I say, of what is happening here. The moment he heard that I don’t belong to any tradition, he simply disappeared. Then I don’t belong to history, it is obvious.
Poor fellow, he does not know the new liturgy!
Enough for today.

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