The Great Zen Master Ta Hui 16

Sixteenth Discourse from the series of 38 discourses - The Great Zen Master Ta Hui by Osho.
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Before Seeking

You’ve indicated you want me to instruct you by letter in the direct essentials. This very thought of seeking instruction in the direct essentials has already stuck your head into a bowl of glue. Though I shouldn’t add another layer of frost to the snow, nevertheless where there’s a question it shouldn’t go unanswered. I ask you to abandon at once all the joy you’ve ever felt in reading the words of the scriptures yourself or when being aroused and instructed by others.
Be totally without knowledge and understanding, as before, like a three-year-old child. Though the innate consciousness is there, it doesn’t operate. Then contemplate what’s there before the thought of seeking the direct essentials arises: observe and observe. As you feel you’re losing your grip more and more and your heart is more and more uneasy, don’t give up and slack off: this is the place to cut off the heads of the thousand sages. Students of the path often retreat at this point. If your faith is thoroughgoing, just keep contemplating what’s before the thought of seeking instruction in the direct essentials arises. Suddenly you will awaken from your dream, and there won’t be any mistake about it.
Ta Hui is saying a few significant things. The first is that the consciousness of a three-year-old child, a baby, is there, but it does not create thinking. It remains just like a mirror, reflecting everything around the child, but the child does not start thinking whether something is good or bad, beautiful or ugly.
Why three years are mentioned is significant to understand: if you try to go backward in your memory, you will stop at the age of three. You cannot go beyond that. The reason is that only after three years of age do thoughts start stirring the consciousness and impressions start collecting in the memory.
Up to the age of three the child is exactly like a sage, only with one difference: this innocence is natural and is bound to be lost, because the child is not aware of its beauty, its richness, its splendor.
He does not know how much valuable treasure he is going to lose as soon as he starts thinking. In fact he wants to think as quickly as possible, because he is seeing people all around him who can think better, who are more articulate, achieve to higher positions, greater prestige, more honor. This whole world supports the process of thinking. For any ambition to be achieved, thinking is absolutely essential.
The moment the child becomes aware of the fact that thinking is the most essential thing to being someone in the world, somebody special with name and fame, then he starts learning as quickly as possible and transforming his consciousness and its energy into thoughts, into memory, into imagination – not knowing that he is losing his most precious nature, his most precious meditative consciousness.
It is true, just as Jesus says: Unless you are born again you will not attain the kingdom of God. He does not mean that first you have to die and be born again; he is only using a metaphor. You have to die as a thinker, as a mind, and you have to be reborn only as an innocent consciousness, just like a child.
Once a man has completed the whole circle from childhood to the enlightened man, he comes to the same self-nature, only with one difference: the child was not aware of it, and the enlightened person is nothing but awareness. He recognizes the value, he enjoys the tremendous bliss of it; his is the ecstasy of the ultimate and the eternal.
The child was just innocent in a negative sense – he was innocent because he was ignorant – and the sage is innocent because he is wise. All ignorance has been dispelled.
The child’s innocence was not meditative; it was simply non-functioning consciousness; it was just waiting for the right time and age to start functioning. Perhaps the reason is…all the animals in the world are born complete; only man’s child is born incomplete. Hence man’s child is more dependent and helpless than any animal in the world.
An animal’s children can survive without the family, without the mother, without the father; they will find some way. But it is impossible to think that man’s child can find some way to survive on his own.
The reason is very strange; perhaps you have never thought about it. The reason is that man’s child is born incomplete. He has to be born incomplete because the mother cannot carry the child for three years more; that would mean for four years continuously…. Nine months is the ultimate for the mother to carry the child; more than that it is impossible, her womb has not the capacity.
So every child is born three years before he should have been born. Those three years he is out of the womb, but almost totally dependent on the mother, on the father, on the family – now this is the womb around him. After three years he starts taking a few steps outside the circle of the womb, the family, and for the first time he starts showing indications of being an individual.
Below the age of three, children are almost always referring to themselves in the third person: “The baby is hungry”; “The baby wants to sleep”; “The baby is thirsty.” They don’t say, “I am thirsty”; the “I” has not formed yet. The “I” will need a little time, because it is nothing but the center of the mind. The body is formed; the mind is still in the process of forming. It takes three years for the mind to come to a point from where it starts functioning as an individual.
So the body is born when the child has been nine months in the mother’s womb, and the mind is born when the child has been three years out of the womb. That’s why we cannot remember further backward than the age of three. There, suddenly a China wall…
Those three years we have lived, and in those three years a thousand and one things must have happened. But they have not left any impact, any footprints on our memory system; the memory system was not ready. The child has every capacity to function as an individual; he just needs a little time for the whole mechanism to be ready to function.
The sage has lived as a mind, suffered as a mind, has gone through the whole hell of the mind, and has learned the lesson that unless you go beyond the mind life is going to remain a continuous agony.
Mind is agony.
Once this experience settles deeply in you, out of your own experience arises a new effort, a new beginning, a new birth…the birth of meditation. Just as at the age of nine months the body is born, at the age of three the mind is born. Somewhere – it depends how intelligently you are watching your experiences, how you are looking at the sources of your misery and suffering – if you are intelligent enough, perhaps by the age of thirty-five you may start feeling a deep urge to go beyond the mind.
The seven years between thirty-five and forty-two prepare you to take the quantum leap. If everything goes naturally, unobstructed and unhindered by the society, by organized religions, then the age of forty-two will be the third birth, the birth of meditation, a new beginning beyond mind.
It does not happen to everyone at forty-two, because no society wants it to happen. It is the most dangerous thing as far as the society is concerned, that people should start going beyond the mind, because going beyond the mind means going beyond the social order, going beyond the organized church, going beyond the scriptures, going beyond all vested interests, going beyond slavery, going beyond any kind of exploitation, oppression, and attaining to your dignity as an authentic consciousness.
This consciousness cannot be imprisoned, it cannot be killed, it cannot be burned. Even nuclear weapons are absolutely impotent as far as this consciousness is concerned.
No society wants individuals so powerful in themselves. Every society wants you to remain dependent on it.
Your independence is being curtailed in every possible way. And because your independence, your individuality is being curtailed, death comes before meditation comes. Life has been a wastage. Unless you attain to meditation, you have not really lived.
I have heard about a man who only became aware that he was alive when he died. Suddenly an awakening… “My God, I have been alive, but now it is too late.” Perhaps this may be true not just about one man – it may be true about every man who has died without meditation. Dead people don’t tell stories; just this one man was an exception. There are a few exceptional men in the world always.
While you are alive you are not really conscious how precious life is. In fact it is one of the tricks of the mind: whatever you have, you don’t recognize its value unless you lose it.

There was a great king who had conquered many lands and had accumulated immense wealth, but was very unhappy and miserable. There was not a single moment of joy, bliss…. He started asking people, “What is the purpose of all my wealth and all my kingdom? I cannot even sleep. My mind is so full of tensions, worries, there is no space for anything else. Is there someone in my kingdom who can help me?”
People had heard about a Sufi mystic and they said, “In your kingdom there is a Sufi mystic, a very strange fellow. He has helped many people, although you have to be a little alert with him because he is not predictable, he may do anything. But one thing is certain: whatever he does, finally you find that it had a reason. In the beginning it will look absolutely irrational. If you have courage enough you can go.”
The king said, “Do you think me a coward? I have invaded great lands; my whole life has been the life of a warrior. Can a poor Sufi mystic make me afraid? I will go…and I will go alone, no bodyguards, no army, no advisers.”
But he took with him a big bag full of diamonds and rubies and emeralds, just to show to the Sufi mystic: “This is only a sample. I have so much money but it is not helping me at all. First I used to think that when I have money I will relax and enjoy. But now money is there and I’m living in hell.”
The Sufi mystic was sitting under a tree. The king went there, got down from his horse, touched the feet of the Sufi mystic and asked him, “Can you help me?”
The Sufi mystic said, “What do you want? I will help you immediately.”
He had heard that this man was strange – otherwise nobody would tell you, “I will help you immediately.” He is going to do something…. The king was a little afraid: nobody wants to be helped immediately. He said, “There is no hurry, but…”
The Sufi mystic said, “Just tell me what you want. Don’t waste my time. You say it; I will give it to you and be finished.”
The king said, “You don’t understand. I want peace of mind.”
And when he was saying “peace of mind,” the Sufi mystic took his bag of emeralds and diamonds and rubies and ran away. The king said, “My God, what kind of man is he? Is he a mystic or a thief?”
He ran – in his whole life he had never run. The village was unknown to him, with small streets. The Sufi was perfectly well known; he lived in that village. The king was shouting, “Catch hold of that thief” – and people were laughing, because people knew that every day something or other happens. And it was really a laughing matter: the king was huffing and puffing and shouting, “Catch him! Why are you just laughing?” – and still running because that old fellow is taking away all his money and he is going so fast.
The Sufi mystic gave him a good round of the whole village, made the whole village aware that the mystic is ahead and the king is following, perspiring. Finally he reached to the same tree, sat there, and waited for the king to come. The king came very tired, perspiring, and the mystic gave him the bag. He took the bag, put it on his chest and said, “My God!”
The Sufi said, “Have you got some peace of mind? Had not I told you I would help you immediately?”
The king said, “Strange is your way…but it is true, I am feeling very peaceful, as I have never felt in my life. And the trouble is that this money was always with me, and I never felt so happy as I am feeling now.”
The Sufi said, “I have solved your problem. Your problem is that you have got everything. You need some distance, you need to lose it; only then will you understand what you had. And this is not only true about your money. This is more true about your life itself: because you have it, you have started taking it for granted. It is too obvious it is yours. You are not at all concerned that tomorrow it may not be yours, or even the next second.”

The day you become aware that death will destroy all opportunities for growth… Life is a great opportunity to grow, but rather than growing you have been simply accumulating junk which will all be taken away. People only grow old, but growing old is not growing up.
Very few people grow up.
Growing old is a natural thing; every animal does it, there is nothing special about it. It is horizontal. Growing up is vertical. Only very few people grow up; and meditation is the only path that moves vertically. Mind moves horizontally.
Ta Hui is making a few very important statements.
The first thing, the first sutra:
You’ve indicated you want me to instruct you by letter in the direct essentials. This very thought of seeking instruction in the direct essentials has already stuck your head into a bowl of glue.
It seems he is getting free from his own intellectual jargon. He is becoming aware of something more than the mind. He is condemning the very idea of getting instruction through somebody else, and that too through a letter, through words, through language. First from somebody else, second through language…
Though I shouldn’t add another layer of frost to the snow…
Because whatever I say will become more knowledge to you, it will simply strengthen the power of your mind. What is needed is to weaken the power of the mind so that you can go beyond it without being hindered by it.
This has been the problem of all the enlightened people. Ta Hui is right when he says,
…nevertheless where there’s a question it should not go unanswered.
Why should it not go unanswered? Because every question, if answered by somebody who is not just knowledgeable, can be turned into a quest. The right answer does not mean what it means in schools and colleges and universities; the right answer is that which turns your question into a quest. The right answer does not mean the answer that is given in the books and you are repeating it just like a parrot.
As far as the enlightened man is concerned the right answer has nothing to do with your question. He simply uses your energy involved in the question and turns it into a quest; it becomes your thirst.
That’s why Ta Hui is right when he says, …where there is a question it should not go unanswered.
The opportunity should not be missed to change the question into a quest. Your answer has to be such that the question is not solved but rather deepens into a quest; it becomes less intellectual and more existential. A question about water should be turned by your answer into a deep thirst.
All the awakened people down the ages have been answering only for this purpose, not that they are giving you the right answers – there are no right answers. Your questions are being used to provoke in you a search, a deep longing. If the answer can do that, it is the right answer.
I ask you to abandon at once all the joy you’ve ever felt in reading the words of the scriptures yourself or when being aroused and instructed by others.
He is turning toward his own being. He is not using quotations anymore. He is saying things which just a few sutras before he himself was doing; now he is saying things against them. He is saying, I ask you to abandon at once all the joy you’ve ever felt in reading the words of the scriptures yourself or when being aroused and instructed by others.
Why have the awakened people always been against scriptures? This is a great misunderstanding all around the world. The people who have awakened are against the scriptures for a totally different reason than people understand. People think they are against scriptures because scriptures are wrong; they are against scriptures because if you get lost in the words of scriptures you will never come to know your own truth. The scriptures may be right, that is not the point. Perhaps they are right – but they are not right for you; they were right only for those people who had experienced and have expressed something out of their experience.
But to you they are just dead words, and if you become too much interested in collecting dead corpses around yourself you will soon be drowned in the dead words. That’s what happens to all the scholars: their great effort simply becomes a suicide. They work hard, but their gain is nothing.
Scriptures may have come from people who were awakened, but the moment somebody says… It is no more the same as his own experience. And when it is written it goes even further away. That’s why no enlightened person in the whole world has written anything by his own hand; they have spoken – because the spoken word and the written word have qualitative differences.
The spoken word has a warmth; the written word is absolutely cold, ice cold. The spoken word has the heartbeat of the master. The spoken word is not just a word – it is still breathing when it reaches you, it has still some flavor. It is coming from a source of immense joy and light; it is bound to carry something of that fragrance, some radiation from that light, some vibe which may not be visible but will stir your being.
To listen to a master is one thing, and to read just the same words is totally different, because the living presence of the master is no more behind the words. You can’t see those eyes, you can’t see those gestures, you can’t see in those words the same authority…you can’t feel those same silent gaps.
The presence of the master, his charisma, his energy is missing in the written word. The written word is absolutely dead. No master has ever written except Lao Tzu – and that too under imperial pressure.
His whole life he refused to write, and in the end he was going to leave China and go toward the Himalayas for his ultimate rest. The emperor of China ordered the armies on the boundary, “If Lao Tzu passes through that area” – because that was the only gate toward the Himalayas, he was bound to pass by there – “imprison him. Take good care of him, but make it clear to him he cannot go out of China unless he writes his experiences. This is an order from the emperor.”
Poor Lao Tzu was not aware what was going on. He simply went to the place where it was easiest to move out of China. There was an army waiting, and he was caught immediately. Respectfully, with great honor, they told him, “This is the imperial order. Forgive us, we don’t want to hinder you, but just to fulfill the order – otherwise we will not be able to allow you to go out of China. And we have made a special guesthouse for you with every comfort, luxury, according to the orders from the emperor. You stay and you write whatever you have experienced, what the truth is that you have realized which has attracted so many people.”
Because he wanted to reach quickly to the Himalayas – his death was coming closer and he wanted to die in the Himalayas… The Himalayas have an eternal silence, a peace that you cannot find anywhere else. Under such circumstances he wrote Tao Te Ching, a small booklet.
That is the only exception in the whole history when an enlightened man has written anything. But the beginning of the book says, “Truth cannot be written. So remember, whatever I am writing is not truth. I will try my best to be as close to truth as possible, but approximate truth is not truth.” So he has begun his book with the statement, “Whatever is written goes far away from the living experience.” That is the reason why all the awakened people have been against scriptures.
But the ordinary masses have always misunderstood them. If I say anything against the Vedas, Hindus are angry; if I say anything against the Bible, Christians are angry.
But I am not against the Vedas or against the Bible; I am against your being lost in those dead words. Once they were alive, but now the people whose presence was needed to give them life, to keep their flame burning, themselves have disappeared into the universal consciousness. Just their footprints are left on the sand of time. You can call them holy footprints, but that does not make any sense. You can worship them, you can have photographs of them, you can hang those photographs. You can do all kinds of stupid things, which are being done in all churches, all mosques, all temples, all synagogues.
The man who knows has to say something against all that is going on. Ta Hui is right when he says, “Stop having any joy in scriptures; that is dangerous, it is poisonous.”
Be totally without knowledge and understanding, as before, like a three-year-old child. Though the innate consciousness is there, it does not operate.
Be born again as a child. The greatest achievement in life is if in your old age you can again become a child. You have completed the circle, you have come back home, you have rediscovered your self-nature. Every child comes with it, but first he has to lose it. Only then will he recognize what he has lost in gaining money, power, respectability, which are of no use at all. He has lost himself, he has sold himself in the marketplace for a few pieces of gold.
If one recognizes this, one stops accumulating knowledge and starts dropping all so-called knowledge. A simple criterion has to be used: whatever is not your experience is not true. It may be the experience of Gautam Buddha, it may be the experience of Jesus, it may be the experience of Lao Tzu – but it is not your experience.
When a Buddha eats, his hunger disappears, not your hunger. If Buddha finds the truth, his darkness disappears, not your darkness. Nobody can help anybody else.
I don’t think of it as a calamity; I think of it as one of the greatest privileges of man: at least in this world there is one thing which is absolutely yours – neither can anybody give it to you nor can anybody take it away from you. It cannot be stolen, there is no way to destroy it…but you have to find it yourself. There is no shortcut to it and there is no cheap way to find it.
You will have to go into your own aloneness, into your own subjectivity, into the very center of your being where nothing moves and everything is absolutely still. In that stillness you will find again your lost childhood. And to find it again is such a celebration, every cell of your being starts dancing.
Ta Hui is saying, “If you can reach to the same state of consciousness when it was there but not operating”
Then contemplate what is there before the thought of seeking the direct essentials arises: observe and observe.
He is giving you an essential method of meditation. Any thought arising in your mind…rather than finding out the answer, try to find out from where it arises and what was the situation of your inner being when it had not arisen.
You will suddenly find again and again the same innocence, the same childhood consciousness, the same golden period. Every thought, if you observe, will lead you to the same state. Then thought is not your enemy, then mind is not your enemy; on the contrary, it becomes an object of observation.
…observe and observe. Just watch. A thought arises and a thought disappears. It arises from nowhere. Before it arises there is absolute silence, and then it disappears into silence again, into nothingness. In the beginning is nothingness, in the end is nothingness…and this nothingness is your pure consciousness.
The Bible says, “In the beginning there was the Word. And God was with the Word, and God was the Word.”
It is possible that in the beginning there was sound – but not word, because word means a meaningful sound. Who will give meaning to it?
And in fact, if you look scientifically, when you go into the forest and you hear the sound of running water in a waterfall, there is no meaning in it, but there is sound. You will be surprised to know the scientific understanding: the sound is there only because you are there; without your ears there is no sound.
So it will be very surprising to you: when there is nobody around the waterfall, there is no sound, because sound needs ears. In the same way, there is light here – the moment we all are gone there is no light, because the light needs eyes. Without eyes there is no light.
When you move out of your room do you think things remain the same? – the blue remains blue and the red remains red? Just forget all that nonsense. The moment you go out of the room all the colors disappear – it is a very magical world – you close the room and all colors are gone, because colors need eyes. Without an eye no color can exist. And just look through the keyhole…they come back.
This miracle is happening every day. In fact, even if you are sitting in your room and you close your eyes, all the colors disappear. Don’t try just to see from the corner of your eye whether they have disappeared or they are still there – they will come back immediately!
To say that in the beginning there was the word is absolutely wrong. Sound would have been better, but that too is not right. Silence would be even better than sound, but silence also needs ears, just as sound needs ears. Do you think when you are absent from your room there is silence? It is not possible. There is no noise, that is true, but there is no silence either. Noise and silence both are experiences of the ears.
So what was in the beginning?
No silence…no sound…no word.
Gautam Buddha and his approach seem to be far more scientific: there was only nothingness. That nothingness is our very being. We have come out of that nothingness and we will disappear into that nothingness one day.
So make friends with that nothingness, because it is going to be your eternal home. To make friends with nothingness is all that is meant by meditation. And as you observe your thoughts, slowly, slowly they disappear, and only a pure nothingness surrounds you. You have come to the beginning of the world, which is also the end of the world. You have come to the source and you have come to the goal.
In this state only your awareness is the truth. That’s why Buddha and all those people who have awakened to the ultimate truth don’t recognize the hypothesis of God. In that nothingness they don’t find any God, unless you want to call nothingness “God.” Then there is no problem – but it will give a very wrong understanding about nothingness.
I myself have come to the conclusion that rather than saying, “There was no God” – because it will unnecessarily hurt people and will not help in any way – it is better to say, “There was godliness.” Just a quality… That nothingness was not empty; that nothingness was full, overfull. It was full of consciousness, and consciousness is the divine quality; you can call it godliness.
And the whole of existence is made of the same stuff. You can call it nothingness, you can call it godliness – it is only a question of whether you prefer a negative description or a positive description, but both the words mean the same thing.
As you feel,
– says Ta Hui –
you’re losing your grip more and more and your heart is more and more uneasy…
When you observe your thoughts and this nothingness starts surrounding you, there is always a possibility that your heart will start sinking. You may become afraid, scared.
Don’t be scared and don’t be uneasy. It is happening only because of your old habit. You have never experienced nothingness, otherwise there is nothing more blissful, there is nothing more peaceful, there is nothing more alive.
…don’t give up and slack off: this is the place to cut off the heads of the thousand sages.
This refers to a certain statement of Gautam Buddha. He used to say to his disciples, “If I meet you on the way, don’t hesitate – immediately cut my head. Most probably I will meet you” – because the disciples have loved him so much and the master has showered so much love on them that when they become silent there is every possibility the mind will play its last trick. The last trick will be to bring the master himself…and that will become the barrier to seeing the nothingness.
Gautam Buddha is absolutely right: “Cut my head immediately – because I am not there, just mind is playing the last game, the last resort.”
It happened in Ramakrishna’s life…

He was a worshipper of mother-goddess Kali, and he came in contact with an enlightened wandering monk, Totapuri. Totapuri said to him, “Although you have progressed so much, you are stuck. You are stuck with this goddess…because there is no goddess, nothing; it is just your imagination.”
Ramakrishna was already worshipped by thousands of people, but when Totapuri said this to him he immediately recognized that the man was right. He said to Totapuri, “Help me – because when I close my eyes everything else disappears. Only the mother-goddess remains, so beautiful, so radiant that I forget completely that I have to enter into nothingness. She is so beautiful and so charming that I get lost into her beauty and into her energy. And when I wake up I cry, because I wanted to go beyond her but she seems to surround me like a boundary, like a jail, from everywhere.”
Totapuri said, “You sit before me, and just look at this piece of glass.”
Ramakrishna said, “What is the purpose of that piece of glass?”
Totapuri said, “I will watch your face, because I know – I have watched you: when you see the mother-goddess inside yourself your face becomes so beautiful, so graceful that I will know immediately that you have come to encounter your illusion that you have been conditioning yourself with for years. I will immediately cut just on your forehead with this piece of glass, and as I cut and blood starts flowing, you also take courage and cut the head of the mother-goddess.”
Ramakrishna said, “It is very difficult. And moreover from where am I going to get the sword?”
Totapuri laughed and he said, “If you can imagine the mother-goddess, can’t you imagine a sword? It is all imagination. And if you miss, I am not going to stay here anymore. So don’t miss this chance, otherwise in this life perhaps you will not meet another Totapuri.”
Ramakrishna closed his eyes and as he became radiant, joyful and his face started showing that he was seeing something tremendously beautiful, Totapuri cut exactly what in the East is called the third eye. From the top of his forehead he went down to his nose, cutting the skin. Blood was flowing and Ramakrishna gathered courage, pulled out his sword – he could not believe from where this sword had come – and he cut the head of the mother-goddess. It was very difficult because he had loved this mother for years. He had been dancing and singing, chanting; he was creating the illusion – otherwise there are no mother-goddesses, no father-gods, except in man’s imagination, except in man’s childish fixation on mothers and fathers.
He cut the head and he could not believe it: the mother fell in two parts, the head on this side and the body on that side. And it was as if a door opened – a door to nothingness, to infinity…for six days he remained in that state.
After six days he opened his eyes – there were tears in his eyes – and the first words he spoke to Totapuri were, “The last barrier has fallen. I am grateful to you. You have shown tremendous compassion.”
That was the last day. After that he never went into the temple of the mother-goddess; after that he never mentioned the name of the mother-goddess. And after that he was a totally different man – so silent, so peaceful, so joyous, as if there was not a single worry in the world.
He lived almost three years after this experience, and those three years were his most precious years. People who have sat by his side – and he was not very ancient, he existed just in the last century, in the last years of the past century. So just a hundred years ago he was here, and I have come across people in Bengal whose grandfathers sat with Ramakrishna, and they still remember their grandfathers telling them about the man.
Those three years he was not speaking… Once in a while he would tell a small story, once in a while he would dance, but otherwise he would sit silently with hundreds of disciples, all enjoying and sharing the ultimate nothingness.
Students of the path often retreat at this point.
Those who are beginners are naturally afraid when they come across nothingness. Naturally the fear arises as if they are drowning, as if this nothingness is going to swallow them. It is true: it will swallow…but only that which you are not. Only your false personality will disappear; just your authentic being will remain in its crystal-clear purity.
There is no need to fear. The master is needed at such stages. This is the last stage where the master is needed – not to let you retreat, but to give you a good push, just a little encouragement: “Don’t be worried, I have also been through the same stage; there is nothing to be feared. It is not death. This nothingness is not death; this nothingness is purest life.”
If your faith is thoroughgoing, just keep contemplating what’s before the thought of seeking instruction in the direct essentials arises. Suddenly you will awaken from your dream, and there won’t be any mistake about it.
Allow this nothingness to take possession of you…and all your dreams disappear; your sleep, your spiritual sleep cannot remain anymore.
I have to explain something to you at this point. For thousands of years it has been thought that dreams are a kind of disturbance to sleep, but the latest findings say just the opposite. Dreams are not a disturbance to your sleep, they are very protective and helpful to your sleep. They prevent your sleep from being broken.
For example, you feel hungry and you are asleep, and a dream arises that you are going into the kitchen and you are opening the fridge, and you are taking a good share of sweets or ice cream or whatsoever you like – because in a dream there is no question, whatsoever you like… The dream is very generous – and as much you like, because dreams don’t listen to doctors.
This way the dream has protected your sleep, otherwise the hunger would have disturbed you. Now you feel you have taken enough and the sleep continues.
Recent research about dream and sleep have made many things clear. Out of eight hours you would not think that you are dreaming almost six hours; for only two hours are you asleep, and even that is not in a single piece for two hours – a few minutes here, a few minutes there… In six hours of dreams, for just a few fragments here and there are you asleep.
There has been an experiment done in many psychological labs. A person was disturbed whenever he was dreaming. It is very easy to know when a person is dreaming: if you are sitting by the side of your wife or your husband or your friend, the moment you see his eyes start moving under the eyelids he is starting to dream. So it is very easy to know when he is dreaming and when he is not dreaming, because when he dreams then naturally he is seeing scenes, almost like a film, and his eyes start moving. When he is simply asleep his eyes don’t move.
Experiments have been done: whenever a person would dream, they would wake him up, they would disturb his dream. They would allow him to sleep, but they would not allow him to dream. And they were surprised that although he had slept two, three hours – which was the most that he would sleep – he was very tired, exhausted, he was not rejuvenated; in the morning he did not feel like getting up. They could not believe it; they were thinking that although his dreams were being disturbed, his sleep would be complete. The old idea had been that it is the sleep that rejuvenates you, revitalizes you.
Then they did another experiment. They would disturb the person when he was asleep, they would not let him sleep; he could dream as much as he wanted – his dreaming time they would leave undisturbed. And the strange finding was that in the morning the man was more fresh than he had ever been. He had not slept at all; the whole night he had been in a movie house, and he was not tired.
So two things have become clear: one, that dreams are not disturbing the sleep but are protecting and guarding it; second, dreams are more necessary for your health than your sleep, because dreams are throwing out all the garbage that you collect the whole day. They clean your whole being – six hours spring-cleaning – so in the morning you feel fresh.
Why am I telling you about this experiment? Because the same applies to the spiritual sleep. The moment your dreams disappear in meditation – thoughts, images; these are all dreams – when they all disappear, then your spiritual sleep cannot remain; your dreams were protecting it. So just as on the ordinary mental level it is true, it is true on the spiritual level too, exactly in the same way. Once dreams have disappeared, that means meditation has come to maturity.
And after the dreams are gone, suddenly you will feel a new awakening. You have been waking up every morning, but once you wake up from your spiritual sleep, then you will see the difference, and why in the East we have been dividing sleep into four stages. The first stage is so-called waking; the second stage is dreaming; the third stage, sleep, and the fourth stage, real awakening.
The so-called waking we all know; every morning we wake up. The enlightened being knows the real awakening. It has some quality of our awakening, but our awakening is very small, a very thin layer.
The awakening of a Gautam Buddha is total. In that total awakening there is a luminous awareness surrounded by a positive nothingness. It is not empty, it is overfull. Rather than say nothingness, Gautam Buddha used to say “no-thingness.” Things have disappeared…and what has remained is inexpressible. We try to express it as blissfulness, as ecstasy, as eternal joy, but these are faraway echoes of the real thing. They don’t represent it exactly – there is no way.
In our language we cannot translate the experience of the ultimate awakening, but a few hints can be given.
Ta Hui’s suggestions to the young seeker are all significant: …faith is thoroughgoing… It has to be thoroughgoing, but one has to remember it is not the faith in a church, it is not the faith in a holy scripture; it is simply faith in yourself.
The function of the master is not to create faith in him, but to create faith in yourself. An authentic master makes you more and more trusting in your own individuality, in your own potential, in your own courage, in your own ultimate possibility of a quantum leap from mind to no-mind.
This can be the criterion to judge: if somebody wants you to have faith in him, he is a fraud. And if somebody helps you to have faith in yourself, he is a friend.
A true master is a friend. He is not superior, he is not holier than thou; he is just a friend. He has so much to share…he wants many friends because his sources are abundant. But his whole effort is to help you to stand on your own legs. He does not create faith in God, faith in any savior, faith in any priest, faith in any messengers, faith in any scriptures; he creates faith in yourself. And anybody who helps to create faith in yourself obviously cannot be a fraud, because he cannot exploit you.
Exploitation is possible only if he creates faith in him; if he asks, “Surrender to me; have faith in me. I will deliver you, I will redeem you. I am the savior. I am the shepherd and you are just sheep.” If something like this is being told to you…beware of such shepherds. They are simply frauds exploiting your helplessness, exploiting your ignorance.
The friend will help you to save yourself, to become a savior of yourself.
The last words of Gautam Buddha were: “Be a light unto yourself.” Those are the most pregnant words ever uttered by any man.

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