The Guest 02

Second Discourse from the series of 15 discourses - The Guest by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

The first question:
Something inside me cringes with distrust when I hear you say “God,” and I notice that I am reluctant to embrace the word. Love, yes; divine presence, yes; the ultimate, yes; but this word God brings a hesitation to my lips and a shudder to my being. Will you comment on this condition?
There is a reason for it: in the name of God so much harm has been done. It is natural, this will happen to any intelligent person. The word God has become very dirty; remaining in the bad company of the priests it has lost all its beauty. It has become associated with the wrong people, the wrong meanings. Hence it is very natural that a shudder goes through your being, that a hesitation arises in you, that you cringe with distrust – but it has nothing to do with the word God. The word God in itself is beautiful, the word God in itself is innocent.
What has been done in the name of religion, the same has been done in the name of love. Mohammedans have been killing in the name of religion, God, brotherhood. Christians have been killing in the name of love. And this has been the case all over the world. If you look at the history of the word love, millions of people have been killed. Now the same is happening in the name of communism. The word is beautiful, it comes from commune. The same is happening in the name of democracy; that word too is beautiful.
So one thing has to be understood: words in themselves are innocent – depending on what you do with them. And if you have used the word God wrongly, who can prevent you from using the word love in the same way? And brotherhood, democracy, communism, humanity, peace? In the name of peace only war, and preparation for war, happens. So understand that one thing: do not become too conditioned for or against words – words are neutral.
The word God itself has tremendous beauty. It comes from a Greek root in which g stands for that, o stands for which, d stands for is. God is a code word; it means “that which is.” It contains all: the trees and the birds and the clouds and the sun, you and me. All that has happened, all that is happening, all that will ever happen.
God does not mean a person. Yes, it has been used that way, but what does that have to do with the poor word God? The word cannot prevent people from wrongly using it. It has been used as if there is an old man, very ancient, sitting in heaven, dominating, controlling – a great engineer who has created the world. The word itself does not have any meaning of that kind. It simply means the whole, the total.
And the whole is. Nobody can deny it, not even an atheist. The atheist can deny God as a person, but there is no God as a person, so the atheist is fighting with a shadow – just like the theist who is worshipping a shadow. The theist is stupid, so is the atheist; they are in the same boat. One is worshipping something which is not; the other is criticizing, fighting with something which is not. Both are engaged in a futile exercise. God means the whole, the total, the all.
It will be good if you can free the word God from the so-called religious people. The word in itself is beautiful and has to be saved. Hence I go on using it, knowing that it has been associated with the wrong people. But it is not the fault of the word God; it is helpless. You can use any word wrongly, and almost all beautiful words have been used wrongly. Remember, only beautiful words are used wrongly because they can become camouflage. Hiding behind them, you can do bad things more easily. God becomes a screen, and behind it you can be as violent as you like. Love, humanity, can also serve as beautiful words for hiding behind.
If you become antagonistic toward words in this way, not a single beautiful word will be left to you; all will have been used wrongly. And even if we invent new words, they will be used wrongly because the people, the great crowd on the earth, are still the same. The mind is still the same.
In Russia nobody believes in God now, but they believe in communism. They do the same in the name of communism as Christians have done in the name of God. What is the difference? In Russia nobody believes in the Bible, but they sacrifice as many people at the altar of Das Kapital as have been sacrificed in the name of the Bible. So what is the difference? Kaaba or Kremlin, there seems to be no difference at all. In China nobody believes in Buddha now, so nobody can commit any more crimes in the name of Buddha, but the same crimes are being committed in the name of communism and Chairman Mao – because the people are still the same.
Unless the mind of humanity changes this is going to go on happening. Hence, I won’t stop using the word God because then I would have to drop the word love too – while knowing perfectly well there are many people who would like me to drop it completely; you are not alone. You say, “Love, yes…” That simply means you are not aware that what has been done in the name of love is no less criminal than what has been done in the name of God. You say, “…divine presence, yes; the ultimate, yes…” But the same can be done; these words are just synonyms. Life, love, God, godliness, divine presence, the ultimate, the absolute, truth – they are all synonyms.
Don’t be too conditioned by the past, it is like remaining in a kind of bondage. One person hearing the word God simply falls to their knees and starts praying, but somebody else hearing it cringes. Both are conditioned, neither are free. If you shudder, if you hesitate, then the word God has immense power over you – negative of course, but great power – as much power as it has on the people who go to the churches and the temples. You are conditioned in a negative way, they are conditioned in a positive way. But conditioning is conditioning; whether negative or positive, it does not make you free.
Be free. And by being free, free these beautiful words too. Hence, I go on using the word God. To me God is synonymous with love, love is synonymous with life, life is synonymous with existence – they are synonyms. We have to claim these beautiful words back from the priests and politicians.

The second question:
What is time?
Time has two meanings. One is chronological time, clock time. I cannot say much about it. You will have to ask a physicist, only he can say something about it, that is not my dimension of work. If you ask a physicist, like Albert Einstein, he will say time is the fourth dimension of space. But that does not make much sense, the mystery remains. The mystery remains as mysterious as it was before Albert Einstein.
Saint Augustine is reported to have said, “I know what time is if nobody asks me; if somebody asks me then I don’t know.” Time has a mysterious quality. Everybody lives in it, everybody feels it, everybody knows it – yet it is inexplicable.
The physicist has come to a certain understanding – that it is the fourth dimension of space – but that still does not demystify it. In fact it becomes even more mysterious. We have never thought of space and time as one, but now physicists say that they are one – not two. They use a single word for both: space-time.
But that is not my world, science is not my world. There is another meaning of time – psychological time. And whenever I use the word time I use it in this sense, which has significance, more significance than chronological time.
What is psychological time? – the mind is psychological time; the mind is time. If you don’t have a mind and you are simply silent with no thought moving within, there is no time for you – not psychological time. The clock will go on moving, but for you the inner clock stops – time stops, the world stops. That is my dimension, the dimension of meditation.
As you go deeper into meditation, time disappears. When meditation really blooms there is no time. When the mind disappears, time disappears – it happens simultaneously. Hence, down the ages the mystics have said that time and mind are nothing but two sides of the same coin. The mind cannot live without time and time cannot live without the mind. Time is a way for the mind to exist.
The mind creates the future through desire, through dreaming. The future does not exist, it is only in the imagination. And the mind creates the past too, it also does not exist, it is only in the memory. The past is no more, the future is not yet, but both exist in the mind. And because of the past and the future you have the feeling of time.
Time is not divided into three parts, as it is usually. Mystics divide time into two parts: the past and the future. Time has only two tenses: past and future. So what about the present? Mystics say the present is timeless because the present is mindless. When you are utterly in the present, herenow, there is neither mind nor time. You transcend both time and mind, you enter eternity. You are beyond time. You are in a totally different world – transformed, transmuted, transported.
When I talk about time, I mean the time that is created by the mind. The mind clings to the past and it clings to the future. It is not ready to renounce the past, it is not ready to die to the past, because it is in the past that it has its roots. And it is not ready to renounce the future, the desiring, the dreaming, because it is in desiring and dreaming that the mind lives. It needs space, a false space that it creates for itself: tomorrow – which never comes. The mind knows about yesterdays and tomorrows, but nothing of today.
Hence all the buddhas have insisted, “Live in this moment.” To live in this moment is meditation, to be simply herenow is meditation. Those who are simply herenow this very moment with me are in meditation. Meditation is the cuckoo calling from faraway, the airplane passing, the crows and the birds. All is silent, there is no movement in the mind – you are not thinking of the past and you are not thinking of the future. Time has stopped, the world has stopped.
Stopping the world is the whole art of meditation. And to live in the moment is to live in eternity. To taste the moment with no ideas, with no mind, is to taste immortality. Time is mind. Time is death. Going beyond time is going beyond mind and beyond death.
But if you want to know about chronological time, that is not my concern, you will have to ask a physicist. Psychological time is my basic concern. That’s my whole work here: to help you get out of psychological time.

The third question:
What is greed?
Greed is the effort to stuff yourself with something – it may be sex, it may be food, it may be money, it may be power. Greed is the fear of inner emptiness. You are afraid of being empty and want to somehow possess more and more things. You want to go on stuffing things inside to forget your emptiness.
But to forget one’s emptiness is to forget one’s real self. To forget one’s emptiness is to forget the way to God. To forget one’s emptiness is the most stupid act in the world that a man is capable of.
Why do people want to forget? We are carrying an idea, given to us by others, that emptiness is death. It is not. That is a false notion perpetuated by society. Society has a deep investment in this idea because if people are not greedy this society cannot exist. If people are not greedy, then who is going to be mad for money, for power? The whole structure of this power-oriented society would collapse. If people are not greedy, who is going to call Alexander “the Great”? Alexander would be called “the Ridiculous” not “the Great,” “the Stupid” not “the Great.” Who is going to call the people who go on and on possessing things “respectable”? Who is going to give them respect? Those people would become a laughingstock: “They are mad, they are wasting their lives.” Who is going to pay respect to the prime ministers and the presidents? People would think them neurotic.
And the world will be really beautiful when Adolf Hitler and Mussolini and Churchill and people like that are thought to be neurotic; when nobody pays any attention to them. The whole structure of politics will collapse because the politician is only there to get more and more attention. The politician is a child, he has not grown up. He wants everybody to be at his disposal, he wants everybody to look up to him, he wants everybody to go on being attentive, to pay attention to him.
Attention makes one intoxicated; it is the greatest drug in the world. Just think of passing through the whole town and nobody paying you any attention, not even a dog barking at you, everybody ignoring you, even dogs; nobody taking any note of you, everybody thinking you are not. How would you feel? – you would feel very bad. Nobody saying “Hi,” “Hello,” “Good morning,” “Where are you going?” “How are you?” – people simply not looking at you. If you became invisible and you walked around, and nobody looked at you because nobody could see you, and nobody said “Hello,” nobody paid you any attention – how would you feel? You would feel reduced to nothingness, like a nonentity, a nobody. It would look like death.
Hence, people are in search of more and more attention. If you cannot get attention by being famous, then at least you can get attention by being notorious. If you cannot get attention by being a saint, you can get attention by being a murderer. And psychologists say that, basically, many murderers commit murder for no other reason than getting attention. When they murder, their photos are on the front pages of the newspapers, with their names in capital letters. They are on the TV, on the radio, everywhere; they become somebody. For a few days at least they can enjoy being famous; the whole world knows about them. They are not nonentities any more.
Just think of a world where people are not greedy – then the rich person will be thought neurotic, the politician will be thought neurotic. Then the people who are constantly hankering for attention will be thought retarded. If people are not greedy, we will have a totally different world, more beautiful. There will be fewer possessions, certainly, but more joy, more music, more dance, more love. People may not have so many gadgets in their houses, but people will be more alive. Right now we go on selling our life energies for gadgets. Gadgets go on accumulating and the soul goes on disappearing; machines go on increasing and man goes on disappearing.
When the world is nongreedy, people will be playing the guitar, the flute. People may be sitting silently under trees, meditating. Yes, people will be doing things, but only to the extent that is absolutely necessary; people will be fulfilling their needs. But needs are not desires: needs are necessary, desires are unnecessary. And desires never end. Needs are simple and can be fulfilled, but desires go on asking for more and more. They go on desiring for even more of the thing that you already have. You have one car, desire says have two; unless you have a two-car garage you are a nobody. You have one house, desire says have two; one in the hills at least. And when you have two, desire says have three: one on the seashore, one in the hills, and so on and so on.

Paddy was digging his garden one day, when he saw a little creature at his feet. He lifted his shovel up to kill it, but to his surprise it spoke.
“Paddy, I’m a leprechaun. Spare my life and I will grant ye three wishes.”
“Three wishes? Done!” said Paddy. Then he thought: “Well, I’m thirsty from all this digging. I would like a bottle of cold Guinness.”
The leprechaun snapped his fingers and Paddy found he was holding a bottle of Guinness.
“That there,” said the leprechaun, “is a magic bottle. It will never empty – it will pour forever.”
Paddy took a swig – lovely.
“What are your next two wishes, Paddy?” asked the leprechaun.
Paddy thought.
“I think I would like two more of these, please.”

It is of no use, but that’s how it goes, and it is never ending. You have a million dollars, already more than you can use, but you are asking for more. Yes, you need food, shelter, you need a few things. Your needs are small; everybody’s needs can be provided for. The world has enough to fulfill everybody’s needs, but desires… It is impossible, desires cannot be fulfilled. And because people are fulfilling their desires, millions of people’s needs are not fulfilled.
Basically, greed is a spiritual problem. You have been taught that you are a nobody if you don’t have lots of things; so you are afraid, so you go on stuffing yourself. That does not help; at the most it gives you temporary relief, and sooner or later you start feeling the emptiness again. Then, yet again, you fill it.
But that inner emptiness is the door to God. You have been told that an empty mind is the Devil’s workshop, or the Devil’s mind – that is absolute nonsense. The empty mind is the door to God. How can an empty mind be the Devil’s workshop? It is in the empty mind that the Devil dies completely. “The Devil” means the mind; an empty mind means no-mind.
Greed is one of the most fundamental problems you can encounter. You need to see why you are greedy – because you want to keep yourself occupied with things. By possessing more and more you remain occupied, engaged. You are able to forget all about your inner world, you can go on saying to it, “Wait. Let me have this much more, and then I am going to turn toward you.” And death always comes before your desires are fulfilled. Even if you live for a thousand years, your desires are not going to be fulfilled.
In India we have a very beautiful story…

A great king, Yayati, was dying. Death came.
It is an ancient story; in those days things were simpler and the other world was not so far away.
Death came and knocked on the door.
Yayati opened the door and said, “What? I have only lived for a hundred years, and here you are – and without any notice. I have not yet fulfilled my real desires. I should be given some time at least. I have been postponing things – tomorrow and tomorrow – but now you are here, and there will be no tomorrow. This is too cruel. Be kind to me.”
Death said, “I have to take somebody, I cannot go back empty-handed. But, seeing your misery, your old age, I will grant you a hundred years more – but one of your sons has to go with me now.”
Yayati had a hundred sons – and a hundred wives – so he said, “That is simple.”
But it was not as simple as he thought. He called his hundred sons, and asked one to go. “Save your old father’s life. You have said many times, ‘Father, we would die for you.’ Now the time has come to prove it.”
But these things are often said; they are polite nothings.
The sons started looking at each other. Someone was seventy, someone was seventy-five, someone else was sixty; they themselves were getting very old. But the youngest was just twenty.
The youngest son stood up and said, “I am ready to go.”
Nobody could believe it. His ninety-nine brothers could not believe it; they thought he was a fool. He had not lived yet, not at all. He was only twenty, just beginning life, just on the threshold. Even Death felt compassion.
Death took the young man aside and whispered in his ear, “Are you a fool? Your older brothers are not ready, and they have lived long lives. Someone who has lived for seventy-five years is not ready, but you are ready? Your father does not want to die, and he is a hundred years old – you are only twenty.”
Then the young man said something very beautiful, something of tremendous import. He said, “Seeing this – that my father has lived a hundred years, has all that one can have, and is still not satisfied – I see the futility of life. What is the point? I may live a hundred years and be in the same situation. If it was only my father, I would have thought, ‘Maybe he is an exception.’ But my brothers have also lived long lives – seventy-five years, seventy, sixty-five, sixty – they too are getting old and they are not satisfied. They have already enjoyed every kind of thing; what else is there?
“So one thing is certain: that is not the way to become satisfied. Hence I am ready to come with you, and I am coming, not in any despair, but in tremendous understanding. I am coming with you with great cheerfulness because I do not have to pass through that torture, those one hundred years of torture which my father has had to suffer. And because he is not yet able to go with you.”
And the story continues…
Again a hundred years passed; they came and went, unnoticed. Again Death knocked. Only then did Yayati become aware that another hundred years had passed. He said, “But I am still not ready!”
And this went on happening. And each time a son went with Death. And Yayati lived for a thousand years.
This is a very symbolic story.
After a thousand years of coming, Death came once again, and said, “What do you think now?”
And Yayati said, “Enough is enough. I am coming. I have seen that nothing can ever be fulfilled here. Desires go on growing. You fulfill one desire and ten others arise. The process goes on ad infinitum. I am coming willingly, and I can now say that my first son, who went with you, who was only twenty years old, had intelligence. I was stupid. It took a thousand years for me to see it, and he could see it when he was only twenty. That is intelligence.”

If you are intelligent, you will see the futility of greed. If you are intelligent, you will start living, rather than preparing to live. Greed is preparing to live. You can go on preparing, and the time to live will never come. If you are intelligent, you will not miss today for tomorrow. You will not sacrifice this moment for another one, you will live this moment in its totality. You will squeeze the whole juice out of this moment.
Jesus says to his disciples: “Think not of the morrow.” He is simply saying, “Don’t be greedy.” Whenever you think of the morrow you become greedy; it is greed that thinks of the morrow. Jesus says to his disciples: “Look at the lily flowers in the field. What is their secret? Why are they so beautiful? Even Solomon attired in all his grandeur was not so beautiful.” What is their secret? Their secret is simple: they think not of the morrow, they live in the moment. This moment is all and all – there is nothing behind, nothing ahead. The flowers enjoy this moment with their total being. Greed means postponing your life for tomorrow.
Try to see your greed. It can take so many forms: it can be worldly, it can be otherworldly. Beware. It may take the form of: “This life is not worth living, so I will prepare for another life; this earth is not worth living on, I will prepare for paradise.” But this too is greed.
Of your so-called saints, ninety-nine percent are greedy people, far more greedy than the people you will find in the marketplace. The greed of the people who live in the marketplace is not that great, it is very ordinary. They are asking for more money. That is very ordinary. But your saints, your mahatmas say, “That is temporary. We ask for something permanent, we want something eternal. We will sacrifice the temporal for the eternal.” They have a great motivation – they are looking out the corners of their eyes for paradise. There they will enjoy, and show those fools rushing about in the marketplace: “Look, we told you before, we warned you. Now you have to suffer in hell, and we will enjoy all the heavenly joys.” But this is greed, and wherever greed is, there is no heaven. It may be worldly, it may be otherworldly, but greed is hell.
See the stupidity of greed. Watch my words, I am not saying renounce, I am saying see the stupidity of greed. In that very seeing it disappears and your energy is free. Your consciousness is no longer entangled, entrapped, by things – money, power, prestige. Your consciousness is free. And freedom of consciousness is the greatest rejoicing.

The fourth question:
Why don't I feel that I am myself?
Because you are not yet. Your feeling is indicative of a truth: nobody is himself. Everybody is wearing a mask, everybody is pretending to be somebody else. Your smile is painted, your face is not yours. You are simply fulfilling others’ expectations. Your parents wanted you to be this way, that’s why you are this way. Your teachers wanted you to be like this, that’s why you are like this. Your society demands that you are of a certain type and you simply fulfill it. You are a slave, you are not your own being.
So many demands are being made on you that you don’t have just one mask, you have many, because over twenty-four hours you have to change many times. When you go to the office and see the boss, you have to wear one mask – smiling, wagging your tail. When you are with your servant, you have a totally different mask – now you expect him to smile and wag his tail. You take revenge: what the boss has done to you, you will do to your servant, he will go home and do the same to his wife, and the wife will do the same to the kid, and the kid will do the same to his toy… And this goes on and on. With the friend you have one mask, with the stranger another; with the wife one and with your girlfriend another.
And you have become so skillful that the masks slip and change of their own accord. It has become an almost automatic process, and very smooth. This is what your personality is. Hence, it is true that you don’t feel you are your own self – this is the beginning of a great revolution in your life.
People think they are themselves. They are deceiving themselves; they are living in an illusion. It is good to know “I am not myself,” because that is the beginning. If you become very aware that you are not yourself, then sooner or later you will have to drop all falseness; then you will have to assert your true being.

An Irishman went for a job at a building site. The foreman told him, “You can start at 7:30 on Monday morning.”
Paddy went back to his flat and told his mates, “You must get me up at 7:00 a.m. on Monday morning because I start me new job at 7:30 and I mustn’t be late on the first morning.”
Monday morning arrived, and before his mates woke him up, they painted his hands and his face black.
“Paddy, get up. It’s 7:00 a.m.” Paddy woke up, had his breakfast and walked across town to the building site. The foreman went over to him.
“Yes, what can I do for you?”
The Irishman said, “You gave me a job and told me to start this morning.”
“I’m sorry, sir, there must be some mistake. I’ve only got one man starting this morning, and he’s Irish.” The Irishman left the building site and walked home slowly. As he walked past a shop window, he turned and saw that his face was black.
“By Jaasus, Dave woke the wrong bloody man up!”

This is the situation. You are not yourself. You go on doing things – getting married, giving birth to children, bringing up children – and you are not yourself. You will carry out all the functions of your life and die – and you never lived, you never allowed yourself to live. Somebody else lived in your place, and somebody else will die. You came here and you didn’t use the opportunity of life. You simply passed through without being at all enriched by life, by love, by the thousand and one experiences that life consists of.
Now, if the feeling is arising that “I am not myself,” don’t be worried. This feeling will create great worry in you; you will start feeling shaky. But don’t be worried. This is a blessing. This is a truth that is dawning on you – you are not yourself.
Now start searching for who you are. You are not your faces. Begin to search for your original face, the face you had before you were born, and the face you will have again when you are dead. Between the two, birth and death, you will have many faces which are not yours.
The time has come to be free of others’ expectations. Don’t go on fulfilling the expectations of others; that is a very subtle slavery. Your mother wants you to do this, your father wants you to do that, society wants this… And everybody wants something, everybody is making demands on you. Nobody leaves you alone, nobody wants you to do what you would like to do. Now the time has come – do your own thing, get out of this bondage.
This is what sannyas is all about: a declaration of freedom, a declaration that “I am going to be myself whatsoever the cost and whatsoever the consequences.” And you will not be a loser, that I can promise you; you will not be a loser, you will be infinitely enriched. You are not here to fulfill others’ expectations, you are here to live your authentic life.
And those who are doing the expecting are not aware of what they are doing to you: they are simply expecting the things which were expected of them. Their parents had expected certain things, so they followed, they remained slaves. And now they have given birth to you they are expecting the same things from you.
You will give birth to children. Remember, don’t force your expectations on them. Help them to be free: love them, but don’t give your ideas to them; love them, but don’t give your religions to them. Love them, help them to become more aware, so they can choose their religion, their ideas, whatsoever that might be. Help them to become strong, more conscious. Don’t give them any conscience, any character; give them more consciousness, every opportunity to become more alert. And trust life, don’t be so afraid: don’t prepare everything for them, otherwise they will never grow any backbone, they will remain spineless; don’t protect them too much. Yes, protect them when there is danger, but not too much, so they can learn to walk on their own two feet. Leave them alone sometimes, don’t constantly be after them; give them enough rope, give them some space where they can be themselves. Don’t overcrowd them, don’t impinge on them.
Get free of the interference of others. Yes, it will be difficult because the others are not going to leave you so easily – nobody wants to leave his slave. And they will talk about love, they will say, “I love you, so you have to follow me.” Love never asks that; that is not love. Love says, “Be a light unto yourself.” Love, if it is true, always gives you freedom; it trusts that the inner life you have – the inner light – will lead you, will guide you. Even if you go astray sometimes, that is good because one only learns by trial and error – there is no other way. You cannot be protected from committing errors. If you are protected from committing errors, you will never learn; you will always remain stupid, retarded – and that is the situation for millions of people in the world.
The average mental age of humanity is only twelve years. This is a very sad situation, very unfortunate. A seventy-year-old with a mental age of twelve? It can be the other way round too: the seventy-year-old can have a mental age of seven hundred years – that’s how it should be.

Somebody asked Emerson, “How old are you?” He was sixty, but he said, “Three hundred and sixty years old.”
The questioner could not believe his ears. He said, “Please, repeat that.”
And Emerson repeated it slowly. He said, “Three hundred and sixty, that is my actual age.”
And the man said, “Are you kidding? You don’t look more than sixty.”
Emerson said, “Chronologically I am sixty, but I have lived so much in those sixty years – six times more than people usually live – that I calculate my age to be three hundred and sixty years.”

Don’t die a retarded person. And don’t sacrifice yourself for beautiful names: love, duty, service, society. Your first duty is toward your being. Fulfill that duty first, and then all else will be fulfilled.
My own observation is that a person who loves himself deeply becomes so blissful that his whole life becomes a prayer, a service, compassion. Only a blissful person can have compassion, and only a blissful person can have love. The person who goes on following others, remaining so miserable deep down, so crippled – how can he love, how can he be compassionate? Yes, he can go through the empty motions of love, duty, but that is not going to fulfill him or the person he is dutiful to. It is not going to fulfill anybody.
Look at the situation. The whole of humanity pretends to love, and still there is no love. You don’t feel the fragrance of love, you don’t see the joy of love. And everybody is a lover. If so many millions of people were loving, the world would become a paradise. But it is not; it is a hell. And the reason is that nobody is courageous enough to be free of the expectations of others.
Be free. The time has come to be free. You need not hurt anybody. By being free I don’t mean being angry with others, or fighting with others, or reacting negatively. That again is not freedom. If you react, others will go on controlling you in a negative way.
For example: your mother has been teaching you that cleanliness is next to godliness, and now you want to be free – so uncleanliness becomes next to godliness. Your mother has been teaching you, every day, to take a cold shower first thing in the morning – and now you have forgotten completely what it feels like to have a shower; for years you have not taken a bath. This is not freedom, this is reaction: your mother is still controlling you in a negative way. She is still dominant; you are fighting with her.
Freedom simply means that you start living intelligently on your own, neither according to your mother nor against her. If you are against her you can never be free. Don’t be against anybody and don’t be for anybody, simply live out of your own simple intelligence. Yes, many times you will commit errors; that’s perfectly okay because that’s how one learns. Many times you will go astray; that’s absolutely all right – by going astray you will learn how to get back onto the right track. And when you get back onto the right track – what joy, what rejoicing, what celebration.
Don’t react, be rebellious. Rebellion is not reaction. Rebellion is not at all concerned with others, for or against. Rebellion is something that arises in you, that is not concerned with others. Reaction does not arise in you, it is concerned with others; first you were obedient, now you are disobedient. Don’t be obedient, don’t be disobedient – be intelligent. And soon you will be able to discover your original face, and that is how one should be.

The fifth question:
The whole of existence, the birds, beasts, flowers and air, calls for our stillness, our meditation. All except one small insect, this winged parasite, this buzzing disturber, this mosquito.
Is he the Devil?
Mosquitoes are ancient meditators who have fallen. Hence, they are against anybody succeeding in meditation; they are very jealous. So whenever you meditate they are there to disturb, to distract.
And this is nothing new, this has always been so. It is mentioned in all the ancient scriptures; particularly in Jaina scriptures because the Jaina monk lives naked. Just think of a naked Jaina monk. And India. And mosquitoes. Mahavira had to give specific instructions on what attitude to take toward mosquitoes. He told his disciples that when mosquitoes attack, accept. This is the ultimate distraction: if you can win this, then there is no other difficulty, no greater difficulty. And when Mahavira says this, he knows it; to live naked in India is a difficult thing.

Once I stayed in Sarnath, where Buddha first turned the wheel of dhamma – delivered his first sermon, the most important sermon, which became the beginning of a new tradition. I was staying with a Buddhist monk.
I have seen mosquitoes, but nothing to compare with Sarnath mosquitoes. Pune mosquitoes are just nothing! You should be very happy about it; you are fortunate that I am not in Sarnath. The mosquitoes were really that big. Even in the daytime we used to sit under mosquito nets. On one bed, under one mosquito net, would sit a Buddhist monk, and on the other I would sit, and we would talk.
I said, “I am never going to come here again” – because he was asking me to come and stay again. I said, “Never, never. This is my first and last time.”
He said, “That reminds me that Buddhist monks have been laughing and joking down the ages about why Buddha never again came to Sarnath. He came only once. He delivered his first sermon, and escaped.”
Buddha went to other places many times. He must have gone to Shravasti at least thirty times, he must have gone to Rajgiri at least forty times, and so on and so forth. Each place that he visited, he visited again and again. But Sarnath, only once; he never went back there.
“And,” the monk said, “it is because of these mosquitoes. And you also say that you will never come again.”
I said to him, “At least in one thing I will follow Buddha. I cannot follow in other things – I have to be a light unto myself – but about this thing let him be the light.”

I know it is difficult, very difficult, but you will have to learn. Don’t be distracted. That does not mean that you allow the mosquitoes to exploit you. Protect yourself in every possible way, but with no anxiety, no irritation. Protect yourself, avoid the mosquitoes, wave them away, shake them off, but with no irritation. They are doing their thing, and that much has to be accepted. They are not particularly against you. Every mosquito must have his breakfast or lunch or dinner… So be polite. You have every right to protect yourself, but there is no need to be irritated. Irritation will disturb the meditation, not the mosquito. You can shake the mosquito off very meditatively, attentively; fully alert, with no irritation. Try it.
The real problem never comes from the outside; the real problem always comes from inner irritation. For example; dogs are barking outside and you are meditating. Now, immediately you are angry – these stupid dogs! But they are not in any way disturbing your meditation, they are simply enjoying their life. They must have seen a policeman or a postman or a sannyasin. Dogs are very much against uniforms, very anti-uniform. The moment they see a uniform they start barking. They don’t believe in uniforms, and they are entitled to have their own beliefs – but they are not particularly trying to disturb you.

Once I stayed in a rest house where a politician was also staying. He was the chief minister of a state. And just as you see mosquitoes here, exactly the same was the case with that rest house.
Somebody else has written that the mosquitos have disappeared from all over the city and have come to the ashram. They are not so much in the town as they are here in the ashram. In fact, they cannot get such juicy food anywhere else.
At that rest house, all the dogs of the town had somehow gathered. Such a great fight was going on. I fell asleep, but the politician could not. So he came to me, shook me awake, and said, “I feel envious of you. How can you sleep when there is so much disturbance? And I have gone outside and thrown stones at the dogs three times. They go away for a moment, but when I come in, they are back. I don’t think that I will sleep the whole night.”
I said, “If I can sleep, you can too.”
He said, “What is the secret?”
I said, “The secret is simple: you lie down and listen to the dogs as if they are singing a lullaby.”
He said, “Lullaby? And dogs?”
I said, “Try. You can’t lose anything by trying. Why be against them? Just the idea ‘I cannot sleep because the dogs are barking’ is the root cause of your disturbance: not the dogs and their barking – your idea. Drop the idea, accept the barking. Listen attentively, listen as if you are listening to music.”
He said, “Music?”
I said, “You have to drop it. Otherwise get lost and don’t disturb me. I have to sleep.”
Seeing no other way, he said, “Okay, I’ll try.” After fifteen minutes he was snoring. I went in and shook him. He said, “What are you doing? This is too much. Somehow I managed to get to sleep, and now you have awakened me again.”
I said, “I have come to ask. Did it work?”
He said, “It worked. Somehow I managed it. It was very difficult; it was very difficult to think of the barking as music, to think of it as a lullaby, to think of the dogs as friends. But seeing no other way I said, ‘Okay, let’s try.’ And it worked! Let me try once more. And please, don’t come again.”
In the morning he told me, “I will remember your secret. It can work in many situations; it can work in all situations.”

Mosquitoes are doing their thing. You have to protect yourself, you have to do your own thing, but don’t become irritated. Irritation is the only problem. If you cannot be irritated, if you are not distracted by all the nuisance that the mosquitoes are creating around you, you will even feel grateful to them: they have given you a secret key.
If the mosquitoes are not distracting you, then nothing can distract you. Then you have come to a very stable state of meditation.

The sixth question:
You often speak of becoming a buddha. But Shankara often said that Buddha only brought his disciples to cosmic consciousness, and there are still higher states of consciousness, such as unity consciousness and Brahma consciousness.
Please will you comment on this and, if you know, tell us about the paths which lead to these states.
Buddha has not talked about cosmic consciousness at all. He talks about ultimate no-selfness, beyond which there is nothing, beyond which there cannot be anything. He talks about the total disappearance of the ego.
All other states belong to the ego: “I have attained this, I have attained that, I have attained cosmic consciousness and unity consciousness and Brahma consciousness…” Who is attaining these things? There must be some identity, some “I,” however subtle. Shankara remains confined to the self. He goes on refining it, polishing it, but he never goes beyond the self.
Buddha goes to no-self. Now, no-self cannot have many states. No-self is simply no-self – utter nothingness. How can nothingness have states? It is impossible because two nothingnesses cannot be different. Nobody has gone beyond Buddha. What Shankara is talking about is far lower.
There are ways to attain to cosmic consciousness and unity consciousness and Brahma consciousness, but they are nothing but new illusions. Even when you say and think, “I have become one with God,” you are there. Who is feeling that “I have become one with God”? Even to declare “Aham brahmasmi – I am the ultimate,” needs something of the “I” there to declare it; maybe the tail end – the elephant is gone but the tail is still there. And the tail is enough to bring the whole elephant back at any time.
Buddha is the ultimate, beyond which nobody has ever gone. Shankara is still groping far behind. Shankara is a great philosopher; Buddha is not a philosopher at all. Shankara is a great logician; Buddha is not a logician at all, he is a pure, existential mystic. Hence, Buddha never talks with all this jargon: cosmic consciousness, unity consciousness, Brahma consciousness – you can create as much jargon as you want.
If you are really interested in such nonsense, there is a sect in India, Radhaswami Sampradaya. They talk about fourteen levels, and they have a map, and only their master has attained to the fourteenth. Buddha and others are somewhere on the third, fourth, fifth levels; Krishna, Christ are somewhere on the second; Shankara and others are just somewhere on the seventh. The fourteenth they call the Land of Truth, satch-kand; that space of truth has been attained only by their master, Radhaswami. Now these games can be played…

Once a Radhaswami follower came to me and he said, “Do you know anything about the fourteenth level?”
I said, “Who cares about the fourteenth? Do you know about the fifteenth?”
He said, “The fifteenth? Never heard of it.”
“I have attained to the fifteenth.” I said, “And I know your guru – he is lagging just behind.”
And then he asked me for the secret of the fifteenth level!

All foolish talk – but this is how the ego works.
Now you seem to be a Shankara-freak; there are many in India. Shankara has impressed many because he was really clever at logical argumentation – but logical argumentation is just meaningless as far as existential experience is concerned.
Shankara used to say that the world is an illusion, and he would prove it. And it can be proved – logically – because it is very difficult to prove logically that the world is real. Who knows, you may simply be dreaming that you are listening to me, that I am here talking to you? Sometimes in a dream you have listened to me, and it seemed so real. So who knows, maybe you are dreaming now and it seems real? How can it be proved that I am really here and you are really there? There is no way to prove it; it may be a dream in fact.
Chuang Tzu says that in the night he dreamed that he had become a butterfly, and since then he has been very confused. Confused because now, in the morning, he thinks it may be just the butterfly that had fallen asleep and was dreaming that she was Chuang Tzu. Now, who is right: Chuang Tzu dreaming that he has become a butterfly, or the butterfly dreaming that she has become Chuang Tzu? Which is true? If Chuang Tzu can become a butterfly in a dream, why can’t a butterfly dream, sitting on foliage in the shade in the afternoon, and think that she has become Chuang Tzu? What is wrong with that? It can happen both ways. It is difficult to prove that the world is real.
Hence, Shankara was proving that the world is illusory, that all is illusory, only God is true. But one strange man – nobody knows who he was, he must have had great insight – greatly disturbed him…

One day, as was his habit, Shankara was coming from the Ganges, in Varanasi, early in the morning – he had taken his usual bath of purification in the river. It was still dark, he was coming up the stairs; and an untouchable, a sudra, touched him. Shankara was very angry and said, “You have destroyed my bath. I will have to go and bathe again. You should know better. Is this any way to behave? Can’t you recognize a brahmin?”
And the sudra, the untouchable, started laughing. He said, “But last night I heard you arguing, with great intelligence, with great acumen, that the world is illusory. So, first I thought that if the whole world is illusory, then untouchables must be illusory. How can an illusory untouchable touch you in the first place?
“Secondly, how can an illusory person destroy your purity? Who has touched whom? If my body is illusory, then your body also is illusory. Two illusions touching each other cannot be different. Or do you think your soul is pure and my soul is impure? If the soul can be impure like the body, then there is no way of making it pure. What do you think – have I touched your body or your soul? Who has become impure?
“Only last night I heard your argument; it was so great and I was so convinced – that’s why I have come.”
Shankara was at a loss, he touched the feet of the man and said, “Excuse me. It seems it was only logic – I have not yet experienced.”

Shankara was a great philosopher, the greatest that India has produced, but remember one thing: he is nowhere close to Buddha, and cannot be. In fact whatsoever he was saying was all borrowed from Buddha, hence he is known as a hidden Buddhist. Whatsoever he was saying, he only changed the words and terminology, he was talking about the same things. That is one of the arguments against Shankara: that he was just a Prachchhanna Buddha, a hidden Buddhist – using Hindu terminology instead of Buddhist terminology, that’s all. Don’t be too bothered with Shankara unless you are interested in philosophy. Then it is okay, you can read Shankara and you can read Nagarjuna and you can read Nimbarka, and you can read so many more in the West.
But if you are really interested in transformation, then Buddha will be of great help, Lao Tzu will be of great help, Jesus will be of great help. Listen to those who have reached the ultimate peak if you are really interested in transformation. Shankara was trying, and he said a few beautiful things, but nothing to compare to Buddha. And this is all nonsense, this cosmic consciousness, unity consciousness, Brahma consciousness. They are clever strategies to befool the masses.
Buddha talks only of anatta: no-self, ultimate emptiness, absolute death of the ego. When you have disappeared there is nothing more that can happen. To whom is it going to happen? When you are no more, all has happened. All happening disappears. That state where nothing happens any more is called nirvana.
Nirvana is a beautiful word. It means utter cessation. It means literally “blowing out the candle.” Just as you blow out a candle and suddenly the light disappears and is nowhere to be found, in deep meditation the small flame of the ego disappears. You blow it out, and there is utter nothingness: no experiencer, no experienced. That is nirvana. There is no more, and nothing beyond it.

The last question:
Come on, be a sport and tell us that juicy joke!
One day, while studying the alphabet with her second-grade class, the teacher looked up and said, “Who can tell me a word that starts with the letter A?”
All the children raised their hands, but the teacher didn’t pick Johnny Badmouth because she knew he’d say “asshole” or some other bad word. Instead she called on Billy.
“Apple,” said Billy.
“Very good,” replied the teacher, “and who can tell me a word that starts with the letter B?”
Many children raised their hands, but again she didn’t pick Johnny Badmouth because she knew he’d say “bastard” or some other dirty word. She called on Mary.
“Boat,” said Mary.
“Very good,” the teacher replied.
And so she went on through the entire alphabet, each time ignoring Johnny Badmouth. “And who can tell me a word that starts with the letter R?” All the children raised their hands. The teacher racked her brains, but couldn’t think of a single dirty word that started with the letter R, and decided to call on Johnny.
“Rats,” said Johnny, and raised his hands to demonstrate. “Big fucking rats!”

Enough for today.

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