The Invitation 27

TwentySeventh Discourse from the series of 30 discourses - The Invitation by Osho.
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I am also getting old. Would you tell me a few laws for middle age also?
Everybody is getting old. Since the day you were born, you have been getting old – each moment, each day. Childhood is a flux, so is youth – just old age never ends, because it terminates! That is the unique quality of old age, that it brings you to ultimate rest. But you want a few laws for middle age…You are a man of medicine, you should know better.
As far as I am concerned, I have never been a child, never a youth, and never become old and never will die. I know only one thing in me that is absolutely unchanging and eternal. But just for your sake…
There are many laws about middle age, because all over the world people become old. And many thinkers have been thinking, What is this old age?

The first law is De Never’s Lost Law; obviously about old age, the law can be the last: Never speculate on that which can be known for certain.

You know perfectly well you are getting old, now don’t speculate on that, that will make you more miserable.
The law is beautiful, never speculate on that which can be known for certain. In fact, in life, except death nothing is certain; everything can be speculated upon, but not death. And old age is just the door to death.

Middle age is when you begin to exchange your emotions for symptoms.

Lendel’s Law: You know you are getting old when a girl calls “No,” and all you feel is relief.

Old age is when you start to turn out the lights for economical rather than romantic reasons!

Old age is that period of life when your idea of getting ahead is staying even.

Old age is when you can do just as much as ever, but would rather not.

Old age is a mysterious experience, but all these laws have been found by the Western mind. I have not been able to discover anybody in the whole literature of the East talking about old age. On the contrary, old age has been praised immensely, because in the East it has been thought that you are not old. If your life has simply moved on the horizontal line, you are only aged. But if your life, your consciousness, has moved vertically, upwards, then you have attained the beauty, the glory of old age. Old age in the East has been synonymous with wisdom.
These are the two paths: one is horizontal, from childhood to youth, to old age and to death; another is vertical, from childhood to youth, to old age, and to immortality. The difference in quality of both the dimensions is immense, incalculable. The man who simply becomes young, and old, and dead, has remained identified with his body. He has not known anything about his being, because being is never born and never dies; it is always, it has been always, it will be always, it is the whole of eternity.
On the vertical line the child becomes young, but the youth on the vertical line will be different from the youth on the horizontal line. Childhood is innocent, but that is the point from where these two different dimensions open up. The youth on the horizontal line is nothing but sensuality, sexuality and all kinds of other stupidities. The youth on the vertical line is a search for truth, is a search for life – it is a longing to know oneself.
A man on the vertical line cannot be called young if he is not meditative, and the same is true about old age. On the horizontal line, old age is simply trembling, afraid of death; I cannot think of anything except a graveyard, and darkness which goes on becoming darker and darker. It cannot conceive of himself except as a skeleton.
On the vertical line, old age is a celebration; it is as beautiful as man has ever been. Youth is a little foolish – is bound to be; it is inexperienced, but old age has passed through all the experiences – good and bad, right and wrong – and has come to a state where it is no longer affected by anything concerned with body or mind.
It is a welcome! Old age on the vertical line is keeping its door open for the ultimate guest to come in. It is not an end, it is a beginning of a real life, of an authentic being.
Hence, I continuously make the distinction between growing old and growing up. Very few people have been fortunate to grow up; the remainder of humanity has only been growing old. And naturally they are all moving towards death. Only on the vertical line does death not exist; that is the way to immortality, to divinity. And naturally, when one becomes old on that dimension, he has a grace and a beauty and a compassion and love.
It has been noted again and again… There is a statement in Buddhist scriptures that as Buddha became older, he became more beautiful. This I call a true miracle. Not walking on water – any drunkard can try that. Not turning water into wine – any criminal can do that. This is a true miracle: Buddha became more beautiful than he was in his youth; he became more innocent than he was in his childhood – this is growth.
Unless you are moving on the vertical line, you are missing the whole opportunity of life. But here our whole effort is to block the horizontal line and open the blocked vertical line. Then every day you are coming closer to life, not farther away. Then your birth is not the beginning of death, your birth is the beginning of eternal life. Just two different lines and so much difference.
The West has never thought about it; the vertical line has never been mentioned because they haven’t been brought up in a spiritual atmosphere where the real riches are inside you. Even if they think of God, they think of him outside. Gautam Buddha could deny God – I deny God. There is absolutely no God for the simple reason that we want you to turn inwards. If God is – or anything similar – it has to be found inside you; it has to be found in your own eternity, in your own ecstasy.
To think of oneself as a body-mind structure is the most dangerous idea that has happened to people. That destroys their whole grace, whole beauty, and they are constantly trembling and afraid of death, and trying to keep old age as far away as possible. In the West, if you say to an old woman, “You look so young,” and she knows she is no longer young, she will stand in front of the mirror for hours to check whether any youthfulness has remained anywhere. But she will not deny it, she will be immensely happy. In the East, nobody says to an old woman, “You are young”; on the contrary, old age is so respected, loved, so that to say to somebody, “You look younger than your age,” is a kind of insult.
I am reminded of one incident that happened life…
I was staying in Chanda – a far corner of Maharashtra – with a very rich family, and they were very much interested in an astrologer. They loved me and I used to go at least three times per year. That was their quota, and I used to stay there for at least three or four days each time. Once when I went there, without asking they had arranged with the astrologer to come and to look at my hands and tell some things about me. When I came to know about it, everything was fixed; the astrologer was sitting in the sitting room. So I said, “Okay, let us enjoy that too!”
I showed him my hand; he pondered over it and he said, “You must be at least eighty years old.”
Of course, one of the daughters of the rich man freaked out, “This is stupid. What kind of astrology…”
At that time I was not more than thirty-five – even a blind man could have measured thirty-five and eighty! She was really angry, and she told me, “I am finished with this astrologer. What else can he know?”
I said, “You don’t understand. You are more Westernized – educated in the Western style. You have been to the West for your education – you can’t understand what he was saying.”
She said, “What was he saying? It was so clear there is no need to understand; he was simply showing his stupidity. A thirty-five-year-old young man, and he is saying that you are eighty years old.”
I said, “Be patient.”
And I told her a story about Emerson…

A man asked Emerson, “How old are you?”
Emerson said, “Nearabout three hundred and sixty years.”
The man could not believe…and he had always believed in Emerson that he is a man of truth! What had happened – a slip of the tongue? Or had he become senile? Or is he joking?
To make things clear he said, “I did not hear what you said. Just tell me how much…?”
Emerson said, “You have heard it – three hundred and sixty years.”
The man said, “I cannot believe it. You don’t look more than sixty years.”
Emerson said, “You are right in a way: on the vertical I am three hundred and sixty, and on the horizontal I am sixty.”
Perhaps he was the first Western man to use this Eastern expression of horizontal and vertical.
Emerson was immensely interested in the East, and he had a few glimpses which bring him closer to the seers of the Upanishads. He said, “Actually I have lived sixty years; you are right. But in sixty years I have lived as much as you will not be able to live even in three hundred and sixty years. I have lived six times more.”

The vertical line does not count years, it counts your experiences. And on the vertical line is the whole treasure of existence – not only immortality, not only a feeling of divineness, but the first experience of love without hate, the first experience of compassion, the first experience of meditation – the first experience of the tremendous explosion of enlightenment.
It is not a coincidence that in the West, the word enlightenment does not have the same meaning as in the East. They say that after the black ages, dark ages, came the age of enlightenment. They refer to people like Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jaspers as very enlightened geniuses. They don’t understand that they are misusing a word, dragging it into the mud. Neither is Bertrand Russell enlightened nor Jean-Paul Sartre nor Jaspers.
Enlightenment does not happen on the horizontal. Even in his old age Jean-Paul Sartre was still running after young girls. Bertrand Russell changed his wife so many times, and he lived long on the horizontal – almost a century. But even in his old age, his interests were as stupid as young people.
The East understands that the word enlightenment has nothing to do with genius, has nothing to do with intelligence, it has something to do with discovering your real, authentic being. It is discovering God within you.
You need not be worried about laws. Those laws are all on the horizontal line. On the vertical line there is love, no law; there is the growing experience of becoming more and more spiritual and less and less physical, more and more meditative and less and less mind, more and more divine and less and less of this trivial material world in which we are so much enmeshed.
On the vertical line, slowly you feel desires disappearing, sensuality disappearing, sexuality disappearing, ambitions disappearing, will to power disappearing…your slavery in all its aspects disappearing – religious, political, national. You become more of an individual. And with your individuality growing clear and luminous, the whole humanity is becoming one in your eyes – you cannot discriminate.
There are great experiences on the vertical line; on the horizontal line there is only decline. On the horizontal line the old man lives in the past. He thinks of those beautiful days, those Arabian nights when he was young; he thinks also of those beautiful days when there was no responsibility and he was a child running after butterflies. In fact, for his whole life he has been running after butterflies – even in old age.

Mulla Nasruddin was passing along a street…
And he saw a beautiful young woman so he gave her a good nudge. The woman was shocked, because Mulla was old; all his hairs were pure silver white. The woman said, “You should be ashamed – all your hairs are pure white. You are the age of my grandfather – you should have been dead by now. You are showing your ugliness….”
Mulla said, “Listen, my hairs are white, that’s true, but my heart is still black – dark black.”

On the horizontal line, that’s what happens – your hairs will become white, but you don’t become white. In fact, on the contrary: as you grow old, you become more and more infatuated by desires, because now you know that ahead there is only death. So you enjoy as much as possible, although enjoying becomes difficult, physically you have lost the energy. So the old man on the horizontal line becomes cerebrally sexual; he is continuously thinking of sex.
Psychologists have been watching thousands of people, and they have concluded that every man thinks of a woman at least once in three minutes. Just check it! That will show you on what line you are – horizontal or vertical. And each woman thinks of a man one time in seven minutes. That is the difference that creates conflict. The moment the husband comes and asks, “Dear, what about it?” and she says, “I have a headache, don’t torture me any more…” The difference is that she thinks of it only one time in seven minutes, that means one day in seven days…!
The man thinks of the woman one time in three minutes, that is average. In old age those three minutes shrink into one minute. The old man has nothing else to do but to think – and what else is there to think about? He imagines beautiful women.

One day Mulla Nasruddin was sitting on his balcony watching the beautiful sunset…
And suddenly he shouted to his servant, “Bring my glasses, bring my glasses quickly!”
The servant said, “What calamity has happened?” He brought his glasses.
Mulla said, “You idiot, when I say quick it mean quick. We missed the opportunity.”
The servant said, “I don’t understand, what opportunity?”
He said, “Such a beautiful woman was going by, but my eyes can’t figure out whether she is a woman or a man, whether she is really beautiful or I am imagining. Glasses were needed, but by the time you brought the glasses she was gone.”
The servant said, “You are under the wrong impression; she was not a woman! He is my brother who has come to see me. Nobody else has passed.”

The old man is continuously thinking of the past – this is the psychology. The child thinks of the future because he has no past; there is no question of thinking of the past – no yesterday. He thinks of days to come, the whole long life. Seventy years gives him space…. He wants to become big enough quickly to do things that all the big people are doing.
The old man has no future – the future means death; he does not even want to talk about the future. The future makes him tremble. The future means the grave – he talks about the past.
And the same is true about countries. For example, a country like India never thinks of the future. That would mean it had become old; it is symptomatic. It always thinks of the past. It goes on playing the life of Rama and Sita; for centuries the same story…every village performs that drama. It goes on thinking about Buddha and Mahavira and Adinatha and Rigveda and the Upanishads.
Everything has passed. Now the country is simply waiting to die; there is no future. According to the Indian idea – and that is the idea of the old mentality, the mind of the old man – the best age was millions of years ago; it was called Satyuga, the age of truth. After that man started falling.
You can see the psychological parallel; there are four ages: childhood, the young man, middle age, the old man. According to these four he has projected four ages for life itself. The first age was innocent, just like a child – very balanced. They give the example that it has four legs just like a table, perfectly balanced. And then the decline starts….
In India, the idea of evolution has never existed, but on the contrary just the opposite idea. The word is not even used in the West – you may not have even heard of the word – but in India they have been thinking about involution, not evolution: “We are shrinking, we are falling down.”
In the second stage of the fall one leg is lost; the table becomes a tripod. It is still balanced, but not as much as it was with four legs. In the third stage it loses another leg; now it is standing only on two legs, absolutely unbalanced. And this is the fourth stage: even two legs are not available; you are standing on one leg – how long you can stand?
The first stage is called Satyuga, the age of truth; the second is simply named by the number; treta is the third, because only three legs are left. The second is called Dwapar. Dwa is exactly what two is in English; this “two” comes from the Sanskrit dwa; moving through many other languages it becomes twa, and then finally it becomes two. And the fourth age they have called Kaliyuga, the age of darkness.
We are living in the age of darkness. This is the mind of the old man: ahead there is only darkness and nothing else. The child thinks of the future, of the golden future; the old man thinks of the golden past. But this happens only on the horizontal line. On the vertical line, the past is golden, the present is golden, the future is golden; it is a life of tremendous celebration.
So rather than being worried about the laws of old age, think about which line your train is moving on. There is still time to change trains; there is always time to change trains because from every moment that bifurcation is available. You can shift, shift from the horizontal to the vertical; only that is important.

Can you say something again about coming to the master and going back to the world?
It seems you have heard it before. Where were you that time? And are you certain you will be able to hear this time?
I can say…in fact I am saying everything again and again and again, but you are not ever at home so you don’t know. You think I am saying new things every day – from where can I get new things? I have stopped reading; for twelve years I have not touched a single book. I don’t meet people, so I can’t gather gossips or gospels. I don’t go anywhere. I just talk to you and go to sleep!
In sleep do you think I can find new things every day? My sleep is dreamless, contentless – just a pure silence. It is another name for meditation to me.
Nirvano just takes care that once in a while I sleep, or else the body suffers; otherwise the whole night I am awake. I have divided the day into two parts because there is nothing to read. I have read so much, and now I am utterly bored when I come to look at books. I already know what these idiots will be writing. And there is no other source….
The only thing is that you feel what I am saying is new, that you have never heard it before. You have been here, but I will not refuse your question. I will repeat it again! But before I say anything about it, to wake you up I will tell you a story. I use stories and jokes to keep you awake! If I start talking about pure philosophy there will be complete silence and people will start snoring!
For centuries people have been snoring whenever religion, spirituality, philosophy and meditation were discussed. And all the great masters have been in immense agony because of their compassion – what to do with these people? But I have found a way: there is no need to say to you, “Wake up!” I simply tell you a joke when I see you are slipping into sleep. Then you just straighten up, open your eyes, look all around – I don’t allow anybody to snore!

A man from Warsaw in Chelm on a business trip, was walking down the street when he was stopped by Yossel the chimney sweep. “Zalman!” cried Yossel. “What has become of you? It’s so long since I have seen you. Just look at yourself.”
“But wait,” replied the stranger, “I’m…”
“Never mind that,” said Yossel. “I can’t get over how much you have changed. You used to be such a big man, built like an ox. And now you are smaller than I am. Have you been sick?”
“But wait,” replied the stranger, “I’m…”
“Never mind that,” said Yossel. “And what has become of your hair? You used to have a fine head of black hair, and now you are completely bald. What has happened? You know, I don’t see how I ever recognized you. Zalman, what has become of you?”
“I have been trying to tell you,” the man replied. “I am not Zalman.”
“Oy,” replied Yossel, “You have gone and changed your name as well!”

If one does not want to listen, what to do! You will find some way out.
Your question is beautiful. You say, “Can you say something again about coming to the master and going back to the world?”
The moment you have found a master, wherever you are the master will be with you.
Finding the master means drinking from his well.
Finding the master means becoming yourself – so attuned with the master, so in accord, in such a deep harmony, that you only appear two, but you have become one. The bodies are two, but the inner flames of your life have become one. Once you have found the master, there is no way to go anywhere where you can be without the master.
If going to the world you find yourself alone, without the master, that simply means only one thing, without any doubt – you have not found the master yet.
There is a beautiful story about Mahakashyapa, one of the most significant disciples of Gautam Buddha – perhaps just second to him, or maybe just equal to him. He never asked any question, he never bothered Buddha about any problem. Finally, Buddha became concerned, “What is the matter? Everybody is asking, everybody is receiving the answer, and this Mahakashyapa never asks anything. And if he does not ask there is no point in answering him – what am I going to answer?”
He called Mahakashyapa. With tears, Mahakashyapa came to him and he said, “The only thing is that I am afraid of enlightenment.”
Buddha said, “You are strange. You have left your kingdom and you have become a sannyasin, and now you are afraid of enlightenment?”
He said, “That’s true, that’s why I don’t ask anything, because I am afraid if I become enlightened you will send me away to spread the message, the word. I have been watching; those people who have become enlightened have been sent away, and I cannot live a single moment without… Just leave me alone. I don’t want any enlightenment, I just want to be with you. And I can be with you only if I am unenlightened; once I am enlightened I know you will send me.”
Buddha said, “I promise you, I will not send you. But just out of that fear, don’t prevent yourself from becoming enlightened – you don’t know what it is!”
Because of the promise of Gautam Buddha, Mahakashyapa became enlightened on the second day. All this time he had been becoming silent, peaceful – no question, no answer; the chattering of the mind had gone away. For twenty years he had been sitting in deep closeness with Buddha, and his love for him was so much that he was ready to drop the idea of enlightenment.
You will find very few disciples who will be ready to drop the idea of enlightenment. They will say, “This is stupid. For enlightenment we have come to a master, and then for the master we drop the idea of enlightenment! It does not make sense.”
But once Buddha promised him, the next day he became enlightened. And Buddha called him, “Mahakashyapa, now you have to go and spread the word.”
Mahakashyapa said, “And what about your promise?”
Buddha said, “A promise was given to an unenlightened man! You are no longer the same man; that man has gone. To you I have never given any promise.”
Mahakashyapa said, “That’s true. That man is gone, but be kind enough…Forget about the promise because you are tricky, you are getting out of it. Let me be here.”
But Buddha said, “What will you do here? Don’t you know that once you have become enlightened, wherever you are I am with you? I am you. What is the difference between my enlightenment and your enlightenment? Just a day ago you were an unlit candle; today you have your own flame – and the flame is the same. Today you are a buddha yourself.”
Mahakashyapa touched his feet and said, “I will go, but just allow me one thing, that wherever I am I can bow down towards your direction and touch your feet. Your feet will not be there, but I can touch the ground and kiss the ground. This much you will have to allow me.”
Buddha said, “I can allow you. There is no harm in it, but what will others think? They will think you are crazy. First you are going to talk about meditation, enlightenment – they will think you are a little strange – and when they see you kissing the earth and touching the earth with your head then it will become certain to them that you are really mad.”
Mahakashyapa said, “That you can leave to me. That is my problem; you should not interfere in it. First you tricked me into enlightenment – for twenty years I was so happy. Now I am more happy and more blissful. For twenty years I was happy in spite of my ignorance, now I am happy, simply happy – there is no ignorance, there is no darkness. I am grateful to you. I know you are within me now, but whatever the world thinks I will continue to touch your feet – at least from far away, just in your direction.”
And his whole life he continued. People were amazed seeing him every morning, every evening, “What are you doing?” But he was such a luminous figure, nobody could think that he was mad. In fact, they had never seen such a man of genius, intelligence, awareness, love, compassion, blissfulness – twenty-four hours in ecstasy. So they could not think that he was mad, but what was he doing?”
He said, “I bow down to my master’s feet. He must be a thousand miles away, just in the direction…I cannot forget my gratitude towards him. If he had not tricked me I would have remained unenlightened forever.
“Just for me to become enlightened, my master was even ready to lie. He promised me – knowing perfectly well that he was not going to keep his promise – and he is a man of his word; I have never seen him going against his word. But his compassion was so much, and his love was so much, how can I forget him?
“It does not matter where he is I bow down in gratitude morning and evening, and that is my most precious time. I am blissful, I am ecstatic, I am enlightened.”
But I want you to know that he said to people again and again, “Even my great ecstasy is less than the ecstasy I feel when I bow down to my master. Whatever I am is his compassion and nothing else.”
You need not be worried if you have found the master in me. Then wherever you are you will find me very close, nearby – just following you like a shadow. But if you get lost into the world, that will also be a good experience, to understand that you have not found the master. In any case, these are the only two alternatives – either you will find me in your gratitude, in your love, in your peace, in your silence, in your meditations, in your joy, or you will forget about me in the crowd. In both of the ways it will be a beautiful experience and a beautiful test.
I want everybody here…those who are essential to run the commune should remain here; otherwise, people should come and go. They can manage it to be here for three months – be here three months and go back into the world.
The day you can start finding me wherever you are is the greatest day of your life.

Loving to hear you laugh, loving your jokes, loving you – beloved master, would you speak to us about laughter?
When you are hungry you don’t want somebody to speak on food! When you are in a river drowning, you don’t want somebody else to talk about the art of swimming. There are right moments and right situations, and there are things which can be talked about, yet misunderstood.
Laughter is a mystery. It is better to experience it than to hear someone talk about it. But one becomes curious, “What is laughter?”
Laughter is the most intelligent factor in you.
Buffaloes don’t laugh, and if you meet a buffalo laughing you will go mad! Then it will be impossible to bring you to sanity. No animal laughs. Laughter needs a very sensitive intelligence. It means that you can understand the ridiculousness of a certain situation.
What are jokes? They are a very clever arrangement. They take you in a direction logically, rationally, you start expecting that now this is going to happen, this is going to happen…and it goes on happening according to your expectations. Then comes a sudden turn and something happens which you could never have imagined. That brings laughter to you.
It is a very internal process of your rational expectation. If what you were expecting happens, there will be no laugh. But if you see something that you could not have conceived and everything went well up to the end – and then suddenly something happens that makes you immediately forget all your reason, logic, mind…
Laughter is the only ordinary experience when you are no longer a mind, and I use it to give you glimpses of no-mind, of meditation, of a transcendence of mind. Perhaps I am the first man in the whole history of mankind who has been using jokes as a preparation for meditation. Jesus would not laugh; Buddha will not laugh; Lao Tzu is not heard to have ever laughed…They were serious people, and they were doing serious work!
It will be good to understand a small incident which began the tradition of Zen. Those are the people who understand – the only people on the earth, a small stream who have understood the meaning of laughter because their origin is in laughter.
It was again Mahakashyapa…

He was sitting under his tree – he was sitting under his tree for twenty years. It had almost become his tree; nobody else used to sit under that tree. Everybody knew that that was the place for Mahakashyapa and not to disturb that man. “He never asks, he never says anything, he never talks – why disturb him? Just leave him alone.” It had become an accepted fact. But one day he laughed – and that day was his day of enlightenment.
A great king, Prasenjita, asked his wife… His wife was a disciple of Gautam Buddha, a lay disciple, not a sannyasin, but immensely interested in Gautam Buddha and hoping that one day her husband would allow her to become a sannyasin. Prasenjita was not interested in sannyas; he was interested in increasing his kingdom, to make it bigger and bigger. He was always fighting, invading new areas.
By chance, Buddha had come into the capital of Prasenjita, and the wife was insisting, “You have to come with me to welcome him because it doesn’t show culture, refinement if you don’t come. A man of the caliber of Gautam Buddha happens in millions of years. Kings and queens are a rupee a dozen! You can find them anywhere; they are not worth much. You will be forgotten, but Gautam Buddha’s name will remain till the last man has become enlightened. You may be remembered if you go to Gautam Buddha and touch his feet. Just this small act on your part will make you historical.”
And that is true – who would have heard about Prasenjita? There were hundreds of other kings at that time, and we don’t know anything about them, but Prasenjita is known. And because the wife was insistent, he said, “Okay, but I have to present something to him.”
He had a very beautiful diamond. Other kings were jealous of that diamond; perhaps that was the best diamond available in those days. So Prasenjita said, “What else can I offer to him? I will offer this diamond.”
The wife said, “You don’t understand, a diamond or a stone is equal to him. It will be better that you take a lotus flower, because to him the lotus flower represents a revolution – it comes out of dirty mud. And it is the most beautiful flower on the earth, most fragrant, the biggest flower. It comes from the dirt, it crosses the water and stands on top of the water. This is a great revolution: dirt turning into such a beautiful…
“So velvety are the flowers, leaves and petals that when dewdrops in the night gather on the big petals and big leaves, they are so velvety that the water cannot touch them. They remain on the lotus leaves, but the lotus leaf remains untouched by them. The lotus flower remains in the water but the water does not touch it – that gives it another significance that a man should live in the world untouched by it. He should live in the world but not allow the world to enter him; he should live in the dirty world, but he has the possibility of becoming a lotus flower.”
So the lotus became a symbol for the transcendence from the trivial matters of the world. Gautam Buddha is represented in thousands of temples sitting on a lotus flower. That lotus flower represents his philosophy – it has become a symbol. So she said, “In our beautiful pond at the palace I will find the best and biggest lotus flower – you take the lotus flower.”
The husband did not think that a lotus flower had any value in comparison to his diamond which could purchase a whole kingdom. So he said, “Okay, I will take both, and I will see which he prefers. This is my first meeting, so let me judge the man.”
He touched the feet of Buddha and wanted to give the great diamond. Ten thousand disciples were present. They could not believe the radiance of the diamond, its clarity, purity, its perfection – and it was so great. There was complete silence, because everybody was watching what Buddha was going to do now, because it was against his disciplines to have anything more than three changes of clothes and one begging bowl – that had to be the only possession for any sannyasin. Now what was he going to do…? Was he going to refuse the king? – that will be insulting. Was he going to accept it? – but that will be against his discipline. So there was great silence and great curiosity.
Buddha saw the diamond and told Prasenjita, “Drop it!”
Very reluctantly, he dropped it, because now there was no way… He has presented, and the man is saying “Drop it.” Under the impact of Buddha and those ten thousand people – in which there were nearly two dozen enlightened people – he dropped the diamond. Then he brought from the other hand the lotus flower, thinking that perhaps his wife was right.
Buddha said, “Drop it!”
Prasenjita could not believe what kind of man he was, “I have brought presents and he goes on saying, ‘Drop it.’”
The third time, when he had dropped the lotus flower, his hands were empty, but Buddha said loudly, “Drop it!”
He said, “I don’t have anything to drop.”
That was the moment when Mahakashyapa for the first time in twenty years started laughing, madly. Prasenjita was very much offended, but Gautam Buddha called Mahakashyapa gave him the lotus flower, and told him, “From you will start a totally new and unique, fresh stream.”
That fresh stream has developed into Zen – but it was born in the laughter of Mahakashyapa.
Prasenjita said, “I don’t understand what is happening…why this man laughed.”
Gautam Buddha said, “He laughed because you could not understand my third request to drop it. I wanted you to drop your ego. I am not concerned with lotus flowers, not concerned with diamonds. I only am concerned with one thing, your ego. Unless you drop it, you have not dropped anything. And I cannot accept your diamond or your lotus flower, because that will enhance and nourish your ego.
“That’s why Mahakashyapa laughed because the poor emperor does not understand the language of a mystic – but he understood it. In ten thousand sannyasins he was the only one who understood what I meant – and he laughed. I have chosen him to be the first for a new stream of seekers, so he is the founder of Zen.”

Zen was founded in laughter, and for twenty-five centuries the tradition has continued to produce enlightened people. Most of the traditions have died but Zen still brings flowers. Perhaps, rooted in laughter, it is rooted in the highest consciousness.

Rabinovich sits down in a cafe and orders a glass of tea and a copy of Pravda.
“I’ll bring the tea,” the waiter tells him, “but I can’t bring you a copy of Pravda. The Soviet regime has been overthrown and Pravda isn’t published anymore” – Pravda is the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
“All right,” says Rabinovich, “Just bring me the tea.”
The next day Rabinovich comes to the same cafe and asks for tea and a copy of Pravda. The waiter gives him the same answer.
On the third day, Rabinovich again orders tea and Pravda. This time the waiter says to him, “Look, sir, you seem to be an intelligent man. For the past three days you’ve ordered a copy of Pravda, and three times now I’ve had to tell you that the Soviet regime has been overthrown, and Pravda isn’t published anymore.”
“I know, I know,” says Rabinovich. “But I just like to hear it.”

Two Jews sat in a coffee house discussing the fate of their people.
“How miserable is our lot,” said one. “Pogroms, plagues, quotas, discrimination, and Adolf Hitler… Sometimes I think we’d be better off if we’d never been born.”
“Sure,” said his friend. “But who has that much luck – maybe one in fifty thousand?”

Try to get it!

It was at the office Christmas party. As they lay on the office reception couch in the darkened room, their breath came hot and fast.
“Oh, Melvin, oh Melvin,” she said passionately, “You’ve never made love to me like this before. Is it because of the holiday spirit?”
“No,” he panted. “It is probably because I am not Melvin!”

It is possible, when you have a hearty laugh, mind stops, because mind cannot laugh. It is structured seriously, its function is to be serious, miserable, sick. The moment you laugh, it does not come from your mind, it comes from the beyond, from your very inner spirit. According to me, all the religions have missed one of the dimensions of the greatest importance, a sense of humor. And they have made the whole world serious.
I want my people to fill the world with laughter, joy, songs, and dances. We are not seeking for any paradise – we are seeking how to create the paradise, herenow, because we are not interested in things after death. If we can create a paradise herenow, certainly we will be able – even if we meet in hell – to create the paradise there.
All my people are condemned by all the religions, so I hope we will be reaching hell. But they are to be warned, “Don’t send my people to hell, because they will turn the hell into a far better paradise than you have with your old, dirty and dry saints who cannot even smile!”
I trust absolutely that when a million sannyasins enter into hell with their guitars and songs and dances and jokes the whole quality and the whole atmosphere of hell is going to be changed – I think even the devil will join you! He will become a sannyasin: Swami Anand Devil!

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