The Ultimate Alchemy Vol 2 01

First Discourse from the series of 12 discourses - The Ultimate Alchemy Vol 2 by Osho.
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Chidagni swaroopam dhoopah.

To create the fire of awareness in oneself is dhoop – the incense.
For philosophy, many are the problems, infinite. But for religion there is only one problem, and that problem is man himself – not that man has problems, but man is the problem. And why is man the problem?
Animals are not problems. They are so unconscious, blissfully unconscious, so ignorant, that there is no possibility of there being any awareness of problems. Problems are there, but animals are not aware. There are no problems for gods, because they are totally conscious. When the mind is a total consciousness, problems simply disappear like darkness. But for man there is anguish. The very being of man, the very existence of man, is a problem, because man exists between these two realms: the realm of the animals and the realm of the gods.
Man exists as a bridge between two infinities: the infinity of ignorance and the infinity of knowledge. Man is neither animal nor divine. Or, man is both – animal and divine. That is the problem. Man is a suspended existence, something incomplete, something which is still to be, a becoming, not a being.
Animals have beings; man is a becoming. He is not, he is only becoming. Man is a process. The process is incomplete. It has left the world of ignorance and it has not reached the world of knowledge. Man is in between. That creates the problem, the tension, the anguish, and the constant conflict.
There are only two ways to be at peace, to be without problems. One is to fall back, to regress, to fall back to the world of animals. The other is to transcend, to go forward, and to be a part of the divine being. Either to be animals or to be gods, these are the two alternatives.
To fall back is easy, but it is going to be a temporary thing, because once you have grown you cannot fall back permanently. You can regress for a moment, then you are again thrown forward, because there is no way to go back, there is no possibility of falling back. You cannot be a child again if you have become young, adult, and you cannot become young again if you have become old. If you know something, then you cannot fall back to the state when you were ignorant. You cannot go back. But for a moment you can forget the present and relive the past – in your memory, in your mind.
So man can regress to the animal. It is blissful, but temporary. That is the reason intoxicants, drugs, alcohol, have such appeal. When you are unconscious through any chemical thing, you have fallen back, for a moment. For the time being you are not man, you are not a problem. You are again part of the world of animals, the unconscious. You are not a man. That’s why there are no problems.
Humanity has been constantly finding things – from soma rasa to LSD – to forget, to regress, to be just childlike, to regain the animal innocence, to be without problems: that is, to be without humanity, because to me humanity means to be a problem. This falling back, this regression, is possible, but only temporarily. You will come back again, you will be a man again, and the same problems will be standing and waiting for you. Rather, they will be more acute. Your absence is not going to dissolve them. They will become more complicated and complex. Then a vicious circle is created.
When you are again back, conscious, you have to face problems which have become more complicated because of your absence. They have grown. Then you have to forget yourself again and again. And every time you forget and regress, your problems are growing, and you have to face your humanity again and again. One cannot escape that way. One can deceive oneself, but one cannot escape that way.
The other alternative is arduous. That is to grow, to become, to be a being. When I say “regress,” I mean to be unconscious, to lose the small consciousness that we have. And when I say “to be a being,” I mean to lose unconsciousness and to be totally conscious.
As we are, only a part is conscious, only a very small fragment of our being is conscious, and the remaining whole continent is just dark. A small island is conscious, and the whole continent, the mainland, is under darkness. When this small island also becomes dark you have regressed, you have fallen back.
This ignorance is blissful because now you are not aware of the problems. Problems are there, but you are not aware. So at least for you there are no problems. This is the ostrich method: close your eyes and your enemy is not there. Because when you cannot see, this childish, juvenile logic says that when you cannot see something, it is not; unless you see something, it is not. So if you cannot feel problems they are not there.
And when I say “to be a being, to transcend humanity, to become divine,” I mean to be totally conscious – not only an island, but the whole continent. This awareness will also lead you beyond problems, because problems are there basically because of you. Problems are not objective realities, they are subjective phenomena. You create your problems. And unless you are transformed, you will go on creating problems. You can solve one, but, really, in solving that one you will create many, because you remain the same. Problems are not objective things, they are part of you. Because you are such, you create such problems.
Science tries to solve problems objectively, and science thinks if there are no problems man will be at ease. Problems can be solved objectively but man will not be at ease, because man himself is the problem. If he solves some problems, he will create others. He is the creator. You create a better society: problems will change, but problems will remain. You create better health, better medicine: problems will change, but problems will remain.
Quantitatively, there will be as many problems as ever, because the man remains the same, only the situation changes. You change the situation: old problems will not be there, but there will be new problems. And new problems are more problematic than any old problems, because you have become accustomed to old problems. With new problems you feel more inconvenience. That’s why in our times we have changed the whole situation, but problems are there – more settled, more anxiety creating.
That’s the difference between religion and science. Science thinks problems are objective, somewhere outside, somewhere there – that they can be changed without changing you. Religion thinks problems are somewhere here inside, in me – rather, I am the problem. Unless I change, nothing is going to be different. Shapes will be different, names will be different, but the substance will remain the same. I will create another…another world of problems. I will go on projecting new problems.
This man, unconscious to his own being, is the creator of problems. Unaware of himself, not knowing who he is, what he is, without any acquaintance with himself, he goes on creating problems – because unless you know yourself, you cannot know for what you are existing and living, you cannot know where you have to move, you cannot feel what your destiny is, and you can never feel any meaning. You will go on doing many things, but everything will ultimately lead you to frustration, because without knowing why you are, for what you are, if you do anything, it is not going to give you a deep contentment. It is irrelevant. The very point is missed, your effort is wasted.
And, ultimately, everyone is frustrated. Those who succeed are more frustrated than those who are not successful, because those who are not successful can still hope, but those who are successful, they cannot even hope. Their case becomes hopeless. So I say nothing fails like success.
Religion thinks in terms of subjectivity, science in terms of objectivity: “Change the situation – don’t touch the man.” Religion says, “Change the man – situation is irrelevant.” Whatsoever the situation, a different mind, a transformed being, will be beyond problems. That’s why a buddha can exist in absolute peace as a beggar, and a Midas cannot exist and live at peace even when he has the alchemical miracle with him: whatsoever he touches becomes gold. The situation with Midas has become golden, everything he touches becomes gold. But this doesn’t change anything; rather, Midas is in a more complicated, problematic situation.
Now our world has created, through science, a Midas situation. Now we can touch anything and it becomes gold. A buddha living as a beggar lives in such a deep peace and silence that emperors become jealous of him. What is the secret? The emphasis, the man, the inside of man, is significant, not the situation. So if you change the inside of man…and there is only one change. If you grow in your awareness, you change, you mutate. If you fall down in your awareness, again you change, you mutate. If your awareness is lessened, you fall down towards animals. If your awareness is increased, you fall up towards godliness.
This is the only problem for religion: how to increase awareness. That’s why religions have always been against drugs. The reason is not moral or ethical, no. And the so-called moralist puritans have given a very wrong color to the whole thing. For religions, it is not a question of morality that someone takes drugs. It is not a question of morality at all, because morality begins only when I come in contact with someone else.
If I take alcohol and become unconscious, it is no one else’s affair. I am doing something with myself. Violence is a question for morality, not alcohol. Even if I give you a promise to meet at a particular time and miss, it is immoral because somebody else is involved. Alcohol can become a moral question only if someone else is involved, otherwise it is not a moral question at all. It is something you do with yourself. But for religions it is not a question of morality at all. For religions it is a deeper question: it is a question of decreasing or increasing awareness.
If once you get in the habit of falling down in unconsciousness, it will be more and more difficult to increase your awareness. It will become more and more difficult, because your body will not support you in increasing awareness. It will support you in decreasing it. The very metabolism of your body will help you to be unconscious. It will not help you to be conscious. And anything that becomes a barrier in being more aware is a religious problem, not a moral problem.
So sometimes it happens: you may find an alcoholic a more moral person than a nonalcoholic, but never a more religious person. An alcoholic may be more compassionate than a nonalcoholic; may be more loving than a nonalcoholic, may be more honest, but never more religious. And when I say “never more religious,” I mean never a more aware and conscious person.
This growth into awareness creates the anguish.
It will be good to understand the old biblical story of Adam and Eve. They were expelled from Heaven, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It is a very deep psychological story. God allowed them to eat anything they liked, they desired, except one fruit. One tree was not to be touched at all, and that tree was the tree of knowledge.
This is strange, God forbidding his children to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. This looks very contradictory. What type of a God is this, and what type of a father, who is against his children being wise and knowing? This story has troubled many minds. Why should God prohibit knowledge? We value knowledge very much, but it was forbidden.
Adam and Eve existed in an animal world. They were blissful, but they were ignorant – they were blissful, but they were ignorant. Children are blissful, but they are ignorant. And children, if they have to grow, must grow in knowledge. There is no other way for growth. And if you are ignorant, you may be blissful but you cannot be aware of your blissfulness.
That has to be understood: you can be blissful when you are ignorant, but you cannot feel your blissfulness, you cannot be aware of your blissfulness. The moment you begin to feel your blissfulness, you are out of ignorance. Knowledge has entered, you have become a knowing one. So Adam and Eve existed just as animals, absolutely ignorant – blissful, but remember, this blissfulness, too, was not a known fact to them. They were just blissful without knowing it.
The story says the Devil tempted Eve to eat the fruit. And the reason the Devil could tempt Eve was this, that “If you eat this fruit, you will be like God.” This is very meaningful. “Unless you eat this fruit of the tree of knowledge you can never be like God, you will remain animals.” And that’s why God had prohibited, forbidden them, to touch this tree. They were tempted.
This word devil is very beautiful, and for Indians particularly it has a different shade and significance than for Christians, because devil comes from the same word, from the same root, from which deva, devata comes. Devil and divine both come from the same root. So it seems the Christian story is a misrepresentation, somehow incomplete. One thing is known: the Devil himself was a rebellious god, a rebellious angel who rebelled against God. But he was a god himself.
Why am I saying this? Because to me there are not two forces in the world, God and Devil. That dichotomy is false. There is only one force. And the dichotomy is not of two enemies but of two polarities of one force: God-and-Devil, one force working as two polarities – because unless a force works in two polarities it cannot work.
So to me this biblical story takes on a new meaning: God prohibited because you can tempt only if you prohibit. If the tree of knowledge was not mentioned at all, it seems improbable that Adam would ever have thought of or imagined this particular tree. The Garden of Eden was big, there were infinite trees. We don’t even know the name of any other tree.
This tree became important because it was prohibited. This prohibition became an invitation, this denial became the temptation. It is not really the Devil who tempted. In the first place, God himself tempted. This was the temptation: “Don’t go near the tree of knowledge! Don’t eat the fruit of it. Only one tree is prohibited, otherwise you are free.” Suddenly this one tree becomes the most important in the whole Garden.
And to me devil is just another name for the divine – the other polarity. And the Devil tempted Eve because “Then you will be like God!” This was the promise. And who would not like to be like God? Who would not like it?
Adam and Eve were tempted, and then they were expelled from Heaven. But this expulsion is part of the process. Really, this Heaven was an animal existence, blissful, but ignorant. Because of this eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve became human beings. Before that they were not human beings at all. They became human beings – when I say this I mean they became problems.
It is reported that the first words Adam asserted just coming out of the gate of the Garden were this: “We are living in a very revolutionary time.” It was a revolutionary time. Never will the human mind know such a revolution again: this expulsion from the animal world, this expulsion from a blissful, ignorant existence. The times were really revolutionary. Other revolutions are just nothing – the greatest revolution was that, that expulsion.
But why were they expelled? The moment you know, the moment you become aware, you cannot live in bliss. Problems will arise. Even if you are in bliss, this problem will come to your mind: “Why am I in bliss? Why?” And you cannot feel bliss unless you begin to feel anguish, because every feeling is possible only with its polar opposite. You can feel happiness only if you begin to feel unhappiness, and you can begin to feel a healthy wellbeing only when you begin to feel illness. You cannot be aware of life unless you become afraid of death.
Animals live, but they are not aware that they are alive because they are not aware of any death. Death is not a problem, so life passes through them, but they are not alive in the same sense as man is. Man becomes alive, aware of his being alive, only because of death. With knowledge the polarity comes into existence, and with polarity the problems. Then every moment is a conflict. Then every moment you are suspended into two. Then never again will you be one. You will be continuously divided, in conflict, in inner turmoil.
So, really, that was a revolution, the revolution, rather: Adam and Eve turned out, expelled. Really, this story is very beautiful. No one expelled them, no one ordered them, no one said, “Go out!” They were out. The moment they became aware, they were not in the Garden at all. This was automatic. Think about this: a dog sitting here suddenly becomes aware of the whole situation…he is expelled! No one expels him, but he is no longer an animal. He is thrown out, and he can never again be the same.
Adam and Eve tried again and again to enter, but they have not yet found the gate again. They go round and round, but the gate is always missed. There is no gate. The expulsion is total and ultimate. They cannot enter again because knowledge is a sweet and bitter fruit – sweet and bitter both. Sweet because it gives you power and bitter because it gives you problems. Sweet because for the first time you become an ego, and bitter because with the ego every disease will be yours. It is a double-edged sword.
Adam was tempted because the Devil said, “You will become like God. You will be powerful.” Knowledge is power, but if you know, you have to know both sides of the coin. You can feel more life, but you will become aware of death. You will be more blissful, you can be more blissful, but in the same proportion you will have to suffer anguish.
This is the problem, this is what man is: a deep anguish, a deep division between two polarities.
You can feel life, but when death is there everything is poisoned. When death is there every moment, everything is poisoned. How can you be alive when death is there? How can you feel blissful when suffering is there? And even if a moment of happiness comes to you, it is fleeting. And when the moment is there, even then you are aware that somewhere behind, the unhappiness is there, the misery is there, hiding. It will come up soon – sooner or later. So even a moment of happiness is poisoned by your consciousness that somewhere unhappiness is hidden, is coming near. It is just by the corner and you will have to meet it.
Man becomes conscious of the future, conscious of the past, conscious of life, conscious of death. Kierkegaard has called this consciousness anguish. You can fall back, but that’s a temporary measure. Again you will come up. So the only possibility is to grow – to grow in knowledge to such a point from where you can jump out of it, because the jump is possible only from the extreme. One extreme we have: to fall back. We can do it, but it is impossible because we cannot remain in it. We are thrown forward again and again. The other possibility is that if we grow in awareness, there comes a point when you are totally aware…you transcend.
We have known, now we must know something beyond knowledge. We have come out of the Garden because of knowledge, and we can enter this Garden again only when we throw this knowledge. But this throwing is not possible by regression. That gate from which Adam was expelled we can never find again. We can find another gate from which Christ was invited, or a buddha is invited. We can throw this knowledge, we can throw awareness, but only from the extreme point where we are totally aware.
When one becomes totally aware, then even this feeling that “I am aware” is thrown. Just like animals are happy and blissful – they don’t know. When you are totally aware, you become godly. And if that awareness is total, you are simply aware without knowing that you are aware.
This simple awareness will begin the entry, will be the entry. You will be again in the Garden – not now as animals but as gods. And this is an inevitable process. This expulsion of Adam and the entry of a Jesus is an inevitable process. One has to be thrown out of one’s ignorance; this is the first step. And then one has to be thrown out of one’s knowledge; that is the second step.
This sutra is concerned with awareness:
To create the fire of awareness in oneself is the incense.
To create the fire of awareness in oneself… Three things have to be understood. First, what is meant by awareness? You are walking, you are aware of many things: of the shops, of people passing by you, of the traffic, of everything. You are aware of many things, only unaware of one thing: yourself. You are walking on the street, you are aware of many things, only you are not aware of yourself. This awareness of the self Gurdjieff has called “self-remembering.” Gurdjieff says, “Constantly, wherever you are, remember yourself.”
For example, you are here. You are listening to me, but you are not aware of the listener. You may be aware of the speaker, but you are not aware of the listener. Be aware of the listener. Feel yourself here. You are here. For a moment a glimpse comes, and again you forget. Try!
Whatsoever you are doing, go on doing one thing inside continuously: be aware of yourself doing it. You are eating: be aware of yourself. You are walking: be aware of yourself. You are listening, you are speaking: be aware of yourself. When you are angry, be aware that you are angry. In the very moment when anger is there, be aware that you are angry. This constant remembering of the self creates a certain energy, a very subtle energy in you. You begin to be a crystallized being.
Ordinarily, we are just a loose bag. No crystallization, no center really, just a liquidity, just a loose combination of many things without any center, a crowd, constantly shifting and changing, with no master inside. By awareness is meant, be a master. And when I say “be a master,” I don’t mean to be a controller. When I say “be a master,” I mean be a presence, a continuous presence. Whatsoever you are doing or not doing, one thing must be constantly in your consciousness: that you are.
This simple feeling of oneself, that one is, creates a center: a center of stillness, a center of silence, a center of inner mastery, an inner power. And when I say “an inner power,” I mean it literally. That’s why this sutra says the fire of awareness. It is a fire. It is a fire. If you begin to be aware, you begin to feel a new energy in you, a new fire, a new life. And because of this new life, new power, new energy, many things which were dominating you just dissolve. You have not to fight with them.
You have to fight with your anger, your greed, your sex, because you are weak. So, really, greed, anger and sex are not the problems. Weakness is the problem. Once you begin to be stronger inside – and with your feeling of inner presence, that you are, your energies are concentrated, crystallized on a single point – a self is born. Remember, not an ego but a self is born. Ego is a false sense of self. Without having any self, you go on believing that you have a self. That is ego. Ego means a false self. You are not a self, and still you believe that you are a self.

Maulingaputta, a seeker of the truth, came to Buddha. Buddha asked him, “What are you seeking?”
Maulingaputta said, “I am seeking my self. Help me.”
Buddha asked him to give a promise that whatsoever is said will be done by him. Maulingaputta began to weep and he said, “How can I promise? – because I am not. I am yet not, how can I promise? I don’t know what I am going to be tomorrow. I don’t have any self which can promise, so don’t ask me the impossible. I will try. At the most this much I can say: I will try. But I cannot say whatsoever you say I will do, because who will do it? I am seeking that which can promise and which can fulfill a promise. I am yet not.”
Buddha said, “Maulingaputta, to hear this I asked you that question. If you had promised, I would have turned you out. Had you said that ‘I promise, I will do it,’ then I would have known that you are really not a seeker for the self.”

Because a seeker must know that he is not yet. Otherwise, what is the purpose of seeking? If you are already, there is no need. You are not. And if one can feel this, then the ego evaporates. Ego is a false notion of something which is not there at all.
Self means a center which can promise.
This center is created by being continuously aware, constantly aware. Be aware that you are doing something: that you are sitting, that now you are going to sleep, that now sleep is coming to you, you are falling. Try to be conscious in every moment, and then you will begin to feel a center is born within you, things have begun to crystallize, a centering is there. Everything now is related to a center.
So we are without centers. Sometimes we feel centered, but those are moments when a situation makes you aware. If there is suddenly a situation, a very dangerous situation, you will begin to feel a center in you, because in danger you become aware. If someone is going to kill you, you cannot think in that moment, you cannot be unconscious in that moment. Your whole energy is centered and that moment becomes solid. You cannot move to the past, you cannot move to the future. This very moment becomes everything. And then you are not only aware of the killer: you become aware of yourself, the one who is being killed.
In that subtle moment you begin to feel a center in yourself. That’s why dangerous games have their appeal. Ask someone going to the top of Gourishankar, Everest. When for the first time Hillary was there, he must have felt a sudden center. When for the first time someone was on the moon, a sudden feeling of a center must have come. That’s why danger has appeal. You are driving a car and you go on increasing your speed, and then the speed becomes dangerous. Then you cannot think; thoughts cease. Then you cannot dream. Then you cannot imagine. Then the present becomes solid. In that dangerous moment, when any moment death is possible, you are suddenly aware of a center in yourself. Danger has appeal only because in danger sometimes you feel centered.
Nietzsche somewhere says that war must continue, because only in war sometimes a self is felt, a center is felt, because war is danger. And when death becomes a reality, life becomes intense. When death is just near, life becomes intense and you are centered. But in any moment when you become aware of yourself, there is a centering. However, if it is situational, then with the situation it will disappear.
It must not be just situational. It must be inner. So try it in every ordinary activity. Sitting on your chair, try it: be aware of the sitter. Not only of the chair, not only of the room, of the surrounding atmosphere, be aware of the sitter. Close your eyes and feel yourself, dig deep and feel yourself.

Herrigel was learning with a Zen master. He was learning archery for three years continuously, and the master would always say, “It is good. Whatsoever you are doing is good, but not enough.”
Herrigel himself became a master archer. His aim became one hundred percent perfect and still the master would say, “You are doing well, but it is not enough.” With one hundred percent perfect aim!
So Herrigel asked, “What is your expectation? Now how can I grow more? With hundred percent accuracy, what more do you expect?”
The Zen master is reported to have said, “I am not concerned with your archery and your aim, I am concerned with you. You have become a perfect technician, but when your arrow leaves the bow you are not aware of yourself, so it is futile. I am not concerned with the arrow reaching the target, I am concerned with you! When on the bow the arrow is arrowed, inside also your consciousness must be arrowed. And even if you miss the target, it makes no difference – but the inner target must not be missed, and you are missing that. You have become a perfect technician, but you are an imitator.”
But to a Western mind or, really, to a modern mind – and the Western mind is the modern mind – it is very difficult to conceive. It appears nonsense. Archery is concerned with a particular efficiency in aiming.
Herrigel became disappointed by and by, and one day he said, “Now I am leaving. It seems impossible, it is impossible! When you are aiming at something, your awareness goes to the aim, to the object. And if you are to be a successful archer, you have to forget yourself, to remember only the aim, the target. Forget everything. Forget yourself. Let there be only the target.”
And this Zen master was consistently forcing him to create another target inside: “This arrow must be double-arrowed – pointing towards the target outside and continuously pointing towards the inside, the self.”
Herrigel said, “Now I will leave. It seems impossible. Your conditions cannot be fulfilled.”
The day he was leaving, he was just sitting. He had come to take leave of the master, and the master was aiming at a target. Someone else was learning, and for the first time Herrigel was not involved. He had just come to take leave. He was sitting. The moment the master was finished with his teaching, he would take his leave and go. For the first time he was not involved.
And then suddenly he became aware of the master – and the double-arrowed consciousness of the master. The master was aiming. For three years continuously Herrigel had been with the same man, but he was more concerned with his own effort. He had never seen this man, what he was doing. For the first time he saw, and he realized. And suddenly, spontaneously, with no effort, he came to the master, took the bow from his hand, aimed at the target, released the arrow, and the master said, “Okay, for the first time you have done it. I am happy.”
What had he done? For the first time he was centered in himself. The target was there, but he was also there, present.

So whatsoever you are doing, whatsoever, no need of any archery, whatsoever you are doing, even just sitting, be double-arrowed. Remember what is going on outside, and also remember who is inside.

Lin Chi was lecturing one morning and someone suddenly asked, “Just answer me one question: Who am I?”
Lin Chi got down, went to the man. The whole hall became silent. What was he going to do? It was a simple question. He should have answered from his seat. He reached the man. The whole hall silent…Lin Chi standing before the questioner, looking into his eyes. It was a very penetrating moment. Everything stopped. The questioner began to perspire. He was just staring into his eyes.
And then Lin Chi said, “Don’t ask me! Go inside and find out who is asking. Close your eyes! Don’t ask ‘Who am I?’ Go inside and find out who is asking, who is this questioner inside. Forget me. Find out the source of the question. Go deep inside.”
And it is reported that the man closed his eyes, became silent and suddenly he was an enlightened one. He opened his eyes, and he laughed, and he touched the feet of Lin Chi, and he said, “You have answered me. I have been asking everyone this question, and many answers were given to me, but nothing proved to be an answer. And you have answered me.”
“Who am I?” – how can anyone answer it? But in that particular situation – a thousand persons silent, a pin-drop silence – Lin Chi coming down, staring in the eyes, and then just ordering the man, “Close your eyes. Go inside and find out who the questioner is. Don’t wait for the answer. Find out who has asked.”
And the man closed his eyes. What happened in that situation? He became centered. Suddenly he was centered, suddenly he became aware of the innermost core.

This has to be discovered, and awareness means the method to discover this innermost core. The more unconscious you are, the farther away you are from yourself. The more conscious, the nearer we reach to our self. If the consciousness is total, we are at the center. If the consciousness is less, we are near the periphery. When we are unconscious, we are on the periphery; the center is completely forgotten.
So these are the two possible ways to move. You can move to the periphery; then you move to unconsciousness. Sitting at a film, sitting somewhere listening to music, you can forget yourself. You are on the periphery. Even listening to me you can forget yourself, then you are on the periphery. Reading the Gita or the Bible or the Koran you can forget yourself, then you are on the periphery. Doing whatsoever, if you can remember yourself, then you are nearer the center. And someday, suddenly, you are centered. Then you have energy.
That energy this sutra calls “the fire.” The whole of life, the whole of existence, is energy, is fire. Fire is the old name; now they call it electricity. Or man has been labeling it with many many names, but fire is good. Electricity looks a little dead; fire looks more alive.
This inner fire, the sutra says, is the incense. When someone is going to worship, you take some incense, dhoop, with you. That dhoop, that incense, is useless – unless you have come with your inner fire as the incense.
This Upanishad is trying to give inner meanings to outer symbols. Every symbol has an inner counterpart. The outer is good in itself, but it is not enough. And it is only symbolic, it is not the substance. It shows something, but it is not the real. You must have seen incense; it is burning everywhere in temples. It is good in itself, but an outer symbol. An inner fire is needed. And just like incense gives a perfume, so does the inner fire also.
It is said that wherever Mahavira moved, everyone would feel his presence as a subtle perfume. That has been said about many persons; that’s possible! The more you are centered inside, the more your whole presence becomes a perfume. And those who have the receptivity, they will feel it.
So enter a temple not with outer incense but with inner incense. And this inner incense can be achieved only through awareness. There is no other way. Act mindfully. It is a long, arduous journey. It is difficult even to be aware for a single moment. The mind is constantly flickering, but it is not impossible. It is arduous, it is difficult, it is not impossible. It is possible. For everyone it is possible. Only effort is needed, and a wholehearted effort. Nothing should be left; nothing should be there inside left untouched. Everything should be sacrificed for awareness. Only then is the inner flame discovered. It is there.
If one goes to find out the essential unity between all the religions that have existed or that may exist ever, then this single word awareness will be found.
Jesus tells a story:

The master of a big house has gone out, and he has told the servants to be constantly alert, because any moment he can come back. So for twenty-four hours they have to be alert. Any moment the master can come – any moment. There is no fixed moment, no fixed day, no fixed date. If there is a fixed date, then you can sleep, then you can do whatsoever you like. On that particular date you will be alert: the master is coming. But the master has said, “I will come any moment. Day and night you have to be alert to receive me.”

This is the parable of life. You cannot postpone. Any moment the divine guest may come; any moment the master may come. One has to be alert continuously. No date is fixed; nothing is known about when that sudden happening will be there. One can do only one thing: be alert and wait.
Rabindranath has written a poem, The King of the Night. It is a very deep parable.

There was a great temple with one hundred priests, and one day the chief priest dreamed that the divine guest was to come that night – for whom they have been waiting and waiting. For centuries the temple has been waiting for the king to come, the divine king to come. The deity of the temple was to come. Many laughed: “It is just a dream. Why pay so much attention to it?”
Even the chief priest was in doubt: “It may be just a dream. And if it is just a dream then everyone will laugh. But who knows, it may be true. It may be just a true intimation.”
So first he brooded in the morning, whether to tell it to others or not. Then he became afraid. It may be true – then? So in the afternoon he told it. He gathered all the priests, closed the doors of the temple, and said to them, “Don’t go out and don’t tell anyone. It may be just a dream – no one knows. But I have dreamed, and the dream was so real, that the deity, the king of this temple, says, ‘I am coming this night. Be ready.’ So we have to be ready and alert. This night we cannot go to sleep.”
So they decorated the whole temple, they cleaned the whole temple. They made every arrangement to receive the guest. And then they waited. Then, by and by, doubts began to arise. Then someone said, “This is nonsense! This was just a dream, and we are wasting our sleep.”
Half the night passed, then doubts began to arise more. Then someone rebelled and he said, “I am going to sleep. This is nonsense. The whole day wasted, and now we are waiting. No one is going to come.” And many supported him.
Then even the chief priest yielded and he said, “It may be just a dream, how can I say that it was real? We may be just stupid, foolish, following a dream.”
So they said, “Only one person should wait at the gate and all else can go to sleep. If someone comes, he will inform us.”
Ninety-nine priests went to sleep, and the one priest who was appointed, he said, “When ninety-nine think that it is just a dream, why should I waste my sleep? If the divine Guest is to come, let him come. And he will come in a great chariot, so there will be much noise and everyone will be awake.” He closed the doors. He also fell asleep.
And then the chariot came. The wheels of the chariot created much noise. Then someone in his sleep said, “It seems the king is coming. It seems the wheels of the chariot are making much noise.” Then someone else said, “Just go to sleep. Don’t waste time. No one is coming. This is not a chariot, these are just clouds in the sky.”
And then the guest came, and he knocked at the door. Then someone else again said in his sleep, “It seems someone has come and is knocking at the door.”
So the chief priest himself said, “Now go to sleep. Don’t go on disturbing again and again. No one is knocking at the door; it is just the wind.”
In the morning they were weeping and crying because the chariot had come in the night. There were marks on the street and the divine guest had come up to the door and knocked. There were footmarks in the dust on the steps.

There are many parables. Buddha has told, Mahavira has told, many stories with only one essential idea: that the enlightenment is possible any time, any moment. It can happen any moment. One has to be alert and conscious and aware.
This parable, this King of the Night, is not just a parable, it is real. We all are interpreting things in that way, and all our interpretations are just rationalizations of our sleep and for our sleep: “It is nothing but the wind, it is nothing but the clouds.” Then we can sleep at ease. We go on denying religion, we go on denying anything that will break our sleep. We rationalize: “There is no God, there is no religion, there is nothing – nothing but wind, nothing but clouds.” Then we can sleep at ease, comfortably.
If there is godliness, if there is divinity, if there is a possibility of something higher than we are, then we cannot sleep so conveniently. Then we will have to be alert and awake and struggling, and making efforts and endeavoring. Then transformation becomes our immediate concern.
Awareness is the technique for centering in oneself, for achieving the inner fire. It is there, hidden. It can be discovered. And once it is discovered, then only are we capable of entering the temple – not before, never before.
But we can deceive ourselves by symbols. Symbols are to show deeper realities to us, but we can use them as deceptions. We can burn an outer incense – we can burn, we can do, we can worship, with outer things, and can feel at ease that we have done something. We can feel ourselves religious without becoming religious at all. That’s what is happening; that’s what the earth has become. Everyone thinks they are religious just because they are following outer symbols, with no inner fire.
Make efforts. Even if you are a failure…you will be. In the beginning you will fail again and again, but even your failure will help. When you fail to be aware for a single moment, you feel for the first time how unconscious you are.
Walk down the street, and you cannot walk a few steps without becoming unconscious. Again and again you forget yourself. You begin to read a signboard, and you forget yourself. Someone passes and you look at him, and you forget yourself.
Your failures will be helpful. They will show you how unconscious you are. And even if you can become aware that you are unconscious, you have gained a certain awareness. If a madman becomes aware that he is mad, he is on the path toward sanity.

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