Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vedic Management: Shreyas and Preyas

Vedic management recommends the path of shreyas as against the path of preyas to individuals and organizations. The path of shreyas always wins even when it appears to lose, say the Vedas; and the path of preyas is a loser’s path, they say, even when it appears to be winning. Vedic wisdom tells us that management based on the path of preyas will eventually lead to disaster whereas management based on shreyas will lead to lasting good.

Let’s take a look at what shreyas and preyas mean.


This is a story told by Kanika, Dhritarashtra’s minister in the Mahabharata, by way of advising the Kuru king on administrative policy. After narrating the story, Kanika sums it up saying: “If kings always act in this way, they can be happy.” According to Kanika then, the story teaches us the way to achieve not only organizational and personal goals, but also happiness. Let’s now listen to Kanika’s story, which he calls the story of ‘a wise jackal fully acquainted with the science of polity.’

Once upon a time there lived five friends in a jungle: a jackal, a tiger, a wolf, a mongoose and a mouse. One day they saw a mighty deer in the prime of his youth – he was the leader of the herd, powerfully built, fleet of foot and majestic in every way. The friends were tempted and the tiger, the fastest and mightiest of the friends, made many attempts to kill it but he failed every time as the stag was always on the alert and it ran swifter than him.

Eventually the friends sat in counsel over the matter. It was the jackal who came up with the idea. They will wait for the deer to sleep and when he sleeps, the mouse will stealthily crawl to him and bite his leg. Once wounded, the deer will no more be able to run as fast as he does and then the tiger can hunt it down easily and they can all feast upon it.

And that’s exactly how they went about it. Soon the just killed deer was lying before them, its young meat making their mouths water. However, before they began their feast, the jackal, the wisest of them all, said, “Friends, we have done that. Now go, perform your ablutions and come back. In the meantime, I shall guard the kill.”

Everyone knows a bath is important before a meal. Especially when it is a special feast.

The tiger was the first to come back. When he reached where the deer he had killed lay, he saw the jackal sitting beside it lost in deep meditation. “What’s wrong, friend?” asked the tiger. “You look so sad.”

“Well,” said the jackal, “it’s what the mouse just said. He was saying “Fie on the strength of the king of the beasts! I have killed this deer and the mighty king of the jungle shall gratify his hunger today by the might of my arm!’”

When the tiger heard this, he became so indignant he turned around and walked away in disgust. He was not going to touch the meat if that’s how the mouse felt. He vowed never to eat meat in future unless he himself had made the kill.

The mouse was the next to come. And the jackal told him, “Listen dear friend, to what the mongoose has said. He said, ‘The carcass of this deer is poison since the tiger has touched it with his claws. I will not eat of it. On the other hand, if you, O jackal, will permit it, I’ll kill the mouse and feast on him.'” The mouse heard this and bolted into the nearest bush, running for his life.

Now came the wolf and the jackal told him, “O my dear wolf! The king of the beasts is angry with you. Evil is sure to fall on you. He is expected here with his wife any moment. Do as you please.” The wolf fled from the spot as fast as he could.

It was then that the last of the friends, the mongoose, came. The jackal looked sternly at him and said, “Look mongoose. With the might of my arms I have driven away all the others. If you want to have the meat, fight me first.” The mouse decided not to fight the jackal that had driven away the tiger, the wolf and the mouse with his might and slunk away.

And the jackal had the entire deer to himself.

Kanika concludes the story: “If kings always act as the jackal did, they can be happy.”


It is the Kathopanishad, belonging to the Yajur Veda that tells us of shreyas and preyas. Speaking of the two, the Upanishad says: “Shreyas is one thing and preyas, another... Of these two, the one who chooses shreyas comes to good and the one chooses preyas misses his goal. Both shreyas and preyas appear before man and wise men distinguish between the two. The intelligent ones choose shreyas over preyas and fools choose preyas hoping to attain and retain things.”

Preyas here is immediate good and shreyas, lasting good. Preyas is the transient and shreyas, the enduring. Preyas is short term satisfaction and shreyas, long term good.

Fools choose preyas and intelligent ones, shreyas, says the Upanishad.

Now let’s take a look at the jackal in the story whom Kanika, the narrator, calls a wise animal, fully acquainted with the science of polity. Is the jackal really wise?

Taken superficially, the jackal indeed appears wise. He gets his friends to kill the deer and gets the whole deer for himself through his polity. The jackal appears admirable and his path promises success and happiness. As Kanika puts it, “If kings always act like the jackal, they can be happy.”

However, when we look at the story a little more deeply, we find the jackal is not all that wise or intelligent. True he gets the whole deer for himself, but does he need it? Except satisfying his vanity, his ego, his greed, does it serve any purpose? Can he, for instance, eat the whole deer, which in all probability is larger than him? Can he preserve it for the next day in the jungle? Wouldn’t the meat start rotting soon and become inedible by the next day? Can he share it with his friends, if not preserve it? But he has no other friends – it is from the friends he had that he has snatched it away.

Remember all five of the animals were friends living together in the same forest. What if the other animals talked among themselves? What happens when they learn that they have betrayed by the jackal to satisfy his greed? Made them look like idiots? What happens when they learn that he has played them against one another?

Even as it is, the team, which was their strength, has been destroyed. So long as the wolf believes the tiger is out to get him, he is not going to go anywhere near the tiger. And the mouse will always be suspicious of the mongoose from now. And the mongoose will never help the jackal in another hunt because he believes he will then have to fight the jackal for his share of the meat.

The jackal by himself is not capable of killing another deer like this.

By creating suspicion against one another in the minds of his friends, the jackal has not only destroyed the team but has also sowed seeds of mistrust and darkness in the hearts of every one of them.

All this so that he can have the whole deer to himself, though he can neither eat it all, nor preserve it for future, nor share it with others.

This precisely is preyas – immediate satisfaction as against long term good.

The jackal’s action is stupidity itself. As a team they could have killed hundreds of deer but now all he has is that single deer.

This is what the Upanishad means when it says fools choose the path of preyas.


The entire Mahabharata, from which we get the story of this deer-slayers, could be seen an epic essay on preyas vs. shreyas.

Of the two Bharata cousins, Duryodhana consistently chooses preyas and Yudhishthira always goes for shreyas.

The kingdom of the Bharatas actually belongs to Yudhishthira. On completion of his studies, Yudhishthira was made crown prince initially as the successor of his father Pandu who was king before him. But Duryodhana gets rid of him through treachery and occupies the throne. Eventually as Yudhishthira becomes strong again, as a compromise solution, the kingdom is partitioned, Duryodhana getting the prosperous part of the kingdom with its original capital and Yudhishthira, a wilderness. But so good is Yudhishthira as a king that he succeeds in transforming that wilderness into a powerful, rich kingdom in a few years and then Duryodhana once again snatches it away from him through treachery in a game of dice. As per the conditions of the dice game, Yudhishthira and his brothers, along with their common wife Draupadi, is forced to live in jungles for twelve years, following which they had to live a year a life in disguise, during which if they were found, they would have to repeat the cycle. Even though they complete the thirteen years successfully, Duryodhana refuses to give their kingdom back to them and war becomes inevitable. And in the war, Duryodhana not only loses all of his kingdom, but also all his brothers and near and dear ones, and eventually loses his own life.

Duryodhana throughout follows the path of preyas. It does give him immediate satisfaction, but eventually he is the loser. Had he followed the path of shreyas even at a later stage, he could have remained king all his life and at his death, his successors could have become kings. Choosing preyas destroyed all these possibilities. Besides, he led the land of India to unspeakable loss. Such was the devastation caused by the war, it took ages for it to resurrect again.

It is interesting that Kanika tells the story of the jackal in answer to a question by Dhritarashtra about how to destroy foes. Here it is friends who are destroyed, and not foes – the Pandavas were not really Duryodhana’s foes but cousins, and under different circumstances could have become his best friends, especially Yudhishthira. Perhaps there is a lesson there – greed erases the distinction between friends and foes.


The current world situation that we are experiencing, forcing us to think seriously of survival plans as we recently did at Copenhagen Summit, is a result of our consistently choosing preyas over shreyas. If our natural resources are fast coming to an end, not to be created again for millions of years to come, it is because we have chosen preyas over shreyas. If we are polluting our air, polluting our water, creating the greenhouse effect and causing world temperatures to rise and making glaciers all over the world to melt, it is because we have chosen preyas over shreyas.

Vedic literature gives us three consumption models: the angaraka [angarika], the malakara and the madhukari models.

The angaraka model is based on the profession of the coalseller. He goes to the jungle, cuts down trees, burns them down to make coal and sells this in the market. To him each tree is worth only the coal it can provide. The oxygen the tree provides, the shade and shelter it provides, the flowers and fruits it gives season after season, and its capacity to reproduce practically an endless number of young tress – none of these amount to anything to him. He reduces the tree to coal and sells it. In his hands, an entire forest is soon reduced to coal, never to bloom again, never to give oxygen to the world, never to have flowers and fruits, never to grow and reproduce.

This is the world’s model for consumption today and this is how we have been consuming the earth’s resources since the industrial revolution. And if this pattern of consumption continues, time is not far when the earth will become a totally inhospitable planet, as there are strong possibilities that it may any day become.

Malakaropamo rajan bhava ma’ngarikopamah, says the Mahabharata, asking us not to behave like the angaraka and suggesting to us a different model for consumption – that of the malakara, the garland maker. The garland maker goes from plant to plant and plucks flowers from them but he does not destroy the plant. And since he does not destroy the plant, there will be more flowers tomorrow. He never depletes his resources, unlike the angaraka.

What the Mahabharata is suggesting to us here is the sustainable of model of consumption. Taking from the world in such a way that we do not exhaust it in our greed and blindness. The Mahabharata is talking here about not making the forests of the world disappear. The Mahabharata is talking about not making plant, animal and bird species not disappear from the world.

I saw recently a programme on, I believe, the Discovery channel. In some part of Africa birds eat paddy crops cultivated by local farmers. These birds live in large groups in trees around farmlands. What the local farmers do in order to protect their crops is set fire to all the jungles around simultaneously, using explosives. A single explosion and the resultant fire frequently kill as many as three million birds at one go.

Because of the sustained use of chemical sprays on farmlands, honeybees are disappearing from many parts of the world, including India. What we are doing is suicidal. Apart from other facts, such as the honeybees’ right to live in this world and so on, even for farming honeybees are essential – they are the main pollinators for many crops. Honeybees are among the farmer’s best friends and yet what the chemicals he sprays does is kill them en masse.

Following the malakara approach to consumption of the earth’s resources would mean avoiding such blind brutalities committed against nature.

The Mahabharata does not stop at giving us the example of the malakara as a wise model of consumption. It goes further and asks us to follow a model still superior in our consumption practices – the madhukari vritti. The madhukari is the same honeybee that we are destroying all over the world. The Mahabharata holds them up as an ideal for the best way we should live in harmony with nature.

Madhukari vritti is the way of the honeybees. The honeybee goes from flower to flower and what it takes from each flower is a tiny bit of honey. In return, the honey makes the survival of the plant or tree itself possible. What it takes is so little, and what it gives back is so much. This is the ideal form of consumption according to our ancient ethos.
India has always lived, until very recent times, by the madhukari vritti – the honeybee way. Ours kings were always asked to take as little from their subjects as possible and give them as much as possible and the vast majority of kings – unlike today’s politicians – strove to live up to that example. Our monks – the rishis, the sannyasis and the bhikshus – lived by that example. What they took from the society was a meal a day from the society – some of them, like the legendary philosopher-sage Kanada, refused to do even that and lived on what they could pick up grain by grain from the floor after crops have been harvested. And what they returned to the world was the highest gifts possible – knowledge, guidance and care. In the gurukulas of ours, great masters to whom students came from all over the world lived in unbelievable simplicity and gave the world everything they can. Chanakya, the first empire builder of India and the chief minister of Chandragupta Maurya, a contemporary of Alexander the Great, continued to live in a simple hut even as the most powerful chief minister in India at that time, refusing to take anything more than the bare minimum from the king-emperor he had made. And once he saw that the empire and the emperor were established, he refused to take event that and went back to his original profession of teaching. Chanakya’s management thoughts, by the way, have guided India for around two thousand three hundred years. His monumental Arthashastra, the book of statecraft, is unsurpassed even by today’s works on the subject.

And this is the vision we have consciously tried to live up to until recent times, though that style is fast disappearing.

The father of a friend of mine, a senior IAS officer, refused to take medical reimbursement from the government, though as a senior IAS officer he had a right to do this for his own and his family’s medical treatments. He believed that it is unethical to claim such reimbursement – diseases were the result of our wrong styles of living and we have no right to claim from others, including the government, expenses incurred on account of them.

The Indian ideal has from the time of the Vedic sages been the madhukari vritti. If we cannot follow the madhukari vritti, we should follow at least the malakara vritti and never the angaraka vritti. We owe this to the world, to ourselves and to our future generations.

I remember a recent television commercial in which two boys are talking. One boy says when he grows up he would like to be a wild life photographer. The other boy laughs at this and says there would be no animals then. Then the first boy thinks a little and says in that case he would like to be a forest officer – and his friend reminds him there will be no trees left by then. At that time the first boy hears the sound of a car and says in that case he would be a fast car racer – and his friend laughs at him again, saying there will be no petrol left by the time they grow up.

If we do not want this to happen, then we have to follow the wisdom of our ancients and follow the madhukari vritti or at least the malakara vritti.

Vedic management is management that leads to shreyas – both madhukari vritti and malakara vritti lead to shreyas. Our current management practices lead to preyas – immediate satisfaction, followed by lasting disaster.

Vedic management would take corporate social and environmental responsibilities far more seriously than we do now. To a vast majority of industries and businesses today, CSR and CER are no more than things that fetch them good grades, things they have no option but to do.

Here is something one of my students from XAVIER INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH, BOMBAY wrote in response to an assignment I had given them in a course I taught there in INDIAN ETHOS IN MANAGEMENT earlier this year.

“Very few corporations are working to protect the environment. It is against their interest to take initiatives to reduce consumption and most corporations oppose laws designed to protect the environment because they hurt their business. Corporations have caused environmental destruction globally for many years and the scale of the problem is increasing. The industries are seen to contribute to emissions of green house gases, noise pollution and release of toxic waste into the water bodies. Untreated water from the manufacturing units released into the water bodies have also endangered the marine life species. Corporations do not have a deliberate intent to harm the environment. Greed and laziness are behind their destructiveness. For example the Bhopal gas tradegy that occurred because of the Union Carbide’s negligence to follow the safety standards of the industry came to take the lives of so many innocent people living in the nearby vicinity.

“Few companies like the Tata and Godrej have come to take measures to save the environment. The Tata ethos places a special emphasis on environmental and ecological issues. And thus is engaged in harmonizing environmental factors by reducing the negative impact of its commercial activities and initiating drives encouraging environment-friendly practices. Its efforts to preserve and regenerate the environment can be seen in an array of projects and programmes it has undertaken in and around its facilities and operations. Similarly CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre has been set up as the “Centre of Excellence” for the organization in terms of energy efficiency, “green buildings”, renewable energy, water, environment and recycling and climate change activities in India. Organizations when drawing the resources from the environment should also make concerted effort to preserve and protect the environment.”

Following the path of shreyas will make sure that our future generations will find the earth a place on which they can live – and live a life of happiness and contentment. And if we continue to follow the path of preyas as we have been doing since the industrial revolution, they will be forced to seek sustenance in a world that has been turned into an inhospitable desert.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vedic Management: An Introduction

Andres Leon’s More Than Anything in the World [Más Que a Nada en el Mundo] is a powerful film from Mexico that won the Best First Film awards both at the Guadalajara and the Montreal Film Festivals. Directed by Andres Leon Becker, it is the harrowing tale of a divorced young mother and her seven-year-old daughter living in a suffocating tiny apartment in the urban jungle that is Mexico City. Such is the apartment that once you enter it, you are completely cut off from the outside world. There are no trees to be seen from the windows, no sky, no streets, nothing. The only thing you can see is the backsides of other apartments on your left, right and across that you feel are so near you will be able to touch if you stretch out your hand – mostly drain pipes, tiny ventilators and some windows, all curtained off to keep the outside world away. No breeze ever comes in, and not more than a tiny bit of dim light if you keep the windows open.

The young mother is lonely. She has no social life, no significant relationships to satisfy her emotional and physical needs. Her only relationship is with her daughter who is totally dependent on her for everything. To support themselves, the mother has to work and her work keeps her so busy she is invariably late everyday to take the child to school and to bring her back. In touching scenes the film shows us the watchman of the school refusing to admit the child, on the orders of the principal, because she has already been late so many times in the past. In another scene we see the child, a shadowy figure, sitting all alone on the floor of the school veranda very late in the evening, darkness all around her, with not a human being anywhere in sight – she is waiting for her mother to come and pick her up.

It is not that the mother does not care. She does care for her – she loves her “More than Anything in the World.” But she is so harrowed by her work she has no time for anything else – not even for her daughter.

In her loneliness, the mother starts allowing men to visit her at home and when the men are there, the girl has to remain in her small room so that they get privacy.

And the little girl – Alicia – is scared. She is scared to be alone, she is scared to be separated from her mother, and the only way she can stand her fears is to keep her mother in sight, if not hold on to her. She walks into the room in which her mother is with her lovers, and relationship after relationship breaks down, making her mother take out her anger on her daughter in frustration.

One of the reasons for Alicia’s fear is because she believes the man living in the apartment beind hers is a vampire in the guise of an old man and he is out to get her mother. She does not know much about Vampires, but her best friend in school – her only friend, another little girl her age – is an expert. Vampires drink blood from the necks of women, she tells Alicia, leaving a mark there. And then there are two possibilities – either you die or you become another vampire. The little friend confirms that the sounds Alicia has been hearing throughout the night are the sounds made by the vampire.

Alicia is terrified for her mother. She inspects her mother’s neck closely when she comes back after a session of lovemaking and sure enough, there is a bite mark on her neck. Little Alicia shivers in fright, but hides her fear in herself – she does not want her mother to discover it. And she gets a crucifix to get rid of the vampire – her little friend who gives it to her tells her the only way to kill a vampire is to place the crucifix on his chest. One night while her mother is asleep, the seven year old child climbs out of her window, walk on toilet pipes and narrow ledges and in a scene no one will be able to watch without holding his breath and will never be able to forget once he has seen it, reaches the window of the old man and climbs in.

Now she is alone with the vampire at night in his own house. But she wouldn’t allow her fears to overcome her. She has to save her mother from the clutches of the vampire. She crosses rooms, opening doors noiselessly, and eventually reaches the room in which the man is lying on his bed and succeeds in placing the crucifix on his chest.

Unknown to her, the man is already dead when she reaches his room. She imagines him to be asleep and waits for a while to see the effect of the crucifix. The man does not move. She has achieved her goal and she goes back to her home.

The man she is sure is a vampire is actually a lonely old man who once had a wife and a little daughter but who are no more with him. He had been diagnosed as being in an advanced stage of cancer around the time Alicia and her mother move into the new apartment and has been living a life of utter loneliness and suffering. The man has forgotten to smile. His only pleasure in life is the occasional peep he gets into little Alicia’s room from his window – and Alicia takes his attempts to stand at his window and look into her room as his attempts at stalking her mother.

More than Anything in the World is a powerful portrayal of modern man’s loneliness and the utter meaningless and joylessness that his life has become, shown from the standpoint of a young mother, a little child and an old man. And these three are not alone in being lonely and joyless and in losing all meaning in living – a vast majority of people living today in modern urban jungles are like that. And if our lives are not already like that, we are fast moving in that direction.


It so happened that a few hours before I saw More than Anything in the World at a local film festival, I had read about “the world of little kings’ in Lawrence G Boldt’s Zen and the Art of Making a Living and my mind linked the film and the book.

“About the time the Industrial Revolution was really getting into gear,” says Lawrence G Boldt, “political revolutions were everywhere replacing kings with parliaments, presidents and promises. The key promise was that the common man would one day soon be king. He would possess for his own the kingly prerogatives of power, leisure, and security – power over his station in life, the liberty of leisure, and the security of property....

“Every man would be king, enjoying the goods of life made possible through machines and mass production. There would soon arise whole nations of little kings, each at home in his castle; if not a palace, then perhaps a country estate; if not a country estate, then a home in the suburbs; in not a home in the suburbs, then perhaps a condo, an apartment, a mobile home – any kingdom, no matter how small. This is what we worked for. We laboured for a kingdom and the promise of the leisure to enjoy it.

“We aspired to the kingly life of leisure, a life of ease, a life to do with whatever we pleased, to be as irresponsible as we imagined the aristocracy to be.”

Leisure and opportunities to enjoy life were central to that world vision. I remember reading in Alwyn Toffler in the seventies, and later teaching about a future in which the main worry of governments would be that they wouldn’t know what to do with all the leisure people have.

And where we have ended up at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the world More than Anything in the World shows us. A world in which most men and women have to toil for fourteen to sixteen hours a day in their workplaces and then bring work home. A world in which there is no time for relationships. A world in which we do not know our next door neighbour. A world of broken families. A world of loneliness and meaninglessness, of isolation and closedness, of airlessness and suffocation. A world in which happiness is becoming a more distant dream every day.

This certainly is not the world of little kings.

The promises made by science and technology were not false. Science and technology can truly enrich our lives and make leisure possible beyond our dreams. The problem is not with technology, but with our attitude towards life, towards work and the world.


The Vedas are products of a rich society, a very rich society indeed. And what is amazing is that there is no suffering portrayed in this oldest literature of the world. There is no loneliness there, there is no world weariness and there is no suicidal rejection of the world. Instead, what we find is an unbelievable eagerness with which everyone embraces life, the spirit of festivity and celebration that permeates everyone and everything. This might come as a surprise to many: the Vedas have no concept of a hell. They speak of heavens, but there is no hell!

And yet they did not have the possibilities created by modern science and technology. Imagine a world where we have the possibilities created by science and technology and have the same attitude towards life and work and the same harmony with the world in which we live!

We can be beautiful people living happy lives in the middle of beautiful things. We need not be ugly people living meaningless lives in the middle of beautiful things.

This is what Vedic Management would mean to us today.

India, together with China, controlled about sixty percent of the world’s economy until about the time of the European conquest of Asia [the first world, and not the third world; to me the first world is Asia, the part of the world that became civilized first; the second world is Europe and America is the third world.] We are speaking of economic domination for a few millennia, unlike the economic domination of the west which is only as old as the Industrial Revolution.

And the East did this without leading to the tragedy that modern life has become.

The tragedy of modern life is not only at the personal and social levels. It is as much a tragedy at the global level as it is at the personal and social levels. Today we are talking of the world we are living in facing extinction – the nuclear threat, global warming, the energy crunch, deforestation, and the million other problems that are threatening to wipe out human and other life as we know it from the face of the earth.

We are now seriously considering migrations to other planets as a survival strategy.

HBO recently aired a documentary called The Eleventh Hour at the prime time – and the documentary deserved the prime time. In the documentary, the world’s foremost experts in different fields talked about what we have done to our planet in the short period of the last two hundred years or so – our mineral resources are fast being depleted, our oil reserves are running out, our rivers and oceans are polluted, much of our drinking water is toxic, animal, bird, tree and plant species are disappearing from the face of the earth at an alarming rate never to reappear again, our forests are disappearing, the air we breathe is poisonous over much of the earth, the greenhouse effect is making the snows on our mountains and on the north pole melt, ocean levels are rising, islands all over the world are slowly sinking into the seas and tomorrow much of our continents will follow, temperatures are rising so high so fast that much of the world will soon become inhospitable for human beings and animals.

It is these disasters that we discussed in the recent Copenhagen Summit.

But the Vedas tell us that economic progress is possible without causing these disasters.

Vedic Management can help us achieve economic progress without bringing the world to the brink of extinction.


W.W. Jacobs has written a powerful short story called The Monkey’s Paw which has haunted readers ever since it was published in 1902.

When the story opens, we are with the Whites in their home. Outside it is a dark and stormy night, but inside everything is calm and serene. Mr White and his son Herbert are playing chess and Mrs White is knitting by the fire.

Soon a family friend arrives on a visit: Sergeant Major Morris. Morris has just come back after spending years in India. Among the things he has brought back from India is a monkey’s paw. The paw, explains Morris, has the power to bring to fulfilment three wishes of three persons – it has been empowered by an Indian fakir. Morris has already had three wishes fulfilled and another man before him – his third wish was for death. Sergeant Major Morris tosses the paw into the fire, telling that the best thing to do with the paw is to keep as far away from it as possible. He wants it to be destroyed before it made more people suffer.

Mr. White jumps up and rescues the paw from the fire. He is fascinated by the paw and the story behind it. None of the warnings by Morris will make him give up the paw. Eventually the Sergent-Major explains how to make wishes on the paw.

After Morris leaves, the Whites make fun of the powers of the paw. They do not seriously believe such things are possible. Herbert suggests that his father should wish to become an emperor – that way he would be able to escape the nagging of his wife. Mrs White chases her son about in mock anger.

Herbert considers seriously what wish to make, though he still does not believe in the powers of the paw. Herbert playfully suggests that they should wish for two hundred pounds – that would pay off the money for their house. Mr White makes the wish.

The moment he makes a wish, Mr White gets a shock. He is sure the monkey’s paw moved in his hand.

Soon all three of them go to bed after putting out the fire.

The next morning they all joke about the monkey’s paw and its powers and then Herbert White leaves for his job. It was later that day that Mrs White notices a man hesitantly approaching their house. The man reluctantly reveals who he is. He has come from the factory where Herbert worked. There had been a fatal accident at the factory and Herbert has been killed. The factory sympathizes with the family. The company does not hold itself in anyway responsible for the accident, but as an act of kindness, they would give an amount of money as compensation.

Mr While is sure he knows how much the compensation would be. “How much?” he asks. And he is told, “Two hundred pounds.”

The amount they had wished on the monkey’s paw.

Days pass in the gloom of the horrid death. Mrs White is almost mad with grief. One day she asks her husband, “Where is the monkey’s paw?’

She wants Mr White to make another wish: their son should come back.

Mr White is horrified at the thought. He hasn’t told his wife that Herbert was caught in a machine in the factory and was mashed totally out of shape. He could be recognized only through his clothes.

Mrs White forces her husband to make a wish on the monkey’s paw that their son comes back. He makes the wish, and as he does so., suddenly the candle in the room goes out. There are strange noises in the house – perhaps a mouse, they think. Mr White strikes a match to light the candle and that too goes out. Before he can strike another, there is a knock at the front door.

Mr White begs his wife not to open the door and holds her back. She struggles to get free of him. "You're afraid of your own son," she accuses him, crying. "Let me go. I'm coming, Herbert; I'm coming."

There is another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench breaks free and runs from the room. Her husband follows her to the landing, and calls after her appealingly as she hurries downstairs. He hears the chain rattle back and the bottom bolt being drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman's voice, strained and panting. "The bolt," she cries loudly. "Come down. I can't reach it."

But her husband is on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberates through the house, and he hears the scraping of a chair as his wife puts it down in the passage against the door. He hears the creaking of the bolt as it comes slowly back. At the same moment he finds the monkey's paw, and frantically breathes his third and last wish.

The knocking ceases suddenly, although the echoes of it are still in the house. He hears the chair being drawn back and the door being opened. A cold wind rushes up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gives him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond.

The street lamp flickering opposite was shining on a quiet and deserted road.


What has happened to humanity during the last hundred and fifty or two hundred years is exactly what happened to the Whites. Here was Science and Technology, which looked all powerful to grant any wish of his, and he made those wishes. And now we are facing the threat of extinction.

But there are ways of getting what we want without paying the price the White family had to pay for the fulfilment of their wishes in The Monkey’s Paw.

The Vedic Management way.

Vedic Management is about progress without paying the price modern man is paying for it. It is about work habits that do not alienate man from man and engender loneliness in life. It is about transforming work itself into a celebration, a process of growth and transcendence. It is about growing in harmony with nature rather than consuming and depleting it for achieving growth. It is about achieving economic prosperity and progress without exhausting our mineral resources and oil reserves, without polluting our rivers and oceans, without making our drinking water toxic, without making the air we breathe poisonous, without destroying our biodiversity, without causing the greenhouse effect that is making the snows on our mountains and on the north pole melt, without making ocean levels are rise, without making islands all over the world sink into the seas, without making global temperatures go up. It is about progress without destroying family and social life, without transforming the heaven that is the earth into hell.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Monkey's Paw

I plan to refer to W.W. Jacobs’ immortal short story The Monkey’s Paw by in many of my articles, including the one I am working on at the moment on Vedic Management. This powerful story has a haunting quality and has kept readers fascinated ever since it was first published in 1902. Among other things, Stephen King’s novel Pet Cemetery was inspired by the story. Wikipedia gives a list of movies and literature inspired by The Monkey’s Paw.

Happy Reading!


from The lady of the barge (1906, 6th ed.)
London and New York
Harper & Brothers, Publishers
by W.W. Jacobs
WITHOUT, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.
"Hark at the wind," said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.
"I'm listening," said the latter, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. "Check."
"I should hardly think that he'd come to-night," said his father, with his hand poised over the board.
"Mate," replied the son.
"That's the worst of living so far out," bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway's a bog, and the road's a torrent. I don't know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses on the road are let, they think it doesn't matter."
"Never mind, dear," said his wife soothingly; "perhaps you'll win the next one."
Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a knowing glance between mother and son. The words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin grey beard.
"There he is," said Herbert White, as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came toward the door.
The old man rose with hospitable haste, and opening the door, was heard condoling with the new arrival. The new arrival also condoled with himself, so that Mrs. White said, "Tut, tut!" and coughed gently as her husband entered the room, followed by a tall burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage.
"Sergeant-Major Morris," he said, introducing him.
The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whisky and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire.
At the third glass his eyes got brighter, and he began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of strange scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.
"Twenty-one years of it," said Mr. White, nodding at his wife and son. "When he went away he was a slip of a youth in the warehouse. Now look at him."
"He don't look to have taken much harm," said Mrs. White, politely.
"I'd like to go to India myself," said the old man, "just to look round a bit, you know."
"Better where you are," said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass, and sighing softly, shook it again.
"I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers," said the old man. "What was that you started telling me the other day about a monkey's paw or something, Morris?"
"Nothing," said the soldier hastily. "Leastways, nothing worth hearing."
"Monkey's paw?" said Mrs. White curiously.
"Well, it's just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps," said the sergeant-major off-handedly.
His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. The visitor absentmindedly put his empty glass to his lips and then set it down again. His host filled it for him.
"To look at," said the sergeant-major, fumbling in his pocket, "it's just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy."
He took something out of his pocket and proffered it. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son, taking it, examined it curiously.
"And what is there special about it?" inquired Mr. White, as he took it from his son and, having examined it, placed it upon the table.
"It had a spell put on it by an old fakir," said the sergeant-major, "a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it."
His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their light laughter jarred somewhat.
"Well, why don't you have three, sir?" said Herbert White cleverly.
The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard presumptuous youth. "I have," he said quietly, and his blotchy face whitened.
"And did you really have the three wishes granted?" asked Mrs. White.
"I did," said the sergeant-major, and his glass tapped against his strong teeth.
"And has anybody else wished?" inquired the old lady.
"The first man had his three wishes, yes," was the reply. "I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That's how I got the paw."
His tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group.
"If you've had your three wishes, it's no good to you now, then, Morris," said the old man at last. "What do you keep it for?"
The soldier shook his head. "Fancy, I suppose," he said slowly.
"If you could have another three wishes," said the old man, eyeing him keenly, "would you have them?"
"I don't know," said the other. "I don't know."
He took the paw, and dangling it between his front finger and thumb, suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it off.
"Better let it burn," said the soldier solemnly.
"If you don't want it, Morris," said the old man, "give it to me."
"I won't," said his friend doggedly. "I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don't blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again, like a sensible man."
The other shook his head and examined his new possession closely. "How do you do it?" he inquired.
"Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,' said the sergeant-major, "but I warn you of the consequences."
"Sounds like the Arabian Nights," said Mrs White, as she rose and began to set the supper. "Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?"
Her husband drew the talisman from his pocket and then all three burst into laughter as the sergeant-major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm.
"If you must wish," he said gruffly, "wish for something sensible."
Mr. White dropped it back into his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly forgotten, and afterward the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion to a second instalment of the soldier's adventures in India.
"If the tale about the monkey paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us," said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, "we shan't make much out of it."
"Did you give him anything for it, father?" inquired Mrs. White, regarding her husband closely.
"A trifle," said he, colouring slightly. "He didn't want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away."
"Likely," said Herbert, with pretended horror. "Why, we're going to be rich, and famous, and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can't be henpecked."
He darted round the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs. White armed with an antimacassar.
Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. "I don't know what to wish for, and that's a fact," he said slowly. "It seems to me I've got all I want."
"If you only cleared the house, you'd be quite happy, wouldn't you?" said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. "Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that'll just do it."
His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman, as his son, with a solemn face somewhat marred by a wink at his mother, sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords.
"I wish for two hundred pounds," said the old man distinctly.
A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.
"It moved, he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor. "As I wished it twisted in my hands like a snake."
"Well, I don't see the money," said his son, as he picked it up and placed it on the table, "and I bet I never shall."
"It must have been your fancy, father," said his wife, regarding him anxiously.
He shook his head. "Never mind, though; there's no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same."
They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three, which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the night.
"I expect you'll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed," said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, "and something horrible squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains."
He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement. It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey's paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed.
IN the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table Herbert laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night, and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.
"I suppose all old soldiers are the same," said Mrs White. "The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?"
"Might drop on his head from the sky," said the frivolous Herbert.
"Morris said the things happened so naturally," said his father, "that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence."
"Well, don't break into the money before I come back," said Herbert, as he rose from the table. "I'm afraid it'll turn you into a mean, avaricious man, and we shall have to disown you."
His mother laughed, and following him to the door, watched him down the road, and returning to the breakfast table, was very happy at the expense of her husband's credulity. All of which did not prevent her from scurrying to the door at the postman's knock, nor prevent her from referring somewhat shortly to retired sergeant-majors of bibulous habits when she found that the post brought a tailor's bill.
"Herbert will have some more of his funny remarks, I expect, when he comes home," she said, as they sat at dinner.
"I dare say," said Mr. White, pouring himself out some beer; "but for all that, the thing moved in my hand; that I'll swear to."
"You thought it did," said the old lady soothingly.
"I say it did," replied the other. "There was no thought about it; I had just----What's the matter?"
His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed and wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate, and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon it, and then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path. Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel beneath the cushion of her chair.
She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband's coat, a garment which he usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he was at first strangely silent.
"I--was asked to call," he said at last, and stooped and picked a piece of cotton from his trousers. "I come from Maw and Meggins."
The old lady started. "Is anything the matter?" she asked breathlessly. "Has anything happened to Herbert? What is it? What is it?"
Her husband interposed. "There, there, mother," he said hastily. "Sit down, and don't jump to conclusions. You've not brought bad news, I'm sure, sir" and he eyed the other wistfully.
"I'm sorry----" began the visitor.
"Is he hurt?" demanded the mother.
The visitor bowed in assent. "Badly hurt," he said quietly, "but he is not in any pain."
"Oh, thank God!" said the old woman, clasping her hands. "Thank God for that! Thank----"
She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other's averted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted husband, laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.
"He was caught in the machinery," said the visitor at length, in a low voice.
"Caught in the machinery," repeated Mr. White, in a dazed fashion, "yes."
He sat staring blankly out at the window, and taking his wife's hand between his own, pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old courting days nearly forty years before.
"He was the only one left to us," he said, turning gently to the visitor. "It is hard."
The other coughed, and rising, walked slowly to the window. "The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss," he said, without looking round. "I beg that you will understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders."
There was no reply; the old woman's face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible; on the husband's face was a look such as his friend the sergeant might have carried into his first action.
"I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility," continued the other. "They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son's services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation."
Mr. White dropped his wife's hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, "How much?"
"Two hundred pounds," was the answer.
Unconscious of his wife's shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.
IN the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant, the old people buried their dead, and came back to a house steeped in shadow and silence. It was all over so quickly that at first they could hardly realize it, and remained in a state of expectation as though of something else to happen--something else which was to lighten this load, too heavy for old hearts to bear.
But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation--the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word, for now they had nothing to talk about, and their days were long to weariness.
It was about a week after that that the old man, waking suddenly in the night, stretched out his hand and found himself alone. The room was in darkness, and the sound of subdued weeping came from the window. He raised himself in bed and listened.
"Come back," he said tenderly. "You will be cold."
"It is colder for my son," said the old woman, and wept afresh.
The sound of her sobs died away on his ears. The bed was warm, and his eyes heavy with sleep. He dozed fitfully, and then slept until a sudden wild cry from his wife awoke him with a start.
"The paw!" she cried wildly. "The monkey's paw!"
He started up in alarm. "Where? Where is it? What's the matter?"
She came stumbling across the room toward him. "I want it," she said quietly. "You've not destroyed it?"
"It's in the parlour, on the bracket," he replied, marvelling. "Why?"
She cried and laughed together, and bending over, kissed his cheek.
"I only just thought of it," she said hysterically. "Why didn't I think of it before? Why didn't you think of it?"
"Think of what?" he questioned.
"The other two wishes," she replied rapidly. "We've only had one."
"Was not that enough?" he demanded fiercely.
"No," she cried, triumphantly; "we'll have one more. Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again."
The man sat up in bed and flung the bedclothes from his quaking limbs. "Good God, you are mad!" he cried aghast.
"Get it," she panted; "get it quickly, and wish---- Oh, my boy, my boy!"
Her husband struck a match and lit the candle. "Get back to bed," he said, unsteadily. "You don't know what you are saying."
"We had the first wish granted," said the old woman, feverishly; "why not the second."
"A coincidence," stammered the old man.
"Go and get it and wish," cried the old woman, quivering with excitement.
The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. "He has been dead ten days, and besides he--I would not tell you else, but--I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?"
"Bring him back," cried the old woman, and dragged him toward the door. "Do you think I fear the child I have nursed?"
He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his hand.
Even his wife's face seemed changed as he entered the room. It was white and expectant, and to his fears seemed to have an unnatural look upon it. He was afraid of her.
"Wish!" she cried, in a strong voice.
"It is foolish and wicked," he faltered.
"Wish!" repeated his wife.
He raised his hand. "I wish my son alive again."
The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked to the window and raised the blind.
He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle end, which had burnt below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of relief at the failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically beside him.
Neither spoke, but both lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up his courage, the husband took the box of matches, and striking one, went downstairs for a candle.
At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another, and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.
The matches fell from his hand. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.
"What's that?" cried the old woman, starting up.
"A rat," said the old man, in shaking tones--"a rat. It passed me on the stairs."
His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the house.
"It's Herbert!" she screamed. "It's Herbert!"
She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by the arm, held her tightly.
"What are you going to do?" he whispered hoarsely.
"It's my boy; it's Herbert!" she cried, struggling mechanically. "I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door."
"For God's sake, don't let it in," cried the old man trembling.
"You're afraid of your own son," she cried, struggling. "Let me go. I'm coming, Herbert; I'm coming."
There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle back and the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman's voice, strained and panting.
"The bolt," she cried loudly. "Come down. I can't reach it."
But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkey's paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.
The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair drawn back and the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dialogue of the Buddha and the Shepherd

In Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis, one of my all-time favourite writers, reproduces the following fascinating dialogue between the Buddha and a shepherd.

The Shepherd: My meal is ready, I have milked my ewes. The door of my hut is bolted, my fire is alight. And you, sky, can rain as much as you please!

Buddha: I no longer need food or milk. The winds are my shelter, my fire is out. And you, sky, can rain as much as you please.

The Shepherd: I have oxen, I have cows. I have my father’s meadows and a bull who covers my cows. And you, sky, can rain as much as you please!

Buddha: I have neither oxen, nor cows, I have no meadows. I have nothing. I fear nothing. And you, sky, can rain as much as you please!

The Shepherd: I have a docile and faithful shepherdess. For years she has been my wife; I am happy when I play with her at night. And you, sky, you can rain as much as you please!

Buddha: I have a free and docile soul. For years I have trained it and I have taught it to play with me. And you, sky, can rain as much as you please!

I found the dialogue beautiful the first time I read it years ago and fell in love with it instantly. The idea expressed there is not new and ascetics all over the world have spoken in tones similar to that of the Buddha in these lines.

Adi Shankaracharya has authored a beautiful poem called Kaupeena Panchaka, also known as Yati Panchaka, in which he reflects the feelings of the Buddha we hear expressed in this dialogue. Here is the poem of five verses, followed by a free English rendering by me:

Vedántavákyeshu sadá ramantah
Bhikshánnamátrena cha tushtimantah
Vishokavantah karunaikavantah
Kaupeenavantah khalu bhágyavantah [1]

Ever reveling in the great wisdom statements of Vedanta, contented with food received as alms, free from grief, the only possession of these men is their compassion. Blessed indeed are the wise clad just in their loincloths.

Moolam taroh kevalam áshrayantah
Panidvayam bhoktum amatrayantah
Kanthám iva shreemapi kutsayantah
Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah [2]

Their only refuge the bottoms of trees, their palms their bowls for receiving food, they look down upon wealth as though it were but a rag. Blessed indeed are the wise clad just in their loincloths.

Dehábhimanam parimárjayantah
Átmánam átmany avalokayantah
Nántar na madhyam na bahis smarantah
Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah [3]

Never identifying with their bodies as themselves, for ever seeing themselves as their souls, they never let their minds dwell upon anything within, without or in between apart from that self. Blessed indeed are the wise clad just in their loincloths.

Svánandabhave paritushtimantah
Aharnisham brahmani ye ramantah
Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah [4]

Contented entirely with their own blissful nature, the functions of their sense organs stilled and no more running toward their objects, they revel in the Supreme Self day in and day out. Blessed indeed are the wise clad just in their loincloths.

Pancháksharam pavanam uchcharantah
Patim pashoonám hrdi bhávayantah
Bhiksháshino dikshu paribhramantah
Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah [5]

Repeating constantly the sacred five-syllable mantra, meditating forever on the lord of all beings in their hearts, they wander the world living on food received by begging. Blessed indeed are the wise clad just in their loincloths.

How beautiful!

And yet there is an approach to life far more beautiful than what the shepherd speaks of and is followed by the world and what the Buddha’s words in this dialogue speak of and is followed by those who live the ascetic way of life. This is the way of life followed by Krishna and numerous other jeevanmukta [living-liberated; liberated while still living] masters, the way of life that Krishna teaches in the Gita and is at the very heart of the Indian way of living.

Adi Shankaracharya himself speaks of this way of living in the Jeevanmukta Anandalahari, Waves of Bliss of the Living-Liberated, which I am giving below in its entirety with a free English rendering by me. The song is of rare beauty and has remained beloved to me for a long, long time. The English rendering, of course, takes much of its exquisite poetic beauty away and leaves behind just the spirit of it, and that too in words that sound so alien to the ideas expressed by the song.

Pure paurán pashyan narayuvatinánákrtimayán
Suveshán svarnálañkaranakalitán chitrasadrshán
Svayam sákshee drashtetyapi cha kalayan tais saha raman
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (1)

The young men and women of the city look pretty in their exquisite dresses. Of various sizes, shapes and complexions, they are all decked with ornaments. The whole scene looks like a splendid painting. And he, the living-liberated, mixes with them all without any hesitation and joyously revels among them, all the while maintaining in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher.

Vane vrkshán pashyan dalaphalabharán namrasushikhán
Ghanachchháyáchchhannán bahulakalakoojad dvijaganán
Bhajanghasre rátráu avanitalatalpaikashayanah
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (2)

The trees of the jungle are heavy with their foliages and filled with fruits, their branches bending under their weight. They cast shades thick and cool, and they abound in birds that sing melodiously. He resorts to them by the day or by the night, to lie down on the naked ground beneath them. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadáchit prásáde kvachidapi cha saudheshu dhaninám
Kadákále shaile kvachidapi cha kooleshu saritám
Kuteere dántánám munijanavaránám api vasan
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (3)

Now he lives in palaces, now in the rich mansions of the wealthy. At times he resorts to the mountains, at others to the banks of running brooks. Sometimes he dwells in the huts of great ascetics whose wealth is their self-restraint. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kvachid bálais sárdham karatalajatálaischa hasitais
Kvachit tárunyánkita chaturanáryá saha raman
Kvachid vrddhaish chintákulitahrdayais chápi vilapan
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (4)

Now he claps his hands and laughs in delight with children and now he revels among bright young women endowed with rich youth and now again he grieves with old men sad with heavy hearts. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadáchid vidvadbhir vividishubhir atyantanirataih
Kadáchit kávyálankrtirasarasálaih kavivaraih
Kadáchit sattarkair anumitiparais tárkikavaraih
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (5)

Now he is amidst scholars endowed with great knowledge, now with those engrossed deeply in the pursuit of wisdom. Now he is with great poets, masters of the poet’s art, and now, with erudite logicians skilled in meaningful reasoning and drawing true conclusions. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadá dhyánábhyásaih kvachidapi saparyám vikasitaih
Sugandhais satpushpaih kvachidapi dalaireva vimalaih
Prakurvan devasya pramuditamanáh sannatiparo
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (6)

Now he is engaged in the practice of meditation and now in worshipping the lord with auspicious, full blown fragrant flowers or even with clean leaves, his heart joyous and uplifted, himself surrendered in humility. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Shiváyás shambhorvá kvacidapi cha vishnorapi kadá
Ganádhyakshasyápi prakatatapanasyápi cha kadá
Pathanvai námálim nayanarachitánandasalilo
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (7)

Now he chants the names of Shakti, now of Shiva; and now again, the names of Vishnu, or of Ganesha or the Sun god, his eyes filled with tears of joy. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadá gañgámbhobhih kvachidapi cha koopotthitajalaih
Kvacit kásárotthaih kvachidapi sadushnaish cha shishiraih
Bhajan snánair bhootyá kvacidapi ca karpüranibhayá
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (8)

Now he bathes in the sacred waters of the Ganga, now in water drawn up from a well. Now he bathes in the waters of ponds, now in warm water and yet again now, in water that is cold. He covers his body with ashes white as camphor. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadáchij jágrtyám vishayakaranaih samvyavaharan
Kadácit svapnasthánapi cha vishayáneva cha bhajan
Kadáchit saushuptam sukhamanubhavanneva satatam
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (9)

Now he is awake, and deals expertly with objects of the senses, and now he is in dreams and enjoys the objects of the dream. And at yet again now he is in sleep, enjoying the perpetual bliss of that state. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadápyáshávásáh kvachidapi cha divyámbaradharah
Kvachit panchásyotthám tvachamapi dadhánah katitate
Manasvi nissangah sujanahrdayánadajanakah
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshata tamáh (10)

Now his robes are the ten directions, now he is clad in expensive clothes and now again, he wraps around his waist the skin of a lion. He is a man of control over his mind, and he gladdens the hearts of good people. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kádáchit satvasthah kvachidapi rajovrttisugatas
Tamovrttih kvápi tritayarahitah kvápi cha punah
Kadáchit samsáree shrutipathaviháree kvachidaho
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (11)

Now he is rooted in the satva guna, now he is deep in rajo-guna. Now he performs actions springing from tamas and now he is free of all the three of these gunas. He is a samsaree now, a man of the world, and now he walks on the paths of the Vedas. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadáchinmaunasthah kvachidapi cha vágvádaniratah
Kadáchit svánande hasati rabhasá tyaktavachanah
Kadáchil lokánám vyavahrtisamálokanaparo
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (12)

Now he observes silence, now he is engaged in debates and discussions. Now he abandons all speech and explodes in spontaneous laughter, his natural joy filling his heart and now again he becomes an observer of the activities of the common people of the world. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadáchit shakteenám vikachamukhapadmeshu kabalán
Kshipans tásám kvápi svayamapi cha grhyan svamukhatah
Tadadvaitam roopam nijaparaviheenam prakatayan
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (13)

Now he lovingly drops morsels of food from his mouth into the mouths of his female consorts [shaktis], and now he accepts them from their mouths into his own mouth, thus giving expression to the unity where the two do not exist, where the distinction has disappeared between what is what is one’s own and what belongs to another. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kvachit shaivais sárdham kvachidapi cha sháktais saha raman
Kadá vishnorbhaktaih kvachidapi cha saurais saha vasan
Kadá gánápatyair gatasakalabhedo'dvayatayá
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (14)

Now he is with the followers of Shiva, and now he is reveling among those who follow the path of Shakti. Now he is with the devotees of Vishnu and now, dwelling among those who worship the Sun god. And now he is again with the followers of Ganesha, himself devoid of all differences because of his experience of non-duality. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Nirákáram kvápi kvachidapi cha sákáramamalam
Nijam shaivam rüpam vividhagunabhedena bahudhá
Kadáshcharyam pashyan kimidamiti hrshyannapi kadá
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (15)

Now he sees himself as the formless ultimate, now his auspicious form as myriad beautiful manifestations born of the mingling of different gunas in different ways. Now he again looks at himself and wonders at the mystery that he is, and now he is filled with joy. The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Kadá’dvaitam pashyann akhilamapi satyam shivamayam
Mahávákyárthánám avagatisamabhyásavashatah
Gatadvaitábhásas shiva shiva shivetyeva vilapan
Munir na vyámoham bhajati gurudeekshákshatatamáh (16)

And now he sees the One Without a Second, everything as nothing but the Truth, filled with Primal Sanctity, because of the realization born of the contemplation of the meaning of the great wisdom statements of the Vedas [mahavakyas]; and freed from the illusion of duality, he cries out ecstatically Shiva, Shiva, Shiva! The wise man, the sage, is not trapped in illusion, his ignorance dispelled by the power of his initiation by his teacher [for he knows in his heart that he is the witness to all this, the watcher who is not involved].

Imám muktávasthám paramashivasamsthágurukrpá-
Sudhápángávápyám sahajasukhavápyám anudinam
Muhurmajjan majjan bhajati sukrtais chen naravarah
Sadá yogi tyági kaviriti vadanteeha kavayah (17)

When a great man becomes blessed enough to attain to this state of liberation and establishes himself in the state of supreme Shiva, achievable through his noble karmas and through the grace of a glance from the eyes of the guru, and takes dips again and again in the lake of bliss that is one’s true nature, then the wise men say he is forever a yogi, a renouncer and a man of intuitive wisdom.

Maune maunee gunini gunaván pandite panditashcha
Deene deenas sukhini sukhaván bhogini práptabhogah
Moorkhe moorkho yuvatishu yuvá vágmini praudhavágmee
Dhanyah ko’pi tribhuvanajayee yo’vadhoote’vadhootah [18]

A silent one among the silent ones, virtuous among the virtuous, a scholar amidst scholars, suffering among the suffering, joyous amidst the joyful, a contented man in the company of the pleasure seeker because he has attained all pleasures, a fool in the company of fools, a youth when he is with young women, eloquent among men of eloquence – such a man is blessed indeed in his world, whoever he is, the one who is an avadhoota [saint free from attachments] amidst avadhootas.

How can you say no to this incredibly beautiful world, the most concrete manifestation of the divine, and reject it as dirt, as pollution, as filth? To be in love with God, truly, one has to be in love with his creation. And a man who cannot love God’s creation, rejects it, cannot be in love with God. And if there is only One Without a Second, Advaita, then aren’t the things we reject, the people we reject, the relationships we reject, the emotions we reject, the little joys and sorrows we reject, all nothing but That?

The right way to live is to be the Buddha and the shepherd at the same time. And that is what Shankara is talking about in the priceless verses of this incredibly beautiful poem, Jeevanmukta Anandalahari – Waves of Bliss of the Living-Liberated.


Man’s Way, Woman’s Way

Osho never ceases to amaze you.

This morning I was going through The Book of Secrets, his discourses on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. The discourses are very deep, thorough and detailed - the book itself is about ten pages long in translation and Osho’s discourses on it are about 1.200 pages long! And what amazing discourses! As amazing as the book itself!

I am posting it here something beautiful that I read in the book. While responding to a question about the need to hurry towards one’s spiritual goals and the need to play along unhurriedly, Osho talks about the feminine way and the masculine way and the difference between the two.

If you liked what is posted here, go to the original book.



The first thing: don’t try to reconcile different techniques. When I say don’t be in a hurry, forget time completely, don’t be serious, don’t make any effort, surrender, be in a let-go, this is a different technique. This is suitable only for a part of humanity—all cannot do this technique—and the type of person who can do this cannot do the opposite one. This technique is for the feminine mind. All females are not necessarily feminine, and all males are not necessarily male, so when I say a feminine mind, I don’t mean females. A feminine mind means a mind who can surrender, who can be receptive like a womb, who can be open, passive. Half of the humanity can be of this type, but the other half is totally opposite. As man and woman are the two halves of humanity, in just the same way the feminine mind and the masculine mind are the two halves of the human mind. The feminine mind cannot make effort. If it makes effort it will never reach anywhere. The effort will be the undoing for it; it will only create anguish and tension and no achievement.

The very working of the feminine mind is to wait and allow things to happen. Just like a woman: even if she is in love, she will not take the initiative. And if a woman takes the initiative, you have every reason to be afraid and escape, because that attitude is the male attitude—in the feminine body there is a masculine mind, and you will be in difficulty. If you are really male, immediately the woman will lose attraction. If you are feminine—male in the body but feminine in the mind—only then can you allow the woman to take initiative and you will be happy. But then physically she is a woman and you are a man; mentally you are feminine and she is masculine, she is male. A woman will wait. She will never utter the words ‘I love you’ before you have uttered them and you have committed yourself. In the very waiting is the feminine power. The male mind is aggressive. It has to do something. It has to move and go and take initiative. The same happens on the spiritual path. If you have an aggressive mind, a male mind, effort is necessary. Then make hurry; then don’t lose time and opportunity. Then create an urgency and crisis so that you can put all your being into your effort. When your effort has become total you will achieve. If your mind is feminine, then there is no hurry at all. There is no time.

You may or may not have observed that women have no sense of time—they cannot have.

So the husband is standing outside the house and he is honking the horn and saying, ‘Come down!’ And the wife says, ‘I have told you a thousand times that I am coming in one minute. Continuously for two hours I have been telling you that I am coming in one minute. So don’t get mad. Why are you honking the horn?’ The feminine mind cannot have a sense of time. It is the male, aggressive mind who is time-worried, time-conscious. They are totally different. The feminine is not in any hurry—there is no hurry. Really, there is nowhere to reach. That’s why women cannot become great leaders, great scientists, great warriors—they cannot become. And if sometimes there are freak women, they have a male mind. For example, Joan of Arc, or Laxmi Bai: they are only feminine in body; the mind is not feminine at all. It is masculine.

For the feminine mind there is no goal, and our world is man-oriented. So women cannot be really great in a man-oriented world, because greatness is related to the goal. Some goal has to be achieved; then you become great—and the feminine mind is not after any goal. Here and now she is happy. Here and now she is unhappy. There is nowhere to move.

The feminine mind exists in the moment. That’s why the feminine curiosity is never for the far-away; it is always about the neighborhood. She is not interested in what is happening in Vietnam.

She is interested in what is happening in the other house—the intimate, the here. The man looks absurd: ‘Why are you worried about what Nixon is doing or what Mao is doing?’ The woman is interested in the love affairs that are going on in the neighborhood. She is curious about the near; the far is meaningless. Time doesn’t exist. Time exists for those who have a goal to reach. Remember, time can exist only when you have to reach somewhere. If you don’t have to reach anywhere, what is the meaning of time? Then there is no hurry.

Look at this situation from a different angle. The east is feminine and the west is masculine. The east has never been concerned much about time; the west is mad after time. The east has been very leisurely: moving slowly as if not moving at all; no change, no revolution. Such a silent evolution that it creates no noise anywhere. The west is just mad: every day revolution is needed, and everything has to become a revolution. Unless everything is changing, it seems we are not going anywhere; we have become static. If everything is changing and everything remains in an upheaval, then the west feels that something is happening. And the east thinks that if there are upheavals, it means we are diseased. Something is wrong; that’s why there is change. If everything is okay, there is no need for any revolution, for any change.

The eastern mind is feminine.

That’s why in the east, we have praised all the feminine qualities: compassion, love, sympathy, non-violence, acceptance, contentment—all feminine qualities. In the west, all the masculine qualities are praised: will, willpower, ego, self-esteem, independence, rebellion—these are the values praised there. In the east—obedience, surrender, acceptance. The basic attitude is feminine in the east and masculine in the west. These techniques are not to be compromised, are not to be in any way synthesized. The technique of surrender is for the feminine mind. The technique of effort, will, endeavor, is for the masculine mind. And they are bound to be polar opposites, so if you make any synthesis between the two you will create a hodge-podge—meaningless, absurd, and even dangerous. It will not be of use for anyone.

So remember this. These techniques many times will look contradictory, because they are meant to be for different types of mind, and there is no effort to make any synthesis. So if you feel something is contradictory, don’t get uneasy about it—it is. And only very small minds become afraid of contradiction—very small minds, petty minds. They become uneasy, they feel a discomfort. They think everything must be non-contradictory, everything must be consistent. This is nonsense, because life is inconsistent. Life is contradictory itself, so truth cannot be uncontradictory; only lies can be uncontradictory, only lies can be consistent.

Truth is bound to be inconsistent, because it has to cover everything that is in life. It has to be total. And life is contradictory. There is man and there is woman: what can I do and what can Shiva do? And man is totally the polar opposite to woman; that’s why they are attracted. Otherwise there would be no attraction. Really, the opposite type of being, the difference, creates the attraction. The polar opposite becomes a magnetic force. That’s why when man and woman meet there is happiness, because when two polar opposites meet they negate each other. They negate each other because they are opposites. They negate each other, and for a single moment when man and woman really meet—not just bodily, but totally; when their beings meet in love—for a single moment both disappear. Then there is neither man nor woman; pure existence exists—that’s the bliss of it. The same can happen within you also, because deep analysis shows that within you also there is a polarity. Now modern deep psychoanalytic approaches have revealed that the conscious mind and the unconscious mind are polar opposites within you also. If you are a man, your conscious mind is masculine, your unconscious mind is feminine. If you are a woman, your conscious mind is feminine, your unconscious mind is masculine. The unconscious is the opposite of the conscious. In deep meditation there comes a deep orgasm, an intercourse, a love, between your conscious and unconscious—they become one.

When they become one you attain to the highest bliss possible. So man and woman can meet in two ways. You can meet a woman outside you: then this meeting can be only momentary, very momentary. For a single second the peak comes, and then things start falling away. There is another meeting of man and woman that happens within you: your conscious and unconscious mind meet. When this happens, this meeting can be eternal. The sexual pleasure is also a glimpse of the spiritual—only momentary—but when the real meeting happens within, then it becomes samadhi, then it becomes a spiritual phenomenon.

But you have to start from your conscious mind, so if your conscious mind is feminine, surrender will be helpful. And remember, being a woman is not necessarily synonymous with having a feminine mind. That creates the difficulty. Otherwise everything would be very easy: then women would follow the path of surrender and men would follow the path of will. But it is not so easy. There are women who have masculine minds—their very approach towards life is aggressive. And they are growing every day. The women’s lib. movement will create more and more masculine women. They will be more and more aggressive, and the path of surrender will not be for them then. And because women are becoming competitive with man, man is regressing from aggression; he is becoming more and more feminine.

More and more the path of surrender will be useful for man in the future. So you have to decide about yourself. And don’t think in terms of valuation. Don’t think that you are a man, so how can you have a feminine mind? You can have, and nothing is wrong in it; it is beautiful. And don’t think that you are a woman, so how can you have a masculine mind? Nothing is wrong in it; it is beautiful. Be authentic towards your own mind. Try to understand what type of mind you have, then follow the path that is for you, and don’t try to create any synthesis.

Don’t ask me how I am going to reconcile these two. I am not going to. I am never for reconciliation, and I am not for non-contradictory statements. They are stupid and childish. Life is contradictory, and that’s why life is alive. Only death is consistent and non-contradictory. Life lives through opposition, through encountering the opposite pole, and this opposition, challenge, creates energy. It releases energy, and life moves through it. This is what Hegelians say: a dialectical movement—thesis, antithesis, and then the synthesis again becomes a thesis and creates its own antithesis, and this goes on. Life is not monotonous. It is not logical. It is dialectical.

You must understand the difference between logical and dialectical. The question is because you think life is logical, so you ask how you will reconcile, because logic always reconciles; logic cannot tolerate the contradictory.

Logic cannot tolerate the contradictory. Logic has to somehow explain that it is not contradictory, and if it is contradictory then both cannot be true; then one must be wrong. Both can be wrong, but both cannot be true. Logic tries to find non-contradiction everywhere.

Science is logical. That’s why science is not totally true to life, cannot be. Life is contradictory, illogical. It works through the opposite. It is not afraid of the opposite; it uses the opposite. The opposites are only apparently opposite; deep down they work together. It is dialectical, not logical. It is a dialogue between the opposites—a continuous dialogue.

Think for a single moment: if there is no contradiction, life will be dead, because from where will come the challenge? From where will come the attraction? From where will the energy be released? It will be monotonous, dead, Life is possible only because of dialectics, because of the opposite. Man and woman is the basic opposition, and then the challenge creates the phenomenon of love. And the whole life moves around love. If your lover and you become so totally one that there is no gap at all, you both will be dead. You will not be able to exist then. You both will disappear from this dialectical process. You can only exist in this life if oneness is never total, and you have to move away again and again to come near.

That’s why lovers fight. That fight creates dialectics. The whole day they will fight. They will go far away from each other, they will become enemies. This means that they have now come to be really polar opposites; they have moved as far away as possible. The lover starts thinking how to kill this woman, and the woman starts thinking how to get rid of this man. They have moved to the very farthest corner possible. And then again in the evening they are making love.

When they are far away, so far away, again the attraction comes. Again they look from such a faraway point that they feel attracted. Then they have become simply man and woman again, not lovers. Then they are man and woman, strangers. They will fall in love again. They will come near. A point will come when they will become one for a single moment, and that will be their happiness, their joy.

But the moment they have become one, the process to go away starts again. In the very moment when the wife and husband are one, if they can be a witness to it, they will see they have started being separate again. The very moment the peak comes, the process starts to be different, to be separate, to be opposite. This goes on moving—again and again you come near and go away.

This is what I mean—life creates energy through polarities. Without polarities life cannot exist. If two lovers really become one, they disappear from life. They are liberated really. They will have no rebirth again; there will be no life in future. If two lovers can become so totally one, their love has become the deepest meditation possible. They have achieved what Buddha achieved under the Bodhi tree. They have achieved what Jesus achieved on the cross. They have achieved non-duality. Now they cannot exist.

Existence as we know it is dual, dialectical, and these techniques are for you who exist in duality. So there will be many contradictions, because these techniques are not philosophy; these techniques are meant to be done and lived. They are not mathematical formulas; they are actual life processes. They are dialectical, they are contradictory. So don’t ask me to reconcile them. They are not the same, they are opposite. Try to find out what is your type. Can you relax? Can you let go? Can you be in a passive moment, not doing anything? -- then all the techniques which require will are not for you. If you cannot relax, and if I say to you to relax and you immediately ask me how to relax, that ‘how’ shows your mind. That ‘how’ shows that you cannot relax without making an effort. Even for relaxation you need some effort, so you ask ‘how;. Relaxation is relaxation; there is no ‘how’ to it. If you can relax, you know how to relax. You simply relax. There is no effort, no method.

Just as in the night, you go to sleep.

You never ask how to go to sleep. But there are persons who have insomnia. If you say to them, ‘I just put my head on the pillow, and it’s okay, I am asleep,’ they cannot believe you. And their suspicion is meaningful. They cannot believe you; you are deceiving— because they also put their head on the pillow. They go on putting their head the whole night—nothing happens.

They are going to ask how—how to put the head on the pillow? There must be a secret which you are not telling them. You are deceiving; the whole world is deceiving them. Everybody says, ‘We just go to sleep. There is no ‘how’ to it. There is no technology.’ They cannot believe you, and you cannot blame them. You say, ‘We simply put down our heads, close our eyes, put off the light, and we are asleep.’ They also do the same procedure, they do the same ritual, and they do it more correctly than you have ever done, but nothing happens. The light is off, they have closed eyes, lying on their bed—nothing is happening. Once you lose the capacity to relax, then technique is needed. Then they need technique; then without technique they will not be able to sleep.

So if you have a mind which can relax, then surrender is for you. And don’t create any problems—then simply surrender. At least half of you can do this. You may not be aware, but fifty percent is the possibility, because masculine and feminine minds exist in a proportion.

They are always fifty-fifty, almost fifty-fifty, in every realm, because a man cannot exist without a woman opposing him. There is a deep balance in nature. Do you know? -- one hundred and fifteen boys are born to one hundred girls, because boys are weaker than girls—so by the time they are sexually mature fifteen boys will have died. One hundred and fifteen boys are born for every one hundred girls. Girls are stronger: they have more stamina, more resistance. Boys are weak, they don’t have so much resistance, so one hundred and fifteen boys are born for one hundred girls. Then fifteen boys die. The moment they become sexually mature, by the age of fourteen, the number will be the same. For each man a woman exists, for each woman a man exists, because there is an inner tension. They cannot exist without it; that polar opposite is needed.

And similar is the case with the inner mind also. The existence, the nature, needs a balance, so half of you are feminine and can be deeply in surrender very easily. But you can create problems for yourself. You may feel that you can surrender, but you think, ‘How can I surrender?’ You feel that your ego may be hurt. You become afraid of surrendering, because it has been taught to you: ‘Be independent. Remain independent. Don’t lose yourself. Don’t give your control to someone else. Always be in control.’

This has been taught; these are taught difficulties.

So you can feel that you can surrender, but then other problems arise which have been given to you by society, culture and education. And they create problems. If you really feel that surrender is not for you, then forget it. It is not to be worried about. Then put all your energy in effort.

So these are the two extremes. One: if you are a really feminine mind, you have nowhere to go. There is no goal, no God to be achieved, no future heaven—nothing. Don’t be in any hurry now, remain true to the moment, and all that can be achieved by the male mind through hurry, effort, you will achieve here and now without any effort. Right now you are at the goal, if you can relax.

The male mind will have to run round about and round about until it is tired completely, and then it falls down; only then it can relax. Aggression, effort, endeavor, are necessary for the male mind to be exhausted. When that exhaustion happens, then it is possible for it to relax and to surrender. That surrender will come only in the end; for the feminine mind it is always in the beginning. You reach the same happening but the ways of reaching are different.

So when I said yesterday, ‘Don’t waste time,’ I said it to the male mind. If I said be in a hurry and create such an emergency that your total energy and being becomes pinpointed, concentrated, and only in that concentrated effort your life will become a flame, this is for the male mind, the masculine mind.

For the feminine mind, relax and you are already a flame. Because of this, you have Mahavir, you have Buddha, you have Jesus, Krishna, Ram, Zarathustra, Moses, but you don’t have a similar list of women. Not because women have not achieved such a state of mind. They have achieved, but their ways are different. And this whole history has been recorded by man, and man can understand only the masculine mind. Man cannot understand the feminine mind. That’s the problem. It is really very difficult.

A man cannot understand that a woman, just by being a simple housewife, can achieve something which a Buddha achieves with so much difficulty, so arduously. A man cannot conceive, it is impossible for him to conceive that a woman can achieve just by being a housewife: living moment to moment, enjoying moment to moment, just near and here and now, and not bothering about anything else—no goal, no spirituality; just loving the children, loving the husband, just being an ordinary woman, but blissful. No need to make such arduous effort as a Mahavir is making—twelve years of long arduous effort. But man will appreciate Mahavir, because he can appreciate effort.

If you achieve a goal without the effort, for man it is not worth it. He cannot appreciate it. He can appreciate someone, a Tensing, a Hillary, reaching the Everest—not because Everest is worth it, but because so much effort is needed and it is so dangerous. And if you say that you are already on the Everest he will laugh, because Everest is not meaningful—the effort to reach it is meaningful. The moment Everest becomes easy to reach, for the masculine mind all attraction is lost. There is nothing to be achieved on the Everest. When Hillary and Tensing reached there, nothing was there to be achieved, but the masculine mind feels such a glory.

When Hillary reached, I was in a university; all the professors were just thrilled. I asked one woman professor, ‘What do you say about Hillary and Tensing who have reached Everest?’

She said, ‘I cannot understand why there is so much fuss about it. What is the point? What have they gained by reaching there? Even reaching to the market, to a shop, would have been better.’

For the feminine mind it is useless. Going to the moon? -- why such danger? There is no necessity. But for the masculine mind, it is not the goal. Really, the effort is the thing, because then he proves that he is masculine. They very effort, the very aggression, and the very possibility of death, gives him the thrill.

Danger is very appealing to the masculine mind. For the feminine mind it has no appeal at all. Because of this, human history is really half-recorded. The other half has been totally unrecorded, left unrecorded. We don’t know how many woman became Buddhas; it is impossible to know, because our measurement, our criterion, cannot be applied to the feminine mind.

So first decide about your own mind. First meditate about your own mind—what type of mind you have got—then forget all those methods which don’t belong to you. And don’t try to reconcile them.