Saturday, July 31, 2010

Krishna: His Relevance Today

OSHO has spoken on practically every great spiritual tradition and master known to us and their teachings. The list of masters includes Krishna, Buddha, Mahavir, Zarathustra, Guru Nanak, Jesus, Kabir, Patanjali, Ashtavakra, Bodhidharma, Meera, Rabia, Dariya, Hakim Sanai, Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Yakusan, Dionysius, Ta Hui, Atisha, Ko Hsuan, Rinzai, Nansen, Ma Tzu, Kyozan, Joshu, Hyakujo, Dogen, Heraclitus, Pythagoras . . . to name only a few. On each of these, he has given a series of talks and on some several series.

Given below is Osho’s answer to a question someone asked him about the relevance of Krishna for our times. Osho’s book Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy [Krishna Meri Drishti Mein in the Hindi original] begins with this question-answer.



Krishna is utterly incomparable, he is so unique. Firstly, his uniqueness lies in the fact that although Krishna happened in the ancient past he belongs to the future, is really of the future. Man has yet to grow to that height where he can be a contemporary of Krishna’s. He is still beyond man’s understanding; he continues to puzzle and battle us. Only in some future time will we be able to understand him and appreciate his virtues. And there are good reasons for it.

The most important reason is that Krishna is the sole great man in our whole history who reached the absolute height and depth of religion, and yet he is not at all serious and sad, not in tears. By and large, the chief characteristic of a religious person has been that he is somber, serious and sad-looking – like one vanquished in the battle of life, like a renegade from life. In the long line of such sages it is Krishna alone who comes dancing, singing and laughing.

Religions of the past were all life-denying and masochistic, extolling sorrow and suffering as great virtues. If you set aside Krishna’s vision of religion, then every religion of the past presented a sad and sorrowful face. A laughing religion, a religion that accepts life in its totality is yet to be born.

And it is good that the old religions are dead, along with them, that the old God, the God of our old concepts is dead too.

Every religion, up to now, has divided life into two parts, and while they accept one part they deny the other, Krishna alone accepts the whole of life. Acceptance of life in its totality has attained full fruition in Krishna. That is why India held him to be a perfect incarnation of God, while all other incarnations were assessed as imperfect and incomplete. Even Rama is described as an incomplete incarnation of God. But Krishna is the whole of God.

And there is a reason for saying so. The reason is that Krishna has accepted and absorbed everything that life is.

Albert Schweitzer made a significant remark in criticism of the Indian religion. He said that the religion of this country is life negative. This remark is correct to a large extent, if Krishna is left out.

But it is utterly wrong in the context of Krishna. If Schweitzer had tried to understand Krishna he would never have said so.

But it was unfortunate that we did not allow Krishna to influence our life in a broad way. He remains a lonely dancing island in the vast ocean of sorrow and misery that is our life. Or, we can say he is a small oasis of joyous dancing and celebration in the huge desert of sadness and negativity, of suppression and condemnation that we really are. Krishna could not influence the whole spectrum of our life, and for this we are alone to blame. Krishna is not in the least responsible for it. We were not that worthy, that deserving, to have him, to imbibe him, to absorb him.

Up to now, man’s mind has thought of and looked at life in fragments – and thought dialectically.

The religious man denies the body and accepts the soul. And what is worse, he creates a conflict, a dichotomy between the body and spirit. He denies this world, he accepts the other world, and thus creates a state of hostility between the two. Naturally our life is going to be sad and miserable if we deny the body, because all our life’s juice – its health and vitality, its sensitivities and beauty, all its music – has its source in the body. So a religion that denies and denounces the body is bound to be anemic and ill, it has to be lackluster. Such a religion is going to be as pale and lifeless as a dry leaf fallen from a tree. And the people who follow such a religion, who allow themselves to be influenced and conditioned by it, will be as anemic and prone to death as these leaves are.

Krishna alone accepts the body in its totality. And he accepts it not in any selected dimension but in all its dimensions. Apart from Krishna, Zarathustra is another. About him it is said he was born laughing. Every child enters this world crying. Only one child in all of history laughed at the time of his birth, and that was Zarathustra. And this is an index – an index of the fact that a happy and laughing humanity is yet to be born. And only a joyful and laughing humanity can accept Krishna.

Krishna has a great future. After Freud the world of religion is not going to be the same as it was before him. Freud stands as a watershed between the religions of the past and the religion of the future. With Freud a great revolution has taken place and man’s consciousness has achieved a breakthrough. We shall never be the same again after Freud. A new peak of consciousness has been touched and a new understanding, an altogether new perspective, a new vision of life has come into being. And it is essential to understand it rightly.

The old religions taught suppression as the way to God. Man was asked to suppress everything – his sex, his anger, his greed, his attachments – and then alone would he find his soul, would he attain to God. This war of man against himself has continued long enough. And in the history of thousands of years of this war, barely a handful of people, whose names can be counted on one’s fingers, can be said to have found God. So in a sense we lost this war, because down the centuries billions of people died without finding their souls, without meeting God.

Undoubtedly there must be some basic flaw, some fundamental mistake in the very foundation of these religions.

It is as if a gardener has planted fifty thousand trees and out of them only one tree flowers – and yet we accept his scripture on gardening on the plea that at least one tree has blossomed. But we fail to take into consideration that this single tree might have been an exception to the rule, that it might have blossomed not because of the gardener, but in spite of him. The rest of the fifty thousand trees, those that remained stunted and barren, are enough proof the gardener was not worth his salt.

If a Buddha, a Mahavira or a Christ attains to God in spite of these fragmentary and conflict-ridden religions, it is no testimony to the success of these religions as such. The success of religion, or let us say the success of the gardener, should be acclaimed only when all fifty thousand trees of his garden, with the exception of one or two, achieve flowering. Then the blame could be laid at the foot of the one tree for its failure to bloom. Then it could be said that this tree remained stunted and barren in spite of the gardener.

With Freud a new kind of awareness has dawned on man: that suppression is wrong, that suppression brings with it nothing but self-pity and anguish. If a man fights with himself he can only ruin and destroy himself. If I make my left hand fight with my right hand, neither is going to win, but in the end the contest will certainly destroy me. While my two hands fight with themselves, I and I alone will be destroyed in the process. That is how, through denial and suppression of his natural instincts and emotions, man became suicidal and killed himself.

Krishna alone seems to be relevant to the new awareness, to the new understanding that came to man in the wake of Freud and his findings. It is so because in the whole history of the old humanity Krishna alone is against repression.

He accepts life in all its facets, in all its climates and colors. He alone does not choose, he accepts life unconditionally. He does not shun love; being a man he does not run away from women. As one who has known and experienced God, he alone does not turn his face from war. He is full of love and compassion, and yet he has the courage to accept and fight a war. His heart is utterly non violent, yet he plunges into the fire and fury of violence when it becomes unavoidable. He accepts the nectar, and yet he is not afraid of poison.

In fact, one who knows the deathless should be free of the fear of death. And of what worth is that nectar which is afraid of death? One who knows the secret of non-violence should cease to fear violence. What kind of non-violence is it that is scared of violence? And how can the spirit, the soul, fear the body and run away from it? And what is the meaning of God if he cannot take the whole of this world in his embrace?

Krishna accepts the duality, the dialectics of life altogether and therefore transcends duality. What we call transcendence is not possible so long as you are in conflict, so long as you choose one part and reject the other. Transcendence is only possible when you choicelessly accept both parts together, when you accept the whole.

That is why Krishna has great significance for the future. And his significance will continue to grow with the passage of time. When the glow and the glamor of all other godmen and messiahs has dimmed, when the suppressive religions of the world have been consigned to the wastebasket of history, Krishna’s flame will be heading towards its peak, moving towards the pinnacle of its brilliance.

It will be so because, for the first time, man will be able to comprehend him, to understand him and to imbibe him. And it will be so because, for the first time, man will really deserve him and his blessings.

It is really arduous to understand Krishna. It is easy to understand that a man should run away from the world if he wants to find peace, but it is really difficult to accept that one can find peace in the thick of the marketplace. It is understandable that a man can attain to purity of mind if he breaks away from his attachments, but it is really difficult to realize that one can remain unattached and innocent in the very midst of relationships and attachments, that one can remain calm and still live at the very center of the cyclone. There is no difficulty in accepting that the flame of a candle will remain steady and still in a place well secluded from winds and storms, but how can you believe that a candle can keep burning steadily even in the midst of raging storms and hurricanes? So it is difficult even for those who are close to Krishna to understand him.

For the first time in his long history man has attempted a great and bold experiment through Krishna.

For the first time, through Krishna, man has tested, and tested fully his own strength and intelligence.

It has been tested and found that man can remain, like a lotus in water, untouched and unattached while living in the throes of relationship. It has been discovered that man can hold to his love and compassion even on the battlefield, that he can continue to love with his whole being while wielding a sword in his hand.

It is this paradox that makes Krishna difficult to understand. Therefore, people who have loved and worshipped him have done so by dividing him into parts, and they have worshipped his different fragments, those of their liking. No one has accepted and worshipped the whole of Krishna, no one has embraced him in his entirety. Poet Surdas sings superb hymns of praise to the Krishna of his childhood, Bal Krishna. Surdas’ Krishna never grows up, because there is a danger with a grown-up Krishna which Surdas cannot take. There is not much trouble with a boy Krishna flirting with the young women of his village, but it will be too much if a grown-up Krishna does the same.

Then it will be difficult to understand him.

After all, we can understand something on our own plane, on our own level. There is no way to understand something on a plane other than ours.

So for their adoration of Krishna, different people have chosen different facets of his life. Those who love the GEETA will simply ignore the BHAGWAD, because the Krishna of the GEETA is so different from the Krishna of the BHAGWAD Similarly, those who love the BHAGWAD will avoid getting involved with the GEETA. While the Krishna of the GEETA stands on a battlefield surrounded by violence and war, the Krishna of the BHAGWAD is dancing, singing and celebrating. There is seemingly no meeting-point whatsoever between the two.

There is perhaps no one like Krishna, no one who can accept and absorb in himself all the contradictions of life, all the seemingly great contradictions of life. Day and night, summer and winter, peace and war, love and violence, life and death – all walk hand in hand with him. That is why everyone who loves him has chosen a particular aspect of Krishna’s life that appealed to him and quietly dropped the rest.

Gandhi calls the GEETA his mother, and yet he cannot absorb it, because his creed of non-violence conflicts with the grim inevitability of war as seen in the GEETA. So Gandhi finds ways to rationalize the violence of the GEETA: he says the war of Mahabharat is only a metaphor, that it did not actually happen. This war, Gandhi says over and over again, represents the inner war between good and evil that goes on inside a man. The Kurushetra of the GEETA, according to Gandhi, is not a real battlefield located somewhere on this earth, nor is the Mahabharat an actual war. It is not that Krishna incites Arjuna to fight a real Mahabharat, Mahabharat only symbolizes the inner conflict and war of man, and so it is just a parable.

Gandhi has his own difficulty. The way Gandhi’s mind is, Arjuna will be much more in accord with him than Krishna. A great upsurge of non-violence has arisen in the mind of Arjuna, and he seems to be strongly protesting against war. He is prepared to run away from the battlefield and his arguments seem to be compelling and logical. He says it is no use fighting and killing one’s own family and relatives. For him, wealth, power and fame, won through so much violence and bloodshed, have no value whatsoever. He would rather be a beggar than a king, if kingship costs so much blood and tears. He calls war an evil and violence a sin and wants to shun it at all costs. Naturally Arjuna has a great appeal for Gandhi. How can he then understand Krishna?

Krishna very strongly urges Arjuna to drop his cowardice and fight like a true warrior. And his arguments in support of war are beautiful, rare and unique. Never before in history have such unique and superb arguments been advanced in favor of fighting, in support of war. Only a man of supreme non-violence could give such support to war.

Krishna tells Arjuna, “So long as you believe you can kill someone, you are not a man with a soul, you are not a religious man. So long as you think that one dies, you don’t know that which is within us, that which has never died and will never die. If you think you can kill someone you are under a great illusion, you are betraying your ignorance. The concept of killing and dying is materialistic; only a materialist can believe so. There is no dying, no death for one who really knows.” So Krishna exhorts Arjuna over and over again in the GEETA, “This is all play-acting; killing or dying is only a drama.”

In this context it is necessary to understand why we call the life of Rama a story, a biography, and not a play, not leela. It is because Rama is very serious. But we describe the life of Krishna as his leela, his play-acting, because Krishna is not serious at all. Rama is bounded, he is limited. He is bound, limited by his ideals and principles. Scriptures call him the greatest idealist: he is circumscribed by the rules of conduct and character. He will never step out of his limits; he will sacrifice everything for his principles, for his character.

Krishna’s life, on the other hand, accepts no limitations. It is not bound by any rules of conduct, it is unlimited and vast. Krishna is free, limitlessly free. There is no ground he cannot tread; no point where his steps can fear and falter, no limits he cannot transcend. And this freedom, this vastness of Krishna, stems from his experience of self-knowledge. It is the ultimate fruit of his enlightenment.

For this reason the question of violence has become meaningless in Krishna’s life. Now, violence is just not possible. And where violence is meaningless, non-violence loses its relevance too. Nonviolence has meaning only in relation to violence. The moment you accept that violence is possible, non-violence becomes relevant at once. In fact, both violence and non-violence are two sides of the same coin. And it is a materialistic coin. It is materialistic to think that one is violent or non-violent.

He is a materialist who believes he can kill someone, and he too is a materialist who thinks he is not going to kill anyone. One thing is common to them: they believe someone can be really killed.

Spirituality rejects both violence and non-violence. It accepts the immortality of the soul. And such spirituality turns even war into play.

Spirituality or religion accepts, and unreservedly accepts, all the dimensions of life. It accepts sex and attachment together, relationship and indulgence, love and devotion, yoga and meditation, and everything there is to life.

And the possibility of the understanding and acceptance of this philosophy of totality is growing every day – because now we have come to know a few truths we never knew in the past. Krishna, however, has undoubtedly known them.

For instance, we now know that the body and soul are not separate, that they are two poles of the same phenomenon. The visible part of the soul is known as the body, and the invisible part of the body is called the soul. God and the world are not two separate entities; there is absolutely no conflict between God and nature. Nature is the visible, the gross aspect of God, and God is the invisible, the subtle aspect of nature. There is no such point in the cosmos where nature ends and God begins. It is nature itself that, through a subtle process of its dissolution, turns into God, and it is God himself who, through a subtle process of his manifestation, turns into nature. Nature is manifest God, and God is unmanifest nature. And that is what advaita means, what the principle of one without a second means.

We can understand Krishna only if we clearly understand this concept of advaita, that only one is – one without a second. You can call him God or Brahman or what you like.

We also have to understand why Krishna is going to be increasingly significant for the future and how he is going to become closer and closer to man. It will be so, because the days when suppression and repression ruled the roost are gone. After a lengthy struggle and a long spell of inquiry and investigation we have learned that the forces we have been fighting are our own forces. In reality we are those forces, and it is utter madness to fight them. We have also learned we become prisoners of the forces we oppose and fight, and then it becomes impossible to free ourselves from them. And now we also know that we can never transform them if we treat them as inimical forces, if we resist and repress them.

For instance, if someone fights with sex, he will never attain to brahmacharya, to celibacy in his life. There is only one way to celibacy and that is through the transformation of the sex energy itself. So we don’t have to fight with the energy of sex; on the contrary, we should understand it and cooperate with it. We need to make friends with sex rather than make an enemy of it, as we have been doing for so long. The truth is, we can only change our friends; the question of changing those we treat as enemies simply does not arise. There is no way to even understand our enemies; it is just impossible. To understand something it is essential to be friendly with it.

Let us clearly understand that what we think to be the lowest is the other pole of the highest. The peak of a mountain and the valley around its base are not two separate things, they are part and parcel of the same phenomenon. The deep valley has been caused by the rising mountain, and in the same way the mountain has been possible because of the valley, one cannot be without the other. Or can it? Linguistically the mountain and the valley are two, but existentially they are two poles of the same thing.

Nietzsche has a very significant maxim. He says a tree that longs to reach the heights of heaven must sink its roots to the bottom of the earth. A tree that is afraid to do so should abandon its longing to reach the heavens. Really, the higher a tree the deeper its roots go. If you want to ascend to the skies you will have to descend into the abyss as well. Height and depth are not different things, they are two dimensions of the same thing. And their proportions are always the same.

Man’s mind has always wanted to choose between the seeming opposites. He wants to preserve heaven and do away with hell. He wants to have peace and escape tension. He desires to protect good and destroy evil. He longs to accept light and deny darkness. He craves to cling to pleasure and to shun pain. His mind has always divided existence into two parts and chosen one part against the other. And from choice arises duality, which brings conflict and pain.

Krishna symbolizes acceptance of the opposites together. And he alone can be whole who accepts the contradictions together. One who chooses will always be incomplete, less than the whole, because the part he chooses will continue to delude him and the part he denies will continue to pursue and haunt him. He can never be rid of what he rejects and represses. The mind of the man who rejects and represses sex becomes increasingly sexual. So a culture, a religion that teaches suppression of sex ends up creating nothing but sexuality; it becomes obsessed with sex.

Up to now we have stubbornly denied the Krishna who accepts sex; we accept him only in fragments.

But now it will be quite possible to accept him totally, because we are beginning to understand that it is the energy of sex itself that is transformed into the highest kind of celibacy, into brahmacharya through the process of its upward journey to the sahasrar, to the ultimate center in the head. We are beginning to learn that nothing in life has to be denied its place and given up, that we have to accept and live life in its totality. And he who lives wholly attains to life’s wholeness. And he alone is holy who is whole.

Therefore I say that Krishna has immense significance for our future. And that future, when Krishna’s image will shine in all its brilliance, is increasingly close. And whenever a laughing, singing and dancing religion comes into being it will certainly have Krishna’s stone in its foundation.


From a talk given by Osho on 20 July at CCI Chambers, Bombay.

Note: In the painting above, we find Krishna in one of his leelas. He is enjoying the cowherd girls dressing him up as a woman – probably as Radha.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mahabharata: Leadership, Integrity and Courage

There is no integrity without courage. And there is no leadership without integrity.

Hearing that the Pandavas have lost their kingdom and everything else they possessed and are now living in the forest, Krishna rushes to the jungle to meet them there,along with several other Vrishnis. Apart from Krishna and the Vrishnis, several Bhoja, Andhaka, Chedi and Panchala leaders, including Draupadi’s brother Dhrishtadyumna also reach there. Addressing the Pandavas in that anger and sorrow filled atmosphere, Krishna speaks these fiery words: “The earth shall drink the blood of Duryodhana, Karna, Dusshasana and the wicked Shakuni! Slaying them and their followers and royal allies in battle, we shall install Yudhishthira the just on the throne! The wicked deserve to be slain! Verily, this is eternal dharma.”

As at all other times in his life, Krishna has no confusion about what his dharma is and what he should do. And he has no fear in speaking out his mind. He is a man who has never known fear – certainly not the kind of fear that numbs a man into inactivity, silences his words and forces him into meek submission.

The Mahabharata tells us that as he spoke these words, Krishna got into such a rage that it looked like he would consume the whole earth in the fire of his anger and Arjuna had to pacify him. But it was not to pacify Krishna that the fire-born Draupadi wanted. Shivering in humiliation and anger, she spoke to the only man she called her friend. “O Krishna,” she said,“ how could one like me, the wife of Kunti’s sons, the sister of Dhrishtadyumna, and your friend, be dragged to the assembly! Alas, during my monthly period, stained with blood, with but a single cloth on, trembling all over, and weeping, I was dragged to the court of the Kurus! Beholding me, stained with blood in the presence of those kings in the assembly, the wicked sons of Dhritarashtra laughed at me! O slayer of Madhu, while the sons of Pandu and the Panchalas and the Vrishnis lived, they dared express the desire of using me as their slave! Oh, fie on the might of Bhimasena! Fie on the Gandiva of Arjuna! For, O Janardana, they both suffered me to be thus disgraced by small men!”

Draupadi then in a long speech recounts one by one all the dark deeds of Duryodhana and his men against the Pandavas, beginning with the attempt to poison Bhima while they were still children. As she wailed aloud recalling her grief before Krishna, the epic tells us, Panchali’s “tears washed her large, graceful breasts crowned with auspicious marks.” Wiping her eyes and sighing frequently she concludes angrily in a choked voice, 'Husbands, or sons, or friends, or brothers, or father, have I none! Nor have I thee, O thou slayer of Madhu, [na eva me patayah santi na putraa madhusuudana; na bhraataro na ca pitaa na eva tvam na ca baandhavaah] for ye all, beholding me treated so cruelly by inferior foes, sit still unmoved! My grief at Karna's ridicule is incapable of being assuaged! I deserve to be protected by you, Krishna, for four reasons: we are related, you respect me, we are friends and you have the power to.”

When she stops, Krishna speaks, promising vengeance and justice to her. “Fair Draupadi,” he says, “the wives of those with whom you are angry shall weep even as you do, beholding their husbands dead on the ground, weltering in blood and their bodies covered with the arrows of Arjuna! Weep not, Draupadi! I promise you: you shall be a queen once again! The heavens might fall, the Himalayas might split, the earth might be rent, the waters of the ocean might dry up, but my words shall never be futile!”

Having spoken these words and pacified his friend Draupadi, Krishna explains to the Pandavas and their friends and relatives assembled there why he failed to save Draupadi and them in their moment of humiliation.

Addressing Yudhishthira, he says: “O lord of earth, if I had been present at Dwaraka, then, this evil would not have befallen thee! And coming to the gambling-match, even if uninvited by Dhritarashtra or Duryodhana, or by the other Kauravas, I would have prevented the game from taking place. I would have done this by showing its many evils, summoning to my aid Bhishma and Drona and Kripa and Bahlika! And, O foremost of kings, if he had rejected my gentle counsels offered as medicine, then I would have compelled him by force! And, if those who wait at his court, professing to be his friends but are in reality his foes, had supported him, then I would have slain them all, along with those gamblers, there present! It is owing to my absence from the Anartta country at that time, O Yudhishthira, that you fell into such distress begotten by dice! O you best of Kurus, O son of Pandu, on arriving at Dwaraka I learnt from Yuyudhana all about your calamity! And, O foremost of kings, directly on hearing it, I came here with a heart sorely agitated by grief to see you and your brothers!”

[Later answering the question why he was away from Dwaraka, Krishna explains he was busy fighting a battle with the king of Saubha and that is what prevented him from helping them in time.]

So this is what Krishna says: The dice game was evil. Had he known about the dice game, he would have come to Hastinapura – uninvited, if necessary. And he would have pleaded with Dhritarashtra, the king, to stop it. He would have taken the help of Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and Bahlika to plead to Dhritarashtra. And if Dhritarashtra hadn’t listened to him, he would have used force. If it came to that, he would have killed everyone who stood in his way.

Krishna’s words are bold and fearless. There is no equivocation here, no hesitation, no ambiguity. Evil has to be stopped and if force, if violence, has to be used for stopping evil, he would do that.

The ancient Indian ideal, represented by the Vedic Indra [not the Pauranic Indra] is active resistance to evil. Krishna is a reincarnation of that ideal. Try peaceful means, risk your very life for achieving justice through peaceful means, and nothing else works, take up weapons to destroy evil.

Krishna shows here the highest ideals in integrity and courage as a leader of men. And it is this courage and integrity that makes him a true leader. And I have not the least doubt: Krishna would have acted exactly as he spoke. He would have gone there and negotiated with Dhritarashtra and his sons. And if they hadn’t listened to them, he would have taken up weapons and finished them all off. We are talking not only of the greatest leader of the time, but also of the greatest warrior of the age: None, not Bhishma, not Drona, not Arjuna, not Karna was an equal to Krishna in battle – a fact that we often overlook.

Speaking of leadership, contemporary author DM Wolfe says in his Six Dimensions of Leadership that one of the hallmarks of great leadership is great courage and integrity, a statement that all modern leadership studies agree with. Without courage and integrity, no leadership is possible.


Now let’s take a look at what actually happened in the royal hall of Hastinapura where the dice game took place and where Draupadi was humiliated as no women in Indian culture has been before or since.

The dice hall of the Mahabharata. The dice game between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is about to begin. While on the Pandava side Yudhishthira himself is playing, on the other side it is Duryodhana’s uncle Shakuni that plays for him. The Mahabharata tells us repeatedly that it is a deceitful game that is being played – it is not however clear whether the game of dice itself is deceitful or the way this game is being played is deceitful. There is also the possibility that what is wrong is an expert like Shakuni playing against a novice like Yudhishthira – as in battles, in dice too the times expected you to play with your equals. The Mahabharata suggests all three possibilities. Besides, the epic gives no details of how exactly the game was played – all we know is that Yudhishthira stakes his possessions one after the other and every time Shakuni takes up the dices in hand and then cries out, “Jitam.” Just that one word jitam, meaning ‘Won!’

tato jagraaha zakunis taan akSaan akSatattvavit
jitam ity eva zakuni yudhiSThiram abhaaSata

Then [after Yudhishthira had made the stakes] Shakuni, skilled in dice, picked up the dices [and then] told Yudhishthira, “Won!”

The first stake of Yudhishthira is an excellent wealth of pearls of great value, procured from the ocean by churning it (of old), so beautiful and decked with pure gold. He loses it. Then he stakes several jars each full of a thousand Nishkas, inexhaustible gold, and much silver and other minerals and loses them. The next stake is his chariot, which he says is equal to a thousand chariots. He loses that too. After that he stakes and loses one after the other a hundred thousand serving-girls; thousands of serving men; one thousand musty elephants with golden girdles, decked with ornaments; one thousand chariots, along with their drivers and warriors attached to each, a large number of chosen horses, ten thousand chariots and carts drawn by draught animals; sixty-thousand chosen warriors; then four hundred jewels of great value.

Yudhishthira is now like one possessed – and such indeed is the dice game. He is wagering one by one everything he has like a mad man. A great disaster is unfolding in the hall. Dhritarashtra of course approves of what is going on. He is in fact delighted at it. Since he cannot see by himself, he keeps asking, “Have I won it? Have I won it?” But Bhishma is watching it. So are Drona and Kripa, Ashwatthama and Bahlika and the large number of assembled kings and princes. All of them disapprove of it, but no one shows the courage to speak out against it.

In the entire Kaurava assembly, there is only one person who shows integrity and the courage to speak against it. No, it is not grandsire Bhishma, it is not guru Drona or Kripa, it is not Aswatthama, it is not Bahlika, it is certainly not Dhritarashtra who is supposed to have the interests of his younger brother’s children in his heart. It is none of the assembled kings. It is Vidura. But no one supports him and Duryodhana shouts at him and silences him.

The game continues. Shakuni asks Yudhishthira if there is anything else left with him. This is what Yudhishthira says, “O Shakuni, I know that I have untold wealth. But why is it that you ask me of my wealth? Let tens of thousands and millions and millions and tens of millions and hundreds of millions and tens of billions and hundreds of billions and trillions and tens of trillions and hundreds of trillions and tens of quadrillions and hundreds of quadrillions and even more wealth be staked by thee. I have as much. With that wealth, O king, I will play with thee."

This is not a sane man speaking. He has obviously lost all self-mastery over himself. He has lost touch with reality.

The next moment we hear Shakuni announcing, “Won!”

Yudhishthira then stakes “immeasurable kine and horses and milch cows with calves and goats and sheep” and loses them. Then he wagers his city, his country, the land and the wealth of all dwelling therein except of the Brahmanas. Next comes the turn of the ornaments his brothers are wearing. And then it is his brothers themselves. First Nakula, then Sahadeva, then Arjuna, and then Bhima. And finally, he stakes himself.

Then the unbelievable happens. Yudhishthira does what not even a common street gambler does. He wagers his wife, his queen, the proud Draupadi, whose praises he sings in ecstatic words before he stakes her.

Of course she too is lost. For the first time the assembly speaks. “Shame, shame!” they cry out in horror.

Duryodhana commands Vidura to go to the women’s apartments whether Draupadi is and bring her to the assembly – she is now his slave, he announces. Vidura does not move from his place. He shows the courage to openly defy Duryodhana’s power. Not only does he defy Duryodhana’s order, he shouts at Duryodhana, calling him a wretch who is behaving like a dog. This at a moment that Duryodhana considers the moment of his greatest victory. And publicly in Duryodhana’s own assembly, amidst his friends who are intoxicated with their evil victory.

But he is the only one who shows the courage to do so. Bhishma sits perspiring but silent, Drona sits perspiring but silent, and so do all the other elders. Not one of them shows the courage to speak up in the presence of the power-intoxicated Duryodhana.

There is nothing that Duryodhana can do against the fearless Vidura. He turns to an attendant, the pratikamin, to go and fetch Draupadi. Draupadi refuses to come and instead, asks Yudhishthira a question through the pratikamin: “Did he stake her after he lost himself or before that? Implying, if it was after he had lost himself, then he had no right to do so and she was not a slave.

The pratikamin comes back and asks the question. Duryodhana commands him to go back and tell her to come to the assembly and ask her question herself. Again Draupadi refuses to come. Instead, she asks the pratikamin to go back to the assembly and put the question to the elders in the assembly.

Not one of the elders in the assembly has one word to say in response to Draupadi’s question. Duryodhana commands the pratikamin to go back a third time and bring Draupadi to assembly. Instead of obeying him, the pratikamin turns to the assembly and asks Draupadi’s question again.

Such is the horror unfolding in the assembly that even an ordinary officer of the court gathers the courage to defy Duryodhana. True, it is partly also because he does not have the courage to face Draupadi a third time. But he does defy Duryodhana before whom he has no power.

But none of the powerful kshatriyas present in the assembly has the courage to speak up for Draupadi! Not even Bhishma and Drona!

Now Duryodhana sends his brother Dusshasana to bring Draupadi by force to the assembly. She begs Dusshasana to let her go, she is having her monthly period and according to custom wearing a single piece of cloth, she is not in a position to come before into the assembly. Dusshasana does not relent. Seeing that Draupadi turns around and runs towards where the Kuru women are. Dusshasana now catches hold of her by her hair and drags her into the assembly. Part of the cloth she is wearing slips away from her in their struggle and in that condition she is dragged all the way from her apartment to the dice hall.

A weeping, wailing, shaking Draupadi, with part of her cloth slipped away from her, is brought into the assembly in the dice hall. Dusshasana calls her a slave and Duryodhana, Karna and Shakuni applaud him. But still none present in the assembly has the courage to speak a word against Duryodhana or the evil that is unfolding before their eyes. Not one of them takes a step to put an end to the shameful horror.

Draupadi again asks her question: is she a slave or not? Now Bhishma speaks for the first time. This is what he says: “O blessed one, morality is subtle. I am therefore unable to duly decide this point that thou hast put, beholding that on the one hand one that hath no wealth cannot stake the wealth belonging to others, while on the other hand wives are always under the orders and at the disposal of their lords.”

Bhishma is right. He knows with certainly that Draupadi has now become enslaved to Duryodhana. In fact, Yudhishthira did not even have to wager her. She had become Duryodhana’s slave the moment Yudhishthira became Duryodhana’s slave. By the rules of the day in India, as over practically the entire world, a wife was a husband’s property and when he became a slave, she too became a slave. Besides, a slave had no property rights and whatever was his, belonged to his master, including his wife and children. In not directly saying Draupadi was not a slave, in equivocating, Bhishma was actually being kind to Draupadi.

But that was not the issue. The real issue was not whether Draupadi was technically a slave or not. The issue was what was happening in the Kaurava assembly. The issue was of a woman being publicly humiliated in an assembly as kshatriyas, whoever she was. And the kshatriya code all over the world said a woman begging for protection deserved to be protected even at the risk of one’s own life. It was this basic kshatriya code that everyone in the assembly failed to live up to. And in this case, that woman was the eldest daughter-in-law of the house, a princess by birth, a queen sanctified by the rajasooya sacrifice, a woman who had committed no crime, no sin.

Why did Bhishma fail to see this truth? Why did Drona, Kripa, Ashwtthama, Bahlika and others fail to see the truth?

And why did the Pandava brothers themselves fail to see this truth? True, they had become slaves. But aren’t there things even a slave can, and should, protest against? Couldn’t the slave Arjuna’s Gandiva still have spelled terror for the wicked? Couldn’t the slave Bhima’s muscles still have terrified the wicked?

Becoming a slave is one thing. Accepting slavery is another thing. There are slaves who meekly submit to slavery. And there are slaves who fight for justice even in slavery, who stand with their heads held high even in slavery.

I see this as a sign of the disease that had infected the entire kshatriya class of the day. Rather than standing up for justice, they had learnt to bend their knees before insolent might.

There is a beautiful prayer by Rabindranath Tagore that I love. A line in the prayer says: “Give me the strength never to . . . bend my knees before insolent might.”

What was on display for all to see was insolent might. Pure and shameless insolent might. And the kshatriyas there bent their knees before it.

There is a popular belief that both Krishna and Draupadi were born to destroy the kshatriya race of the day. If it is true, it should be because this is what had become of the kshatriyas of the day. Kshatriyas are meant to be leaders of men and leaders of men require courage and integrity. And the men in that assembly lacked courage and integrity.

Imagine Krishna being present in that assembly. What would he have done? Would he have sat there silently like Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Bahlika and other elders, perspiring and helpless? Or would he have invoked his Sudarshana?

Krishna himself answers the question in the Vana Parva of the epic when he meets the Pandavas and Draupadi in the jungle. If nothing else worked, he would have turned the assembly into a river of blood. He would have killed off every single person there who stood with evil.

Which is what makes Krishna the supreme leader of the age. He fought against the insolent might of Kamsa while he was still a boy. As an adult he would destroy adharma wherever he found it, be it in the mighty Jarasandha, in the powerful Kalayavana, in the cunning Paundraka Vasudeva, or anywhere else.

Leadership means integrity and courage to act. Without integrity and courage to act there can be no leadership.

The day these leaders of men failed to speak up for justice was one of the most shameful days for Hastinapura. Barring Vidura, and Vikarna who would later speak up, everyone else there proved not to be a leader.

Darker things would happen in the assembly on that day. But no leader would emerge in the dice hall. The men assembled there lacked the courage that a leader requires. And without courage, no other virtue is a virtue.

C.S. Lewis put it beautifully: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

There was no virtue among the kshatriyas in the dice hall on that day because there was no courage.


Monday, July 26, 2010

India and the Scientific Revolution

An article by David Gray, PhD

1. Math and Ethnocentrism

The study of mathematics in the West has long been characterized by a certain ethnocentric bias, a bias which most often manifests not in explicit racism, but in a tendency toward undermining or eliding the real contributions made by non-Western civilizations. The debt owed by the West to other civilizations, and to India in particular, go back to the earliest epoch of the "Western" scientific tradition, the age of the classical Greeks, and continued up until the dawn of the modern era, the renaissance, when Europe was awakening from its dark ages. This awakening was in part made possible by the rediscovery of mathematics and other sciences and technologies through the medium of the Arabs, who transmitted to Europe both their own lost heritage as well as the advanced mathematical traditions formulated in India.

George Ghevarughese Joseph, in an important article entitled "Foundations of Eurocentrism in Mathematics," argued that "the standard treatment of the history of non-European mathematics is a product of historiographical bias (conscious or otherwise) in the selection and interpretation of facts, which, as a consequence, results in ignoring, devaluing or distorting contributions arising outside European mathematical traditions." (1987:14)

Due to the legacy of colonialism, the exploitation of which was ideologically justified through a doctrine of racial superiority, the contributions of non-European civilizations were often ignored, or, as Joseph argued, even distorted, in that they were often misattributed as European, i.e. Greek, contributions, and when their contributions were so great as to resist such treatment, they were typically devalued, considered inferior or irrelevant to Western mathematical traditions.

This tendency has not only led to the devaluation of non-Western mathematical traditions, but has distorted the history of Western mathematics as well. In so far as the contributions from non-Western civilizations are ignored, there is the problem of accounting for the development of mathematics purely within the Western cultural framework. This has led, as Sabetai Unguru has argued, toward a tendency to read more advanced mathematical concepts into the relatively simplistic geometrical formulations of Greek mathematicians such as Euclid, despite the fact that the Greeks lacked not only mathematic notation, but even the place-value system of enumeration, without which advanced mathematical calculation is impossible. Such ethnocentric revisionist history resulted in the attribution of more advanced algebraic concepts, which were actually introduced to Europe over a millennium later by the Arabs, to the Greeks. And while the contributions of the Greeks to mathematics was quite significant, the tendency of some math historians to jump from the Greeks to renaissance Europe results not only in an ethnocentric history, but an inadequate history as well, one which fails to take into account the full history of the development of modern mathematics, which is by no means a purely European development.

2. Vedic Altars and the "Pythagorean theorem"

A perfect example of this sort of misattribution involves the so-called Pythagorean theorem, the well-known theorem which was attributed to Pythagoras who lived around 500 BCE, but which was first proven in Greek sources in Euclid's Geometry, written centuries later. Despite the scarcity of evidence backing this attribution, it is not often questioned, perhaps due to the mantra-like frequency with which it is repeated. However, Seidenberg, in his 1978 article, shows that the thesis that Greece was the origin of geometric algebra was incorrect, "for geometric algebra existed in India before the classical period in Greece." (1978:323) It is now generally understood that the so-called "Pythagorean theorem" was understood in ancient India, and was in fact proved in Baudhayana's Shulba Sutra, a text dated to circa 600 BCE. (1978:323).

Knowledge of mathematics, and geometry in particular, was necessary for the precise construction of the complex Vedic altars, and mathematics was thus one of the topics covered in the brahmanas. This knowledge was further elaborated in the kalpa sutras, which gave more detailed instructions concerning Vedic ritual. Several of these treat the topic of altar construction. The oldest and most complete of these is the previously mentioned Shulba Sutra of Baudhaayana. As this text was composed about a century before Pythagoras, the theory that the Greeks were the source of Geometric algebra is untenable, while the hypothesis that India was have been a source for Greek geometry, transmitted via the Persians who traded both with the Greeks and the Indians, looks increasingly plausible. On the other hand, it is quite possible that both the Greeks and the Indians developed geometry. Seidenberg has argued, in fact, that both seem to have developed geometry out of the practical problems involving their construction of elaborate sacrificial altars. (See Seidenberg 1962 and 1983)

3. Zero and the Place Value System

Far more important to the development of modern mathematics than either Greek or Indian geometry was the development of the place value system of enumeration, the base ten system of calculation which uses nine numerals and zero to represent numbers ranging from the most minuscule decimal to the most inconceivably large power of ten. This system of enumeration was not developed by the Greeks, whose largest unit of enumeration was the myriad (10,000) or in China, where 10,000 was also the largest unit of enumeration until recent times. Nor was it developed by the Arabs, despite the fact that this numeral system is commonly called the Arabic numerals in Europe, where this system was first introduced by the Arabs in the thirteenth century.

Rather, this system was invented in India, where it evidently was of quite ancient origin. The Yajurveda Samhitaa, one of the Vedic texts predating Euclid and the Greek mathematicians by at least a millennium, lists names for each of the units of ten up to 10 to the twelfth power (paraardha). (Subbarayappa 1970:49) Later Buddhist and Jain authors extended this list as high as the fifty-third power, far exceeding their Greek contemporaries, who lacking a system of enumeration were unable to develop abstract mathematical concepts.

The place value system of enumeration is in fact built into the Sanskrit language, where each power of ten is given a distinct name. Not only are the units ten, hundred and thousand (daza, zata, sahasra) named as in English, but also ten thousand, hundred thousand, ten million, hundred million (ayuta, lakSa, koti, vyarbuda), and so forth up to the fifty-third power, providing distinct names where English makes use of auxillary bases such as thousand, million, etc.

By giving each power of ten an individual name, the Sanskrit system gave no special importance to any number. Thus the Sanskrit system is obviously superior to that of the Arabs (for whom the thousand was the limit), or the Greeks and Chinese (whose limit was ten thousand) and even to our own system (where the names thousand, million etc. continue to act as auxillary bases). Instead of naming the numbers in groups of three, four or eight orders of units, the Indians, from a very early date, expressed them taking the powers of ten and the names of the first nine units individually. In other words, to express a given number, one only had to place the name indicating the order of units between the name of the order of units immediately below it and the one immediately above it. That is exactly what is required in order to gain a precise idea of the place-value system, the rule being presented in a natural way and thus appearing self-explanatory. To put it plainly, the Sanskrit numeral system contained the very key to the discovery of the place-value system. (2000:429)

As Ifrah has shown at length, there is little doubt that our place-value numeral system developed in India (2000:399-409), and this system is embedded in the Sanskrit language, several aspects of which make it a very logical language, well suited to scientific and mathematical reasoning. Nor did this system exhaust Indian ingenuity; as van Nooten has shown, Pingala, who lived circa the first century BCE, developed a system of binary enumeration convertible to decimal numerals, described in his Chandahzaastra. His system is quite similar to that of Leibniz, who lived roughly fourteen hundred years later. (See Van Nooten)

India is also the locus of another closely related and equally important mathematical discovery, the numeral zero. The oldest known text to use zero is a Jain text entitled the Lokavibhaaga, which has been definitely dated to Monday 25 August 458 CE. (Ifrah 2000:417-1 9) This concept, combined by the place-value system of enumeration, became the basis for a classical era renaissance in Indian mathematics.

The Indian numeral system and its place value, decimal system of enumeration came to the attention of the Arabs in the seventh or eighth century, and served as the basis for the well known advancement in Arab mathematics, represented by figures such as al-Khwarizmi. It reached Europe in the twelfth century when Adelard of Bath translated al-Khwarizmi's works into Latin. (Subbarayappa 1970:49) But the Europeans were at first resistant to this system, being attached to the far less logical roman numeral system, but their eventual adoption of this system led to the scientific revolution that began to sweep Europe beginning in the thirteenth century.

4. Luminaries of Classical Indian Mathematics

The world did not have to wait for the Europeans to awake from their long intellectual slumber to see the development of advanced mathematical techniques. India achieved its own scientific renaissance of sorts during its classical era, beginning roughly one thousand years before the European Renaissance. Probably the most celebrated Indian mathematicians belonging to this period was Aaryabhat.a, who was born in 476 CE.

In 499, when he was only 23 years old, Aaryabhat.a wrote his Aaryabhat.iya, a text covering both astronomy and mathematics. With regard to the former, the text is notable for its awareness of the relativity of motion. (See Kak p. 16) This awareness led to the astonishing suggestion that it is the Earth that rotates the Sun. He argued for the diurnal rotation of the earth, as an alternate theory to the rotation of the fixed stars and sun around the earth (Pingree 1981:18). He made this suggestion approximately one thousand years before Copernicus, evidently independently, reached the same conclusion.

With regard to mathematics, one of Aaryabhat.a's greatest contributions was the calculation of sine tables, which no doubt was of great use for his astronomical calculations. In developing a way to calculate the sine of curves, rather than the cruder method of calculating chords devised by the Greeks, he thus went beyond geometry and contributed to the development of trigonometry, a development which did not occur in Europe until roughly one thousand years later, when the Europeans translated Indian influenced Arab mathematical texts.

Aaryabhat.a's mathematics was far ranging, as the topics he covered include geometry, algebra, trigonometry. He also developed methods of solving quadratic and indeterminate equations using fractions. He calculated pi to four decimal places, i.e., 3.1416. (Pingree 1981:57) In addition, Aaryabhat.a "invented a unique method of recording numbers which required perfect understanding of zero and the place-value system." (Ifrah 2000:419)

Given the astounding range of advanced mathematical concepts and techniques covered in this fifth century text, it should be of no surprise that it became extremely well known in India, judging by the large numbers of commentaries written upon it. It was studied by the Arabs in the eighth century following their conquest of Sind, and translated into Arabic, whence it influenced the development of both Arabic and European mathematical traditions.

Born in 598 CE in Rajastan in Western India, Brahmagupta founded an influential school of mathematics which rivaled Aaryabhat.a's. His best known work is the Brahmasphuta Siddhanta, written in 628 CE, in which he developed a solution for a certain type of second order indeterminate equation. This text was translated into Arabic in the eighth century, and became very influential in Arab mathematics. (See Kak p. 16)

Mahaaviira was a Jain mathematician who lived in the ninth century, who wrote on a wide range of mathematical topics. These include the mathematics of zero, squares, cubes, square-roots, cube-roots, and the series extending beyond these. He also wrote on plane and solid geometry, as well as problems relating to the casting of shadows. (Pingree 1981:60)

Bhaskara was one of the many outstanding mathematicians hailing from South India. Born in 1114 CE in Karnataka, he composed a four-part text entitled the Siddhanta Shiromani. Included in this compilation is the Biijagan.ita, which became the standard algebra textbook in Sanskrit. It contains descriptions of advanced mathematical techniques involving both positive and negative integers as well as zero, irrational numbers. It treats at length the "pulverizer" (kut.t.akaara) method of solving indeterminate equations with continued fractions, as well as the so-called "Pell's equation (vargaprakr.ti) dealing with indeterminate equations of the second degree. He also wrote on the solution to numerous kinds of linear and quadratic equations, including those involving multiple unknowns, and equations involving the product of different unknowns. (Pingree 1981, p. 64)

In short, he wrote a highly sophisticated mathematical text that proceeded by several centuries the development of such techniques in Europe, although it would be better to term this a rediscovery, since much of the Renaissance advances of mathematics in Europe was based upon the discovery of Arab mathematical texts, which were in turn highly influenced by these Indian traditions.

The Kerala region of South India was home to a very important school of mathematics. The best known member of this school Madhava (c. 1444-1545), who lived in Sangamagraama in Kerala. Primarily an astronomer, he made history in mathematics with his writings on trigonometry. He calculated the sine, cosine and arctangent of the circle, developing the world's first consistent system of trigonometry. (See Hayashi 1997:784-786) He also correctly calculated the value of pi to eleven decimal places. (Pingree 1981:490)

This is by no means a complete list of influential Indian mathematicians or Indian contributions to mathematics, but rather a survey of the highlights of what is, judged by any fair, unbiased standard, an illustrious tradition, important both for its own internal elegance as well as its influence on the history of European mathematical traditions. The classical Indian mathematical renaissance was an important precursor to the European renaissance, and to ignore this fact is to fail to grasp the history of latter, a history which was truly multicultural, deriving its inspiration from a variety of cultural roots.

There are in fact, as Frits Staal has suggested in his important (1995) article, "The Sanskrit of Science", profound similarities between the social contexts of classical India and renaissance Europe. In both cases, important revolutions in scientific thought occurred in complex, hierarchical societies in which certain elite groups were granted freedom from manual labor, and thus the opportunity to dedicate themselves to intellectual pursuits. In the case of classical India, these groups included certain brahmins as well as the Buddhist and Jain monks, while in renaissance Europe they included both the monks as well as their secular derivatives, the university scholars.

Why, one might ask, did Europe's take over thousand years to attain the level of abstract mathematics achieved by Indians such as Aaryabhat.a? The answer appears to be that Europeans were trapped in the relatively simplistic and concrete geometrical mathematics developed by the Greeks. It was not until they had, via the Arabs, received, assimilated and accepted the place-value system of enumeration developed in India that they were able to free their minds from the concrete and develop more abstract systems of thought. This development thus triggered the scientific and information technology revolutions which swept Europe and, later, the world. The role played by India in the development is no mere footnote, easily and inconsequentially swept under the rug of Eurocentric bias. To do so is to distort history, and to deny India one of its greatest contributions to world civilization.

Works Cited

Hayashi, Takao. 1997. "Number Theory in India". In Helaine Selin, ed. Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 784-786.

Ifrah, Georges. 2000. The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer. David Bellos, E. F. Harding, Sophie Wood and Ian Monk, trans. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Joseph, George Ghevarughese. 1987. "Foundations of Eurocentrism in Mathematics". In Race & Class 28.3, pp. 13-28.

Kak, Subhash. "An Overview of Ancient Indian Science". In T. R. N. Rao and Subhash Kak, eds. Computing Science in Ancient India, pp. 6-21.

van Nooten, B. "Binary Numbers in Indian Antiquity". In T. R. N. Rao and Subhash Kak, eds. Computing Science in Ancient India, pp. 21-39.

Pingree, David. Jyotih.zaastra: Astral and Mathematical Literature, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1981, p. 4.

Seidenberg, A. 1962. "The Ritual Origin of Geometry". In Archive for History of Exact Sciences 1, pp. 488-527.

______. 1978. "The Origin of Mathematics". In Archive for History of Exact Sciences 18.4, pp. 301-42.

______. 1983. "The Geometry of Vedic Rituals". In Frits Staal, ed. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986, vol. 2, pp. 95-126.

Unguru, Sabetai. 1975. "On the Need to Rewrite the History of Greek Mathematics". In Archive for History of Exact Sciences 15.1, pp. 67-114.

Staal, Frits. 1995. "The Sanskrit of Science". In Journal of Indian Philosophy 23, pp. 73-127.

Subbarayappa, B. V. 1970. "India's Contributions to the History of Science". In Lokesh Chandra, et al., eds. India's Contribution to World Thought and Culture. Madras: Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, pp. 47-66.



From The Tao of Leadership by John Heider

Flexible or Rigid

At birth, a person is flexible and flowing. At death, a person becomes rigid and blocked. Consider the lives of plants and trees: during their time of greatest growth, they are relatively tender and pliant. But when they are full grown or begin to die, they become tough and brittle.

The tree which has grown up and become rigid is cut into lumber.

The rigid group leader may be able to lead repetitious and structural exercises but can’t cope with lively group process.

Whatever is flexible and flowing will tend to grow. Whatever is rigid and blocked will atrophy and die.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hands of Destiny: A Zen Story

A great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga decided to attack the enemy although he had only one tenth the number of men the opposition commanded.

He knew that he would win, but his soldiers were in doubt. On the way he stopped at a Shinto shrine and told his man, 'After I visit the shrine I will toss a coin. If heads come we will win; if tails come we will lose. Destiny holds us in her hand.'

Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered a silent prayer. He came forth and tossed a coin. Heads appeared. His soldiers were so eager to fight that they won their battle easily.

'No one can change the hand of destiny,' his attendant told him after the battle. ‘Indeed not,' said Nobunaga, showing a coin, which had been doubled, with heads facing either way.

[Courtesy: Paul Reps]

Osho’s Enlightenment, Part 5

I walked towards the nearest garden. It was a totally new walk, as if gravitation had disappeared. I was walking, or I was running, or I was simply flying; it was difficult to decide. There was no gravitation, I was feeling weightless—as if some energy was taking me. I was in the hands of some other energy.

For the first time I was not alone, for the first time I was no more an individual, for the first time the drop has come and fallen into the ocean. Now the whole ocean was mine, I was the ocean. There was no limitation. A tremendous power arose as if I could do anything whatsoever. I was not there, only the power was there.

I reached to the garden where I used to go every day. The garden was closed, closed for the night. It was too late, it was almost one o’clock in the night. The gardeners were fast asleep. I had to enter the garden like a thief, I had to climb the gate. But something was pulling me towards the garden. It was not within my capacity to prevent myself. I was just floating.

That’s what I mean when I say again and again ‘float with the river, don’t push the river’. I was relaxed, I was in a let-go. I was not there. It was there, call it God—God was there.

I would like to call it It, because god is too human a word, and has become too dirty by too much use, has become too polluted by so many people. Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans, priests and politicians—they all have corrupted the beauty of the word. So let me call it It. It was there and I was just carried away…carried by a tidal wave.

The moment I entered the garden everything became luminous, it was all over the place—the benediction, the blessedness. I could see the trees for the first time—their green, their life, their very sap running. The whole garden was asleep, the trees were asleep. But I could see the whole garden alive, even the small grass leaves were so beautiful.

I looked around. One tree was tremendously luminous—the maulshree tree. It attracted me, it pulled me towards itself. I had not chosen it, god himself has chosen it. I went to the tree, I sat under the tree. As I sat there things started settling. The whole universe became a benediction.

It is difficult to say how long I was in that state. When I went back home it was four o’clock in the morning, so I must have been there by clock time at least three hours—but it was infinity. It had nothing to do with clock time. It was timeless.
Those three hours became the whole eternity, endless eternity. There was no time, there was no passage of time; it was the virgin reality—uncorrupted, untouchable, unmeasurable.

And that day something happened that has continued—not as a continuity—but it has still continued as an undercurrent. Not as a permanency—each moment it has been happening again and again. It has been a miracle each moment.

That night…and since that night I have never been in the body. I am hovering around it. I became tremendously powerful and at the same time very fragile. I became very strong, but that strength is not the strength of a Mohammed Ali. That strength is not the strength of a rock, that strength is the strength of a rose flower—so fragile in its strength…so fragile, so sensitive, so delicate.

The rock will be there, the flower can go any moment, but still the flower is stronger than the rock because it is more alive. Or, the strength of a dewdrop on a leaf of grass just shining; in the morning sun—so beautiful, so precious, and yet can slip any moment. So incomparable in its grace, but a small breeze can come and the dewdrop can slip and be lost forever.

Buddhas have a strength which is not of this world. Their strength is totally of love…Like a rose flower or a dewdrop. Their strength is very fragile, vulnerable. Their strength is the strength of life not of death. Their power is not of that which kills; their power is of that which creates. Their power is not of violence, aggression; their power is that of compassion.

But I have never been in the body again, I am just hovering around the body. And that’s why I say it has been a tremendous miracle. Each moment I am surprised I am still here, I should not be. I should have left any moment, still I am here. Every morning I open my eyes and I say, ‘So, again I am still here?’ Because it seems almost impossible. The miracle has been a continuity.

Just the other day somebody asked a question—‘Osho, you are getting so fragile and delicate and so sensitive to the smells of hair oils and shampoos that it seems we will not be able to see you unless we all go bald.’ By the way, nothing is wrong with being bald—bald is beautiful. Just as ‘black is beautiful’, so ‘bald is beautiful’. But that is true and you have to be careful about it.

I am fragile, delicate and sensitive. That is my strength. If you throw a rock at a flower nothing will happen to the rock, the flower will be gone. But still you cannot say that the rock is more powerful than the flower. The flower will be gone because the flower was alive. And the rock—nothing will happen to it because it is dead. The flower will be gone because the flower has no strength to destroy. The flower will simply disappear and give way to the rock. The rock has a power to destroy because the rock is dead.

Remember, since that day I have never been in the body really; just a delicate thread joins me with the body. And I am continuously surprised that somehow the whole must be willing me to be here, because I am no more here with my own strength, I am no more here on my own. It must be the will of the whole to keep me here, to allow me to linger a little more on this shore. Maybe the whole wants to share something with you through me.

Since that day the world is unreal. Another world has been revealed. When I say the world is unreal I don’t mean that these trees are unreal. These trees are absolutely real—but the way you see these trees is unreal. These trees are not unreal in themselves—they exist in God, they exist in absolute reality—but the way you see them you never see them; you are seeing something else, a mirage.

You create your own dream around you and unless you become awake you will continue to dream. The world is unreal because the world that you know is the world of your dreams. When dreams drop and you simply encounter the world that is there, then the real world.

There are not two things, God and the world. God is the world if you have eyes, clear eyes, without any dreams, without any dust of the dreams, without any haze of sleep; if you have clear eyes, clarity, perceptiveness, there is only God.

Then somewhere God is a green tree, and somewhere else God is a shining star, and somewhere else God is a cuckoo, and somewhere else God is a flower, and somewhere else a child and somewhere else a river—then only God is. The moment you start seeing, only God is.

But right now whatsoever you see is not the truth, it is a projected lie. That is the meaning of a mirage. And once you see, even for a single split moment, if you can see, if you can allow yourself to see, you will find immense benediction present all over, everywhere—in the clouds, in the sun, on the earth.

This is a beautiful world. But I am not talking about your world, I am talking about my world. Your world is very ugly, your world is your world created by a self, your world is a projected world. You are using the real world as a screen and projecting your own ideas on it.

When I say the world is real, the world is tremendously beautiful, the world is luminous with infinity, the world is light and delight, it is a celebration, I mean my world—or your world if you drop your dreams.

When you drop your dreams you see the same world as any Buddha has ever seen. When you dream you dream privately. Have you watched it?—that dreams are private. You cannot share them even with your beloved. You cannot invite your wife to your dream—or your husband, or your friend. You cannot say, ‘Now, please come tonight in my dream. I would like to see the dream together.’ It is not possible. Dream is a private thing, hence it is illusory, it has no objective reality.

God is a universal thing. Once you come out of your private dreams, it is there. It has been always there. Once your eyes are clear, a sudden illumination—suddenly you are overflooded with beauty, grandeur and grace. That is the goal, that is the destiny.

Let me repeat. Without effort you will never reach it, with effort nobody has ever reached it. You will need great effort, and only then there comes a moment when effort becomes futile. But it becomes futile only when you have come to the very peak of it, never before it. When you have come to the very pinnacle of your effort—all that you can do you have done—then suddenly there is no need to do anything any more. You drop the effort.

But nobody can drop it in the middle, it can be dropped only at the extreme end. So go to the extreme end if you want to drop it. Hence I go on insisting: make as much effort as you can, put your whole energy and total heart in it, so that one day you can see—now effort is not going to lead me anywhere. And that day it will not be you who will drop the effort, it drops on its own accord. And when it drops on its own accord, meditation happens.

Meditation is not a result of your efforts, meditation is a happening. When your efforts drop, suddenly meditation is there…the benediction of it, the blessedness of it, the glory of it. It is there like a presence…luminous, surrounding you and surrounding everything. It fills the whole earth and the whole sky.

That meditation cannot be created by human effort. Human effort is too limited.

That blessedness is so infinite. You cannot manipulate it. It can happen only when you are in a tremendous surrender. When you are not there only then it can happen. When you are a no-self—no desire, not going anywhere—when you are just herenow, not doing anything in particular, just being, it happens. And it comes in waves and the waves become tidal. It comes like a storm, and takes you away into a totally new reality.

But first you have to do all that you can do, and then you have to learn non-doing. The doing of the non-doing is the greatest doing, and the effort of effortlessness is the greatest effort.

Your meditation that you create by chanting a mantra or by sitting quiet and still and forcing yourself, is a very mediocre meditation. It is created by you, it cannot be bigger than you. It is homemade, and the maker is always bigger than the made. You have made it by sitting, forcing in a yoga posture, chanting ‘rama, rama, rama’ or anything—‘blah, blah, blah’—anything. You have forced the mind to become still.

It is a forced stillness. It is not that quiet that comes when you are not there. It is not that silence which comes when you are almost non-existential. It is not that beautitude which descends on you like a dove.

It is said when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, god descended in him, or the holy ghost descended in him like a dove. Yes, that is exactly so. When you are not there peace descends in you…fluttering like a dove…reaches in your heart and abides there and abides there forever.

You are your undoing, you are the barrier. Meditation is when the meditator is not. When the mind ceases with all its activities—seeing that they are futile—then the unknown penetrates you, overwhelms you.

The mind must cease for God to be. Knowledge must cease for knowing to be. You must disappear, you must give way. You must become empty, then only you can be full.

That night I became empty and became full. I became non-existential and became existence. That night I died and was reborn. But the one that was reborn has nothing to do with that which died, it is a discontinuous thing. On the surface it looks continuous but it is discontinuous. The one who died, died totally; nothing of him has remained.

Believe me, nothing of him has remained, not even a shadow. It died totally, utterly. It is not that I am just a modified rup, transformed, modified form, transformed form of the old. No, there has been no continuity. That day of March twenty-first, the person who had lived for many many lives, for millennia, simply died. Another being, absolutely new, not connected at all with the old, started to exist.

Religion just gives you a total death. Maybe that’s why the whole day previous to that happening I was feeling some urgency like death, as if I am going to die—and I really died. I have known many other deaths but they were nothing compared to it, they were partial deaths.

Sometimes the body died, sometimes a part of the mind died, sometimes a part of the ego died, but as far as the person was concerned, it remained. Renovated many times, decorated many times, changed a little bit here and there, but it remained, the continuity remained.

That night the death was total. It was a date with death and god simultaneously. [trans211]



Osho’s Enlightenment, Part 4

I am reminded of the fateful day of twenty-first March, 1953. For many lives I had been working—working upon myself, struggling, doing whatsoever can be done—and nothing was happening.

Now I understand why nothing was happening. The very effort was the barrier, the very ladder was preventing, the very urge to seek was the obstacle. Not that one can reach without seeking. Seeking is needed, but then comes a point when seeking has to be dropped. The boat is needed to cross the river but then comes a moment when you have to get out of the boat and forget all about it and leave it behind. Effort is needed, without effort nothing is possible. And also only with effort, nothing is possible.

Just before twenty-first March, 1953, seven days before, I stopped working on myself. A moment comes when you see the whole futility of effort. You have done all that you can do and nothing is happening. You have done all that is humanly possible. Then what else can you do? In sheer helplessness one drops all search.

And the day the search stopped, the day I was not seeking for something, the day I was not expecting something to happen, it started happening. A new energy arose—out of nowhere. It was not coming from any source. It was coming from nowhere and everywhere. It was in the trees and in the rocks and the sky and the sun and the air—it was everywhere. And I was seeking so hard, and I was thinking it is very far away. And it was so near and so close.

Just because I was seeking I had become incapable of seeing the near. Seeking is always for the far, seeking is always for the distant—and it was not distant. I had become far-sighted, I had lost the near-sightedness. The eyes had become focussed on the far away, the horizon, and they had lost the quality to see that which is just close, surrounding you.

The day effort ceased, I also ceased. Because you cannot exist without effort, and you cannot exist without desire, and you cannot exist without striving.

The phenomenon of the ego, of the self, is not a thing, it is a process. It is not a substance sitting there inside you; you have to create it each moment. It is like pedalling bicycle. If you pedal it goes on and on, if you don’t pedal it stops. It may go a little because of the past momentum, but the moment you stop pedalling, in fact the bicycle starts stopping. It has no more energy, no more power to go anywhere. It is going to fall and collapse.

The ego exists because we go on pedalling desire, because we go on striving to get something, because we go on jumping ahead of ourselves. That is the very phenomenon of the ego—the jump ahead of yourself, the jump in the future, the jump in the tomorrow. The jump in the non-existential creates the ego. Because it comes out of the non-existential it is like a mirage. It consists only of desire and nothing else. It consists only of thirst and nothing else.

The ego is not in the present, it is in the future. If you are in the future, then ego seems to be very substantial. If you are in the present the ego is a mirage, it starts disappearing.

The day I stopped seeking…and it is not right to say that I stopped seeking, better will be to say the day seeking stopped. Let me repeat it: the better way to say it is the day the seeking stopped. Because if I stop it then I am there again. Now stopping becomes my effort, now stopping becomes my desire, and desire goes on existing in a very subtle way.

You cannot stop desire; you can only understand it. In the very understanding is the stopping of it. Remember, nobody can stop desiring, and the reality happens only when desire stops.

So this is the dilemma. What to do? Desire is there and Buddhas go on saying desire has to be stopped, and they go on saying in the next breath that you cannot stop desire. So what to do? You put people in a dilemma. They are in desire, certainly. You say it has to be stopped—okay. And then you say it cannot be stopped. Then what is to be done?

The desire has to be understood. You can understand it, you can just see the futility of it. A direct perception is needed, an immediate penetration is needed. Look into desire, just see what it is, and you will see the falsity of it, and you will see it is non-existential. And desire drops and something drops simultaneously within you.

Desire and the ego exist in cooperation, they coordinate. The ego cannot exist without desire, the desire cannot exist without the ego. Desire is projected ego, ego is introjected desire. They are together, two aspects of one phenomenon.

The day desiring stopped, I felt very hopeless and helpless. No hope because no future. Nothing to hope because all hoping has proved futile, it leads nowhere. You go in rounds. It goes on dangling in front of you, it goes on creating new mirages, it goes on calling you, ‘Come on, run fast, you will reach.’ But howsoever fast you run you never reach.

That’s why Buddha calls it a mirage. It is like the horizon that you see around the earth. It appears but it is not there. If you go it goes on running from you. The faster you run, the faster it moves away. The slower you go, the slower it moves away. But one thing is certain—the distance between you and the horizon remains absolutely the same. Not even a single inch can you reduce the distance between you and the horizon.

You cannot reduce the distance between you and your hope. Hope is horizon. You try to bridge yourself with the horizon, with the hope, with a projected desire. The desire is a bridge, a dream bridge—because the horizon exists not, so you cannot make a bridge towards it, you can only dream about the bridge. You cannot be joined with the non-existential.

The day the desire stopped, the day I looked and realized into it, it simply was futile. I was helpless and hopeless. But that very moment something started happening. The same started happening for which for many lives I was working and it was not happening.

In your hopelessness is the only hope, and in your desirelessness is your only fulfillment, and in your tremendous helplessness suddenly the whole existence starts helping you.

It is waiting. When it sees that you are working on your own, it does not interfere. It waits. It can wait infinitely because there is no hurry for it. It is eternity. The moment you are not on your own, the moment you drop, the moment you disappear, the whole existence rushes towards you, enters you. And for the first time things start happening.

Seven days I lived in a very hopeless and helpless state, but at the same time something was arising. When I say hopeless I don’t mean what you mean by the word hopeless. I simply mean there was no hope in me. Hope was absent. I am not saying that I was hopeless and sad. I was happy in fact, I was very tranquil, calm and collected and centered. Hopeless, but in a totally new meaning. There was no hope, so how could there be hopelessness. Both had disappeared.

The hopelessness was absolute and total. Hope had disappeared and with it its counterpart, hopelessness, had also disappeared. It was a totally new experience—of being without hope. It was not a negative state. I have to use words—but it was not a negative state. It was absolutely positive. It was not just absence, a presence was felt. Something was overflowing in me, overflooding me.

And when I say I was helpless, I don’t mean the word in the dictionary-sense. I simply say I was selfless. That’s what I mean when I say helpless. I have recognized the fact that I am not, so I cannot depend on myself, so I cannot stand on my own ground—there was no ground underneath. I was in an abyss . . . bottomless abyss. But there was no fear because there was nothing to protect. There was no fear because there was nobody to be afraid.

Those seven days were of tremendous transformation, total transformation. And the last day the presence of a totally new energy, a new light and new delight, became so intense that it was almost unbearable—as if I was exploding, as if I was going mad with blissfulness. The new generation in the West has the right word for it—I was blissed out, stoned.

It was impossible to make any sense out of it, what was happening. It was a very non-sense world—difficult to figure it out, difficult to manage in categories, difficult to use words, languages, explanations. All scriptures appeared dead and all the words that have been used for this experience looked very pale, anaemic. This was so alive. It was like a tidal wave of bliss.

The whole day was strange, stunning, and it was a shattering experience. The past was disappearing, as if it had never belonged to me, as if I had read about it somewhere, as if I had dreamed about it, as if it was somebody else’s story I have heard and somebody told it to me. I was becoming loose from my past, I was being uprooted from my history, I was losing my autobiography. I was becoming a non-being, what Buddha calls anatta. Boundaries were disappearing, distinctions were disappearing.

Mind was disappearing; it was millions of miles away. It was difficult to catch hold of it, it was rushing farther and farther away, and there was no urge to keep it close. I was simply indifferent about it all. It was okay. There was no urge to remain continuous with the past.

By the evening it became so difficult to bear it—it was hurting, it was painful. It was like when a woman goes into labour when a child is to be born, and the woman suffers tremendous pain—the birth pangs.

I used to go to sleep in those days near about twelve or one in the night, but that day it was impossible to remain awake. My eyes were closing, it was difficult to keep them open. Something was very imminent, something was going to happen. It was difficult to say what it was—maybe it is going to be my death—but there was no fear. I was ready for it. Those seven days had been so beautiful that I was ready to die, nothing more was needed. They had been so tremendously blissful, I was so contented, that if death was coming, it was welcome.

But something was going to happen—something like death, something very drastic, something which will be either a death or a new birth, a crucifixion or a resurrection—but something of tremendous import was around just by the corner. And it was impossible to keep my eyes open. I was drugged.

I went to sleep near about eight. It was not like sleep. Now I can understand what Patanjali means when he says that sleep and samadhi are similar. Only with one difference—that in samadhi you are fully awake and asleep also. Asleep and awake together, the whole body relaxed, every cell of the body totally relaxed, all functioning relaxed, and yet a light of awareness burns within you…clear, smokeless. You remain alert and yet relaxed, loose but fully awake. The body is in the deepest sleep possible and your consciousness is at its peak. The peak of consciousness and the valley of the body meet.

I went to sleep. It was a very strange sleep. The body was asleep, I was awake. It was so strange—as if one was torn apart into two directions, two dimensions; as if the polarity has become completely focused, as if I was both the polarities together…the positive and negative were meeting, sleep and awareness were meeting, death and life were meeting. That is the moment when you can say ‘the creator and the creation meet.’

It was weird. For the first time it shocks you to the very roots, it shakes your foundations. You can never be the same after that experience; it brings a new vision to your life, a new quality.

Near about twelve my eyes suddenly opened—I had not opened them. The sleep was broken by something else. I felt a great presence around me in the room. It was a very small room. I felt a throbbing life all around me, a great vibration—almost like a hurricane, a great storm of light, joy, ecstasy. I was drowning in it.

It was so tremendously real that everything became unreal. The walls of the room became unreal, the house became unreal, my own body became unreal. Everything was unreal because now there was for the first time reality.

That’s why when Buddha and Shankara say the world is maya, a mirage, it is difficult for us to understand. Because we know only this world, we don’t have any comparison. This is the only reality we know. What are these people talking about—this is maya, illusion? This is the only reality. Unless you come to know the really real, their words cannot be understood, their words remain theoretical. They look like hypotheses. Maybe this man is propounding a philosophy—‘The world is unreal’.

When Berkley in the West said that the world is unreal, he was walking with one of his friends, a very logical man; the friend was almost a skeptic. He took a stone from the road and hit Berkley’s feet hard. Berkley screamed, blood rushed out, and the skeptic said, ‘Now, the world is unreal? You say the world is unreal?—then why did you scream? This stone is unreal?—then why did you scream? Then why are you holding your leg and why are you showing so much pain and anguish on your face. Stop this? It is all unreal.

Now this type of man cannot understand what Buddha means when he says the world is a mirage. He does not mean that you can pass through the wall. He is not saying this—that you can eat stones and it will make no difference whether you eat bread or stones. He is not saying that.

He is saying that there is a reality. Once you come to know it, this so-called reality simply pales out, simply becomes unreal. With a higher reality in vision the comparison arises, not otherwise.

In the dream; the dream is real. You dream every night. Dream is one of the greatest activities that you go on doing. If you live sixty years, twenty years you will sleep and almost ten years you will dream. Ten years in a life—nothing else do you do so much. Ten years of continuous dreaming—just think about it. And every night…. And every morning you say it was unreal, and again in the night when you dream, dream becomes real.

In a dream it is so difficult to remember that this is a dream. But in the morning it is so easy. What happens? You are the same person. In the dream there is only one reality. How to compare? How to say it is unreal? Compared to what? It is the only reality. Everything is as unreal as everything else so there is no comparison. In the morning when you open your eyes another reality is there. Now you can say it was all unreal.

Compared to this reality, dream becomes unreal.

There is an awakening—compared to that reality of that awakening, this whole reality becomes unreal.

That night for the first time I understood the meaning of the word maya. Not that I had not known the word before, not that I was not aware of the meaning of the word. As you are aware, I was also aware of the meaning—but I had never understood it before. How can you understand without experience?

That night another reality opened its door, another dimension became available. Suddenly it was there, the other reality, the separate reality, the really real, or whatsoever you want to call it—call it god, call it truth, call it dhamma, call it tao, or whatsoever you will. It was nameless. But it was there—so opaque, so transparent, and yet so solid one could have touched it. It was almost suffocating me in that room. It was too much and I was not yet capable of absorbing it.

A deep urge arose in me to rush out of the room, to go under the sky—it was suffocating me. It was too much! It will kill me! If I had remained a few moments more, it would have suffocated me—it looked like that.

I rushed out of the room, came out in the street. A great urge was there just to be under the sky with the stars, with the trees, with the earth…to be with nature. And immediately as I came out, the feeling of being suffocated disappeared. It was too small a place for such a big phenomenon. Even the sky is a small place for that big phenomenon. It is bigger than the sky. Even the sky is not the limit for it. But then I felt more at ease.


To be continued…5


Osho’s Enlightenment, Part 3

I tell you from my own experience that there is no easier path than merging with one’s own self. The only thing one has to do is stop seeking for the support of anything on the surface of the mind. By catching hold of thoughts you cannot drown and because of their support you remain on the surface.

We are in the habit of catching hold of thoughts. As soon as one thought passes on we catch hold of another—but we never enter the gap between two successive thoughts. This gap itself is the channel to drowning in the depths. Do not move in thoughts—go deep down between them in the gaps.

How can this be done? It can be done by awareness, by observing the stream of thoughts. Just as a man standing on the side of a road watches the people passing by, you should observe your thoughts. They are simply pedestrians, passing by on the road of the mind within you. Just watch them. Don’t form judgment about any of them. If you can observe them with detachment, the fist that has been gripping them opens automatically and you will find yourself standing, not in thoughts, but in the interval, in the gap between them. But the gap has no foundation so it isn’t possible just to stand there. Simply by being there you drown.

And this drowning itself is the real support because it is through this that you reach the being you really are. One who seeks support in the realm of thoughts is really suspended in the air without support—but he who throws away all crutches attains the support of his own self. [pway07]

A meditator has to remember not to struggle with the thoughts. If you want to win, don’t fight. That is a simple rule of thumb. If you want to win, simply don’t fight. The thoughts will be coming as usual. You just watch, hiding behind your blanket; let them come and go. Just don’t get involved with them.

The whole question is of not getting involved in any way—appreciation or condemnation, any judgment, bad or good. Don’t say anything, just remain absolutely aloof and allow the mind to move in its routine way. If you can manage…and this has been managed by thousands of buddhas, so there is not a problem. And when I say this can be managed, I am saying it on my own authority. I don’t have any other authority.

I have fought and have tortured myself with fighting and I have known the whole split that creates a constant misery and tension. Finally seeing the point that victory is impossible, I simply dropped out of the fight. I allowed the thoughts to move as they want; I am no longer interested.

And this is a miracle, that if you are not interested, thoughts start coming less. When you are utterly uninterested, they stop coming. And a state of no-thought, without any fight, is the greatest peace one has ever known. This is what we are calling the empty heart of the Buddha. [empti03]

This mind is amazing. It comes to be experienced like an onion. One day, seeing an onion, I was reminded of this resemblance. I was peeling the onion; I went on peeling layer after layer, and finally nothing remained of it. First thick rough layers, then soft smooth layers, and then nothing.

Thus is the mind also. You go on peeling off, first gross layers, then subtle layers, and then remains an emptiness. Thoughts, passions and ego, and then nothing at all, just emptiness. It is the uncovering of this emptiness that I call meditation. This emptiness is our true self. That which ultimately remains is the self-form. Call it the self, call it the no-self, words do not mean anything. Where there is no thought, passion, or ego, is that which is.

Hume has said, “Whenever I dive into myself I do not meet any ‘I’ there. I come across either some thought or some passion or some memory, but never across myself.” This is right—but Hume turns back from the layers only, and that is the mistake. Had he gone a little deeper he would have reached the place where there is nothing to come across, and that is the true self. Where there remains nothing to come across is that which I am. Everything is based in that emptiness. But if somebody turns back from the very surface, no acquaintance with it takes place.

On the surface is the world, at the center is the self. On the surface is everything, at the center is nothingness, the void. [sdwisd03]


I remember the days when my mind was in darkness, when nothing was clear inside me at all. One thing in particular I recall about those days was that I did not feel love for anyone, I did not even love myself.

But when I came to the experience of meditation, I felt as though a million dormant springs of love had suddenly begun to bubble up in me. This love was not focused, not directed to anyone in particular, it was just a flow, fluid and forceful. It flowed from me as light streams from a lamp, as fragrance pours from flowers. In the wonderful moment of my awakening I realized that love was the real manifestation of my nature, of man’s nature.

Love has no direction; it is not aimed at anyone. Love is a manifestation of the soul, of one’s self.

Before this experience happened to me I believed love meant being attached to someone. Now I realize that love and attachment are two completely different things. Attachment is the absence of love. Attachment is the opposite of hatred, and hatred it can easily become. They are a pair, attachment and hatred. They are mutually interchangeable.

The opposite of hatred is not love. Not at all. And love is quite different from attachment too. Love is a completely new dimension. It is the absence of both attachment and hatred, yet it is not negative. Love is the positive existence of some higher power. This power, this energy, flows from the self towards all things—not because it is attracted by them, but because love is emitted by the self. Because love is the perfume of the self. [long06]


To be continued…4