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THE DHAMMAPADA: THE WAY OF THE BUDDHA, VOL. 7

Chapter 2: The greatest rebellion ever tried

Question 2

 

Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Dhammapada         The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 7

 

The second question:
Question 2
BELOVED MASTER,
WHY DOES GAUTAMA THE BUDDHA INSIST THAT LIFE IS ALWAYS MISERY?

Dharmendra, because it is so! Life as you know it IS misery. Buddha is not talking about HIS life, because what do you know about his life? That is not utter misery; that is utter bliss, that is ultimate bliss. But the life that you know IS misery. Does it need any proofs? Have you not observed yourself that it is misery? Do you need a Buddha to remind you?
And even when a buddha reminds you, you don't feel good. You feel offended, as if your life is being condemned. He is not condemning your life -- buddhas never condemn anything. They simply say whatsoever is the case. If you are blind, they say you are blind. If you are dead, they say you are dead. They simply state the fact -- and they state the fact because there is a possibility to go beyond it.
Buddha insists again and again that life is misery because life CAN be tremendous bliss. But unless you understand the first thing you will not understand the second thing.
First you have to be very very aware that your life is misery, so much so that it becomes impossible to live in the old way even for a single moment. When you see your house is on fire, how can you go on living in it? You will run, you will escape from the house! You will forget all your treasures. You will not carry your cherished items, beautiful paintings, art works, or whatsoever you love. You will forget all about your postal stamps and your picture albums. You will forget even your wife, your husband, your children. You will remember them when you are out of the house.

Buddha used to tell a story:
There was an old man, eighty years old, who became blind in old age. His friends, his physicians, suggested to him that his eyes could be cured, but the old man was a philosopher, a logician, a great scholar. He said, "What do I need eyes for? I have twelve sons -- that means twenty-four eyes; their twelve wives -- that means twenty-four eyes more; my wife -- two eyes more; and so many children of my sons.... I have so many eyes, why do I need eyes for myself? In this house there are at least one hundred eyes; if two eyes are missing it doesn't matter. My needs are looked after."
His logic had a point in it. He silenced his friends and physicians. But one night the house caught fire. Those hundred eyes escaped -- they forgot all about the old man. Yes, they remembered, but they remembered only when they were safe outside. Suddenly they remembered that the old man is in the house. What to do now? And the flames were so big now they could not go in. And the old man was trying to find his way stumbling, getting burned here and there. And then he remembered that his logic was absolute stupidity.
In times of real need only your own eyes can be of help. But it was too late: he died, he was burned alive.

When Buddha insists again and again that life is DUKKHA -- misery, anguish, pain -- he is simply reminding you that your house is on fire and your eyes are still blind. It is time -- prepare! Your eyes can be cured. A way can be found to come out of this fire. You can still save yourself, all is not yet lost. Hence the insistence.
Not that he is a pessimist -- as many people in the West particularly have condemned him, and in the East too. People think that Buddha is a pessimist, saying life is misery. He is not a pessimist -- not a pessimist in the same way as Arthur Schopenhauer is. Schopenhauer is a pessimist: "Life is misery and there is no way to get out of it. You have to suffer it, nothing can be done about it. Man is a helpless victim."
It is said that when Schopenhauer read Gautam Buddha's works for the first time he danced because he thought, "This enlightened man agrees with me!"
Now, no enlightened man can ever agree with those who are not enlightened; it is impossible. Either you agree with them or you don't agree with them, but they never agree with you. They cannot. How can the man who has eyes agree with the man who is blind about light? -- or about darkness even?
Remember one thing: the blind man knows nothing about darkness even, what to say about light! Because to see darkness eyes are needed. You may be thinking that blind people live in darkness -- you are totally wrong. They know nothing of darkness. Because YOU close your eyes and you feel darkness, so you think blind people must be living in darkness -- but they don't have eyes to close. And unless you know light you cannot know darkness; they are two aspects of the same coin. Eyes are needed for both.
Schopenhauer was utterly wrong -- Buddha was not agreeing with him. Of course, Buddha can be interpreted in such a way that he may look like a pessimist philosopher. He is neither a pessimist nor a philosopher. He is not even an optimist -- because pessimism and optimism both belong to the world of the blind.
Hopeless people hope. Blind people think sooner or later they will attain to eyes. In the dark night of your souls you cling to the hope that there must be a dawn. To tolerate the present misery you have to create a certain kind of optimistic attitude so that you can hope for a beautiful tomorrow -- although it never comes. But in hoping, you can tolerate. At least you can dilute your misery a little bit, you can avoid getting too much disturbed by it. You can remain occupied somewhere else. You can keep your eyes closed to the present anguish.
Buddha wants to bring you to the reality of your existence. He is a very earthly man, very pragmatic. He is a realist, he is not an idealist. He has nothing to do with pessimism and nothing to do with optimism. He is simply trying to shake you up. It is a way of hammering on your head. That's why he insists again and again that life is misery.
Watch your life, and you will find proofs and proofs, more than are needed, more proofs than you can manage. In fact, you will see that Buddha's insistence is not as much as it should be, that he is very lenient, very liberal.

Let me remind you about Peter's principles:
His first principle: Anything that begins well ends badly; anything that begins badly ends worse.
His second principle: Negative expectations yield negative results; positive expectations yield negative results.

Whatever you do, this way or that, everything ends in failure, everything ends in frustration. Still you feel offended by Buddha?

Two bums came to rest on the same park bench and struck up a conversation. Eventually they got around to how each of them had come to such dire straits.
One explained, "You are looking at a man who never took a word of advice from any man."
"Isn't that a coincidence?" replied the other. "You are looking at a man who took everybody's advice!"

Do whatsoever you want to do, but you will end in the same way. Everything ends in misery, everything ends in death. People make tremendous effort, but what can you do? -- all your efforts are doomed, because you don't do the fundamental thing that can bring a radical change. You don't create consciousness. That is the only radical transformation of life: from misery to bliss. You do everything else except meditate. You will earn money and you will become more and more powerful and you will have all that the world can provide.
And remember: I am not against the world. And I am not saying don't earn money and I am not saying don't make a beautiful house. But remember: these things in themselves cannot make your life a life of joy. Yes, if you are meditative then a beautiful house will have a totally different quality. A beautiful garden, a pond in your garden....
Mukta has just made a pond by the side of my room, a really beautiful pond with a small waterfall. If YOU are meditative, then it is a tremendously beautiful experience just to see water dancing on the rocks, just to see the rocks, just to feel the texture of the rocks, the moss that will start gathering on them. Then everything is beautiful if inside your heart there is awareness; otherwise everything is ugly.
It is not that a meditative person enters into heaven -- no, heaven enters into a meditative person. Paradise is not a geographical place, it is a psychological experience. A meditative person can enjoy everything -- only he can enjoy. He is not a renunciate. Only he knows how to taste the beauty of things, how to experience the tremendous presence of existence all around. Because he IS, he knows how to love, how to live.
But your life is going to be one misery after another misery. It will be a long chain of misery.

Berkowitz, a salesman, while driving through the Negev desert, saw an Arab lying on the sand. Berkowitz rushed to the man's side and lifted him up. The Arab whispered, "Water, effendi, water!"
"This is kismet!" exclaimed Berkowitz. "Are you in luck! I happen to have in my suitcase the finest selection of ties you ever saw!"
"No!" wailed the Arab. "Water, water!"
"These ties you could see right now in the King David Hotel -- fifteen dollars apiece. For you, only ten dollars."
"Please, effendi, I need water!"
"Look, you seem like a nice person. I am known all over the Negev as Honest Abbie. Whatever kind of ties you like -- silk, wool, wrap, crepe -- you can have what you want -- eight dollars each!"
"I need water!"
"Alright, you drive a hard bargain. Tell you what, take your pick, two for ten dollars!"
"Please, give me water!"
"Ah, you want water?" said Berkowitz. "Why didn't you say so? All you gotta do is crawl five hundred feet to the sand dune, hang right for a quarter mile. You will come to Poppy's Pyramid Club; he will give you all the water you want."
The Arab slowly crawled to the sand dune, turned right, and with his last remaining strength came to the door of the club. Poppy, the owner, was standing out front.
"Water, water!" begged the Arab.
"You want water? You came to the right place. I got well water, seltzer water, whatever water you want I got inside. The only thing is, you can't go in without a tie."

Buddha is right: in your life, whatsoever you do, you are bound to meet misery. And as time passes, more and more misery, because life starts slipping out of your fingers, death starts overshadowing you. And you become very tense -- life is slipping by and you have not arrived anywhere yet. You start running, you put all that you have at stake... but only death is the culmination of what you call life. How can death be the culmination of life? If death is the culmination of life then life is utterly useless -- not only useless but a very ugly joke played on man. Then God cannot be the creator -- then the Devil must be in charge. And that exactly seems to be the case.
The Old Testament says God created the world in six days. And then? Then it seems the Devil is running it! Since then, God has not been heard of; since then the Devil is in charge.
Your life is a cruel joke, as if some evil force is playing tricks with you. Just like small children torturing some insect, you are being tortured by some unknown force -- as if some unknown force is enjoying your torture, as if God is a sadist!
Buddha is right: your life simply proves not only that YOU are wrong, but it even proves that the God you worship must be wrong. It not only proves YOU wrong, it proves your popes and your shankaracharyas wrong. It proves your so-called religions wrong, because they don't help in changing your quality of life. They don't change your vision, they don't change your insight. They don't bring more sensitivity and awareness to you so that you can live on a new plane, in a new plenitude, in a new fullness.
Buddha insists for a certain reason. The reason is: if you listen to him and if you become aware that your life IS misery, you are bound to ask him, "Sir, then what should we do?"

Buddha has the way; he can show you the path. He diagnoses your illness, because he has the key which can transform your illness into health, your madness into sanity.


Next: Chapter 2: The greatest rebellion ever tried, Question 3

 


Energy Enhancement         Enlightened Texts         Dhammapada         The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 7

 

Chapter 2:

 

 

 

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STUDENTS EXPERIENCES  2005 AND 2006

 

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