Chapter 3: Where Buddha Ends Krishna Begins, Question 1



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Question 1


There are two ways to achieve egolessness. One way is through negation. One goes on negating his ego, negating himself, gradually eliminating himself until a moment comes when nothing remains to be eliminated. But the state of egolessness achieved like this is a negative one, because deep down one is still left with a very subtle form of ego which says, "I have made short work of my ego."

The other is the way of expansion. The seeker goes on expanding himself, his self, so much that all of existence is included in him. The egolessness that comes through this way is total, so total that nothing remains outside of him -- not even this much, that he can say, "I am now egoless."

A seeker who follows the technique of negation attains to the soul, to the atman, which means that the last vestige of his ego remains in the form of "I am." Everything of his ego has disappeared, but the pure "I" remains. Such a seeker will never attain to God, to the supreme. And the seeker who follows the way of expansion, who expands himself to the extent that he embraces the whole, knows God straightaway. He does not have to know the soul.

Krishna's life is positive, it is not negative. He does not negate anything there is in life, not even the ego. He tells you to enlarge your ego so much that the whole is included in its embrace. And when nothing remains outside you as "thou" then there is no way to say "I am." I can call myself "I" only so long as there is a "thou" separate from me. The moment "thou" disappears "I" also ceases to be real. So the egoless "I" has to be vast, infinitely immense,

It is in the context of this immensity of the "I" that the rishi, the seer of the Upanishad exclaimed, "Aham brahmasmi," "I am God, I am the supreme." It does not mean to say that you are not God, it only means that since there is no "thou" only "I" remains. It is I who am passing through the tree as a breeze. It is I who am waving as waves in the ocean. I am the one who is born, and I am also the one who will die. I am the earth, and I am also the sky. There is nothing whatsoever other than me; therefore, there is now no way even for this "I" to exist. If I am everything and everywhere, who am I going to tell that "I am"? In relation to what?

The whole of Krishna is co-extensive, co-expansive with the immense, the infinite; he is one with the whole. That is why he can say, "I am the supreme, the Brahman." There is nothing egoistic about it. It is just a linguistic way of saying it: "I" is just a word here; there is no l-ness to it. Krishna's "I" has ceased to be.

As I said, the other way is negative. A seeker on the path of negation goes on negating, renouncing, bit by bit, everything that constitutes the ego and strengthens it. If wealth is one of the factors of ego, he renounces wealth. But it would be wrong to think that only a rich person has an ego, and that only a poor man is egoless. A poor person has a poor ego, but ego is there. And don't think only the house-holder is egoistic, and not the sannyasin. Even a sannyasin has his ego. However, if I give up every. thing that makes up and strengthens the ego; if I give up money, family, relationships; if I renounce all the props of my ego, my ego will be left without any support. But even then the "I" will not disappear; it will now cling to itself, to its own pure I-ness.

This is the most subtle form of "I", the one that comes through the process of negation. And many people get stuck there and remain hung up on it, because this "I" is subtle, invisible. A rich person's ego is gross and loud: he says he owns so much money. The ego of a sannyasin, a renunciate, is subtle, invisible, but it is there; he says he has renounced so much money.

A householder's ego is obvious: he has a house, a family, possessions. These are the ingredients of his ego and its signposts too. But even a monk has his monastery, his ashram, his family of disciples. And besides, he is either a Hindu monk or a Christian monk or a Mohammedan monk. A monk has his own things that bind him and feed his ego; he too is stuck somewhere. But his ego is subtle, invisible: he does not even use the word "I"; he has dropped it. But it does not make a difference.

One has to go beyond the subtlest form of I-ness, and it is so arduous. Mahavira and Buddha transcend it: it needs very hard work; it calls for tremendous austerity. Even if I have renounced all my possessions, all that I called mine, the pure "I" remains. How can I go beyond it? One in a thousand attains to egolessness through the path of negation; nine hundred and ninety nine will be stuck with the subtle "I". While Mahavira transcends the subtlest of egos, those following him become stuck, because it is really difficult, very difficult to achieve egolessness the negative way. It is easy to drop the various props that strengthen the "I", but it is nearly impossible to drop the last vestige of the "I", the pure "I".

It is at the last stage of his journey that a seeker on the path of negation encounters his major hurdle, but a seeker on the path of affirmation comes upon it tight at the first stage. Right at the start of his journey a life-affirming seeker finds it very difficult to deny the "thou", because it is there, it is so obvious. The spiritual discipline of Krishna is most difficult in the beginning. but once you get over that, there is smooth sailing to the end. But in the discipline of Mahavira and Buddha the beginning is easy enough. The real difficulty is at the end when, bereft of all its props, the ego remains in its purified form. How to get rid of this very subtle ego is the real problem.

What a seeker on the positive path does at the beginning, the seeker on the negative path does at the end. What does an affirmative seeker do? He tries to discover his "I" in "thou". And the other kind of seeker, seeking through negation, tries to find the "thou" in his "I". But his task is so difficult. It is much easier to see the "I" in "thou" than to see the "thou" in "I". And it is still more difficult to see it when it comes to the point of pure "I", because now it is just a feeling of I-ness, which is so very fine and subtle. So the last part of the journey on the path of Buddha and Mahavira is decisive. Hence it is just possible that a seeker may give up his pursuit and retreat even before he comes to it. He has struggled all his life to save his "I and now he is called upon to sacrifice it. It is extremely difficult.

But even this pure "I" can be dropped. It can be dropped if the seeker comes to see the "thou" included in his "I". Therefore the last stage of the discipline of Mahavira and Buddha is called kevala jnan or "only knowing". Kevala jnan means that when the knower is no more, when only knowing remains, unity, ultimate unity can be found. The ultimate freedom is freedom from the "I". It is not freedom of the "I" but freedom from the "I" itself.

But one who comes after Buddha or Mahavira as his follower, comes with the wishful question, "How will I achieve moksha, freedom?" And this is his difficulty. No "I" has ever achieved freedom; freedom from "I" and "me" is what the case really is.

It is for this reason that seekers in the tradition of Mahavira easily fall prey to egoism. It is not surprising they turn into great egoists. Renunciation, austerity and asceticism, practiced for long, go to strengthen and harden their egos. In the end they get rid of everything, and yet a hard core of ego which they find extremely difficult to dissolve -- you may call it a holy ego -- remains with them. But it can be dissolved; it has been dropped by men like Buddha and Mahavira. And there are separate techniques to dissolve it.

On the path of Krishna this hard core of ego has to be dropped in the first instance. Is it any good to carry on with a disease you have to drop ultimately? The longer you live with it the worse and worse it will become: it will turn into a chronic and communicable disease. Therefore, where Mahavira's kevala jnan or "only knowing" comes last, Krishna's sakshi or "witnessing" comes first. Right from the beginning I have to know this truth, that I am not separate from the whole.

But if I am not separate, the question of renunciation becomes meaningless. What is there to renounce if I am all? I am that which is being renounced. Who will renounce whom? And where can I go if I am everything and everywhere?

In one of his poems Rabindranath Tagore has made a beautiful joke about Buddha's renunciation, When Buddha returns to his home after his enlighten. ment; his wife Yashodhara tells him, "For a long time I have had only one question to ask of you. And now that you are here again I want to know if what you achieved in the jungle was not available right here?" Buddha finds it very difficult to answer her. If he says it was available in his home -- and it is true, what is available in the vastness of a forest can also be available in one's home -- Yashodhara will remind him that she had told him so. And Yashodhara really had said it. It was for this reason that Buddha had left his house in the dead of night without informing her. If he accepts that truth is everywhere, Yashodhara will immediately say there was no point in renunciation, that it was sheer madness on his part. And it would be a falsehood to say that truth is not to be found in the home, that it is only to be found in the forest, because Buddha now knows for himself that what he found in the wilderness is available right in his own home, it is available all over.

Krishna is not for renunciation: he does not run away from anywhere, he does not give up any, thing. What Buddha comes to see at the last hour, Krishna sees at the very first. What is it that Buddha comes to know at the end of a long and arduous search? It is that only truth is, and that truth is everywhere. Krishna knows it from the beginning, that only truth is, and that it is everywhere.

I have heard about a fakir who spent his lifetime living on the outskirts of a town. Whenever someone asked him why he did not do some sadhana or spiritual practice to achieve the supreme he always said, "What is there to achieve? It is already achieved." If someone asked him why he did not go on a pilgrimage, he said, "Where to go? I have already arrived." And when someone asked if he did not have something to seek, he said, "What one seeks is already found." Now this fakir does not need sadhana, spiritual discipline.

Hence no sadhana, no spiritual discipline could grow in the tradition of Krishna. You will not come across anyone who can be called a sadhaka or seeker on the path of Krishna. What is there to seek? You seek that which you don't have, and you can have it only if you make efforts for it. Effort is needed to achieve something which you have not yet achieved. Sadhana means the search for the probable. No effort is needed to achieve what is already achieved. We strive for what should be, not for what is. There is no point in achieving the achieved.

When at long last Gautam Siddhartha attained to enlightenment, when he became the Buddha, the awakened one, someone asked him, "What is it that you have achieved?"

Buddha is reported to have said, "I achieved nothing. I only came to know what was already the case. I discovered what I already had with me. Earlier I did not know that it had been with me forever and ever; now I know it. It is nothing new that I have come upon, it has always been there. Even when I was unaware of it, it was very much there, not an iota less than it is now."

What Buddha says in the last moment, Krishna will say at the very first. Krishna will tell you, "What is the point of going anywhere? You are already where you want to go. What you think to be a stopover on your journey is actually your destination -- where you happen to be right now. Why run in any direction? You are already in that place you want to reach to after you have done your running. You have already arrived."

So there is a period of effort, of sadhana, in the lives of Buddha and Mahavira, followed by a state of fulfillment, attainment. Krishna is ever a siddha, a fulfilled one; there is no such thing as a period of sadhana in his whole life. Have you ever heard that Krishna went through any sort of spiritual discipline? Did he ever meditate? Did he practice yoga? Did he ever fast and undergo other austerities? Did he retire to a jungle to practice asceticism? There is nothing, absolutely nothing like a sadhana in his whole life.

What Buddha and Mahavira attain after heroic efforts Krishna already has, without any effort whatsoever. He seems to be eternally enlightened. Then why a sadhana? For what? This is the fundamental difference between Krishna and others. So there is no way for the ego to affect Krishna's vision in the least, because there is no "thou" for him, no one is the other for him.

I was talking about Kabir only this morning. There is another anecdote, which is as beautiful, in the life of Kabir and his son Kamal. One morning Kabir sends Kamal to the forest to bring green grass for the cattle. Kamal goes to the forest with a sickle in his hands. Plants are dancing in the wind, as they are dancing right here before us. Morning turns into midday and midday passes into evening, and yet Kamal does not return home from the forest. Kabir is worried, because he was expected to be back home for his midday meal. Kabir makes inquiries and then goes to the forest with a few friends in search of his son. On reaching the forest, he finds Kamal standing in the thick of grass tall enough to reach his shoulders. It is wrong to say that he is standing, he is actually dancing with the dancing plants. The wind is dancing, the plants are dancing and Kamal is dancing with them. His eyes are closed and he is wholly absorbed in the dance. Kabir finds that he has not chopped a single blade of grass for the cattle. So he gently puts his hands on his shoulders and asks, "What have you been doing, my son?"

Kamal opens his eyes and looks around. He tells his father, "You did well to remind me," and then picks up his sickle with a view to his assigned task. But he finds it is already dark and not possible to cut any grass.

The people with Kabir asked him, "But what have you been doing for the rest of the day?"

Kamal says, "I became just like a grass plant; I forgot I was a man or anything. I also forgot this was grass I came to chop and take home to my cattle. The morning was so beautiful and blissful, it was so festive and dancing with the wind and the trees and the grass, it would have been sheer stupidity on my part not to have joined the celebration. I began dancing, forgetting everything else. I did not even remember I was Kamal who had come here to collect food for my animals. I am aware of it again only now that you come to remind me."

Krishna, like Kamal, is engrossed in a dance, the cosmic dance. Kabir's son dances with a few plants in a small forest, but Krishna dances with the whole universe: he dances with its stars, with its men and women, with its trees and flowers and even its thistles. And he is so one with the cosmic dance there is no way for "I" and "thou" to exist in that space. The state of egolessness Krishna achieves in this moment of dance is the same that Buddha and Mahavira achieve at the end of a long and arduous journey, a journey of hard work, austerity and asceticism. Where Krishna begins his journey, after completing a marathon race Mahavira and Buddha arrive.

Krishna is not a seeker. It would be wrong to call him a seeker. He is a siddha, an adept, an accomplished performer of all life's arts. And what he says in this siddha state, in this ultimate state of mind, may seem to you to be egoistic, but it is not. The difficulty is that Krishna has to use the same linguistic "I" as you do, but there is a tremendous difference in connotation between his "I" and yours. When you say "I" it means the one imprisoned inside your body, but when Krishna says it he means that which permeates the whole cosmos. Hence he has the courage to tell Arjuna, "Give up everything else and come to my feet." If it were the same "I" as yours -- a prisoner of the body -- it would be impossible for him to say a thing like this. And Arjuna would have been hurt if Krishna's "I" were as petty ss yours. Arjuna would have immediately retorted, "What are you saying? Why on earth should I surrender to you?" Arjuna would have really been hurt, but he was not.

Whenever someone speaks to another in the language of the ego, it creates an instant reaction in the ego of the other. When you say something in the words of the "I" of the ego, the other immediately begins to speak the same language. We are skilled in knowing the undertones of each other's words, and we react sharply.

But Krishna's "I" is absolutely free of all traces of egoism, and for this reason he could call upon Arjuna to make a clean surrender to him. Here, "Surrender to me" really means "Surrender to the whole. Surrender to the primordial and mysterious energy that permeates the cosmos."

Egolessness comes to Buddha and Mahavira too, but it comes to them after long, hard struggle and toil. But it may not come to most of their followers, because on their paths it is the very last thing to come. So the followers may come to it or they may not. But egolessness comes first with Krishna; he begins where Buddha and Mahavira end. So one who chooses to go with Krishna has to have it at the very beginning. If he fails, there is no question of his going with Krishna.

You can walk a long way in the company of Mahavira with your "I" intact, but with Krishna you have to drop your "I" with the first step; otherwise you are not going to go with him. Your "I" can find some accommodation with Mahavira, but none with Krishna. For Krishna the first step is the last; for Mahavira and Buddha the last step is the first. And it is important for you to bear this difference in mind, because it is a big difference, and a basic difference at that.

What sadhana can you do with Krishna? You can dance with him, you can sing with him, you can celebrate with him, and you can merge with him. Or if you call this sadhana, then it is a different matter. Therefore Krishna has no expectations from you. What is there to expect when the journey begins with egolessness? If you go to Buddha or Mahavira to say you are an egoist and want to be free of it, he will give you some method, he will tell you to first give up this and give up that and then the problem of the ego will be taken care of. But if you go to Krishna with the same question, he will not prescribe any methods, he will say the ego has to go in the first instance, that you have to begin with its cessation. Krishna will say that methods and techniques are ways of postponement. That is why no community of seekers could grow around him it was not in the very nature of things.

As far as a seeker is concerned, he very much likes to play with methods. He will say it is very difficult to part with the ego, but he can part with his money if it is going to help. But Krishna is not going to oblige you. He will say parting with money won't do, because your disease will continue to afflict you even if you give up all your wealth. If a man suffering from cancer says he cannot give up his cancer, but he can get his head shaved, what will you say? Shaving his head will make no difference whatsoever to his disease, the cancer will continue to torment him. There is no connection between cancer and shaving; cancer will continue to be a problem even if you shave your head a hundred times. If the seeker says to begin with, he is prepared to give up his clothes, Krishna will say clothes have nothing to do with cancer.

But Mahavira and Buddha will not say this. Mahavira will say, "Okay, begin with shaving your head. Then we will see." Everybody can have access to Mahavira and Buddha. They will say, "Do what ever you can do; we will take care of the ultimate thing at the end."

Krishna deals straight away with the ultimate question; he does not like any dilly-dallyings. He says if someone is prepared for the ultimate matter, then he alone will have entry into his house. It is for this reason that his house remains nearly empty. Entry into his house is not easy. And so Krishna could not create any order of disciples and followers. Mahavira has fifty thousand disciples; it is simply natural. With Krishna it is nearly impossible. Where can you find fifty thousand egoless people right at the beginning?

If we say it rightly, Buddha and Mahavira stand for gradual enlightenment, for gradual growth towards enlightenment. And we understand the language of gradualism. We can understand that a rupee can grow into two rupees and two rupees into three, and so on and so forth. But that a poor person can become rich at once is something we don't understand. What Krishna stands for is sudden enlightenment. He says, "Why go through a long and needless process? You are poor if you have one rupee, and you remain poor even if you own ten rupees; now you will be called ten-rupee-poor. You will remain poor even if you possess a million rupees, because there are people who own billions. So be rid of this poor man's arithmetic. I am going to make you a king all at once."

What Krishna means to say is that it is not a matter of becoming a king, it is just a matter of remembering that you are a king. You are already a king, but you have forgotten. Therefore, while sadhana is the way of Mahavira and Buddha, remembering, just remembering is the way of Krishna. Just remember, recall who you are, and the journey is complete in a single sweep.

Just remembering is enough; it is Krishna's keyword. I will tell you a story.

I have heard that a king expelled his son from his kingdom. He was angry with his son, a spoiled son, and so in a moment of rage he threw him out. The son did not have any skills or vocation. What can a king's son know? He was not even educated, so he could do nothing to make a decent living. How ever he had, by way of a hobby, learned a little singing and dancing in his childhood. So he took to singing and dancing on the streets of a town belonging to a hot and arid neighboring country where he found refuge.

For ten years the king's son lived the life of a homeless beggar in tattered and dirty clothes. So he completely forgot that he was ever a prince. And curiously enough, in these ten years, he was increasingly maturing towards kingship, since he was the only son of a king who was growing older and older. But, at present, he was a faceless person moving from door to door with a begging bowl in his hands.

When the king became very old he grew worried about the future of his throne. Who was going to succeed him and manage his kingdom after his death? So he asked his prime minister to search for his only son, whom he had expelled years ago, and bring him back so he could take over the reins of his kingdom from him. Even if he was stupid he had to be recalled, the king thought. There was no other alternative.

The prime minister went out in search of his king's son. After a great deal of inquiry and effort he reached the town where his future master was living as a nobody. His chariot halted in front of a hotel, where he found him under a scorching midday sun, a young man begging a little money from the hotel manager to buy himself a pair of sandals. He was pointing to his bare and bleeding feet, lacerated with wounds. The prime minister stepped down from the chariot and approached the young beggar. He took no time to recognize him -- he was the king's son -- although he was in rags, his body emaciated, his face shriveled and sunburned. He bowed to him and said, "The king has pardoned you and asks you to return to your kingdom."

In a second, a split-second, the young man's face was transformed and he threw away his beggar's bowl. In no time at all he ceased to be a beggar and became a king. And he told the prime minister, "Go to the market and bring me a pair of good shoes and good clothes, and in the meantime make arrangements for my bath." And with the stride of a prince he walked to the chariot and stepped aboard.

In and around the hotel, everybody, who a little while ago had given him alms or denied them, came rushing, crowding around his chariot. And they found he was a different man altogether, he was not even looking at them now. They asked him, "How is it you forget us in a moment?" The prince said, "I remembered you as long as I had forgotten who I was. Just now I have remembered who I am, so forget I am a beggar. " When the crowd reminded him of what he had been only a moment ago, he said, "Now I remember. Now I know I am a king. I have always been a king."

Krishna's way is just to remind man who he is. This is not something to practice, this is just a remembering. And within a moment of this remembering everything is transformed; the beggar's bowl is thrown away. In one moment one ceases to be a beggar and becomes a king.

But this becoming a king is a sudden event. And remember, it is only suddenly that someone be comes a king. Someone can be a beggar gradually, step by step, but not a king. It is wrong to think there are steps leading to kingship. There are steps to being a beggar. If you climb those steps and stand at the top, you will become at best a better beggar, a moneyed beggar, and nothing else. It will make no significant difference. If you still want to be a king you will have to leap from the top you have reached step by step. This moment comes to Buddha and Mahavira, but it comes in the last hour. To Krishna it comes right in the beginning. Krishna will tell you, "First take a jump, and then we will take care of the next thing." And after you have taken a jump this "next thing" is not necessary at all.

Throughout the GEETA, Krishna does nothing but remind Arjuna who he is. He does not give a sermon, he only hits him on the head again and again so that he remembers who he is. He is not there to teach, but to awaken him. He shakes Arjuna to wake up and know his self-nature, his innate nature. He tells him, "You are engrossed in very petty matters like people will die at your hands if you fight. Wake up and see for yourself if anyone has ever been dead. You are eternally alive." But Arjuna is asleep, he is dreaming, and so every now and then he asks why he should kill his own kinsmen. Krishna does not explain anything, he gives him shock treatment so he wakes up and sees the reality for himself. It is an illusion to think that one is related with one and not related with another, the truth is he is either related with all or with none. Similarly, either everybody dies or no body dies. Ultimately it is the truth that counts.

Remembering is the essence of Krishna's philosophy of life. Therefore it is not any kind of spiritual discipline, it is a direct leap into awakening, into enlightenment. But we don't have the courage to take such a leap and so we say it is not our cup of tea. We want to move cautiously and slowly, step by step. But remember, if you move in this manner, you will save your ego at every step. It is really to save your ego that you refuse to take a jump. A jump is certainly dangerous for the ego; your ego cannot survive after a jump. You go slow just to save yourself, but what is being saved at every step will remain safe even at the last step of the journey. And then your ego will tell you to somehow enter moksha or liberation keeping yourself intact. But it is simply impossible to save yourself and enter moksha. It has never happened. Entry into moksha is possible only after the ego has been completely annihilated. The death of the ego is the price of freedom.

This is the problem you are going to encounter at the end, howsoever you avoid it. It is inescapable. Therefore I say it is far better to invite the problem and face it at the very beginning rather than postpone it until the end. Why waste so much time and energy?

What Buddha and Mahavira come upon in the last moment is nothing other than remembering; it is not the result of any sadhana. But since we see any number of people engaged in sadhana, we think that sadhana works. A person makes twenty rounds of his village and then remembers who he is. Another person remembers who he is after making only one round. And someone else can know himself without making a single round. But a spectator can conclude that twenty rounds are necessary to come upon this remembering. But the fact is, there is no cause-and-effect relationship between remembering and making rounds of a village. And this needs to be understood clearly.

There is no causal link between what Mahavira did and what he came upon. You cannot say that Vardhman became Mahavira because he went through a specific course of spiritual discipline. If it is so, then Jesus cannot become Christ because he does nothing like Mahavira did. Then Buddha cannot happen, because Gautam Siddhartha does not follow Mahavira's sadhana, his course of spiritual discipline.

If water is heated to the boiling point it turns into vapor, so there is a causal connection between vapor and heating. But the spiritual life is not subject to the law of cause and effect. And that is why spiritual life can be absolutely free. Freedom is not possible within the chain of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect is a kind of bondage: every effect is tied in with its cause. Cause and effect are dependent on each other one cannot be without the other. And as a cause turns into an effect, so an effect turns into a cause for some other effect. So everything is bound up with everything else, and-there is no end to it. It is a kind of cause-and-effect continuum. When water turns into vapor it becomes subject to the law of vapor as it was subject to the law of water a little while ago. And in the same way, when it turns into ice it becomes subject to the law of ice. So it is bounded at both ends; it is in bondage.

What we call moksha or freedom is non-causal. Freedom is not subject to the law of cause and effect. It is not caused it cannot be. Freedom is causeless. You cannot say that someone attained to freedom because of this or that reason -- because he fasted for so many days. If it is so then anybody can become a Mahavira if he fasts. But it is not so. Every kind of water, from a well or from the sea, heated to the boiling point, turns into vapor -- but every person will not be freed by fasting. Mahavira had fasted and he became free, but it does not mean his freedom was the result of fasting. Mahavira lived naked, so every body who goes naked should be free. Any number of poor people are going without clothes, but they are not going to be free. Freedom has nothing to do with nakedness.

The truth is that freedom means going beyond the chain of cause and effect. The transcendence of the law of cause and effect is freedom. Really, whatever is subject to the law of cause and effect is called matter, and what goes beyond the frontiers of this law is known as God.

But where is the frontier, the limit that you are going to cross and go beyond? We are used to connecting everything with the law of cause and effect.

I was telling a story a little while ago. A villager boards a railway train for the first time in his life. He has reached the age of seventy-five and his co-villagers have celebrated his anniversary and want to give him a birthday gift. So they hit upon a novel idea Only recently their village has been connected to the railroad and trains have been passing through it. And up to now no one among them has gone on a railway journey. So they decide to give the old man the opportunity to be the first among them to enjoy such a trip. This will be their birthday gift to him. So they buy the old man a ticket and put him on the train. A friend of his also goes with him for company and comfort. The two board the train and are exceedingly happy.

When the train moves out of the village a vendor of soft drinks enters their compartment with a tray of sodas and begins selling them. The old man and his friend have never tasted soda before, so they look around to see if anyone is drinking it. When they see some people buying it and drinking it they buy themselves a bottle and agree to share it between them, half-and-half. One of them drinks it first and likes it. But when he has consumed his share of the drink, his friend becomes impatient for his share and snatches the bottle from his hands. Exactly at this moment the train enters a tunnel and suddenly the whole train is plunged into darkness. And the man who has already tasted the drink shouts at his friend, "Don't touch that stuff! I have been struck blind! It seems to be something very dangerous!"

The man had no idea of the train entering a dark tunnel, and he thinks the drink has made him blind. A causal link is established between the drink and darkness, which is absolutely absurd. But this is how we think and look at life. And this leads us into all kinds of illusions.

The experiencing of freedom is beyond the world of cause and effect. Buddha attained to nirvana not because of the efforts he made for it, but in spite of those efforts. Mahavira achieved moksha not because of the severe sadhana he is said to have followed, but in spite of it all. If someone imitates Mahavira totally from A to Z, he is not going to achieve liberation. Nothing will happen to him even if, by way of a sadhana, he does everything as perfectly as Mahavira did.

Freedom is a kind of explosion totally outside the chain of cause and effect. There is absolutely no connections between the two.

Krishna says that if you only understand it for yourself, you can be free here and now. Whether one deserves it or does not deserve it is not the question. It is not a matter of worthiness or otherwise. It is also not a question of any sadhana. But we are in the habit of making detours. If we have to reach our own homes, we go on a tour of the whole village to do so. Even if we have to come to ourselves, we do so via the other. It has become our lifestyle; we cannot do with out it. Besides, everybody has his own karmas to fulfill, and they will go through them. But the difficulty is that you not only fulfill your own portion of karmas, you want to do everything that others have done. And then you are in a mess. Maybe someone came to himself in a particular way, but you are not that person, you are a different person altogether. You cannot come to yourself by imitating him.

When the Upanishads were translated into the western languages for the first time, people were amazed to see they did not prescribe any sadhana, any spiritual discipline in the form of "do's and don'ts"; they did not lay down any moral code. What kind of a religious scripture are they? The Bible has laid down everything so clearly, it has its Ten Commandments, all its "do's and don'ts". The Upanishads did not deal with the matter of morality.

It is difficult to understand that the moral code prescribed in the Bible or elsewhere has nothing to do with religion. Unfortunately, morality has become synonymous with religion. The Upanishads are truly books of religion; they don't deal with the problems of ethics. The central theme of the Upanishads is remembering, and it is remembering that religion is all about. They say that man has only to remember what he has forgotten. has to remember who he really is, who he is right now. He does not have to do a thing except recollect what he has forgotten.

In Krishna's vision, man does not have to recover a lost treasure that he once had -- it is still with him, but he has forgotten that he has it. So it is only a matter of recalling, of remembering what is hidden in the basement of his consciousness. It is nothing more than that. Therefore Krishna tells you to go straight to remembering it.

And this remembering is sudden; it is not a gradual process. Krishna does not prescribe any discipline, any moral codes, any rituals that religions in general do. Krishna asks you just to wake up and open your eyes and see, and your ego will disappear in an instant. Krishna's ego ceases to be in the very first instant. And whoever will see with open eyes will see his ego disappear in no time. Because we live with our eyes shut, our egos go on and on. Open your eyes, and you will not have to say that what happened to Krishna did not happen to you.

You live with your eyes closed, and this is the first thing to see. Have you ever pondered over, considered your life? How did you come into the world? Who created you? Did you create yourself? At least this much is certain: you did not create yourself. It may not be certain who created you, but this much is certain: you did not create yourself. This much is definite: as you are, it is not your handiwork. But even in a matter like this we delude ourselves. There are people who claim to be "self made". They don't give God this trouble, they take the job of making themselves upon themselves. This is stupid. But we are so blind we fail to see such a simple truth that our own being is not in our hands.

Have you ever contemplated the fundamental question of being and living? Have you ever asked yourself, "I am, but how am I responsible for my being? Where would I have gone to complain if I did not happen to be? Where are they who are not, going to complain? If I am, I am; if I am not, I am not. It is okay as I am, but what would I do if I am not as I am?"

If we only take a hard look at the facts of life, we will know that, really, nothing is in our hands -- not even our hands are in our hands. Just try to hold your hand with your hand and you will know the reality. Really, nothing is in our power. Then what is the meaning of saying "I" and "me" and "mine"? Here everything is happening,,and happening together. It is an organic arrangement, an organic whole. Here everything is a member of everything else. Who can say that I would have been here if the flowers that bloomed in my garden this morning had not bloomed? Ordinarily we can say there is no connection between my being here and the blooming of a few flowers in my garden; I could have been here even if those flowers had not bloomed. But really, the two events are intimately connected. The presence of that blooming flower in the garden and my presence here are two poles of the same event.

Now if the sun becomes extinct tonight, all life on this earth will be extinct immediately. There will be no morning tomorrow. So we are dependent for our life on the sun, which is a billion miles away from us. And the sun is dependent on some bigger suns, and in their turn those bigger suns are dependent on some still bigger suns that exist in the galaxy. Here everything is dependent on everything else. All life is really inter-dependent. We are not separate from one another; we are not islands. We are a vast continent, an endless continent. Here everything is united and one.

If you only see this fact with your eyes open then it will not be necessary to remind you that "I" and "thou" are mere inventions of man, and utterly wrong inventions at that. And when you perceive it, you also know that which is -- you know the truth. Unless you see it with clarity, you cannot know who you are and what reality is. And as long as you don't know it, you will continue to cling to the concepts of "I" and "thou", you will continue to live in a myth, a dream.

Krishna tells you to remember in the very first step, and do nothing else. And your whole journey is complete with one single step. Remember who you are, what you are, where you are, because with this remembering everything is revealed and known. This remembering is benediction.


Next: Chapter 3: Where Buddha Ends Krishna Begins, Question 2


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