What exactly is man?
Man is a mere perhaps, a possibility, a potential, a becoming, a longing. Man is not yet. Man has to be. That’s the agony of man, and the ecstasy too. The beast is – there is no growth possible. It is a finished product. There is no possibility to seek and search and be. Hence, there is no freedom. The beast is in absolute bondage. The beast lives and dies without knowing that he lives and dies. The beast is, but knows not that he is.
Man is and knows that he is, but knows not who he is. Man is a constant process. Something is always happening, is always on the verge of happening. Man is an excitement, an adventure, a pilgrimage.
No beast can ever miss its destiny. It is always predetermined. The beast has an absolute fate.
Nothing is going to be otherwise. The beast is pre-programmed. Man has no pre-programme but is just an opening. A thousand and one things are possible. Hence the anxiety: “To be this or to be that? To go to the east or to the west? To live this way or to live that way? And what is right? And what is going to fulfill me?”
Each moment man has to decide. And, obviously, when you decide, there is trembling. You can always go wrong. In fact, the possibilities to go wrong are more. Out of one thousand and one ways, only one will be right. Hence great trepidation, anguish: “Am I going to make it? Am I going to succeed in being myself? Or is it just going to be a long futile effort, and in the end frustration and failure? Will I be able to know life abundant? Will THIS life become a foundation for a greater life to come? Or is there nothing but death? Is there only the grave in the end, or something more?”
Man is an open being. Everything is possible, but nothing is certain. The beast is absolutely certain. It has a definition. Man has no definition. So when you ask me: What exactly is man? You ask me a wrong question. Man is nothing exactly. He is just a vague longing, a very, very vague dream of things to be, of things which may be possible, may not be possible. Man is a hesitation. Each moment man is gripped by hesitation, because any single step gone wrong will destroy your whole life. Man can lose. No beast can ever lose. But because man can lose, man can gain too. They both come together. Man can grow – man is growth. The mere perhaps can become actual. The potential can be transformed into reality. The seed can become a flowering. That which is just unmanifest can be manifested, and then there will be great splendor, great benediction.
The Buddha is, knows that he is, and also knows who he is. These are the three states of growth: the beast, the man, the Buddha. The beast has only one dimension – he IS, he exists, utterly unaware that he exists. Hence he cannot think of death.
Death is not a problem for the beast. Death can only become a problem when you know that you are. With that very knowing the fear arises that someday you may not be – because there was a time when you were not, there will again be a time when you will not be. Your existence is momentary. You can disappear any moment. You will disappear someday. Death is bound to happen. It is only man who knows about death.
That’s why man creates religion. Religion is man’s response to the possibility of death. It’s man’s effort to conquer death. No animal is religious, cannot be. Without the awareness of death religion has no possibility. But before you can become aware of death, you will have to become aware that you are. That’s a basic requirement.
So man knows he is – and also becomes aware and apprehensive that any moment he will not be. Time is short. For the beast time is non-existential, time is not. The beast lives in a timeless world. Each moment. Neither thinking of the past, nor imagining about the future.
Man cannot live in the present. He thinks of the past and all the nostalgia, days that were golden and are no more and thinks, imagines, fantasizes about the future – days as they should be.
Man lives in the past and in the future. The beasts live only in the present. But they are not aware that this is the present. They cannot be aware of the present. Only one who is aware of past and future can be aware of the present, because the present is sandwiched between past and future.
The animals have no anxiety. The memory does not disturb them, and imaginations don’t stir their hearts. They are simple. Existence has no complexity for them. When they live, they live; when they die, they die. They are innocent. Time has not entered to corrupt their being.
But man lives in time, is aware that he is, but is not aware who he is. And that becomes a great problem: Who am l? This is the fundamental question that any man can ask. Out of this fundamental question is all philosophy, all religion, all poetry, all art – different ways of raising the question: Who am l? different ways of answering it. But the question is one: Who am l?
If you try to understand man’s life, you will see this single question persisting. Yes, the man who is mad after money is also trying to answer the question: Who am l? By having money, he thinks that he will know who he is – he will know he is a rich man. He will have a certain identity. The man who is searching for power is basically trying to answer the question: Who am I? By becoming a prime minister of a country he will know: I am the prime minister.
But these answers are superficial and are not going to satisfy really. They can satisfy only the mediocre. They cannot satisfy the really intelligent person. Even when you have become very rich, your intelligence will go on persisting, asking, “Who are you? Yes, you have money, but who are you? You are not the money – you cannot be that which you possess. Who is this possessor? Yes, you have become the prime minister of a country, but that is just a function, that is not your being. Who are you? Who is this person who was not a prime minister and is now a prime minister, and tomorrow may not be again? This prime-ministership is just an episode – in whose life?”
The question persists. It can’t be answered by these superficial efforts and endeavors. But basically man is trim to do that. He becomes a husband, he becomes a mother, father, this and that… but the basic urge is somehow to have a certain identity: “I am the wife, I am the husband, I am the father, I am the mother.” Still you have not answered the question. Your being a mother or your being a father is just accidental, on the surface. Your innermost core remains untouched.
This is not real identity. This is a pseudo identity. The child will die – then who are you? Then you are not the mother. The husband may leave – then who are you? Then you are no more a wife.
These identities are very fragile, and man lives constantly in the crisis of identity. He tries hard to fix some definition around himself, but they go on slipping out of his hands.
Only the religious person really asks the question, and asks in the right direction.
The Buddha exists just like the beast. The Buddha knows just like man that he is. But a third dimension has opened: he knows who he is – he has come to see his innermost being. He has not searched for the identity in the outside world, because there can’t be any identity. How can it be in the outside world? You ARE your inferiority, you ARE your inwardness, you ARE your subjectivity – how can you know it through objects?
You may have a beautiful house, but it is outside. You may have beautiful art, paintings, antique art works, but they are outside! They can’t define you. You remain undefined by them. One day the house is on fire and all your identity is burnt, and. you are standing on the road, again puzzled: “Who am I?”
That’s why people commit suicide. If their money is gone, if they become bankrupt, they commit suicide. Why do they commit suicide? One wonders – why? Money can be earned again…. Look deep into them – that was their identity. They had believed long that “This is me.” Now all that bank balance is gone. Again the problem arises: Who am l? And they wasted their whole life in creating that bank balance. Now they are not ready to go into that effort again. It is too much. They have utterly failed.
In fact, by being bankrupt the suicide has already happened! Their identity is gone. They no longer know now who they are. Their face has disappeared. How can they live without a face? Your woman dies whom you had loved… and you commit suicide, or you start thinking of committing suicide! Because that woman was your identity. Now you are left alone, empty. And to start from the very beginning, from scratch, seems to be too much. It is better to finish this whole thing.
These are the three stages. And when I say the beast, there are many men who are like the beast. They are – they are not even aware that they are. They live mechanically. There are many people who are men – they know they are, but they don’t know who they are. And there are only few and far between, those rare people, who know who they are. They become three dimensional.
Man is a bridge between the beast and the Buddha. Remember, man is a bridge. Don’t make your house on the bridge; the bridge is not meant for that. The bridge has to be crossed. Don’t remain a man, otherwise you will remain in anxiety and anguish – because man is not a place to stay and abide. It is a passage to be passed. It is a ladder! You cannot stay on the ladder. It is only a link from one point to another point.
The beast is, and is in a certain state of contentment. No anxiety, no fear, no death, no ambition, no longing; utterly calm and quiet, but unaware, unconscious. The Buddha is again contented, utterly at peace, at home; has arrived, the journey is finished. There is nowhere to go, he has attained. Between these two is man: half-beast, half-Buddha. Hence the tension: one part moving backwards, one part moving forwards.
Man is torn apart.
Let me repeat: Man is not a being yet. Man has lost one kind of being – the being of a beast. And man has not yet attained another kind of being – the being of a Buddha. And man is constantly moving between these two beings, between these two banks.
You cannot go back, because in existence there is no backward movement. You cannot go back in time; time has only one dimension: it flows forward. You can go only forward. Don’t waste your time in thinking that you can also be a beast and can live like a beast: eat, drink and be merry. It is not possible for a human being. He will have to think, he will have to contemplate. He cannot afford non-thinking. And it is very risky to do that, because then you will be stuck and you will become a pool of dirty water. Your freshness, your aliveness is possible only if you go on flowing and flowing till you reach the ocean. That ocean I am calling the Buddha – the Buddha state of consciousness.
Man HAS to become a Buddha. Create that intense desire, that intense longing, to become a
Buddha. Be in a passionate search for it. Put ALL the energy that you have! Become aflame with that longing… and you can become a Buddha. And the day you become a Buddha, you have become a being again – and a being on a higher level, on the highest Level. There is nothing higher than that.
You ask me: What exactly is man?
As man, man is nothing exact – just a vague phenomenon, cloudy, foggy. Man is not exact because he is a crowd. Man is many men; hence he is foggy. The unity is missing. You don’t have the center – the center arises only through consciousness. Man simply lives like a driftwood.
That’s why I say man is a mere perhaps, a bewildering paradox, an absurd being. He is and he is not. He is an in-between. He is the only animal that can make a fool of himself. No animals can make fools of themselves – only man, because man has the capacity to become wise.
If you don’t grow into wisdom, you will behave like a fool. That’s what the majority of the people in the world are doing. If you watch from a detached viewpoint, you will be surprised how people are living… in such a mess, in such confusion, in such madness. How are they moving? They are not moving at all – they are jogging on the same place.
And if you watch man, you will be surprised: it is very rare to come across a wise man. Fools and fools… fools abound. But remember: no other animal can behave like a fool. Have you seen a dog behaving like a fool? Never. Because they cannot be wise they cannot be took. Both the possibilities arise simultaneously.
Watch yourself. Watch your foolishnesses. Be constantly alert about what you are doing with your life. It is a precious life. It is of such value that you cannot measure, you cannot evaluate it. But because it is given to you as a gift, you don’t appreciate its value. Because it has been just a blessing from God, you have taken it for granted. This is foolish! Don’t take it for granted. This is an opportunity to grow.
And you have to answer to God for what you did with your life. Have you come the same as you had gone? Or even worse? Think of this, that man is answerable. And unless you are a Buddha you will not be able to answer. Because to be a Buddha is to be a God – and that is your intrinsic possibility. And unless you are a God, you will not feel contented.
And only then will you know what exactly you are. Right now, you are nothing, a mere perhaps.
From The Perfect Master, Vol. 1, Discourse #10
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